Single Review: Everybody Have Fun Tonight by Wang Chung

Wang Chung FrontA-Side

I think people overlook Wang Chung, or at least they’ve forgotten about them amongst the economic woes of 2013. Everybody Have Fun Tonight is, among many other things a brilliant marketing technique that associates having fun with Wang Chung by, wait for it, rhyming “have fun” with “Wang Chung.” See what they did there? Clever bastards!

These guys aren’t domestically minded either… these British chaps are international: across the nation, around the world… Wang Chung wants EVERYBODY to have fun tonight. And the joy of this song as I see it, is that, ok, I’ll put on this 45, rock out with my New Wave British mates, and potentially WILL have fun tonight. Cut to tomorrow morning and the usual “what the hell happened?” After a shower and a shave, I’ll play this same 45 and BAM! Tomorrow night is another night to have fun! I tell you, Wang Chung were geniuses!

If “fun” ever had a theme song, Wang Chung nailed it. I know this is redundant but quite simply, all Wang Chung wants is for everybody to have fun tonight. A bit of a tall order? Sure, but hopefully optimistic? You bet your 1986 stonewashed-jean-wearing ass!

Why this isn’t the most popular song in the world I’ll never know. The next time you’re in the mood to “have fun,” remember who your sponsor is… it’s Wang Chung!

B-Side

The B-Side to this 80’s time capsule is a Everybody Have Fun Tonight remix of sorts; a couple swaying closer to a fun filled night. I imagine New Wave chicks with their New Wave heads resting on their New Wave boyfriend’s New Wave shoulders as they slowly oscillate amongst a sea of other New Wave couples in the wee hours of a New Wave morning in someone’s New Wave flat, all the while listening to Wang Chung’s musical nightcap, Side B’s Fun Tonight: The Early Years.

There is something to be said about New Wave. What that is I have no idea.

Wang Chung Back

Happy Valentine’s Day, from The Prudent Groove

We (I) here at The Prudent Groove would like to wish everyone a fantastical Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of good faith (and good musical taste), I offer these Prudent Groove Valentines for you to print out (not that I think you actually will). What you do with them, and who you give them to is prudently up to you. For those of you who find yourself on the 45rpm end of today’s festivities, PAIR UP! Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day will be prudently groovy!

Sincerely,

Vice President of The Prudent Groove Foundation of America (current member total: 1).

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Atomic Love

Atomic Records StickersThe affection I have towards my addiction (of collecting records) is not unlike a relationship. A relationship filled with ecstasy and hopeless bleak despair.  Looking back at my nearly 20-year relationship (fugg I’m old!), certain milestones come to mind that mark my progression/devolution. Like for instance, my first record store.

One never forgets their first time.

It was, and is still called Mad City Music Exchange and was, and is still located on Willy St. (Williamson St.) a few blocks from the State Capitol in Madison, WI. It was here where I began to build my (nearing completion) Beastie Boys discography, where I obtained my Big Rig 7” (Jesse from Op Ivy’s band after Op Ivy), and whose owner agreed to be interviewed by a High School Senior version of me for a fictitious record store I was to own and operate for a Marketing project. I’ll never forget his response after I gleefully informed him that I too wanted to own and operate an independent record store. His reply, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?”

As with many relationships, things just don’t work out. There is the whole “growing apart” thing, the “I dig your store but not your prices, so, you know, let’s just be friends” thing, and the “common necessity for relocation” thing. (THAT’S IT! THOSE ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT DOOM A RELATIONSHIP! I kid.) So when opportunity (and my parents) moved me to Milwaukee, I was in desperate need of finding a new lover; a pusher for my audio starved addiction.

Enter Atomic Records.

Atomic Records was then, what Hollywood’s legendary Amoeba Music is now. If you’ve been to Amoeba in Hollywood, you get an idea of what I’m talking (writing) about. Atomic was my one-stop-shop for just about everything! Sleeves, Rocket from the Crypt stickers, tickets to BS 2000 shows, rare UK Zines, Christmas gifts for my father (who also collects records), my Har Mar Superstar picture disc, t-shirts, and sometimes live acoustic shows by nearby Chicago bands.

I’d stop in at Atomic 3-4 times a week while attending UW Milwaukee. There was something romantic about that shop in the dark winter months. With warm, inviting lights and the childlike anticipation of finding a coveted gem, Atomic almost acted like a temporary dose of sanity while helping me to forget about the death that is winter in Wisconsin. It was a safe haven, if only at 30-minute increments.

After leaving Milwaukee and moving to the much more mentally sustainable environment of Southern California, I found other record shop relationships and all but forgot about my brief, but prodigious admiration towards Atomic Records.

She’s gone now; closed her doors in 2009, and with it a chapter of my life that is just as important as the current chapter I’m attempting to write with The Prudent Groove.

Atomic may not have been my first, but she was arguably the best and, one I will certainly never forget.

RIP Atomic Records.

An Exciting Evening with Master Thespian, Jason Hardwick

PG_JH interviewMany of you know and love Jason Hardwick for his comedic brilliance, his Ohio chili and his patented white belt and thumb ring. We here (me) at The Prudent Groove invite you to take an inside look at the legend (man-child and closet bed-wetter) with this insightful, informative, and need I say humorous interview with the man. Ladies and gentlemen, get to know Jason Hardwick for who he pretends to be, instead of who he truly is.

I recently sat down with Mr. Hardwick to discuss collecting records, chicken noodle soup recipes and proper restroom stall etiquette.

PG: What got you into collecting records?

JH: My love of classic rock, Half Price book stores (www.hpb.com), and being a poor college bastard that couldn’t afford a box of mac & cheese, let alone new, incredibly over-priced music.  Plus, CDs are just lame.

PG: What was the first record you ever purchased?

JH: If memory serves (and it always does), I believe it was Jethro Tull’s third album Benefit (1970).  To this day, it is still one of my favs.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for a man with a flute.  Wait…

PG: What is your favorite record?

JH: Really?  You’re gonna make me choose?  Well, shit, man.  If pressed, I would have to say, from start to finish, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (1970) is consistently among the revolving door that is my top 10 list.  There may be many other albums that I deem to be near perfect, given that my “top 10” list consists of roughly 30 albums, but I’m being forced to choose, so this is my choice.  Deal with it.  Celine Dion’s Les chemins de ma maison (1983) would be a VERY close second.  My heart will, indeed, go on, Celine.

PG: Have you ever purchased an audiophile version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors only to return it the following day? If so, please explain.

JH: I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.  And yes.  Let me set the scene for you:  It was Record Store Day 2012, and after waiting in line for nearly four hours–for three Kinks albums, which I was led to believe were actually being sold in the U.S. (mis-information perpetrated by Mr. Prudent Groove, himself)–I was exhausted, not in my right mind, had a stack of records, many decisions to make, and a profound inability to make said decisions.  Needless to say, the album was purchased and promptly returned.  Returned, not because I don’t like Mic and his marry band of Fleetwoods, but because I’m a cheap bastard that couldn’t justify spending nearly $50 on something I already owned in one form or another.  I also have a distaste for double LPs.  Too much turning going on there.  I’m lazy.  But that’s beside the point.  Stop making me feel bad about this, dammit.  I’m writing your friggin’ blog today!

PG: What are the top 2 records on your “WANT list?”

JH: I don’t have a “want” list.  I have a “need” list.  And those TWO records are…  the THREE re-released, 2012 Record Store Day, colored-vinyl, U.K.-only KINKS albums:  Face To Face (1966), Something Else (1967), and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall Of The British Empire) (1969).  Thanks again, by the way.

PG: Do you collect any specific artist and/or label? If so, what is/are it/they?

JH: I’ll buy anything by Jethro Tull.  I have nearly completed my collection of all their proper studio albums–at least the ones released on vinyl, that is.  I will also buy any vinyl release by The Beatles, Radiohead, and Pearl Jam–even if I already own it on another format.  As far as specific labels are concerned, I love WAX TRAX!  No, I don’t.

PG: Living in Los Angeles, I’d imagine (because I also live there) there to be a slew of great record stores. Which do you prefer?

JH: Wait, you live in Los Angeles?!!!  Moving on… Amoeba Music, in Hollywood, is a must for any vinyl collector.  It’s a veritable Mecca of music.  Record Surplus, near Santa Monica, is also a hidden gem.

PG: Is there a record you passed up but wished you could go back and nab? If so, what was it?

JH: The re-released, 180 gram, audiophile version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors.

PG: Can I have your collection? Thanks! Please bring them over.

JH: Yes.  Omw.

Editor’s note: Please forgive the lateness of today’s post. We were waiting on Jason’s manager to approve the interview.

RCA Victor’s Simple Suggestions for Proper Record Care…

Not unlike Mercury Records thinking you’re a buffoon, RCA Victor is there to help you properly care for your record collection.

I find these Record Care inserts fairly frequently, and always enjoy the variations on the visual representations of each label’s suggestion for, well, proper record care.

RCA_ClothFor example, when applying a lint-free, damp cloth, hold said cloth between your thumb and index finger very daintily while flailing out your remaining fingers as wide as you possibly can and never, EVER rub! Got that? No rubbing records, you damned record rubber! STOP IT! After all, “this record is designed to give you many years of trouble-free listening pleasure,” but you’ve got to follow directions. Because, who enjoys trouble-ridden listening pleasure? Not this guy. Ok, moving on.

RCA_StoringRecordsThis suggestion leaves me scratching my head. “Never store records at an angle…” How would one store records at an angle? Do they rest their stack of Harry Belafonte LP’s on top of their dirty whites? Do they rest their Bob Seger albums against the cat? Help me out, somebody! The flower, however, is a nice touch.

RCA_DustFreeThis one I actually dig, but it does however raise a very psychological question: is the record going INTO the sleeve, or is it coming OUT? Not unlike a “glass half full” question… I’ll allow you to ponder as I conclude by stating: How iconic is this image? I mean, this insert is probably nearing 60 years old, and the simplicity of a circle protruding from a square is just as recognizable and distinguishable today as it was in the late 1950’s. Crazy.

The remaining suggestions for the most part make sense: Get your stylus checked (by a guy with a microscope) and never touch the playing surface (hold that record as if it were a hot potato). Never, EVER forget these suggestions and you will have many years of trouble-free listening pleasure, courtesy of RCA Victor.

RCA_Victor_Insert

17 Years In the Making…

SlipmatsSince I started collecting records I’ve accumulated an ever-growing list; an “I don’t NEED it, but I WANT it” list. Near the top of that seemingly endless list has been Grand Royal slipmats.

Back in the day, it may have been 1995, while occupying my parent’s basement in rustic Wisconsin, I ordered some things off the then, lucrative and flourishing Grand Royal website. When I received “item I have since forgotten” (it may have been a Luscious Jackson 12”), it was accompanied by a Grand Royal Records catalog. Now, I LOVE catalogues! Strange to say, but it’s true (I still have a number of JC Penney’s Christmas catalogues from the mid 80’s). Anyway, in said catalog was a picture, almost majestic now that I think of it, of the Grand Royal slipmat. Living in rural Wisconsin, and not having a record store within 60 miles, it boggles my feeble mind why I didn’t order a slipmat right then and there. I guess I’d always figured that “I’ll get around to it later.” Well, fast-forward 17 years and I was still without a GR slipmat, and by this time, they were NOT easily accessible. Going for over $100 each on eBay and other outrageous sites, I’d all but abandoned my decade long dream (yeah, I dream big!) of one day owning a Grand Royal slipmat.

Short story long, I contacted the guys over at Beastiemania inquiring about the now defunct Grand Royal Records (seeing where I can get my hands on out of print releases for cheap, etc.). After some fan based chit-chat over a few months, I received an email from one of the founders of Beastiemania stating that he was attempting to sell the majority of his collection and wondered if I’d be interested. In his collection, the four Grand Royal slipmats you see in the above picture. Knowing what they had been going for, I asked what he wanted for all the slipmats he had. His asking price: $10 each! Needless to say, my 1995 self was, well, beside himself (myself?). Since then I’ve accumulated a groovy little collection of slipmats (RIP RFTC, Swami Records, Amoeba Music, etc.) but never seem to deviate from the Grand Royal rotation.

It’s mundane, I know, but it makes me happy. A wise man once said, “Find the things in life that make you happy and do them.” For me, I can finally check Grand Royal slipmat off my NEED WANT list.

Album Review: Primus – Pork Soda (1993)

CoverErnest Hemingway once stated, “Write drunk; edit sober.” Now, I’m not comparing myself to Ernest Hemingway (more like Ernest Borgnine), but I’ve adapted that approach to today’s post.

Side A

“My name is Mud.”

Albeit, a program featured on the channel of my past, Primus, like so many other influential bands, if only at the time, have created some of the most memorable melodies I can’t, but would love to, ignore.

“Where you goin’, city boy?!”

It’s difficult (as this is my first post) to comment on music that I’ve known for so long, or at least have held so close for a number of years. I’m not a Bruce Willis fan of Primus (Diehard for those catching up), but I am willing to lose myself amongst the rhythms that only partially remind me of my post High School years.

“Welcome to this worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrld!”

I relish in the delights of disturbing my neighbors whilst listening to this album. Common decency be DAMNED!

“I had a friend that took a belt, took a belt and hung himself. Hung himself in the doorway of the apartment where he lived.”

Side B

I imagine those who differ from the manifesto that IS Primus to completely miss the proverbial point. Pop? Yes. Aggression? Perhaps. Alternative… when it meant something? Yes. Everyday listening? No, but for good reason.

I had a boss at a pizza joint in Madison, WI… He was my father’s age, but who LOVED his Dodge Intrepid, Western novels, and among other things, Primus. For those of you who disregard the band, who write them off as MTV slack-jawed-tobacco-chewing-yokels, you may be right. But for those who tote themselves as connoisseurs of music as a whole, I invite you to downgrade this band. The forum is open to you and your ignorance. Primus, aka Les Claypool w/ friends, and Pork Soda enter a room, set a fire, have a seat, then attempt to discuss foreign policies while the rest of the room frantically scrambles for an exit in fear of their lives.

A good friend made fun of me for posting this album on my wall (an actual wall, before the social digital walls we know and loathe) amongst 40+ other albums, commenting on how he felt it didn’t fit amongst the pool of those albums that he deemed much more socially acceptable and remotely respected. I’ll never forget that, and continue to wear this album on the wall of my youthful pride (said wall NSFW).

Side C

So, it’s raining here in Los Angeles. Thought I’d throw that out there. Salty ham carbonated beverage in my ears complement the sweet whisky tickling my tongue. Perhaps THIS is my personal Pork Soda; comfort musical pillows filling my ears accompanied by mental lubrication solemnly cascading down my throat.

I can’t remember the last time I shaved my face clean. Yesterday I did just that. Today, with 24 hours worth of stubble, I frantically, almost erotically, handle my beardless mug in almost sexual tension while I listen… to Pork Soda. There is a God and his name may be Leslie Edward Claypool.

“Say there Mr. Krinkle let’s cruise the Bastard boat.”

Arriving in 1993, Pork Soda exists as Primus’ third studio album (sandwiched between 1991’s Sailing the Seas of Cheese and 1995’s Tales from the Punchbowl).

The last track on this side is a giddy little ditty titled, The Air is Getting Slippery. Arguably the best on the album, this track features ol’ man Claypool on his OTHER mastered instrument, the banjo. This sounds like swamp music for bayou dwellers digging up dirt on a dank, humid shore in search for worms with which to fish. I can almost hear this song seeping from a tin can radio hanging from a tree as Jasper exclaims, “I dun finded another wurm! We g’wan eat t’night!”

“Forgive me if I hesitate…”

Side D

The last leg of this grandiose album winds down with a funk-ified instrumental that sounds a lot like a whale having his way with a sea otter. (Take a moment to visualize.) If you’re into whales, or just a lover of animals, Primus, Pork Soda, and Side D may be just what the veterinarian ordered.

Primus is not for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a risky, meandering musical scene filled with carbonated pigs, this album comes HIGHLY recommended.

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The Cheese Stands Alone

CheeseI feel as though I need to explain myself a bit. When coming up with topics here at The Prudent Groove, I need a touch of inspiration. Since I have over 2600 albums to choose from, the number of options gets to be daunting and ultimately discouraging. In other words, I need to be moved in order to write about something. So last night I’m at the grocery store, right? I see a sale on individually wrapped cheese sticks, 3 for $0.99. Decent price, ok, cool. Instantly, the hamster inside my head begins to churn, “Well, each stick is roughly $0.33 1/3 cents… Cheese… 33 1/3 RPMs… I SHOULD WRITE ABOUT LESS THAN JAKE’S CHEESE RECORD!” And with that thought, this post was born.

Leave it to Florida natives, Less Than Jake to dairy-ify an 80’s classic like Twisted Sister’s, We’re Not Gonna Take It. Limited to 1000 copies, this glorified 2 track 7” is aged to perfection and is now a ripe 15 years old (having been released in 1998). I purchased this copy at one of the many Less Than Jake performances I attended in Milwaukee. I think Kemuri was the opening band, but I don’t’ remember. What I DO remember is catching hell from my buddy, Neal for not picking up a LTJ Cheese record for him… I still feel bad about that to this day. (Religious guilt.)

The music is straightforward Ska-Punk-Pop that LTJ is known for. Rage, then break for horns… Rage, then break for horns… End. It sounded better when I was 19.

Side A: Cheese

Side B: We’re Not Gonna Take It

It’s interesting how certain bands spawn specific memories, be it however mundane or insignificant. For me, Twisted Sister has always been linked to the Hollywood Video in Milwaukee where I used to work. On one of my shifts, Mark Metcalf (The Maestro on Seinfeld) came in to rent a video and even though I had to look up his name, I distinctly recognized him as the pissed off, music hating father from the We’re Not Gonna Take It video.  I think that song, this record, and video renting in general will always be intertwined within the vast, vacant openness that is my brain. What does that have to do with Less Than Jake? Absolutely nothing, and I’m fine with that.

“We’re not gonna take it!” You’re not gonna’ take it?! Really? You’re not gonna’ take cheese?!!! Who wouldn’t take cheese? Are you lactose? This breaks a Wisconsin boy’s heart!

Insert

Notice the two types on the insert.

From Sunshine Superman to Ben Lee and the Skye In Between

DonovanOk, so, I hope you’ve had your coffee this morning because you’ll need to follow along… if you’re a Beastie Boys fan, you may already know SOME of this tale.  Ready? Here we go…

So, Donovan… Hurdy Gurdy Man, Sunshine Superman, Season of the Witch, Mellow Yellow, etc. THAT Donovan… You know the one… anyway so Donovan had a kid, right? Well, he had four kids, but one, KEY kid with American girlfriend, Enid Stulberger who they named Ione Skye Leitch, later to become known across American film screens as Ione Skye (remember Say Anything… ?). Ok, so, Ione Skye is Donovan’s daughter, with me so far? So, little Ione grew up, as kids do, and she became involved with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ front man, Anthony Kiedis shortly before… wait for it, marrying Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) of Beastie Boys fame. Ok, that makes sense. Beautiful jet-setting daughter of legendary songwriter gets involved with late 80’s bad boys… understandable… moving on. In 1992 (think Check Your Head) Ione marries Ad-Rock. That same year the Beastie Boys launch their own record label, Grand Royal Records. Pay attention because this is going to get crazy. In 1994 Grand Royal signed Ben Lee (of Noise Addict notoriety). Ben had four releases on Grand Royal, Noise Addict with three.

(Recap: Ione = Donovan’s daughter and Ad-Rock’s wife. Ben Lee = signed to Beastie Boys’ label, Grand Royal.)

Cut to 2008… Grand Royal is defunct (seemingly bankrupt), Ione Skye and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock, KEEP UP!) are divorced and Ben Lee is set to wed Ione Skye… LESS THAN A YEAR LATER THEY HAVE A CHILD!

(Updated recap: Donovan + chick = Ione Skye. Ione Skye + Adam Horovitz marry. Adam Horovitz + Beastie Boys create Grand Royal Records. Grand Royal Records sign Ben Lee. Ione Skye + Adam Horovitz split. Ione Skye + Ben Lee marry, have child.)

This little bit of useless knowledge may be worthless to the layperson (eff them), but I swear, I about lost my $hit when I found this out. I can see Grand Royal reunions being a bit awkward these days, if in fact there ARE Grand Royal reunions. I imagine it to be one of those, “if a tree falls in the woods” type of things. If an Adam and an Ione and a Ben are in the same room together, do they talk to each other?

Ben Lee

This post has caused the elevator in my brain hotel to break down. It’s just as well.

Album Review: The English Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It

Beat CoverWhy the works of The English Beat weren’t more prevalent during the Ska resurgence in the mid-to-late 90’s in rural Wisconsin is far beyond my feeble comprehension. With unknown bands like Skapone, The Skolars and The Parka Kings gaining constant play among me and my friends, the far superior talents of 6 early 80’s upbeat Ska professionals went ignorantly overlooked. Saxa, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everette Moreton, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling… I am forever sorry for the immature neglect I bestowed upon your great, but limited works.

This album starts off with an atom bomb (or a whisky shot to your ear’s liver) with the now famous (thanks to its picture perfect usage in 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank) Mirror in the Bathroom. Catchy, upbeat Ska that makes any listener want to skank like an adolescent fool, this track, and much of this, their first album, digs a deep groove of head-bobbing, jive-swaying bowl-full-of-happy-time moments that don’t seem to get old some 33 years after their initial release.

Highlighted moments throughout this album will bounce around your head like a 22 caliber bullet. With the above mentioned Mirror in the Bathroom, Twist & Crawl and the side 1 ending, Click Click, I Just Can’t Stop It could easily work as the band’s greatest hits album save for the regrettably missing March of the Swivel Heads made famous for its use in the 1986 John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ska, as a whole, understandably, isn’t a genre for the masses. But I challenge any willing reader to embark on this creative milestone of positive grooves and NOT dig just about every Surf-Rock influenced, Rastafarian-vibe, bass-heavy, foot-tapping, good-ol’-fashioned-merry music found in this 1980 Sire Records release.

End of side 1

Beat BackMan, The English Beat make me wish I had a swimming pool to wade in and drink my pitcher of Mojitos. I’d settle for the kiddie pool in which we used to wash my Grandparent’s dog. There’s just something about this music that touches upon the “fun in the sun” pleasure spots. Do you know where your “fun in the sun” pleasure spots are? Go ahead. Touch them. You’ll thank me.

This album is pretty tightly produced, and is overall pretty slick. It’s evident these guys practiced a few times before recording this album, which, makes sense if you think about it. The only criticism I would offer is that the majority of the songs sound alike. That can be a good and a bad thing. If you’re into strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles, then you’ll likely want all the strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles you can get. This album, not unlike strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles is a specific palate, but oh, boy, what a palate it is!

On the back cover is a picture of a short skirt-wearing chick holding an album while standing next to a New Age looking turntable. The album in her hands? Why, I Just Can’t Stop It, of course. She’s got a smile on her face, which implies that the music from this album will cause you to smile as well! Some subtle marketing can go a long way.

So, ok, bottom line: GET THIS ALBUM!

End of side 2

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1989

Wax FrontCheat post alert!

Although it is my first, this will NOT be my last post about Wax Trax! Records. Presented is an insert found in my 1989 copy of Front 242’s EP, Never Stop. This was Front 242’s last release on Wax Trax!, having released such groundbreaking albums on the label such as Geography (WAX 034), Face to Face (WAX 054) and Endless Riddance (WAX 004) among several others. My affection towards Front 242, and Wax Trax! specifically cannot be explained without consulting a professional shrink. That, I am, for now, okay with.

Track Review: Cookin’ With ALF

ALF FrontRemember when coupons were records? Coupons… Those redeemable offers usually printed on paper. Remember when you could play your coupon on your turntable and jam out to a new song by your favorite prime time television puppet sponsored by your favorite fast food burger joint? (Dammit do I miss the 80’s!)

So, in my research for this post (research which I almost never do), I discover a hidden corner of the interwebs called, ALF Wiki. I know, right? A fuggin’ ALF Wiki page. (Dammit I’m happy to live in the present!) Anyhoo, the good folks over at ALF Wiki offer some insight into this obscure release. In 1988, Burger King (with their old logo) had a promotion for a plush ALF doll, complete with chef’s hat and “Cookin’ with ALF” apron. The paper record, or flexi-disc (sorry if I’m dumbing it down for you) accompanied the plush doll and offered $3 off on up to five eligible ALF plush toys manufactured and distributed by Coleco Industries, Inc. (from 6/1/88 to 1/31/89). Apparently the offer was only good for the 18” ALF toy (Coleco item No. 6601) and, here’s the rub: mixing and matching of other Alf products was NOT allowed. NO MIXING AND MATCHING, KIDS! DO IT RIGHT OR NO ALF COOKING FOR YOU!

I have to wonder how many people, after having just finished their delicious Whopper (with diabetic fries and diet Love Handles cola) ran to their local K-Mart (or Shopko) and bought five, 18” ALF dolls. That’s 7’ 6” of ALF, people! My guess is not too many, but I may be underestimating the popularity of the 18″ plush ALF market.

Cookin’ with ALF is described, in gory detail, by the informative, yet unplayable B-side. A balloon protruding from ALF’s mouth (nose, beak, whatever-the-fugg-it-is) reads, “What do you get when you combine a cooking show with rap music? Rap cooking! Ha! Dig it!” And since the “rap song” was offered by a “restaurant,“ the alien, technically isn’t wrong. So, with the term Rap cooking in mind, I invite you to indulge.

I’VE NEVER HEARD SO MUCH BASS FROM A PIECE OF PAPER!!

I’ll conclude this epic post (not taking myself seriously) with the flexi-disc playing instructions found under the grooves. Remember, kids, this is a piece of paper… that plays music… on your turntable. The digital world can collectively kiss my ass! (He said on a blog post on the internet, half ironically, half sarcastically.)

ALF BackInstructions:

1. Place phonograph on manual setting at 33 1/3 rpm.

2. Wipe record with clean cloth before each use.

3. Place coin near record center if record slips.

4. For best results bend record so it lies flat.

To remove coupon – bend at perforation and tear off gently.

Thanks to Jason Hardwick, of FILLintheBLANK fame, for this record.

Totes, Bra

SW ToteI’m in the market for a portable turntable, so if anybody has any suggestions please let me know. For said future turntable will be this companion piece, a brother-in-arms at 45 caliber, if you will (or if you won’t, it’s totes up to you).

Perfect for kids of all ages, this Star Wars Record Tote (made in 1982) holds around 25 45s and is surprisingly durable. I keep my Read-Along records in this guy, but certainly plan on toting him around on picnics when I find my portable player.

Also, if you ever hear anyone pronounce “totally” as “totes,” smack them in the head. Smack them in the head and do it hard… hurt your hand hard, you dig?

From Los Angeles to San Francisco

photoI’ll be up in SF for a few days, but still wanted to submit my daily post. While up here, I thought I’d comment on SF bands that I find interesting (idea by Jason Hardwick). So, here is a list of a few SF area bands that I dig, with a youtube vid link to accompany them. Enjoy!

Blue Cheer

Their version of Summertime Blues is considered, by some, to be the first “Heavy Metal” track ever recorded. Blue Cheer formed in 1967.

Dead Kennedys

Riddled with legal battles throughout their tenure (mainly 1985’s obscenity trial over the artwork from their Frankenchrist release), the Dead Kennedys were among the first US based Hardcore bands to gain discernible popularity in England. They formed in 1978.

Faith No More

Starting in 1981 under the name, Faith No Man, Faith No More saw a revolving door of lead vocalists until landing Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton in 1988. 1992’s Angel Dust was considered to be highly influential throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Their recent reunion notwithstanding, they parted ways in 1998.

Huey Lewis and the News

Gaining popularity at almost galactic proportions, HL&N were a personal favorite of mine throughout my childhood. Huey’s cameo in Back to the Future still makes me chuckle. Huey’s real name is Hugh Anthony Cregg.

Jefferson Airplane

The first from the SF area to gain mainstream success during the psychedelic rock boom, Jefferson Airplane would morph into Jefferson Starship, then regrettably, just Starship. They formed in 1965 and ended their initial run in 1972.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR was a band that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to when riding in my Dad’s truck as a youngin’. Thinking they were a Southern band until I got wise, CCR, since the early days of my youth, has never been far out of reach. That can’t be said for many bands I’ve come across. I think the majority of my childhood musical favorites were deemed “not worthy” during my first years as a teenager. I blame Lords of the Underground and Onyx. CCR began as Tom Fogerty & the Blue Velvets, then changed their name to The Golliwogs before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR disbanded in 1972.

NOFX

Oh, NOFX. There was a point in my life where I could simply not get enough NOFX. Those years have been put to sleep, but I still reminisce from time to time. Although they formed in Los Angeles in 1983, they currently create crass melodies up in the bay area, hence the inclusion on this list.

Operation Ivy

Active from only 1987-1989, and releasing only 1 studio album, Op Ivy went on to become underground cult Gods. Influencing such notable bands as Green Day, the majority of the Fat Wreck Chords cast, Sublime, and eventually turning into Rancid, the band of 4 energetic punk (ska-core to be specific) got their name from a series of American operated nuclear tests conducted on the Marshall Islands (in the northern Pacific Ocean) in 1952.

Primus

Avant-Garde Metal sensations, Primus launched into the public’s conscious back in 1984. Since then they’ve experienced several lineup changes, but never lost their original voice, bass player and lead singer Les Claypool. Claypool’s label, Prawn Song Records is a parody of the Led Zeppelin owned, Swan Song Records.

The Doobie Brothers

Another one of “those bands” that my father frequently played, the diggity Doobie Brothers are the subject of comedic utterance by Michael Douglas in the 1984 classic, Romancing the Stone. Don’t remember the line? Here it is. They also created some pretty bad-ass music. I’ve never met someone who’s admitting NOT liking the D. Bros. (They formed in San Jose, I know, but it’s close to SF. Give me a break.)

As seen on TV

Record Vacuum - BoxThis 1976 “Record-Vacuum” by Ronco™ is hardly a vacuum. It’s basically a record holder with a wheel that spins the record against 2 foam brushes. This may have been the talk of the town back in ol’ ’76, but now it’s virtually just a Record Dirtier (As seen on TV).

I guess after 37 years the brushes may need to be changed out. Not sure if Ronco™ is still manufacturing those. The history of Ronco™ can be found here.  Surprisingly, the damn thing still turns on!

I basically keep it around as a conversation piece, but sadly, those conversations are quite short (much like this post).

Record Vacuum - Pryor

Album Review: The In Sound from Way Out! – Perrey-Kingsley

CoverHaving to check, TWICE, that the beginning of this album was indeed on 33 1/3 (instead of on 45rpm, duh), I’m willingly forced to adjust my expectations so that they’re broad enough to ingest the enormity of this electronic Grand Canyon (other alternatives could be, the Pacific Ocean and/or Nic Cage’s forehead).

Labeled as Space Age Pop, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley cut and paste an album containing, what they imagined the music of their future (our past) had to offer. HOLY FUGG, DID THEY MISS THE MARK! But, as you continue to listen to this borderline children’s album (because it’s so unbelievably and unquestionably playful), the creative objective takes backseat to the subconscious joy that The In Sound offers to the willing cerebral cortex via the fordable musical river known as the human ear canal (canals if listening in stereo).

It would be soulfully wrong to do a write-up of this album and NOT comment on the Beastie Boys (RIP MCA).  Grand Royal’s 1994 release by the Beastie Boys, similarly titled, The In Sound from Way Out! offers no similarities with regard to the grooves, but whose cover and title were based off of this 1966 classic. It was actually the Beastie Boys’ cover that I initially saw, and I had no earthly idea that it was an homage until I saw my Perry-Kingley’s In Sound in a small record shop off Clark Street in Chicago. It sometimes takes one a bit of time to dig back through the pages of music history to find historic references to modern pop culture (well, as modern as 1994 at least).

End of side 1In Sound

Now, back to the album at hand (and in ear… sorry about that). It’s really a shame that no one has ever invented a form of dance that could accompany this kind of audio bliss. It would have to combine the Chicken with Square or Ballroom Dancing, but, you know, served with like 12 pots of coffee. Sure, there have been a few advancements in humanity over the past 46 years, but there has also been some MUCH needed social growth that has fallen way too short. The Way Out Dance tops that list.

I don’t mean to discredit the technical achievement that Perrey-Kingsley display on this album, and I furthermore don’t want you to see this as an unlistenable album. For the adventurous listener seeking something uplifting, cheerful, very dated and somewhat historical (if you’re a Beastie Boys fan), or someone just wanting to hear what 1966’s version of the “future” was, The In Sound from Way Out! definitely deserves at least one spin.

Having said that, I can’t imagine hearing any of these tracks reverberating off the walls at any of the clubs here in Los Angeles (not that I have any idea what kind of music is played at these clubs), or softly emitting from the stereo at your next casual dinner party.

What I’m saying is that you need to be in the mood to listen to this album. Some people, I imagine, never feel that mood strike. And that’s fine. Others are amazed when they discover a 28-year-old connection between their favorite band and an album they never knew existed, purchase said album, then are extremely disappointed when they giddily give it a spin. I fault high expectations. But I don’t fault the music. I’ve grown to appreciate it. Perhaps, you will too.

End of side 2

Back

Lovingly edited by Jillian Kenney. Reluctantly edited by Jason Hardwick.

November 20th, 1982

Polly Wog Stew CoverBefore the Berlin Wall fell, before Cookie Puss and Professor Booty. Before Return of the Jedi. Before Lost, Seinfeld, Moonlighting and Breaking Bad. Before the Challenger exploded. Before Full Metal Jacket, the Hubble Telescope, and Mullet Heads. Before The Clash broke up. Before I’d survived my first Wisconsin winter. Before the World Wide Web, Flash and MP3s. Before Mad Cow, Def Jam and Netty’s Girl. Before the Dust Brothers and the Chemical Brothers. Before Cheers closed. Before Jimmy James, Country Mike and the Nervous Assistant. Before Nintendo, Powerpoint and CD-ROM. Before Johnny Ryall, Brass Monkey, BS 2000, the Tibetan Freedom Concert, Grand Royal, and the prequels. Before Ad-Rock…

There was Polly Wog Stew.

Released on November 20th, 1982 on NYC’s Rat Cage Records. Listen here.

RIP MCA

Polly Wog Stew BackPolly Wog Stew Label

Album Write-up: Fever Tree’s 1968 Debut Album, Fever Tree

CoverSide 1

Phantom of the Opera meets the Wild West in this opening track to Fever Tree’s debut album. Vocalist Dennis Keller kicks in with his chain-smoked-laden-raspy-gnarls-of-enthusiasm as the rest of this hipped out mob feverishly (see what I did there?) jams along in the background. (As with most of these write-ups, I’m listening to the album as I write.) This album is beginning to show signs of being really far out, brother! Fever Tree’s brand of late 60’s psychedelia peaked at only 156 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Not difficult to imagine as 1968 brought us The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society and what is now known as The White Album, to name only a few.

Although subsequent albums provided higher charting numbers, Fever Tree’s only single came from this album; (Track 3’s) San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native).  Sitting in my office smothered by the year 2013 and all that has preceded it, I imagine a parallel between listening to this album now, and a Texas band in 1968 singing about long legs in the San Francisco bay. “Those San Francisco girls with their San Francisco ways.” Ok. No one ever sang a song about the pretty girls in Camden, NJ; at least not in 1968, and certainly not on Universal City Records.

This album jams, man! Prime rhythms with snake-like guitar solos accompanied by a sprinkle of organ for good measure, all under a forceful bed of scratchy lyrics. For me, however, the album really picks up on Track 5’s, Man Who Paints the Pictures. Like a locomotive overtaken by banditos and raging down the rails through open fields of flower potted children and face painting stereotypes, Man Who Paints the Pictures finds its abrupt end with the start of Filigree & Shadow (which plays like a song that could accompany a Shakespearean play at a Tech College in rural Wisconsin). It’s a shame William Shatner couldn’t have covered this track on his groundbreaking, The Transformed Man LP. It would have fit in perfectly. Side 1 has its moments, and Man Who Paints the Pictures is its peak.

End of Side 1

I bet these guys got laid a lot.Dennis Keller Look at those chops!

Being thicker than a $5 malt, I had no idea that the Fever tree was the name of an actual tree. The acacia xanthophloea to be exact, and apparently photosynthesis takes place in the tree’s bark, which supposedly is pretty rare. So, there you go. No need to attend your Dendrology class today (courtesy of The Prudent Groove).

Side 2 offers more of the same “good time Charlie” music. Like a soothing blanket on a brisk fall evening, the Fever Tree provides uplifting lyrics and whimsical melodies on The Sun Also Rises. Although that statement may be painfully obvious, its simplicity, however overlooked, provides a sense of comfort and optimism for what each new day can bring. It’s all about the love, man. You dig?

The Fever Tree try their hand at some Lennon / McCartney material on Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s always interesting to hear a familiar song through a new perspective.

The majority of the second side is much more subdued in comparison to the jam-heavy first side. And that’s fine, it just creates a distinctive separation between the two sides. Perhaps this is done by design. If you’re in the mood to jam, side A is your friend. If you’re in the mood to go all the way, side B may just put her in the mood.

BackOverall, Fever Tree’s debut album provides over 34 minutes that capture a specific state of (reality deluded) mind; a sense of what I can only imagine as being daydreamy-Utopia towards what the potential future could bring. Unfortunately for Fever Tree and the rest of the hip cats and chicks in 1968, that time would prove to be short lived. But thankfully, bands like Fever Tree, with their obscure releases, can take us to a time we will never know, and leave us longing for another trip back.

End of side 2.

Mercury Records Thinks You’re An Unmitigated Muttonhead

Do you own records? Do you use them for flatware when all your dishes are dirty, then wonder why your favorite Yes song constantly skips? Are you lazy and order your kids to flip to the B-side of Moe Bandy’s Greatest Hits just after they’ve housed an entire box of Klondike Bars? Are you just not too fond of common sense? If you answer “yes” to any of these, you’re EXACTLY like me and are in desperate need of an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to help you best manage the quality of your record collection.

Thankfully, Mercury Records is there for us nitwits in our record neglecting times of need.

Your Records are Worth Caring for…

Mercury Records Logo

(Courtesy of Mercury Records)

You buy a record because you like it. Each time you add a record to your collection, you’re building up your personal library of musical favorites. Here’s how to make sure each record you own gives you maximum pleasure each time you play it.

Step 1

 

1. Avoid getting fingerprints or smudges on the playing surface. Handle the record by its edges, or by one edge and the center label.

Step 2

 

2. Hold the record jacket against you and buckle it when removing or replacing records.

 

Step 3

 

3. Remove surface dust before playing records. Do this by gently wiping the record with a slightly damp soft cloth or a specially treated record cloth available at your record dealer.

Step 4

 

4. Store record albums upright as you would books. Single records should be kept in a rack but may be staked or stored vertically with your albums.

Mercury Record - Caring

Album Review-ish: Calypso Holiday – The Norman Luboff Choir

C CoverThis playful little selection sounds exactly like one would imagine by the parrot-laden cover and a title that is about as on-the-nose as could be humanly conceived. Throwaway titles for this album could have been: Riding the Coattails of the Rising Star, Harry Belafonte and His Successful Calypso Sound and This is Calypso Music, You Narrow-Minded Yankee.

Ok, I’ll admit, the only other Calypso music I’ve been exposed to was indeed Harry Belafonte, so this write-up isn’t going to be anything near groundbreaking (not that there would be any worry of that to begin with).  So, that having been stated, here goes:

This is an exceptionally fun album! The singers, both male and female HAD to be sore with grinning stretch marks from the making of this album. It’s good-time music. Plain and simple. Did your dog just knock over his water dish for the 17th time during the last commercial break of Gentle Ben? This album will help cheer you up. Did you just find out that your spouse has been secretly cheating on you with your younger sibling and that the raised papules on your skin sustained while swimming in that lake in early June may in fact be Swimmer’s Itch? Calypso Holiday will free you from this and seemingly ANY First World trouble.

So, Wikipedia tells me that, ahem, “Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots.” Being neither African nor European, I proceed to Google “Trinidad and Tobago. “ Well, Oxnard California this is not! The women are beautiful (and wearing next to nothing), and that has GOT to be some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen (Probably Photoshopped). I’ve never had any sizable itch to travel south of San Diego, but a Port of Spain vacation has just made my bucket list.

Focus track for side 1: Dance de Limbo (Track 6). I challenge any of you to listen to this song and NOT nod your head to the simple pleasures of the religiously pure Calypso sound. Think back about that pool of water on your kitchen floor… You are now getting thoughts of raiding the closet for a broom with which to start a Limbo. Get to the back of the line, buddy, and fix me another Flying Masturbator. (It Exists)

End of side 1

Back

The first track on side 2, Sound de Fire Alarm begins an awful lot like Belafonte’s Jump in the Line (Shake Senora). I’m going to be thinking of this song while the “several-times-daily” fire trucks roll by my window to the rescue of some poor cat stranded up in a tree. Do cats still climb trees on LA’s west side?

Columbia Records put out this release in 1957, just 1 year after RCA’s release of Belafonte’s appropriately, and also on-the-nose album titled simply, Calypso. That album, having been only Belafonte’s 3rd, went on to sell over a million copies and spent 99 weeks on the U.S. Billboard charts. So, Columbia Records, being nether based in Columbia NOR, seemingly, having a creative bone in their corporate skeleton, decided to cash in on Mr. Belafonte’s raging success. As I’d mentioned, Belafonte is the only other Calypso artist I know, but I can promise that you’ll only read his name 1 more time during this write-up. Belafonte.

Allmusic.com doesn’t rate Calypso Holiday, or even provide an album cover. What type of flabbergasting tomfoolery is this! Somebody should write a letter. Here is their address:

AMG Headquarters

1168 Oak Valley Drive

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Mr. Luboff unfortunately met his demise in September of 1987. I was eight then, and it would be close to fifteen years until I would even hear the poor man’s name. Well, he was talented, so I doubt he was poor, just poor in the sense that he’s now dead. For all I know he may have wanted to die, which would mean his death wasn’t poor at all. He had lung cancer which, I imagine doesn’t feel like a dip in the Caribbean Sea. Maybe his death was something of a sweet Calypso melody, softly kissing the ears of another eager listener. His NYT Obituary can be found here, if you’re into that kind of thing: Obit

Well, now I feel bad, having ended such an uplifting album on a morose disposition.  The inevitable Yin to the Calypso Yang, I guess.

Quickly, the back cover suggests “Records sound best on Columbia phonographs.” So, remember that the next time you’re shopping for your next hi-fi home stereo system. Or don’t. I won’t know.