Just A Little Patience

PatienceThere are few things in life more difficult than writing about something you love. There is the inherent fear of not doing it enough justice, the pressure of saying enough without overdoing it, and the heartbreaking reality that once submitted, it can never come back. Such thoughts currently swim within my brain-melon as I enjoy the masterpiece that Slut Rock heroes, Guns N’ Roses, blissfully exude from their 1989 single, Patience.

Oh, to be back in 1989.

An interesting duo of songs does this 45 pair. Patience, the first track on GN’R’s 1988, and 2nd album, G N’R Lies (which I always thought was an EP), serves as this 45’s A-Side while its counterpart is Rocket Queen, the last track lifted from their penetrating debut album, Appetite for Destruction.

Coupling two random tracks from two separate albums released in two different years, Geffen Records, what I assume, capitalized on the Zeppelin-like popularity of Axel and the boys and pretty much repurposed as much as they possibly could to turn a quick buck. Kudos to you, Mr. Geffen, sir. I’m a victim of your selfish marketing ploy. I could understand, and forgive, if the two tracks on this single were alternate takes, live versions, or acoustic/rock versions of their respected rock/acoustic originals. But… no. Same ol’ music packaged with a new cover. (Oh! Navy Seals!)

Patience is one of those songs that I’ve been able to play in my head at anytime I thought it up. I’m working on a philosophy loosely based on the idea that if you listen to any song a number of times, it’ll be added to your mind’s “permanent playlist” and anytime you think up that song, you can “hear” it in its entirety within the personal stereo system in your head. I haven’t named it yet, but I’m leaning towards Mind JAMZ 2K-Infinity… just kidding.

BackRocket Queen, to me, always seemed like a last minute addition to an album already peaking into the red of perfection. It’s a solid, straight forward hard rocker… little aggression, little in-your-face provocation, but your trusty run-of-the-mill, not-terrible-but definitely skippable rock n’ roll jam. I’ve got a buddy who is a diehard GN’R fan who actually saw them during their Use Your Illusion tour back in ’91. He claims Rocket Queen is the best track off Appetite, and therefore GN’R’s best. Although I’ll disagree with him, often violently, I respect his opinion and therefore the existence of Rocket Queen.

The Patience single is definitely not a necessity, but it paints an interesting two-song landscape with its bizarre pairing. It may be blasphemous to some, but Guns N’ Roses never came close to matching the brilliant achievements of Appetite for Destruction. I will however stand by my claim that whenever you hear GN’R on the radio, you are listening to the best possible song playing on any radio station at that moment.

Electric Breakdance (Don’t Don’t Do It)

EB CoverThere are certain compilations that come out with the intent to capitalize on various social trends. The most popular of these could be the Nuggets compilation (a groovy series showcasing the one-hit-wonders of the bygone psychedelic days), the Now That’s What I Call Music! or simply Now! compilations (a grotesque series of comps for people who loath and despise everything creative about music), and those compilations that are hastily put together and distributed with the intent to sell as many copies as possible before the trend dies and becomes a stepping stone for the next “cool thing.” Electric Breakdance is, in my opinion, just about the best stepping stone compilation ever to hit the big city streets, and/or the hardwood floors of my parent’s living room.

Electric Breakdance was released with the intention of showcasing the techniques found within the art of breakdancing, while at the same time presenting a soundtrack of “the hottest breaking music on the street.” BUT, unlike many “As Seen on TV” comps, Electric Breakdance actually delivers with its 9 tracks of hard-hitting early 80’s Hip-Hop.

Breakdance HistoryFeatured on this break-tastic single LP are tracks by Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel, Whodini and a slew of other early Hip-Hop acts that I’m now bound to explore. The dopest track (is my rural Wisconsin showing?), or the smash single amongst an album of smash singles is Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel’s White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), which is basically a song about freebasing. You’ve gotta’ love early 80’s radio.

It’s heartbreaking and extremely unfortunate that I don’t have the “giant detailed poser on how to break.” That little educational gem of early 80’s fashion would be nothing short of amazing framed on my living room wall (I’m sure my girlfriend would LOVE that).

Overall, Electric Breakdance was a welcoming surprise when I discovered it at a Goodwill, hiding between a Steven Stills LP and the soundtrack to Xanadu (both of which I also purchased). Although my breakdancing never left my parent’s smooth-spinning hardwood floors, the art of breaking will never be too far away from my heart.

Along with a brief write-up on the history of breakdance, the back cover offers the following disclaimer… in tiny print:

 If you have any ankle, knee, back or other physical problems, you should have a medical checkup before attempting the dances described in these materials. Parental supervision is advised for children who attempt these dances.

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…

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 3)

What is Stereophonic Sound Logo

Over the past few days we introduced the notion that stereo, and the intricacies that make up stereo, may not be widely known to those enjoying her esteemed capabilities. So, in this dramatic conclusion, The Prudent Groove offers, without sarcastic interruption, the cliffhanging outcome to, What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND?

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo

Presented by RCA Victor

The two channels of sound picked up by the needle are then unscrambled by the stereo cartridge. The cartridge directs them into separate amplifier circuits, where they are magnified and fed in turn into two separate loudspeakers. The two speakers finally translate the musical impulses into intelligible sound which you hear in your living-room stereophonically.

Stereo Diagram Woman

The net of it is an overlapping and blending which gives music a more natural, more dimensional sound. For the first time, your ears will be able to distinguish where each instrument and voice comes from-left, right or center. In short, enveloping in solid sound, you will hear music in truer perspective.

Stereophonic sound is the latest step in an improvement process that began about 80 years ago. In listening to it, you will enjoy the highest achievement yet in the art of recording.

"Go Stereo" Type

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 2)

What is Stereophonic Sound Logo

Yesterday we inaugurated the intricate fascinations of Stereophonic Sound. Today, we pick up where we left off and continue with RCA Victor’s detailed explanation of the technical differences between recording a monaural record with that of the stereophonic record. So, without further ado, I present part 2 (out of 3) of RCA Victor’s What is Stereophonic Sound?

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo

Presented by RCA Victor

Let’s compare hearing to seeing for a moment. You see images on your left with your left eye, images on the right with your right eye. Yet, because your brain can do two jobs at one, you get a total unified picture in its true perspective.

Stereo sound is simply the attempt to give you music as it is heard by both ears. Essentially, what happens is that two microphones, left and right, pick up what goes on in the orchestra at the recording session. These two microphones feed the musical impulses to two soundtracks on tape. The two soundtracks are then pressed into the grooves on a stereo record.

Stereo Diagram Needle

The sound from a record partly depends upon how the needle moves or vibrates. For example, when Edison designed his phonograph to play cylindrical records, he made the needle vibrate up and down. This is called the “hill and dale” system, or vertical cutting.

On a conventional, monaural record, however, the needle moves from side to side, or laterally. The lateral movement has been used ever since the flat record replaced Edison’s cylinder.

What about the stereo record? Each groove on a stereo record has two soundtracks cut into it, and they are cut into it both laterally and vertically. In order to pick up the two soundtracks, a stereo needle capable of moving complexly has been developed; it vibrates both laterally and up and down. Simultaneously, the lateral movement picks up one channel of recorded sound, the vertical movement the other.

What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 1)

What is Stereophonic Sound LogoThink you can speak confidently about the intricate details of stereophonic sound? Think you’ve licked the volatile, short-lived, simultaneous ear experience? Over the next three days, The Prudent Groove will leisurely lift the contents of one coveted RCA Victor insert explaining, in intimate detail, exactly, What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? The following is presented, without esteemed interruption, by The Prudent Groove. Part 2 will follow tomorrow. I’ll be completely honest and admit that I learned more than I thought I needed while transcribing this informative insert. Maybe RCA Victor was onto something.

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo Presented by RCA Victor

Stereophonic sound on records is finally here. It will be widely discussed, widely written about, and, perhaps, widely misunderstood. It cannot help but be; it is a complex achievement as well as an extraordinary one. We offer the following primer on the subject with the hope that it will both help you in understanding how and why stereo works and enhance the hours of listening pleasure stereo will offer in your home.

Before stereo recording techniques were developed, the impulses of music were picked up by only one microphone. These impulses were then fed to one tape and from there to the conventional, monaural record, which you heard in your living-room through one loudspeaker. The conventional record offered brilliant sound and exciting sound, but, of necessity, it also offered only one-dimensional sound.

Mono Diagram WomanNow, the simple and obvious fact remains that we all have two ears, and we are used to hearing things dimensionally. Generally speaking, your left ear has a tendency to hear what goes on in the left side of a room, your right ear, what goes on in the right side of the room. Your brain then does two jobs. It combines both the impression received by the left ear and that received by the right ear into one total impression which we call music. At the same time, it retains the spatial or dimensional impression, music to the left and music to the right.

We Are Not Two, We Are One

StrangersReleased on 1970’s Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Part One, Strangers wasn’t written or performed by The Kinks’ vehement songwriter, Ray Davies, but instead by his equally talented brother and lead guitarist, Dave Davies. Strangers is MY definitive acoustic love song. With its intercontinental grandeur, its vastness can be realized from coast to coast, from continent to continent, and from heart to heart.

Strangers is the most important song I’ve ever heard, because it, above all others, connects me with the love of my life. It acts as the vaccine to life’s woes, and the reliever of its burdens. It’s a symbol of strength, a foundation of trust, and a song of admired fervor. It is a song performed by my favorite band, and a song adored by my favorite person.

Happy birthday, Jillian. I love you.

Strangers Cover

Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo

Live Mechanical Sound Effects Cover SmallerWhen I began collecting records, I never thought I’d be in possession of an LP containing 38, live mechanical sound effects in stereo. So after purchasing Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo, I am a firm believer that our connection, our joint acquaintance if you will, was inevitable. I mean, let’s be honest for a moment (a very brief moment). Who doesn’t need a record containing the live, and in stereo, sound effect of an Adding Machine? What about a Small Cement-Mixer? An Escalator Ride? AN ESCALATOR RIDE! Do you even know what that sounds like?! I can think of countless social scenarios in which that would come in handy. Specifically while on the phone with a student loan lender… “Sorry, I can’t here you… I’m on an escalator. Can’t you hear? It’s in stereo!” Click (the sound of an old fashioned phone hanging up) and boom (the sound of financial freedom)! Phone call over.

In the desperate attempt to sell this record to the “general listener” instead of the “sound freak,” the back cover exclaims: “Heard in pure form, without dilution by other sounds, every sound, whether it happens to be a nuclear explosion or the squeak of a mouse, can conjure up fascinating images of its own.” Yes! A nuclear explosion CAN conjure up fascinating images on its own! Imagine my complete dismay upon realizing that this record in fact DOES NOT include such sound effect. DAMN YOU, LIVE MECHANICAL SOUND EFFECTS IN STEREO PRODUCED EXCLUSIVELY FOR REALISTIC BY AUDIO FIDELITY RECORDS! I guess I’ll have to settle for the next best thing… the sound of a Packaging Machine, Collator.

The next time you find yourself in the market for the stereo sound of an Electrocardiograph, you need look no further than Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo.

By the way, the stereo sound of a Small Cement-Mixer is highly provocative and insanely disturbing. I strongly suggest it.

Numbs My Brain

Van the ManI imagine 1967 to be slightly different from 2013. For one thing, there were no gummy worms in 1967. That fact alone is enough to relieve any current day woe. But (starting a sentence with “but” is bad for your skin), with both feet firmly planted in the unbreakable reality that is 2013, it’s fun to send the head out into the clouds of 1967 as if it were a balloon disappearing into infinity. 2013’s 1967 is exactly what this gloomy Los Angeles morning needs, so with all of this gibberish in mind, I humbly present 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind!

Van Morrison. Two words strong enough for a complete sentence. Like a phoenix, Van “The Man” Morrison rose to infinite stardom during the British Invasion with his band, Them. Remember Gloria? G. L. O. R. I. A. Gloria! That was Them, but to be specific, it was Van Morrison.  Releasing only two albums with Them, 1965’s Them and 1966’s Them Again respectfully, “The Man” was convinced to travel to America (well, New York city) for his solo debut.

Brown Eyed Girl

Blowin’ Your Mind! was not a success, which is strikingly difficult to imagine, considering it brought us Brown Eyed Girl. We all know and love that song so I won’t fill your eyeholes with my blather about it. What I will blather about, with unrelenting and shameless gusto is the 9+ minute masterpiece, T.B. Sheets. Arriving immediately before the bridge (the end of side 1), T.B. Sheets is a bass heavy blues jam that acts as a vehicle for “The Man” to stretch his unquestionable musical talents and knock over any and everything in its glorious wake (Gloria!). It’s difficult to comprehend “The Man” was only 22 when he recorded this song… 22!  There isn’t a word that befittingly describes the immensity of this song. Confoundedly-epic doesn’t even come close.

I implore you to seek out 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind! and its majestic beauty, T.B. Sheets. I’m not joking. You’re going to want to make love to this song.

Label

Street Survivors

SS OriginalOn October 17, 1977 the Southern Rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) released their fifth studio album, Street Survivors. What’s Your Name and That Smell were two of the many highlights from this Double Platinum album (meaning it sold over 2 million copies in the United States alone… sorry if you already knew that).

On October 20, 1977 a plane carrying the band (who had just finished performing a show in Greenville, South Carolina) ran out of fuel and crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, legendary guitarist Steve Gaines, Steve’s sister and Lynyrd Skynyrd backup vocalist Cassie Gaines, the band’s assistant road manager and both pilots were killed on impact. The remaining band members and their crew sustained serious injuries.

At the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve’s widow, and out of respect for the fallen members of the band, MCA Records withdrew the original “flame” cover and reissued the album with a similar image of the band amongst a basic black background.

SS New

Saturday Morning Cartoons

JoesTOP SECRET

Saturday mornings will forever be synonymous with cartoons. Not having grown up in any other decade than the 1980’s, I can’t confidently suggest that you agree, but you should.

Even though I have no recollection of the Joes battling Cobra on Saturday mornings (I do however remember rushing home from school to catch back-to-back episodes every weekday during my early elementary years), whenever I think of cartoons my mind ALWAYS turns to G.I. Joe. So, you can imagine how elated I was upon finding these action-packed LP’s.

Nothing kicks off the weekend better than listening to “FOUR EXCITING ACTION ADVENTURES featuring G.I. Joe and the entire Special Missions Force!” Its purpose: To defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world (He never gives, he’ll stay til’ the fight’s won…). That theme song is as fresh in my mind as the smell from opening a new G.I. Joe action figure. Ahhh, the aroma of 1980’s chemical soaked kid toys.

Well, even if you’re not a fan of Joe (you were probably way more into Transformers) I suggest revisiting your favorite childhood cartoons and/or record related tie-ins.

Sincerely,

Zartan

Joe Back

The Prudent Groove Goes AWOL

STI don’t know why I get so self-conscious when posting about the Beastie Boys. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the better part of 20 years finding out as much as I could about the band, and that blather, although new to some, makes me fearful that it could overtake the halls of The Prudent Groove until it becomes just another Beastie Boys fan site. I would like for that not to happen.

Today’s groove is nothing more than a simple tie; a connection between bands; a common denominator of musical excellence… two bands and their percussion-based similarities. The bands: Suicidal Tendencies and the Beastie Boys. The connection: drummer Amery Smith (AWOL).

1983 saw two bands that wouldn’t find their connection for another 10 or so years. Venice, CA’s Suicidal Tendencies released their eponymous self-titled debut while the Beastie Boys (then made up of 4 members, one of them being a woman and without Adam Ad-Rock Horovitz) took their first leap into the hip-hop world with their Cookie Puss EP. Like Galileo peering up towards the orchestra of stars amongst the musical universe, this constellation had yet to be discovered. So at the same time as ST was screaming for a Pepsi, the BB were prank-calling Carvel. Somehow it all makes sense now.

AglioCut to the 1995 release, Aglio E Olio by the Beastie Boys which combines the hardcore musical talents of the 2 Adams (RIP MCA), Mike and AWOL. This 8 song/11 minute album features the band once again as a 4 piece, but this time includes original Suicidal Tendency drummer Amery AWOL Smith. A frequent contributor throughout their 1990’s tours, AWOL’s presence relinquished Mike Diamond’s role on drums and allowed him to solely man the mic.

I can go into how Adam Horovitz and AWOL formed the band BS 2000 and that the Beasties toured small venues under the name Quasar, which also included AWOL on drums, but I won’t. My coffee is almost out and I’ve got to scoot on over to the “real” job.

ST AWOLAglio AWOL

Daft Punk’s Translucence

Tron SleeveI remember being ecstatic upon hearing the news that Daft Punk was to do the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy (2010). I, as well as the rest of Western Civilization felt this was the perfect amalgamation of sophisticated electro-dance-upside-your-head-man and cutting edge motion picture special effects. But what seemed like a Ben & Jerry marriage turned out to be one resembling Ben & Jennifer (Lopez… remember Bennifer?).

Needless to say I was distraught with disappointment towards the lack of hard hitting, head crushing, swift musical justice that Daft Punk is known for (and quiet honestly the type of music that is expected of them). Don’t get me wrong and think I disliked the soundtrack. On the contrary. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but felt (to put it in baseball terms) it echoed a bunt single instead of the home run I was expecting.

I remember Los Angeles in late 2010 into early 2011 being absolutely, and undeniably Tron stupid. Billboards, stories of Comic-Con viral previews, murmurs in back alleys of the soundtrack being Daft Punk’s greatest album, billboards, news of Disney opening a Tron store, a cartoon series, everybody and their brother wearing Flynn’s Arcade t-shirts, and oh, did I mention billboards? It was arguably impossible to ignore.

Jump a few months ahead to April 16, the Christmas morning for record collectors, Record Store Day. Three versions of Daft Punk’s Translucence were released on 10” picture disc with blue, yellow and red rings. Featured here is the blue copy, which I think most resembles the actual Tron identity disc. Containing three tracks from the soundtrack, Translucence was a must for Daft Punk/Tron fans not only because it perfectly resembled an identity disc, but also because it featured a fourth track that wasn’t offered on the soundtrack; side 2’s Castor.

The blue guys aren’t cheap on discogs, ranging from $116 to $249, but the yellow and red guys can be obtained for around $35.

I will add, as an aside, that I feel The Chemical Brothers’ effort with the Hanna Soundtrack was far superior to the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. Having stated that, I’d recommend them both.

Tron Disc

Blue Days, Black Nights

Telephone Line CoverNobody ever outgrows his or her ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) phase. I certainly see no need to pull the electric plug, switch off the light, or tell the orchestra to go home (take your pick).

Kicking off with a spry, ethereal bleep followed by the vacant ringing of a telephone doomed to be acknowledge, Telephone Line is a lulling journey through the sung cries of our hero (Jeff Lynne) as he attempts to regain contact with a former lover, but you know, told amongst a charming bed of orchestral Rock ‘n Roll accompanied by elegant back-up vocals.

Telephone Line is a sad tale of that (oh so familiar) slow burn that inevitably comes when the love between two treasured sweethearts fades away, only to die a slow, excruciating death while both parties curse the heavens in complete emotional anarchy. I’m over it now, but there was a time when this song hit home a bit too aggressively.

Telephone Line is from ELO’s monumentally successful 1976 album, A New World Record. This single however was released on green vinyl in 1977. If you’ve ever heard ELO, chances are you’re hooked. If you haven’t, (WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) I’d humbly suggest starting with A New World Record and its awe-inspiring single, Telephone Line.

Telephone Line Green

Comedy Clashes with Classic Covers

FitB_AHardDaysPodcastPodcasts as a whole are a dime a dozen. They seem to spring up out of thin air and tend to be that bright, shiny new ear-toy for about as long as it takes to tie your shoes. FILLintheBLANK is no different.

I’ve been a fan of this podcast since their first season aired back in 2009.  In its simplest form, the show’s creators (Jason Hardwick and Nathan Lueptow) come across as bumbling cretins who blather on, comically I might add, about the nonsensical happenings of everyday life. Apart from being a petri dish for undergraduates at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, what makes FILLintheBLANK different is that each podcast is represented by a classic or recognizable album cover that’s been, well the best way I can explain it would be, FILLintheBLANK-ified.

Each podcast teeters on the 10-minute mark and is a striking example of two individuals with way too much time on their hands… but you know, surprisingly endearing. I almost feel as though I know these guys when listening to their show. If I met them in real life however, I’d probably just spit in their collective eye for not producing a new show in over two years.

I recommend checking out FILLintheBLANK if only for their clever take on several championed album covers. I heard from a friend who knows this guy who saw Jason at a Spider-Man on Broadway audition and, albeit 4th party information, there were talks of FitB (as they are known to their fans) venturing into the world of sketch comedy. Since last I read, Jason and Nathan were no longer on speaking terms (some nonsense about making a decision to purchase or not to purchase a tea set), so you know, I’m not going to hold my breath.

FitB_RHCP

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

Totes, Bra

SW ToteI’m in the market for a portable turntable, so if anybody has any suggestions please let me know. For said future turntable will be this companion piece, a brother-in-arms at 45 caliber, if you will (or if you won’t, it’s totes up to you).

Perfect for kids of all ages, this Star Wars Record Tote (made in 1982) holds around 25 45s and is surprisingly durable. I keep my Read-Along records in this guy, but certainly plan on toting him around on picnics when I find my portable player.

Also, if you ever hear anyone pronounce “totally” as “totes,” smack them in the head. Smack them in the head and do it hard… hurt your hand hard, you dig?

From Los Angeles to San Francisco

photoI’ll be up in SF for a few days, but still wanted to submit my daily post. While up here, I thought I’d comment on SF bands that I find interesting (idea by Jason Hardwick). So, here is a list of a few SF area bands that I dig, with a youtube vid link to accompany them. Enjoy!

Blue Cheer

Their version of Summertime Blues is considered, by some, to be the first “Heavy Metal” track ever recorded. Blue Cheer formed in 1967.

Dead Kennedys

Riddled with legal battles throughout their tenure (mainly 1985’s obscenity trial over the artwork from their Frankenchrist release), the Dead Kennedys were among the first US based Hardcore bands to gain discernible popularity in England. They formed in 1978.

Faith No More

Starting in 1981 under the name, Faith No Man, Faith No More saw a revolving door of lead vocalists until landing Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton in 1988. 1992’s Angel Dust was considered to be highly influential throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Their recent reunion notwithstanding, they parted ways in 1998.

Huey Lewis and the News

Gaining popularity at almost galactic proportions, HL&N were a personal favorite of mine throughout my childhood. Huey’s cameo in Back to the Future still makes me chuckle. Huey’s real name is Hugh Anthony Cregg.

Jefferson Airplane

The first from the SF area to gain mainstream success during the psychedelic rock boom, Jefferson Airplane would morph into Jefferson Starship, then regrettably, just Starship. They formed in 1965 and ended their initial run in 1972.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR was a band that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to when riding in my Dad’s truck as a youngin’. Thinking they were a Southern band until I got wise, CCR, since the early days of my youth, has never been far out of reach. That can’t be said for many bands I’ve come across. I think the majority of my childhood musical favorites were deemed “not worthy” during my first years as a teenager. I blame Lords of the Underground and Onyx. CCR began as Tom Fogerty & the Blue Velvets, then changed their name to The Golliwogs before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR disbanded in 1972.

NOFX

Oh, NOFX. There was a point in my life where I could simply not get enough NOFX. Those years have been put to sleep, but I still reminisce from time to time. Although they formed in Los Angeles in 1983, they currently create crass melodies up in the bay area, hence the inclusion on this list.

Operation Ivy

Active from only 1987-1989, and releasing only 1 studio album, Op Ivy went on to become underground cult Gods. Influencing such notable bands as Green Day, the majority of the Fat Wreck Chords cast, Sublime, and eventually turning into Rancid, the band of 4 energetic punk (ska-core to be specific) got their name from a series of American operated nuclear tests conducted on the Marshall Islands (in the northern Pacific Ocean) in 1952.

Primus

Avant-Garde Metal sensations, Primus launched into the public’s conscious back in 1984. Since then they’ve experienced several lineup changes, but never lost their original voice, bass player and lead singer Les Claypool. Claypool’s label, Prawn Song Records is a parody of the Led Zeppelin owned, Swan Song Records.

The Doobie Brothers

Another one of “those bands” that my father frequently played, the diggity Doobie Brothers are the subject of comedic utterance by Michael Douglas in the 1984 classic, Romancing the Stone. Don’t remember the line? Here it is. They also created some pretty bad-ass music. I’ve never met someone who’s admitting NOT liking the D. Bros. (They formed in San Jose, I know, but it’s close to SF. Give me a break.)

As seen on TV

Record Vacuum - BoxThis 1976 “Record-Vacuum” by Ronco™ is hardly a vacuum. It’s basically a record holder with a wheel that spins the record against 2 foam brushes. This may have been the talk of the town back in ol’ ’76, but now it’s virtually just a Record Dirtier (As seen on TV).

I guess after 37 years the brushes may need to be changed out. Not sure if Ronco™ is still manufacturing those. The history of Ronco™ can be found here.  Surprisingly, the damn thing still turns on!

I basically keep it around as a conversation piece, but sadly, those conversations are quite short (much like this post).

Record Vacuum - Pryor

Album Review-ish: Calypso Holiday – The Norman Luboff Choir

C CoverThis playful little selection sounds exactly like one would imagine by the parrot-laden cover and a title that is about as on-the-nose as could be humanly conceived. Throwaway titles for this album could have been: Riding the Coattails of the Rising Star, Harry Belafonte and His Successful Calypso Sound and This is Calypso Music, You Narrow-Minded Yankee.

Ok, I’ll admit, the only other Calypso music I’ve been exposed to was indeed Harry Belafonte, so this write-up isn’t going to be anything near groundbreaking (not that there would be any worry of that to begin with).  So, that having been stated, here goes:

This is an exceptionally fun album! The singers, both male and female HAD to be sore with grinning stretch marks from the making of this album. It’s good-time music. Plain and simple. Did your dog just knock over his water dish for the 17th time during the last commercial break of Gentle Ben? This album will help cheer you up. Did you just find out that your spouse has been secretly cheating on you with your younger sibling and that the raised papules on your skin sustained while swimming in that lake in early June may in fact be Swimmer’s Itch? Calypso Holiday will free you from this and seemingly ANY First World trouble.

So, Wikipedia tells me that, ahem, “Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots.” Being neither African nor European, I proceed to Google “Trinidad and Tobago. “ Well, Oxnard California this is not! The women are beautiful (and wearing next to nothing), and that has GOT to be some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen (Probably Photoshopped). I’ve never had any sizable itch to travel south of San Diego, but a Port of Spain vacation has just made my bucket list.

Focus track for side 1: Dance de Limbo (Track 6). I challenge any of you to listen to this song and NOT nod your head to the simple pleasures of the religiously pure Calypso sound. Think back about that pool of water on your kitchen floor… You are now getting thoughts of raiding the closet for a broom with which to start a Limbo. Get to the back of the line, buddy, and fix me another Flying Masturbator. (It Exists)

End of side 1

Back

The first track on side 2, Sound de Fire Alarm begins an awful lot like Belafonte’s Jump in the Line (Shake Senora). I’m going to be thinking of this song while the “several-times-daily” fire trucks roll by my window to the rescue of some poor cat stranded up in a tree. Do cats still climb trees on LA’s west side?

Columbia Records put out this release in 1957, just 1 year after RCA’s release of Belafonte’s appropriately, and also on-the-nose album titled simply, Calypso. That album, having been only Belafonte’s 3rd, went on to sell over a million copies and spent 99 weeks on the U.S. Billboard charts. So, Columbia Records, being nether based in Columbia NOR, seemingly, having a creative bone in their corporate skeleton, decided to cash in on Mr. Belafonte’s raging success. As I’d mentioned, Belafonte is the only other Calypso artist I know, but I can promise that you’ll only read his name 1 more time during this write-up. Belafonte.

Allmusic.com doesn’t rate Calypso Holiday, or even provide an album cover. What type of flabbergasting tomfoolery is this! Somebody should write a letter. Here is their address:

AMG Headquarters

1168 Oak Valley Drive

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Mr. Luboff unfortunately met his demise in September of 1987. I was eight then, and it would be close to fifteen years until I would even hear the poor man’s name. Well, he was talented, so I doubt he was poor, just poor in the sense that he’s now dead. For all I know he may have wanted to die, which would mean his death wasn’t poor at all. He had lung cancer which, I imagine doesn’t feel like a dip in the Caribbean Sea. Maybe his death was something of a sweet Calypso melody, softly kissing the ears of another eager listener. His NYT Obituary can be found here, if you’re into that kind of thing: Obit

Well, now I feel bad, having ended such an uplifting album on a morose disposition.  The inevitable Yin to the Calypso Yang, I guess.

Quickly, the back cover suggests “Records sound best on Columbia phonographs.” So, remember that the next time you’re shopping for your next hi-fi home stereo system. Or don’t. I won’t know.