Gah, do I love me some sensual 80’s sax! Critically unacclaimed (I’m going with it), Goodbye Cruel World is widely considered the band’s worst effort, and apparently Declan Patrick MacManus (Elvis Costello) was quoted as saying this record would be his final professional offering. The album isn’t monumental, but it’s certainly not terrible, and lucky for all of us Elvis lovers, Goodbye would in fact NOT be goodbye after all, as he’s gone on to record a total of 30 studio albums to date, up to and including last year’s Look Now. Insanity.
In keeping with the celestial rhetoric of the glorious (and seemingly never-ending) genre-bending umbrella that is space age pop comes this electro-theremin-filled futuristic take on cosmic-themed songs of yesteryear. Titled Music for Heavenly Bodies, Paul Tanner with Andre Montero and His Orchestra assembled 12 tracks of euphoric, though slightly eerie bliss. Tracks like Midnight Sun and Up to Jupiter offer jovial and uplifting beds of comforted seclusion, while Holiday on Saturn sounds more like a warm-up theme to an impending intergalactic space battle, one for the ages, I’m sure. Presented here is Modern Harmonic’s 2017 blue vinyl reissue. Heavenly bodies aside, this is certainly music for those of us with an adventurous ear.
I knew little-to-nothing about Sid Bass prior to his 1956 release on RCA’s Vik label, titled From Another World, but I was instantly sold by its engaging space-themed cover art. I mean, look how happy this space lass is! Doesn’t it just scream space age shenanigans? The upbeat mix of jazz-pop-easy-listening intertwined with hints of atmospheric warbles has both feet firmly planted in 1956, and its head far beyond the silent stars. Another space age pop acquisition for a (very) reasonable asking price.
The backside to Potshot’s 1997 debut, Pots and Shots brings back so many post-high school memories. I couldn’t for the life of me find this on vinyl back in the day, and instead had to settle for this rambunctious album on compact disc. I’m certainly not complaining, but I’m a little pissed at myself that it took me nearly 20 years to finally track down a copy on wax. Any, acquisitions aside, groovy standouts were, and still are Radio, obviously, and my first introduction to this Japanese ska-punk (J-ska) group via means of Asian Man Records’ Mailorder is Fun! comp, Mexico (killer bass playing here), and Time (just catchy as all hell). Though I could understand only a fraction of the vocals, I absolutely fell in love with this album’s raw and uncompromising energy. Give it a (pot)shot, you may as well find pleasure… it’s ripe for the picking.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Gold & Platinum Band… sounds important… shit, think I’ll check it out. Spanning the band’s most prolific years (1972 – 1977), Gold & Platinum is a monster of a compilation, and managed to go 3x Platinum in its own right. Skynyrd albums are fairly affordable these days, and while I always recommend starting with a band’s debut, then mosey on down the discography line, in a pinch, this heavy-hitter covers all the bases, and offers a few, subtle surprises along the way.
No, this isn’t a flyer for a must-see event coming up on Valentine’s Day, but rather a not-so-subtle reminder of a show I was unfortunately unable to attend. Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake released Modern Surf Classics in February of ’15, to great acclaim, and it ended up being their only collaboration to date. Shameful, these facts as I type them. I was, however, fortunate enough to catch this surf-punk-luau team’s Santa Ana show a few months later, which, obviously, like with all things John Reis-related, turned out to be an absolute riot. If you can stomach parting with the Hamilton in your pocket, and you aren’t one of the fortunate ones to already own this album, do yourself a favor and seek it out. High-energy surf, with lighting guitars, and classic Swami snarl. This album is damn near perfect.
Though my knowledge of ZZ Top ends far before the release of 1985’s Afterburner, and ignoring, for the moment, the programmed drum tracks, ‘Burner is classic, straightforward ZZ Top. These three dirty bastards found their groove very early on, and they’ve made a monumentally successful 50-year career out of filthy blues rock, perfect for any generation of beer and / or whiskey guzzlers. Sure, they may be your dad’s band, but give your pop some credit. ZZ Top is no joke, even with the accompaniment of programed, and very 80’s sounding beats. Still one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen!
I’d not heard of music by, or the name of Nick Waterhouse before agreeing to double date with a few close coworkers a few years back. To my subtle surprise, Nick Waterhouse puts on a friggin’ hell-of-a show! Backup singers, crooning vocals, hip-swaying rhythms… it was a perfect and unexpected, rather chilly evening that left me a lifelong Waterhouse fan. It doesn’t hurt that Nick fancies the wax, and was offering a tour-only cover variation to his 2016 album, Never Twice. If you’re into 50’s rhythm & blues, with a hint of fire, Mr. Waterhouse is your man.
Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, you name it, they’re here on this 1971 Columbia House release of classical classics covering two LPs. Titled 120 Music Masterpieces Highlights, 120 instantly recognizable melodies are displayed across 20 cuts on four sides of wax. Even if you’re not (always) into mood-setting classical charm, this catch-all is a perfect place to start for those of you curious, classical kids on a cent-saving budget.
Hot hits at cool prices… seems too good to be true! Man, do I miss the hype stickers of yesteryear. This one dates back, to at least ’75 with the Barry Manilow release, Tryin’ to Get the Feeling, the album in our library where this sticker can be found. Turns out, our copy of Tryin’ is sealed… not sure exactly how that happened, but there it is. Virgin vinyl, kids! Mainly, I just dig this hype design.
Does anyone remember Back to the Beach? That cheese ball “comedy” from 1987? Anyone? Anyone?! Bueller? Siskel and Ebert (remember them?) gave it “two thumbs up,” so you had to have heard of it. Still no? Well, no worries. Once the urge strikes you, and believe me, it certainly will, you’ll be digging back through early Big Kahuna, er, I mean, Frankie Avalon releases. Presented here is Frankie’s fifth studio album, 1961’s …And Now About Mr. Avalon. Wax down your board, grab your main squeeze, and settle in for some damn early Frankie Avalon, courtesy of Chancellor Records Inc.
I saw this short-lived supergroup at the Knitting Factory (RIP) in Hollywood back in “the day.” Surprisingly, I was one of only a handful of people in attendance (including a leather jacket-yielding Bill Rieflin). Seeing a post-Ministry Paul Barker play with Tomahawk and The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison in what appeared to be little more than a gig practice was mind-blowing. An intimate experience such as this was 1) not expected, and 2) one that I’ll never have the pleasure of witnessing again. Unfortunately, the band only released the one studio album (in compact disc form only, no less) with 2007’s The Spoils on Fuzz Records. It’s worth seeking out, if you’re into the whole aggressive, industrial-alt-rock thing, which if you aren’t, it stands to reason that you should be questioning everything you ever thought you knew.
Aside from the instantly recognizable British crooning, Big Audio Dynamite resembles very little of the apocalyptic force brought on by The Clash, you know, lead vocalist Mick Jones’ other musical venture. B.A.D., for those of you in a hurry, offers an onslaught of politically motivated clouds of dance-reggae-funk that either completely misses the mark, or is so unequivocally mid-80’s, that time hasn’t necessarily been so kind to its intentions. This is not, in any way to suggest that B.A.D. (in a hurry, here) doesn’t warrant your dedicated attention, it’s just that anything compared to The Clash carries with it a very high watermark. Think Cut the Crap with more samples and much more melody. Presented here is their first album, 1985’s This is Big Audio Dynamite on Columbia Records.
Hoarders are second cousins to collectors, and I jump rope on either side of this definitive and dividing line. Case-in-point, this disheveled, and thought-discarded flyer for The Observatory in Santa Ana from a few years ago (assuming we’re now calling 2015 a few years ago). I attended exactly none of these shows, though Smut Peddlers would have been a good time, and if my memory serves me right (doubt it), I acquired this flier from a Rocket from the Crypt / Mariachi El Bronx episode. Not entirely sure why I kept it, but let me tell you, upon its inevitable rediscovery, I haven’t, and will not throw it away…
1996 They Might Be Giants is some of my favorite They Might Be Giants. Not solely based off the studio album released that year, Factory Showroom featured here, but rather because this was arguably the height of my TMBG listening days, and simply put, I ingested all that I could handle. Flood was the obvious opener, my first exposure a few years prior, followed by ’94’s John Henry, then a slight detour to 86’s self titled and 92’s Apollo 18, then finally pausing on 96’s Factory Showroom. This was a massive storm of newly discovered music to consume in a short amount of time (remember, this was before the internet and digital downloads, kids). The following year would bring a game-changing double compact disc comp with, Then: The Early Years, and the rest is both a blur, and history. Sadly, I’d fall out of love with the Giants a short handful of years later, but they’ll always hold the deed to a bit of real estate in my heart.
Raising Hell… Raising Hell, that was all the rage on the elementary schoolyards back… way back in the day. Oh, how some things never change. If you’ve been living with your head in the ground for the past, oh, 30+ years, and you’re unfamiliar with this commercially successful and monumentally influential hip-hop group, I envy you, because that means you’re ripe to experience this other-worldly concoction of rap and rock for the very first time. That Raising Hell is Run-DMC’s third studio album shouldn’t scare you (come to think of it, why would it?), it should comfort and free you, if only for the fact that this collection of 12 tracks was chosen for preservation by none other than the damn Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry for being, and I quote (thanks, Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress), “The unique trinity of historic, cultural and aesthetic significance reflected in the National Recording Registry each year is an opportunity for reflection on landmark moments, diverse cultures and shared memories—all reflected in our recorded soundscape.” Those kids on the school yards in rural Wisconsin knew their shit, am I right?!
This copy of Leon Russell’s debut solo release, 1970’s Leon Russell was a generous gift from one of my wife’s aunts, and for reasons unknown, happened to find its way to the top of the spin pile. Sadly, this is my only exposure to this acclaimed and lucrative songwriter, which upon now, my second spin, has perked my interest into the Grammy award winning artist’s six decade career. This artist’s collaborators include, but are certainly not limited to, The Rolling Stones, Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys, Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (the last five who appear on this release.) Heavily driven by Russell’s railroad-like piano, Leon Russell brings with it heartfelt highs (A Song for You), and foot-tappin’, booty-shakin’ lows (I Put a Spell on You). A considerably enjoyable listen, Leon Russell comes highly recommended.
This Sub Pop Records 7″ was a Records Store Day exclusive from 2009, the Day’s second year (laughs to himself). Limited to 1500 copies, this translucent red ripper features I Can’t Lose as the A, and Military Madness as the B. After having received this essential piece to the Obits puzzle just last night, the only remaining record to complete the Obits discography is a Spainish-only 7″ release from 2012 featuring Refund b/w Suez Canal (on La Castanya Records). This short-lived garage-punk infusion is a great extended family member to the Rocket from the Crypt dynasty, and should feed the monkey of anyone looking to burn off some steam.
Once owned on compact disc (ripped if I remember correctly), I was rather pleased when Epitaph Records released a transparent orange vinyl version of the Dropkick Murphy’s second album (and in my option BEST), The Gang’s All Here. 500 copies of this color were released in 2010, some 11 years after the original release, and upon quick digging, there appears to be a red vinyl version limited to 600 pressings. Though they fall under the pop-punk umbrella, the Dropkick Murphy’s were a refreshing, big-band take at the pop-punk soundscape during the late 1990’s, and The Gang’s All Here stuck out like a much-needed and bloody sore thumb. More nostalgia than casual spinning these days, this record still sparks joy. (Yes, we’ve been Marie’d…)