French, Level One

FrenchLearn to speak fluid French the laborious way with this 14x 7″ collection from 1961 by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. Housed inside a tenacious and stable cardboard box, these flip-tastic records are guaranteed to survive for legions of future French-lovers eager to learn an outdated approach to a beautiful, and alluring language.

Offered on only 28 sides, French Level One will have you screaming, “Mon amour pour les retournements de dossiers ne connaît pas de limites” until you lose your voice.

Warum zum Teufel nicht?

Gabi_FredAllowing Gabi Spiegl and Fred Trauner (of Gabi & Fred fame) to blissfully whisk away your heart is nothing an eager ear is willing to fight. This scantily clad German duo (or, spärlich bekleideten deutsche Duo) harness the open-air jodler, or yodel, with ear-piercing precision, and for reasons unknown leave the listener longing for a Ricola herb drop.

German pride with a classic cover leaves willing buyers (this guy here) shrugging shoulders and saying, “why the hell not?”

Optional Center 45 rpm Records

Optional_CenterTucked inside a 7” box set boasting the phrase, An Album from THE TREASURY OF IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES “45” rpm, this Capitol Records insert informs the 1940s (possibly 1950s) buyer of the intricate do’s and don’ts of optional center record care. This clear-cut informative guide urges the following, with extreme, underlined importance: If you will be using this album on a large spindle 45 rpm player, Ask Your Dealer To Punch Out The Centers… I don’t know about you, but my dealer doesn’t know jack about anything record related, but lucky for all involved, these “optional” inserts have long since been removed, so any sort of option has been swiftly eradicated.

Now I Don’t Hardly Know Her, But I Think I Could Love Her

RouletteCrimson and Clover was probably the first “perfect” song I’d ever heard. I was 13, at a Jr. High dance and, well, you know how things are in Jr. High… Crimson and Clover, like the tail of some whoever I was chasing that week, managed to elude me for several years, but her lingering, abundant impact was always just below the surface of everyday stagnation.

Monetarily it may be nothing of collector-head-turning significance, but this 45 of Crimson and Clover is easily one of my most cherished records.

(On a side note… I’d become aware of Tommy James by means of an often-told story, offered, to whimsical delight, by my parents. Apparently ol’ Mr. James, well past his prime, was making a “to-do” of himself at some back-water club in rural Wisconsin in the late 70s, all the while wearing tight, revealing, white trousers. Some stars dimmer, but never really fade away… so long as a fresh pair of tighty whitey trousers are at the ready.)

Burned for Better Playability

New MCDThe Murder City Devils, Washington state’s answer to the rum & coke-drinking, bar-closing delinquents of the early 21st century, have, for me, been labeled the garage rock grandfathers of my eclectic collection. Often inebriated, and always loud, the Murder City Devils ease the angry pain of worried, early mornings, and offer a welcoming, yet nagging soundtrack to the bitterness and uneven temperament of everyday life. (i.e. They’re good; you should check ‘em out!)

This 45, a split with Gluecifer, is uniquely discernible from any other release I’ve ever seen. As you can see, the bottom corner has been torched (not by me, although the picture suggests otherwise), which yes, is a rather over-simplified gimmick, but its design technique is both fitting, and particular to each (burned) release.

Happy Friday to those who have not yet lived it, and remember, whether you’re a resident of Murder City or not, the Devils are just a simple spin away.

The O.C. 45

O.C. 45 SleeveThis record is a thermoplastic material. Do not expose to excessive temperature. So reads this vintage 45 sleeve from Capitol Records. I personally don’t own an O.C. 45, but that will undoubtedly change sometime in the near future. For those of you not in the know, don’t worry if you aren’t, because I just discovered this for myself some short moments ago, the O stands for optional and the C stands for center. I do, obviously, possess several generic adapters (many of them classic Spiders), but something tells me that the O.C. 45 is, quite simply put, the Rolls Royce of 45 adapters. Except that, it isn’t. Here’s why.

SMALL Spindles LogoThanks to Capitol6000.com for harboring the only information about this long defunct adapter anywhere online. I encourage you to read the article at Capitol6000.com, but here is the gist of it: To provide the listener/purchaser/record collecting nut with viable options for pure, listening satisfaction, Capitol Records invented a record that could easily play on either small spindles (78rpm and 33 1/3rpm), or by (aggressively) punching out the optional center, the record could be played on larger spindles (45rpm). This seems like a clever and convenient way to circumvent the clouded format war of the late 40s and early 50s (a war that still rages on to this day), but my question is this. Was the punched out adapter able to be punched back in?

LARGE Spindles LogoSay your wife wanted to enjoy some Les Baxter with her bothersome friends at the bi-monthly block party cookout, but you’ve already punched out the optional center. After (reluctantly) searching the entire house looking for the damn thing, do you return to the Better Homes and Gardens party a hero, or will you go down in history as the only guy on the block who couldn’t give the ladies Les Baxter when they needed it? Thankfully, the Frank A. Jansen and Snap-It adapters were slowly moving their way into record collections across the gluttonous US of A by this time, so any possibility of further social awkwardness could easily be avoided.

Beasties O.C. 45Used to house my transparent blue vinyl copy of the Sabotage/Sure Shot split by the Beastie Boys, this pristine little vintage record sweater is a perfect fit for my mid 90s rock/hip-hop obsession.

You Never Forget Your First

Baby PhonoIt’s not every day an obsessive-compulsive collector is reunited with his first turntable. Today was that immortal day. While on holiday in the muggy bayou that is (currently) Southern Wisconsin, I (actually, my father found it) discovered a crucial piece of my record loving history, this late 70s, Disco Mouse, Sears, Roebuck and Co. phonograph.

Still in working, albeit cosmetically challenged, condition, this little guy provided countless hours of Pac-Man adventures, abridged versions of my favorite Star Wars, and Star Wars related fantasies (think The Ewoks Join the Fight), and spun my very first picture disc, 1977’s Main Street Electrical Parade. (It was most recently the spinner of Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, Volare by Dean Martin, and Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Oh how times have changed.)

A collector exhausts many a turntable throughout their lives. Some rest in unrepaired ruin, while others lay in storage for over 30 years, waiting to once again offer a plethora of new memories.

Many thanks to my folks for introducing me the wonderful world of recorded music.

Columbia Records Reminds You to Take Care of Your Needle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Rhythm

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you get the blues, Get Rhythm.

It only costs a dime, just a nickel a shoe

Does a million dollars worth of good for you

– J. R. Cash

Adapt

Adapters

As the alarm jingles you into the consciousness of another daft, tedious and overly hyped day filled with false promises of hope and certainty, you desperately plead with the unknown for a few lasting moments of peace and comfort. You don’t get them. You know your atrocious cries will go unheard, just as they always have. There is something to be said for consistency, even if it’s a bleeding string of expletives.

The strong amongst us will unplug that screaming alarm, give it a sunken, lasting stare filled with decades full of animosity and confusion, then proceed to slay the mighty beast of disruption by smashing it repeatedly against the fish tank before victoriously returning to bed. Those of use who are left… the weak… adapt.

To adapt, we must admit that we don’t fit. We must come to terms that, one way or another, we are that lonely cluster of shredded wheat that fell to the floor and has gone unnoticed for close to six days… a lifetime, as it seems. To adapt is to surrender your instincts, to follow the dangling carrot of quantity by abandoning the carrot cake of quality. But in doing so, we are granted the gilded gift of repetition, and with it, the chance to put off obsoleteness for one more day.

Can you tell I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning?