From the Makers of Gold Bond Ceiling Tile…

Sound Off... Softy Cover SmallerNothing, and I mean NOTHING says Count Basie & Duke Ellington quite like Gold Bond Ceiling Tile. Back in 196? Columbia Special Products, a sister company of Columbia Records, teamed up with Gold Bond to promote their brand of ceiling tiles which, when installed in your “listening room,” were supposed to improve acoustics and offer an overall better listening experience. You know Gold Bond for their powders and creams that help treat diaper rash, jock itch and other moisture causing embarrassments, but what you may not know is that Gold Bond used to manufacture Silentex, “a beautifully brush textured tile with a wheat and white color… and it has no unsightly holes.” I HATE those unsightly holes! They’re just so, unsightly!

Got the urge for some do-it-yourself construction work? Unsatisfied with your current hi-fi and the quality of music it produces? Sick of that beautiful Patti Page track, Moon River sounding cockeyed and unpleasant? Then it may be time to consider installing Gold Bond Silentex. Because, as you know, with your current ceiling, “echoes bounce from surface to surface, and they can make utter hash out of what started out as good music.”

Woman SmallerOh, and the woman on the cover has figured out inception, so, there you go.

Cleanliness is Next to Grooviness

PropGrowing up, Saturdays meant one thing: cleaning. Rain or shine, root beer hangover or not, when Saturday reared its ugly head, you knew, at the very least, you were going to clean the house.

Sprouting from a household of three (my parents being the other two), we assumed the old “divide and conquer” strategy and cleaned the entire, two-story house. Now, as an adult shaped boy-child, Saturdays are STILL synonymous with cleaning. So, as my beautiful counterpart and I clean our pad, I suggest Propagandhi’s 1993 major label debut (if you consider Fat Wreck Chords a major label), How to Clean Everything.

It’s political pop punk from Canada, and it’s proven to make you clean faster. It’s also available on transparent gold vinyl, as you can clearly see (see what I did there?).

Rope Jumping & Ball Handling

Rope Jumping CoverI’ll admit that I was a little deceived by the contents of this glorious record. For reasons unknown, I imagined this record to contain step-by-step instructions for jumping rope and handling balls. Instead, this record consists of nothing more than orchestrated versions of traditional children’s themes, such as Mary Had A Little Lamb and Did You Ever See A Lassie.

Stage 1: World Shattering Disappointment. Stage 2: Acceptance. Stage 3: Ridicule and Oversimplified Observation.

Henry 1What attracted me to this album, without question, was its cover. Go ahead… take another look. See that little boy? That’s Henry. Henry once lacked the basic hand-eye coordination required to return a bounced ball back to his ball bouncing hand. But no need to worry, as you see, Henry is getting better. Henry’s teacher, Ms. Schultz informed Mommy and Daddy Henry that the other kids were poking fun at their only son because he had difficulty handling his balls (soccer, tether, dodge, etc.). Ms. Schultz consoled a sobbing Mommy Henry and suggested a groundbreaking new technique sure to launch little Henry back into the 2nd grade social circle he secretly loathed and despised. That child-saving technique is the record, Rope Jumping & Ball Handling. Today, Henry is a professional ball handler, informing the world of his exceptional ball handling dexterity.

Henry 2According to the back cover, “rope Jumping is one of the oldest, least costly and best ways to further the physical development of boys and girls.” Swimming and running are far too expensive! Hey, Henry. Here’s a quarter. Go down to Five and Dime and get yourself a jump rope… and pick me up a pack of Pall Malls. Bring back the change.

If you ever wondered about the five beneficial attributes of jumping rope, today is your lucky day. The following is found, verbatim, on the back cover:

Correct movement skills in rope jumping are challenging, meaningful and contribute much to further the physical fitness and growth and development of children by:

1. Strengthening of arms and legs.

2. Increasing skill levels of jumping and timing.

3. Developing muscular coordination.

4. Increasing the efficiency of the cardio-vascular system.

5. Creating a desirable social balance achieved through the process of waiting for turns, achieving success and recognizing failure.

#5 is my favorite. Jumping Rope: Creating A Desirable Social Balance One Inept Child At A Time!

Playing Cards, and Drinking Lemonade… the Sun Was Shining in the Month of May

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 9.53.40 AMUnderstanding that a groove is relevant only to a record and does not, in any case pertain to the spools of a cassette tape, I, via ways of inadvertent and very magic-like slight of hand, attempt to fool your senses in discussing a nostalgically important glimmer of rural mid-western indie-pop music… before the term indie was, well, indie. (How’s that for the recommended number of commas for those comma-touting liberals? #sniff) Cassettes need love too, so today The Prudent Groove will temporarily change its name to The Prudent Spool.

Illinois to Wisconsin is like Republicans to Democrats… or Democrats to Republicans, depending on where you align your morals. (The Prudent Spool doesn’t, as of yet, publicize its political alliances.) There was a batch of amazing music emerging from both states during the early 1990’s. The Smashing Pumpkins; remember them? They recorded their debut album, Gish (produced by Butch Vig), at Madison, Wisconsin’s Smart Studios. The mid-90’s brought Milwaukee’s The Promise Ring and their absolutely perfect debut, 30° Everywhere.

While south of the line that divides the cheese heads from the FISH, bands like Braid, Lard, Slapstick and the alternative (again, before the term was branded and incorporated) and very groove-heavy 7-track cassette (the name of which I’ve never known) by the locally infamous cats, Vacuum Scam. The Scam sounded like an amped-up, pop-punk version of early Pearl Jam if you know, Pearl Jam were ever any good. To say they were crunchy guitar driven is to ignore their brilliant ability to create melodies so painfully catchy, yet with the ability to sound fresh with each new listen. They were a SOLID unit, and to this day I’m scouring the earth, emailing the band, convincing my High School friends to search their junk drawers for the original 7-track cassette. It’s been 17 years and my search has turned up nothing.

Adrian, or DJ Mr. Brown as he is internationally known, introduced me to these 7, anxiety-ridden-jam tracks. You see, back in the day, cassettes were the thing. You could, well, I guess what 2013 would call the loathingly media-heavy adjective, “pirate,” tracks onto a “mix tape” that personally represented the “recent break-up mood” mix, the “my folks don’t let me go out on Friday nights and I’m fuggin’ pissed about it” mix, or even your “big bro says this is necessary listening material” mix. A mixed CD before mp3s, for those of you who remember what it was like before the internet. I dubbed these 7 tracked from someone who dubbed them from someone else who had the original tape. I’ve always been thankful that Adrian introduced me to the Scam (and endless other essential music). I managed to burn the cassette to CD before returning his dubbed copy, so I’m still able to enjoy the memories of my Senior year of high school anytime I choose.

Not much can be found on Vacuum Scam these days. They have a myspace page, but only 424 plays on last.fm. It’s a shame considering about a third of those plays are by me.Prudent Groove Spool Logo New

 

Billy vs. Lionel and the Ceiling Dancing Zone of Love

Billy vs Lionel1986 was arguably the best year of my life. It was the year I got married, produced a beautiful young daughter, Chelsea, and it was the year I was nominated for my first (and only) Pulitzer.  Ok, so NONE of these things happened to me in 1986, but what DID happen were the beginnings of a battle that still continues today… a grand crusade of international proportions. I am of course referring to Billy vs. Lionel and the Ceiling Dancing Zone of Love.

Billy EyesThere’s a lot of love going on between the singles, Love Zone and Dancing on the Ceiling. Let’s first look at Billy Ocean’s Love Zone.  The Love Zone is a safe place; a quarantined section blocked-off and geographically located between the Hate Zone and the Dead Zone. Given these other zone options, the Love Zone is the preferred zone by the majority of the zone-based community. The A-side to this single comes “from the smash hit album Love Zone” while the B-side is the instrumental version of Love Zone. The B-side offers a little less love, but still comes across as lovely.

Lionel EyesLionel Richie’s single, Dancing on the Ceiling, isn’t as immediately love-tastic. I mean, who LOVES dancing on the ceiling? I myself have never danced upon the ceiling, but “love” wouldn’t be the first emotion that comes to mind. I’m convinced Dancing on the Ceiling is the result of a drug-induced, debaucherous weekend that found Mr. Richie taking a break from his then 5 year old daughter, Nicole, to mainline a rented hotel room full of narcotics that made him feel as if he were “dancing on the ceiling.” We can all be grateful for that hit single inspired weekend. Oh, the love connection (remember that show, The Love Connection?) can be found on the B-side’s, Love Will Find A Way. That’s a good point. Love often DOES find a way, but seldom within the Hate or Dead Zones.

So, given Billy Ocean’s safe haven of zoned love and Lionel Richie’s (completely fabricated) weekend of ecstasy and ceiling dancing, it’s safe to say this is a battle our grandchildren will need to settle. I mean, could YOU decide between these two heroic poems?

1986 was a pretty amazing year.

Numbs My Brain

Van the ManI imagine 1967 to be slightly different from 2013. For one thing, there were no gummy worms in 1967. That fact alone is enough to relieve any current day woe. But (starting a sentence with “but” is bad for your skin), with both feet firmly planted in the unbreakable reality that is 2013, it’s fun to send the head out into the clouds of 1967 as if it were a balloon disappearing into infinity. 2013’s 1967 is exactly what this gloomy Los Angeles morning needs, so with all of this gibberish in mind, I humbly present 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind!

Van Morrison. Two words strong enough for a complete sentence. Like a phoenix, Van “The Man” Morrison rose to infinite stardom during the British Invasion with his band, Them. Remember Gloria? G. L. O. R. I. A. Gloria! That was Them, but to be specific, it was Van Morrison.  Releasing only two albums with Them, 1965’s Them and 1966’s Them Again respectfully, “The Man” was convinced to travel to America (well, New York city) for his solo debut.

Brown Eyed Girl

Blowin’ Your Mind! was not a success, which is strikingly difficult to imagine, considering it brought us Brown Eyed Girl. We all know and love that song so I won’t fill your eyeholes with my blather about it. What I will blather about, with unrelenting and shameless gusto is the 9+ minute masterpiece, T.B. Sheets. Arriving immediately before the bridge (the end of side 1), T.B. Sheets is a bass heavy blues jam that acts as a vehicle for “The Man” to stretch his unquestionable musical talents and knock over any and everything in its glorious wake (Gloria!). It’s difficult to comprehend “The Man” was only 22 when he recorded this song… 22!  There isn’t a word that befittingly describes the immensity of this song. Confoundedly-epic doesn’t even come close.

I implore you to seek out 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind! and its majestic beauty, T.B. Sheets. I’m not joking. You’re going to want to make love to this song.

Label

THE ACTUAL DIALOGUE, SOUND EFFECTS & MUSIC FROM THE FILM aka The Story of Star Wars

VaderThe Story of Star Wars is one that is told by children of all ages. It’s an epic tale, full of grandeur and swash buckling angry men. It’s older than I am and can be heard from the mouths of babes echoing throughout every galaxy known to man. This 1977 picture disc featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith is a hurried version of that award winning tale. It is narrated by the late Roscoe Lee Browne, who you may recognize from Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz, Logan’s Run and his role as Saunders, the Tates’ butler from Soap after Benson left to star in his own sitcom.

The Story of Star Wars had been previously released in non-picture disc form and features the modeling of two classic droids, one Astromech and one Protocol (I don’t need to take a picture, you’ve seen it).

Produced by George Lucas (no surprise there), this version comes with a small warning on the back sleeve which states: NOTICE: If played excessively the sound quality of this limited edition collectors’ item may not equal the original album previously released in a jacket bearing different artwork.

Basically, it’s a pretty picture record that skips a lot.

Street Survivors

SS OriginalOn October 17, 1977 the Southern Rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) released their fifth studio album, Street Survivors. What’s Your Name and That Smell were two of the many highlights from this Double Platinum album (meaning it sold over 2 million copies in the United States alone… sorry if you already knew that).

On October 20, 1977 a plane carrying the band (who had just finished performing a show in Greenville, South Carolina) ran out of fuel and crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, legendary guitarist Steve Gaines, Steve’s sister and Lynyrd Skynyrd backup vocalist Cassie Gaines, the band’s assistant road manager and both pilots were killed on impact. The remaining band members and their crew sustained serious injuries.

At the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve’s widow, and out of respect for the fallen members of the band, MCA Records withdrew the original “flame” cover and reissued the album with a similar image of the band amongst a basic black background.

SS New

Saturday Morning Cartoons

JoesTOP SECRET

Saturday mornings will forever be synonymous with cartoons. Not having grown up in any other decade than the 1980’s, I can’t confidently suggest that you agree, but you should.

Even though I have no recollection of the Joes battling Cobra on Saturday mornings (I do however remember rushing home from school to catch back-to-back episodes every weekday during my early elementary years), whenever I think of cartoons my mind ALWAYS turns to G.I. Joe. So, you can imagine how elated I was upon finding these action-packed LP’s.

Nothing kicks off the weekend better than listening to “FOUR EXCITING ACTION ADVENTURES featuring G.I. Joe and the entire Special Missions Force!” Its purpose: To defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world (He never gives, he’ll stay til’ the fight’s won…). That theme song is as fresh in my mind as the smell from opening a new G.I. Joe action figure. Ahhh, the aroma of 1980’s chemical soaked kid toys.

Well, even if you’re not a fan of Joe (you were probably way more into Transformers) I suggest revisiting your favorite childhood cartoons and/or record related tie-ins.

Sincerely,

Zartan

Joe Back

The Prudent Groove Goes AWOL

STI don’t know why I get so self-conscious when posting about the Beastie Boys. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the better part of 20 years finding out as much as I could about the band, and that blather, although new to some, makes me fearful that it could overtake the halls of The Prudent Groove until it becomes just another Beastie Boys fan site. I would like for that not to happen.

Today’s groove is nothing more than a simple tie; a connection between bands; a common denominator of musical excellence… two bands and their percussion-based similarities. The bands: Suicidal Tendencies and the Beastie Boys. The connection: drummer Amery Smith (AWOL).

1983 saw two bands that wouldn’t find their connection for another 10 or so years. Venice, CA’s Suicidal Tendencies released their eponymous self-titled debut while the Beastie Boys (then made up of 4 members, one of them being a woman and without Adam Ad-Rock Horovitz) took their first leap into the hip-hop world with their Cookie Puss EP. Like Galileo peering up towards the orchestra of stars amongst the musical universe, this constellation had yet to be discovered. So at the same time as ST was screaming for a Pepsi, the BB were prank-calling Carvel. Somehow it all makes sense now.

AglioCut to the 1995 release, Aglio E Olio by the Beastie Boys which combines the hardcore musical talents of the 2 Adams (RIP MCA), Mike and AWOL. This 8 song/11 minute album features the band once again as a 4 piece, but this time includes original Suicidal Tendency drummer Amery AWOL Smith. A frequent contributor throughout their 1990’s tours, AWOL’s presence relinquished Mike Diamond’s role on drums and allowed him to solely man the mic.

I can go into how Adam Horovitz and AWOL formed the band BS 2000 and that the Beasties toured small venues under the name Quasar, which also included AWOL on drums, but I won’t. My coffee is almost out and I’ve got to scoot on over to the “real” job.

ST AWOLAglio AWOL

You Without Me is Like Corn Flake Without the Milk!

JuiceI’ll admit that the excavation leading up to my discovery of Mr. Oran “Juice” Jones was nothing short of a complete accident. If my recollection serves me right, and she often does, I unearthed this gem at a Half Price Books in Madison, WI (probably on the East Side) and became its proud owner simply because it was a Def Jam Records release (the label being synonymous with the Beastie Boys).

Let me back up a bit and ask; are you familiar with Oran “Juice” Jones and specifically his hit single, The Rain? If not, I implore you to treat yourself to a wonderful world filled with blue diamonds and Gucci handbags.

Ok, if you don’t want to spend five minutes of your time, that’s understandable, then I suggest starting the track/video at 3:07. Mr. “Juice” Jones goes on a FANTASTIC rant aimed towards a woman he saw “walking in the rain” with an “Alley Cat coat wearing, Hush Puppy shoe wearing crumb cake.” 1) I’m not joking and 2) it gets better.

This smooth singing ladies’ man is NOT one to be messed with. The chill Mr. “Juice” and his $3700 lynx jacket completely flies off the handle, but still finds the time to sit down with the “silly rabbit” and educate her on her wrong doing. When he says, “I gave you things you couldn’t even pronounce!” we the listener know that this woman lost her opportunity to a fruitful life filled with expensive material objects (many of which, apparently, she had a difficult time pronouncing). Those Hush Puppies aren’t looking so good now, are they honey?! (That was me, not the “Juice.”)

The hot chocolate heating epitome of class should not be confused with an overly insecure and jealous lover just because he followed the “cold busted” lady without her knowing. I gather she wouldn’t have eluded to the truth had he just asked her straight. Since she didn’t realize that “tricks are made for kids,” she can thank her lucky stars that smooth man “Juice” didn’t act on his first impulse and “run up on” her and “do a Rambo” by “jammy-flat-blasting” both she and her secret lover. We can all be thankful the “Juice” didn’t serve jail time so that he could continue his lucrative music career.

“I hope you learn a valuable lesson from all of this” and think twice the next time you consider messing with the “Juice.”

(Email theprudentgroove@gmail for the mp3 to this track… you’ll thank me!)

Daft Punk’s Translucence

Tron SleeveI remember being ecstatic upon hearing the news that Daft Punk was to do the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy (2010). I, as well as the rest of Western Civilization felt this was the perfect amalgamation of sophisticated electro-dance-upside-your-head-man and cutting edge motion picture special effects. But what seemed like a Ben & Jerry marriage turned out to be one resembling Ben & Jennifer (Lopez… remember Bennifer?).

Needless to say I was distraught with disappointment towards the lack of hard hitting, head crushing, swift musical justice that Daft Punk is known for (and quiet honestly the type of music that is expected of them). Don’t get me wrong and think I disliked the soundtrack. On the contrary. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but felt (to put it in baseball terms) it echoed a bunt single instead of the home run I was expecting.

I remember Los Angeles in late 2010 into early 2011 being absolutely, and undeniably Tron stupid. Billboards, stories of Comic-Con viral previews, murmurs in back alleys of the soundtrack being Daft Punk’s greatest album, billboards, news of Disney opening a Tron store, a cartoon series, everybody and their brother wearing Flynn’s Arcade t-shirts, and oh, did I mention billboards? It was arguably impossible to ignore.

Jump a few months ahead to April 16, the Christmas morning for record collectors, Record Store Day. Three versions of Daft Punk’s Translucence were released on 10” picture disc with blue, yellow and red rings. Featured here is the blue copy, which I think most resembles the actual Tron identity disc. Containing three tracks from the soundtrack, Translucence was a must for Daft Punk/Tron fans not only because it perfectly resembled an identity disc, but also because it featured a fourth track that wasn’t offered on the soundtrack; side 2’s Castor.

The blue guys aren’t cheap on discogs, ranging from $116 to $249, but the yellow and red guys can be obtained for around $35.

I will add, as an aside, that I feel The Chemical Brothers’ effort with the Hanna Soundtrack was far superior to the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. Having stated that, I’d recommend them both.

Tron Disc

The 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph

Record Player Front_2

I am a sucker for antique record paraphernalia. Be it cheesy “as seen on bad 70’s TV” record cleaners, random manuals to record players I’ve never owned, or in this case my 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph.Record Player Open_2

Nearly a decade ago back in film school I was prop shopping for a 1960’s period short film I was involved with. Now, thanks to my mother I’ve always been a frugal shopper, so when digging around one of Ventura, CA’s many antique shops I immediately perused the booths near the back of the store that featured items at 50% off. While on this hunt for cheap, yet relevant 60’s era props I came across this pristine phonograph. At first glance of this beautiful cabinet record player, and without even seeing the price tag, I was instantly fixated on becoming its ultimate and inevitable owner. When I saw the price tag of $80 I nearly wet myself. $40 + tax later she was mine. I called my buddy Omar, who had a flat bed and we hauled it off to set. It didn’t have a dominant presence in the final short film, but when the shoot was over I found myself the proud owner of an amazing piece of stereophonic machinery.Record Player Inside_2

The LP on the platter is Johnny Cash’s 1957 debut Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar, which would have been just 9 years old when this High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph was manufactured and sold.

Philco Logo_3

For nearly 10 years ol’ Philco has moved with me a total of five times. She’s always dominated every living room she’s inhabited and still sounds as good today as she did the day I brought her home. Not bad for being 47 years old.

Booklet_2

I enjoy imagining what the manufacturers at the Philco Corporation back in 1966 would think of the music I play on this phonograph now. I doubt they’d be as much into N.E.R.D., The Revolting Cocks or Drive Like Jehu as I am.Copyright

The Choice

The ChoiceWhen facing 2600 albums, looking down the barrel of a musical gun if you will, choosing what to listen to is sometimes much more difficult than it needs to be. “Am I in the mood for classical? How about the Minor Threat Demos? You know, I haven’t listened to Marvin Miller reading The Best of Mark Twain in a while”… stuff like that.

Today, after an hour and a half of groove searching I’ve narrowed it down to two finalists, Freddy Hill’s For the Good Times and Slim Whitman’s Just For You. I know what you’re thinking, “Why don’t you just listen to both of those astonishing albums?!” If I had the time I would, but today’s window only allows for one of these vocal greats, thus The Choice.

It’s hard not to go with the first, and obvious choice of Freddy Hill. He’s certainly dressed for the part, with his finely pressed suit and his perfectly symmetrical bow tie. But when looking at these two albums side by side, Slim Whitman’s lustful gaze immediately grabs my eye and doesn’t let go, forcing me to lean to the right. There’s just something about Freddy (we’re on a first name basis) and his artificial smile that leads me to think that he despised that photo shoot and was just waiting to “finish his contractual obligation of the day” so he could get back to the bottle. Mr. Whitman on the other hand (we aren’t quite on a first name basis yet) presents an album that’s just for me… not to mention it being NEW!

So the real question is whether I want something aimed towards the good times or something directed just for me. Life presents difficult decisions sometimes (cue the theme to Dawson’s Creek), and it can take a well-thought-out strategy to make these decisions. With that window of time rapidly closing, I’m inclined to side with Freddy. Not just because we’re on a first name basis, but also because I enjoy a man who enjoys his bottle. Pour a glass for me, ol’ chap and bring on the good times. Mr. Whitman, I shall see you tomorrow.

The Very Best in Music

Pink UA InsertWhen one thinks of the “very best in music,” certain monumental artists come to mind. Such as Chucho Avellanet, Del Reedes, Jimmy Roselli, Ray Barretto, Farrante & Teicher, Patty Duke, Lena Horne, George Jones and The Beatles… I see nothing out of place here.

United Artists Records, the Proudest Name in Entertainment, would like you to consider these other groundbreaking acts the next time you noodle around your local record store. If that deep urge to hear a crooning Del Reedes sing your favorite Jim Reeves tunes, consider Del Reedes Sings Rim Reeves. Conversely, instead of scratching your head until it bleeds in deep consideration of which (of many) Ferrante & Teicher albums would best suit your planned roofie-filled evening with your next Match.com date, why not make it easy on yourself and let Ferrante & Teicher do the work for you and simply ask for, Only the Best.

With catalog highlights like these, your pride is sure to match that of United Artists Records, and in no time at all you will agree that they are indeed the very best in music.

When In Rome (Do The Jerk!)

Do the Jerk!

In the wake of my esteemed excitement for tonight’s The Night Marchers show, I’ve decided to showcase one of the grooviest looking records in my collection, Rocket from the Crypt’s 1998 UK single, When In Rome (Do The Jerk!).

Speedo (John Reis), who helped form Rocket from the Crypt and acted as lead vocalist and guitarist, recently formed The Night Marchers (and was previously a principle member of Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes). So for those of you know didn’t know, now see the connection.

This picture disc shaped like the (Rocket from the Crypt) RFTC logo (as you can plainly see) consists of three tracks: When In Rome (Do The Jerk!), Tarzan and Tiger Feet Tonite and was the first single released from their 1998 album, RFTC.

RFTC, and its first single, When In Rome (Do The Jerk!) saw the band at odds with themselves as well as with their (then) label Interscope Records. Record sales were less than expected, which led to the band’s departure from Interscope in 1999. Longtime mainstay RFTC drummer, Atom left the band shortly thereafter to become a tour roadie (drum tech) for Weezer, before joining The Offspring, Angels & Airwaves and touring with Social Distortion and Alkaline Trio. Atom had been with Rocket from the Crypt on their previous five albums (all but their 1991 debut, Paint As A Fragrance).

When In Rome (Do The Jerk!) acts as a sort of tombstone-like visual representation of the high-water era of this incredible band; an era that many would argue to be their most prolific period.

This is an absolute must for any RFTC fan simply for its eye-catching shape and instantly recognizable RFTC appeal. It goes for a reasonable sum on discogs and comes HIGHLY recommended by The Prudent Groove.

Do the Jerk! Back

Blue Days, Black Nights

Telephone Line CoverNobody ever outgrows his or her ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) phase. I certainly see no need to pull the electric plug, switch off the light, or tell the orchestra to go home (take your pick).

Kicking off with a spry, ethereal bleep followed by the vacant ringing of a telephone doomed to be acknowledge, Telephone Line is a lulling journey through the sung cries of our hero (Jeff Lynne) as he attempts to regain contact with a former lover, but you know, told amongst a charming bed of orchestral Rock ‘n Roll accompanied by elegant back-up vocals.

Telephone Line is a sad tale of that (oh so familiar) slow burn that inevitably comes when the love between two treasured sweethearts fades away, only to die a slow, excruciating death while both parties curse the heavens in complete emotional anarchy. I’m over it now, but there was a time when this song hit home a bit too aggressively.

Telephone Line is from ELO’s monumentally successful 1976 album, A New World Record. This single however was released on green vinyl in 1977. If you’ve ever heard ELO, chances are you’re hooked. If you haven’t, (WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) I’d humbly suggest starting with A New World Record and its awe-inspiring single, Telephone Line.

Telephone Line Green

Pseudo Echo’s Funky Town

Funky TownPseudo Echo’s version of Funky Town was my first favorite song. At 7-years-old, that was a big deal (and since I never really grew up, it’s still a big deal some 26 years later). After watching the video as a child, I was transformed in believing that my purpose in life was to play the Keytar (or keyboard that looks like a guitar). More than that, I was CONVINCED. I was to master this ornament of musical ecstasy in a New Wave band consisting of me and my closest grade school friends (none of whom, like myself, had ever even touched an instrument). Since my elementary school didn’t offer the Keytar in our rural town’s marching band, I decided on the Alto Saxophone instead.

Funky Town was originally recorded by Lipps Inc. in February of 1980. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts and blah blah. It is my humble opinion that had it not been for Pseudo Echo’s version, I may very well have never been jettisoned into the vast musical universe. Simply put… I LOVED THIS SONG! There may in fact be an old VHS tape of a 7-year-old me singing this song while miming the Keytar, but that is a story for another time.

Like Lipps Inc., Pseudo Echo’s 1986 incarnation reached No. 1 in Australia (outlasting Lipps’ Inc.’s version by 5 weeks). At the age of 7, charts and prestigious awards didn’t concern me. What concerned me was dialing into the only radio station playing pop music that my little red Sony cassette player/radio combo could pick up in the desperate hopes of hearing Pseudo Echo’s illustrious, Funky Town. Anyone remember Z-104 transmitting out of Madison, Wisconsin? Probably not.

I think it was Dick Clark that said something about music being the soundtrack to our lives. I’ll subscribe to that. Funky Town would then serve as the first “single” in my life’s album of Greatest Hits.

Comedy Clashes with Classic Covers

FitB_AHardDaysPodcastPodcasts as a whole are a dime a dozen. They seem to spring up out of thin air and tend to be that bright, shiny new ear-toy for about as long as it takes to tie your shoes. FILLintheBLANK is no different.

I’ve been a fan of this podcast since their first season aired back in 2009.  In its simplest form, the show’s creators (Jason Hardwick and Nathan Lueptow) come across as bumbling cretins who blather on, comically I might add, about the nonsensical happenings of everyday life. Apart from being a petri dish for undergraduates at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, what makes FILLintheBLANK different is that each podcast is represented by a classic or recognizable album cover that’s been, well the best way I can explain it would be, FILLintheBLANK-ified.

Each podcast teeters on the 10-minute mark and is a striking example of two individuals with way too much time on their hands… but you know, surprisingly endearing. I almost feel as though I know these guys when listening to their show. If I met them in real life however, I’d probably just spit in their collective eye for not producing a new show in over two years.

I recommend checking out FILLintheBLANK if only for their clever take on several championed album covers. I heard from a friend who knows this guy who saw Jason at a Spider-Man on Broadway audition and, albeit 4th party information, there were talks of FitB (as they are known to their fans) venturing into the world of sketch comedy. Since last I read, Jason and Nathan were no longer on speaking terms (some nonsense about making a decision to purchase or not to purchase a tea set), so you know, I’m not going to hold my breath.

FitB_RHCP

Cover Me Como

Me First:Como

(Please note, this is not an album review, but simply a conscious observation of visual similarities. Proceed with caution…)

There will be several posts on copy-kitty album covers emerging from The Prudent Groove, and the order in which they appear need not indicate any type of importance or personal preference on my part. As a matter of fact, pretty much ANYTHING bleeding from The Prudent Groove can be attributed to the above statement.

“Perry Como, meet Me First and the Gimme Gimmes,” is a phrase I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall for. Your grandfather’s sweet, succulent swoon music meets your older brother’s high school preppy-pop-punk cover act. While similar in appearance, the music, as Perry and his golf buddies would say, is as contradistinctive as a slice and a hook. The correlation stops with the cover art.

While choosing to lift both the front and the back covers of Perry Como’s 1959 classic, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (or just Me First) chose a different artist when it came to the music. The artist would be, of course Elton John. (Painfully obvious, don’t you think?) Being solely a preppy-pop-punk cover band, Me First tackle Mr. John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Rocket Man, the later of which got constant airplay on the radio station of my youthful mind. Boy was I a tool. WAS you ask?

It’s somewhat interesting how the likes and dislikes of an individual can go from a dogleg right to a dogleg left in seemingly no time at all. Back in my adolescent days I would have greatly preferred Me First to the swinging Perry Como. Now, Mr. Como has swung his way right into the par 3 hole in my heart.

At the end of the day, or at anytime really, I’d recommend both of these albums, even if exclusively based on the cover art.