It’s A Beautiful Day?

IABDIt’s a beautiful day. Is it? I don’t find it beautiful per say. More like adequate, sufficient, or possibly even two shades of presentable. But beautiful? There were certainly things about the day that were beautiful. Like for instance when the smog-clouds dissipated and the sun finally clocked in for work. It was certainly pleasant, but beautiful? Meh.

Now, as far as the late 60s SF folk-rock band with ankles wading in the pool of psychedelia, that (when stricken with the groove-mood to let the mind wander) is beautiful. I discovered It’s A Beautiful Day on an obscure psychedelic site a few years back, and upon seeing a hefty $35 price tag for this, their 1969 album, also their first, at my local record shop, I immediately thought this 7-track debut must have been filled with ear gold (golden earrings?). Turns out, the record shop had just severely overpriced this album. I ended up nabbing this copy for $1 at a shop closer to downtown.

Although it may not necessarily be a beautiful day, any day that isn’t terrible is that much closer to beautiful.

The Hottest LP Album in the Teen World!

Teen-Age Best Sellers“It’s Pony Time” here at The Prudent Groove, and we hope you didn’t forget to pack your fluffy turtlenecks, your mid-Roxanne singing face, your spotted checker board (a chubby thickness is preferred, but not required), and of course, “one of the most popular albums in the history of the record industry!”

Apparently, by 1961, the one-two punch of Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker was considered one of the greatest musical achievements the world has ever seen! I’m certainly not knocking either Bob or Chub, but it’s somewhat easy to see how the explosion of teen-friendly, NON-twist-inspired music was so effective when it hit the unsuspecting faces of vocal-chord-screaming teens just a few years later.

Milked within in inch of its life, The Twist, and the plethora of deviations it spawned, lived an extremely short life when considering what timeless masterworks would follow it with the onslaught of the British Invasion. Twisting, it seems, is like the Macarena. You never really forget how to do it, but there are certainly times when you wish you could.

London Presley

Elvis PresleyWe are all book judges, are we not? It’s in our instinctual nature to see something, say an album cover, and immediately send its contents through the legal systems of our minds and instantly give it a ruling, right? I mean, when I see an album cover of a cat sitting in a Christmas box (give the gift of cats, I always say) in front of a 1950s decorated Christmas tree, I’m not thinking smooth jazz, you see what I’m saying? (The aforementioned Christmas Cat album will unveil itself during the month of December, along with the rest of my “holiday groove music.” So I’ll see the lot of you in January!)

london-coverSo much (and this is painfully obvious) time and consideration is put into any given album cover, but I wonder if the guy / gal / team designing any given cover (it’s like Any Given Sunday, but with records) considers the longevity of their work. For example, let’s take a look at Elvis Presley’s 1956 debut for RCA Victor Records appropriately titled, Elvis Presley. It’s about as iconic as apple pie (“Why, is that apple pie I smell?” – A little KITH humor… really, I’m just pleasing myself at this point) and for good reason. Had the King’s (“I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.” – MP) groundbreaking album (to put it lightly) instead displayed the man say, in a Christmas box in front of a 1950s decorated Christmas tree, pop culture may have turned out a little different. Do you see what I’m saying? Or, typing, rather… man, I’m falling out of the tangent tree and hitting every branch today it seems.

London BootedWithout Mr. Blue Suede Shoes’ album looking exactly the way it does (actually, Mr. Blue Suede Shoes should probably refer to Carl Perkins, so let’s call Elvis, Mr. Tutti Frutti instead, shall we? Well, wouldn’t Mr. Tutti Frutti be the moniker for Little Richard? Good point. Let’s just call Elvis, Elvis then. There is no fun in that, but fine… whatever.), the equally iconic face of The Clash’s London Calling may have looked like say, a photo of Paul Simonon sitting in a Christmas box in front of a 1950s decorated Christmas tree. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down here? Nobody knows (Spaceballs…) the impact of anything, or rather, nobody can predict what sticks to the wall, and what is used for kindling in the living room fireplace. Only time, oh, that sweet, lactating mother of all, will tell.

Also, there is a house music comp based on the cover of London Calling which was based on the cover of Elvis Presley, and my prediction is, it won’t stop there.

Captain Vapour Athletes AKA Mid-90s Japanese Groove Music

BD CoverBuffalo Daughter are an intriguing blend of hard hitting groove rock colliding with hints of hip hop and just the right amount of downtempo-electro-flair to keep things teetering (crazily) on the edge of complete and outright chaos. This Japanese 3-piece cut-and-paste act takes a bit of discipline on the part of the user at first spin, but like with many exemplary albums, the everlasting joy is found the deeper one digs.

BD were indie rock when the term still mattered. I just kick myself in the ass for not getting into them more when Grand Royal Records was still around (it took me YEARS to track down a reasonably priced copy of BD’s New Rock… their 2nd album).

BD AdAnyway, not much to say today (or any other day for that matter), so if you find yourself in the mood for spaced-out grooves performed and produced by Japanese women from the mid 90s, and let’s be honest, we ALL struggle with that blend of mood from time to time, I strongly suggest you take a leap of faith and check out Buffalo Daughter’s first album, Captain Vapour Athletes. To some, it may just be a wall of noise, but to others, it may open a concrete door into a vast and fruitful new musical landscape… I mean, something happened to me.

The In Sound from 1995?

In SoundsThere seems to be a bit of controversy surround the release of the 199? instrumental compilation by the genre-bending kings, the Beastie Boys. The back sleeve indicates the copyright as 1994, it’s advertised in issue #2 of Grand Royal Magazine from 1995, it’s listed on Discogs.com as a 1995 release, then is given a 1996 release date on both Wikipedia.org and allmusic.com. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN, GROOVE-TASTIC MINDS, PEOPLE! One thing we can all agree on, however, is that this 13-track comp is nothing short of sheer brilliance.

In Sounds AdvertListening to this album, you would have no Earthly idea these guys were forged from Mt. Hip-Hop (or Mt. Hardcore, depending on what you consider their introduction to the social conscious to be). It’s as if 1975 dropped into the studio and graced the soundboard with its majestic polyester swagger to produce arguably the closest thing to a perfect album the world has ever heard. It’s staggering to realize this album is a comp, recorded over a 4-year period, and not the result of a neatly planned out instrumental album, the band’s first of 2 (the other being 2007’s Grammy award winner, The Mix-Up).

This album is a must needed addition to any collection, and although more talented musicians have played more groundbreaking music in this style (mainly throughout the 70s), the esthetic range of the Beastie Boys need not go overlooked.

Often Wrong, Never in Doubt

GR MagsLong and tumultuous is the road to a completed collection. Be it the full 792 cards in the 1990 Topps baseball set, all four collectible Garfield and Odie mugs released by McDonald’s back in 1978, or in this case, my half completed collection of Grand Royal Magazines.

With issue #1 released in 1993 (and one of the three I don’t have), and the final issue, #6, released in 1997, it’s safe to say the Grand Royal team was taking their sweet-ass time publishing these now sought-after mid-90s gems. That initial judgment of a painfully obvious (and very Los Angeles) lackadaisical workflow couldn’t be further from the truth as this current issue, issue #3, is JAM-MUTHA-TRUCKIN’-PACKED! Packed with what, you ask? How about interviews with Dr. Octagon aka Kool Keith, San Pedro’s own Mike Watt, and the Dalai Lama (conducted by Adam Yauch, RIP MCA), a guide to sneaking into hotel pools in the Hollywood area courtesy of Spike Jonze, an in-depth look at the paintings of Evel Knievel, horse racing tips from Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich, and countless, as well as fearlessly stunning, vintage album ads spanning from Weezer’s Pinkerton to Sukia’s Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo… and all of this by page 37 (of 140)!!

It’s taken me close to 20 years to acquire three of only six Grand Royal Magazines, and it’ll probably take me another 20 to secure the remaining three. The upside, however, is that it’s taken me nearly two decades to ingest the onslaught found within issues 2, 3 and 5, so when my ship finally comes in, I’ll have another 20 years of dynamite reading material at my grubby little fingertips. (Often Wrong, Never in Doubt is the title to Grand Royal Magazine issue #3, btw. A straight lift on my part.)Moog

“The Best Album on the Market”

OrcaQ: What do killer whales, boxing legends, watered down martini drinking international spies, and the greatest science fiction story ever told all have in common you ask?

A: Why, this compilation of disco-fied movie themes from the late 70s, of course!

LabelI mean, let’s be honest. What kid doesn’t want to hear the Marty Gold Orchestra perform the main theme from The Deep? I know for damn certain this here kid does! A self-proclaiming “Stupendous!” “Far out!” and “Exhilarating!” collection straight out of Newark, New Jersey, Themes from the Movies combines the disco fever that made the decade of brown and orange famous, with the silver screen classics that made film executives filthy rich… but, you know, marketed to kids via Peter Pan Industries. Nothing says kid-friendly-jams quite like a disco version of the Theme from Orca, am I right?

Orca BackAs “a galaxy of celestial delights,” Themes from the Movies is certainly one of those niche records (AKA “best album on the market” as the back cover exclaims) that is better left on the shelf at the record store.

The Joy of Overindulgence

SwamiOh, the slipmat. So, I don’t fancy myself a DJ, I mean, who wants to go to a club and hear DJ PG spin the Wax Trax! Records catalog, am I right? So, why then am I obsessed with obtaining and constantly switching out my platter hats? Well, I’ll tell you, inquiring minds… if I could.

I guess, I just enjoy a change of scenery every once in a while. I mean, is that so wrong? IS THAT SO WRONG, I ASK YOU! Currently I’m rockin’ the Permanent Records slip after switching from a hefty haul of Grand Royal slips. Next, since you asked, I’m thinking of either switching back to Grand Royal, breaking out the Swami from Swami Records, or possibly going to the RFTC mummified logo. Who really knows that this point, but I’m sure you are all at the edge of your seats in eager anticipation.

MummyIt’s Friday… enjoy this evening’s festivities, and don’t forget to stop and admire the change of scenery now and again.

Spy Hunting Peter Gunn

Spy Hunter FrontI imagine, that for many TV watching thrill-seekers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Peter Gunn Theme is synonymous with well, the show Peter Gunn. The award winning Peter Gunn Theme (1 Emmy, 2 Grammys) was composed by the late, great Henry Mancini, and has been heard by just about every living soul the world over. I’d heard this so called Peter Gunn Theme, quite literally, countless times as a snot nosed kid, but had no idea who Henry Mancini was, and until just recently, had never heard of a suave, cool jazz-listening PI by the name of Peter Gunn. Hang in there… I’ll try to make this quick.

Photo courtesy of www.giantbomb.com

Photo courtesy of www.giantbomb.com

The year was 1987, and our local grocery store offered 2-day video game rentals. This was a fairly new addition to the existing VHS rental market, and served as an 8-bit lifesaver for many of my adolescent days. I saved up my weekly allowance and would bike down to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store (the village consisted of 1200 people, so you can imagine the trip didn’t take very long), and peruse the Nintendo Entertainment System new game releases. I’d always been a fan of spies (not entirely sure why), so the new release, Spy Hunter, caught my eye… and my $2. I waited in line to pay for my new 48-hour obsession, and without even looking at the MAD Magazines, I biked home as quickly as I could to see how many spies I could successfully hunt down.

Spy Hunter BackIf you’ve never played either the 1983 arcade or the 1987 NES version of Spy Hunter, its theme… the Spy Hunter Theme, apparently, goes by another, more popular name… the Peter Gunn Theme. I’ve grown to love Mancini, and although I’ve never seen a lick of Peter Gunn’s spy hunting abilities, I’m interested in checking it out. That being said, the Peter Gunn Theme will always and forever be known, at least for those of us who grew up in the 80s, as the Spy Hunter Theme. Watch out for those armored cars, kids, and don’t forget to return your rented cartridges. Late fees are a bitch!

Planet of the Hoojibs

HoojibsWhat lies beyond the three decades old factory plastic that mummifies this copy of the 24 Page Read-Along Book and Record set, Star Wars The Further Adventures: Planet of the Hoojibs? Lost in a galaxy far, far away are the technical readouts of this planet’s astrological coordinates, as well as why the dragon-beast-falcon with Sarlacc-like tentacles is devouring gentlemen in red jumpsuits. The worried looks on the long-eared moth-creatures suggest that Hoojibs are certainly NOT a species with which to mess, which is surprising because “Hoojibs” is such an adorable name for a razor-horned demon-bird with a scaly-breast and vampire-like fangs.

What resembles an A-wing pilot on the far left looks to be enjoying a leisurely stroll through Griffith Park rather than on a dead sprint for his little Rebel life. Even Princess Leia in her out of place Hoth attire holding a blaster at a mysteriously odd angle looks more like she’s doing a Jillian Michaels routine than fearing her grotesque demise. Lucky for all, 3PO is there to translate the Hoojibs’ demand for better parking and an extended tapas happy hour.

The mystery of the Hoojibs will remain just that… my inner-four-year-old is sobbing with bated breath.

Four Gibsons and A Twirling Lass

HawaiiNot to beat a dead horse, but picked fresh from the gardens of my Misc section is this collection of classic Hawaiian slide guitar gems by The Honolulu Guitars. Simply and squarely titled Hawaii, this 10-track album from an unknown year on the Peter Pan Records subsidiary label, Power Records boasts a paradise of Red Sails in the Sunset against the Hawaiian Skies with smiling islanders in Skirts of Grass twisting in the Moonlight while rhythmically gyrating to a Hawaiian Serenade. Somewhat unsurprisingly, with four Gibsons and a twirling lass, The Honolulu Guitars, and those playing said guitars, achieve beatific joy and instigate a longing for a paradise I’ve never experienced. My only criticism is that this album is too damned short.

LabelWhat else lies deep within the mystic void of my cumbersome Misc section? A few months ago I was commenting to my SO that I should really get some Hawaiian slide guitar music. Little did I know, I’d already owned some.

The Many Colours of Dieter & Boris

Yello FlagLike so many kids I grew up with, Yello was first introduced via the 1986 John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s difficult, at least for me, to imagine Ferris gallivanting around scenic Chicago without the “chicka-chicka” pounding from Yello’s Oh Yeah. 1988’s release, Flag finds Dieter Meier and Boris Blank adopting their heavily produced, dance-tronic, belly-rubbin’, baby-making electro structure from their previous five albums (only two of which I have). So, nothing new, but still quality ear juice.

Flag BackIt’s difficult to shove Yello into one category. Many of you will say categories are for suckers and fans of Greatest Hits albums anyway, but when describing any band to someone who has never heard of them, it’s handy to be at least somewhat accurate with the broad, descriptive brush strokes. Here’s how I would describe them (probably incorrectly): If industrial and early 80s synth-pop had an illegitimate baby-child that grew up loving heavy percussion and smoked way too many cigarettes, but whose knowledge is endless and spans international waters, this magnificent beast would give out the best candy on Halloween and would go by the handle of Yello. Yeah, that’s close enough. Personally, I prefer 1983’s You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess, but any Yello is good Yello as far as I’m concerned.

The Great Reorganization

Misc WoesThe fingerprint of every record collector is how he or she organizes his or her records. There was a time in my youthful days when I felt bold… bold enough to adopt Rob Gordon’s autobiographical organizational habits. This bold period didn’t last long as I’d become accustomed to the standard alphabetical structure and couldn’t find a damn thing! I then, for a few years, organized everything by decades. That was fun for a while and offered a quick representation of the decades I was severely lacking. (I think I’ll be fine if I never acquire another album produced in the 80s. I’ve got those years pretty well covered. Covered, get it? A little record humor…)

I’m curious to discover how other collectors organized their collections. The bigger the collection is, the bigger the commitment to that specific organizational structure. Today, I rock the namby-pamby A-Z with a section for Misc (Comedy, Children’s, Various Artists, Educational, Goofy, Holidays, etc.) and for Soundtracks. It’s boring, I know, but as I seem to always find myself in a hurry, this structure yields the quickest results.

I bring this up only because my Misc section is getting painfully out of control. Almost every time I brave its violent waters, I discover a record I never knew existed let alone knew I’d owned. Oh, well. Rediscovery can be an amiable enterprise I suppose.

Love Junky

PalmerRobert Palmer… may he rest in peace over the towering mountains of his 80s pop achievements… Robert Palmer… the Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter… Robert Palmer, yes THAT Robert Palmer… was a junky. His addiction wasn’t the cause of his death in a Paris hotel on September 26, 2003, but it certainly didn’t help. Mr. Palmer’s muse, like so many others before and since, to this day, remains the single most contributing factor to diseased hearts of every man, woman and child who has ever tasted its sweet, alluring nectar. Mr. Palmer’s addiction, was love.

Palmer InsertAs we raise our coffee mugs in respect to this fallen prince, this legend of mid 80s pop radio, we must remember not to blame the man or his addiction. We’ve been given a great gift as the result of this musician’s love dependency, and we must never forget the severity and brutal consequences of this damning addiction.

Editor’s note: So, this post was going to be a long list of possible other addictions Robert Palmer could have suffered from (addicted to argyle socks, addicted to malted milk balls, etc.), but something happened and I couldn’t find a break to work it in. I’m kind of bummed now. Oh well… don’t worry about me. I’m sure you have your own things going on…

Introducing, the Color Purple

Stereophonic PurpleBy now, we’ve all been schooled in the revolutionary ways of stereophonic sound (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), but there have been significant advances since mid-March that will set the standard in audio technology. Ladies and Gentlemen, stereophonic sound is now available in the color PURPLE! That’s right! At no additional cost to you, the color purple has been integrated into the RCA Victor demonstration insert. Discount blue RCA Victor stereophonic sound demonstration inserts are currently on sale to make room for this year’s fall fashion purple extravaganza. With the holidays coming up, why not give the gift of blue, or if you’re one of the lucky ones whose ship has come in, why not spring for the new purple model? Discounts on the discontinued blue will be applied at the register.

What Lies Within the Padded Walls of Insolence

PoeThere exists a place… a residual haven of deceit and soulless vigor, where puppies go unwalked, and children color outside the lines. There stands a damning fortress, high above the crescent flying of winged beasts, where needles pierce the grooves of curiosity, and terror and panic are served with chilled forks and a pleasing Malbec. Within this bastion of social awkwardness and mournful second guesses, pens run out of ink and toes are stubbed on the tables of frustration.

Horror MoviesEchoes of sharpened nails crawling down chalky blackboards reverberate amidst its walls in a seemingly never-ending dark wave of tone-deaf enthusiasm. Exhausted shrieks from drifting shadows recoil to an almost deafening growl, where the mist of hope lingers throughout the dank, stale air, never to be realized again. Few will enter… none will leave.

Lights OutBe cautious of its intentions, for its walls are painted with deceit and its floorboards carved out of bashful fibs. Seen only by those who share with its gruesome banalities, this lair of organized filth goes by the sadistic moniker, The Prudent Groove.

Happy Halloween, kids! (Insert maniacal laughter here)

Glass-Tastic

Glass InsertI’ve never in my life meditated, but I imagine the soothing monotony of Einstein on the Beach parallels that of a meditative state. There is something strikingly beautiful about the repetitious meandering (in the most respectful sense) that both peaks my instinctive interest as well as calms my over-analytical, self-loathing senses. It’s mind-blowing to think that this music was performed live, and in front of an audience. What lies deep within the caverns of the genius mind, am I right?! Philip Glass, you sir, are on the same pedestal as Einstein, as far as I’m concerned, and these contemporary (circa: 1979) pieces of Classical compositions rank among some of the best ear candy I’ve ever ingested. Fueled by coffee and the soft glow of Glass in my ear, I gently lay my head atop the pillow of these blissful sound waves and smirk as I imagine how much my neighbors hate me at this very moment. I’m not joking when I say beauty was redefined upon this epic album’s release. I only wish I was able to see it performed live.

TomatoHow fitting is it that my introduction to Einstein on the Beach took place while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu? I don’t remember the frequency and I don’t remember the DJ, but I’ll never forget my scenic drive up Highway 1 early, one autumn morning upon returning from LAX to drop off a friend. I felt bold and flipped on the radio (something I VERY rarely did and something I refuse to do now) and stumbled across, quite by accident, the iridescent joy of Act 1, Scene 1: Train. It was one of those moments that one never forgets. Not unlike setting eyes on your significant other, or witnessing the Eiffel Tower in person, I felt an immediate connection and was literally overjoyed by hearing a style of music I never knew existed. It’s not often new discoveries of this magnitude emerge themselves well into one’s twenties. Needless to say, it’s quite obvious that for me, Einstein on the Beach struck a chord whose ring will never die out.

James Gang on the Beach

GlassIs it taboo to listen to one band while writing about another? Do the streams get crossed in sort of a 2/4, 4/4 sense? I think the big, cloud-like question looming above this otherwise sunny Tuesday morning is, why must man put restrictions on himself when creating something even as trivial and nonsensical as this? Philosophers and offspring to those much smarter than The Prudent Groove have pondered these elusive questions for decades, so I’ll leave the answers to those best suited for the job. Instead, let’s talk about Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach while listening to James Gang, shall we?

GangLet me first say this about James Gang Rides Again. Back in the early 90s when CD’s were the jam, my father acquired this album at a Sam Goody from the East Town Mall in Madison, Wisconsin. I remember, even at that age being underwhelmed by the simplistic yet strikingly bold cover. The only song I remember from that CD, while riding, then eventually driving in the 1989 Ford Ranger, was the opening track, Funk #49. I’ve spent the bulk of my nervous days scouring the earth for Funk #1Funk #48 but have yet to yield any sort of fruitful result. But hey, the search for the elusively extinct survives whether or not the desire is fueled, am I right? No, well, ok then. Now for something completely different…

On second thought, diving off Glass Beach without my big boy swimmies is a bit too overwhelming at the moment, so let’s save that for another time. Ok? Ok. (Raises coffee mug) Here’s hoping your Tuesday does or does not include someone named James, a gang, Einstein and / or a beach.

Take a Walk, Lou

LouA day late and about a hundred grand short, I enter my plea of rock n’ roll remembrance. As shameful as it is to admit, this is the only Lou Reed album I currently, and I stress currently, own (on vinyl anyway). There is nothing new I can say about this cornerstone of quintessential rock, so I’m going to stay on the shore and respectfully watch as others sail their lamenting boats of historic homage. Thank you, Mr. Reed. I hardly knew you, but with all things worthy of keeping, your music will outlast the wild side in all of us. RIP Lou Reed.

The Gilded Disc

Dark SideIt is the humble position of The Prudent Groove that all record collectors, who don’t already know this… the obvious… steer crystal clear of any and all picture discs. Sure, they welcome a glistening pyrite-like flash of abnormality, but unless you’re a gleeful youth, skipping is probably not on your day’s agenda.

Discovering a record that skips is not unlike finding a wallet on the beach containing no money. The wave of excitement is quickly drained upon this startling realization and, in this case, if a relatively hefty sum is paid for said skip-it record, its inclusion in your library rides that fine line between, “I should sell it, but wouldn’t want to burden a brother / sister collector with these woes ” and “well, I should just throw the damn thing away.” So, here it sits… unplayed… but looking as beautiful as a Saturday morning.

JackStay away from picture discs kids. They may offer a bit of visual life in the mostly black world of vinyl, but every single one is prone to skip, and could turn out offering more resentment than entertaining pleasure.