Inflation is a Bastard

ReceiptOn a recent excursion to the corner thrift shops, I was able to unearth a few awkward gems. Let me back-up a bit and say, wholeheartedly, that inflation is a bastard. I’m going to sound very old, very quickly here, so please bear with me. I can remember strolling into any random thrift shop and paying nothing over $0.99 for a used record. Today, tainted by the thick, grubby hands of the monetary virus known as inflation, these thrift shops, that receive all of these records for free, mind you, are selling records for $3 a pop! Granted, yes, $3 for a record is still a monumental steal, but I clearly would have picked up at least two, possibly three more albums had the price been “what it used to be.”

AllmanI believe it was George Costanza who said, “I pay what I want.” I’m strongly considering adopting that principle. It blows my feeble mind to think who would ever pay $3 for a scratched-to-hell Lawrence Welk album with a ripped cover. Ok, my teeny-tiny rant over with, I wanted to present the three, newest additions to my collection. First up is the 1975 Win, Lose or Draw by the Allman Brothers Band. My catalog of Allman Brothers music is small, so this will help the cause.

Mrs. MillsSecond is a 1962 UK release of Mrs. Mills’ Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties. In almost pristine shape, Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties is a nostalgic (for someone, I suppose) keepsake for the burlesque-inspired and boa flinging dance parlors of a decade nearly a century old. Not to mention, the cover is priceless (even though it was had for three times the price I would have like to have paid).

MartinLast, but certainly not least, is a magnificent 1975 album from an artist I’d never heard of, Martin Crosbie (with Thelma). Yesterday When I Was Young, released on the Irish Olympic Records label, showcases a stern, and slightly annoyed Martin Crosbie standing atop a few dry rocks directly in front of a roaring river. I can’t wait to listen to this album.

In short, inflation is an inevitable priss, and $3 for an album is still not bad (screams to himself), especially considering the unknown gem that potentially waits in the dimly lit, and dust-filled shelves of your local thrift store.

Let’s Talk About Maturity

LTAFSave for the compilation, Let’s Talk About Leftovers, 1998’s Let’s Talk About Feelings was the last studio album by the Goleta, CA pop-punk rockers… the illustrious Lagwagon… that demanded my immediate, consistent, dumbfounded, and adolescent attention. I believe, shortly after the release of this album, the wings of my music evolution stretched into the dark, disheveled world of industrial music, so needless to say, Let’s Talk About Feelings left a lasting impression.

To fly over the specifics of this album, allow me to ramble off a few key (irrelevant) facts. Let’s Talk About Feelings was released, as I stated, in 1998 by Fat Wreck Chords. It was offered on compact disc and via wax by means of a 10”. Lagwagon released a box set of their major albums back in 2011, and Let’s Talk About Feelings was finally given a proper 12” format. Ok… back to the lamenting.

LTAF 10Let’s Talk About Feelings was one of those albums that never left the car. You know those albums, those discs of the compact nature. This particular disc postulated my attention for what seemed like SEVERAL years (I was 19 then, so a day felt like a week, and a week felt like, well, two weeks). Let’s Talk About Feelings, or LTAF, marked something of an uncomfortable maturity from the band that, at the time, I was both not prepared for, and unwilling to accept. Again, I was 19… daft, irrelevant, thick, and extremely pissed off.

LTAF PinkWith only 25 minutes dispersed throughout 12 emotionally weighing tracks, LTAF feeds that driving need for fast-paced, melodically moving, and hook-tastic pop-punk, that, for me, acted as a perfect half-hour soundtrack to the inevitable, adolescent-abandoning struggles of my late teen years. Let’s Talk About Feelings is a difficult album… not by what it presents, but by the nostalgia it unearths. My experience with this album is certainly only isolated to me, my actions, and the immediate concerns of a 19 year old pizza delivery driver facing the woes of the budding responsibility that erupts from the inevitable mountain of mastered maturity.

Let’s Talk About Feelings… I just did.

Editor’s note: This post was by request, and marks the first of (hopefully only a few more… just kidding) many friendly, reader-based requests to come. Do you have a specific request? Email me or drop me a line in the comments. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy what you read, but your requests certainly will not go overlooked.

These Are Your Rights: You Are Responsible for Knowing Them

Know Your RightsNo. 1) You have the right not to be killed. Murder is a crime, unless it was done by a policeman or an aristocrat.

No. 2) You have the right to food money, providing of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.

No. 3) You have the right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it).

LyricsThese rights, as described by the late, the prolific, the prophet, Mr. Joe Strummer, are your responsibility to learn and digest. It is of the utmost importance that you educate (and mentally set free) your immediate family, coworkers, daycare professionals, gas station attendants, hot air balloon operators, garbage disposal fixers, and sad children with orange-tinted hair. These rights need to be understood, as I imagine Mr. Strummer would have wanted it that way.

ReceiptFor good measure, I’ve offered a little insight into my obsessive-compulsive nature. Apparently, on Thursday evening in late July, back in 1997, I felt it was a good idea to preserve the receipt to my purchased copy of Combat Rock. $3.98! The Clash were the soundtrack to that, the first summer out of 1) high school and 2) my parents’ home. The Clash were, and will always be, at least for me, a monumental symbol of freedom. It sounds just as gigantic and paradisiacal today as it did over 16 years ago.

Know your rights.

Draw the Shades and Hide the Cats, Because the British are Coming

British SterlingArguably the best 30 track compilation featuring the monstrously influential British Invasion ever to be pressed to wax, this 1981 collaboration between Warner Special Products and Lake Shore Music marries the pinnacle of head-spinning talent that the Queen of England’s own had to offer… up to and including the 1961 single, My Bonnie, featuring Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers. The Beat Brothers, as you know, would eventually change their name to The Beatles… the band name this track is credited to on this compilation.

I’m not going to bore you with the A-1 list of exceptional talent highlighted here (The Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Unit 4+2, Donovan, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, Them, Chad & Jeremy, The Beatles, The Spencer Davis Group…), but I will (briefly) mention that someone off Discogs offered to buy my copy of British Sterling, which I appropriately, and respectfully declined. One of these days I’m going to gather enough motivation to digitize this double LP, but until that (dreadfully long and labor intensive) day, two flips for 30 tracks suits me just fine.

My BonnieAlthough I don’t consider A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum a pivotal part of the British Invasion, there is something striking about the 1-2 punch of Procol’s Shade followed by Tell Her No by The Zombies. Somebody knew what the hell he or she was doing when they made this compilation. To whomever that is… (raises Sun Records coffee mug) I salute you!

Hubert Laws: Badass Flautist

Hubert LawsMy apologies to fans of the masterful, and iconic Ian Anderson, but there has never been a bigger, fear-invoking, badass flautist than Hubert Laws. Have a quick look-see at the bevy of influential and groundbreaking artists Mr. Laws has performed with: Chet Baker, George Benson, Ron Carter, Johnny Hammond, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Leon Spencer and Walter Wanderley… and that’s only naming about half of his collaborators.

The man was even featured on an early Groove post about the “junk induced, vodka-and-coke spilling, dank, eye-burning, smoke-filled classic for the casual 1980 Contemporary Jazz fan in all of us,” the illustrious Empire Jazz.

The Chicago Theme is upbeat groove-jazz with a Starsky & Hutch-style flair, and comes highly recommended. Released on Creed Taylor’s prominent CTI label back in 1975, this six track funktastic medley tackles such well known incarnations as You Make Me Feel Brand New (covered by everyone from Boyz II Men, to Rod Stewart to Babyface) and Midnight at the Oasis (I can’t help but picture Ron and Sheila Albertson performing an abridged version of this track whilst auditioning for Corky St. Clair’s Red, White and Blaine in the timeless, Waiting for Guffman).

One doesn’t think “badass” when they think of the flute… Hubert Laws is here to rectify that, and but quick!

Post #200 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Groove

photo200 days ago I had a stupid, ridiculous, time-suck of an idea that (reluctantly) set itself free into this world… this illustrious (and regrettable) collection of short-tempered blurbs known as, The Prudent Groove.

Do I offer free downloads? No… (unless you email me). Do I solve even a smidge of the world’s problems with this 365 consecutive day project? Hello no, and I don’t even attempt to pretend that I do… except, yeah, I have unwarranted and unstable proof that my daily ramblings bring a bit of black (groove-intensive) sunshine to each and every reader, by way of my precise, personal (albeit strikingly intimate), subdued, and voyeuristic means.

Take The Groove for what it is… pure, unadulterated drivel.

The Groove is a self-deprecating dead-end that serves the purpose of one man, and one man alone… some wayward chap in Belfast, Ireland… I’m just kidding… I wanted to further my communal expressions, and I gave myself a daily task. Well, it’s been 200 days, and you may be asking, “Was it worth it?” The quick answer is, “Dear God, no!” But the truth… as far as I’m willing to admit is, “Yeah, I’ve had my moments.”

Like the Westward bound forefathers, and/or the curious, and moderately insane settlers of early Americana, The Prudent Groove marches on. Let’s just hope Typhoid doesn’t rear its ugly head while I’m attempting to forge across this self-imposed river of creative nonsense. If I’ve learned anything from The Oregon Trail, it’s that Malaria is a bitch, and hunting is better left to the experts. Choose your grooves cautiously, ladies and gentlemen, and always, I’m not joking here, ALWAYS feed your oxen.

Charlie BarnetAnd now… ONTO THE MUSIC!

Today, why not try a bit of big band swing from Charlie Barnet’s 1959 album, More Charlie Barnet? After all, it was made from 35mm Magnetic Film, and the cover sports an artist’s rendering of vintage headphones… and the “R” in Charlie is made up of a saxophone, so you know it’s a winner.

Waiter, There’s A Terrorist in My Soup

LARDOh, the power of LARD… three tracks, clocking in at just over 37 minutes, and the feeble-minded, tight-rolled pant leg sporting, baseball card collecting, 9-year-old version of myself would never be the same.

Now, keep in mind that it wasn’t until my college years that I was exposed to the all-star match-up between the repetitious poundings of industrial metal Godfathers, Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, and the politically motivated snarls of Dead Kennedys’ frontman, Jello Biafra. I chuckle to myself in wondering what my 9-year-old self would have thought of this album upon hearing it back in 1989 when it was first released. I probably would have had a nervous breakdown and gone missing for three or four days. Oh, what could have been?

LabelAvoid everything!

Avoid everything!

Avoid everything!

Avoid everything!

The World’s First Stereo Scored Orchestra

Hits Cover101 Strings, not unlike Dalmatians, is a wondrous sight to behold. Apart from being a monumental mass of “the finest musicians in Europe today” (circa: 1961), the wistful beauty discharged from these prominent performers is seductively pleasing to both the visual, as well as the hearing senses. Coupled with (The Wondrous World of) Stereo Fidelity, a US based subsidiary of Somerset Records, these 10 Italian hits that make up, well, Italian Hits, emerge from the stereo with a protuberant level of piercing and erotic joy, that is seemingly unheard of today, let alone in 1961.

Hits BackTouching upon such Italian classics as Volare, Cha-Cha Italiano, La Dolce Vita, and Ciao Ciao Bambino (which translates into “Hello Hello Baby”), Italian Hits, as far as I can tell, does a satisfactory job of representing exactly what the back cover boasts: The Biggest Popular Hit Songs from Italy in the Past Ten Years. A “Pop” Program in the Sound of Magnificence.

I’ve never been to Italy, but thanks to 101 Strings and the four, straw-sucking minxes on the cover, I feel as though Italy is as close as a car jam on the 405.Stereo Fidelity_smaller

New from RCA Victor Circa:1958

Enjoy1958 was a riveting year for RCA Victor Records, and this (Moon juiced) insert proves that the late 50s were a swinging, boisterous time for the 2nd oldest recording company in the United States. This prolific insert promotes everything from Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey, to Perry Como, to the twins… you know the twins, Jim and John Cunningham (apparently Teenagers Love the Twins… who knew?), to the King, Elvis Presley, to a personal favorite, Glenn Miller, and finally to a little album called, My Favorite Hits, which is simply described as, “Mickey Mantle picks his favorites.” This last little number just made my Discogs Wantlist.

It’s enthralling to write about (barely touch upon) 1958 while listening to 1987’s Love an Adventure by Pseudo Echo, but things need to be kept into perspective, am I right?

In conclusion, here’s a little Thursday, mid-morning (or Friday, early morning in Australia) mind-melting math for you to digest:

     Love an Adventure: 1987 – (minus) My Favorite Hits: 1958 = 29 year gap

     Present Day: 2013 – (minus) Love an Adventure: 1987 = 26 year gap

If you’re like me, and you remember the Funkytown residing Pseudo Echo, than you, my friend, are old… you’re welcome.

Did He Just Say “Supersonic Honeymoon?”

Ames BrothersI’m a sucker for vintage space and/or rocket-themed cover art, and you can imagine (it’s okay, I give you permission) my excitement when the spaced-out, black hole of vintage music behind the interstellar cover art is actually magnetic and borderline whimsically enchanting.

I’m on the hunt for another copy of Destination Moon, as the bottom left corner has a bit of Moon juice spilled on it (as you can plainly see). This album was released in 1958, so I’m going with the (by no means made up) story that the Ames Brothers ACTUALLY traveled to the moon to record AND press this album, but in their hurried attempts to jettison back to Earth to disperse their space-rock discovery amongst the lemming-like Earth creatures, they accidentally spilled a large amount of Moon juice on a few boxes containing Destination Moon, packed and ready for worldwide distribution. Yeah, that’s it…

Destination MoonLate 50s Jazz Pop with a theme that’s… I’m sorry; I have to… out of this world. I don’t own anything else by the Ames Brothers, but my intergalactic curiosity for more, good-time, secretly wholesome, space-themed 50s music will undoubtedly point me to the direction of the orbiting cluster of space debris called, the Ames Brothers.

Whoopee John

Whoopee JohnSome days you just need a creepy-smiling guy with (what looks like) a beautiful pheasant feather in his (what looks like) burgundy, felt hat (that matches his suit coat) playing 40 amazing, and TV advertized, polka ditties.

Some days you just need a dapper gent to kick off your day, and Whoopee John is certainly a man of devilish wit, a talented chap with striking good looks, and the perfect candidate to fit your early morning polka needs.

The Devil HimselfSome days you just need everything from the Barn Yard Blues Polka, to the Norwegian Schottische, to the often overlooked, No No Polka. This 2 record set, as advertised on TV (man, would I LOVE to see that commercial), is aimed at tickling the funny bone of the novice polka fan, from the tall trees of California (California Polka) to the windy streets of Chicago (Chicago Waltz). If an accordion-filled wave of sound is your monkey, The Whoopee John Story is your euphoriant fix.

Some days you just need to say, “To hell with modern pop, give me some Whoopee John!” Unfortunately, today is NOT one of those days.

Cha-Cha-Cha with Art Mooney

Art CoverWhen Luke Skywalker said to Han Solo in the murky bottoms of a damp and dungeon-like trash compactor, “Did you see that?!” What the ol’ scoundrel SHOULD have answered was, “Why, yes I did, kid. That’s the sound of Art Mooney.”

Decades old intergalactic space references aside, I’m here to tell you that Art Mooney’s music on Cha-Cha-Cha with Art Mooney does, in fact, set sound in motion… it says so right on the cover, “Movement in Sound.” Like a 12-6 curveball, the bachelor-pad-ready-sound from this smokey-lounge-album moves, man! It moves in ways that force parents to shield the virgin ears of their children, you dig?

Art BackThe next time my significant other and I decide it’s time for a change of scenery, I’m calling Art Mooney and His Orchestra to help us move. If he’s half as good at hauling my T-Z shelf as he is delivering the moving sound of the Cuban Cha-Cha-Cha, we’ll be hosting casual dinner parties at our new digs in no time.

“He enjoys golf, swimming and tennis and is a classical records’ collector.” – Back Sleeve

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Meco!

MecoThis is the class of disco I can get behind… lavish arrangements of dance funk and soulful electronic grooves (as apposed to soulless electronic grooves) based on popular Sci-Fi films. Meco launched his historic career with his masterwork, 1977’s Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, continued his platform-shoe-shaped torch with 1977’s dicso-tastic take on Close Encounters of the Third Kind with, Encounters of Every Kind, returned in 1978 with the bass-bleeding Meco Plays The Wizard of Oz, until landing in the superhero genre with Superman and Other Galactic Heroes in 1979.

J WilliamsNot unlike Electric Light Orchestra and their amalgamation of rock and classical music, Meco bridges the much needed gap between the symphony, and the sweat-inducing-body-river of late 70s dance floors. Definitely worth checking out for even the casual fan of disco and/or Sci-Fi film related music, Meco’s fourth studio album is classic, 70s feel good, groove music.

“I am delighted that the words DISCO and MECO are now household words.” – John Williams

This is Tom Jones

This is Not, in Fact Tom JonesNo, this is an album by Tom Jones. Actually, if you take a step back even further, this is a blog post about an album by Tom Jones, and on this album by Tom Jones, evident by this blog post about an album by Tom Jones… you know, the blog post about an album by Tom Jones that you are currently (struggling through) reading, Tom Jones belts his little Tom Jones heart out while singing favored songs by such Tom Jones inspiring artists as Otis Redding, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Released in 1969 to promote a variety show by the same name, This is Tom Jones (the album, not the man… whose actual name is Thomas John Woodward, by the way) is a fairly well-rounded representation of this Welsh singer’s admired talents. I must admit that although my fondness for Tom Jones is casual, at best, I’m more than happy to welcome this album (by Tom Jones) into my collection.

This concludes the blog post about the album, This is Tom Jones titled, This is Tom Jones.

When Fan Clubs Were a Thing

Fan ClubFollowing up on yesterday’s EFO (Electric Fawcett Orchestra) post is… wait for it… the reverse side to that advert. I bet you didn’t see that coming.

Remember when Fan Clubs were a thing? Neither do I, but apparently, there was enough of a buzz going around the many successes of this Orchestra of Electric Light, that they felt an inherent need to cash in on these mouth-watering fans by offering exclusivity by means of an ELO Fan Club.

For only $5 ($18.68 by today’s means), you would receive the following unique and fashionable ELO swag:

– An autographed poster. This is an EXCLUSIVE OFFER, people! This point is made abundantly clear by EXCLUSIVE OFFER being typed in all caps. Also, as if you needed clarification, this is only available to Appreciation Society Members (a fancy term for Fan Club geeks).

– Nine color photos of the band (offered in various sizes… including wallet sized, because, you never want to be caught without six photos of your favorite Birmingham Symphonic rock band).

– An official Appreciation Society Membership Card (personalized and embossed) entitling you to special offers for belt buckles and other icons of late 70s fashion.

– A personal bio of each band member (so you could launch your career as a celebrity stalker).

– An Official Appreciation Society Membership Certificate… are you ready? “Suitable for framing.” Because, you know, that faded picture from your wedding day has been hogging the wall-space for a bit too long.

– And a “beautiful” folder. When I think of beauty, my mind immediately goes to a cardboard folder with an ELO logo on it. Doesn’t everyone?

The crazy thing, is that I’d probably join the Electric Light Orchestra Appreciation Society.  Now the hunt for an ELO belt buckle begins…

1977 Called, and They Would Like to Sell You This T-Shirt

ShirtsAre you an ELO fan? I’m sorry… of course you are. Then why not parade your adulation for Rock-and-Classical-fused-future-pop by ordering one of these exquisite Electric Light Orchestra t-shirts? They come form-fitted and ready to rock your next Saturday night Farrah Fawcett marathon (don’t be coy, we all do it), and will guarantee more than a few waves of enamored attention from a certain special someone you’ve had your ensorcelled eyes on.

Found wedged in my copy of the unconsciously hypnotizing Out of the Blue double LP (you know, the one with Turn to Stone and Mr. Blue Sky on it), this mind-blowing insert begs for the yearning of an era just a few short years before I was born… an era of Farrah Fawcett hair, suggestive smiles, and sensationally groovy licks.

John Gary Would Like A Word

The GaryThis dapper gent’s got something on his mind, and he’d like to tell you about it. Actually, he has 12 things on his mind, and, if you have the time, Mr. John Gary has a few songs… songs for you alone.

So Tenderly does this man whisper sweet nothings into your eager ears, So Tenderly does he weave tales of love, brown-eyed baby boys, and a Red Rosey Bush. It’s not enough that this dashing, fist-on-chin-resting, expensive watch wearing, googly-eyed slickster sits in a room of bright orange… it’s the jaw-dropping style with which he masterfully does it!

John GaryLook at those eyes… they’re cutting deep grooves of tenderness right into your pulsating heart… a heart that beats, in perfect time, to the lustful syllables lovingly, and tenderly, So Tenderly, beaming from John Gary’s mouth-hole… an angel’s mouth-hole… a mouth-hole for you, and you alone.

New “Bite” to the Brass

New BiteCapitol Records has done it again! They’ve taken the everyday, and turned it into the distant, inexcusable past. When posed with the question, How much more stereo can you get? Capitol Records answered with, New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo, fool!

New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo is revolutionary it its approach to releases offered by Capitol Records. By offering new “presence” in the vocal passages, new “impact” in the percussion, new “transparency” in the strings and reeds, and new “bite” to the brass, you’ll swear Liza Minnelli is actually belting out “her fresh personal glow” right before your watering eyes.

Capitol Records’ New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo… you’ll thrill to the difference.

Scotch on the Rocks

ScotchOk, so it may be a little early for scotch and/or rocks, but The Band of the Black Watch, and their merry-bagpipe-playing-parade-music, is just the right brand of kilted syncopation for this dreary Monday morning (it is certainly not a dreary Monday morning, I just enjoy the word dreary… and lagoon… lagoon is a fun word to say… I invite you to say it aloud right now… lagoon).

Let me tell you, hearing an official military unit consisting of brass and reed instruments performing Caribbean Honeymoon is definitely something I can honestly say I never thought I’d hear. This three minute and seven second window into the rivers of Heaven make me want to march off into battle, presumably to confront the individual whose sole purpose is to end my life, while simultaneously drinking a Mai Tai and holding the hand of my newly acquired soul mate.

Like a flowing bloodbath of sun-soaked romance, The Band of the Black Watch delivers a combination of lighthearted, side-to-side-swaying, maniacal military music that would make any citizen of Scotland proud beyond their years.

The First Man in Space

JoseIt’s not often that ignorance yields new chapters in listening entertainment. Take for example, if you will, Jose Jimenez The Astronaut: The First Man in Space. Don’t actually take it, I’m still listening to it. Acquired for its early-60s-kitchy-spaceage cover (and for only $3), I was comfortable that whatever ear-food was pressed on either side of this record would be worth my time, worth exploring (as in, out in space), and certainly worth $3. What I found was a sliver of comic history that I never knew existed.

José Jiménez was a fictional character played by the comedian Bill Dana, who is neither Hispanic, nor an astronaut. First appearing on The Steve Allen Show back in 1959, José Jiménez, or rather Bill Dana portraying this character he’d invented, gained considerable popularity throughout the 60s, appearing on television (The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show) as well as releasing seven LPs and two singles.

Jose BackBill Dana would tread José Jiménez through various professions before landing (a little space humor) on his most popular role, the astronaut. This character’s popularity was so strong, that he was properly (and all official-like) made an honorary Mercury astronaut.

José Jiménez, the character, has been referenced in everything from Seinfeld to Mystery Science Theater 3000, to The Right Stuff, to The Wonder Years, to Get Smart, and even The Larry Sanders Show.

It’s amusing to discover hidden pockets of pop culture that date back over five decades. This record was released in 1960, and it traveled 53 years to reach my ears. Well done, Mr. Jiménez … well done indeed.Jose Poquito