Value is an Ambiguous Term

I didn't know what to take a picture of, so here is a row of records.

I didn’t know what photo to include, so here is a random row of records.

I don’t often do this. In fact, I’ve only done it once… right now.

A friend (I use this term loosely… truthfully, he’s one of my favorites… man, I hope he’s not reading) hipped me to a great article on the frightening parallels of collecting vinyl discs to packs of sports cards. With a childhood packed (no pun intended) with countless sports-card-treasure-hunting-excavations (mainly $0.50 packs of 1990 Score baseball, in search of the coveted Bo Jackson football/baseball card), I immediately drew a stark conclusion to the article without even reading it. I did, however, eventually read the article, and I strongly, and with esteemed fervor, suggest you do the same.

I’m going to get preachy for a minute, which is usually reserved for those rare times when I’ve had a few too many single-malts and some random, nonsensical point unfolds from my feeble brain that I desperately yearn for people to listen to, instead of merely hear. Reservations are society’s great vocal silencers:

LISTEN TO YOUR RECORDS! If you collect comic books, READ YOUR COMIC BOOKS! If action figures are your bag, REMOVE THE TOYS FROM THEIR WORTHLESS PACKAGING AND PLAY WITH THEM! The notion of purchasing some inanimate object, with which to do nothing but hope it’ll yield you an early retirement is, quite honestly, asinine! It took me a lot longer than I’m willing to admit to come to this conclusion and let me tell you, actually listening to my records, AKA using a consumable item for its intended purpose, not to mention absorbing the joyous memories found in doing so, IS THE POINT! Life is entirely too short not to enjoy, or at least attempt to enjoy, each and every moment. That first pressing of Tool’s Ænima is not going to put your kid through college. Listen to it, and in doing so, remember that the purpose of the record isn’t to gaze greedily upon its rarity, but instead to enjoy the wealthy contents found within the grooves. Seems prudent enough, no?

Album Review: Primus – Pork Soda (1993)

CoverErnest Hemingway once stated, “Write drunk; edit sober.” Now, I’m not comparing myself to Ernest Hemingway (more like Ernest Borgnine), but I’ve adapted that approach to today’s post.

Side A

“My name is Mud.”

Albeit, a program featured on the channel of my past, Primus, like so many other influential bands, if only at the time, have created some of the most memorable melodies I can’t, but would love to, ignore.

“Where you goin’, city boy?!”

It’s difficult (as this is my first post) to comment on music that I’ve known for so long, or at least have held so close for a number of years. I’m not a Bruce Willis fan of Primus (Diehard for those catching up), but I am willing to lose myself amongst the rhythms that only partially remind me of my post High School years.

“Welcome to this worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrld!”

I relish in the delights of disturbing my neighbors whilst listening to this album. Common decency be DAMNED!

“I had a friend that took a belt, took a belt and hung himself. Hung himself in the doorway of the apartment where he lived.”

Side B

I imagine those who differ from the manifesto that IS Primus to completely miss the proverbial point. Pop? Yes. Aggression? Perhaps. Alternative… when it meant something? Yes. Everyday listening? No, but for good reason.

I had a boss at a pizza joint in Madison, WI… He was my father’s age, but who LOVED his Dodge Intrepid, Western novels, and among other things, Primus. For those of you who disregard the band, who write them off as MTV slack-jawed-tobacco-chewing-yokels, you may be right. But for those who tote themselves as connoisseurs of music as a whole, I invite you to downgrade this band. The forum is open to you and your ignorance. Primus, aka Les Claypool w/ friends, and Pork Soda enter a room, set a fire, have a seat, then attempt to discuss foreign policies while the rest of the room frantically scrambles for an exit in fear of their lives.

A good friend made fun of me for posting this album on my wall (an actual wall, before the social digital walls we know and loathe) amongst 40+ other albums, commenting on how he felt it didn’t fit amongst the pool of those albums that he deemed much more socially acceptable and remotely respected. I’ll never forget that, and continue to wear this album on the wall of my youthful pride (said wall NSFW).

Side C

So, it’s raining here in Los Angeles. Thought I’d throw that out there. Salty ham carbonated beverage in my ears complement the sweet whisky tickling my tongue. Perhaps THIS is my personal Pork Soda; comfort musical pillows filling my ears accompanied by mental lubrication solemnly cascading down my throat.

I can’t remember the last time I shaved my face clean. Yesterday I did just that. Today, with 24 hours worth of stubble, I frantically, almost erotically, handle my beardless mug in almost sexual tension while I listen… to Pork Soda. There is a God and his name may be Leslie Edward Claypool.

“Say there Mr. Krinkle let’s cruise the Bastard boat.”

Arriving in 1993, Pork Soda exists as Primus’ third studio album (sandwiched between 1991’s Sailing the Seas of Cheese and 1995’s Tales from the Punchbowl).

The last track on this side is a giddy little ditty titled, The Air is Getting Slippery. Arguably the best on the album, this track features ol’ man Claypool on his OTHER mastered instrument, the banjo. This sounds like swamp music for bayou dwellers digging up dirt on a dank, humid shore in search for worms with which to fish. I can almost hear this song seeping from a tin can radio hanging from a tree as Jasper exclaims, “I dun finded another wurm! We g’wan eat t’night!”

“Forgive me if I hesitate…”

Side D

The last leg of this grandiose album winds down with a funk-ified instrumental that sounds a lot like a whale having his way with a sea otter. (Take a moment to visualize.) If you’re into whales, or just a lover of animals, Primus, Pork Soda, and Side D may be just what the veterinarian ordered.

Primus is not for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a risky, meandering musical scene filled with carbonated pigs, this album comes HIGHLY recommended.

Label

The Cheese Stands Alone

CheeseI feel as though I need to explain myself a bit. When coming up with topics here at The Prudent Groove, I need a touch of inspiration. Since I have over 2600 albums to choose from, the number of options gets to be daunting and ultimately discouraging. In other words, I need to be moved in order to write about something. So last night I’m at the grocery store, right? I see a sale on individually wrapped cheese sticks, 3 for $0.99. Decent price, ok, cool. Instantly, the hamster inside my head begins to churn, “Well, each stick is roughly $0.33 1/3 cents… Cheese… 33 1/3 RPMs… I SHOULD WRITE ABOUT LESS THAN JAKE’S CHEESE RECORD!” And with that thought, this post was born.

Leave it to Florida natives, Less Than Jake to dairy-ify an 80’s classic like Twisted Sister’s, We’re Not Gonna Take It. Limited to 1000 copies, this glorified 2 track 7” is aged to perfection and is now a ripe 15 years old (having been released in 1998). I purchased this copy at one of the many Less Than Jake performances I attended in Milwaukee. I think Kemuri was the opening band, but I don’t’ remember. What I DO remember is catching hell from my buddy, Neal for not picking up a LTJ Cheese record for him… I still feel bad about that to this day. (Religious guilt.)

The music is straightforward Ska-Punk-Pop that LTJ is known for. Rage, then break for horns… Rage, then break for horns… End. It sounded better when I was 19.

Side A: Cheese

Side B: We’re Not Gonna Take It

It’s interesting how certain bands spawn specific memories, be it however mundane or insignificant. For me, Twisted Sister has always been linked to the Hollywood Video in Milwaukee where I used to work. On one of my shifts, Mark Metcalf (The Maestro on Seinfeld) came in to rent a video and even though I had to look up his name, I distinctly recognized him as the pissed off, music hating father from the We’re Not Gonna Take It video.  I think that song, this record, and video renting in general will always be intertwined within the vast, vacant openness that is my brain. What does that have to do with Less Than Jake? Absolutely nothing, and I’m fine with that.

“We’re not gonna take it!” You’re not gonna’ take it?! Really? You’re not gonna’ take cheese?!!! Who wouldn’t take cheese? Are you lactose? This breaks a Wisconsin boy’s heart!

Insert

Notice the two types on the insert.

Album Review: The English Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It

Beat CoverWhy the works of The English Beat weren’t more prevalent during the Ska resurgence in the mid-to-late 90’s in rural Wisconsin is far beyond my feeble comprehension. With unknown bands like Skapone, The Skolars and The Parka Kings gaining constant play among me and my friends, the far superior talents of 6 early 80’s upbeat Ska professionals went ignorantly overlooked. Saxa, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everette Moreton, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling… I am forever sorry for the immature neglect I bestowed upon your great, but limited works.

This album starts off with an atom bomb (or a whisky shot to your ear’s liver) with the now famous (thanks to its picture perfect usage in 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank) Mirror in the Bathroom. Catchy, upbeat Ska that makes any listener want to skank like an adolescent fool, this track, and much of this, their first album, digs a deep groove of head-bobbing, jive-swaying bowl-full-of-happy-time moments that don’t seem to get old some 33 years after their initial release.

Highlighted moments throughout this album will bounce around your head like a 22 caliber bullet. With the above mentioned Mirror in the Bathroom, Twist & Crawl and the side 1 ending, Click Click, I Just Can’t Stop It could easily work as the band’s greatest hits album save for the regrettably missing March of the Swivel Heads made famous for its use in the 1986 John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ska, as a whole, understandably, isn’t a genre for the masses. But I challenge any willing reader to embark on this creative milestone of positive grooves and NOT dig just about every Surf-Rock influenced, Rastafarian-vibe, bass-heavy, foot-tapping, good-ol’-fashioned-merry music found in this 1980 Sire Records release.

End of side 1

Beat BackMan, The English Beat make me wish I had a swimming pool to wade in and drink my pitcher of Mojitos. I’d settle for the kiddie pool in which we used to wash my Grandparent’s dog. There’s just something about this music that touches upon the “fun in the sun” pleasure spots. Do you know where your “fun in the sun” pleasure spots are? Go ahead. Touch them. You’ll thank me.

This album is pretty tightly produced, and is overall pretty slick. It’s evident these guys practiced a few times before recording this album, which, makes sense if you think about it. The only criticism I would offer is that the majority of the songs sound alike. That can be a good and a bad thing. If you’re into strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles, then you’ll likely want all the strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles you can get. This album, not unlike strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles is a specific palate, but oh, boy, what a palate it is!

On the back cover is a picture of a short skirt-wearing chick holding an album while standing next to a New Age looking turntable. The album in her hands? Why, I Just Can’t Stop It, of course. She’s got a smile on her face, which implies that the music from this album will cause you to smile as well! Some subtle marketing can go a long way.

So, ok, bottom line: GET THIS ALBUM!

End of side 2