The Journey

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

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

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

The Personality Sound of the Sixties!

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

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

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

Casual Dinner Party

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

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

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

Saturday Picnic

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

Love Missile F1-11

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

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

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

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

Oh, the Summer of 1998

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

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

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

Enjoy the Sound and Variety of Coral Records

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

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

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

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

Golden Tone’s Definition of High Fidelity

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

High Fidelity

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

Black Market Indy

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

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

Thanks for the memories, guys.

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

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

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

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

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


HSBOTB LPI had no Earthly idea what to expect when I picked up Record Store Day Presents High School Battle of the Bands, but for only $1.99, and sealed, I figured, what the hell. Released as part of 2010’s Collector Christmas, also known as Record Store Day, this nine track comp, quite understandably, acts more as a vehicle for parading individual tracks than that of a comprehensive album. With that in mind, the pool of talent displayed throughout this record overwhelmed me. The overall lurid inflection on the majority of these tracks assured me that what I found was something significant.

InsertIn a nutshell, Fender teamed up with the liberators at Records Store Day to devise a brick-and-mortar-record-store-sponsored-high-school-band-contest. The winning band was to win a bunch of free gear, studio time, and a slot on this record. It was up to some undisclosed record executives and members from the Fender Corp. to judge all the entries that eventually resulted in this record. I have no idea how many bands entered, but every single one of the chosen nine are studio/label worthy.

It’s gratifying to see my two home states, Wisconsin and California, representing four of the nine tracks on this comp. My only gripe is that the link to the free download is dead… my fault for waiting three years to get this album. Support the future of noise pollution and GET THIS ALBUM!

I’m an Alley Cat, Some Say a Dirty Rat…

CATI didn’t exactly pay $1.57 for Bent Fabric’s debut album, Alley Cat, but a record released in 1962 (adjusted for inflation, of course) calculated at $11.76, priced at $2.99 just yesterday, was something I certainly couldn’t turn down.

Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, AKA Bent Fabric, is an 88-year-old Danish pianist/composer who, on this album, plays merry ol’ ragtime music with the cunning grace of someone like Sergei Rachmaninov… only, you know, with cats.

A few days ago I mentioned the four Bent Fabric albums on my want list. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to chalk one off the list. Thank you, Amoeba Hollywood.

Walk Like an Egyptian

WalkDon’t stroll like an Ethiopian, hike like a Brazilian, ramble like a German, tread like a Moroccan, march like an Indonesian, or holiday like a Cambodian… instead, walk (don’t run) like an Egyptian.

With a killer bassline and a catchy chorus, The Bangles found chart-topping success in the fall of 1986 with their #1 hit single, Walk Like an Egyptian. The fall of 1986… right around the time I was starting the 2nd grade.

I loved this track as a kid, and found a fresh new appreciation for it within the past few years, mainly due to the truck-driving bassline… not to mention that as a whole, this 80s single truly withstands the test of time.

If you haven’t in a while, Walk Like an Egyptian… you’ll have plenty of time to wait in traffic like a Los Angeleno, so why not give it a spin.

Enough Bass to Make Your Neighbors Call the Cops

LoopsWith little to no time today, I present Loops of Fury by the Chem Bros. Featured in the Playstation game, Wipeout 2097 (and released on the jam-packed, gonna-make-your-ears-bleed, but in a good way, soundtrack to the game titled, you guessed it, Wipeout 2097: The Soundtrack), Loops of Fury is a perfect example of late 90s Chem Bros, and stands as a highlight of Big Beat music in general.

With enough bass to make your neighbors call the cops, Loops of Fury would make a great addition to any collection, especially if pissing off your neighbors is your style.

ATCO Records (AKA The Stuff Atlantic Records Wants Nothing to Do With)

ATCONot only is Atco an unincorporated gaggle of pleasant homesteaders in Camden County, New Jersey, it’s also a record label and subsidiary of Atlantic Records Corporation (ATlantic COrporation… see what they did there?). Founded in 1955, ATCO served as an outlet for acts that, for one reason or another, didn’t fit the Atlantic Records format (Atlantic Records needs to lighten up if you ask me).

One of ATCO’s early releases is the 1964 compilation titled, Ain’t She Sweet. I don’t own this record… but I wish I did. It features The Beatles (with Tony Sheridan, recorded in 1961), and fetches a hefty $600 on Discogs. Keep an eye out for this one in the $1 bins.

What I dig most about these old inserts, apart from the frequent reminder of how to care for my records, is the variety of new bands I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. Now, I’ve heard of Bent Fabric (Bent Fabricius-Bjerre), but I didn’t realize that most of his covers featured animals. My favorite from this insert is undoubtedly, The Drunken Penguin. That, coupled with Alley Cat, The Happy Puppy, and Never Tease Tigers just became the top four records in my want list.

Thanks to the nice people of Atco, and ATCO for the groovy suggestions.

Recent Additions 8/18/13

Recent Additions

Yesterday was a good day in terms of record pecking. I was able to find the following four albums (two firsts and two comps) for relatively cheap (it’s not only about the find… it’s also about the deal, as you all well know).

First up is The Rolling Stones’ self-titled debut, The Rolling Stones. Now, there were two copies of this album over at Record Surplus, and both sleeves were in pretty good shape. The copy I left behind was priced at $35, but the version I brought home was only $5. Record Surplus is thoughtful enough to provide listening stations (available, albeit restrictive, in five minute intervals). The record looked a bit choppy, but after a test spin, it proved to be only visually perverted. Score one for The Groove!

Second is Tim Hardin’s first album, Tim Hardin 1. I’m absolutely loony over Tim Hardin’s brand of white boy blues (after discovering his 1967 released, 1963-1964 recorded album, This is Tim Hardin). If you don’t know Tim Hardin, you don’t know anguish. It’s as simple as that.

Third and fourth are two of the three part series of early 80s UK punk comps titled, Punk and Disorderly. I’d first heard of these comps via NOFX lyrics in the song, Punk Guy that go “He should’ve been on the cover of Punk and Disorderly.” With 16 tracks apiece, I eagerly look forward to angry meditations in UK punk.

So, there you have it. British Invasion, White Boy Blues, and early UK Punk. Not bad for a stroll down to the corner shop.

Thelma (the First Wife), and the Bulging Wang of Martin Crosbie

MartinWikipedia will have you know, that Martin Crosbie “was an Irish tenor” who is internationally known for the song, The Miller’s Daughter featured here, on his 1975 album, Yesterday When I Was Young. At the time of this record’s release, Mr. Crosbie had been performing at Clontarf Castle in Dublin “for the past ten years” (1965-1975 for those not keeping track). Many of the chosen tracks that appear on Yesterday When I Was Young were those most requested by levelheaded audience members attending his consistent executions on stage at the above-mentioned Irish castle. The man was a hoss… a performance whore with lines that wrapped around the corner, and down the halls (no evidence of this exists).

BackThe back sleeve offers a little insight into Mr. Crosbie’s personal life: “The recent tracks on the album are Thelma (the first wife) on the organ, and myself only.” First wife? How many more were there? Could a once blooming, and romantically blossomed love really be diminished down to a three-word description such as “the first wife?” Apparently so. Passing away in 1982 at the age of 71, and with little-to-no information about this golden-throated legend available online, we are all left to the inconsistent suggestions of speculation.

As for the bulging wang… no comment.

Inflation is a Bastard

ReceiptOn a recent excursion to the corner thrift shops, I was able to unearth a few awkward gems. Let me back-up a bit and say, wholeheartedly, that inflation is a bastard. I’m going to sound very old, very quickly here, so please bear with me. I can remember strolling into any random thrift shop and paying nothing over $0.99 for a used record. Today, tainted by the thick, grubby hands of the monetary virus known as inflation, these thrift shops, that receive all of these records for free, mind you, are selling records for $3 a pop! Granted, yes, $3 for a record is still a monumental steal, but I clearly would have picked up at least two, possibly three more albums had the price been “what it used to be.”

AllmanI believe it was George Costanza who said, “I pay what I want.” I’m strongly considering adopting that principle. It blows my feeble mind to think who would ever pay $3 for a scratched-to-hell Lawrence Welk album with a ripped cover. Ok, my teeny-tiny rant over with, I wanted to present the three, newest additions to my collection. First up is the 1975 Win, Lose or Draw by the Allman Brothers Band. My catalog of Allman Brothers music is small, so this will help the cause.

Mrs. MillsSecond is a 1962 UK release of Mrs. Mills’ Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties. In almost pristine shape, Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties is a nostalgic (for someone, I suppose) keepsake for the burlesque-inspired and boa flinging dance parlors of a decade nearly a century old. Not to mention, the cover is priceless (even though it was had for three times the price I would have like to have paid).

MartinLast, but certainly not least, is a magnificent 1975 album from an artist I’d never heard of, Martin Crosbie (with Thelma). Yesterday When I Was Young, released on the Irish Olympic Records label, showcases a stern, and slightly annoyed Martin Crosbie standing atop a few dry rocks directly in front of a roaring river. I can’t wait to listen to this album.

In short, inflation is an inevitable priss, and $3 for an album is still not bad (screams to himself), especially considering the unknown gem that potentially waits in the dimly lit, and dust-filled shelves of your local thrift store.