Do you know what time it is? Don’t look at your clock, or if you’re one of those book-reading types, don’t look at the sun, this is a rhetorical question here. What time is it?! It’s Fun Time, dammit! And what’s better than Fun Time when it’s performed by the great and almighty Bruce Willis? Well, there’s actually quite a bit better than the great and almighty Bruce Willis performing Fun Time, but we’ll ignore that for now.
Have a listen, and tell me the demonic-digitized-robot voice isn’t proclaiming its love for the delicious, fried-dough, calorie-heavy pastry.
I need churros
Yes, I’m well and patiently aware that it’s only Wednesday night (has there ever been a Wednesday Night Fever?), but let’s throw spit and caution to the wind and dust off our shin-kickin’ Boogie Shoes. Let a little (KC) Sunshine into your life, on this dark and drab Wednesday, and get yer ass out there on the dance floor! (Living room rug works just as well.)
Originally released on 1966’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by the great Paul & Art, Harpers Bizarre, Santa Cruz, CA’s own pop-rock (and Mt. Dew) favorites, staked their claim in the soil of hip-tified-radio-extravaganza with their cover of 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) from their debut album, 1967’s Feelin’ Groovy. Feelin’ Groovy? No, seriously… feelin’ pretty damn far-out? Hip your lobes to some Harp Biz, my friend.
Laibach brings such a cynical smile to my face, I border on fits of maniacal laughter. Life is Life is a classic, and comical oppressionist Industrial hymn, and is the perfect relief for the Friday afternoon doldrums. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure that Laibach’s brand of persecution theme music is to be taken sincerely. By themselves, Laibach songs can raise the weary eyebrow of the unsuspecting ear, but when coupled with a blatant, over the top video (such as Life is Life, or the Beatles cover, Across the Universe), one can’t help but break out in a rash of uncontrollable snickers.
If you can get past the repetitious hammering and deep-throated persecution, Laibach is comedy gold, with a brainwashing beat. This, and all Laibach comes HIGHLY recommended by the PG.
In 1966, Tim Hardin released his first studio album, Tim Hardin 1, and on this radiant release was not a reason to wonder, but instead a Reason to Believe, that Tim Hardin was, in fact, a timeless (and ultimately reckless) force, begging to be messed with.
The album’s third track, Smugglin’ Man, paints a greasy, underhanded picture of a deceitful man, THE man, able and willing to supply illegal substances to, among others, the Indians, the Arabs, and the Jews. This man of opportunity is, of course, Tim himself, or “Timmie” as the song goes. Be it guns, whiskey, gin or blatantly put, “anything illegal,” Tim was your late night go-to guy. Yes, Smugglin’ Man is a hell-of-a rockin’ R&B ditty, sung by a demon with an angel’s voice.
Cut to 1970’s compilation album, Tim Hardin.
Capitalizing on Tim’s breakout success of the late 60s, Tim Hardin (the album, not the man) was yet another repackaged, “Best of,” whose 9 (of 10) tracks made up the bulk of his first two albums (Tim Hardin 1 and Tim Hardin 2, naturally). I’m a completist sucker, so I had to have Tim Hardin, even though I’d already owned these songs two, and some even three times over.
All of this is very well, nice and good, but the (long-winded) message at heart, here, is that there is a hilarious oversight printed on this comp’s front cover. Instead of a rum-runnin’ man with a deviant mind for smugglin’, is instead a jaunty fellow with the habit for snuggling. As it’s printed, Snuggling Man paints a much different, and more family friendly picture than the gin-smugglin’, whiskey-sellin’ scar on the pale face of morality.
So, if you’re familiar with the song, here’s a little gift, smuggled, and snuggled, from me, to you…
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I sell guns to the Arabs,
I sell dynamite to the Jews
– Lyrics by Tim Hardin, snuggler extraordinaire.
1988 was a good year for Ministry, and the quote, unquote, twelve-inch, maxi-single (of only two songs), Stigmata, highlighted the aggressive enthusiasm of its umbrella, The Land of Rape and Honey, and still serves as one of the best Ministry songs to date, some 26 years later. Yeah, that’s right… Stigmata is 26 years old, and Al Jourgensen, believe it or not, is still alive. Image that shit.
Anyway, a classic, with any given redefinition.
File tonight’s venture under the heading of 10” pictures discs that haven’t been played in over 18 years. One of the most memorable live bands my teenaged self has ever had the pleasure of witnessing, the Chicago-based new, new wave ska hardcore band, The Blue Meanies, combined big band numbers with post-hardcore aggression, offered eye-opening repetitive (and loud) percussion, horns, and spitting lyrics bellowing forth from an amplified megaphone.
Pave the World, like most spot-on commentaries on the everyday unraveling of social morality (based on the motivation of greed and fatter stacks), wails like an uneasy siren of truth. The Blue Meanies were not a band to be taken lightly, and their wisdom will continue to paint the horizons of willing truth seekers generations to come.
In the process of sheathing my collection with 3 mil polyethylene jimmy hats (started with A, currently at L), I’ve discovered a few hidden, sealed treasures I’d somehow forgotten about. I count five virgin records living between A and L, among them is this 1996 maxi 12” from Grand Royal’s Luscious Jackson.
Naked Eye, the band’s most commercially successful song, was the only offering from the band to enter the Billboard Hot 100, and the first to penetrate these ears. Word around the barrio is that LJ reunited and were collaborating on new music, a certain and promising upswing from this severely underrated band.
A lucrative single off Surrender, the full length I DON’T possess by premier big beat British brainiacs, The Chemical Brothers, Let Forever Be represents more the wispiness of summer than it does button-up the autumnal ambiance of fall. A worthy mind-dance nonetheless, Let Forever Be poses the unanswerable question, “How does it feel like?”
Oh, the Beatnuts… seminal late 90’s hip hop badassery that, without question, kicked the living shit out of everyone with this 1997’s single featuring Big Punisher & Cuban Link titled, Off the Books. When your non-hip hop enjoying SO storms into the room early in the morning, quite excitedly I may add, and asks, “What is this? I like it!,” you know you’re either spinning something John Reis related, or The Beatnuts.
Tuesday morning bombastic bass is perfect for everyone within earshot, and no beat bouncing, wall vibrating, domestic disturbance flirting tracks kills quite like Off the Books. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Bought for $1.99, this undoubted little 12” features all the best that radio-pop 1987 had to offer, and for only a cool $4.99 ($10.47 today), Only in My Dreams AKA HAIR, was only a little over an hour’s work away (back in 1987, minimum wage $3.35 an hour).
In 1988, I know jack about Delicious Vinyl records… but like any radio-worshiping Midwesterner, I knew every syllable to the song Wild Thing by Tone–Lōc. Produced by the legendary Matt Dike and Michael Ross (Michael Ross is the genie he’s giving us our wishes), and, not surprisingly, engineered by b-boy Mario C., this little 12” time warp is a who’s-who of Beastie Boys crossovers.
Including the aforementioned Matt Dike and Mario C. (you can’t front on that!), the illustrious credits continue with EZ Mike and King Gizmo (AKA the Dust Brothers, producers of the Beasties’ Paul’s Boutique), and none other than Wild Thing video director, and lady b-boy (Mike D’s wife), Tamra Davis.
I knew that when I discovered this album, being labeled as DV 1002, for only $4 at a small and dusty Long Beach record shop that a bit of my childhood would be reinstated. What I didn’t know, was how much of my young adult-era obsession was intimately intertwined.
Please, baby-baby, please!
It’s a Kool Moe Dee kind of Sunday night, and you’re all invited to enjoy the rhythmic spoils of New York’s most prominent master of ceremonies. Dusting off his Trecherous Three mates (Spoonie Gee, DJ Easy Lee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K), 1986 finds Mr. Moe Dee’s first full-length solo effort on the appropriately titled, Kool Moe Dee.
Need a sleazy, PMRC conscious, mid-80s, old school influenced, mid-school executed hip-hop album without all the calories? Try a steady diet of Kool Moe Dee, and if your Sunday evenings don’t improve after a few weeks, Go See the Doctor.
So goes the chorus to this luxurious alt rock staple from 1989. The behemoths of the quirky clever, They Might Be Giants solidified their firm stance in the conscious of modern day audio entrepreneurs with Ana Ng, the first single off their 2nd album, Lincoln.
It’s understandable that TMBG are an acquired taste, but respect must be given to the longevity of their determined, recorded output. With 16 studio albums under their belt, and absolutely no sign of slowing down, the two Johns will, in my opinion, and when the final dust has calmly settled, be revered as pioneers within the global scope of modern day recorded sound. AKA, I dig ’em.
DJ Hurricane… The Hurra… sportin’ a Shaq jersey… circa ’95… what’s NOT to love? The longtime disc jockey for the Beastie Boys… branching out, lingering past the point of comfortability, knifing the vocal chord of his (then) creative mainstay, in lucrative, amiable fashion. Wise men need not step to The Hurra.
Released on Grand Royal, surprise, surprise, the Comin’ Off single (encompassing a total of 9 tracks), allows the sheltered talents of this functionally entertaining DJ to step into the darkened spotlight of the ever-looming B-Boy sun, and allows for personal, creative, hip-hop repression to manifest itself into a advantageous 9-track single-EP, with NBA-minded art-a-plenty.
The Hurra, certainly not favored amongst the masses, as far as hip-hop history goes, needs to be recognized as a menacing stone that need not be overturned.
The Avatars of They, before they were so known, switched from a quirky, two-piece, drum machine-heavy outfit to a full-fledged live ensemble with their fifth full length, 1994’s John Henry. One of only two TMBG CDs owned by yours truly back in High School, John Henry was on par with the critically, and fan, acclaimed Flood, their 1990 offering, for reasons, upon initial spinning, that are glaringly apparent.
Released on vinyl for the first time (on Asbestos Records), John Henry was one of the last remaining “need to own on vinyl” albums on my “never released on vinyl” wishlist. Thankfully, opportunity, and an understanding SO, allowed for this double LP to (finally) come home.
So much personal grief has been filtered through these 20 tracks, with specific, loathing, heartbroken attention diligently paid to A Self Called Nowhere. It’s exceptionally difficult to listen to this lamenting track and not picture the narrowing walls of my basement bedroom, all the while desperately (and at times violently) seeking any form of alleviation from the inevitable pains of one’s first breakup. A Self Called Nowhere was my internal theme for far too many weeks, and it helped to push me through an experience that callused my nerves like the fallout of first relationships are rightfully meant to do.
Crimson and Clover was probably the first “perfect” song I’d ever heard. I was 13, at a Jr. High dance and, well, you know how things are in Jr. High… Crimson and Clover, like the tail of some whoever I was chasing that week, managed to elude me for several years, but her lingering, abundant impact was always just below the surface of everyday stagnation.
Monetarily it may be nothing of collector-head-turning significance, but this 45 of Crimson and Clover is easily one of my most cherished records.
(On a side note… I’d become aware of Tommy James by means of an often-told story, offered, to whimsical delight, by my parents. Apparently ol’ Mr. James, well past his prime, was making a “to-do” of himself at some back-water club in rural Wisconsin in the late 70s, all the while wearing tight, revealing, white trousers. Some stars dimmer, but never really fade away… so long as a fresh pair of tighty whitey trousers are at the ready.)
Cracked grooves break my heart… especially Oscar nominated cuts from the 1940s. The 1940 film, Second Chorus, featured both this shellac track, Love of My Life, as well as a clarinet-yielding Artie Shaw, masterfully (I assume) portraying himself up on the big, flickering dream-screen. Never saw it, but with a score and on-screen performance provided by Mr. Shaw himself, this little entertainment blip just spun onto my radar.
Chalk this oversight up to adrenaline, heat, or simple fatigue, all of which were raging through my withered carcass at the initial moment of this record’s discovery. Unplayable, but never-the-less pretty to look at, I’m thumbing my creative button to figure out what the hell to do with this glaring example of deplorable sadness. She’ll rest, having had her last 78rpm go around until I can figure out a decent and respectable way to upcycle her.
Dead records are never easy to stomach.
Jeffrey Lewis, the famed comic book artist and occasional singer / songwriter delivers an exceptionally agonizing diddy filled with a deceivingly optimistic tone, catchy refrain, and the sliver-sharp wit that requires, no, DEMANDS repeated listens. Titled Broken Broken Broken Heart, Jeffrey Lewis and his backing band, The Junkyard, spawn a candy-coated razorblade of nervous sensitivity, discretely masked inside an anti-folk pop song, and it’s nothing short of blissful ear bourbon.
We aren’t meant to sympathize with Mr. Lewis, or whatever character he is when speaking in the first person. His over-analytical observations of (failed) relationship-causing pain are muted and all but ignored after evidence is revealed as to the cause of his (much deserved) heartache: being cruel and curious.
I’m stuck in a Jeffrey Lewis rutt as of late, and it seems as though a few times a day I need to squeeze in a quick listen, usually to the three or four key tracks off this album (2009’s ‘Em Are I). Jeffrey’s is a story of success by self-deprecation. Mix that with hooky guitars and soul-baring honesty, and you’ve got the ingredients for an emotional cocktail you’re not soon to forget.