Music by the Hour

Music by the HourYet another insert? Either I’ve got a stockpile of particular inserts, or I’m excessively lazy. The jury has been out for over a week.

There’s a lot to learn from an insert. They’re a time capsule filled with images and ideas of what men in suits, getting paid a lot of money, thought people desired. They’re ripe with branding, marketing ploys, and artists’ renderings of “regular people” enjoying their product. In this particular case, its Columbia Records.

Columbia Records was pretty monumental in the heyday of record utopia. Here are a few facts that Columbia Records would like you not to forget. These, and others, can be found within this iconic promotional advert. Who knew learning could be so stunning?

– The “LP” (short for Long Play) was introduced by Columbia Records and was legally backed by a registered trademark.

– Men liked to smoke.

– The “LP” debuted in 1948.

– Women enjoyed picking their nails while listening to music by the hour.

– “LPs” allow for up to thirty minutes of music per side. That’s up to one full hour of music!

– Women loved to lean, uncomfortably, on the backs of men.

Mondays are for Wankers

ElvisIt’s Monday, and you know what that means… it’s time to push that rock of content up the endless hill of life. It’s also time to revel in the rhythmic delights of Declan Patrick MacManus (AKA Elvis Costello) and his solemnly realistic fantasy-bursting reality-screamer, Welcome to the Working Week.

Arriving at track one, side one from his debut album, My Aim is True, Welcome to the Working Week is a playful pass of judgment to the 9-to-5’ers; the head-crushing business men and women of our land pushing papers so that the fat have the means to get fatter.

Side oneWelcome to the Working Week, it’s album, My Aim is True, and pretty much ANYTHING by Elvis Costello comes highly recommended by the Groove.

If you haven’t spoiled yourself with the sweet musical nectar of “the other Elvis,” I’ll pass judgment and offer these words spoken by the man himself:

You gotta’ do it till you’re through it so you better get to it.

Post #60: The Insert that Stopped Time (If Only Briefly)

'59 Insert_SmallerThe curious reader asks, “Hey P. Groove, why wasn’t this fine looking insert from ’59 YESTERDAY’S post topic?” I’ll tell you, inquisitive peruser of yesteryear gems… and it may, or may not involve Don Draper.

Thank Artie Shaw and his 1958 album, A Man and His Dream, for this Madison Avenue beauty. A modern approach to selling a catalog of varied taste, this insert, with its subdued album-stacking design, pushes the consumer’s focus to its center, where we find the two, overlapping numbers of illuminating nobility: 59. This eye-grabbing approach renders an immediate connection between that number’s meaning (the year), and the everyday existence of this album’s original buyer. To look at this insert in 1959, is to self-reflect on the years that preceded it, and to project future hope into the years that follow. In other words, this insert stops time for a split second to offer deep cogitation.

Needing to reach the hip cats of Latin Airs, as well as the squares of Strauss Waltzes (I own Strauss Waltzes, so my insults only cut so deep), RCA Victor’s approach to reaching the spectrum of 1959’s musical audience needed to be forceful, yet memorable. I believe stopping time for meditation achieved this goal. Nicely done, Mr. Draper… nicely done.

You’ll see, neatly tucked into the corner of Latin Airs and George Beverly Shea’s Through the Years, the thesis to this modern advert:

Recordings so real and exciting they are a year ahead of any others you have heard.

Exactly one year… 59+1=60. And thus, Post #60: The Insert That Stopped Time (If Only Briefly) finds its inevitable message.

On Legal Speed (The American Way)

Lag FrontCoffee is a wonderful drug. Its stimulating warmth delivers that little bit of pep so often missing in the early morning hours… whatever you consider those “early morning hours” to be. If noon is early for you, good on ya’. I won’t judge. But I will ask that you save me a cup.

Lagwagon’s 1992 debut, Duh, is a metal-influenced-punk-long-player, featuring a Creedence cover, a melodic romp about the deceptive eyewear resulting from drinking too much beer, an aggressive interpretation of the Inspector Gadget theme, and most importantly, Duh fosters a vicious ode to the mastered art of straining hot water through ground up roasted coffea seeds.

Lag BackLagwagon’s Mr. Coffee provides the audio equivalent of orally consuming a hot cup of joe. With its rapid approach and short-lived tenure, it leaves the consumer wanting another two-minute and fifteen-second fix. Mr. Coffee has been an early morning favorite for me since discovering Lagwagon nearly 20-years ago (yes, I’m old).

There really should be more songs about the essential joys of coffee. Its importance cannot be understated.

“TRINK, SING, TANZ!!!”

Zillertal“All the gusto and fun of an authentic German Beer Hall in your own home.”

You don’t need to be German to enjoy music arranged, performed and recorded solely for the purpose of drinking beer.  It’s Friday. Why not relax with a cold one? Fill your stein, put up your feet, and surround yourself with the friendly swells of The Zillertal Band and their jolly-good-time-music. This album was however recorded live at the world famous Zillertal in Hamburg, Germany, for crying out loud! (Do people still use that phrase?)

You can rest assured that the quality of this album will exceed your High Fidelity-hipster needs. After all, the back cover explains, in striking detail, just how great the audio quality is:

Editing and transfer from tape to lacquer has been under supervision of the top audio engineers in the industry. All metal parts used in the pressing of the finished product are solid nickel to guarantee the finest surfaces and distortion free reproduction.

Free Fact-Packed Book

Cert BackMarketing records can be an embarrassingly hilarious industry. From the album cover, to a free book on The Wonderful World of Country Music used as incentive for consumers to purchase and collect 5 insert certificates, it seems as though Time Life Records in 1981 would go to great lengths to confirm the sales of their Country Music series. Such a clever title for a series, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at the top selling points for The Wonderful World of Country Music, shall we? I mean, if I’m going to hunt down four more albums in the Country Music series in order to get this “free” book, I’m going to want to know what I’m in for, right?

Cert FrontFirst off, it’s a “big” book. This certificate was nice enough to offer the book’s dimensions (8-1/4” x 10-3/4”). Second, it contains 240 pages and the biographies of more than 150 stars! ARE there 150 stars in country music? And I’m talking about the GOOD country music here. Maybe that “150 stars” thing was a typo and they meant the “15 stars.” That makes more sense. Third, this book contains the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Alright… any country music lover worth their weight in Hee Haw one-liners NEEDS the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Forth, you get an intimate glimpse into the astrological future of your favorite 15 stars by the horoscopes offered in this monumental book, and finally, “bluegrass, outlaw, oldtime.” I’ve got to admit, I have no idea what the hell that means. Perhaps the book touches on these off-shoots of Country music? Yeah, no idea.

I’ve got to say, I’m not entirely sold on this ploy, but a quick ebay search yields five The Wonderful World of Country Music auctions currently underway. So, at one time, somebody found these selling points irresistible… but the novelty must have worn off because now the book can be had for only $4.74. Tempting…

Barbi Mandrell

K-Tel’s Disc-O-Matic

Disc-OLodged inside an obscure comp album from the Netherlands, this glorious insert advertises K-Tel’s celebrated Disc-O-Matic in pure, late 70’s peculiarity. Printed almost entirely in Dutch, this ad boasts about the magnificent wonders of this record organizer that’s bekend van de T.V. (known from the T.V.).

Holding 24 LP’s, this chincy looking piece of plastic allows in enkele seconden je favoriete platen te vinden en altijd netjes opgeborgen (in a few seconds your favorite records to find and always neatly stowed away), or something. There is a bit of disconnect between languages on Google Translate, but you get how amazing this gadget is.

So, for 1976’s 14.90 (roughly $76.74 today), you could be the proud owner of K-Tel’s Disc-O-Matic. It’s known from the T.V., people! What are you waiting for?

Interesting how there’s no contact info for K-Tel. Oh!!! I guess Vraag by uw platen-handelaar means roughly, “contact your record dealer.” So, this upcoming Record Store Day, be sure to ask your local brick-and-mortar about K-Tel’s Disco-O-Matic. You’re sure to disappoint yourself.

Just A Little Patience

PatienceThere are few things in life more difficult than writing about something you love. There is the inherent fear of not doing it enough justice, the pressure of saying enough without overdoing it, and the heartbreaking reality that once submitted, it can never come back. Such thoughts currently swim within my brain-melon as I enjoy the masterpiece that Slut Rock heroes, Guns N’ Roses, blissfully exude from their 1989 single, Patience.

Oh, to be back in 1989.

An interesting duo of songs does this 45 pair. Patience, the first track on GN’R’s 1988, and 2nd album, G N’R Lies (which I always thought was an EP), serves as this 45’s A-Side while its counterpart is Rocket Queen, the last track lifted from their penetrating debut album, Appetite for Destruction.

Coupling two random tracks from two separate albums released in two different years, Geffen Records, what I assume, capitalized on the Zeppelin-like popularity of Axel and the boys and pretty much repurposed as much as they possibly could to turn a quick buck. Kudos to you, Mr. Geffen, sir. I’m a victim of your selfish marketing ploy. I could understand, and forgive, if the two tracks on this single were alternate takes, live versions, or acoustic/rock versions of their respected rock/acoustic originals. But… no. Same ol’ music packaged with a new cover. (Oh! Navy Seals!)

Patience is one of those songs that I’ve been able to play in my head at anytime I thought it up. I’m working on a philosophy loosely based on the idea that if you listen to any song a number of times, it’ll be added to your mind’s “permanent playlist” and anytime you think up that song, you can “hear” it in its entirety within the personal stereo system in your head. I haven’t named it yet, but I’m leaning towards Mind JAMZ 2K-Infinity… just kidding.

BackRocket Queen, to me, always seemed like a last minute addition to an album already peaking into the red of perfection. It’s a solid, straight forward hard rocker… little aggression, little in-your-face provocation, but your trusty run-of-the-mill, not-terrible-but definitely skippable rock n’ roll jam. I’ve got a buddy who is a diehard GN’R fan who actually saw them during their Use Your Illusion tour back in ’91. He claims Rocket Queen is the best track off Appetite, and therefore GN’R’s best. Although I’ll disagree with him, often violently, I respect his opinion and therefore the existence of Rocket Queen.

The Patience single is definitely not a necessity, but it paints an interesting two-song landscape with its bizarre pairing. It may be blasphemous to some, but Guns N’ Roses never came close to matching the brilliant achievements of Appetite for Destruction. I will however stand by my claim that whenever you hear GN’R on the radio, you are listening to the best possible song playing on any radio station at that moment.

Electric Breakdance (Don’t Don’t Do It)

EB CoverThere are certain compilations that come out with the intent to capitalize on various social trends. The most popular of these could be the Nuggets compilation (a groovy series showcasing the one-hit-wonders of the bygone psychedelic days), the Now That’s What I Call Music! or simply Now! compilations (a grotesque series of comps for people who loath and despise everything creative about music), and those compilations that are hastily put together and distributed with the intent to sell as many copies as possible before the trend dies and becomes a stepping stone for the next “cool thing.” Electric Breakdance is, in my opinion, just about the best stepping stone compilation ever to hit the big city streets, and/or the hardwood floors of my parent’s living room.

Electric Breakdance was released with the intention of showcasing the techniques found within the art of breakdancing, while at the same time presenting a soundtrack of “the hottest breaking music on the street.” BUT, unlike many “As Seen on TV” comps, Electric Breakdance actually delivers with its 9 tracks of hard-hitting early 80’s Hip-Hop.

Breakdance HistoryFeatured on this break-tastic single LP are tracks by Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel, Whodini and a slew of other early Hip-Hop acts that I’m now bound to explore. The dopest track (is my rural Wisconsin showing?), or the smash single amongst an album of smash singles is Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel’s White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), which is basically a song about freebasing. You’ve gotta’ love early 80’s radio.

It’s heartbreaking and extremely unfortunate that I don’t have the “giant detailed poser on how to break.” That little educational gem of early 80’s fashion would be nothing short of amazing framed on my living room wall (I’m sure my girlfriend would LOVE that).

Overall, Electric Breakdance was a welcoming surprise when I discovered it at a Goodwill, hiding between a Steven Stills LP and the soundtrack to Xanadu (both of which I also purchased). Although my breakdancing never left my parent’s smooth-spinning hardwood floors, the art of breaking will never be too far away from my heart.

Along with a brief write-up on the history of breakdance, the back cover offers the following disclaimer… in tiny print:

 If you have any ankle, knee, back or other physical problems, you should have a medical checkup before attempting the dances described in these materials. Parental supervision is advised for children who attempt these dances.

The Intentional Skip

CoverSetting the musical content aside, as I assume few of you frequent the sheepish delights of early 80’s hardcore, Mystic Sampler #1, has a very distinct, unique, creative, humorous and memorable feature that NO OTHER record in my collection possess. It is a feature so ingenious, it can be easily misinterpreted as a pressing error. Had it not appeared at the exact spot on both sides of the album, I would have written it off as such, and this post would never have existed. It is a feature I’m dubbing, “The Intentional Skip.”

Punk Rock is more about emotion than it is about music. Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant, and beside the point. Allow me to explain this with a scenario. Imagine getting a used record… for me it was Mystic Sampler #1. Now, imagine putting your newly purchased record onto your trusty, freedom-yielding phonograph. The record starts… plays… you’re happy. Cut to the last revolution of the last track on Side 1. Familiar with the song or not, you can’t help but notice the record skip… and skip… and skip. You think, “Great! No wonder it was so cheap!” But as you start towards your music machine, you begin to think, and slow your determined approach. You listen, as the record repeats… looping the same words over, and over, and over… “Have a nice day. Have a nice day. Have a nice day…” As you stand, with a dumbfounded look on your face, you begin to cock your head, not unlike a dog when it thinks it understands what you’re saying. You begin to wonder… “WAS THIS SKIP INTENTIONAL?!”

LabelSuddenly, there is a warm and fuzzy part of you that perks up, and for a brief moment of spontaneous realization, you find harmony with the world… that is, until a moment later when your head begins to ache from the incessant looping of an angry adolescent with their opinionated, political overtones bouncing back and forth inside your head-space until you physically ACT, and raise the tone arm in the attempts to cease the infernal rage. Punk Rock requires action, if only the motor skills with which to turn it off.

I simply will not entertain any notions that this emotion-inducing feature was anything but deliberately intentional. To do so would paint a picture of a world I want nothing to do with… a world in which I do not want to exist. As far as I know, The Prudent Groove is coining the term “Intentional Skip,” but if any of you have heard about this amazing feature, please email me at theprudentgroove@gmail.com as I’d LOVE to read more about it. I’d LOVE to read more about it. I’d LOVE to read more about it…

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 3)

What is Stereophonic Sound Logo

Over the past few days we introduced the notion that stereo, and the intricacies that make up stereo, may not be widely known to those enjoying her esteemed capabilities. So, in this dramatic conclusion, The Prudent Groove offers, without sarcastic interruption, the cliffhanging outcome to, What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND?

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo

Presented by RCA Victor

The two channels of sound picked up by the needle are then unscrambled by the stereo cartridge. The cartridge directs them into separate amplifier circuits, where they are magnified and fed in turn into two separate loudspeakers. The two speakers finally translate the musical impulses into intelligible sound which you hear in your living-room stereophonically.

Stereo Diagram Woman

The net of it is an overlapping and blending which gives music a more natural, more dimensional sound. For the first time, your ears will be able to distinguish where each instrument and voice comes from-left, right or center. In short, enveloping in solid sound, you will hear music in truer perspective.

Stereophonic sound is the latest step in an improvement process that began about 80 years ago. In listening to it, you will enjoy the highest achievement yet in the art of recording.

"Go Stereo" Type

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 2)

What is Stereophonic Sound Logo

Yesterday we inaugurated the intricate fascinations of Stereophonic Sound. Today, we pick up where we left off and continue with RCA Victor’s detailed explanation of the technical differences between recording a monaural record with that of the stereophonic record. So, without further ado, I present part 2 (out of 3) of RCA Victor’s What is Stereophonic Sound?

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo

Presented by RCA Victor

Let’s compare hearing to seeing for a moment. You see images on your left with your left eye, images on the right with your right eye. Yet, because your brain can do two jobs at one, you get a total unified picture in its true perspective.

Stereo sound is simply the attempt to give you music as it is heard by both ears. Essentially, what happens is that two microphones, left and right, pick up what goes on in the orchestra at the recording session. These two microphones feed the musical impulses to two soundtracks on tape. The two soundtracks are then pressed into the grooves on a stereo record.

Stereo Diagram Needle

The sound from a record partly depends upon how the needle moves or vibrates. For example, when Edison designed his phonograph to play cylindrical records, he made the needle vibrate up and down. This is called the “hill and dale” system, or vertical cutting.

On a conventional, monaural record, however, the needle moves from side to side, or laterally. The lateral movement has been used ever since the flat record replaced Edison’s cylinder.

What about the stereo record? Each groove on a stereo record has two soundtracks cut into it, and they are cut into it both laterally and vertically. In order to pick up the two soundtracks, a stereo needle capable of moving complexly has been developed; it vibrates both laterally and up and down. Simultaneously, the lateral movement picks up one channel of recorded sound, the vertical movement the other.

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 1)

What is Stereophonic Sound LogoThink you can speak confidently about the intricate details of stereophonic sound? Think you’ve licked the volatile, short-lived, simultaneous ear experience? Over the next three days, The Prudent Groove will leisurely lift the contents of one coveted RCA Victor insert explaining, in intimate detail, exactly, What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? The following is presented, without esteemed interruption, by The Prudent Groove. Part 2 will follow tomorrow. I’ll be completely honest and admit that I learned more than I thought I needed while transcribing this informative insert. Maybe RCA Victor was onto something.

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo Presented by RCA Victor

Stereophonic sound on records is finally here. It will be widely discussed, widely written about, and, perhaps, widely misunderstood. It cannot help but be; it is a complex achievement as well as an extraordinary one. We offer the following primer on the subject with the hope that it will both help you in understanding how and why stereo works and enhance the hours of listening pleasure stereo will offer in your home.

Before stereo recording techniques were developed, the impulses of music were picked up by only one microphone. These impulses were then fed to one tape and from there to the conventional, monaural record, which you heard in your living-room through one loudspeaker. The conventional record offered brilliant sound and exciting sound, but, of necessity, it also offered only one-dimensional sound.

Mono Diagram WomanNow, the simple and obvious fact remains that we all have two ears, and we are used to hearing things dimensionally. Generally speaking, your left ear has a tendency to hear what goes on in the left side of a room, your right ear, what goes on in the right side of the room. Your brain then does two jobs. It combines both the impression received by the left ear and that received by the right ear into one total impression which we call music. At the same time, it retains the spatial or dimensional impression, music to the left and music to the right.

We Are Not Two, We Are One

StrangersReleased on 1970’s Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Part One, Strangers wasn’t written or performed by The Kinks’ vehement songwriter, Ray Davies, but instead by his equally talented brother and lead guitarist, Dave Davies. Strangers is MY definitive acoustic love song. With its intercontinental grandeur, its vastness can be realized from coast to coast, from continent to continent, and from heart to heart.

Strangers is the most important song I’ve ever heard, because it, above all others, connects me with the love of my life. It acts as the vaccine to life’s woes, and the reliever of its burdens. It’s a symbol of strength, a foundation of trust, and a song of admired fervor. It is a song performed by my favorite band, and a song adored by my favorite person.

Happy birthday, Jillian. I love you.

Strangers Cover

Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo

Live Mechanical Sound Effects Cover SmallerWhen I began collecting records, I never thought I’d be in possession of an LP containing 38, live mechanical sound effects in stereo. So after purchasing Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo, I am a firm believer that our connection, our joint acquaintance if you will, was inevitable. I mean, let’s be honest for a moment (a very brief moment). Who doesn’t need a record containing the live, and in stereo, sound effect of an Adding Machine? What about a Small Cement-Mixer? An Escalator Ride? AN ESCALATOR RIDE! Do you even know what that sounds like?! I can think of countless social scenarios in which that would come in handy. Specifically while on the phone with a student loan lender… “Sorry, I can’t here you… I’m on an escalator. Can’t you hear? It’s in stereo!” Click (the sound of an old fashioned phone hanging up) and boom (the sound of financial freedom)! Phone call over.

In the desperate attempt to sell this record to the “general listener” instead of the “sound freak,” the back cover exclaims: “Heard in pure form, without dilution by other sounds, every sound, whether it happens to be a nuclear explosion or the squeak of a mouse, can conjure up fascinating images of its own.” Yes! A nuclear explosion CAN conjure up fascinating images on its own! Imagine my complete dismay upon realizing that this record in fact DOES NOT include such sound effect. DAMN YOU, LIVE MECHANICAL SOUND EFFECTS IN STEREO PRODUCED EXCLUSIVELY FOR REALISTIC BY AUDIO FIDELITY RECORDS! I guess I’ll have to settle for the next best thing… the sound of a Packaging Machine, Collator.

The next time you find yourself in the market for the stereo sound of an Electrocardiograph, you need look no further than Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo.

By the way, the stereo sound of a Small Cement-Mixer is highly provocative and insanely disturbing. I strongly suggest it.

Touch Typing Made Simple

Cover“Please start to type whenever you hear the signal, ready, type.” This “sound teaching method” will help you from becoming that 1-finger typist in your office who always gets overlooked for the big promotion. You know the guy, you make fun of him behind his back during your smoke breaks… that was until he got wise and started smoking, thus prompting you and your back-talking, cowardly coworkers to find more creative locations throughout the office to poke fun.

Space BarThis smooth, fluid sounding instructor offers step-by-step directions on the basics of touch typing, while at the same time educates the listener on such industry touch type terms as, “home row” and “carriage return position.” He is even nice enough to suggest proper posture/hand positions, how to properly insert a piece of paper against the paper guide and the coveted “shift key position.”

This is most certainly a method for the amateur touch typist, but who amongst us couldn’t use a brush-up every once and a while?

Please see below for, what I’m calling, the 7 Commandments of Touch Typing:

Instructions

From the Makers of Gold Bond Ceiling Tile…

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

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

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

Cleanliness is Next to Grooviness

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

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

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

Rope Jumping & Ball Handling

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Strengthening of arms and legs.

2. Increasing skill levels of jumping and timing.

3. Developing muscular coordination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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