Rope Jumping & Ball Handling

Rope Jumping CoverI’ll admit that I was a little deceived by the contents of this glorious record. For reasons unknown, I imagined this record to contain step-by-step instructions for jumping rope and handling balls. Instead, this record consists of nothing more than orchestrated versions of traditional children’s themes, such as Mary Had A Little Lamb and Did You Ever See A Lassie.

Stage 1: World Shattering Disappointment. Stage 2: Acceptance. Stage 3: Ridicule and Oversimplified Observation.

Henry 1What attracted me to this album, without question, was its cover. Go ahead… take another look. See that little boy? That’s Henry. Henry once lacked the basic hand-eye coordination required to return a bounced ball back to his ball bouncing hand. But no need to worry, as you see, Henry is getting better. Henry’s teacher, Ms. Schultz informed Mommy and Daddy Henry that the other kids were poking fun at their only son because he had difficulty handling his balls (soccer, tether, dodge, etc.). Ms. Schultz consoled a sobbing Mommy Henry and suggested a groundbreaking new technique sure to launch little Henry back into the 2nd grade social circle he secretly loathed and despised. That child-saving technique is the record, Rope Jumping & Ball Handling. Today, Henry is a professional ball handler, informing the world of his exceptional ball handling dexterity.

Henry 2According to the back cover, “rope Jumping is one of the oldest, least costly and best ways to further the physical development of boys and girls.” Swimming and running are far too expensive! Hey, Henry. Here’s a quarter. Go down to Five and Dime and get yourself a jump rope… and pick me up a pack of Pall Malls. Bring back the change.

If you ever wondered about the five beneficial attributes of jumping rope, today is your lucky day. The following is found, verbatim, on the back cover:

Correct movement skills in rope jumping are challenging, meaningful and contribute much to further the physical fitness and growth and development of children by:

1. Strengthening of arms and legs.

2. Increasing skill levels of jumping and timing.

3. Developing muscular coordination.

4. Increasing the efficiency of the cardio-vascular system.

5. Creating a desirable social balance achieved through the process of waiting for turns, achieving success and recognizing failure.

#5 is my favorite. Jumping Rope: Creating A Desirable Social Balance One Inept Child At A Time!

Playing Cards, and Drinking Lemonade… the Sun Was Shining in the Month of May

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 9.53.40 AMUnderstanding that a groove is relevant only to a record and does not, in any case pertain to the spools of a cassette tape, I, via ways of inadvertent and very magic-like slight of hand, attempt to fool your senses in discussing a nostalgically important glimmer of rural mid-western indie-pop music… before the term indie was, well, indie. (How’s that for the recommended number of commas for those comma-touting liberals? #sniff) Cassettes need love too, so today The Prudent Groove will temporarily change its name to The Prudent Spool.

Illinois to Wisconsin is like Republicans to Democrats… or Democrats to Republicans, depending on where you align your morals. (The Prudent Spool doesn’t, as of yet, publicize its political alliances.) There was a batch of amazing music emerging from both states during the early 1990’s. The Smashing Pumpkins; remember them? They recorded their debut album, Gish (produced by Butch Vig), at Madison, Wisconsin’s Smart Studios. The mid-90’s brought Milwaukee’s The Promise Ring and their absolutely perfect debut, 30° Everywhere.

While south of the line that divides the cheese heads from the FISH, bands like Braid, Lard, Slapstick and the alternative (again, before the term was branded and incorporated) and very groove-heavy 7-track cassette (the name of which I’ve never known) by the locally infamous cats, Vacuum Scam. The Scam sounded like an amped-up, pop-punk version of early Pearl Jam if you know, Pearl Jam were ever any good. To say they were crunchy guitar driven is to ignore their brilliant ability to create melodies so painfully catchy, yet with the ability to sound fresh with each new listen. They were a SOLID unit, and to this day I’m scouring the earth, emailing the band, convincing my High School friends to search their junk drawers for the original 7-track cassette. It’s been 17 years and my search has turned up nothing.

Adrian, or DJ Mr. Brown as he is internationally known, introduced me to these 7, anxiety-ridden-jam tracks. You see, back in the day, cassettes were the thing. You could, well, I guess what 2013 would call the loathingly media-heavy adjective, “pirate,” tracks onto a “mix tape” that personally represented the “recent break-up mood” mix, the “my folks don’t let me go out on Friday nights and I’m fuggin’ pissed about it” mix, or even your “big bro says this is necessary listening material” mix. A mixed CD before mp3s, for those of you who remember what it was like before the internet. I dubbed these 7 tracked from someone who dubbed them from someone else who had the original tape. I’ve always been thankful that Adrian introduced me to the Scam (and endless other essential music). I managed to burn the cassette to CD before returning his dubbed copy, so I’m still able to enjoy the memories of my Senior year of high school anytime I choose.

Not much can be found on Vacuum Scam these days. They have a myspace page, but only 424 plays on last.fm. It’s a shame considering about a third of those plays are by me.Prudent Groove Spool Logo New

 

Billy vs. Lionel and the Ceiling Dancing Zone of Love

Billy vs Lionel1986 was arguably the best year of my life. It was the year I got married, produced a beautiful young daughter, Chelsea, and it was the year I was nominated for my first (and only) Pulitzer.  Ok, so NONE of these things happened to me in 1986, but what DID happen were the beginnings of a battle that still continues today… a grand crusade of international proportions. I am of course referring to Billy vs. Lionel and the Ceiling Dancing Zone of Love.

Billy EyesThere’s a lot of love going on between the singles, Love Zone and Dancing on the Ceiling. Let’s first look at Billy Ocean’s Love Zone.  The Love Zone is a safe place; a quarantined section blocked-off and geographically located between the Hate Zone and the Dead Zone. Given these other zone options, the Love Zone is the preferred zone by the majority of the zone-based community. The A-side to this single comes “from the smash hit album Love Zone” while the B-side is the instrumental version of Love Zone. The B-side offers a little less love, but still comes across as lovely.

Lionel EyesLionel Richie’s single, Dancing on the Ceiling, isn’t as immediately love-tastic. I mean, who LOVES dancing on the ceiling? I myself have never danced upon the ceiling, but “love” wouldn’t be the first emotion that comes to mind. I’m convinced Dancing on the Ceiling is the result of a drug-induced, debaucherous weekend that found Mr. Richie taking a break from his then 5 year old daughter, Nicole, to mainline a rented hotel room full of narcotics that made him feel as if he were “dancing on the ceiling.” We can all be grateful for that hit single inspired weekend. Oh, the love connection (remember that show, The Love Connection?) can be found on the B-side’s, Love Will Find A Way. That’s a good point. Love often DOES find a way, but seldom within the Hate or Dead Zones.

So, given Billy Ocean’s safe haven of zoned love and Lionel Richie’s (completely fabricated) weekend of ecstasy and ceiling dancing, it’s safe to say this is a battle our grandchildren will need to settle. I mean, could YOU decide between these two heroic poems?

1986 was a pretty amazing year.

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.

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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

You Without Me is Like Corn Flake Without the Milk!

JuiceI’ll admit that the excavation leading up to my discovery of Mr. Oran “Juice” Jones was nothing short of a complete accident. If my recollection serves me right, and she often does, I unearthed this gem at a Half Price Books in Madison, WI (probably on the East Side) and became its proud owner simply because it was a Def Jam Records release (the label being synonymous with the Beastie Boys).

Let me back up a bit and ask; are you familiar with Oran “Juice” Jones and specifically his hit single, The Rain? If not, I implore you to treat yourself to a wonderful world filled with blue diamonds and Gucci handbags.

Ok, if you don’t want to spend five minutes of your time, that’s understandable, then I suggest starting the track/video at 3:07. Mr. “Juice” Jones goes on a FANTASTIC rant aimed towards a woman he saw “walking in the rain” with an “Alley Cat coat wearing, Hush Puppy shoe wearing crumb cake.” 1) I’m not joking and 2) it gets better.

This smooth singing ladies’ man is NOT one to be messed with. The chill Mr. “Juice” and his $3700 lynx jacket completely flies off the handle, but still finds the time to sit down with the “silly rabbit” and educate her on her wrong doing. When he says, “I gave you things you couldn’t even pronounce!” we the listener know that this woman lost her opportunity to a fruitful life filled with expensive material objects (many of which, apparently, she had a difficult time pronouncing). Those Hush Puppies aren’t looking so good now, are they honey?! (That was me, not the “Juice.”)

The hot chocolate heating epitome of class should not be confused with an overly insecure and jealous lover just because he followed the “cold busted” lady without her knowing. I gather she wouldn’t have eluded to the truth had he just asked her straight. Since she didn’t realize that “tricks are made for kids,” she can thank her lucky stars that smooth man “Juice” didn’t act on his first impulse and “run up on” her and “do a Rambo” by “jammy-flat-blasting” both she and her secret lover. We can all be thankful the “Juice” didn’t serve jail time so that he could continue his lucrative music career.

“I hope you learn a valuable lesson from all of this” and think twice the next time you consider messing with the “Juice.”

(Email theprudentgroove@gmail for the mp3 to this track… you’ll thank me!)

The 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph

Record Player Front_2

I am a sucker for antique record paraphernalia. Be it cheesy “as seen on bad 70’s TV” record cleaners, random manuals to record players I’ve never owned, or in this case my 1966 Philco High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph.Record Player Open_2

Nearly a decade ago back in film school I was prop shopping for a 1960’s period short film I was involved with. Now, thanks to my mother I’ve always been a frugal shopper, so when digging around one of Ventura, CA’s many antique shops I immediately perused the booths near the back of the store that featured items at 50% off. While on this hunt for cheap, yet relevant 60’s era props I came across this pristine phonograph. At first glance of this beautiful cabinet record player, and without even seeing the price tag, I was instantly fixated on becoming its ultimate and inevitable owner. When I saw the price tag of $80 I nearly wet myself. $40 + tax later she was mine. I called my buddy Omar, who had a flat bed and we hauled it off to set. It didn’t have a dominant presence in the final short film, but when the shoot was over I found myself the proud owner of an amazing piece of stereophonic machinery.Record Player Inside_2

The LP on the platter is Johnny Cash’s 1957 debut Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar, which would have been just 9 years old when this High-Fidelity All-Transistor Stereophonic Radio-Phonograph was manufactured and sold.

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For nearly 10 years ol’ Philco has moved with me a total of five times. She’s always dominated every living room she’s inhabited and still sounds as good today as she did the day I brought her home. Not bad for being 47 years old.

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I enjoy imagining what the manufacturers at the Philco Corporation back in 1966 would think of the music I play on this phonograph now. I doubt they’d be as much into N.E.R.D., The Revolting Cocks or Drive Like Jehu as I am.Copyright

The Choice

The ChoiceWhen facing 2600 albums, looking down the barrel of a musical gun if you will, choosing what to listen to is sometimes much more difficult than it needs to be. “Am I in the mood for classical? How about the Minor Threat Demos? You know, I haven’t listened to Marvin Miller reading The Best of Mark Twain in a while”… stuff like that.

Today, after an hour and a half of groove searching I’ve narrowed it down to two finalists, Freddy Hill’s For the Good Times and Slim Whitman’s Just For You. I know what you’re thinking, “Why don’t you just listen to both of those astonishing albums?!” If I had the time I would, but today’s window only allows for one of these vocal greats, thus The Choice.

It’s hard not to go with the first, and obvious choice of Freddy Hill. He’s certainly dressed for the part, with his finely pressed suit and his perfectly symmetrical bow tie. But when looking at these two albums side by side, Slim Whitman’s lustful gaze immediately grabs my eye and doesn’t let go, forcing me to lean to the right. There’s just something about Freddy (we’re on a first name basis) and his artificial smile that leads me to think that he despised that photo shoot and was just waiting to “finish his contractual obligation of the day” so he could get back to the bottle. Mr. Whitman on the other hand (we aren’t quite on a first name basis yet) presents an album that’s just for me… not to mention it being NEW!

So the real question is whether I want something aimed towards the good times or something directed just for me. Life presents difficult decisions sometimes (cue the theme to Dawson’s Creek), and it can take a well-thought-out strategy to make these decisions. With that window of time rapidly closing, I’m inclined to side with Freddy. Not just because we’re on a first name basis, but also because I enjoy a man who enjoys his bottle. Pour a glass for me, ol’ chap and bring on the good times. Mr. Whitman, I shall see you tomorrow.

The Very Best in Music

Pink UA InsertWhen one thinks of the “very best in music,” certain monumental artists come to mind. Such as Chucho Avellanet, Del Reedes, Jimmy Roselli, Ray Barretto, Farrante & Teicher, Patty Duke, Lena Horne, George Jones and The Beatles… I see nothing out of place here.

United Artists Records, the Proudest Name in Entertainment, would like you to consider these other groundbreaking acts the next time you noodle around your local record store. If that deep urge to hear a crooning Del Reedes sing your favorite Jim Reeves tunes, consider Del Reedes Sings Rim Reeves. Conversely, instead of scratching your head until it bleeds in deep consideration of which (of many) Ferrante & Teicher albums would best suit your planned roofie-filled evening with your next Match.com date, why not make it easy on yourself and let Ferrante & Teicher do the work for you and simply ask for, Only the Best.

With catalog highlights like these, your pride is sure to match that of United Artists Records, and in no time at all you will agree that they are indeed the very best in music.

When In Rome (Do The Jerk!)

Do the Jerk!

In the wake of my esteemed excitement for tonight’s The Night Marchers show, I’ve decided to showcase one of the grooviest looking records in my collection, Rocket from the Crypt’s 1998 UK single, When In Rome (Do The Jerk!).

Speedo (John Reis), who helped form Rocket from the Crypt and acted as lead vocalist and guitarist, recently formed The Night Marchers (and was previously a principle member of Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes). So for those of you know didn’t know, now see the connection.

This picture disc shaped like the (Rocket from the Crypt) RFTC logo (as you can plainly see) consists of three tracks: When In Rome (Do The Jerk!), Tarzan and Tiger Feet Tonite and was the first single released from their 1998 album, RFTC.

RFTC, and its first single, When In Rome (Do The Jerk!) saw the band at odds with themselves as well as with their (then) label Interscope Records. Record sales were less than expected, which led to the band’s departure from Interscope in 1999. Longtime mainstay RFTC drummer, Atom left the band shortly thereafter to become a tour roadie (drum tech) for Weezer, before joining The Offspring, Angels & Airwaves and touring with Social Distortion and Alkaline Trio. Atom had been with Rocket from the Crypt on their previous five albums (all but their 1991 debut, Paint As A Fragrance).

When In Rome (Do The Jerk!) acts as a sort of tombstone-like visual representation of the high-water era of this incredible band; an era that many would argue to be their most prolific period.

This is an absolute must for any RFTC fan simply for its eye-catching shape and instantly recognizable RFTC appeal. It goes for a reasonable sum on discogs and comes HIGHLY recommended by The Prudent Groove.

Do the Jerk! Back

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

Pseudo Echo’s Funky Town

Funky TownPseudo Echo’s version of Funky Town was my first favorite song. At 7-years-old, that was a big deal (and since I never really grew up, it’s still a big deal some 26 years later). After watching the video as a child, I was transformed in believing that my purpose in life was to play the Keytar (or keyboard that looks like a guitar). More than that, I was CONVINCED. I was to master this ornament of musical ecstasy in a New Wave band consisting of me and my closest grade school friends (none of whom, like myself, had ever even touched an instrument). Since my elementary school didn’t offer the Keytar in our rural town’s marching band, I decided on the Alto Saxophone instead.

Funky Town was originally recorded by Lipps Inc. in February of 1980. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts and blah blah. It is my humble opinion that had it not been for Pseudo Echo’s version, I may very well have never been jettisoned into the vast musical universe. Simply put… I LOVED THIS SONG! There may in fact be an old VHS tape of a 7-year-old me singing this song while miming the Keytar, but that is a story for another time.

Like Lipps Inc., Pseudo Echo’s 1986 incarnation reached No. 1 in Australia (outlasting Lipps’ Inc.’s version by 5 weeks). At the age of 7, charts and prestigious awards didn’t concern me. What concerned me was dialing into the only radio station playing pop music that my little red Sony cassette player/radio combo could pick up in the desperate hopes of hearing Pseudo Echo’s illustrious, Funky Town. Anyone remember Z-104 transmitting out of Madison, Wisconsin? Probably not.

I think it was Dick Clark that said something about music being the soundtrack to our lives. I’ll subscribe to that. Funky Town would then serve as the first “single” in my life’s album of Greatest Hits.

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

Do You Dynagroove?

BackTucked away in a Floyd Cramer album titled, Only The Big Ones, this 196? insert by RCA Victor provides in-depth info on quality features that the Herculean record giant had to offer throughout its grandiose tenure. What quality features you ask?

Well, for starters there’s the (then) newly developed system of recording called the Dynagroove. This high-tech system was the first of its kind to use computers to transform the desired audio signal that would be fed into the phonograph’s recording stylus. This would result in a conformation of the groove shape to meet the tracing requirements of the system’s playback stylus. Revolutionary for its time, not to mention a badass name, Dynagroove, in RCA Victor’s own words was “a spectacular improvement in the sound quality of phonograph records.” So, there you go. Want better quality? Buy “demonstrable and inexpensive” RCA Victor records. Contact your local phonograph dealer for more info.

Another amazing feature is the Miracle Surface (complete with its own font and logo!). As far as I can tell, this is a coating of some sort (RCA calls it “an exclusive additive”) that prevents static and actually repels grit, dirt and dust that are the “chief causes of surface noise and premature wear.” The Miracle Surface also goes by another, even more badass name of Agent 317X. I’m not kidding.

What would any 196? advertisement record sleeve be without a special offer? That’s right! For only 25¢ you can (could) receive the COMPLETE RCA Victor catalog which includes “full-color album cover pictures of many best-sellers!” Full-color pictures of album covers? Sign me up! Hey Jack, got change for a dollar?

Just send 25¢, together with your name and address, to:

RCA Victor Record Division

Dept. C

Rockaway, New Jersey 07866

RCA Victor, the most trusted name in sound, whose objective is “to give you the finest phonograph record that can be manufactured” and whose records are “designed to give you many years of trouble-free listening pleasure with proper record care” is still around after all these years, which, is a sizable feat considering they’re the 2nd oldest recording company in United States history. So yeah, they must have been doing something right.

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Another Post About Record Cleaning You Ask? Don’t Mind if I Do

Record Cleaning ClothFor those who have been keeping up, this third record cleaning post may suggest that I am obsessively compulsive about the cleanliness of my records. I assure you I am not… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Simply put, I enjoy record related products of the past. I dig the design layout, the color scheme, the often goofily detailed directions and I like to imagine a record store several decades ago where these items may have been featured. With this particular piece, I fancy over how Recco Inc. incorporated (see what I did there?) the title of this product, Record Cleaning Cloth, into a single note. Against the bright red background, the bold words really stand out and grab the eye. And for me, the combination of white, black and red is always a classy decision.

Whoever purchased this particular, unopened cloth with which to clean records got a $0.41 discount off Recco Inc.’s suggestion retail price of $1.00. I can’t help but think some early High School chap (and his bleeding heart) purchased this cloth as a gift for his then (and short lived) High School sweetheart only to have been dumped before he got the chance to present it. I imagine said chap kept this special anti-static treatment cloth as a symbol of what his life COULD have been. I kind of feel sorry for the guy, but I imagine he had it coming.

Directions: Fold cloth. Wipe record gently. Removes dust and grit. Makes record static-free. Can be revitalized by sprinkling with water. KEEP CLOTH IN PLASTIC BAG WHEN NOT IN USE.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from The Prudent Groove

We (I) here at The Prudent Groove would like to wish everyone a fantastical Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of good faith (and good musical taste), I offer these Prudent Groove Valentines for you to print out (not that I think you actually will). What you do with them, and who you give them to is prudently up to you. For those of you who find yourself on the 45rpm end of today’s festivities, PAIR UP! Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day will be prudently groovy!

Sincerely,

Vice President of The Prudent Groove Foundation of America (current member total: 1).

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Atomic Love

Atomic Records StickersThe affection I have towards my addiction (of collecting records) is not unlike a relationship. A relationship filled with ecstasy and hopeless bleak despair.  Looking back at my nearly 20-year relationship (fugg I’m old!), certain milestones come to mind that mark my progression/devolution. Like for instance, my first record store.

One never forgets their first time.

It was, and is still called Mad City Music Exchange and was, and is still located on Willy St. (Williamson St.) a few blocks from the State Capitol in Madison, WI. It was here where I began to build my (nearing completion) Beastie Boys discography, where I obtained my Big Rig 7” (Jesse from Op Ivy’s band after Op Ivy), and whose owner agreed to be interviewed by a High School Senior version of me for a fictitious record store I was to own and operate for a Marketing project. I’ll never forget his response after I gleefully informed him that I too wanted to own and operate an independent record store. His reply, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?”

As with many relationships, things just don’t work out. There is the whole “growing apart” thing, the “I dig your store but not your prices, so, you know, let’s just be friends” thing, and the “common necessity for relocation” thing. (THAT’S IT! THOSE ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT DOOM A RELATIONSHIP! I kid.) So when opportunity (and my parents) moved me to Milwaukee, I was in desperate need of finding a new lover; a pusher for my audio starved addiction.

Enter Atomic Records.

Atomic Records was then, what Hollywood’s legendary Amoeba Music is now. If you’ve been to Amoeba in Hollywood, you get an idea of what I’m talking (writing) about. Atomic was my one-stop-shop for just about everything! Sleeves, Rocket from the Crypt stickers, tickets to BS 2000 shows, rare UK Zines, Christmas gifts for my father (who also collects records), my Har Mar Superstar picture disc, t-shirts, and sometimes live acoustic shows by nearby Chicago bands.

I’d stop in at Atomic 3-4 times a week while attending UW Milwaukee. There was something romantic about that shop in the dark winter months. With warm, inviting lights and the childlike anticipation of finding a coveted gem, Atomic almost acted like a temporary dose of sanity while helping me to forget about the death that is winter in Wisconsin. It was a safe haven, if only at 30-minute increments.

After leaving Milwaukee and moving to the much more mentally sustainable environment of Southern California, I found other record shop relationships and all but forgot about my brief, but prodigious admiration towards Atomic Records.

She’s gone now; closed her doors in 2009, and with it a chapter of my life that is just as important as the current chapter I’m attempting to write with The Prudent Groove.

Atomic may not have been my first, but she was arguably the best and, one I will certainly never forget.

RIP Atomic Records.

An Exciting Evening with Master Thespian, Jason Hardwick

PG_JH interviewMany of you know and love Jason Hardwick for his comedic brilliance, his Ohio chili and his patented white belt and thumb ring. We here (me) at The Prudent Groove invite you to take an inside look at the legend (man-child and closet bed-wetter) with this insightful, informative, and need I say humorous interview with the man. Ladies and gentlemen, get to know Jason Hardwick for who he pretends to be, instead of who he truly is.

I recently sat down with Mr. Hardwick to discuss collecting records, chicken noodle soup recipes and proper restroom stall etiquette.

PG: What got you into collecting records?

JH: My love of classic rock, Half Price book stores (www.hpb.com), and being a poor college bastard that couldn’t afford a box of mac & cheese, let alone new, incredibly over-priced music.  Plus, CDs are just lame.

PG: What was the first record you ever purchased?

JH: If memory serves (and it always does), I believe it was Jethro Tull’s third album Benefit (1970).  To this day, it is still one of my favs.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for a man with a flute.  Wait…

PG: What is your favorite record?

JH: Really?  You’re gonna make me choose?  Well, shit, man.  If pressed, I would have to say, from start to finish, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (1970) is consistently among the revolving door that is my top 10 list.  There may be many other albums that I deem to be near perfect, given that my “top 10” list consists of roughly 30 albums, but I’m being forced to choose, so this is my choice.  Deal with it.  Celine Dion’s Les chemins de ma maison (1983) would be a VERY close second.  My heart will, indeed, go on, Celine.

PG: Have you ever purchased an audiophile version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors only to return it the following day? If so, please explain.

JH: I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.  And yes.  Let me set the scene for you:  It was Record Store Day 2012, and after waiting in line for nearly four hours–for three Kinks albums, which I was led to believe were actually being sold in the U.S. (mis-information perpetrated by Mr. Prudent Groove, himself)–I was exhausted, not in my right mind, had a stack of records, many decisions to make, and a profound inability to make said decisions.  Needless to say, the album was purchased and promptly returned.  Returned, not because I don’t like Mic and his marry band of Fleetwoods, but because I’m a cheap bastard that couldn’t justify spending nearly $50 on something I already owned in one form or another.  I also have a distaste for double LPs.  Too much turning going on there.  I’m lazy.  But that’s beside the point.  Stop making me feel bad about this, dammit.  I’m writing your friggin’ blog today!

PG: What are the top 2 records on your “WANT list?”

JH: I don’t have a “want” list.  I have a “need” list.  And those TWO records are…  the THREE re-released, 2012 Record Store Day, colored-vinyl, U.K.-only KINKS albums:  Face To Face (1966), Something Else (1967), and Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall Of The British Empire) (1969).  Thanks again, by the way.

PG: Do you collect any specific artist and/or label? If so, what is/are it/they?

JH: I’ll buy anything by Jethro Tull.  I have nearly completed my collection of all their proper studio albums–at least the ones released on vinyl, that is.  I will also buy any vinyl release by The Beatles, Radiohead, and Pearl Jam–even if I already own it on another format.  As far as specific labels are concerned, I love WAX TRAX!  No, I don’t.

PG: Living in Los Angeles, I’d imagine (because I also live there) there to be a slew of great record stores. Which do you prefer?

JH: Wait, you live in Los Angeles?!!!  Moving on… Amoeba Music, in Hollywood, is a must for any vinyl collector.  It’s a veritable Mecca of music.  Record Surplus, near Santa Monica, is also a hidden gem.

PG: Is there a record you passed up but wished you could go back and nab? If so, what was it?

JH: The re-released, 180 gram, audiophile version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors.

PG: Can I have your collection? Thanks! Please bring them over.

JH: Yes.  Omw.

Editor’s note: Please forgive the lateness of today’s post. We were waiting on Jason’s manager to approve the interview.

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.

Jerry Lee Lewis vs. The Pirates

Anti-Piracy InsertI found this sleeve insert hiding inside a 1976 Mercury Records release of a Statler Brothers album. The story strives to inform the record owner of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to 8-Track pirates. Bruce Meyer, who was apparently a UPI feature columnist, writes the story that still seems relevant some nearly four decades later. Jerry Lee Lewis makes a cameo.

Here is the story for your reading pleasure:

Buyers Bulletin

Tape Piracy… Everyone’s Problem

            Next time you’re out shopping for records or tape—watch for pirates. Not the kind with skull and crossbones and rusty cutlasses—watch for music pirates. There are plenty of them around and, like their 18th Century colleagues, they’re breaking the law, to the tune of $200 million a year.

The modern pirates’ racket is duplicating and selling sound recordings that don’t belong to them, usually as a tape cassette or an eight-track cartridge. Their income goes right into their own pockets.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lewis One-Man Pirate Smasher

While many recording artists have actively engaged in promoting the fight against antipiracy by appearing before state legislatures and acting as witnesses in court cases, Jerry Lee Lewis has taken the bull by the horns.

John Polk, RIAA investigator based in Nashville, told a NARM antipiracy seminar, that Lewis recently pulled up to a gas station in the south and noticed a rack of pirate tapes in the station. He asked who owned the rack and when told that an unidentified man serviced it weekly from the truck of his car, Lewis took the rack outside the station and smashed it. When the station operator asked him what he should do when the route man came and asked what happened to his rack, Lewis replied: “Tell him ‘Killer’ was here.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

A music pirate simply buys a record or tape and—without authorization from the company that released the original—makes copies of it. The copies are sold to wholesalers or retailers—or sometimes directly to the consumer.

The price of a pirate tape is usually lower than the original simply because the pirate can make huge profits at a lower retail price. He has none of the expenses of a legitimate recording company. The pirate picks only hit recordings, which means he supports none of the thousands of unknown artists legitimate companies carry at a loss in their search for the music the public wants to hear. The pirate pays no royalties to the performers whose work he steals and usually makes only token payments to music publishers to maintain a semblance of legitimacy.

Piracy flourished despite both federal and state laws against it. Recordings released before February 15, 1972, are protected under the laws of 26 states. Recordings made and releases since that date are covered by the Federal Copyright Law (as amended by Public Law 92-140).

Piracy hurts the record companies, of course. The $200 million that pirates pick up represents some 10 per cent of the total for the music industry and more than one-third of the legitimate industry’s tape sales. But it also hurts the artists, the unions, music publishers and honest retailers and wholesalers who refuse to handle pirated recordings. And in the long run, it’s bound to hurt you—the record buyer—because your money is going not to support the performers you enjoy, but to line the pockets of a criminal.

Watch for pirate recordings. The easiest way to spot them is the label.

IS THERE A PHOTOGRAPH?

Legitimate companies spend a great deal of money to make their products look attractive. Besides quality, multi-color printing, nearly all legitimate tapes and records have professional cover art. But pirate recordings usually have plain labels, often nothing more than a listing of title, artist and the names of the songs.

IS THERE MORE THAN ONE ARTIST ON THE SAME TAPE?

At times legitimate record companies put more than one artist on a record or tape, but it is rare. However, pirates frequently put together tapes composed of the current top hits, therefore many artists are represented. These tapes are often called “The Big Hits” or “Top 20” etc. Make sure you check these multi-artist tapes before purchasing.

WHAT IS THE PACKAGING LIKE?

Also record companies use distinctive cover art for each album and tape, generally depicting the artists in some way. Pirates seldom use photos or drawings of the artists and multicolor printing and art work is rare. Often just a list of tunes and artists appear on the cover and the same design can be used over and over with the titles changed to fit the piece of product. Even the shrink-wrap around an album or tape can tell the story. Legitimate product is professionally wrapped and fits tightly. Pirate tapes and albums usually fit loosely.

IS THERE A STATEMENT ON THE LABEL, something like “Copyright Law complied with” or “Fees and royalties paid”? If there is, it’s probably a pirate; legitimate companies have no need to put such statements on their labels.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SPOT A PIRATE?

Contact your local police and describe to them exactly what you observed. (In most cities, music piracy is handles by the Bunko-Forgery Division). They will know which local, state, or federal laws may apply.

Alternatively, contact your local Phonogram distributor, the distributor for any legitimate recording company, or the local representative of the Recordings Industry Association of America (RIAA).

It’s up to those who are being injured by the pirates to stop them. That includes those in the records and tapes industry…. and you…

Story by Bruce Meyer UPI feature columnist.

8-tracks

So, Jerry Lee Lewis smashed a rack of 8-Track tapes. Ok, but who had to clean it up?