Another vintage 78 sleeve?! K’mon, man! Nope! I’m owning this! Clarion Records, whose logo owns a striking resemblance to the classic Grand Royal Records logo (one of them, at least), was home to such (who the hell are they?) artists as Ford Britten’s Comets, Eddie Younger’s Mountaineers, Louisiana Collegians, and Hobo Jack Turner (among many, many others). Predominantly active throughout the early 1930s, releases on the Clarion label are many, which is odd considering little to nothing about the label’s history can be found online. The logo is tops, though!
Broke out the Walkman today, just to make sure it still works… and it does… perfectly (I know you were concerned). Though my cassette collection is a fraction of what it used to be, as you can see, I held on to the essentials. Presented here is the first EP by the Beastie Boys, Polly Wog Stew (which I’m convinced is a bootleg, but that a topic for another time), and the 1994 compilation, Some Old Bullshit. That is all.
Rare are the days, these days, when I stumble across a Grand Royal Records release for under $2 that I don’t already have in the collection. Such was the case with GR063 and DJ Strictnine and Paranorm’s The Blow Up Factor contribution from 1999 titled, Mic Reaction. Included is the raging title track, its instrumental sibling, in addition to three other off-the-hook hip hop explosions (there were hooks? I didn’t see any hooks…). Anyway, one simply doesn’t pass up a Blow Up Factor release. If you own one, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All that’s left to complete the set is 2000’s Vol. 4 by The Prunes featuring Freestyle, the final of four in the coveted series. The label would be defunct a year later, finally closing its bankrupt doors in 2001.
What I assumed was a t-shirt depicting Boba Fett holding up a boombox (Star Wars meets Say Anything) turned out to be a Beastie Boys Helly Nasty-inspired slipmat I’d forgotten I’d ordered. Since the now defunct Grand Royal Records slipmats go for insane amounts (well over $100), I figured it smart to jump into ordering any slipmat the Beasties are associated with. I encourage you to do the same. One can’t have too many slipmats, in my humble opinion.
I didn’t realize until recently (he humbly admitted) that the original pressing of BS 2000’s vinyl-only debut was pressed on black wax. I’d heard rumors and praises about a Beastie Boys side project with the numbers “2000” in the title, and when Grand Royal released pink vinyl versions of the debut, I (stupidly) thought it to be the original. As it turns out, the black vinyl (and original) pressing was released in 1997, and the pink reissue followed two years later. It took until last week for me to 1) understand that I did not have the original of this album and 2) acquire the original of this album. This is now the third time I’ve purchased this album. BS 2000, you’re welcome.
Upon its 1998 release, I grew to hold some nasty resentment towards my (then) favorite band’s Hello Nasty release (their fifth). For me, 1992’s Check Your Head and 1994’s Ill Communication were the perfect, bratty blend of aggressive punk and conscious hip hop that defined an era (my high school years). That era ended in 1998 with Nasty. She was released in the summer, and by the fall I’d already moved on to the likes of Crass and Anal Cunt (thank you Ear Wax Records in Madison, WI). I’d kept up with the boys Beastie through the end of their career (2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two), but they’d certainly fallen from the pedestal I’d made for them. Now listening to the 4x LP box set from 2009, and I must admit that my stupid, younger self may have been a bit too harsh on Hello Nasty. It’s certainly one of my least favorite of their albums, but it certainly makes for an enjoyable spin.
Hidden beneath a thin shield of formed plastic is Luscious Jackson’s 1994 single, Deep Shag. Released on Grand Royal Records (GR 011), this 4-track 12″ contains three remixes of the single, and the previously unreleased track, Daddy. I own not one, but two sealed copies of this record. Why? I couldn’t for the life of me tell you, especially when they fetch for only $0.98 on Discogs. May have to finally set one of these free today.
This Atari Teenage Riot double LP comp titled, Burn, Berlin, Burn! was my first introduction into the bat-shit-crazy world of breakbeat hardcore. It’s a fever-inducing, riotous collage of sound eager to invoke internal bleeding, and is perfect noise candy for Monday afternoons. Had it not been for Grand Royal, I likely would have never exposed myself to this brand of ear violence, but as it stands, great pleasure can derive from a certain amount of pain.
It’s sad, but just over 15 years ago, BS 2000 dropped their 2nd, and last LP, Simply Mortified. Grand Royal Records would, months later, cease to exist, and receptive ears of the world would never again hear the bubblegum grunge of BS 2000. One can only imagine what they’d sound like today, given the almost two decades of maturity (or utter lack there of), but there’s something peaceful about this short-lived outing that demands incessant spins on random Tuesday evenings. Nobody beats BS 2000, kids.
The double Grammy winning album sold a whopping 680,000 + units its first week alone, and was undoubtedly that summer’s celebrated soundtrack, both personally and commercially. Abandoning the mix of hardcore and hip hop that 1992’s Check Your Head and 1994’s Ill Communication provided, Hello Nasty was straight-forward hip hop, and featured new DJ, Mix Master Mike (DJ Hurricane, the Beasties’ original DJ left prior to the making of the album).
This double, clear gold vinyl edition was released by Grand Royal Records (as opposed to the double black vinyl version released by Capitol Records), and was limited to 7500 copies. Hello Nasty was produced by the Beasties and Mario C (Mario Caldato, Jr), and is certified triple Platinum (3,000,000 copies sold) in the United States alone (roughly 3,600,000 worldwide).
This sealed copy of Ec8or’s 1997 comp has been on my “to digitize and enjoy on the company iPod” for the past 4-6 years. It’s now 2015, and I’ve still not broken the musical seal. Did I set her aside as a reminder for a weekend project? Nope… and back into the cavernous stack she goes. Perhaps in another 4-6 years, I’ll think of her again, and maybe this time, her seal will be broken.
Lo(unge)-Fi keyboard extraordinaire Mark Ramos Nishita, aka Money Mark released his debut, Mark’s Keyboard Repair on UK staple Mo’ Wax Records back in 1995. Mr. Money is, of course, best known for his artificial ivory works with the Beastie Boys from 1992’s Check Your Head through the band’s final offering with 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. Releasing seven full-length studio albums throughout his solo career, Mark’s music follows the lackadaisical-lazy-groove style of Luscious Jackson, Buffalo Daughter, and other lesser-known Grand Royal virtuosos.
The photo above is an artsy little number featured on the insert record jacket to Mark’s Keyboard Repair. The more you know…
Few things capture the 90’s indie scene quite like the combination of words, Luscious and Jackson. The all-girl trip hop quartet landed a colorful full-length with their 1994 release, Natural Ingredients. Nothing abrasive or threatening, NI makes for a perfect soundtrack to long drives during the sun-sweltering summer with the volume up and the windows down. It’s positive groove music for kids looking for quality schtick without all the bullshit. Shirt-clinging humidity, a soft, cooling breeze, and this frosty blue record are the Natural Ingredients for an exceptionally luscious evening.
Star Wars references in sub-indy hip hop back in the late 90s were kind of a fanboy treat, and are almost immediately featured on this record’s b-side, Settle the Score. The third in a four-part series titled, The Blow Up Factor, Mr. Lif offers 3x versions of Farmland, the a-side, the previously mentioned Settle the Score, and a track I don’t remember ever hearing, You Don’t Knowstrumental. Released in 1999 on Grand Royal Records, this little 4-track is worth more to the diehards than to avid collectors of the medium, but for only $1.49 on discogs, this pressing is a steal!