Good Lovin’

The RascalsGenerally, I’m not a fan of spoon-fed Greatest Hits albums. Personally, I feel too much vital material is all-too-often left on the cutting room floor in order to make room for the handful of songs everybody and their brother has heard several thousands of times on commercial radio. That being said, and with limited options while on holiday, I present Time Peace by The Rascals.

I certainly can’t complain too much about Greatest Hits albums. I own SEVERAL of them, including this particular 14-track compilation. Originally billed as The Young Rascals, this “blue-eyed soul” band saw three #1 hits with Good Lovin’, Groovin’, and People Got to Be Free. They disbanded in 1972, and had to wait a quarter decade to be officially immortalized as rock n’ roll Gods upon their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Another gem (I almost typed Jem… remember the 80s cartoon, Jem?!) in my parents’ collection, Time Peace is a great introduction into the mischievous world of The Rascals. It is strongly suggested, as with any other undiscovered act, that an unseasoned listener start with an artist’s first album, and work through that catalog in chronological order. But hey, what the hell do I know?

Hey, Rich!!!

Little RichardCertain quintessential artists, I’m ashamed to admit, go overlooked from time to time. And sometimes, that “time to time” duration, which started out as an innocent week or two, grows into a decade of selfish neglect.

I’d seen and heard of Little Richard in the wee days of my youth, and his story was one of the first that drew sympathy and frustration (as far as sympathy for the record industry goes), even at an early age. He was famous, but not as famous as he should have been, if you catch what I’m throwing down.

Little Richard!!! is both an essential compilation of this master’s incredible work, as well as an album in my parents’ record collection. When I get back to Los Angeles, Little Richard will FINALLY get my enthusiastic and undivided attention.

You Never Forget Your First

Baby PhonoIt’s not every day an obsessive-compulsive collector is reunited with his first turntable. Today was that immortal day. While on holiday in the muggy bayou that is (currently) Southern Wisconsin, I (actually, my father found it) discovered a crucial piece of my record loving history, this late 70s, Disco Mouse, Sears, Roebuck and Co. phonograph.

Still in working, albeit cosmetically challenged, condition, this little guy provided countless hours of Pac-Man adventures, abridged versions of my favorite Star Wars, and Star Wars related fantasies (think The Ewoks Join the Fight), and spun my very first picture disc, 1977’s Main Street Electrical Parade. (It was most recently the spinner of Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, Volare by Dean Martin, and Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Oh how times have changed.)

A collector exhausts many a turntable throughout their lives. Some rest in unrepaired ruin, while others lay in storage for over 30 years, waiting to once again offer a plethora of new memories.

Many thanks to my folks for introducing me the wonderful world of recorded music.

When the Block’s A’Rockin’ Don’t Come A’Knockin’

BeatsBlock Rockin’ Beats was the first Chem Bros track I’d ever heard. Stupidly mistaking it for Hip Hop, I was properly schooled, then introduced to the slam-happy genre that is Big Beat.

Chances are, you’ve heard this Grammy winning song on TV, in a film, or blasting from the alley around the corner from where you get those delicious French pastries. If you haven’t enjoyed this, which I’m convinced is the Chemical Brothers’ most popular track, you should take it for a spin around the ol’ block.

Editor’s note: I’ll be out of the office on holiday for a bit and will, obviously, be away from my music library. I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll post about, but come hell or higher gasoline prices, I’ll post something after every sunup. I’m sincerely looking forward to getting the hell out of Los Angeles for a little while.

Play it Loud, Mutha!

TSTwisted Sister, to a five-year-old in rural Wisconsin, was a bit of an eye-opening spectacle. Back before the (ridiculously) small town in which I grew up (1200 open air loving residents) collectively banned MTV from the township limits, the roots of my rebellious nature were beginning to seep into the ground of my shielded childhood. Twisted Sister’s classic video to We’re Not Gonna Take It was always a personal favorite, for many adolescent reasons, and it acts as a significant, early-adulthood bridge to the burgeoning days of my foolish innocence.

DeeSo, I’m an early 20-something attending the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and working at Hollywood Video. Remember brick and mortar video stores? Neither do I. Anyway, I was closing up the store one hot, summer evening and a guy approached the check-out with a movie I’ve long since forgotten. I greeted this man with both a courteous smile, and curious stare. The man was Mark Metcalf, the legendary barking father from the We’re Not Gonna Take It video. I didn’t call him out, as you can possibly imagine, celebrities of any caliber, NEVER walk into a Hollywood Video on Milwaukee’s north side. I worked there for another year or so, and never saw Mr. Metcalf again, but I’ll never forget that immediate wave of childhood warmth felt only for those 30-odd seconds.

Look, I’m just gonna go on the record and say that Stay Hungry still holds up! I don’t care who mocks, scorns, maligns, or even shin-kicks. My favoritism towards Dee Snider, Mark Metcalf, Twisted Sister, and this striking album is not unlike a bonfire that’s been burning for nearly 30 years, and every delicate spin of this angst-ridden album adds more fuel to that never-ending flame.Play it Loud, Mutha!

GameDay 2K13!

SamsonWelcome to GameDay 2K13, kids! Ok yes, officially (American) football started last Thursday, but the first Sunday of the NFL season is the ceremonial GameDay, so that Thursday garbage can go suck an egg as far as I’m concerned.

I need to admit a few things about today’s album pick. First off, I’d never heard of Samson when I purchased Head Tactics. I only paid $0.99 for it, so uncharted territory came at very little cost. Second, I was (stupidly) deceived by (one of the many) advertising ploys promoted on the cover. “Featuring Bruce Dickinson,” to me, meant that this album would contain plenty of cowbell, as, well that SNL sketch of Blue Öyster Cult recording (Don’t Fear) the Reaper was, after all, historically accurate, was it not? What I found, by listening to the 10 tracks, and by researching the band, was something that certainly cannot be tackled in a throwaway post such as this.

ThunderstickHas anybody ever heard of Thunderstick? He’s Samson’s drummer. Here is a picture of Thunderstick. Say hello, Thunderstick. “Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!” I didn’t notice this back picture until just recently, and I can’t wait to dive into the enigmatic world of Samson, their drummer Thunderstick, the REAL Bruce Dickinson, and the band the REAL Bruce Dickinson went on to help make famous, Iron Maiden. All that is for another time.

Happy GameDay 2K13, everyone!

Happy 77th Birthday, Mr. Holly

Buddy Holly LivesToday, Charles Hardin Holley would have been 77 years young. In the 22 years he walked this Earth, the legendary trailblazer, in the most modest of senses, achieved, in terms of profound influential force, more than any other artist ever to wade in the fervent pool of rock and roll. The Stones, the Beatles, and the giant led balloon would certainly not exist, in any fathomable form, had Buddy Holly not first set foot upon that timeless and immortal stage.

The GreatI don’t listen to near as much Buddy Holly these days. This will be amended… starting today.

Happy 77th Birthday, Mr. Holly!

Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself

AnnihalationIs that a Ronald Reagan look-alike grabbing his nether regions in apocalyptic agony? Why, yes, it is. Following the international success of their first single, Relax, Frankie Goes to Hollywood released the anti-war, half tongue-in-cheek, half a bit-too-close-to-home, funk-friendly dance anthem, Two Tribes.

Accompanied by an outrageous video, Two Tribes broke a whole bunch of UK chart records that, at the time, I was completely oblivious to. To be fair, in 1984 my daily routine consisted of dropping my Bespin Han Solo action figure from a covered bridge in a suicidal leap just in time for my electric train to speed by and run him over. Han survived, and was able to go on fighting the good fight (that was, until Joe & Cobra infiltrated my childhood just a few short years later).

ReaganFocusing on the hyper-exaggerated (he said jokingly) possibility of global nuclear war, Frankie & crew regurgitated a positive product from an extremely negative scenario. If you ask me, and you didn’t, Two Tribes withstood the test of time, and should serve as a welcome accompaniment to any record collection, regardless of which side of the fence your political beliefs may fall.

Daft or Dumb

Stormy PinknessOkay, either I’m extremely daft, or my short-term memory is completely shot! I’ve had this (ahem) “Limited Edition 4 Track 12” Featuring Daddy-O Remix + Colour ‘Flood’ Poster” (phew) of the gonna-break-your-head-it’s-so-damned-catchy single, Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by a personal favorite, They Might Be Giants for more years than I’m willing to admit. Fact.

White Tornado My FootOkay? So what, you ask. Well, upon perusing my collecting looking for something to catch my ear, I noticed this nice little sticker indicating how this 12” originally came with a poster. Remember when posters were a thing? Shamefully, I do too. Anywho, not thinking much about it, I nabbed it and offered a whimsical yet vaguely hopeful gander to confirm what I already knew… there would be no poster. Imagine my jaw-dropping surprise when, there was, in fact, a “Colour ‘Flood’ Poster!” It was almost like rediscovering a thumb! Okay, maybe not that monumental, but now all I have to do is convince my GF that our apartment needs, no, DESERVES a Colour ‘Flood’ Poster. My money says the poster will stay right where it is.

Great! Now I’m on a They Might Be Giants fix!

On a side note, if you play the beginning of Flood at 45rpm, the intro sounds like something straight out of Munchkin Land. Just sayin’.

The Journey

PG Office 1_smallerTrying to draw a roadmap of an individual’s personal music highway is like trying to find the island from Lost. There may be a straight line, that lasts for maybe a few weeks, like say my current Tim Hardin kick, but then the familiar landscape disappears into a dark, and uncomfortably moist alley of say, the Wax Trax! catalog, or God forbid, the salivating sounds of the time-sucking Minutemen. Both destinations I know and love all too well.

Like never-ending roots stemming from a strong and unmoving base, our own personal music paths are as organic and ever expanding as a giant Sycamore. Is that by design, or are we fishing bobbers floating atop a steady stream awaiting a dip below? (Waiting for Country Joe and the Fish perhaps? I had to.)

Ok, fine, enough with the metaphors. This will never happen, but I’d LOVE to attempt a personal map of my music listening history. I have no doubt it would take me several years, would necessitate several “gray areas,” and would likely require the X, Y, and dreaded Z axes. It’s all coming back to me now… I should have paid more attention in Math class.

The Personality Sound of the Sixties!

Sound of the SixtiesAccording to Liberty Records Inc. (Los Angeles 28, California), Martin Denny’s Exotic Percussion, Around the World With the Chipmunks, Bud and Travis in Concert, and 60 Years of Music America Hates Best are definitively, the personality sounds of the 1960s.

Forget about The Kinks, 13th Floor Elevators, Tim Hardin, Silver Apples, The Monks, Them, The Zombies, and the man in black… and for that matter, forget about the entire UK Encroachment (that’s what it’s called, right?), because Johnny Burnette, The Fleetwoods, and Bobby Vee are decade-defining personalities that history has proved to be as monumental as the title of this record label.

Liberty Records, like a symbolic statue of freedom, knew personality when they heard it. And thank goodness, because I don’t know what I’d do without ­all the tree-hugging, acid-dropping, tie-dyed skirt wearing, marvelous wonders provided by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan.

Casual Dinner Party

BoingoTonight, my SO and I are hosting a quaint little dinner/game get-together with a few close friends (we’re trying to play matchmakers between two amazing couples who’ve never met). My girl is making quinoa bowls, if anyone is interested. So, in that uplifting spirit, Dead Man’s Party seemed deliciously appropriate.

Oingo Boingo, AKA that 80s band that Danny Elfman was in, is still one of those outfits that I’ve never “really” known. One could say, with a degree of certainty (a bachelor’s in certainty) that I am a casual Oingo Boingo listener. I certainly enjoy what I’ve heard, but (as of yet) not enough to call myself an Oingo Boingo aficionado.

On a side note, if you’ve never played the game Cards Against Humanity, I adamantly suggest it. Happy Sunday!

Saturday Picnic

LennyLenny Bruce was many things; an influence, a live wire in a time of controlled darkness, a perceived nuisance, and a picnicker. On the cover of The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce, the legendary comedian basks in the glistening sun, next to a well-prepped picnic, and the memorial markers of those deceased. I’m about to head out on a little picnic of my own (not alone and NOT in a cemetery), and this is the only picnic-based album I could muster. I hope you all have enjoyed/are enjoying your Saturday, and if you haven’t dipped your toes into the lurid pool that is Lenny Bruce, I humbly suggest that you take a deep breath, and dive in head first… the water is perfect.

Love Missile F1-11

Sigue FrontThe year was 1986, and it was about (damn) time that Ferris Bueller took (another) day off. Kicking off the alluring, and jaw-dropping, sex-rocket album, Flaunt It, Love Missile F1-11 owns the distinct pleasure of (indefinitely) changing the unforeseen boundaries of music’s indefinable landscape. Nothing before had been conceived, and few since carry the weight of changing one’s perspective on “what music can be” in a simple four minute and 48 second electro-mind-grinding lullaby.

If you’ve seen the John Hughes masterpiece, you’ve heard Love Missile F1-11. Kicking off with the (often) repeated phrase, “I wanna be a star!” this synth-happy, loop-clinging, guitar wailing love tune does (very) little to disguise its overtly sexual (over/under) tones. The line, “Shoot it up!” does not refer to any form of dragon chasing. “There goes my love, rocket-red.” You get the idea.

Sampling Mozart, gunshots, (what sounds like) ray guns, and perfectly timed explosions, Love Missile F1-11 is a seizure –inducing wall of sound that forces you (the listener) to (mentally) salivate and knock over old ladies who may stand in the way of another breathtaking fix.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik is certainly NOT for everyone, and prodigiousness wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, the Summer of 1998

IntergalacticMy fondness for the summer of 1998 stands unmatched (as far as late 90s summers are concerned). I’d spent the bulk of my high school years blasting Beastie beats (much to my parents’ dismay), and that summer’s theme song, Intergalactic, would prove to be the first Beastie Boys single in nearly four years (a streak of lifetimes when you’re between the ages of 15 and 19).

I distinctly remember listening to the radio (an extremely rare thing at the time, and a practice exclusively unheard of today), waiting to hit play + record on my cassette player in the hopes of capturing this new, legendary song. The single was released in mid-May, but in Madison, Wisconsin, if you weren’t present when ANY Beasties single was displayed, your chances of obtaining one were next to nil. This was 1998, before the internet as we now know it, and a full year before Napster. Back then, if you wanted music, you had to hunt, and often times, you came home empty handed.

It’s sad to admit, but I’ve all but disowned Intergalactic now, along with its album, Hello Nasty. However, I’ll never forget the perpetual excitement that stuck to my early adulthood (not unlike Midwestern humidity), and this cover, above all others, transforms a weary man in his mid 30s back into a wide-eyed, overly vocal, and optimistic young man. Oh, the summer of 1998.

Enjoy the Sound and Variety of Coral Records

Coral Records InsertIn my attempt to corner the market of obscure, and rarely seen insert ads, my post-minded attention is shaken and gleefully captured by this two-tone insert by Coral Records.

Home to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Coral Records was the not-so-ugly stepsister (subsidiary) of Decca Records. Formed in 1949, Coral Records saw fan-favorite releases by these, and many other big-name artists: Milton Berle, Lawrence Welk, Patsy Cline, Debbie Reynolds and the McGuire Sisters.

Coral Records LogoUnfortunately, Coral Records’ inspiring logo wasn’t enough to save the label’s merger with MCA Records in the 1960s. Save for the Lawrence Welk recordings, what was once known as a thriving and prolific label (they had Buddy Holly and the Crickets for crying out loud!) would devolve and become swallowed up by the Universal Music Group machine.

The phrase, “Buddy Holly Lives” may be true, but his label is now owned by a theme park.

Golden Tone’s Definition of High Fidelity

Golden ToneThis whole writing every day thing is a big bunch of hokum. So instead, for a one-day only special lazy day treat, I’m going to transcribe Golden Tone Records’ explanation of High Fidelity. No, it’s not a time traveling review of the 2000 film starring John Cusack, but instead a rather lengthy selling point of an audiophile’s wet dream. The Prudent Groove suggests you read the following, to yourself, but with a Morgan Freeman voice. Take it away, Red:

High Fidelity

These high fidelity albums offer you an unexcelled value in high fidelity recordings. They are the result of a combination of skilled modern engineering techniques and the very finest recording equipment. These albums are recorded on 3-track Ampex tape recorders, using RCA, Altec and Electro-Voice microphones and, as a result, produce the truest possible tonal quality. In order to give you the most outstanding reproduction from the tape to the record, the tapes – mastered by the Westrex Feedback Cutter – are pressed from a high-quality vinyl formula under very precise manufacturing conditions. These records are recorded with the RIAA characteristic. Frequency response is from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second. For true enjoyment and top quality, no finer records can be purchased at any price!

Black Market Indy

Black Market IndyI had a cat for eight years. His name was Indiana Jones. He’s gone now… damn little screen pusher was always trying to get outside. Anywho, every once in a while I’ll throw on a record and stumble across one of his hairs. If you look closely at the pic, what looks like a deep scratch near the top is actually a black, white and gray Indy hair. Presumably, the last time I listened to this, or any “Indy album” was between the years, 1998 and 2006, or as I refer to them as, The Indy Years. Kind of like The Wonder Years, but you know, with cats.

So today, I raise two glasses. The first, a whiskey neat to pay homage to the late, great Joe Strummer. The second, a tiny glass of milk to my old friend, Indiana Jones.

Thanks for the memories, guys.

You Can’t Have Your Cake and Spin it Too AKA KPOL Radio (1952-1981)

RIP KPOLBroadcasting self proclaimed, “Beautiful Music,” KPOL, “Los Angeles’ first easy-listening music station,” unleashed 21 alluring tracks, which were all “superbly performed by 101 Strings” in celebration for their 20th anniversary-birthday-ceremony-festival-type thing.

I don’t know what’s worse, that this is considered “Beautiful Music,” or that someone actually bought this deluxe 2 record set. (Looks into mirror and notices his unabated shame.) It certainly isn’t “Grotesque Music,” or even “Homely Music” for that matter, it’s just that when I think of the word “beautiful,” 101 strings does not come to mind. (I’m instantly reminded of a certain Twilight Zone episode with the applicable title, The Eye of the Beholder.)

CakeOn a serious note, it’s a bit sad to see the excitement and enthusiasm displayed by this proud and noble radio station, given the chilling fact that they would forever close their doors just nine short years after this celebratory album was released.

“Have a helping of memories,” kids, because our days are numbered…