Giving A Gift? Give Records!

KappHave a nephew who’s grown tired of his plastic Slinky because it’s lost its slink? Consider cheering him up with a beautiful “My Gift To You” box from Kapp Records. With over six “magnificent gift packages to choose from” (exactly seven), your gracious nephew will be the envy of every kid on his block for years… strike that, DECADES to come.

Got a friend who’s down in the dumps because his fiancé forgets to shut the cupboard doors each time she opens them? (#sniff) Why not surprise him with “the one gift everybody will love every day of the year”? With these perfect gift boxes, you can even customize the wrapping on the box! (Well, as customizable as choosing between either red-and-gold or silver-and-blue wraps.)

With such chart topping, breakout artists as Roger Voisin and the Chad Mitchell Trio, “My Gift To You” boxes by Kapp Records are ideal gifts for even those of your classy friends who don’t really enjoy music. Forget giving people what they want, give them a “My Gift To You” box from Kapp Records. They truly are “the perfect gift for every occasion.”

Happy Mothers (of Invention) Day!

Absolutely Free CoverHappy mothers choose Jif. They also listen to The Mothers of Invention, and you should too. Here’s why:

1. Frank Zappa.

2. The Mothers of Invention were originally called The Soul Giants, but changed their name to The Mothers (on Mother’s Day 1965?), before settling on their full title for their debut album, 1966’s Freak Out!

3. Like your mother, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention promote the consumption of vegetables. From Call Any Vegetable, The Mothers explain, “This is a song about vegetables. They keep you regular. They’re real good for ya.” Don’t become irregular. Eat your veggies!

4. Staunch fans of pets, and reptiles in general, the 1970 reinvention of the Mothers included three former members of The Turtles, Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan and Jim Pons.

5. Frank Zappa.

Absolutely Free Back6. Also similar to your mother, these Mothers promote the healthy balance of a nutritional diet, aquatic exercise, and proper education. In the epic Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, we hear, “TV dinner by the pool. I’m so glad I finished school.” Listen to your mothers. They know what’s best for you.

7. The band’s Producer, Tom Wilson, made a name for himself by his acclaimed work with Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, The Animals and The Velvet Underground.

8. Frank Zappa.

The Prudent Groove would like to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there (regardless of your personal prune preference)!

Much Love, Dick ‘73

Clark CoverI shudder to think what unspeakable things happened to the previous owner of this album, Jeanette Cannon, and why her coveted, signed copy of Dick Clark’s 20 Years of Rock N’ Roll was simply lumped in with a string of unlistenable drivel on the bookshelf at my corner thrift store.

I hope Jeanette Cannon had an enthusiastic experience upon meeting Mr. Clark and that every time she played this double LP, she’d look upon Dick’s inscription and, like the timely music found within, would find herself carried off into a warm, blissful memory.

Jeanette CannonI had these thoughts, until my investigatory mind began to churn. You see, back in the day, owners of albums used to bring specific selections of their personal music library to social gatherings and what not, and because they’d all want to make sure they left with the music they’d brought, these planners-ahead would all write their names on the albums, as to squash any confusion upon closing time. Makes sense, right? As you can see, this copy of Dick Clark’s 20 Years of Rock N’ Roll is no different. So, Jeanette Cannon wrote her name on a sticker on the bottom right corner of the cover: Clue #1.

Clark SignedOn the back, next to a dashing picture of Dick Clark holding this very album, which is a nice, Inception-like touch, Mr. Clark writes,

To Jeanette & Freddie

Two good friends

Much Love

Dick ‘73

Jeanette & Freddie… hmm: Clue #2. So I do some quick Google search for Jeanette Cannon in Los Angeles and not much comes up. I paid it no mind, put the record in the “to listen to” pile (a rather large pile, by the way), and didn’t think about it again until this morning when scouring the collection for something to write about. This time, however, I Googled Freddie Cannon, and what I found was something of a pleasant surprise.

According to www.freddycannon.com, the man was quiet famous in the music world of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and went by a name you may have heard of, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon. This site also confirms that Freddy’s wife’s name is… you guessed it, Jeanette Cannon. What threw me off was the variation in the spelling of Freddy, as Freddie by Mr. Clark, but a few minutes Googling reveals this to be a common alias for Mr. Boom Boom.

So, this double LP was personally presented, by Dick Clark, to Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, and his wife Jeanette sometime in 1973. It was loved, cherished, toted around to casual dinner parties, and played with an illuminating fondness for the past… that was until about a month ago when I discovered it at a thrift shop and purchased it for $4: Mystery solved.

It’s not often I find signed Dick Clark records at my local thrift stores, but when I do, it’s comforting to know it was a personal gift to Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon and his lovely wife, Jeanette.

Bowling Brings out the Swinger in You, Too!

Swingers CoverWhen was the last time you sat down after a long, hard fought day and thought to yourself, you know, I could really go for some bowling themed swinger music presented by the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling lanes?  As the jacket says, Music for Swingers is “Dedicated to the millions of swingers in the United States and all over the world who regularly enjoy the fun of bowling.” Well, isn’t that nice of AMF?

This sweet, handcrafted collection of brass & string instrumentals are the soothing, music equivalent of nailing that 7-10 split. Like that wave of assured confidence that washes over you after a successful frame, Music for Swingers offers the welcoming support of a well-maintained bowling alley, AND it doesn’t require special shoes.

Swingers BackNo bumpers are needed to enjoy these selections of swinging, succulent, striking songs. (Striking… get it? Bowling a strike? Never mind.) Broken down for the convenience of the swinger in mind, Side 1 showcases Swinging Brass (Spanish Flea, Casino Royale, Swingers Theme), while Side 2 highlights “the most popular standards of the day in the up-beat tempo of the swinging strings you have heard 101 times or more.” Nothing says up-beat, popular standards of the day quiet like Girl from Ipanema or Georgy Girl.

Perfect for that pregame drink-up with your championed bowling team, or there to help sooth the bitter defeat of yet another losing evening, Music for Swingers is your faultless companion through the smooth, polished lanes of life, no matter where the inevitable pins of fate may happen to throw you.

Beware the Vegas Sun

Red CoverThis may be a no-brainer for the majority of you fine lovers of high fidelity, but unfortunately, I had to learn this bitter reality the hard way.  Let this be a lesson to those of you to whom this has yet to happen.

A few years ago, wow! It’s been five years now. Crazy. Moving on… a few years ago, I was visiting my parents in Las Vegas. You see, my father is the President of a Steel Workers Union in Wisconsin, and every once-and-a-while he needs to travel to Vegas for meetings. My mom joined him, and since Vegas is only a 4-½ hour car ride from Los Angeles, I met up with them for the weekend. Plus, at the time, one of my closest High School friends lived in Vegas, so it was a gathering of the happies if you will. Or, if you won’t. This happened 5 years ago, so there really isn’t anything you can do about it now.

Long story short, my buddy took me to Zia Records where I picked up the (then) new self-titled Weezer album (their 3rd self-titled album). For those of you who are unaware of how violently hot Vegas gets in the summer, allow me to paint you a wet, sticky picture. Being mindful that records warp when exposed to extreme heat, I opted to place my recent find in the trunk of my car instead of in the front or backseat where the Sun had been playing all day. So, this guy here thought the hot, oven-baked trunk would be the logical solution to a potential $22.99 problem.

photo(14)As you can see, my decision was a poor one, and this copy of Weezer’s 3rd self-titled album is clearly unplayable. I’ve since repurchased this album (with grave hesitation), and I keep this guy around to remind me of how stupid I was on a hot summer day in Las Vegas.

Learn from the idiots, kids. Take your records indoors instead of locking them in the car where they die a painful, never-played death while warping in the 112 degree Vegas heat. Weezer would hope you’ll learn from the errors of The Prudent Groove, and take better care of your records. A thought just occurred to me. Maybe Weezer was working closely with the Sun so they could sell more records. Well played, giant middle-sized star & Weezer. Well played indeed.

Records Are Square, Man

SquareRecords ARE square, man! As well as being insanely difficult to photograph (unless of course you WANT the stupid reflection of that “deer in the headlights” expression haunting your photo for the rest of eternity), they’re completely inconvenient! Say you’re in a dead run from a meathead and his meathead girl because you accidentally mistook his 1989 Ford Ranger for yours and were perplexed when your key didn’t open the door. Now say you look behind you and Mr. Meathead is gaining ground. Well, if you had your iPod or other digital music device, you could pop in your ear buds, scroll to your favorite “get me the hell out of here” track and voilà! You’d instantly become a cheetah, and Mr. Meathead would be left wondering why he stupidly began chasing you in the first place. Now, imagine the exact same scenario, but instead of an iPod, you were carrying your record player. Can you picture it? HOW RIDICULOUS DO YOU LOOK RUNNING DOWN THE STREET CARRYING A BULKY TURNTABLE?!

PlatterStill not convinced? Really? The image of running down the middle of the street lugging a turntable while trying to drop the needle on your favorite track to escape almost certain physical confrontation isn’t enough for you to see the downside of records? Well, since you enjoyed the last scenario so much, here’s another. Say you’re trying to impress a girl. Or a guy, I don’t judge. Say it’s a Saturday night and things are going well. Say you get a wild idea and decide that Dean Martin’s Gentle On My Mind is that little edge that will propel you both over love’s mighty cliff. Now say (well, don’t actually “say” these things. I’m not being literal), you’d acquired Gentle On My Mind from Goodwill and you’d forgotten that track two’s, That Old Time Feelin’ skips like a bastard (presumably because the previous owner didn’t respect the gift of music). Uh-oh! The gal (or guy) whom, in your head, had just agreed to spend the rest of their life with you, just stormed out of the room in a fit of rage because such a romantic moment was rudely interrupted by a skipping record. Don’t let your imagined life partner storm out of the room in a fit of rage because such a romantic moment was rudely interrupted by a skipping record. Go digital. It’s what your ancestors would have wanted.

Wait… you mean the SHAPE square, and not the slang word for unhip? (Scratches head) Gotcha. Well, then this post was a complete waste of your time. My apologies. Carry on.

SC-2 Stylus Care System

SC-2Caring for your turntable, your stylus, your phonograph records, and let’s not kid ourselves, the well-being of your subconscious, is made easy and urbane with the SC-2 by Discwasher.

Manufactured, packaged, distributed, displayed and purchased in 1982, this Stylus Care System includes a retractable critical density brush and magnifying mirror extension that lives inside a bold, wooden handle. This system also includes 10ml (.34 fl oz) of the “not safe for children” SC-2 Stylus Cleaning Fluid. Both elements that make up this Care System are essential for the longevity of your phonograph records, your stylus, and your hopes of getting lucky this Saturday night.

You must be asking yourself, “With a system so advanced, surely I must obtain a PhD in Record Care in order to operate this complex invention.” Au contraire, my fellow-filthy-fidelity (FFF) owner! Just adhere to the following three, easy steps below, and your days of sub-par audio quality will be as forgettable as Bruce Willis’ singing career.

1.1. Empty the entire 10ml bottle of SC-2 Stylus Cleaning Fluid onto the dime-sized, critical density brush. Don’t worry if you spill. Think of this procedure as brushing the teeth of your turntable. Except, your turntable has been neglecting proper oral care and is only down to one, groove-hungry tooth.

Warning: Do not brush your own teeth with SC-2 Stylus Cleaning Fluid.

2.2. Using the critical density brush, gently brush the turntable tooth (stylus) using “rear to front action only.” You don’t want to brush from side to side. Doing so will result in a broken turntable, no audio pleasure, and a lonely Saturday night. The Prudent Groove will not be held responsible if these words of warning go ignored. 

Warning: Do not use your tooth brush to clean your stylus.

 

3.3. Using the magnifying mirror (conveniently located on the reverse side of the critical density brush), inspect the gleaming smile of your freshly cleaned turntable tooth (stylus). If there remains any “fuzz,” simply throw your turntable into the garbage and purchase another.

Leaps and bounds above the primitive SC-1 (not sure if this exists), the SC-2 Stylus Care System will help to ensure long, lasting, neighbor-disturbing music for years to come.

(A special thanks to Pat & Dennis for this amazing gift.)

It Always Happens First on Records

Here’s How Records Give You More of What You Want:

New Columbia Insert1. They’re Your Best Entertainment Buy. Forget about your relationship with touch-screen baby wipes and bowel movement status updates. The vinyl record is way more entertaining than that new Smart (fill in the blank), and it’s cheaper too. Cheap is good. That means you can finally afford that sticky tattoo-removal procedure so you can forget about that regrettable weekend in Cabo.

2. They Allow Selectivity of Songs and Tracks. Gone are the archaic days of slaving through an entire album’s worth of songs. Feel the need for a quick spin of Obsession by Animotion but don’t want to wade through the dull, 8 filler tracks? With records, you have that option.

3. They’re Convenient and Easy to Handle. They’re not say, as convenient as an automatic fish feeder or adequate plumbing, but records are more accessible than lugging Mott the Hoople around with you everywhere you go.

4. They’re Attractive, Informative and Easy to Store. Forget those overpriced, dysfunctional dating sites. Records are attractive, smart, funny, and they won’t mind if you don’t wash your shirt laundry as often as you probably should.

5. They’ll Give You Hours of Continuous and Uninterrupted Listening Pleasure. Hours? Yes. Uninterrupted? I can think of a few times records may interrupt your listening flow. Like say, when you need to flip the record to play the 2nd side, perhaps?

6. They’re the Proven Medium. This one is true. I mean, we all know digital files are on their way out. Am I right?!

7. If It’s in Recorded Form, You Know It’ll be Available on Records. Ever get the hankering for the smooth, swinging sound of Richard Nixon and his administration conversing about secret, and often illegal activities? It was recorded, so there should be a record out there somewhere.

8. They Make a Great Gift. Kids love ‘em, old folks love ‘em, and your local grocery store owner’s mistress loves ‘em. They’re like cats. They make a great gift.Spinning Record

!!Cinco De Mayo!!

Places CoverFeliz Cinco de Mayo, señoras y señores!! ¿Por qué no celebrar este día de fiesta con el Groove Prudente?

What better way to enjoy this celebratory day of Mexican culture than with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass? It was exactly 151 years ago today that the Mexican army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla, and it was exactly 12 minutes ago that I began my commemoratory festivities by spinning !!Going Places!! on my Malaysian-made turntable.

With !!Going Places!!, Herb Alpert (which I always used to think was named Herp Albert) adapts his luxurious brand of big-brass-south-of-the-border sound to a scad of mainstream classics like, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Spanish Flea, 3rd Man Theme, Walk, Don’t Run, Zorba the Greek and of course, Cinco de Mayo.

Places BackThis album is paradisiac for those annual family barbeques when your uncle gets drunk on cheap, canned-beer and ends up breaking the giant yellow slide at the kid’s playground, and those awkward reunions when your cousin won’t stop talking about the time you and she made out behind the elementary school music house. Like a soothing bastian of much anticipated relief, !!Going Places!! merrily supports grandiose, festive gatherings and does it in supurb, instrumental style.

The Prudent Groove would like to wish every man, woman and child from every corner of this diverse floating rock, the absolute best Cinco de Mayo, and (raises glass) here’s hoping the majority of you won’t be too hungover when your piercing alarm wakes you up tomorrow morning for work.Tracklist

2001: A Space Odyssey

Odyssey CoverThere exists a finite number of films that match the vast, mind-numbing greatness that surrounds 2001: A Space Odyssey… and that finite number is zero. No other film captures the imagination, the theology, the spectacular visual effects, and the brilliant forward thinking quiet like 2001, and the soundtrack that accompanies this visual adventure, albeit a collection of classics, is nothing short of essential listening material for any, and every fan of the medium.

Released in 1968, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to 2001: A Spacy Odyssey captures that eerie sense of uncertainty and foreboding doom that is seemingly inevitable for the lineage of mankind. Long, drawn-out landscapes (track three’s Lux Aeterna), dispense agitated spasms of echoed ambiguity, almost as if a spaceship, or a lifeless body, were floating within the vast unknown that is outer space. The first half of the album, before The Blue Danube kicks in, is very grim and despairing, which is exactly the subtextual emotion needed for the beginnings of the inevitable end. The journey into the soul is not a day at the beach.

Odyssey BackMuch like the opening track, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Johann Strauss’ The Blue Danube is, and forever will be unified with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both songs have been used in a barrage of other films and commercials, but I couldn’t name a single one of them. If the visual wonders of this film are the planet, then its music is the planet’s gravitational pull. Forever will they be linked, and forever will they rely on each other to exist.

Like the stars of a constellation traveling light-years to reach our retinas, 2001: A Space Odyssey will forever live as the greatest romantic achievement in cinematic history, and it is supported, in large part, by its shining light… its penetrating and hermetic music.

Not unlike the open and infinite vacuum of the vast intergalactic void, this music is much, much bigger than we are, and it needs to be ingested into our pores and delivered from our radiating conscious so that we can experience, and through that, understand the meaning behind man’s true potential.Odyssey Experience

2000: At Home With the Groovebox AKA the 100th Post

Groovebox CoverAt Home With the Groovebox is the musical equivalent of fizz popping from atop a tall glass of freshly poured soda (or pop if you’re from the Midwest). With its unexpected musical nuances snapping and bursting to create a refreshing, fluid wave of electronic sound, this album does an exceptional job of oozing that happy-fun-time-gonna-cheer-you-up style of music. It’s playful, but in a good way.

Revolving around the Roland MC-505, At Home With the Groovebox brings together a slew of big name artists to create individual musical landscapes as diverse and eclectic as the artists themselves. This album could very well be an advertisement for the Roland MC-505, as it is the common thread weaving throughout each head-bobbing song… it’s also featured on the cover. Go ahead, take a look. Those kids are so excited… isn’t that cute?! Ok, moving on.

Record 1 LabelStarting off the first record in this talent-filled, double LP collection of diverse artists is the famed Jean Jacques Perrey. Remember The In Sound from Way Out!? Mr. Perrey was 71 when this album came out, and the man still ushers in the electronic grooviness with his track titled, The Groovy Leprechauns. Another familiar face emerges at the start of record two, Jean Jacques Perrey’s teammate, the then 78-year-old Gershon Kingsley with his track, Popcorn.  It’s nice to see the old, more experienced kids play well with the younger kids and vice versa.

Groovebox BackFeatured on this 16-track compilation are the following sundry mix of artists (starting at the top): Jean Jacques Perrey, Buffalo Daughter, John McEntire, Air, Pavement, Money Mark, Beck, Sean Lennon, Gershon Kingsley, Sonic Youth, Bis, Cibo Matto, Donnie “Prince” Billy, and Dick Hyman (I guess you’d expect to catch The Groove rhymin’!). I could have just directed you to the picture on the left, but it’s fun to be redundant sometimes… sometimes.

If you have ears that work, I suggest you treat yourself to the good things in life, and get At Home With the Groovebox. A sonic wave of grooviness awaits you.

Editor’s note: This is the 100th post of The Prudent Groove and it mirrors the 100th consecutive day of me getting up too damn early to prudently write about my collection of grooves. Thanks for reading. I’m going back to bed now.

1999: State Songs

State SongsThere is nothing more patriotic than a green record in the shape of the continental United States. John Linnell, of They Might Be Giants fame, showcases his solo abilities on this two-track appetizer from his full-length album by the same name. Actually, side two’s Louisiana is an unreleased track from the album and is only offered on this “Go America!” record, so if you needed any incentive to seek out this record, there you go.

Montana

Told from the perspective of a hospital bed-ridden patient, Montana is a catchy little song about said patient’s electric realization that the shape of Montana resembles that of a leg. I love the esteemed talents of the two Johns and their innate ability to write catchy, whimsical songs about seemingly banal subjects. I mean, we all have these little thoughts throughout our day, like, how I wonder if the birds in the tree outside my porch are secretly planning an all-encompassing war against the squirrel that knocked over their bird bell, but I don’t ever think to write a song about it! Kudos to John Linnell for taking the mundane and making it extraordinary.

USLouisiana

Leave it to my clever girlfriend to figure out that Louisiana is a song about the annoying humidity engulfing the stale air within the imaginary walls that make up the state of Louisiana.  Referring to (the life-sucking demon that is) humidity as a blanket, John Linnell pleads for a break in the weather and asks that Louisiana, the state, to remove its hands from around his neck so he can breathe more clearly. A song about humidity… again, who looks to uncomfortable weather as a subject for a song?

LabelIf I’ve learned something from this green-tinted record in the shape of the contiguous United States, it’s that ANYTHING can be the subject of a song and also, I have no Earthly desire to step foot into the hellish wave of demon-heat known as Louisiana.

1998: Into the Sun

CoverOnce upon a time…

There was a fella named John. John was a talented chap, one who was capable of writing beautiful songs about love, aggression, politics and imagination. One day, John went to an art exhibit and met a like-minded and, I hesitate to say, equally talented woman, named Yoko. Yoko made John smile, and shortly thereafter, they fell in love.

Like lovers do, John and Yoko expressed their love through celebration, which brought to them, and the World, a baby boy. They named him Sean, and the love that was once two, became three. Sean would grow up to write beautiful songs just like his father, John. Unfortunately, John would never hear Sean’s wonderful music, because a very bad man shot lead into John’s body. Sean, his mother Yoko, and the World were deeply saddened by the loss of John, but nobody has ever, nor will they ever forget him.

The End

Into the Sun LabelSean Lennon’s professional career launched with the release of his 1998 debut album, Into the Sun. With its 13 tracks of despondent fluidity, the beautifully imagined Into the Sun shows that the apple (records) doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Into the Sun was released while Sean was touring with his then girlfriend, Yuka Honda and her band, the eclectic Cibo Matto. Yuka makes appearances throughout Into the Sun, and Sean is quoted as claiming Yuka to be his inspiration for the album.

Into the Sun BackNow a classic staple in the Grand Royal catalogue, Into the Sun makes for the perfect soundtrack to a seemingly endless array of activities.  When listening to this album, it’s difficult to ignore the weighted guilt that attaches itself to the privilege of listening to something Sean’s father never had the opportunity to enjoy. My guess… John would be glowing with pride from the emotionally talented works of his bright, shining son.

(I probably don’t need nine copies of this album, but really, you never know. I acquired them for very cheap off the temporary site created by the guys who purchased the short-lived Grand Royal Records after it went bankrupt. Like Grand Royal itself, that site is gravely missed.)9 Times

1997: BS 2000

BS CoverNot many people enjoy BS 2000, which is interesting considering this album has only ever been release on vinyl. To say the music is unconventional would be an understatement. To say the music is unlistenable, distasteful, or simply, not music, would be like judging a book by its opening sentence. BS 2000 is most certainly an acquired taste, and once the walls of ignorance are torn down, the appetite for more becomes primal.

BS RecordWith its 23 tracks, this debut side project from Beastie Boy, Adam Horovitz, and teammate, AWOL Amery Smith, is a brilliant collection of looping Electronic Breakbeats, pitch and time-altered samples, and various other momentary flashes of abstract genius. In Brian Newman’s well written, but point-missing review of this album on allmusic.com (he gave it only 2 out of 5 stars), he explains, “Listening to BS 2000’s self-titled debut album is almost the equivalent of watching a Federico Fellini film or reading a William S. Burrows passage.” This is a fairly accurate assessment of the music, and certainly a proficient crew to roll with.

BS Back

Absolutely unsuitable for the masses, BS 2000’s music cuts and runs at the same moment you’ve finished tuning your ears in order to ingest the wall of head bobbing, groovy noise. The album is only 33 minutes long, so when you take into account the number of songs, you get a pretty good idea of how short these all-but-throwaway beats are.

This is a must listen for any fan of the Beastie Boys, and anyone who enjoys experimental, abstract sounds. There is definitely a clear rhythmic beat to each and every track on this album, so don’t misunderstand me and think this is a boiling pot of erupting noise. Listening to it as I type, and having not given it a spin in a while, I’d almost forgotten how damn good these hodge-podge beats are. If you’re in the market for this album, but can’t find it, email me and I’ll hook you up.

Nobody beats BS 2000.

1996: Spinal Scratch

Spinal ScratchMade famous by the labors of his day job, as exactly ½ of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter’s solo work finds the artist taking a minimalist approach to the Funk-rich Electronic (House music) sound. In no way does that mean Spinal Scratch, and its B-Side, Spinal Beats, are “less than.” These two tracks hit hard, and when combined, offer over 11 minutes of sweaty dance-friendly beats.

Released a year before Daft Punk’s eponymous debut, Homework, Spinal Scratch finds Mr. Bangalter cutting his teeth on a pair of monster beats that almost scream the letters, S-E-X in a rhythmic and soothing loop, but you know, in that classy French way. It’s almost as though because this is French music, there is a certain amount of leniency attached to it. Not that this, or anything Bangalter or Daft Punk do require any sort of leniency, but French House music, with its repetitive yet weighted bass can become something of a nuisance if done improperly. Good thing for all involved that Mr. Bangalter’s work is pure gold. The fact that he is French is just the icing on the delicious French pastry.

LabelSpinal Scratch, or Roulé 302, is the second solo offering by Bangalter, following 1995’s Trax on Da Rocks. (I purchased Trax on Da Rocks from eBay a few years back, but it was lost in transit. I was refunded my money, but have been looking for a copy ever since.) Both DJ 12” records were released on Bangalter’s own Roulé Records. Roulé is French for, “rolled,” so you get the target demographic he was going for with this label.

You can find Spinal Scratch on the Irréversible soundtrack, which is mainly comprised of the back catalogue of Bangalter’s solo work. It’s nice to have everything together, but there is a certain amount of intimacy owning these tracks individually. If you haven’t already, seek out Bangalter’s solo work. Your sex-crazed dance partner will thank you.

1995: The State of Art is On Fire

ArtRock ‘N’ Roll gets kicked in the teeth with this fire-themed gauntlet of raging energy. Led by Speedo’s spitting vocals and Petey X’s stabbing bass work, the glorious Rocket from the Crypt, over just six songs, show everyone within shouting distance why they’re helmed as the best Rock ‘N’ Roll group ever to walk the Earth. The State of Art is On Fire, and Rocket from the Crypt lit the match.

The State of Art is on Fire was the first in a trilogy from RFTC (Rocket from the Crypt) in 1995, followed by August’s Hot Charity and October’s Scream, Dracula, Scream!. This particular release is, well, a bit peculiar since side A plays at 33rpms and side B plays at 45rpms. It should also be noted that this EP was the first to feature JC 2000, the band’s trumpeter, and also included a lyrics sheet, which was rarely included in releases by this band.

InsertThe hair-raising back-to-back shots from Rid or Ride and Human Torch are arguably the best one-two punch by any band on any album ever. I know this statement is subjective, but you’re wrong if you think otherwise.  Like a violent flame, this album starts to burn your ears, your neighbor’s dog’s ears, your feet, the pear on your kitchen table, your memories of Senior Prom, and the blood flowing through your veins, and it doesn’t let up until the needle breaks on the final groove.  The State of Art is on Fire is an experience. One that is not quickly, or let’s face it, EVER forgotten.

RecordOnly 300 copies exist of this blue marbled staple of Rock ‘N’ Roll awesomeness. Currently none are for sale of either this or the pink marbled version, but the black version can be had for only $8 at Discogs.

Art has been burning now for 18 years. Sit back and enjoy the flames.

1994: Fourteenth Century Sky E.P. (The Dust Brothers aka The Chemical Brothers)

Dust Bros CoverSo, here’s a fun little nugget of Electronic music history (fans of either band have known this for years)… The Chemical Brothers used to be called the Dust Brothers, and the Dust Brothers used to be called, wait for it… well, they were always just the Dust Brothers, so yeah, gotcha there.

Dust Brothers 101:

First came the Dust Brothers. The ACTUAL Dust Brothers. The LA-based cut-and-paste moguls famous for their early work with Delicious Vinyl. The same guys who happened to produce the groundbreaking, never-before-has-there-been-music-like-this Beastie Boys album, Paul’s Boutique. Then, over in Manchester, a couple of Dust Brothers fans starting making some badass music of their own, (out of homage or straight, blatant, rip-off) and also starting calling themselves the Dust Brothers. So, there was a time when the world saw two sets of dusted siblings. That was, until the ACTUAL Dust Brothers threatened the Manchester Dust Brothers with legal action. Having released two EPs and one single as the Dust Brothers, the Manchester boys decided on a new name. Based off the critically acclaimed track, Chemical Beats (found on this EP), the Manchester duo adopted the moniker, Chemical Brothers, and the rest is Electronic music history.

Dust Bros Label BThere was no bad blood between the two insanely talented groups. The original Dust Brothers supplied a remix to the 1997 hit single Elektrobank, No harm no foul, I suppose.

Fourteenth Century Sky is the Chemical Brothers’ second release (when they were still calling themselves the Dust Brothers. We JUST went over this!). They would release one more EP (My Mercury Mouth) before pulling the Big-Beat-trigger and forever changing their name to the Chemical Brothers.  This concludes the Prudent Groove inspired Cliffs Notes for Dust Brothers 101. Now, get outside. It’s a beautiful day.

1993: Porno For Pyros

PforP CoverBy the time Porno for Pyros hit the streets in 1993, the world was still mourning the loss of Jane’s Addiction. Frontman, Perry Ferrell, assured the masses that his brash-brand of sleazy-slut-rock would continue on unabated, but would henceforth inherit a new title, Porno for Pyros.

Trying to figure out the meaning behind the title, Porno for Pyros, is like trying to tie your shoes with oven mitts on your hands. You can see the end result in your head, but damned if it’s not impossible to get to. People attribute too much meaning to things anyway, so I’m going to skip the meaningless meaning behind PfP, and continue on with my daily ramblings.

The music, not unlike a cloud of sadness, is loud, funky, rhythmically driven, and unmistakably awesome! There is a certain amount of solace that can be found in sadness, and it’s evident that Perry and crew tapped into that power for Porno for Pyros, because quiet frankly, it’s a pretty bleak album. Like a warm pair of socks on a cold, dreary day, or a calming breeze during those hot August nights, Porno for Pyros can abate your less-than-optimal mood, whenever it rears its ugly, yet familiar noggin.

NewA beautiful tie-dyed vinyl version was released just this past Saturday for Record Store Day. Limited to 1000 copies, this gorgeous record is going for up to $100 over at Discogs, so I hope you were able to brave the goofballs in line for a copy, because, it really is quite something.

1992: In Search of Manny

MannyLuscious Jackson’s debut EP, In Search of Manny, launched the semi-mainstream career of this quirk-tastic, all-ladies, don’t-dare-call-them-cutesy band. It also saw the first official release from Grand Royal Records, the short-lived record label helmed by the infamous Beastie Boys, so, yeah, it’s a historical music marker.

In Search of Manny, or GR001, its catalog title, sees a mellow mixture of light-hearted groovy-beats bouncing under a quasi-Hip-Hop, MC-style vocal delivery. It’s lazy-day, relax-music perfect for soaking in the warm rays from the summer sun, or turning your living room into post-apocalyptic turmoil because you can’t find your car keys. Calm, or frenzied, In Search of Manny tickles your groove button regardless of your disposition.

LabelI hate that Luscious Jackson is known as “the band with the original drummer from the Beastie Boys.” Yes, this is true. Yes, the Beastie Boys originally had a Beastie Girl (Kate Schellenbach), but labeling LJ as “just that band” downplays their ability to jam! And these luscious ladies jam your pants off!

The first three tracks, Let Yourself Get Down, Life of Leisure and Daughters of the Kaos were all written and recorded in 1991, while the four tracks on side 2 were completed in 1992. This isn’t significant but for the question is raises: why weren’t these first three tracks released as a single prior to In Search of Manny? They certainly could have been. I mean, Daughters of the Kaos sounds like Beck’s Loser, with its slight western-driving catchiness, but you know, written 2 years earlier. Lucky for everyone involved, fate would intervene and marry this collection of feel-good tunes square on Grand Royal’s eponymous debut.

BackIt all had to start somewhere, but unfortunately, it ended way too early. Both Luscious Jackson and Grand Royal are now defunct, but there exists an underground group of groove-hoods that seek out these stunning releases, and in doing so, keep this sensational music alive.

I don’t know who the hell Jackson is, but these ladies are luscious. Check ‘em out.

1991: Cypress Hill

Cypress CoverCypress Hill was my single-handed introduction into the vast, unremitting world of Hip Hop music. I was a fair, Junior High student at a tiny school when introduced to this abstract genre (my graduating class was 63 kids… it sucked). Hip Hop as a whole is certainly not abstract, but when you grow up in a tiny town with tiny ideals and little room for any sort of outside thinking, it really didn’t get more abstract than Hip Hop (that was until I discovered AC, but that’s a post for another time).

Cypress RedCypress Hill boasts of bongs, fat-jammy-blasts and brotherhood (a nice way of saying “gang”), while set to a Funk backbeat and fanatical lyrics. LA’s finest scored a fat sack with these 16 tracks, so much so that it was remastered and released on blood-shot-eye-red vinyl (this version) in 2011 for its 20th anniversary.

You see, cassettes were big in my day, and I’m now spending the bulk of my “adult” life acquiring my trophy albums on vinyl. It was while listening to this album in the school library, via Walkman (and split ear buds hidden inside the sleeve of my shirt), that a buddy and I got busted for listening to music in school. Not busted so much as yelled at, but it scared us from ever doing it again. It was at that moment when I realized that Cypress Hill were a troublemakers, and at the age of 12, that was a welcoming ally.

The music is straightforward, early 90’s, social-class-bending Hip Hop. There emerged a slew of outstanding Hip Hop albums during the few years spanning 1989-1993, and the tongue-in-cheek approach mastered by Cypress Hill on this debut set the high-bong-water mark.

Cypress BackCypress Hill isn’t considered Old School Hip Hop, but for me, and my friends who dove headfirst into this genre, there is no school older than the music produced during the early 90s. Cypress Hill would hit another homerun with their 1993 release, Black Sunday. After that they’d release six more albums, but they never matched the perfect blend of ENORMOUS beats, witty lyrics, and catchy one-liners.

Lala la la lala la laaa!