Seal the Deal

shagHidden 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.

MW034 LP

MW034 LPLo(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…

Natural Ingredients

LJFew 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.

Naked Eye

LJIn the process of sheathing my collection with 3 mil polyethylene jimmy hats (started with A, currently at L), I’ve discovered a few hidden, sealed treasures I’d somehow forgotten about. I count five virgin records living between A and L, among them is this 1996 maxi 12” from Grand Royal’s Luscious Jackson.

Naked Eye, the band’s most commercially successful song, was the only offering from the band to enter the Billboard Hot 100, and the first to penetrate these ears. Word around the barrio is that LJ reunited and were collaborating on new music, a certain and promising upswing from this severely underrated band.

1992: In Search of Manny

MannyLuscious Jackson’s debut EP, In Search of Manny, launched the semi-mainstream career of this quirk-tastic, all-ladies, don’t-dare-call-them-cutesy band. It also saw the first official release from Grand Royal Records, the short-lived record label helmed by the infamous Beastie Boys, so, yeah, it’s a historical music marker.

In Search of Manny, or GR001, its catalog title, sees a mellow mixture of light-hearted groovy-beats bouncing under a quasi-Hip-Hop, MC-style vocal delivery. It’s lazy-day, relax-music perfect for soaking in the warm rays from the summer sun, or turning your living room into post-apocalyptic turmoil because you can’t find your car keys. Calm, or frenzied, In Search of Manny tickles your groove button regardless of your disposition.

LabelI hate that Luscious Jackson is known as “the band with the original drummer from the Beastie Boys.” Yes, this is true. Yes, the Beastie Boys originally had a Beastie Girl (Kate Schellenbach), but labeling LJ as “just that band” downplays their ability to jam! And these luscious ladies jam your pants off!

The first three tracks, Let Yourself Get Down, Life of Leisure and Daughters of the Kaos were all written and recorded in 1991, while the four tracks on side 2 were completed in 1992. This isn’t significant but for the question is raises: why weren’t these first three tracks released as a single prior to In Search of Manny? They certainly could have been. I mean, Daughters of the Kaos sounds like Beck’s Loser, with its slight western-driving catchiness, but you know, written 2 years earlier. Lucky for everyone involved, fate would intervene and marry this collection of feel-good tunes square on Grand Royal’s eponymous debut.

BackIt all had to start somewhere, but unfortunately, it ended way too early. Both Luscious Jackson and Grand Royal are now defunct, but there exists an underground group of groove-hoods that seek out these stunning releases, and in doing so, keep this sensational music alive.

I don’t know who the hell Jackson is, but these ladies are luscious. Check ‘em out.

17 Years In the Making…

SlipmatsSince I started collecting records I’ve accumulated an ever-growing list; an “I don’t NEED it, but I WANT it” list. Near the top of that seemingly endless list has been Grand Royal slipmats.

Back in the day, it may have been 1995, while occupying my parent’s basement in rustic Wisconsin, I ordered some things off the then, lucrative and flourishing Grand Royal website. When I received “item I have since forgotten” (it may have been a Luscious Jackson 12”), it was accompanied by a Grand Royal Records catalog. Now, I LOVE catalogues! Strange to say, but it’s true (I still have a number of JC Penney’s Christmas catalogues from the mid 80’s). Anyway, in said catalog was a picture, almost majestic now that I think of it, of the Grand Royal slipmat. Living in rural Wisconsin, and not having a record store within 60 miles, it boggles my feeble mind why I didn’t order a slipmat right then and there. I guess I’d always figured that “I’ll get around to it later.” Well, fast-forward 17 years and I was still without a GR slipmat, and by this time, they were NOT easily accessible. Going for over $100 each on eBay and other outrageous sites, I’d all but abandoned my decade long dream (yeah, I dream big!) of one day owning a Grand Royal slipmat.

Short story long, I contacted the guys over at Beastiemania inquiring about the now defunct Grand Royal Records (seeing where I can get my hands on out of print releases for cheap, etc.). After some fan based chit-chat over a few months, I received an email from one of the founders of Beastiemania stating that he was attempting to sell the majority of his collection and wondered if I’d be interested. In his collection, the four Grand Royal slipmats you see in the above picture. Knowing what they had been going for, I asked what he wanted for all the slipmats he had. His asking price: $10 each! Needless to say, my 1995 self was, well, beside himself (myself?). Since then I’ve accumulated a groovy little collection of slipmats (RIP RFTC, Swami Records, Amoeba Music, etc.) but never seem to deviate from the Grand Royal rotation.

It’s mundane, I know, but it makes me happy. A wise man once said, “Find the things in life that make you happy and do them.” For me, I can finally check Grand Royal slipmat off my NEED WANT list.