Columbia Records Reminds You to Take Care of Your Needle…

Take Care of Your Needle_smallerDo you own an animal? Perhaps a yippy dog that draws anger and vengeful hatred from your neighbors when it constantly yips all day and every night? Or maybe you own a furniture scratching cat, or a cannibal fish, or maybe even a pot-bellied pig whom you call “Breakfast.” If you’ve ever owned an animal, you know the inherent responsibility that tags along. Your hi-fi stereophonic home entertainment system is no different. Sure, it may not need blood worms twice a week, or it may not require you to scoop up its feces with a thin-layered bag from Ralph’s, and it may not even wake you up at 4am by sitting on your face, but your phonograph’s needle gives you years of listening pleasure, and like a money-sucking (but unquestionably worth it) house pet, it needs your care.

What I learned from this ad-sert (an advert crossed with an insert):

1) An osmium needles lasts only 15 hours. For those of you who enjoy the tedious trip to your overpriced phonograph dealer (and if you’re in LA you’d be required to brave the bumper-to-bumper to get there), then this is the needle for you. Nothing compliments a majestic, and borderline romantic dinner-date at home quiet like the phrase, “I’m sorry dear, I’ve got to head to George Meyer TV & Stereo for another osmium needle. Please put the meatloaf in the microwave, and when I get back we can finish this Burl Ives album.” 15 hours?! Are you kidding me? Why even bother making them? Why not have turntables that only last 24hrs? I struggle to see the logic.

2) Only a first-class needle can give first-class reproduction. Second, third, and even fourth-class needles don’t only cause breakage and ear-slapping skips on your favorite Hollies album, but they’ve also been known to short out the wall socket, fry your nice shag carpet, and even burn down your lovely (this is subjective, of course), and fashionably outdated bachelor pad. A wise man doesn’t fly Coach when it comes to purchasing a needle. Don’t be an unwise man.

3) Avoid damage to your records. You mean I SHOULDN’T use my Marlene Dietrich albums as serving ware at my poorly catered, and forcibly causal dinner parties? Gosh, maybe I should stop carving my initials into the grooves so as to mark my territory when I take my records to those rye and record parties. Perhaps I’ve been ignorant to the whole “take care of your records” thing.

Columbia Records is never one to miss the overbearing opportunity to point out the painfully obvious when it comes to basic, record-related audio care. Tomorrow, we’re going to focus on yet another elementary approach to securing the longevity of your music library, and once again, it comes courtesy of Columbia Records. Happy Monday, kids!

1967 Elektra Records Catalog

Elektra FrontHow much more is the 1967 Catalog from Elektra Records compared to the 1966 Catalog from Elektra Records (not pictured here)? One… exactly one more. Nowhere else in the history of mankind (except, maybe for Orange County, CA in the late 70s) will you be able to find Jean Shepherd’s albums (complete with Elektra catalog numbers… EKL = mono prefix), Love’s first two albums (this catalog was pressed before Love released Forever Changes…), debut albums by *Tim Buckley as well as *The Doors (* indicates new release), and seven albums by The Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe featuring Geula Gill (offered in both stereo and mono).

This little time warp was an exciting find in the record section of my local thrift store, and will serve as my immediate music-hunting checklist (if anybody was interested).

Elektra Back

To Play and Play Again!

Reprise InsertQuick question… Q: What do The Kinks, Dean Martin, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra all have in common? A: Quite a bit actually; you’re going to need to be a bit more specific.

Fine, I’ll tell you. They were all monumentally talented artists on the Reprise Records label. As a longtime collector of the Kinks, I’m a bit surprised to find Duke Ellington and Dean Martin to be their egg-borrowing neighbors. Apparently Reprise was started by Frank Sinatra in 1960, and then sold to Warner Bros. Records in 1963… and a year later the label would land the rights to Pye Records (UK label of the Kinks), and the well-rounded and eclectic Reprise Records family was born.

This is an insert from Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night album. Not being a huge fan of the womanizing crooner, I decided to avert my attention to the brothers Davies. Have a good Saturday!

Let’s All Join In

ChildcraftThere is so much going on with this Mercury Records/Childcraft album about social acceptance and crowd-following jubilance, so I’m going to jump right in. Childcraft was the result of a White House-held national conference discussing the need for new materials for parents to help “direct” their children toward “well-adjusted, happy adulthood.” Where the hell was this record when I was growing up?! Anyway, here we go…

Sally Walker & Jimmy JazzHere, we have Jimmy Jazz and Sally Walker, two kids completely oblivious to the sheep-like connotations of social line dancing. Jimmy finds himself in deep concentration in keeping in step with the song, The Hinkey Dinkey Square Dance. The sheer terror of missing the beat with his finely tuned Chicken Dance has forced Jimmy into a Jedi-mind-like Zen state. Jimmy is clearly the room’s best dancer, and unbeknownst to him, is a ladies favorite. Sally is hopelessly in love with Jimmy, and has been since the song, The Irish Washer Woman. She often flaunts her backside in the hopes that one day she will catch his eye. Sally has self-esteem issues for beyond that of a normal five-year-old.

HarrietThis is Harriet. Say hello, Harriet. Harriet is smart, but freakishly unpopular. It’s not her fault, really. Her father is one of those conspiracy theorist, and as a result has shielded Harriet from many of the simple (read government controlled) pleasures of a budding childhood. Harriet is an only child, which has caused her to grow up too quickly, something that she will regret later in life. Harriet follows along to the song, Patty Cake Polka, and scans the room in the hopes that someone will befriend her. Harriet feels bad for Sally’s need to parade her tukis in front of the boys for attention, but doesn’t say anything for fear of falling further down the social ladder. Harriet is often sad, and could use a hug.

EverettThis is Everett. He too is in love with Jimmy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everett’s confidence in his green socks gives him superhero-like abilities (or at least he thinks so). He learned to tie a bow tie when he was three, and is rarely seen without one. Everett has many bow ties with varying patterns and colors, but his orange bow tie with yellow trim is his favorite. Apart from being “the bow tie kid,” Everett is sometimes knows as the “cut-off shorts kid.” Everett took scissors to all his jeans, mainly to show off and self-promote his legs, as seen here as he dances to Charlie is My Darling. His mother was none too happy about this and has since been saving up for a new pair of Buster Browns for her ornate, and joyful son.

MeAnd here I am… back, and in the corner, away from the crowd, looking at records. I’m cool with it though. Line dancing to Oh That Strawberry Roan just isn’t my thing. Please notice the boyhood wonder painted on my face. It goes well with my green striped sweater, don’t ya think?

Let’s All Join In (except for me) is a swift, roundhouse kick to your funny bone, and should be celebrated by children of all ages until either the Sun burns out, or we all run out of trees.

Galvanize

GalvanizeOn the platter today is the electro-hypnotizing single, Galvanize by the Chemical Brothers. This (devilishly) catchy little number features A Tribe Called Quest’s own Q-Tip, and was the first single from the 2005 album, Push the Button. This particular 12” is a not-so-rare US promo, and features an alternate cover, as well as the previously unreleased track, Rize Up.

This is now the third Chem Bros post focusing on the cover/insert art as apposed to the actual music. Grab a seat because I’ve got 22 more to go. Basically, when I’m in a hurry and need to hammer out a post (see what I did there… because of the hammer on the cover… never mind), I’ll turn to the Chem Bros for their attention demanding album designs. Yes, I tend to get a bit lazy from time to time.

This is Music for Kindergarten and Nursery School

Elephant Blowing Flowers Through a TubaThis is not music for mechanical pencil stealing 2nd graders, chocolate milk hoarding 4th graders, or even socially perturbed freshmen. This is Music for Kindergarten and Nursery School. I think anyone half conscious with at least one eye that works can see by the gleeful elephant blowing flowers through a tuba on the cover. No self-respecting 6th grader is going to look at this album and be all like, “Man, I’ve GOT to listen to this!”

Another glaring indicator that this two record set is aimed at the youngins is the music contained within. With songs like, Good-bye Old Paint, Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?, and my personal favorite, Donkey Riding, it becomes apparent rather quickly the target demographic Allyn and Bacon, Inc. and Alpha Records were aiming for.

PurposeFor further definition as to the aspirations set forth by this merry little compilation of outdated and completely irrelevant music, the producers at the RCA Custom Record Division offer this, rather wholesome, little mission statement. (See photo. I’m NOT retyping all of this up. You can just as easily click the image and read for yourself… Please excuse my misguided belligerence. I’ve been off coffee for four days now. Have a nice day.)

Cowgirls from the Underworld

CowgirlI’m still trying to track down Underworld’s 1994 brilliant, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, so for now, I’ll have to settle on one of the many highlights from that album, their pivotal, dance party anthem, Cowgirl.

Presented on this 12” is a slightly longer version of the track (adding 26 seconds to the version found on the album), as well as a non-album gem titled, Rez. Both tracks feature electro-body-gyrating-rhythms-of-mind-melting-ecstasy perfect for long drives in the rain, angry walks to the post office, and generally any time when you want to please your mind’s eye (provided your mind’s eye likes to groove).

Dubnobasswithmyheadman was a breakthrough for Underworld, but I’ll get into that once I finally track down a copy. Underworld, the audio cloud of precipitating pleasure is not affiliated with the (throwaway) film series by the same name… nor should it be. Logod

One Man’s Mold is Another Man’s Groove

Kinks GHWould you buy this album for $1.84 + CA state tax? Look at it! It’s got mold or something all over the sleeve. The hell?! On one hand, The Kinks Greatest Hits! is a bit of a farce to begin with, what with it not containing ANYTHING from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One OR Muswell Hillbillies, but it does possess a b side that rivals any five track early Kinks comp I’ve ever heard… but it’s moldy, or whatever… but it’s The Kinks!… but look at it!… its got A Well Respected Man on it, and it’s only $1.84…

Would you buy this album for $1.84 + CA State tax? Well, you can’t. I already did.

A Ménage à trois of Stereo Sound

Motorola 3 FrontThis 10” demo record sleeve was tucked inside a random Goodwill find, and from 1959, advertises a new, three amp phonograph from Motorola… yes, THAT Motorola.

My best guess is that this record was either offered to phonograph dealers when these new, Motorola 3 Amplifier Stereophonic High Fidelity phonographs were released, or it accompanied the unit upon its purchase. Either way, this was a 10-track compilation record containing handpicked material that best showcased these 3 amplifier units.

Motorola 3 BackA quick Google search reveals a vintage advert from 1960, featuring two of these (extremely expensive) 3 amp units. The SK28 model goes for a whopping $329.95 ($2522.93 adjusted for inflation) where as the smaller model retailed for $299.95 ($2293.54 adjusted for inflation). Lucky for the folks of the late 50s, early 60s, this particular advert offers a payment plan, starting with $10 down ($76.46 adjusted for inflation). Something seems WAY out of whack here, but I don’t have time to give it any more thought.

I never owned the record that this sleeve swore to protect, but it’s nice to see Motorola’s logo hasn’t changed in the past 54 years.

Magic Brain: A VERY Brief History

Magic BrainStarting around 1934, the term Magic Brain was given to high end, and often-expensive (especially for the time) radio receivers manufactured by RCA Victor. This new, futuristic, prewar technological improvement to the widely used radio receiver, allowed the heavy-pocketed user to 1) enjoy their favorite radio programs with new, higher fidelity tone performance, 2) tune in to more stations, 3) get exclusive access the RCA Victor’s “X” band, the same station aviators heard for up-to-the-minute, U.S. Government weather reports, and 4) the apparent alleviation of physical pressure when tuning into specific frequencies. (Citation)

Paralleling the start of the Second World War, RCA Victor released the Magic Brain RCA Victrola. This new, music listening wizard provided the same, groundbreaking, and industry redefining, features of the Magic Brain radio receiver, in a state-of-the-art radio-phonograph. The Magic Brain RCA Victrola offered a 180-degree shift in the way records were played, and how phonographs were manufactured. This model offered a tandem tone arm, which allowed the unit to play both sides of a record without having to flip it (there is something romantic about manually flipping a record, but there are certainly times when I’d love the ease and convenience of the Magic Brain). In addition to the tandem tone arm, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola allowed for up to two full hours of continuous, uninterrupted listening pleasure by the oversimplified ease of a single, pushed button. Mechanical noise was eliminated, the need to lift a lid was done away with, and the overall capacity was increased, housing up to 15, 10” records, or 12, 12” records.

Certainly an interactive jukebox for the family living room, this ingenious machine would unfortunately live an exceptionally short life. Due to the U.S. Government’s need for shellac, the material in 78rpm records as well as the main ingredient in U.S. made bombshells, it obtained nearly 70% of the nation’s supply, forcing two revolutionary music listening necessities. 1) With nearly no shellac to make new records, record companies began buying back out dated and/or unwanted records from the public (paying 2-3¢ per disc, equaling close to 500,000 lbs of shellac), to grind down in order to make new records. 2) With the short supply of shellac, and the high demand for consumable and obtainable mediums of portable music, the experimentation, and eventually the manufacturing of the vinyl record was introduced, and the rest is record collecting history. (Citation 1, citation 2)

With a new format, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola was rendered obsolete, and therefore was swiftly removed from production. A video of this monster in action can be found here.

Cookie Jarvis, the Magical Cereal Wizard

Cookie JarvisLong before the Cookie Crisp favorites, (80s mainstays) Cookie Crook and Officer Crumb, the now, internationally known Chip the Dog (from the 90s) and that hack they have running the show now, Chip the Wolf, there was Cookie Jarvis.

Cookie Jarvis was a magical wizard that, with his magical wizard wand, would magically, and very wizard-like (naturally) turn boring old cereal bowls into magical cookie jars. Oh, the wondrous magic of morning breakfast cereal.

Jarvis BackThis record, found in specially marked boxes of Coo-oooooooooooookie Crisp in 1979, features a bumbling master of the black art rambling on about some cereal fan club for kids. If any of you were ever in a cereal fan club as a kid, let me know and I’ll track you down and offer a swift smack in the head.

A quick search on youtube yields no results, so my apologies for not offering an A/V example. I can bump this to mp3 if anybody is interested. Just email me. My favorite part of this record is an afterthought on the back that reads: For different effects, play record at other speeds. Brilliance personified.

If you like cookies, you’ll love Cookie Crisp!

Happy Birthday, America!

Bitter TearsTo remember this country, to embrace and celebrate its many achievements and bountiful wonders… to do so without acknowledging its many, many, many injustices and appalling acts of global greed, is to don the star spangled banner of bullied persuasion, while marching along, sheepish singing, “Oh, say can you see…”

Yes, the fourth of July is a time for remembrance. Remember our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, and our photographic mothers and fathers. Remember them, honor them, but question why they were made to feel it was necessary to become involved in the first place. Remember the heroes, but never forget the selfish, inhumane avarice of the commanders of social conscious that lie and manipulate, all while sending young men and women to die for their bestial objective: to maintain the power they have, and to see to it, that by offering the lives of American men & women… this nation’s children… that by doing so, their power of manipulated global guidance and merciless sense of false entitlement (not to mention the real God of this country: the Almighty Dollar) will continue to grow, and the spoils of the few will therefore continue to be justified in outweighing the needs, and all too often the lives, of the many.

This fourth day in the seventh month of each year is a celebration of servitude disguised as freedom. A patriot supports, loves, and defends his or her country, not the ideals of those in control to further their selfish ideals. This great country is not ours to enjoy. We stole it via a treaty of deception and spilled blood, then set up our walls and called it home. To forget the Native Americans on this day of global gloating and self-obsessed bravado, to forget whose house we burned to the ground so that we would all be afforded the corporate convenience of a $3.85 cup of Caffe’ Mocha, is to look into the mirror and know, wholeheartedly, that we are killers, liars, thieves, and a fat, selfish nation.

I love this country. Not for what it is, but for what it can become. Give respect where respect is due. Think for yourself.

Happy birthday, America! Go fuck yourself!

Get Rhythm

Get RhythmWhen times are tough and you’d rather stand in the darkness and shout for hours at the starless sky, Get Rhythm.

When your boss’ ego takes priority over what’s best for everyone involved, Get Rhythm.

When you find that honesty takes backseat to the convenience of fearful confrontation, Get Rhythm.

When the squirrels have finally found an effective way to raid the bird feeder, and it’s time to say goodbye to the birds, Get Rhythm.

When social decencies are ignored for selfish, single-minded objectives, Get Rhythm.

When popularity eclipses the right thing to do, Get Rhythm.

When you get the blues, Get Rhythm.

It only costs a dime, just a nickel a shoe

Does a million dollars worth of good for you

– J. R. Cash

When the Hell Did This Happen?!

Moon ManHave you heard the news? Apparently, we landed on the moon. When the hell did this happen? Is this common knowledge? Wait… it IS?! Huh… well, it’s rather difficult to admit, but I must have been living in a groovy, fog-filled bubble for, oh, I don’t know… MY ENTIRE LIFE?!

So, how did it go down? Was it done in secret? I mean, after 34 year of walking this rock, you figure I would have heard about Man’s Incredible Venture to the Moon SOMEWHERE. Did all the nations of the World get together and send representatives, or was it a corporate backed kind of thing? Are there people living up there now? Are there like, Moon condos with Moon superintendents requiring Moon inhabitants to sign lunar year leases? Is today’s Moon fashion similar to, I guess, Earth fashion? I bet Nasonex makes a killing up there. It looks pretty dusty. I know I’d be sneezing up a storm up there. Anybody know the going rate for unleaded gas on the Moon?

So… we landed on the moon. Well, good for us.

Your Eyes Deceive You, Don’t Trust Them

AglioDo you own Aglio E Olio (pronounced ahl-yo ay ohl-yo) by the Beastie Boys on wax? If you don’t, discontinue reading and go here. If you do, have you ever noticed the subtle misconception with the record? It’s not a wrong impression so much as a blatant deception. Allow me to briefly explain.

EHere is the record, right? Nothing out of the ordinary, at least at first glance. It plays, doesn’t skip, everyone is happy. With me? Ok, good. So, for years I thought this was an ordinary record. I’d purchased it new, kept good care of it, saw that it wasn’t colored, only the basic black, would play it from time to time, and that was it. It wasn’t until about 10 or so years later that I discovered (thanks to Beastiemania.com) that the record wasn’t black, but instead an excellently executed bit of trickery by the band.

Olio 2If you hold the “black” record up to the light, you’ll discover that it’s actually very dark translucent brown, made to look black. Needless to say, this blew my feeble mind upon immediate discovery.

I’m 99.9% sure every Aglio E Olio record is translucent brown, so if you own this album, and you haven’t heard of this before, check it out. While you’re at it, Check Your Head.

Another Brick in The Groove

Black and WhitePink Floyd’s bevy of psychedelic, mind-expanding rock n’ roll continues to spark a wide and varied spectrum of individual, and self-important interpretation with seemingly every unique spin. From their plastic, cookie-cutter-outlook-crushing, interstellar Syd Barrett days, up to, and including, the never-too-overstated masterwork from the prestigious Roger Waters, 1979’s The Wall. Their work can be dissected and analyzed both as individual pieces, bricks if you will, or we can evaluate and examine their musical foundation as a whole.

This post, not unlike your standard, sluggish, overly simplified cluster of molded cement, by itself, offers no protection, provides no structure, and requires minimal user involvement. But… stack these posts, and the foundation to a lifetime of investigating, examining, rummaging, inquiring, and collecting begins to take form.

This isn’t a post about Pink Floyd, but rather a commentary on the perspective in which we choose to approach any given subject. For me, that subject is record collecting, and with each new addition, there is attached to it a story; a vivid memory, not unlike a time capsule of both the recorded material, AND the personal fable that surrounds its threshold-breaking inauguration into “The Collection.”

As a whole, the infrastructure of my music library expands infinitely in every conceivable direction within the X, Y, and Z-axes, and each record, each thin-layered medium to share and transfer waves of sound, represents a single, plotted point throughout this never-ending, collector’s journey. All in all, each new circular disc is just another brick in The Groove.

Chem Bros – It Began in Afrika

AfrikaIt may have began in Afrika for the rest of the civilized world (as well as the uncivilized… I’m looking at you, Oxnard, CA), but for Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, the foundations of Big-Beat-Funk were forged in the furious fires that first began in Manchester, England.

It Began in Afrika was the first single off 2002’s Come With Us, and peaked at number 8 in the UK. An exclusive, DJ only version of the track was released as Electronic Battle Weapon 5 (part of the 2nd disc offered in 2008’s compilation, Brotherhood) in June of 2001, before it was reworked for a wider audience on this official release with the more identifiable title change.

StickerA sticker on the front sleeve lists the b-side, Hot Acid Rhythm 1, as a track to be offered from their forthcoming album, out in 2002. Hot Acid Rhythm 1 does not, however, show up on Come With Us, and as far as I can tell, only exists on this single.

It’s nearly impossible to wrap my head around how profound the “throw away” tracks are in the vast, blood-boiling, beat banging, Chem Bros catalog. Literally EVERYTHING they release is top shelf ear stimulants, and as always, comes housed in digable and displayable cover art.Label

Ma, What Are They Givin’ Me?

Ma10 inches of Hip-Hop infused, fits of 1994 aggression! That’s what they’re givin’ you, kid! So sip your juice, spin your licorice disc, and leave your poor mother alone! Also, if you ever decide to grow a mullet, you will be disowned!

Any album containing the rapid fire fury of Mullet Head is worth owning, and this UK 10″ is no different.

(Untitled)

WallIt was 34 years ago today, Mom and Dad taught The Groove to play.

If you do anything today, listen to a record… with whisky, preferably. It can be any record… since I won’t be there with you, I really won’t care. It’s YOUR choice, really. Are you big into The Baja Marimba Band? Good for you. So am I. Give them a spin. Are you stuck in a saucy Taco mood, and all you want to hear is Puttin’ on the Ritz? Let that Taco shaped freak flag fly! I won’t judge (publicly).

Do me a solid and drop the needle today. It would really make me happy.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society – An Album Review

Remembering WalterTHIS IS NOT AN ALBUM REVIEW

Please be advised that this is not an album review of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Being, arguably, my favorite album of all time (an argument I have, with myself, almost every other day), any review by me, or The Groove, would require something more than a 15-minute effort. (This is not to say this post only took me 15 minutes… I’ve been struggling lately.)

Gawl Darn It, Isn't It A Pretty SceneTHIS IS NOT AN ALBUM REVIEW

Mainly, I just wanted to show off this beautiful reissue from 2011. If you have ears, and they work, do them, and yourself, a favor and get The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Like Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity prominently states, “It’s gonna’ be okay.”