Picture This (And Vote!)

A few days ago (he chuckles to himself) we touched upon the recently acquired 8-track of Odessey & Oracle by The Zombies, and today we’re showcasing their most recent vinyl release with this Record Store Day Black Friday picture disc exclusive. Virgin picture discs, in fact, do not skip, at least this one doesn’t, and the backside features artwork closer to the US reissue (close up of the little blue guy at 6 o’clock… reference here). The vote? Oh yeah, vote! The Zombies are up for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Voting closes on December 9th, so don’t forget to show your support to this (and four other) seminal bands!

Now

So, I’m trying to convince my wife that Apocalypse Now is arguably the best war film ever made. It’s not my favorite, but the dismal and carnal world that F. F. Coppola crafted, coupled with the otherworldly performance by Martin Sheen makes for a gasping concoction of audio and visual stimulation that never really leaves the subconscious. She’s never seen it (gasp!), so we’re going to begin with Carmine and Francis Coppola’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Fingers crossed we both survive the horror.

A (Very, Very) Brief History of London Records

London Records, am I right?! Founded in 1947, London Records was an avenue for British Decca records distribution in North America. Decca’s ownership had been split between the UK and the US, and since “Decca” was only exclusive to the original UK market, London Records was born. Ahhhhhhh! Same releases from over the pond (for the most part), but under a different name. Today, Universal Music Group (Boo!) owns British Decca, and subsequently London Records after they purchased Polygram in 1998. Polygram had purchased them in 1979 (RIP Polygram ownership 1979 – 1998), and the rest is money-hungry, hand-changing history. Confused? You won’t be after the next episode of The Prudent Groove.

Spearheading

Sun Ra has done a fantastic job of eluding me for much of my “listening career.” I caught wind of this intergalactic wizard only a few short years ago (when I’d bring my portable turntable into the office… you know, the day job…), and somebody from the Lighting team brought in an original, though severely damaged, copy of Sun Ra and His Arkestra’s debut LP, Super-Sonic Jazz. Since then, and rather recently, I’ve acquired the “space age pop” compilation Exotica, and this RSD Black Friday exclusive, Crystal Spears. If you’re in the riveting mood for avant jazz with little-to-no boundaries and a whimsical, yet rhythmic drive, take a deep, lasting breath, and give Crystal Spears a spin. Not one for the faint of heart, this record cuts deep, and should be spun quite regularly.

Boots on Legs

Another thrift store find was this bootleg, colored vinyl pressing of Three Top Guys’ The Third Album from First Record (FL-1192). As Discogs states, “First Record is a label of questionable legality from Taiwan, catering to solders (mostly from the US) stationed there.” Thanks, Discogs! Anyway, there were a handful of these colored vinyl bootlegs at a random Goodwill in Chatsworth (circa: 2006?) and of course, I nabbed each one at the $1 asking price. If pressed (ha! a little vinyl humor…), that handful would be some of the first to go if I had to “make room” in the library. The quality is garbage, and I can’t ever see myself thinking, “Huh… I should spin some Three Top Guys.” The allure of colored vinyl, am I right?!

Bitter Beers

So, Netflix has a new documentary out featuring the late, great Johnny Cash titled, Tricky Dick & the Man in Black (episode 2 of season 1 of the Remastered series, a Netflix original, or so they tell me). It’s well worth checking out, even for the casual JC fan. Featured in the doc is a very short mention of the commercially unsuccessful 1964 album, Bitter Tears – Ballads of the American Indian. If you watch the 59 minute episode, you can’t miss it. This copy found its way into the library by means of my grandfather, and like the doc, is well worth the time.

My Name is Mud (There, Bottom Left…)

A much younger version of yours truly stumbled across ZZ Top’s first three albums at a thrift store in Ventura County, California for $0.99 a pop. No need to state the obvious, but I was quick to overlook the rather “experienced” condition of each of these classics (peep bottom left corner). Rio Grande Mud, ZZ Top’s 2nd studio album, was released in April of 1972, and contains only one single, Francine. As far as I’m concerned, Top would strike gold with their follow-up, and 1973’s Tres Hombres, obviously due to the inclusion of the raunchy La Grange, but Mud, in any condition, is certainly deserving of heavy spins (just ask the previous owner, whoever the hell they were).

Odessey 8

When this shy and elusive beauty popped up on eBay a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity to welcome this seminal album to the ever-growing 8-track collection. Though the white whale is still the 8-track of The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (I’ve been searching for close to five years!), The Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle is a very close second, and greatly deserving of this outdated, and warm-sounding format. This now brings the O&O total to 4x records, and 1x 8-track, for those keeping score (all one of me).

Stick it to Rage

Get hyped for this circa: 2000 collection of Rage-infused covers of Cypress Hill, Devo, Bob Dylan and Minor Threat songs (among others, included Renegades of Funk by Afrika Bambaataa). The album for which this sticker does its dance was the last by this prolific band, and was released a full two months after their breakup. Hyped yet? Renegades… an almost two decades-old conclusion to a short-lived and necessary implement of 1990’s subculture. Keep your stickers, kids!

Mercury Portables

The merriment doesn’t need to stop when that “on the go” bug bites. Just ask (the money hungry profit minions at) Mercury records and their portable, late 60s turntables (featured here). Up first (on the left) is the AG 4100. This beauty plays both mono and stereo records, in addition to all records in varying size and speed. The indoor / outdoor function is a must for bedside rendezvous and park bench mischief, and the sleek AG 4100 is housed in a break resistant shell for those rugged, angry spins. The AG 4100 can be had (well, COULD have been had) for a cool $39.95 ($303.39 adjusted for inflation). But wait… there’s more!

If money is no object, and let’s face it, it most certainly always is, the new GF 340 may be more your speed for a bank-busting $99.95 ($759.03 w/ inflation). The latch-on speakers are a nice touch, but the hefty price tag may be a turnoff for the casual listener.

If portable is your bag, start saving and consider the Mercury Record Corporation. Contact your Mercury dealer for additional info.

Full D

As frame worthy as it is informative, this in-depth breakdown of Full Dimensional Stereo by Capitol Records does a fantastic job, both with pictures and detailed description, to explain, in layman’s terms, answers to “the eight questions most often asked about stereo records.” The who’s and why’s to these questions are the outliers, but their answers are textbook, almost rudimentary cliff notes to this new and burgeoning technology. Pour yourself a cocktail and enjoy the soothing and lifelike sounds of full dimensional stereo.

B-Book

It has arrived… and… it’s… MASSIVE! Dense doesn’t even begin to describe the encyclopedia of wealth and knowledge crammed into a leisurely 590 pages (!!!) that make up the recently released, and modestly titled Beastie Boys Book. I just recently attempted to crack the shell and Ad-Rock’s intro chapter sets the pace, very early on, about how much absolute fun this book is going to be. Thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful gift, M, B and the kiddos! The next few years are going to be a blast!

Three’s A Crowd… in Ohio

Though I’m a fan of the historical importance of its existence, and early Simon & Garfunkel is damn-near perfect, hardcore folk music has always been one of those illusive and rarely sought-after genres I’ve made attempts to all but avoid throughout my “listening career.” It’s my ignorance, really, or my desire to “waste” my time listening to music of much better quality (again, ignorance rears its daft head), but The Kingston Trio’s 1960 album String Along nicely fits this unwelcomed void, so much so that it’s making me question the sadly inevitable, “getting into folk” chapter of my life. Coming as a “must-have” suggestion, mainly for the side 2 track, To Morrow about a small town in Ohio where the “suggester” spent his glory years, I fear this key is unlocking a folk-sized door that my ears (any my patience) have always intended to ignore. A welcoming error in judgement on my part, we’ll see how long this new storm cloud lingers.

Credit

It was a sad 10-15 years after the release of R.E.M.’s epic Automatic for the People that I finally realized that Led Zeppelin bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones contributed orchestral arrangements on Drive, the award-winning Everybody Hurts, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, and Nightswimming… which represent a good 1/4 of the album. If you’ve got it, and haven’t spun it in a while, have another listen and keep an ear out for Jones’ work. There’s a bit more comfort within these arrangements now that the full picture is in view, at least, from the perspective of these ears. Plus, it’s an excuse to relive your 1992 years. You’re welcome.

Bamba

Watermelon Man Mongo Santamaria unearths his namesake 1963 hit (Watermelon Man) for a slightly extended version on his 1965 album, La Bamba. This Latin Jazz collection of 12 tracks is an uplifting, cha-cha-inspired insta-dance party on two, 33 1/3 rpm sides of wax. It also contains both flute and tenor sax contributions from the famous Hubert Laws, WELL before the time of his famed CTI Records success. This record is solid from start to finish, is perfect for mid-afternoon shuffles around the office or living room, and is well worth the hunt.

It’s Miller Time

It’s sad that I only recently discovered that the first appearance by The Steve Miller Band (then just The Miller Band) was on a live Chuck Berry record from 1967. Titled Live at The Fillmore Auditorium, this Berry-led onslaught is a classic of R&B numbers made famous, in large part, by Mr. Chuck himself. Johnny B. Goode, Driftin’ Blues, C.C. Rider, and I Am Your Hoochie Coochie Man all get the Chuck & Steve treatment. With Chuck (obviously) taking the lead, the yet-to-be-internationally-famous Steve Miller offers backing vocals and harmonica in addition to his lewd, and Joker-less guitar. As debut albums go, The Steve Miller Band really couldn’t have asked for a more prolific and profound opportunity, than to record with the great Chuck Berry. If you haven’t already, check it out.

Mucho Mambo

Unbeknownst to me, this 1951 10″ by Mexico City’s own, PĂ©rez Prado is considered his first “proper” album. Released the year before as a 3x 7″ box, Plays Mucho Mambo for Dancing houses both Mambo No. 5 AND Mambo No. 8, and although this particular copy skips more than an 8-year-old at a semi-finals hopscotch tournament, it was a no-brainer for a cool $1. Dollar bin hunter level up.

South of the Border Como

Chalk this one up to another of those “you should get this” records. I think I paid something like $4 for this, stupidly, I might add. The wife likes it, so that’s really all that matters. Actually, though there’s little-to-no Latin flair (ok, sure, the title is LIGHTLY Latin…), the Choral Director for this 1966 release was Ray Charles, and really, Perry Como didn’t put out a bad record, so in hindsight, the “you should get this” suggestion was a solid one (he said, reluctantly).

“I Like Jazz!”

(Reads title.) You do? Good for you, but don’t you think you could have come up with something more, I don’t know, jazzy for the title of this 1955 comp? Titles rarely deter from the music within, and this is no exception. I just had to chuckle at how on-the-nose and unorthodox this title was, while at the same time, and rather quickly, adding it to my hefty pile of dollar bin treasures. One doesn’t go wrong with mid-century Columbia Records jazz artists.