A Reason to Believe in the Songs of Tim Hardin

ReasonIf there ever was a reason to believe, it would be based in the intellectual knowledge and overall creative fortitude of the exalted Tim Hardin. A Record Store Day exclusive back in 2013, and limited to 1000 copies, Reason to Believe – The Songs of Tim Hardin is a collection of elegant covers boasting a sad, yet respectful tribute to the self-proclaimed black sheep boy.

I’ll admit that I was a little underwhelmed on first spin, having been wet from the clouded storm of Tim Hardin songs performed by Tim Hardin, but once expectation fell asleep, these sumptuous covers stand their ground, and act as a reverent accompaniment to the vast Hardin library. It’s a pleasurable listen, and worthy of a proper, clear-headed spin.

Irony Is a Dead Scene

IronyQuestion: What do you get when you mix deadlocked precision (executed perfectly within a tightly-wound hardcore package) and the vocal talents of the guy recently deemed the greatest living singer of all time? Answer: Irony Is a Dead Scene.

Although not casual listening material for that Sunday drive with the kids, The Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton assassinate any and every breathing organism in their vigorous wake over these four fits of ferocious fury. What’s disappointing, however, is the unfortunate length of this EP. Clocking in at only 18 minutes, Irony Is a Dead Scene leaves the listener sprawled out on the floor, desperately pleading for more. This is a perfect album from every approachable angle.

The Fab JC

FabulousFor J. R. Cash’s third studio album, 1958’s The Fabulous Johnny Cash, the legendary man in black, or The Undertaker, as he was jokingly nicknamed, took a staggering leap up the distribution ladder and landed a contract with acclaimed Columbia Records, a label he’d stay with until moving to Mercury Records in 1985. It should be noted that J. R.’s stint with Sun Records, his first label, is the favored batch of rural tunes by yours truly. Be it either the simplistic and underproduced approach, or the documentation of a storied artist making his first marks, I for one just can’t get enough of that radiant, Sun sound.

Mr. Cash released two singles from TFJC. Frankie’s Man, Johnny and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, the latter proving to be one of his biggest, early successes. It’s painfully obvious to mention that J. R. Cash was as unstoppable as Old 97 for Columbia, churning out hit after record breaking hit, a three decades long merger that proved, what I assume, immensely lucrative for both parties.

Pat_JohnsonThis copy was a thrift store find about a decade back, and was apparently pre-owned by a Pat Johnson from 655 Park Ave in Port Hueneme, CA. I venture to think, since 3/8/62 until the day it was offered to an Oxnard, CA second hand store, that Pat cherished The Fabulous Johnny Cash almost as much as I do.

Jump Up

Jump UpSpice up your mundane Monday with a splash of enthusiasm with Mr. Harry Belafonte and his 1961 smash hit, Jump Up Calypso. The follow-up to 1956’s straight-shooting Calypso, Jump Up is a hurricane in all kinds of weather. Aside from offering both Angelina AND Jump in the Line, Jump Up Calypso was the unofficial soundtrack to the 1988 Tim Burton comedy, Beetlejuice. Listen to this, then watch that, and count how many times this album pops up. I count five, but I haven’t seen the film in a few years.

Monday’s don’t have to be banal. Sprinkle in a dash of Calypso, and your feet will feel as light as Caribbean air.

Also, if you’re in the states, don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

Beg Bri Blu

BluesCover distracted, ditsiness aside, The Beginning British Blues is a hint of British Blues history the laypeople (especially including myself) may not have otherwise been hip to. Bridging the Eric Clapton gap between The Yardbirds and Cream, the momentary glimpse of Clapton’s collaboration with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers seems to be the bulk of the focus here. With back sleeve write-up by Jimmy Page (together with Miles Road, a duet with Mr. Clapton), The Beginning British Blues is a hidden treasure of historical significance, something this guy here just discovered he needed to possess.

70’s Rock Must Die

L for LardAs far as Lard is concerned, it really doesn’t get much better than 1989’s The Power of Lard. “Pity the poor trainer, in the stable when the racehorse farts,” “It’s ok to run out of butter in Zambia, just smear squashed caterpillars on your toast,” and “Poison Oak really is the aphrodisiac of the Gods” are just the red hot tip of the frozen iceberg found within the band’s debut track.

Fast forward to 2000 with the release of the band’s 2nd EP (three tracks). Their fourth and final release, 70’s Rock Must Die unfortunately features more tongue than cheek, and is by far the band’s ill-fated gift. For you see, there really is no bad Lard album, track, phrase, loop, what-have-you, there’s just spitfire Industrial brilliance, and their other stuff.

The Very Best

Best of RichThe Very Best of Richard Pryor is hardly what it claims. But as I’ve said, and will continue to say as long as I have life in my chest, it does not get any funnier than Richard Pryor.

Another Laff Records rush-to-get-it-out, recycled-without-a-hint-of-shame, X-Rated, listen-after-your-parents-have-long-gone-to-bed release, The Very Best of Richard Pryor embezzles from “Craps” After Hours (1971), Are You Serious??? (1976), Who Me? I’m Not Him (1977), Black Ben the Blacksmith (1978), Outrageous (1979), and what sounds like a Scotch tape merging of cutting room floor excerpts. This is all, of course, certainly not to say that The Very Best of Richard Pryor is without merit, and shouldn’t be owned by everyone who enjoys the idea of laughing until you cry.

RIP Richard Pryor.

The Chipmunks of Infinity

MunksThe biggest, brightest marquee names in TV / movie pop culture, according to Alvin and the Chipmunks circa: 1982 are as follows: 9 to 5, Grease, The Greatest American Hero, Fame, Annie, The Dukes of Hazzard, Chariots of Fire, ET, Arthur, and Rocky.

It’s comforting to acknowledge how prolific and timeless The Chipmunks Go Hollywood still remains, given the immortal impact of these groundbreaking examples of visual brilliance. Why, just the other day while shopping for Boston Baked Beans at the corner 7-Eleven (the ‘Sev), I overheard a youth (a shaggy-haired runt in knee-high tube socks) exclaim to his dopey-eyed, sugar-pack-hoarding cohort, “You know Sly, I’ve been thinking, The Greatest American Hero is, in my humble opinion, the greatest American television show of all time. Wouldn’t you agree, good chap?” To which the sweaty wingman replied something inaudible, just before knocking over a wicker basket full of week old fruit.

Munk BackThe youth, like the Chipped Munks of 1982, got it, and The Chipmunks Go Hollywood still remains one of the most important works of modern day artistic expression, but that, of course, goes without saying.

The Mighty Mancini

Mancini_FrontThese are possible words The Mighty Mancini may have at one time spoken, “I am The Mighty Mancini! I will not pay your ridiculous charge for an additional honey mustard dipping sauce!” The Mighty Mancini was indeed a powerful beast (Three’s Company, NBC Nightly News Theme, Theme from Star Trek, Theme from Battlestar Galactica), whose abundant soundscape knew no intergalactic boundaries.

No man (cini), or woman (cini) can deny the soothing tones of this mighty composer.

MMM Circa: 1998 (Part 1 of 3)

MikeFor reasons that are still unknown, MMM’s Anti-Theft Device takes me back to a, well, let’s say, rosy-utopia, filled with pizza delivery, copious amounts of unquestionable activity, and musical-self-discovery. A personal Renaissance, that has yet to be fully examined and filtered, save for all in attendance… and NOT without good reason.

Mix Master Mike, the, then, newly-crowned Disc Jockey of the famed, and lavish Beastie Boys, released his first, major label release, the same year he debuted as the B-Boy’s newly sworn-in DJ with their less-than-stellar, Hello Nasty. Clearly a creative shift forward (for those who thought so), this newly developed mesh isolated some fans, while slurping up many, previously unassociated catchers-on. Blame has not been cast, as bad as this may look.

So, intro aside, such that it is, I offer my lubricated ramblings while listening to the first 1/3 of Mix Master Mike’s 1998 release, Anti-Theft Device. Please note: formality just clocked out for the evening.

Mike BackPart 1 (of 3): Get That Sauce Pie There in 30 Minutes or Less!

Ill Shit through Radiation (Ultra Into aside), kicks off this sample-tree-picking mix of (then) pop culture favorites, coupling, pairing, and otherwise fornicating its way through various space-themed, Austin Powers-conscious one-liner-laced, one-man-hip-hop extravaganza… to put it lightly.

“No coupon, no deal!” – Delivery driver PG

It’s no question that the Beastie Boys gravitated towards this schizophrenic style of old-meets-new, sample-heavy hip-hop. Get in… get out… make ‘moist, punch the card.

Money Mark endorsed, wholesome mother disapproved, the first 1/3 of Anti-Theft Device is a Fresh Fruit for Rotting Hip-Hop Vegetables… again, circa: 1998… that’s 16 years ago, kids… take wisdom with a grain of salt… and a shot of bourbon.

Blooming Hits

Mauriat FrontBlooming Hits is a wispy collection of elaborate, late 60s pop tunes done in orchestral, easy listening-type, party-elevator music-style compositions with a racy, flower-lovers cover (phew). If ever you wanted to turn your listening area into a jazzy, hipster doctor’s office waiting room, Blooming Hits would be at the ready. It’s solid, but exceptionally tame… a bit deceiving from its attention-stealing cover.

…Is it Something I Said?

PryorAs the kickoff to your working week comes to lethargic, sluggish conclusion, allow the angel whispers of Richard “I Hope I’m Funny” Pryor lull you into a comedic coma. Richard Pryor released well over 20 albums in his famed stand-up career, and each of them is, without hesitation, absolutely perfect. 1975’s …Is it Something I Said? is certainly no exception.

Standouts (and there are a ton) include, but are not limited to When Your Pryor_BackWoman Leaves You, Cocaine, Shortage of White People, Mudbone – Little Feets, and Our Text for Today. Between 1971 and 1975, Rich released three back-to-back-to-back works (the holy trinity of recorded stand-up) that stand unmatched, some 40+ years later. If you ask me, and you didn’t, every fan of the laugh needs to own 1971’s “Craps” – After Hours, 1974’s That Nigger’s Crazy (that is a wild one), and this, 1975’s ...Is it Something I said? Treat yourself to the finer things in life, and enjoy yourself (yore-sell) some Richard Pryor.

Two-Three-Seven

Room_237So, Room 237 was something… and so was its soundtrack. Composed and created by Jonathan Snipes & William Hutson, this ominous and eerie soundscape is perfect, no… PERFECT blanket noise for that special evening when the boring normality of the everyday meets the heightened expectations of the ethereally abnormal. Essentially, a bullshit way of saying that this soundtrack is meant to unease your tensions, while drawing you in for the big score, like a discounted (free toppings) soft serve. Is this something you could rock every Tuesday on your way to the telecine studio, well, no, but it’s certainly something worth having at the ready if and when the peculiar strikes.

Your Faith Has Been Bootlegged

FaithPercy Faith is, in fact, NOT a dirty-nosed socialite unwilling to show her teeth when faking a smile, but instead, a master of mood music essentials. A Canadian who reigned throughout the 50s and 60s, Mr. Faith recorded into the mid-70s until his untimely death of cancer in 1976. This, a Taiwanese bootleg record on Taiwanese colored vinyl, serves as a subtle homage to a favored orchestral composer.

Op Klompen

ClogsI can’t say I’ve ever owned a pair of clogs, or op klompen, but I doubt I could rock the boisterous, and seemingly uncomfortable, style quite like the German King, James Last. Acquired maybe 8 or so years ago, I’d just gotten around to listening to the fascinating record the other day, and let me start by saying it wasn’t at all what I’d expected. I’d half expected some cartoon clown banging a trash can, a screaming eel tap dancing atop a tin roof, or some other such sort of unthinkable nonsense, but what I got was a lighthearted, easy listening, and slightly somber, orchestral odyssey through various, and at times very similar, instrumental interpretations celebrating the clog.

Now that I know this title’s meaning, I’ll have to go back and try and detect any actual musical use of the clog, but as it stands, Op Klompen exists as one of those albums with a necessary cover, which far outreaches the music within.

A (Short) Evening with Belafonte

EveningDerived from the LP of the same name, this 4-track EP 7″ is perfect for those hurried evenings when a little romantic nudge is required, but the depth of a fully hammered out album is the LAST thing on your mind. As far as I’m concerned, any Belafonte is better than no Belafonte, and after a quick, 2-track flip, your planned, erotic evening will be swiftly underway, thanks to the nimble, intoxicating seduction of this unforgettable evening, with Belafonte.

French, Level One

FrenchLearn to speak fluid French the laborious way with this 14x 7″ collection from 1961 by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. Housed inside a tenacious and stable cardboard box, these flip-tastic records are guaranteed to survive for legions of future French-lovers eager to learn an outdated approach to a beautiful, and alluring language.

Offered on only 28 sides, French Level One will have you screaming, “Mon amour pour les retournements de dossiers ne connaît pas de limites” until you lose your voice.

An Impromptu Bermuda Calypso Party

Talbot BrosLiven up your Friday evening festivities with an impromptu Calypso party by Bermuda’s finest, The Talbot Brothers. Volume 3, featured here, is fierce, hip-swaying lightning, neatly packed inside an LP shaped bottle of rum.

Ingest a swell of this Calypso cocktail in your ear’s mouth and watch the room come to life right before your eyes. Released in 1956 on Audio Fidelity (AFLP 1807), Bermuda Calypso Party Vol. 3 leaves little to be desired, except perhaps the first two volumes. This is an outstanding album from start to finish, and comes highly recommended. Transform any social scene into an impromptu Bermuda Calypso party, with the Talbot Brothers, and please remember to listen responsibly.

Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck

The IvesFrom the big, barren beyond to the boisterous, bellowings of Burl Ives. Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck, nonetheless… (manufactured by underpaid and sleep deprived enthusiasts in Southern California… The Prudent Groove), to a room scattered with eager young minds with nothing more than the hopeful wonderment of an undeveloped mind, an acoustic guitar, and the classic Burl Ives goatee.

Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck raises more questions than the amount of entertainment it provides, but I doubt my kind is the target demographic. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man, and not just because my father sported the same goatee one year for Christmas. For me, Burl’s warming tone is reserved for the winter months, but now with this new addition, the listening radius may be expanded to those rare times when I feel compelled to relive the first grade.

The Most Difficult Decision in the World, Some 248 Years in the Making (Part 1?)

Best of MozTo narrow down the overpowering wealth of compositions in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s untouchable arsenal to fit on a single, nolby titled disk may have been the most difficult decision anyone in the freethinking world has ever had to make. Lucky for those of us in possession of ABC Westminster Gold’s virtuous compilation (10 so far by Discogs stats), this decision was not met with half-assery.

Firing the first shot across the breakable bows of eager ears is (arguably) Mozart’s magnum opus, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, followed by the ominous first movement from Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. With Piano Sonata No. 8 (first movement) in the three spot, and Serenade No. 4 K. 203 (again, first movement) batting cleanup, the first half of this LP, and the entirety of this post, come to an untimely halt.

I’ll eventually regurgitate my sheepish thoughts on the second most difficult decision in the world, aka the second half of ABC Westminster Gold’s overly ambitious, and painfully tedious deliberation, but not tonight. Don’t forget the classics, kids, and don’t wait until the last possible minute to post your daily rants!