Chicago Slickers Volume 2 1948-1955 may have single-handedly jump started, or violently unearthed a monster obsession I’ve had little-to-no experience with. That obsession being, the heart-wrenching, rhythm-driving atmosphere of good blues music. I could list the artists on this comp reissue, but I’ve never heard of any of them before… and that’s a fault I’m willing to own. Originally released back in 1980, this fairly recent reissue (2017) can be had for cheap (under $13, or under $10 in this case), and should be explored by any lover of classic rock rhythms. Enjoy with caution, enjoy often. All sales final.
Chicago-based emo-pop punkers Tuesday released exactly one studio album in their short-lived tenure. Presented here is Freewheelin, then and now. On the left, the 1997 original from Asian Man Records, and on the right, the 2016 reissue from the same label. There were two variants with the reissue, a red / blue vinyl pressing limited to 300 copies, and this, a purple / blue vinyl pressing limited to 100 copies. For those of you Alkaline Trio fans who are unfamiliar with Tuesday, for shame! For those in the know, when was the last time you dropped the needle on this record? It still holds up! (He said with no hint of sarcasm.)
Chicago Slickers jumped into my arms faster than a wet dog desperate for warmth and unhinged affection. (Not sure exactly why we had to go down that road, but here we are.) Patiently waiting in the “need to listen to pile,” Chicago Slickers is a monstrous collection of Chicago blues dating back between the years 1948 and 1953. Though this copy is a 2017 reissue, the original was released in 1976 on Nighthawk Records, a Missouri-based indie label owned by parent Omnivore Recordings. I cheated and previewed a handful of tracks on allmusic.com, and I’m ecstatic with the results. This comp is going to be on heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.
Between my fits of laughter over movie quotes pertaining to tomorrow’s post, I remember an old, short-lived Chicago punk band from the Asian Man Records label. The Broadways released one studio album in 1997’s Broken Star. Presented here is a reissue from a questionable, yet recent year on gray marble vinyl. It’s either from 2008, 2014, or 2016. My memory tends to lag these days. Anyway, check out 15 Minutes for a good idea of this seminal band. You’re welcome.
Stumbled across a slew of gig flyers, randomly sprinkled throughout various storage boxes the other day. I attended the Rocket from the Crypt / Sahara Hotnights show at Chicago’s Metro back in 2001, I think? We made the trek from Milwaukee and the show was not a disappointment. Interesting to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and … Trail of Dead on this same flyer, both bands I would come to admire AFTER acquiring this little memento. Anyway, more flyers to come!
It’s rather interesting, and a bit scary, how well time can erase memories. This flier is to the Metro in Chicago, circa: 2001, and it was preserved because our music-hoarding clan jotted down to the windy city to attend the August 23rd Please for Peace tour featuring Hot Water Music and Alkaline Trio, among others. Chicago was only a hop, skip, and a jump away from our humble dwellings off Lake Michigan in brew city, Milwaukee. I can’t say as that I remember much (anything) from this show, but it must have been good enough to keep the flyer. Other notable additions to the Metro in the summer of 2001 include Jimmy Eat World, Pedro the Lion, Good Riddance w/ Death by Stereo, and Rilo Kiley. Sometimes, and they’re not often, I miss the Midwest.
In all my Wax Trax! Records collecting days, I’ve never seen a gold version of the iconic logo. Not sure why it’s taken me so long to secure WAX005, A Popular History of Songs’ 1984 effort, Ladder Jack, but neatly affixed to the back cover of said EP is this glittering gem. I’m a sucker for logos, if you haven’t figured that out, and beside the Grand Royal Records logo, this one may take the cake.
Among the pile of “to be entered into Discogs.com” is this 19?? 78rpm of Peter Cottontail from Capitol Records. Bozo approved, which I imagine was a purified sign of prestigious quality back in the day, Mr. Cottontail’s, well, tale, will be the first spun during tomorrow’s mid-mourning session. Let’s say I didn’t watch Bozo the Clown on WGN in the mornings before school for, oh, let’s say close to 10 years, and let’s say I’m not a strong advocate of Mr. The Clown’s Grand Prize Game on said show. If both of these weren’t painfully obvious, I’d still lean my attention to a Bozo approved 78. Mr. Cottontail certainly had some heavy endorsers in his bushy, stolen carrot-filled pocket, and, well, he just made another. Peter Cottontail by Jimmy Wakely on Capitol Records is Groove approved. Next…
I was elated when I finally found my copy of Lead into Gold’s only full length, 1990’s Age of Reason. Like a child on Christmas unwrapping musical bliss, or something like that. I scored a sealed copy for super cheap online some, wow, 10+ years back. There is a bridge… there is water… and there has been a lot of that water… anyway, one needs to be in a very specific, sharp-minded and angry mood to fully enjoy this industrial masterwork. Today, I was that one. Enjoy with caution.
What is it about hand-numbered releases that draws so much mild elation from the collector? Is it the rarity? The often, almost illegible scribble isn’t much of a draw. Perhaps it’s hoping to score as low a number as possible? Or maybe, in the case of this 2008 vinyl release of Lawrence Arms’ 1999 debut album, A Guided Tour of Chicago, the hand-written, numbered feature is just a bonus that accompanies this album’s debut pressing. Whichever the reasoning behind its appeal, hand-numbered releases certainly aren’t going anywhere, and to that simple fact, I’m remain indifferent.
So… I’m going to expose myself in admitting that I have no recollection of obtaining this album. Mr. Mister’s Welcome to the Real World, an RCA Records 1985 release, contains both No. 1 singles Broken Wings and Kyrie. Wikipedia tells us that bassist and lead singer Richard Page turned down replacement roles in both Toto and Chicago to stay with Mr. Mister, so, you know, that’s something. This, the band’s second album, proved to be their most successful, and is a perfect glimpse of mid-80’s power-pop. (Electro-madness!) Happy Sunday, kids!
Real Damage, The Gossip / Tracy + The Plastics split 7″ was limited to 100, hand-numbered, screen printed copies, and was acquired, to the best of my knowledge, at a Har Mar Superstar show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. The Gossip opened up for Har Mar, and totally blew me and my party away, and is a great prop to scratch that electro-garage-rock itch. Real Damage also has a grey marble vinyl release, as well as a pink vinyl release, both with a different, much more produced covers. The more you know, I guess…
My history with the famed prodigy of sensual sleaze is both long and enduring. Having accidentally stumbled across his sexual shtick back in 2000 at a sold out Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music show at a now unknown Chicago club, my 21-year-old self couldn’t quite comprehend exactly what the hell this beefy, golden-voiced Midwesterner was doing up on stage between sets. His passion and talent eclipsed the belly laughs and sneers from the late winter crowd, and I was instantly struck with a rush of awe and morbid curiosity. I believe he played two songs that night, one of them being an early favorite (thanks to this “show”) Baby Do You Like My Clothes?
This album, Har Mar Superstar’s first, features the two bonus tracks, Wet Lovin’ and Sexual Contractor, and was acquired at the now defunct Atomic Records in Milwaukee. I distinctly remember a brief conversation with the store clerk and his overt disdain for my purchase. To each their own.
Underneath the wet and slippery layer of erotic bravado is an imaginative and intelligent songwriter with a beautiful voice, and the zeal of a thousand burning suns. Go in for the laugh, come out with overwhelming appreciation.
Guilty pleasures are certainly fine… on occasion, and in moderation. Such is the case with Alkaline Trio’s 2000 comp, Alkaline Trio (read: soundtrack to my early 20’s). Pressed on a variety of colors, this version (orange marbled) was part of the first, vinyl pressing (back in 2008), and was limited to 500 copies. Last night got a little crazy, and this here guy was sitting on the platter when I woke up this morning. Moderation, kids.
File tonight’s venture under the heading of 10” pictures discs that haven’t been played in over 18 years. One of the most memorable live bands my teenaged self has ever had the pleasure of witnessing, the Chicago-based new, new wave ska hardcore band, The Blue Meanies, combined big band numbers with post-hardcore aggression, offered eye-opening repetitive (and loud) percussion, horns, and spitting lyrics bellowing forth from an amplified megaphone.
Pave the World, like most spot-on commentaries on the everyday unraveling of social morality (based on the motivation of greed and fatter stacks), wails like an uneasy siren of truth. The Blue Meanies were not a band to be taken lightly, and their wisdom will continue to paint the horizons of willing truth seekers generations to come.
When one witnesses this 1992 seal of quality from the 1992 KMFDM album, Money, one knows one is witnessing one’s best possible selection one can possibly make. One need not continue looking once one discovers ol’ Moonface logo guy, here. One looks, one sees, and one gets that deep down warm and industrial fuzzy feeling one tends to get, when one knows, and respects, that Wax Trax! Records sound.
There can be only one, and this is it.
I’ve rarely, if ever, searched for 78s at record shops. Up until a few weeks ago, 78s had been the illusive blind spot in my collection’s rearview mirror. Finding the occasional (Lawrence Welk) 78 at the corner thrift shop, I got a hunch and stopped by the local b&m to see if this rickety ol’ obsolete format was still being bartered enough to possess a specific nook on the floor. After scouring the relatively small shop, I asked the cashier (read: fellow record nut) if they had a section for 78s. They did, and they were neatly tucked away in the back of the $1 bin area, a section they call “the attic.” 10 minutes later, I unearthed this 1957 copy of Chicago Blues great, Muddy Waters. Along with a few Glenn Millers, a few Les Browns, a few Woody Hermans, and a Frank Sinatra, I walked out of my local brick & mortar with 12 78s, equalling 12, happily spent dollars I’d kept tucked inside my wallet. Moral of the story… formats may be lost, but they’re never forgotten.
Victorious, self-promoted back-patting often follows a discovery of unrelated mediums. My fandom of all things Wax Trax!, (X-Ministry member) Paul Barker, and kickass covers first drove me, at nauseating high speeds, to the Lead into Gold (aka Paul Parker) three-track EP, Chicks & Speed: Futurism. Thinking little-to-nothing of the embossed “chick with speed” cover upon its immediate acquisition, set up a cloud parting, heaven’s light-shining, all-aware, and never forgotten moment of connection and instant recognizable correlation some several (possibly three) years later.
I’d heard Georges Bizet’s legendary opera, Carmen, several times prior, although I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint when and where, but this ear-ingesting fact is unimportant. What’s profoundly relevant is the striking similarity, i.e. blatant ripping off (homage?) of the 1955 Columbia Records (CL 735) discharge by André Kostelanetz and His Orchestra to the 1990 Wax Trax! Records release. Nowhere during the opera’s IV acts does the swelling drama invoke even a hint of the Chicago based American industrial offered by Lead into Gold, and nowhere throughout the 19 minutes of Chick & Speed: Futurism is a hint of Carmen revealed.
The struggles to continue the lifelong search of the ever-illusive relation between these two albums marches on, and perhaps always will, but the journey’s soundtrack, as well as its alluring cover art, certainly is provocative.