(Raises coffee mug… again) Oh, I almost forgot, Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass wanted me to inform you that their album, The Beat of the Brass is good mood music for unwinding after a hectic day. So, keep that in mind if today turns into one of those, “what the hell do you mean, it’s only Monday?!” kind of days.
Randy Newman is something of an inspirational prodigy whose talents know no emotional, as well as Earthly bounds, and whose overwhelming underrated persona almost gives him more credence, considering his flawless ability to churn out amazing piece after jaw-dropping amazing piece of wonderful, heartfelt music. The Natural is no exception and shamefully, I must admit that I didn’t realize he did the score to this perfect film until just now.
My Dad taught me how to throw a baseball. He taught me how to throw a bounce-pass, shoot a free throw and countless other life-learning essentials, but since baseball is largely regarded as a father/son, father/daughter activity, touching upon baseball’s importance to me, and the man who introduced me to it, seemed fitting on this third Sunday of June.
Arguably the best baseball movie ever released, The Natural, and the masterful music that majestically supports this film, make for perfect background music to this sunny Sunday as we pay tribute and homage to fathers all over the world. If you haven’t already, offer your thanks to your father in your own special way. To all the fathers out there reading this, enjoy your day and thanks for all your hard work!
There are days when I hate The Groove. This time sucking, sleep-depriving exercise that began, mainly to explore my record collection (and the limits of my patience), loves to sneak up on me. Just when I think I’ll have a quick post, and then merrily continue on with my day, something interesting pops up and I’m forced to explore it, or live out the rest of my days regretting the time I DIDN’T spend on something worthy of, well, my time. I blame this guilty conscience, and P.D.Q. Bach.
I was going to introduce a “new category” today. I was going to call it Cover Focus, where the subject of the post would, well, focus on an album’s cover (I could have managed another, more creative title, but it was 6:04 in the morning, so, lay off!). I had the cover to The Wurst of P.D.Q. Bach in mind when I imagined the lucrative future of Cover Focus (seeing it on billboards and on the sides of buses rolling from town to Groove happy town). Instead, my curiosity took hold and I began to research Professor Peter Schickele and the composer, P.D.Q. Bach.
What I found out was absolutely hilarious, and borderlines on genius. Peter Schickele (a graduate from Juilliard and former classmate of Philip Glass… a Glassmate if you will), creates an artificial, and comical, world within the often-humorless Classical Music genre. In this world, the Professor (of the fictitious University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople) “unearths” discarded, and often terrible, works by P.D.Q. Bach (the counterfeit child of Johann Sebastian Bach). On this album, a best of P.D.Q. Bach, or Wurst of, if you will (or if you won’t… the album is pressed… it’s done), is performed by the Professor and his magnificent Chamber Orchestra in front of a sizable audience that isn’t afraid to show their appreciation with bursts of laughter and arousing applause (man, do I LOVE the run on sentence).
I imagine it is exceptionally difficult to create good music, and I bet it’s exponentially difficult to create really good “bad” music. For that, and the several, and also genuine, laugh-out-louds I expressed from listening to this album, I humbly, and with a pinch of new-found admiration, thank Professor Peter Schickele for his duty in preserving the great many works of P.D.Q. Bach.
Decca Records spans an almost spectrum-like array of eclectic ear candy. Ranging from Children’s music (Winnie the Pooh), to Hawaiian music (Alfred Apaka), to Classical (Vivaldi), and last but certainly not least, to William Shatner (in whose 1968 album, The Transformed Man, I excavated this colorful insert).
It’s always interesting to see how creative these self-promoting record label inserts get in attempting to showcase their less-than-chart-topping-hit-records. I particularly dig this insert’s layout and how a simple arrow (repeated, obviously) can direct the eye to what the designer wants to showcase, and the order in which they want it presented. It’s almost a roadmap that effectively leads to the consumer’s ultimate destination… A New World of Sound… On Decca.
So much can be said about this celebrity-singing-covers compilation. Essays that inspire men towards intergalactic travel, lifesaving breakthroughs in medicine, and profound human rights activism have been written, studied, and taught from this album (no evidence of this exists). Yes, many words have been spoken, but none pertaining to this album approach the colossal distinction of nobility, decorum, and heartfelt enthusiasm as the following two, majestic words: William Shatner.
William Shatner. The name alone is powerful enough to move mountains, but the man himself… you see, is no mere “man” at all. Not in the common use of the word, anyway. He’s somewhat of a Superlative-man (please picture a striking red “S” on the broad chest of this transcendent man). He’s someone who can create galaxies with his thoughts, rectify world peace simply by offering a slight smirk, and, as evident from this album, is able to sends both The Beatles and Bob Dylan to shame-town by outperforming their classic hits, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and the timeless, Mr. Tambourine Man.
Aside from the obvious highlights already mentioned, this GOLDEN album features Leonard Nimoy singing a Creedence Clearwater Revival track, Mae West performing Twist and Shout, and Andy Griffith tackling House of the Rising Sun. The term eclectic was reinvented when this album was released.
William Shatner is a man transformed; a star that may die, but whose light will burn on for lifetimes to come. Golden Throats, although it only contains two of his brilliant works, is a beaming example of this. There may be 14 “songs” on this album, but for me, it’s a single with 12 bonus tracks. Golden Throats comes HIGHLY recommended.
I don’t often do this. In fact, I’ve only done it once… right now.
A friend (I use this term loosely… truthfully, he’s one of my favorites… man, I hope he’s not reading) hipped me to a great article on the frightening parallels of collecting vinyl discs to packs of sports cards. With a childhood packed (no pun intended) with countless sports-card-treasure-hunting-excavations (mainly $0.50 packs of 1990 Score baseball, in search of the coveted Bo Jackson football/baseball card), I immediately drew a stark conclusion to the article without even reading it. I did, however, eventually read the article, and I strongly, and with esteemed fervor, suggest you do the same.
I’m going to get preachy for a minute, which is usually reserved for those rare times when I’ve had a few too many single-malts and some random, nonsensical point unfolds from my feeble brain that I desperately yearn for people to listen to, instead of merely hear. Reservations are society’s great vocal silencers:
LISTEN TO YOUR RECORDS! If you collect comic books, READ YOUR COMIC BOOKS! If action figures are your bag, REMOVE THE TOYS FROM THEIR WORTHLESS PACKAGING AND PLAY WITH THEM! The notion of purchasing some inanimate object, with which to do nothing but hope it’ll yield you an early retirement is, quite honestly, asinine! It took me a lot longer than I’m willing to admit to come to this conclusion and let me tell you, actually listening to my records, AKA using a consumable item for its intended purpose, not to mention absorbing the joyous memories found in doing so, IS THE POINT! Life is entirely too short not to enjoy, or at least attempt to enjoy, each and every moment. That first pressing of Tool’s Ænima is not going to put your kid through college. Listen to it, and in doing so, remember that the purpose of the record isn’t to gaze greedily upon its rarity, but instead to enjoy the wealthy contents found within the grooves. Seems prudent enough, no?
Ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the mighty boots of Sgt. Pepper? Well, you can’t, so stop dreaming for the impossible, and come back down to reality because presented here is (not at all) the next best thing.
Tucked deep inside my rather dilapidated copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is this lovely little “costume themed” Sgt. Pepper insert. Some assembly is needed, but with minimal work (scissors are required), you can amaze and confuse your family and friends by dressing up as the honorable Sgt. Pepper.
This cut-out kit includes:
1. Moustache (No Sgt. Pepper impersonator would be caught dead without one.)
2. Picture Card (To pass off as a valid and law-abiding photo identification card, presumably when questioned by authorities, or children with worried looks in their eyes.)
3. Stripes (To keep your Sergeant arms warm.)
4. Badges (Nothing says you’re serious about your appointed duties like a badge with a picture of yourself posted proudly upon your heroic chest.)
5. Stand Up (No Sergeant, ESPECIALLY Sgt. Pepper, would be caught parading around without a psychedelic, four-piece band. Here is a picture of that band.)
Halloween is several months away, but you can practice your army-commanding stature with this lovely, and surprisingly accurate, cut-out costume. (Mind-altering drugs and sitar sold separately.)
1993 was an interesting year. I was 14, and back then, New Jack Swing was alive and violently flowing from the radio waves like a raging river of hip hop and dance-pop fusion, but you know, with tight-rolled Z Cavaricci’s and LA Gear footwear.
Shifting away from spoon-fed radio, for me, was a slow burn. We only had two radio stations that played anything other than Western or Country, and the closest record store was something like 40 miles away. A bit too far for me and my trusty BMX, as it turned out.
If I Had No Loot was a recent purchase, a $1 thrift store find actually, and serves as one of those “throwback” records that I’ll frequent when the thoughts of my younger years slowly begin to seep through the thin layer of 2013 reality. Other bands that fit this category include Animotion, Tone-Lōc, Paula Abdul, R.E.M., Prince, Jane’s Addiction, Faith No More and Pet Shop Boys (I was a confused kid).
For all its amazing shortcomings, If I Had No Loot still manages to stand its ground, and is as catchy and enjoyable as when I heard it for the first time screaming from Z-104 (104 FM) out of Madison, WI. People say music is timeless. I say, music is a time casket, emerging from yesteryear like a Pepe jean, Hypercolor shirt wearing zombie.
This protective envelope is a hoss! With its abrasion fighting, scratch deterrent capabilities, this protective envelope guards your record’s grooves like a well trained, and slightly hungry, Navy SEAL.
Dust, frosting, coffee, weapons of mass destruction… you name it, this protective envelope will not only terminate any potential harm set to attack your cherished records, it will publicly humiliate the enemy with a shaming and mocking tone.
This protective envelope doesn’t offer these prestigious promises for free. Prepare to treat this protective envelope as if it painfully, yet lovingly, emerged from your womb. Give this protective envelope the proper love, sympathy and attention it requires. Because, let’s face it… can we really put a price on our records’ safety and well-being? No. The answer is no, we cannot.
This protective envelope thanks you for your time and asks that you please wash your damn hands before thinking of laying a finger on your precious records.
Grab your favorite E. A. Poe, H. S. Thompson, J. Shepherd or T. S. Eliot, and set your hi-fi to a warm and welcoming volume, because The Melachrino Strings wonderfully, and eagerly present, Music for Reading.
Gone are the ornery days of reading in unbearable silence. Like the welcome whisper of a cooling breeze on a warm, summer day, Music for Reading offers a cordial mood for any, and every worded adventure of the printed form. Like the soundtrack to a tightly bound roadmap of imagination, Music for Reading is your obedient counterpart through the vast universe of the black and white page.
Other records in the “Moods In Music” series include Music for Dining, Music for Relaxation, Music for Mowing the Lawn, Music for Angrily Signing the Divorce Papers, Music for Plotting the Overthrow of the Government, Music for Stubbing Your Toe, Music for Social Anxiety and Music for Writing About Music.
The next time you find yourself sprawled out in an uncomfortable position on the floor with a book and 30 minutes to kill, consider Music for Reading. You’ll wonder how you ever reluctantly picked up a book without it.
Beginning around 1962, the flexi disc, or phonosheet, has been a low cost, low quality audio option for anything from Beatles Christmas “thank you’s” to fan club members, to a message from Biz Markie wedged inside issue #2 of Grand Royal Magazine that I need to dig out of the closet, to information on The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes found on specially marked cereal boxes back in 1989.
Only slightly thicker than a piece of paper, the flexi disc was a reasonable medium for offering audio, be it songs or clues on how to meet a REAL Ghostbuster, from unconventional sources. I imagine few of you to equate a box of breakfast with a vinyl record, but who knows. I’ve been surprised before. Once… he turns 9 this October. I joke.
This particular flexi disc boasts a chance for a very lucky participant to become an honorary member of the Ghostbuster’s team. (Really, it was just a cheap ploy to get people into theaters to see Ghostbusters 2.) All the groggy-eyed, little elementary school twerp needed to do was answer the following questions on a 3×5 card (apparently any other sized card would result in immediate disqualification from the mystery sweepstakes) and mail the answers along with their name, age and address, including zip code, and telephone number to the following address:
The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes
PO Box 4029
Beverly Hills, CA 90213-4029
Question 1: Name the woman who works in the art museum, who is Peter Venkman’s girlfriend.
Question 2: At what holiday does the big bust happen at the end of the movie?
Question 3: What US monument do the Ghostbusters work from to save the city?
Cheap ploy or not, I miss the days when I could stroll into a Piggly Wiggly and walk out with a record. For those of you dying to hear (what sounds like) the voice actor of Egon Spengler from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon show, a video of the record can be found here.
One by Dirty Vegas isn’t near as dirty as you would like to think. Boasting as hard-hitting, blood-spilling, sweat-soaked, body-beats for the proverbial “good time seeking” fornicator, instead comes across as the equivalent of a firm handshake from your sister.
Certainly not to say the grooves are not spin-worthy. This is lighthearted, feel-good, dance-happy, PG music suitable for Jr. High dances where the only objective is to make eye-contact lasting longer than a brief glance, and/or the elusive holding of the hands. Adults are forged from the adolescent ashes of those hopelessly hopeful who think Vegas has ever been this clean.
Editor’s note: I’m not gonna’ lie. I’m getting monumentally bored over here. Today’s post was another fleeting attempt at trying something new… and failing miserably. Sin City Has Never Been More Vanilla was randomly generated from the seemingly pointless “Random Item” button offered by Discogs. For those of you who don’t Discogs, the “Random Item” feature displays a random item from within your collection. So, there you have it. I clearly should have stayed in bed.
When time stands still, all the Strawberry Alarm Clocks will be set to snooze. Your weekend getaway plans of getting drunk on girlie drinks while sitting poolside in the middle of the desert will seem that much further away. Depending on when Father Time decided to take his much-needed break, you could relive a wonderful moment, like say, in the embrace of a loved one, or on the flipside, you could be stuck watching a desperate and unnerving rerun of Airwolf.
When time stands still, rent is free, no one dies, and the fruit on the kitchen table doesn’t go bad. When time stands still, it’s time to replace the battery.
Every once in a while on a gloomy Tuesday in Southern California, the mood for pop punk/emo strikes. It’s not often, but when those emotionally overcast skies offer no inspiration, it’s nice to know Tuesday is there to offer their slow-rolling brand of catchy, youthful memory inspiring groove music.
Perhaps known best for being the band Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio played in before joining Alkaline Trio, Tuesday existed for little over a year and produced only one EP, Early Summer and one full length, Freewheelin’.
Releasing their entire catalog in 1997, Tuesday showcases the upbeat and darker side of Midwestern life, and shouldn’t be incorrectly lumped in with 2000-era, “cutting yourself for attention” Emo. Emo in the mid/late 90s held a completely different connotation than it does today. We called Fugazi Emo, if that gives you any idea of how deformed and self-righteous the term has become.
Tuesday is here but one day a week. Embrace the negatives of this world once in a while. You’ll gain a much more clear perspective on how great your life really is… that, or you’ll jumpstart that downward spiral you’ve been trying to avoid for nearly 15 years. Either way, Tuesday is there when you need them.
It isn’t the warm, southern drawl of ‘Slim’ Boyd as he tackles 10 of Hank Williams’ finest that demands immediate and time-sucking attention. Slim’s 25mph approach on this tribute album doesn’t wander into any slippery or explosive territory, but the album cover certainly suggests otherwise.
Possessing no shame, remorse, or any qualities that make an upstart gentleman, ‘Slim” Boyd goes for broke… if only in his mind. You’re going to need to, um, read between the “lines” here. Take a look at the cover again. What EXACTLY is hound dog Slim looking at?
Hank Williams is dead. Yes, but his music will forever live on through the wandering, able-minded, and easily distracted ‘Slim’ Boyd.
When I was a youngster, I absolutely loved those “can you spot the difference?” games in the back of magazines that presented two, almost identical pictures side by side, where in which the object was to find the subtle differences between the two pictures. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered, almost by accident, that several of the doubles in my collection were different issues, and therefore had very subtle differences. I thought to myself, hmm, why not create a “can you spot the difference?’ game for the readers of The Prudent Groove?
1988, with all its impotence and social frustrations, was a pretty damn outstanding year for music. Today we’re going to focus on (albeit very briefly because, let’s face it, I’ve got things to do) two outstanding works of Industrial fusion helmed from the prolific production due that was once known as Luxa Pan Productions. Very quickly, for those of you who have been living in a K-Mart dressing room for the past 25 years, Luxa Pan (Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, respectively) were the monikers of Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker. Sorry to be redundant for those to whom this fact is obvious… moving on.
In 1988, Ministry (Jourgensen/Luxa, Barker/Pan & crew) released the consciously alarming The Land of Rape and Honey. Also released in 1988 was Trait by Pailhead. Luxa Pan Productions was/is known for their excessive side projects, and their teaming with Minor Threat/Fugazi frontman, Ian MacKaye to form Pailhead is one of these bountiful side gigs.
Ok, so, FINALLY getting to the meat and potatoes of this damned post. Take a look at the pic of both covers at the top. Both albums were released the same year (1988), and both featured masterminds Jourgensen and Barker. Do the covers seem a bit similar to you? Something like a mushroom cloud, right? “Yes?” You reply with a vague tone. Ok, now take a look at the pic below.
By converting to grayscale and inverting the colors to The Land of Rape and Honey, you can clearly see the stark similarity between these two covers. I’m racking my brain on what this could mean. Did the boys just dig an ambiguous mushroom cloud image, enough to reproduce it on two different album covers by two “different” bands? Maybe. Did their excessive drug use drain them of their creative juices leaving them to repurpose an old idea? I don’t think so.
Here’s my thought. 1988 opened the door for a tsunami-sized wave of creative output by the Luxa Pan team (focusing solely on albums released between 1988 and 1993), and this mushroom cloud was a symbol for an explosion of releases that would define the career of both Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker.
Allow me to briefly break it down: Three albums by Revolting Cocks (You Goddamned Son of a Bitch, Beers, Steers, and Queers, and Linger Fickin’ Good), three albums by LARD (LARD, The Last Temptation of Reid, and Pure Chewing Satisfaction), a release by PTP, two released by 1000 Homo DJs (Apathy, and Supernaut) three by Lead into Gold (Idiot, Age of Reason, and Chicks & Speed: Futurism), four albums by Ministry (The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, In Case You didn’t Feel Like Showing Up, and Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs) and finally, two releases by Pailhead (I Will Refuse and Trait). So, if my overly simplified calculations are correct (and they probably aren’t), in the span of only six years, Luxa Pan Productions produced a total of 18 albums. The mind boggles in its feeble attempt to process this information.
Whether these covers were foreshadowing the brilliant work of two insanely talented musicians, or it was simply an overanalyzed coincidence, 1988 ignited a bonfire under Luxa Pan Productions, the flames of which are still burning strong to this day.
As the alarm jingles you into the consciousness of another daft, tedious and overly hyped day filled with false promises of hope and certainty, you desperately plead with the unknown for a few lasting moments of peace and comfort. You don’t get them. You know your atrocious cries will go unheard, just as they always have. There is something to be said for consistency, even if it’s a bleeding string of expletives.
The strong amongst us will unplug that screaming alarm, give it a sunken, lasting stare filled with decades full of animosity and confusion, then proceed to slay the mighty beast of disruption by smashing it repeatedly against the fish tank before victoriously returning to bed. Those of use who are left… the weak… adapt.
To adapt, we must admit that we don’t fit. We must come to terms that, one way or another, we are that lonely cluster of shredded wheat that fell to the floor and has gone unnoticed for close to six days… a lifetime, as it seems. To adapt is to surrender your instincts, to follow the dangling carrot of quantity by abandoning the carrot cake of quality. But in doing so, we are granted the gilded gift of repetition, and with it, the chance to put off obsoleteness for one more day.
Can you tell I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning?
I woke up at 4:11 this morning with a death-like worry. I was afraid I’d neglected to return the Speech in Action record to the Aggeler High library. So, half-dazed and fully panicked, I threw on the lights and checked the “educational section” of my library. Through tears and a palpitating heart, I discovered that yes; it was due, but thankfully, not until 3pm today.
Speech in Action is exactly what it sounds like: Examples of people speaking with different inflections pertaining to their different points of motivation. John Callaway, the narrator, gives a brief description to each of the 10 types of speech and interpretation, after which an example of each is performed by some of topnotch vocal chords 1965 has ever heard (Roy Neal and Charlton Heston to name a few).
For many of us, casual conversation at the office (usually about Nutella or the social need for foot deodorant) is something that comes naturally, and rarely requires much preparation. This is “speech to inform.” I would have had no Earthly idea that my early morning rants on what constitutes a “good” cup of coffee were actually mundane, yet surprisingly engaging “speeches to inform” had it not been for these beacons of educational, and applicable grooves. I never thought I’d say this, but thank you, Mr. Heston.
If you’re stuck giving a speech at your next VFW luncheon, or you foresee an upcoming monologue directed towards your girlfriend’s father in the last-ditch attempts to persuade him that his daughter need not stay in that night, try Speech in Action. You’ll gain confidence, stature, and Godlike wisdom. Check it out. That is, if I actually remember to return it.
In my attempted efforts to find something ornery and contemptuous about Audiotex’s Stereo and Monophonic Audiotester, I discovered that this rather expensive audio testing tool ($38.69 today, or the ridiculous price of the new Daft Punk album) is a visual work of late 1950s design/graphic art.
Inception was big in the late 50s, early 60s. Hard at work in his audio laboratory, the technician on the cover is skillfully testing his own copy of Audiotex’s Stereo and Monophonic Audiotester. Do tests need testing? Anyway, I absolutely adore the layout of this album. The white/red/saturated blue cover (that was obviously pieced together like a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle on the cover of Life magazine), and the tuning fork and sound wave influenced Audiotex logo are just a few marvels found within this front sleeve.
The back to this riveting test record is just as visually absorbing. Breaking down the necessary tests for both stereophonic and monaural phonographs with overly simplified, 1959 phonographics (I just made that up), the bullet-pointed basics offered from this record are presented in an easy to understand, and visually engaging layout. From the turntable rumble test (stereo) to the tone arm resonance test (mono), this audiophile worthy test record is essential for even the novice record collector.
As you can see, I’m a sucker for nostalgia that I had absolutely no part of. For me, the red/black/white color palette is always a favorite, and it’s always a treat to discover phonographic-heavy, and time-capsule-like records.