Les Paul Now!

Les Paul Now!If you’re in the mood for sweet-low, (<— comma… please notice the comma…) quality instrumental guitar music with a hint of blues and a touch of country twang, look no further than Wisconsin native Les Paul.

The Now part is a bit arbitrary, but the Les Paul part is pure, unmistakable 6-string joy. Two things I learned from (very, very briefly) researching this album are 1) Les Paul came out of retirement to record this album for London Records and 2) by this time, Les and Mary Ford had officially split.

Les Paul CustomReleased in 1968, Les Paul Now!, with its voluptuous purity, must have seemed somewhat out of step with the majority of pop music being produced in the closing years of the waning, hip-tastic 60s. Lucky for appreciators of prudent ear candy everywhere, virtue knows not how to tell time.

The O.C. 45

O.C. 45 SleeveThis record is a thermoplastic material. Do not expose to excessive temperature. So reads this vintage 45 sleeve from Capitol Records. I personally don’t own an O.C. 45, but that will undoubtedly change sometime in the near future. For those of you not in the know, don’t worry if you aren’t, because I just discovered this for myself some short moments ago, the O stands for optional and the C stands for center. I do, obviously, possess several generic adapters (many of them classic Spiders), but something tells me that the O.C. 45 is, quite simply put, the Rolls Royce of 45 adapters. Except that, it isn’t. Here’s why.

SMALL Spindles LogoThanks to Capitol6000.com for harboring the only information about this long defunct adapter anywhere online. I encourage you to read the article at Capitol6000.com, but here is the gist of it: To provide the listener/purchaser/record collecting nut with viable options for pure, listening satisfaction, Capitol Records invented a record that could easily play on either small spindles (78rpm and 33 1/3rpm), or by (aggressively) punching out the optional center, the record could be played on larger spindles (45rpm). This seems like a clever and convenient way to circumvent the clouded format war of the late 40s and early 50s (a war that still rages on to this day), but my question is this. Was the punched out adapter able to be punched back in?

LARGE Spindles LogoSay your wife wanted to enjoy some Les Baxter with her bothersome friends at the bi-monthly block party cookout, but you’ve already punched out the optional center. After (reluctantly) searching the entire house looking for the damn thing, do you return to the Better Homes and Gardens party a hero, or will you go down in history as the only guy on the block who couldn’t give the ladies Les Baxter when they needed it? Thankfully, the Frank A. Jansen and Snap-It adapters were slowly moving their way into record collections across the gluttonous US of A by this time, so any possibility of further social awkwardness could easily be avoided.

Beasties O.C. 45Used to house my transparent blue vinyl copy of the Sabotage/Sure Shot split by the Beastie Boys, this pristine little vintage record sweater is a perfect fit for my mid 90s rock/hip-hop obsession.

Let’s Begin Now

Not Cleared for BroadcastDistributed in the height of Star Wars sequel anticipation, this 1979 release of a children’s Read-Along book and record set hosts one of my first vivid memories of playing a record. Thanks to my first, pocket-sized (for very large pockets) turntable, I was able to enjoy an insanely abridged version of my favorite story… a story I had been convinced was the greatest ever told.

Original Motion PictureWhen listening to this little memory-harboring 7″ (with all its pop-filled, skip-tastic glory), I can still picture myself reenacting the drama-soaked adventures with my 3¾” Star Wars action figures and thinking, being a kid is the greatest thing on this, or any galaxy, regardless of placement in time and/or location. (A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… was easily replaced with Just a moment ago in a playroom very, very near…)

The ol’ girl has certainly seen better days, but I wouldn’t trade her for all seats on the Imperial Senate.

Shut ‘Em Down

ONYXSo, the (US) government is shutdown for the first time since 1996. Well, isn’t that fantastic? Since the country can’t even agree to disagree, it’s about damn time to unleash the pit bulls of pain… Shut ‘Em Down, Onyx… Shut ‘Em Down.

Released in the dwindling years of the 20th century, Shut ‘Em Down was the third album by the Queens based gangsta rap quartet turned trio (RIP Big DS), and their final for Def Jam Records. Shut ‘Em Down features the first big label appearance by 50 Cent (which is about all our government is worth at the moment). I’m not a fan of 50 Cent, but his debut with Onyx is worth noting.

I’m partial to Bacdafucup myself (Onyx’s first and most prolific album), but on a day when someone desperately needs to hit the reset button on the nation, Shut ‘Em Down will certainly suffice.Mad Face '98

Post #250: Three Albums, One Island

Paul'sIf you were stranded on a remote island (that conveniently harbored electricity, speakers and a bomb-ass turntable), and you were only allowed to pick three albums with which to spin for your remaining, ocean-gazing days, what three albums would they be?

For me, the first two albums were no-brainers. Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Choosing the proper versions, both albums are double LPs (1998’s Grand Royal reissue and 2011’s mono/stereo split), so you’re already a leg up on the island dwelling competition. The third and final album requires much more, overanalyzed thought. Do you play it safe and pick Abbey Road? What about The Beatles, also known as the White Album? Or, do you skip the 12” format altogether and grab your favorite song, which just happens to be a post-hardcore thrasher by the obscure Wisconsin band, Defacto Oppression? Certainly NOT an easy decision to make (in this overly voluptuous hypothetical), second-guessing is sure to follow after the inevitably dreadful decision is (finally) made.

Village GreenBruce Springsteen’s Nebraska garnishes some thought, but would probably be far too depressing… after all, these three albums will help feed, or deter the fact that you are, after all, stranded on a remote island. Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan is a considerably strong candidate, but would immediately be my number four pick. Bizarre Ride II (The Pharcyde), In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live) (Ministry), This is Tim Hardin (Tim Hardin… duh), and Circa: Now! (Rocket from the Crypt) are all, exceptional lily pads on this thought pond, but none of them make the distinct cut.

London Calling (The Clash), Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen), Singles – 45’s and Under (Squeeze), Energy (Operation Ivy), Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses), which would easily be my number five pick, Black Monk Time (The Monks), and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys) all lay floating in the salted sea of “never to enjoy again.” Damn, this post is depressing.

RefusedAnd the winner goes to… The Shape of Punk to Come… the quintessential soundtrack to my evasive youth wins the number three spot, and with little hesitation, I might add. Refused’s best, and another double LP, this top three has quickly turned into the top six, and would respectfully demonstrate, and/or adequately demolish my headspace for the rest of my delusional life. To pick three out of 2,800 is certainly NOT an easy gesture… if asked again tomorrow, I’d have a completely different roster. Oh, the joy, and immediate pleasure of viable options.

Even Space Stations Are Having a Hard Time

Deltron2Dan the Automator, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala, Money Mark Nishita, Prince Paul, Damon Albarn, Sean Lennon, Mr. Lif, Peanut Butter Wolf… the list goes on (and on… the credits contain 19 entries, up to and including the G4 computer used to compose these ravishing beats).

All that bass is gonna’ break my ears.

Deltron 3030 exists within a futuristic and corporately antiseptic environment it created for itself. To overly simplify the enormity of this album, the phrase “smart hip-hop” could accurately be used. To overly complicate an already overly complicated concept album, the following phrase seems accurate; “think Dr. Octagon without the perversion, set 1030 years into the future, and triple the IQ.” This album is as hysterical as it is awe-inspiring, as forward thinking as it is historic, and a perfect album for people who don’t necessarily like hip-hop.

Heathens will breed heathens.

Deltron 3030 broke into the new millennium with their 21-track debut of the same name on October 17th, 2000. Fact. They have a much-anticipated follow-up due out on Tuesday titled, Event 2. Fact. With a 13 year gap between albums, this coming Tuesday should go down in astrological history. Opinion.

Saturday Mornings With Richard Pryor

RichA day that goes by without a Richard Pryor quote is both a sad, and extremely rare day. Literally every time someone mentions a year from the 20th century, my tuned Pryears : ) perk up, and I do everything within my power to stop from breaking into the classic Sugar Ray Robinson routine. “Nineteen what?!” One of the best gifts I’ve truly ever given myself was the countless hours of listening to Richard Pryor. Because, in doing so, I’m now able to conjure up Rich’s voice in my head, seemingly at will. It’s an overwhelmingly comfortable feeling to have Richard Pryor with you every moment of every day. One of life’s little gifts, I guess.

The following is a list of everyday objects and well, whatevers that will forever be linked to the funniest man to ever walk the Earth (sorry, Jason Hardwick): fish sandwiches; dice; change for $1; craps; pet monkeys; walking in the woods; snakes; winos; 11 o’clock; blackjack; polar bears; (I’m literally crying I’m laughing so hard just thinking of these comedic bits) Mongo Santamaría; turtle soup; license plates; a cool breeze; and anything deep (to name a few).

I’m strongly considering dedicating Saturday mornings to Richard Pryor, much to the dismay of my girlfriend and our uptight neighbors. If you’re unfamiliar with the crowned prince of comedy, start with Craps (After Hours). Keep an open mind and the kids out of earshot. You’ll thank me.

The Presidents Speak

WashingtonWhat’s better than an Extended Play 33 1/3 rpm Hi-Fidelity Record on George Washington? An Extended Play 33 1/3 rpm Hi-Fidelity Record on George Washington narrated by Art Baker, that’s what! And what’s more, a Collector’s Edition Presidential Commemorative Medallion… specially minted coin replica of one of America’s legendary leaders! It’s raining awe over here at The Prudent Groove, and I’ll be damned if I’m going for my umbrella.

Attention Collectors:

You will want the handsome plaque, specially designed to display the entire collection of Presidential Commemorative Medallions. Ask your dealer!

Don’t tell me what I want, 1966 Kaysons International LTD.! I am fully capably of deciding for myself. I don’t need you telling me, okay? Okay.

(Man, I could really use a nice, specially designed plaque with which to display my Commemorative Presidential Medallions… damn you, 1966 Kaysons International LTD.!)

Moscow Mules at 3am

3am RantFueled by a Moscow Mule at three in the morning (the first I’ve ever made for myself), I sit, alone, ripe with intensity at the notion of plugging away at today’s fiendish post. Unfortunately, I have no geological compass with which to guide my lamenting rants. My scorned conscious maligns itself at continuously writing about writing about music, instead of actually writing about music… the byproduct of never taking myself too seriously.

Why music? Furthermore, why the tedious and lethargic interactivity of a flippable media disc? And why does it provide so much relentless satisfaction? Are we slaves to our pleasures? Would we care to acknowledge the answer we know to be true? I’m not immune to the truth. I just choose to keep it at bay in the back of my mind next to my burgeoning narcissism, and that video of me singing Pour Some Sugar on Me as a nonsensical child.

Perhaps, personalized discovery is to blame… or to credit. A sea of emotions built, and then repeatedly cast upon the wall with each gratifying listen. Music is above all other things, the greatest distracter of deafening silence. Because, once the silence takes hold, you’re stuck with the worst conversation you can possibly imagine… the conversation with yourself.

I listen to music in order to mute my internal monologue. My unconscious self, much like my conscious self, is a raging idiot, and I’ll do just about anything in my power to shut it the hell up… I don’t see harm in fanning this enduring process, do you?

Having Nothing to Do With Anything, These are My Thoughts While Listening to Sports by Huey Lewis and the News

News CoverI wonder if Huey got paid for his cameo in Back to the Future, or if his role as the disapproving high school teacher was compensation for the two Huey Lewis and the News tracks featured on the soundtrack. I remember wanting to be a ninja when this album was big. I believe I WAS a ninja for Halloween one year… I should have gone as Huey instead.

I’m not sure why I own two copies of this album. My father introduced me to Huey Lewis and the News, albeit inadvertently. He had Sports on cassette and would play it in his Datsun. I had a small toy Datsun around this time. I used to pretend it was my father’s car speeding through makeshift highways and back alleys… all while listening to Sports, of course.

News BackI wonder who the modern day Huey Lewis is. I have a new respect for the News now that I know they were Elvis Costello’s backing band for his debut, My Aim is True. Does anybody remember the sketch comedy show on HBO, Not Necessarily the News? I distinctly remember the video for Stuck With You, but since that track doesn’t make an appearance on Sports, I’ll bypass further ramblings of this thought.

I wonder what drug Huey was referring to that makes him feel three feet thick. I wonder what the street value of that drug was then, compared to what it is now. Going back to Back to the Future, I wonder how successful the movie would have been had the DeLorean been replaced by say, a 1985 Chrysler Lebaron.

Sports, for me at least, is the soundtrack to a half-decade of childhood memories. I can’t imagine growing up without it.

Four Old Seven Inches On A Twelve Inch

12Dischord Records did a remarkable thing for fans of early, D.C. based hardcore. Back in July of 2007, the label, owned by Minor Threat frontman and drummer, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, reissued four, LONG out of print 7” EPs as the 12” comp, Four Old Seven Inches On A Twelve Inch.

When you consider how much these original records sell for (brace yourself, because this is crazy: Teen Idles – Minor Disturbance E.P. – $750, S.O.A. – No Policy E.P. – $450, Government Issue – Legless Bull E.P. – $208.35, and Youth Brigade – Possible E.P. – $538.40), fans of the genre, like myself, may not otherwise have heard these historic rants had a compilation such as this not been released. Totaling $1946.75 for the originals, the $12 price of the comp still doesn’t seem so bad.

Groovy Grubworm, Groovy, Groovy Grubworm

Groovy GrubwormI’ve got to admit, albeit amidst a cloud of guilt and shame, that I’ve been in a classic country mood since returning from my recent holiday in the rural Midwest. Yesterday I forced my girlfriend to join me in walking down the dusty road of Roger Miller and his hillbilly classic, Do-Wack A-Do, and lately I haven’t been able to stop Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley P.T.A. from spinning inside my head. So with that frame of reference in mind, I offer Groovy Grubworm and Other Golden Guitar Greats by none other than Harlow Wilcox & The Oakies.

Now, this is the kind of “country music” I can get behind. No lyrics about hound dogs slurpin’ on Sally’s slippers, or Fakey-Flakey Hearts, just 12 tracks of electric guitar with just the right amount of twang and driving backbeat. Don’t even get me started on what the masses consider “country” music by today’s standards. In my cocky ignorance, I’ll proudly refuse to listen to any so called “country” released this side of 1986 (I stop with Dwight Yoakam’s Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.). This is, to be blatently honest, the only reason I can justify listening to country music in the first place. Ok, rant over.

Grubworm BackYou’d think by the stoned out, tree-hugging grubworm on the cover that this album is far out, man. Instead, Harlow Wilcox & The Oakies are strikingly conservative in re-imagining such classics as The Surfaris’ Wipe Out, Johnny Smith’s Walk, Don’t Run, as well as dropping in four original compositions of their own that match seamlessly with the rest of these compelling classics.

Groovy Grubworm feeds that bug, er…worm, for classic, guitar-driven country music. I suspect that it’ll only be a matter of days until my mood shifts and I’ll want nothing to do with country music for the unforeseeable future, but until then, I’ll grab me a beer, and my lady, and we’ll create our own little rustic oasis amongst this sea of 3.8 million Los Angelenos. My sincere apologies to my neighbors in advance.

Post #242 (AKA My Unhealthy Obsession with Belgium’s Greatest Band)

242There was little to no doubt as to what post #242 would give prominence to. My only fear was that I wouldn’t be back from Wisconsin in time to snap the appropriate pictures to accompany this particularly numbered entry. For nearly a decade, I’ve been addicted to the self-proclaimed Godfathers of EBM or electronic body music (wikipedia calls them pioneers… I’m onboard with that)… Belgium’s Front 242.

AgressivaAs aggressive as they are danceable, and as rhythmically astounding as they are painfully lethargic, Front 242’s brand of industrial dance music is just the kind of narcissistic noise pollution that calms the unsettling nerves of my unbalanced equilibrium. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this rotating four-piece signed to Wax Trax! Records and, in the mid-80s, toured with Ministry (which resulted in the historic and monumental creation of the super group, Revolting Cocks).

GeographyAllmusic lists Front 242 as Pop/Rock. If Front 242 is Pop/Rock, then Willie Nelson should be categorized as Speed Metal. With heavy synths, combative vocals (when there are lyrics, which is rather rare considering their 32 year catalog), and the pleasure-secreting cloud of rhythmic percussion, Front 242 invokes the offensive aggression of punk, with the mind-numbing social-fukk-fest of Techno, for that perfect combination of salty-sweet ear food. It’s quite possibly the best form of music I’ve ever had the pleasure of shoving into my head.

Sometimes, you just dig what you dig, and you could care less as to the politics involved. Front 242 knocked me out some 10 years ago, and I’m still, without any moment of hesitation, completely comfortable enjoying this blissful, unconscious condition.

Sometimes

Fellini FrontSometimes you visit family and friends in the wooded, open-air state in which you grew up. Sometimes you cry from laughing so hard, you wear stocking hats in the early afternoon, you run the same route you did in High School Cross-Country, and sometimes you eat a whole, 1/3 box of Honey Maid graham crackers in one sitting.

Sometimes you throw away tiny mementos of your childhood to make room for tiny mementos of your adulthood, you discover a workman’s jacket your grandfather used to wear, you weave and dodge deer crossing rural roads at night, you attempt to snap pictures of the house cat chasing a chipmunk from the kitchen to the dining room and back, while your parents scurry from room to room attempting to get the poor zoo creature out of the house, you enjoy a severe thunderstorm, you visit your grandmother’s new apartment, you adjust to the idea of your grandmother living in an apartment, you drink countless, hearty cocktails, and eat at all your favorite restaurants that Los Angeles reluctantly ignores.

Sometimes you visit Half Price Books and find the soundtrack to Fellini’s 8 ½ for $2.99, you get your picture taken with your favorite MLB mascot, you delightfully peruse your parents’ record collection, you laugh ad nauseam with friends you haven’t seen in nearly 8 years, you play with cats, and you create new memories with which to bring up and enjoy in the future.

Sometimes you play Atari and drink Wisconsin’s finest beer with your girlfriend while laughing hysterically, you enjoy a bucket of balls at the driving range with your father, you play games at the kitchen table and your mother adorably invents a number of priceless one-liners, you build a bonfire, you visit the lake in which you learned to swim, and you wonder why you don’t visit more often.

Sometimes… it’s good to go home.

I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today (AKA, Arguably the Best Album Cover of All-Time)

Moooooooooe BandyVery few albums capture the soul-crushing heartache brought on by the ailing dark side of love. “I just found out my woman is the devil” is a picture-perfect tagline for this seminal 1974 release that not only defines the rural mindset of a love-lost victim, it also calls for, rather DEMANDS a visual representation (via means of album art) so classic, so surreal, that it goes down in history as one of the best concepts of all-time.

Moe Bandy… the name in and of itself brings (emotional) mountains to mere rubble. With a scorned look, and a drunk, blackened heart, Mr. Bandy sits with the company of sorrow and misery, amidst a muted, bruised, and tattered jukebox full of shattered, and as you’ll notice, empty, Evan Williams bottles. When the cause of your broken heart is outside your bottle-throwing range, take it out on the jukebox.

I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today is, as you can imagine, two parts love-sick country, one part hurtin’ western, and 24-parts OUTSTANDING. Whether you have the stomach for long, drawn-out whimpers of melancholy depression or not, this album is nothing short of a necessity, if only for the unparalleled cover.

Dear Mr. Bandy… I wish I could tell you that things will get better, but as you well know… they won’t. Have another bottle, on the house.

Happy Birthday, Mother Groove!

Betsi Two-StepShe’s known for an uncounted amount of selfless, kind gestures, for possessing an incredibly energetic personality, and for being unbelievably thoughtful. But above all else, she’s known for the a little jig we call, the Betsi Two-Step.

Play a song… any song… and if there’s a backbeat, you can bet your pulled-pork sandwich that the Betsi Two-Step will be out in full force. For the few of you who aren’t in the know, the Betsi Two-Step is a rhythmic groove-dance that crosses the Riverdance with the Electric Boogaloo, but with excessive grace and charm (complete with an atmosphere of uncontrollable merriment and boisterous laughter). You know, that when the Betsi Two-Step makes its appearance, you’re at exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

I’ve tried the Betsi Two-Step, and failed… miserably. It’s an art form not unlike poetry, stained-glass murals, and/or the delicacies of a delicious seven-course meal. It’s certainly a sight to behold, and is as contagious as the Bubonic Plague, but you know, in that insanely wonderful way.

The Betsi Two-Step is often imitated, but very seldom is the proper justice served. Many things are best left to the masters… and the Betsi Two-Step is positively no exception.

Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you for all your continued support, for your enormous heart, for your infectious laugh, for your open arms, and for creating a little rhythmic hustle that we’ll never forget! Now, let’s start the music and get this party started!

First Artists Presents: 311 with No Doubt (Saturday, September 16, 1995)

311 Stub311 catches a ton of flack. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve thrown my fair share of insulting tongues towards this Omaha band… but before I wrote off this relax-happy, genre-bending five-piece musical act (for reasons I’m not willing to explain at the moment), they acted as a brief, three year favorite for me and a few of my close, rural Wisconsin friends.

1995 seems like a dream being quietly suffocated by a nightmare these days. I guess I was a sophomore in high school, but I really can’t remember. All I can remember from this show is 1) Gwen Stefani was nearly booed off the stage (what the hell was No Doubt doing opening for 311 in the first place?), 2) an avid fan attempted to pass a jay past a security guard to frontman Nick Hexum. Nick dropped it, then politely ordered the security guard to fetch the fallen, illegal substance, which the portly guard did. Nick took a deep drag, and then gave the doob back to the ecstatic fan. Oh, and I also remember catching 37 types of hell from a judgmental girlfriend for attending a concert where such “barbaric” things took place.

Rural Wisconsin can be a bit of a drag sometimes, know what I mean?

Saturday, April 21, 2001

RFTC at The MetroThe day: Saturday, April 21st, 2001. The venue: Chicago’s Metro. The event: International Noise Conspiracy opening up for Rocket from the Crypt.

It had been two, LONG years since I’d last seen Rocket from the Crypt in concert. I had been living in Milwaukee for little over a year at this point, and in that time, when San Diego’s finest came within driving distance (essentially any venue in any state bordering Wisconsin), you dropped whatever you were doing and you got your ass to the show.

This was the third time I’d seen Rocket from the Crypt, and before even fueling up the car to head some 90+ miles into Illinois territory, I had already made up my mind that, amid the enormous amount of live acts I’d seen up to that point, no other experience had topped the raw and ecstatic vigor of Rocket from the Crypt. I’ve seen a plethora of shows since that cloudy spring day, and my assessment has since proved to be 100% accurate.

Being an avid Refused fan and never having the esteemed opportunity to see them perform live, my youthful self was barely able to contain the restless fever of seeing Refused’s frontman, Dennis Lyxzén and his new, post-Refused band, The (International) Noise Conspiracy. To see a fraction of Refused open up for the greatest live act I had, and would ever see, was enough to blow the feeble mind of my 21-year-old self.

RFTC StubI escaped the evening intact, but only barely. It would be exactly 3 months (July 21, 2001) until I saw Rocket from the Crypt again, and I had to close the Hollywood Video where I worked an hour and a half early in order to do so, but that’s a story for another time.

Groove on the Run

BluebirdJust having returned from a 3.8 mile run through my hometown (and back), 1973’s Band on the Run seemed like an appropriate choice for this post-run, early Monday afternoon.

I’ve only recently begun collecting solo Beatles’ work, but my father owns just about everything, so for the next week or so, I’ll enjoy perusing through his Beatles-heavy collection and making a well-thought-out checklist.

George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music is next on the platter, but will more than likely NOT yield a post. Busy day over here… off and running!

In-A-Gadda-Da-Velveeta

Iron HalftimeNothing, and I quite literally mean NOTHING says Sunday afternoon football and snacks with family and loved ones like the throat-piercing hook of Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

While my folks and SO are upstairs enjoying halftime snacks and drinks, I’m riding the psychedelic roller coaster in the basement (man, do I miss basements), enjoying some homemade sangria, and of course, this 17-minute opus.

Halftime should be long enough for an entire album, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope everybody is enjoying this wet, rainy Midwestern day as much as I am.