Let’s dance… let’s frolic… let’s struggle to maintain our balance around the furious spindle, to what appears to be music pressed on the best records made. Perfect is an audacious term, but with gyrations as questionable and inviting as the art suggests, who’s to say that Perfect Records isn’t just what they, and the name suggests? I’m certainly not one to judge, at least, not tonight.
Mass in F Minor
A gift (thanks M&P), my first Electric Prunes record is everything I’d imaged this legendary psychedelic band to be, and much, much more. Appropriately titled, Mass in F Minor, this 1968 release, composed by David Axelrod (of Cannonball Adderley and solo fame), takes a cocktail shaker, measures out two parts blues-meets-acid-rock, with equal parts Latin and Greek Catholicism, and mixes the shit out of these conflicting, and polar outlooks… but like, in a perfectly presentable and digestible offering (church puns…). A strikingly bold move for only the band’s third studio album, Mass in F Minor is a large pill to swallow, which, I imagine, is precisely, and distinctively the point. I look forward to other spinnings by this bold and talented group.
Yes, yes, yet another RCA Victor 78 record sleeve. (Does anyone see a pattern here? And, oh! That dog looks familiar…) My personal take on this inherited sleeve is that the northeastern corner was deliberately, let’s say, customized, buy the original owner (or the owner’s friend’s owner… I have no way of knowing). Regardless, simplicity in design shines brightest, yet again, and we’re left with some pretty badass, vintage art.
Factory Back Door
Album ass: TMBG style. I was beside myself when news of They Might Be Giants’ 1996 album, Factory Showroom would (finally) be released on vinyl. Quickly snatching one up, I fell into my chair looking at a 12″ display of what was, to my experience at the time, the CD’s back cover. Countless pizza deliveries were made listening to this album, and many a red light were spent matching the artfully displayed tracklist to the appropriate track number. Metal Detector, James K. Polk, and the personal favorite, Till My Head Falls Off were, and are classic, late 90s jams. (Takes a deep breath.) Thank you, Asbestos Records!
Vita-tonal Columbia Phonographs
The word “orthophonic” is so outdated, spellcheck feels it is misspelled (damn you, spellcheck!). The first of its kind featuring records recorded using the new “electronically recorded” sound was first shunned by major labels, then, like an unearthed memory, embraced and regarded as a monumental leap forward in consumer-based, reproduced sound. Making waves as early as 1925… nicely done, Western Electric.
The hype is over, though the profound light from ska-punk (personal) favorites Mad Caddies will never burn out. Presented here is a throwaway hype sticker to their album from last year, Punk Rocksteady. No hype needed here, because I fell in love with them back in the late 90s, and, well, I purchased this album online as a pre-order, but here it lives, and here it shall stay.
America’s fastest selling record, circa: 1930?, well, I have no way of knowing, so, sure. What’s interesting about Perfect, aside from the “Better Records Can’t Be Made” party at the bottom of the photo (a photo for another time…), is that 78 pressings on Perfect reemerged as late as the 1990s, most notably the double 10″ by John Fahey titled, Morning / Evening, Not Night released in 1996… now a top item on my 78 wantlist.
The Gang’s All Here
=Kool= & The Gang is certainly deserving of a greatest hits album (or in this case, Greatest Hits!), an obvious statement for those in the know. Complete with hits like Jungle Boogie, Music is the Message, and Funky Stuff, you’re sure to enjoy the radio and charting hits in one, neatly packaged album, at a relatively reasonable asking price. Put some much-needed funk into your life, and start with Kool & The Gang’s Greatest Hits!
Brunswick Bowling Ball
Brunswick Records, the now 103-year-old label, initially began releasing US-recorded material solely in Canada (eh?). Growing in size to become one of the world’s “big three” (Victor, Columbia Records, being the other two), Brunswick would find domestic success releasing “urban” or “race records” including those by The Jungle Band (Duke Ellington) and Fletcher Henderson. Take notice of the striking (pun completely intended) lightning bolt design behind the name, and although she may now be more commonly known for her bold bowling balls, the Brunswick name has been a household staple since September of 1845.
Oh, dear Lord. The deluxe, 50th anniversary release of the coveted, and rarely eclipsed The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. I’ve been hesitant in posting my excitement about this long-awaited box set for dreadful fear of not properly providing it with the much-needed justice and attention it deserves. So with that, I’ll (with a shameful heart) postpone this journey for another, more appropriate date, safe to say, this box set was well worth the wait, and is well worth the price of admission.
Columbia Records Every Music Lover Should Own
Do you love music? Do you OWN music? Why not take Columbia Records out for a spin and see how the night goes? Dinner is optional, if you know what I mean. Columbia Broadcasting System wants you (and your pocketbook) to indulge in some fantastic, and noteworthy releases via their vibrant, 78rpm catalogue. Featured here, on this 1930? protective sleeve are descriptions of releases by Sir Thomas Beecham, Lorenzo Molajoli, Choir of The Red Army of The U.S.S.R., and Selmar Meyrowitz, but most notably, fancy yourself a gander at this amazing (yet strikingly simple) layout, and the CBS “Trade-Mark” logo. Columbia?! Yes, Gloria… Columbia.
The Wild Ones
Here’s one for you, albeit short. So, Wild Thing, the intro theme to fictitious pitcher Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, as well as the number one charting single by English chaps, The Troggs (originally calling themselves the Troglodytes) was initially recorded by New York kids, The Wild Ones (unfortunately, the track is not featured on this album). The song was written by yankee songwriter Chip Taylor, who just so happens to be the brother of actor John Voight. The Arthur Sound, featured here, is a damn-good collection of live performances by this 1965 five-piece. Even though it doesn’t include the song previously mentioned, it’s lively, a bit feverish (for 1965), and makes for a great (mild) garage rock spinner.
“His Master’s Voice”
We’ve all seen this iconic logo by the Victor Talking Machine Company, but did you know, rumor has it, or lore, really, that the original painting that inspired this historic logo (a direct lift, really) by English painter Francis Barraud has a bit of a heartwarming backstory. Sure, a questionable yet awe-inspiring story will certainly help you sell records, so take it with a grain of sentimental salt. Apparently, Francis’ brother Mark had passed away, and Francis inherited his brother’s dog Nipper, a terrier, along with a a cylinder phonograph (Edison, anyone?) and some cylinders with poor, deceased Mark’s voice on them. When little Nipper, as the story goes, would listen to his departed master’s voice projecting through the vibrant horn, he / she would peer at it with inspirational interest, spawning Francis to paint the iconic piece in 1899… but this time (suck it, Edison!) with a disc machine instead of the original cylinder apparatus, and the rest, as they say, and is clearly known, is history. Check out the painting and rogue history on Wikipedia. The photo above was taken, by me, from a recently acquired 78 sleeve, printed some 80-90 years ago. The more you kinda know?
Another vintage 78 sleeve?! K’mon, man! Nope! I’m owning this! Clarion Records, whose logo owns a striking resemblance to the classic Grand Royal Records logo (one of them, at least), was home to such (who the hell are they?) artists as Ford Britten’s Comets, Eddie Younger’s Mountaineers, Louisiana Collegians, and Hobo Jack Turner (among many, many others). Predominantly active throughout the early 1930s, releases on the Clarion label are many, which is odd considering little to nothing about the label’s history can be found online. The logo is tops, though!
Hell and Back
First off, RIP Jam Master Jay. Secondly, back covers, or as I like to call them, album ass, can be just as enticing and worthy of discussion and attention as their popular fronts (in my humble opinion). Case in point, this lovely, squared-off, rear-end of Run-DMC’s 1986 Raising Hell. Bold, yes. Informative, sure. Track listing is a huge plus. Credits, both artistically and manufactoringly (sure, a bit of a stretch, but we’re going with it), are all present and accounted for. This is a monster album, worthy of ownership by just about anyone with good sense, and if you don’t already own it (which I’m sure you do), it’s certainly worth seeking out.
Ok, let’s jump ahead a few decades (four or so) and revel in the artistic advancements of well-designed record sleeves. Pickwick (as cheap of a product as they were… sorry, Pickwick), certainly took the overly simple approach to bold and effective measures. This pattern would make for some bomb wallpaper (desktop or otherwise), and I’m now thinking of lifting this look for some Groove-related goodies. Anyway, sleeves-a-plenty over here these days, so buckle up and enjoy the obscurity.
Sleeves advertising vintage record players (or in this case, classic Victrolas), are some of my favorites to discover. They’re not always in heavy supply, the sleeves, so when they rear their beautiful and fragile heads, it’s a bit of a pleasant surprise. That credenza looks pretty badass, in my humble opinion (again, the space issue), but to be honest, accurately reproduced sound has never looked so damn sexy.
A (very) brief remembrance of Harmony Records, a has-been sister company of Columbia Records starting in 1925. Manufactured as a lower budget option for the 78rpm crowd (a quality product at a popular price, as they liked to say… apparently), Harmony was initially active nearly a hundred years ago in the 1920s and 1930s. Harmony was home to acts I’ve never heard of, and could only attempt to make up (The Dixie Stompers, University Six, Banjo Barons, The Savannah Six, Three Monkey Chasers), and this vintage sleeve, complete with groovy logo, has withstood the test of time, and has recently been welcomed to the (ever-growing) collection of one-off sleeves in the library… as if space wasn’t already an issue…
Chicago Slickers Volume 2 1948-1955 may have single-handedly jump started, or violently unearthed a monster obsession I’ve had little-to-no experience with. That obsession being, the heart-wrenching, rhythm-driving atmosphere of good blues music. I could list the artists on this comp reissue, but I’ve never heard of any of them before… and that’s a fault I’m willing to own. Originally released back in 1980, this fairly recent reissue (2017) can be had for cheap (under $13, or under $10 in this case), and should be explored by any lover of classic rock rhythms. Enjoy with caution, enjoy often. All sales final.