Comedy Clashes with Classic Covers

FitB_AHardDaysPodcastPodcasts as a whole are a dime a dozen. They seem to spring up out of thin air and tend to be that bright, shiny new ear-toy for about as long as it takes to tie your shoes. FILLintheBLANK is no different.

I’ve been a fan of this podcast since their first season aired back in 2009.  In its simplest form, the show’s creators (Jason Hardwick and Nathan Lueptow) come across as bumbling cretins who blather on, comically I might add, about the nonsensical happenings of everyday life. Apart from being a petri dish for undergraduates at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, what makes FILLintheBLANK different is that each podcast is represented by a classic or recognizable album cover that’s been, well the best way I can explain it would be, FILLintheBLANK-ified.

Each podcast teeters on the 10-minute mark and is a striking example of two individuals with way too much time on their hands… but you know, surprisingly endearing. I almost feel as though I know these guys when listening to their show. If I met them in real life however, I’d probably just spit in their collective eye for not producing a new show in over two years.

I recommend checking out FILLintheBLANK if only for their clever take on several championed album covers. I heard from a friend who knows this guy who saw Jason at a Spider-Man on Broadway audition and, albeit 4th party information, there were talks of FitB (as they are known to their fans) venturing into the world of sketch comedy. Since last I read, Jason and Nathan were no longer on speaking terms (some nonsense about making a decision to purchase or not to purchase a tea set), so you know, I’m not going to hold my breath.

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Cover Me Como

Me First:Como

(Please note, this is not an album review, but simply a conscious observation of visual similarities. Proceed with caution…)

There will be several posts on copy-kitty album covers emerging from The Prudent Groove, and the order in which they appear need not indicate any type of importance or personal preference on my part. As a matter of fact, pretty much ANYTHING bleeding from The Prudent Groove can be attributed to the above statement.

“Perry Como, meet Me First and the Gimme Gimmes,” is a phrase I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall for. Your grandfather’s sweet, succulent swoon music meets your older brother’s high school preppy-pop-punk cover act. While similar in appearance, the music, as Perry and his golf buddies would say, is as contradistinctive as a slice and a hook. The correlation stops with the cover art.

While choosing to lift both the front and the back covers of Perry Como’s 1959 classic, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (or just Me First) chose a different artist when it came to the music. The artist would be, of course Elton John. (Painfully obvious, don’t you think?) Being solely a preppy-pop-punk cover band, Me First tackle Mr. John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Rocket Man, the later of which got constant airplay on the radio station of my youthful mind. Boy was I a tool. WAS you ask?

It’s somewhat interesting how the likes and dislikes of an individual can go from a dogleg right to a dogleg left in seemingly no time at all. Back in my adolescent days I would have greatly preferred Me First to the swinging Perry Como. Now, Mr. Como has swung his way right into the par 3 hole in my heart.

At the end of the day, or at anytime really, I’d recommend both of these albums, even if exclusively based on the cover art.

Do You Dynagroove?

BackTucked away in a Floyd Cramer album titled, Only The Big Ones, this 196? insert by RCA Victor provides in-depth info on quality features that the Herculean record giant had to offer throughout its grandiose tenure. What quality features you ask?

Well, for starters there’s the (then) newly developed system of recording called the Dynagroove. This high-tech system was the first of its kind to use computers to transform the desired audio signal that would be fed into the phonograph’s recording stylus. This would result in a conformation of the groove shape to meet the tracing requirements of the system’s playback stylus. Revolutionary for its time, not to mention a badass name, Dynagroove, in RCA Victor’s own words was “a spectacular improvement in the sound quality of phonograph records.” So, there you go. Want better quality? Buy “demonstrable and inexpensive” RCA Victor records. Contact your local phonograph dealer for more info.

Another amazing feature is the Miracle Surface (complete with its own font and logo!). As far as I can tell, this is a coating of some sort (RCA calls it “an exclusive additive”) that prevents static and actually repels grit, dirt and dust that are the “chief causes of surface noise and premature wear.” The Miracle Surface also goes by another, even more badass name of Agent 317X. I’m not kidding.

What would any 196? advertisement record sleeve be without a special offer? That’s right! For only 25¢ you can (could) receive the COMPLETE RCA Victor catalog which includes “full-color album cover pictures of many best-sellers!” Full-color pictures of album covers? Sign me up! Hey Jack, got change for a dollar?

Just send 25¢, together with your name and address, to:

RCA Victor Record Division

Dept. C

Rockaway, New Jersey 07866

RCA Victor, the most trusted name in sound, whose objective is “to give you the finest phonograph record that can be manufactured” and whose records are “designed to give you many years of trouble-free listening pleasure with proper record care” is still around after all these years, which, is a sizable feat considering they’re the 2nd oldest recording company in United States history. So yeah, they must have been doing something right.

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Another Post About Record Cleaning You Ask? Don’t Mind if I Do

Record Cleaning ClothFor those who have been keeping up, this third record cleaning post may suggest that I am obsessively compulsive about the cleanliness of my records. I assure you I am not… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Simply put, I enjoy record related products of the past. I dig the design layout, the color scheme, the often goofily detailed directions and I like to imagine a record store several decades ago where these items may have been featured. With this particular piece, I fancy over how Recco Inc. incorporated (see what I did there?) the title of this product, Record Cleaning Cloth, into a single note. Against the bright red background, the bold words really stand out and grab the eye. And for me, the combination of white, black and red is always a classy decision.

Whoever purchased this particular, unopened cloth with which to clean records got a $0.41 discount off Recco Inc.’s suggestion retail price of $1.00. I can’t help but think some early High School chap (and his bleeding heart) purchased this cloth as a gift for his then (and short lived) High School sweetheart only to have been dumped before he got the chance to present it. I imagine said chap kept this special anti-static treatment cloth as a symbol of what his life COULD have been. I kind of feel sorry for the guy, but I imagine he had it coming.

Directions: Fold cloth. Wipe record gently. Removes dust and grit. Makes record static-free. Can be revitalized by sprinkling with water. KEEP CLOTH IN PLASTIC BAG WHEN NOT IN USE.

Album Review: The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough by Cyndi Lauper

Goonies CoverSide A

I hardly ever listen to my 45s. I find the entire process to be way too laborious, especially now that I’m well into my 2nd 20’s. (It goes 20’s, 2nd 20’s then 40’s, right?)

Anyway, I used to listen to 45s, so I’ve accumulated my fair share, but never really think to dig through them, because well, I’m lazy. So, in preparation for today’s post I was delighted to see what I’d completely forgotten I’d had. This was ALMOST a post about a kids read-along called, Pac-Man Run for Fun, but I didn’t have time to read the whole book for research. Yes, I know it’s a kid’s book and yes, I know I can follow along with the record, but I don’t have that kind of time! It’s Saturday, k’mon!

So with Pac-Man quietly sitting in the “future post” pile, I merrily give you, Cyndi Lauper’s The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough. Well, I’m not GIVING it to you, but I’ll briefly and half-assidly talk about it. (Half-assidly is a word, right?) Well, I’ll let my fingers talk about it. I doubt you’d be able to hear me wherever you may be right now. My fingers won’t ACTUALLY be talking… more like communicating… a stubby cry for help if you will. (What you must be thinking right now.)

I LOVE THIS COVER! It’s so stupid! I will say, however, Cyndi Lauper gives an amazingly convincing scared face… if you’re like, 3-years-old and like, have never actually been scared in your life. But it’s THE GOONIES, so I let it go.

The song is the smash-bang hit single from the film that appears around the time the kids bike to the lighthouse/restaurant, if I recall. They probably play it at the end credits as well, but I haven’t seen The Goonies in a while, so yeah, I could very well be incorrect in that statement.

Released in 1985, The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough perfectly packages all of one’s favorite memories from the film by offering that oh-so-recognizable 80’s drum-machine-laden production value that either you love, or you despise with all your soul and hope will die a slow and painful death. I don’t mind it.

On a side note, I don’t think the word “Goonies” is ever spoken in the entire song, which leads me to believe this song originally had absolutely NOTHING to do with the film.

Side B

I’ve never heard this song before. It certainly wasn’t in the film, but I understand Portrait Records (the now defunct sister company of Epic Records) needed a B-Side, so we get What a Thrill. It’s actually not that bad. It sounds NOTHING like what I’m now calling just, Good Enough. What a Thrill is a straight-forward mid-80’s hard rocker. I bet Ol’ Miss Lauper considered this Punk (I have no evidence of this claim).

An interesting accompaniment to Good Enough, I can actually see myself listening to What a Thrill like, in my car… driving to the grocery store for like, raisins.

These go for pretty damn cheap on discogs, so if you’re in the mood for The Goonies theme coupled with a decent hard-rocker, and you’re not too lazy to play 45s, this single comes recommended.

Goonies Back

Single Review: Everybody Have Fun Tonight by Wang Chung

Wang Chung FrontA-Side

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

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

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

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

B-Side

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

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

Wang Chung Back

Happy Valentine’s Day, from The Prudent Groove

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

Sincerely,

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

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PG_Valentine_4PG_Valentine_1

PG_Valentine_5PG_Valentine_6

Atomic Love

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

One never forgets their first time.

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

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

Enter Atomic Records.

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

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

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

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

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

RIP Atomic Records.

An Exciting Evening with Master Thespian, Jason Hardwick

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

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

PG: What got you into collecting records?

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

PG: What was the first record you ever purchased?

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

PG: What is your favorite record?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JH: Yes.  Omw.

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

RCA Victor’s Simple Suggestions for Proper Record Care…

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

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

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

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

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

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

RCA_Victor_Insert

17 Years In the Making…

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

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

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

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

Album Review: Primus – Pork Soda (1993)

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

Side A

“My name is Mud.”

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

“Where you goin’, city boy?!”

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

“Welcome to this worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrld!”

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

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

Side B

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

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

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

Side C

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

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

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

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

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

“Forgive me if I hesitate…”

Side D

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

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

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The Cheese Stands Alone

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

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

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

Side A: Cheese

Side B: We’re Not Gonna Take It

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

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

Insert

Notice the two types on the insert.

From Sunshine Superman to Ben Lee and the Skye In Between

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of side 1

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

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

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

So, ok, bottom line: GET THIS ALBUM!

End of side 2

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1989

Wax FrontCheat post alert!

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

Track Review: Cookin’ With ALF

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALF BackInstructions:

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

2. Wipe record with clean cloth before each use.

3. Place coin near record center if record slips.

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

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

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

Totes, Bra

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

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

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

From Los Angeles to San Francisco

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

Blue Cheer

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

Dead Kennedys

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

Faith No More

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

Huey Lewis and the News

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

Jefferson Airplane

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

Creedence Clearwater Revival

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

NOFX

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

Operation Ivy

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

Primus

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

The Doobie Brothers

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

As seen on TV

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

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

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

Record Vacuum - Pryor