Setting Sun

Setting SunTaking the day off today to read under the California sun (I’m enthralled with the 33 1/3 book series… almost finished with Piper at the Gates of Dawn, then will likely head to American Recordings… I’m a huge fan of Johnny Cash’s autobiography, Cash by Johnny Cash… thanks, High Fidelity), and to play a bit of catch (baseball) with the SO… I won’t fault her for being a Phillies fan… or maybe, yeah I will.

Bombastic big beat, baby! This 1996’s single by the Chem Bros from their 1997 full length, Dig Your Own Hole, Setting Sun features Noel Gallagher on vocals (don’t fault the band), and showcases heavy sirens and all the body movin’ dance floor glory that late 90s Chem Bros were known for. So, bump this fool to your iPod, or mobile stereo system, find a good tree, a better book, and enjoy the frills of a sunny afternoon… unless you live where it’s cold, in which case I pity your frozen soul!

Post #300 or: That Time I Nabbed a First Pressing of Electric Ladyland for $10

Jimi PGLet’s not beat around the bush here. Antique malls are time sucks. The alluring glow of buried treasure seems to boil the blood like a white-hot phoenix, and those of us who seek this 2nd hand treasure know exactly what I’m jivin’ at. These ominous voids (usually located next to a Subway or a Peet’s Coffee for some bygone reason) demand the archeological skills of a handsome, fedora-wearing ladies man named after the family dog, and the patience of a turtle-loving, detail-fixed hoarder of historic rubbish. Be it books, vintage clothing, old Look Magazines from the 1940s, or in this case, a banned UK copy of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1968 master work, Electric Ladyland, the junk drawers of yesteryear are spilled out for all to peruse and purchase at these, the greatest time-wasting five and dimes the world has ever seen.

Anyway, short story short, I was on one of my weekly trips to Times Remembered in Ventura, CA (a place my SO and I jokingly call Time Suck, but not too jokingly, you dig?), where I stumbled upon a tiny booth filled with doll clothing, baby spoons with crude pictures of horses on them, overpriced “I Like Ike” campaign buttons, and 2 records: The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, and this copy of Electric Ladyland. What struck me as odd was how no other records could be found within this seller’s little corner. I wondered, “Why these 2 specific records?” (Resting against a basket of thimbles and a child’s rocking chair.) Anyway, both records were marked $20, but that day, this particular booth offered a ½ off sale. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Well, do I really NEED a copy of Electric Ladyland?” Asinine to even consider, I know. I bought it, obviously, and now this hot little number fetches upwards of $450 on discogs.com.Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 1.32.11 PM

Their Satanic Majesties Request had 4 pinholes in each corner, obviously punched to proudly display on the smoke-stained walls rented by the now levelheaded antique seller’s younger self. Had it been in better shape, I would have nabbed that guy as well. I’m still on the search for that little musical chalice.

300 days, 7200 hours, or roughly 432,000 minutes ago, I gave birth to The Prudent Groove. I sincerely appreciate all who have visited, and for the friends I otherwise wouldn’t have made. Now, I’ve got to go return some videotapes.

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

PeepsAs a wide-eyed and furrow-browed youngster, I was a huge fan of Swing Music. While attending the local tech college, certain courses were required that involved physical movement (you see, it was Wisconsin, and in the winter we’d have to constantly move around to keep from freezing to death), i.e. racquetball, swimming, and the newly added Swing dance class.

It was 1997, and every 18 year old worth his weight in overzealous ambitions was an enormous fan of the 1996 classic, Swingers… and I was certainly no different. I owned the soundtrack, the DVD, and of course, several quote spilled posters that littered the walls of my shared 3 bedroom apartment on Madison’s west side. I wanted to be a Swinger (in the film’s sense, not the 1970’s shag carpet sense), and my semester learning the lively and energetic basics of Swing was arguably one of my best months of post high school education, regardless if I’ve forgotten all the moves.

Swing FrontFast-forward a good 6 or 7 years to a little record shop in Ventura, CA (no need to move around there, the temperature seldom drops below 55). I became friends with the owner and I was given a quality deal on 13, 3 LP box sets celebrating the Swing era. The series is titled, quiet appropriately, The Swing Era, with each set focusing on 3 to 5 year chunks. Currently on the platter is 1930-1936 and features a lot of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Casa Loma. This, as well as every other set includes a 64-page hard cover book focusing on the intricacies throughout the era during that set’s well, set of years.

I may never again do the Lindy Hop, but with 78 sides of quality Swing spanning the genre’s entire history (13 sets of 3 LPs each x 2 sides), I’ll certainly have the material handy if the jittery bug should ever bite again.

You Can’t Have Your Cake and Spin it Too AKA KPOL Radio (1952-1981)

RIP KPOLBroadcasting self proclaimed, “Beautiful Music,” KPOL, “Los Angeles’ first easy-listening music station,” unleashed 21 alluring tracks, which were all “superbly performed by 101 Strings” in celebration for their 20th anniversary-birthday-ceremony-festival-type thing.

I don’t know what’s worse, that this is considered “Beautiful Music,” or that someone actually bought this deluxe 2 record set. (Looks into mirror and notices his unabated shame.) It certainly isn’t “Grotesque Music,” or even “Homely Music” for that matter, it’s just that when I think of the word “beautiful,” 101 strings does not come to mind. (I’m instantly reminded of a certain Twilight Zone episode with the applicable title, The Eye of the Beholder.)

CakeOn a serious note, it’s a bit sad to see the excitement and enthusiasm displayed by this proud and noble radio station, given the chilling fact that they would forever close their doors just nine short years after this celebratory album was released.

“Have a helping of memories,” kids, because our days are numbered…

RSDBOTB LP

HSBOTB LPI had no Earthly idea what to expect when I picked up Record Store Day Presents High School Battle of the Bands, but for only $1.99, and sealed, I figured, what the hell. Released as part of 2010’s Collector Christmas, also known as Record Store Day, this nine track comp, quite understandably, acts more as a vehicle for parading individual tracks than that of a comprehensive album. With that in mind, the pool of talent displayed throughout this record overwhelmed me. The overall lurid inflection on the majority of these tracks assured me that what I found was something significant.

InsertIn a nutshell, Fender teamed up with the liberators at Records Store Day to devise a brick-and-mortar-record-store-sponsored-high-school-band-contest. The winning band was to win a bunch of free gear, studio time, and a slot on this record. It was up to some undisclosed record executives and members from the Fender Corp. to judge all the entries that eventually resulted in this record. I have no idea how many bands entered, but every single one of the chosen nine are studio/label worthy.

It’s gratifying to see my two home states, Wisconsin and California, representing four of the nine tracks on this comp. My only gripe is that the link to the free download is dead… my fault for waiting three years to get this album. Support the future of noise pollution and GET THIS ALBUM!

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.

Pitchfork – Saturn Outhouse – Clear Vinyl

Pitchfork CoverPlease excuse the lateness of today’s post. It was for a legitimate, and vinyl related cause, I assure you. Here’s the skinny: So yesterday, on our way back from our 6th year at Comic-Con (in San Diego), my vinyl collecting doppelganger and I hit up Lou’s Records in Encinitas, CA. We’d read a few reviews and decided to check it out. We were less than impressed with the selection, as it was really kind of picked through. Apparently Lou’s is a famous little joint. My doppelganger informed me that Pearl Jam used to play there, but I didn’t pay it much mind, since I don’t care for PJ and/or much that comes from this guy’s face. So, after only about five minutes, and upon quick realization that all the grooves we were looking for could not be found, we decided to bounce. On our swift escape, something caught my eye. It was… a clear vinyl version of Pitchfork’s first EP, Saturn Outhouse. Limited to only 100 copies on clear vinyl, this little 7” also happens to be hand numbered. This copy reads: 6/100.

Lou's RecordsSo, like the intelligent and forward thinking chap that I am, I passed it up. I left it there, got back into the car, and headed back to Los Angeles. Late last night, an itch started, and it wouldn’t let up no matter how much I attempted to ignore it. I began searching for any info on this clear vinyl release on the inter-webs, but couldn’t find much of anything on it. The black vinyl version can be found just about anywhere, including amongst the 45s in my collection, but I’d never heard of this version, and since it was the first ANYTHING released by Rocket from the Crypt mastermind, John Reis, I’d felt I’d made a HUGE mistake by not picking it up.

Lou 2Fast-forward to this morning. After reading a thoughtful post about this clear vinyl release, I started to feel bad for this guy. He’d been hunting all over for this particular record, up to and including contacting the band, and he ended up finding one for a hefty $250. I thought, hmmm. It took this poor guy 18 years to track this record down… and I know where I can get one for a cool $25. So I called Lou’s to make sure they still had it, hopped in my rocket ship and drove an hour and a half to Encinitas. I just got back (traffic was a bastard on the northbound 405), so, yeah. Today’s post is late. But look at what I have!!!

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!

1967 Elektra Records Catalog

Elektra FrontHow much more is the 1967 Catalog from Elektra Records compared to the 1966 Catalog from Elektra Records (not pictured here)? One… exactly one more. Nowhere else in the history of mankind (except, maybe for Orange County, CA in the late 70s) will you be able to find Jean Shepherd’s albums (complete with Elektra catalog numbers… EKL = mono prefix), Love’s first two albums (this catalog was pressed before Love released Forever Changes…), debut albums by *Tim Buckley as well as *The Doors (* indicates new release), and seven albums by The Oranim Zabar Israeli Troupe featuring Geula Gill (offered in both stereo and mono).

This little time warp was an exciting find in the record section of my local thrift store, and will serve as my immediate music-hunting checklist (if anybody was interested).

Elektra Back

Chem Bros – It Began in Afrika

AfrikaIt may have began in Afrika for the rest of the civilized world (as well as the uncivilized… I’m looking at you, Oxnard, CA), but for Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, the foundations of Big-Beat-Funk were forged in the furious fires that first began in Manchester, England.

It Began in Afrika was the first single off 2002’s Come With Us, and peaked at number 8 in the UK. An exclusive, DJ only version of the track was released as Electronic Battle Weapon 5 (part of the 2nd disc offered in 2008’s compilation, Brotherhood) in June of 2001, before it was reworked for a wider audience on this official release with the more identifiable title change.

StickerA sticker on the front sleeve lists the b-side, Hot Acid Rhythm 1, as a track to be offered from their forthcoming album, out in 2002. Hot Acid Rhythm 1 does not, however, show up on Come With Us, and as far as I can tell, only exists on this single.

It’s nearly impossible to wrap my head around how profound the “throw away” tracks are in the vast, blood-boiling, beat banging, Chem Bros catalog. Literally EVERYTHING they release is top shelf ear stimulants, and as always, comes housed in digable and displayable cover art.Label

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.

On Legal Speed (The American Way)

Lag FrontCoffee is a wonderful drug. Its stimulating warmth delivers that little bit of pep so often missing in the early morning hours… whatever you consider those “early morning hours” to be. If noon is early for you, good on ya’. I won’t judge. But I will ask that you save me a cup.

Lagwagon’s 1992 debut, Duh, is a metal-influenced-punk-long-player, featuring a Creedence cover, a melodic romp about the deceptive eyewear resulting from drinking too much beer, an aggressive interpretation of the Inspector Gadget theme, and most importantly, Duh fosters a vicious ode to the mastered art of straining hot water through ground up roasted coffea seeds.

Lag BackLagwagon’s Mr. Coffee provides the audio equivalent of orally consuming a hot cup of joe. With its rapid approach and short-lived tenure, it leaves the consumer wanting another two-minute and fifteen-second fix. Mr. Coffee has been an early morning favorite for me since discovering Lagwagon nearly 20-years ago (yes, I’m old).

There really should be more songs about the essential joys of coffee. Its importance cannot be understated.

The Intentional Skip

CoverSetting the musical content aside, as I assume few of you frequent the sheepish delights of early 80’s hardcore, Mystic Sampler #1, has a very distinct, unique, creative, humorous and memorable feature that NO OTHER record in my collection possess. It is a feature so ingenious, it can be easily misinterpreted as a pressing error. Had it not appeared at the exact spot on both sides of the album, I would have written it off as such, and this post would never have existed. It is a feature I’m dubbing, “The Intentional Skip.”

Punk Rock is more about emotion than it is about music. Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant, and beside the point. Allow me to explain this with a scenario. Imagine getting a used record… for me it was Mystic Sampler #1. Now, imagine putting your newly purchased record onto your trusty, freedom-yielding phonograph. The record starts… plays… you’re happy. Cut to the last revolution of the last track on Side 1. Familiar with the song or not, you can’t help but notice the record skip… and skip… and skip. You think, “Great! No wonder it was so cheap!” But as you start towards your music machine, you begin to think, and slow your determined approach. You listen, as the record repeats… looping the same words over, and over, and over… “Have a nice day. Have a nice day. Have a nice day…” As you stand, with a dumbfounded look on your face, you begin to cock your head, not unlike a dog when it thinks it understands what you’re saying. You begin to wonder… “WAS THIS SKIP INTENTIONAL?!”

LabelSuddenly, there is a warm and fuzzy part of you that perks up, and for a brief moment of spontaneous realization, you find harmony with the world… that is, until a moment later when your head begins to ache from the incessant looping of an angry adolescent with their opinionated, political overtones bouncing back and forth inside your head-space until you physically ACT, and raise the tone arm in the attempts to cease the infernal rage. Punk Rock requires action, if only the motor skills with which to turn it off.

I simply will not entertain any notions that this emotion-inducing feature was anything but deliberately intentional. To do so would paint a picture of a world I want nothing to do with… a world in which I do not want to exist. As far as I know, The Prudent Groove is coining the term “Intentional Skip,” but if any of you have heard about this amazing feature, please email me at theprudentgroove@gmail.com as I’d LOVE to read more about it. I’d LOVE to read more about it. I’d LOVE to read more about it…

The 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph

Record Player Front_2

I am a sucker for antique record paraphernalia. Be it cheesy “as seen on bad 70’s TV” record cleaners, random manuals to record players I’ve never owned, or in this case my 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph.Record Player Open_2

Nearly a decade ago back in film school I was prop shopping for a 1960’s period short film I was involved with. Now, thanks to my mother I’ve always been a frugal shopper, so when digging around one of Ventura, CA’s many antique shops I immediately perused the booths near the back of the store that featured items at 50% off. While on this hunt for cheap, yet relevant 60’s era props I came across this pristine phonograph. At first glance of this beautiful cabinet record player, and without even seeing the price tag, I was instantly fixated on becoming its ultimate and inevitable owner. When I saw the price tag of $80 I nearly wet myself. $40 + tax later she was mine. I called my buddy Omar, who had a flat bed and we hauled it off to set. It didn’t have a dominant presence in the final short film, but when the shoot was over I found myself the proud owner of an amazing piece of stereophonic machinery.Record Player Inside_2

The LP on the platter is Johnny Cash’s 1957 debut Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar, which would have been just 9 years old when this High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph was manufactured and sold.

Philco Logo_3

For nearly 10 years ol’ Philco has moved with me a total of five times. She’s always dominated every living room she’s inhabited and still sounds as good today as she did the day I brought her home. Not bad for being 47 years old.

Booklet_2

I enjoy imagining what the manufacturers at the Philco Corporation back in 1966 would think of the music I play on this phonograph now. I doubt they’d be as much into N.E.R.D., The Revolting Cocks or Drive Like Jehu as I am.Copyright