Sun Ra has done a fantastic job of eluding me for much of my “listening career.” I caught wind of this intergalactic wizard only a few short years ago (when I’d bring my portable turntable into the office… you know, the day job…), and somebody from the Lighting team brought in an original, though severely damaged, copy of Sun Ra and His Arkestra’s debut LP, Super-Sonic Jazz. Since then, and rather recently, I’ve acquired the “space age pop” compilation Exotica, and this RSD Black Friday exclusive, Crystal Spears. If you’re in the riveting mood for avant jazz with little-to-no boundaries and a whimsical, yet rhythmic drive, take a deep, lasting breath, and give Crystal Spears a spin. Not one for the faint of heart, this record cuts deep, and should be spun quite regularly.
Now, I was certain I’d already posted about this seminal soundtrack, but a quick site search conflicts with my shady memory. Originally released in accompaniment with the film in 2000, this 2015 colored vinyl version was a Record Store Day Black Friday, 15th Anniversary release from November 2015. There also appears to be a red vinyl version, limited to 500 copies “pressed exclusively for Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in L.A.” (Thanks, Discogs.com). The only prior vinyl version came from Germany or the UK, and were extremely limited (not to mention fetch a hefty price online). 2016 black vinyl versions fetch for around $20, so options a-plenty.
So, I’ve wanted to transcribe the back cover to The Zombies’ (now legit) follow-up to Odessey and Oracle as I felt the band’s own explanation of what R.I.P. is will better suit those needing to know than me trying to piece together any sort of sloppy, half-baked narrative. So, without further ado, here is, in its entirety, the explanation of The Zombies’ R.I.P.
America’s love affair with The Zombies began in September 1964 with the release of, “She’s Not There,” and has more or less ebbed and flowed ever since. The song found almost immediate popularity on US regional radio charts and in October reached the national Billboard singles chart, rising to #2. In their homeland, the disc had peaked at #12 and The Zombies quickly earned the distinction of being more popular in the States. As proof, their follow-up release, “Tell Her No,” registered similarly, reaching #6 in the US and #42 in the UK. It would be their last UK chart single, leaving little room to redress the balance of their American popularity.
Despite radio and television appearances, two stateside visits and a slew of impressive singles on Parrot label, The Zombies also hit a commercial wall in America by the end of 1965. in 1966, they no longer bothered to invade the colonies and throughout 1967 they focused on recording an impressive long player, Odessey And Oracle. By 1968, they quietly disbanded due to the continued lack of interest in their fine recorded and live work.
As for their stateside record released, they seem to be well and truly buried. Following one single on Columbia (#Care Of Cell 44″), The Zombies’ new material was moved to the Date label. This seemed like the bitter end until a third single from the album, “Time Of The Season,” began picking up regional airplay in October 1968, long after it had been forgotten by the band and their label. Through the winter of 1968, it rose from the dead and by March 1969 had reached #3 nationally. As a result, Odessey & Oracle was also reissued in a revised album jacket and crept into the album charts the same month (reaching a high of #95).
Behind the scenes, The Zombies’ key songwriters, Rod Argent & Chris White, had made significant progress during 1968 to demo new material and were on the verge of launching a new band when this success lit up their phone lines. The Date label wanted a follow-up and fast. Despite the demand, it was unlikely that the original Zombies could be revived given that the other members had quickly moved on from music. Vocalist Colin Blunstone worked in insurance, guitarist Paul Atkinson focused on computers and drummer Hugh Grundy tried auto sales. Meanwhile, in the United States a group of imposters assuming the name of The Zombies toured the country, shamelessly riding on the success of “Time Of The Season.”
“We would never get together again,” remarked lead vocalist Colin Blunstone in February 1969, “we’ve all agreed on that. It was put to us, but we decided not to. There would be complications with contracts if we wanted to reform. it was not a case of me not wanting to join them, it was a mutual decision.”
However, no contractual issues prevented Argent & White from returning to the studio to record new material under the name The Zombies. At Morgan Studios in December 1968, they taped six new masters (“Imagine The Swan,” “Conversations Off Floral Street,” “Smokey Day,” “She Loves The Way They love Her,” “Girl Help Me” and “I Could Spend The Day”) and subsequently dusted off outtakes from past Zombies sessions spanning 1967-1966 with engineer Gus Dudgeon.
“Well,” explained Colin Blunstone in a rare interview with the UK music paper Top Pops published in March 1969, “CBS (Columbia/Date) wanted an album for America, so we used old tracks which had never been released. I sing on one side of the L.P. We brought the tapes up-to-date by adding certain things and taking away others. It sounds very complicated, but I think it turned out well.”
The “certain things” added where orchestration, backing vocals, additional keyboards and, in the case of “Walking In The Sun,” a new lead focal from Colin (who was now coaxed out of retirement and poised for a comeback under the name Neil McArthur with the revamped revival of “She’s Not There”). This album – evenly split between the new and the old – was given the clever title of R.I.P. and delivered to Date in early 1969.
Sadly, this project met its demise through commercial indifference, after a couple of pilot singles – “Imagine The Swan” and “If It Don’t Work Out” – failed to excite buyers (despite some snazzy cartoon promo ads). Although it undoubtedly features some of their finest recordings, this is the first legitimate issues of the R.I.P. album as it was originally intended in the United States. And so it seems that The Zombies, one of the finest groups to emerge from the 1960s, have gone on to an even more beautiful afterlife.
– Andrew Sandoval
We lucked out in finding New Worlds (Bill Murray, Jon Vogler and Friends) for about half off the (slightly overpriced) retail sticker of $25.99. This 2018 Record Store Day exclusive release of the 2017 compact disc was sold out at our local brick and mortar back in April, so I was pleased to see the discounted online price for this classic, double LP. Current copies on Discogs go for only $11.99, so order up, kids!
Man, I need to catch up on my spins. For their 24th studio album, The Kinks released Phobia. A 17-track diddy that would prove to be the band’s last studio effort. For Record Store Day this year, a double LP of Phobia was released on this fancy orange swirl colored wax. What’s better than The Kinks participating in RSD is that Phobia was only previously released on vinyl in Spain upon its original release back in 1993, and with copies going in the $800 range, this beautiful reissue was a no-brainer.
Woah, Nellie! This never before released 6-track EP from 1965 is a much needed breath of fresh air among the cloudy boulevards of smog city. Not since 1981’s Unforgiven (an uncompleted album) have we heard anything new from legendary songwriter Tim Hardin. Forget all the bells and whistles about the 45rpm, limited numbered edition, 180 gram vinyl, blah blah blah… THESE ARE NEVER BEFORE RELEASED SONGS BY TIM (MF) HARDIN! Obtain immediately, and at any price.
Harry Nilsson’s 1974 collaboration with John Lennon falls a bit short from misguided expectations, but is still a necessary inclusion to any collection focusing on pop music history. Pussy Cats was hyped as having been recorded during Lennon’s 18-month “Lost Weekend,” a period he’d spend in the early 70’s apart from Yoko. Nilsson’s broken voice and (obviously) medicinally-influenced demeanor are something to note in this gluttonous series of 10 tracks. Buy it not expecting much, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This 2018 RSD release on hardwood vinyl is limited to 1500 copies. Enjoy.
- Dr. Octagon – Moosebumpectomy: An Excision of Modern Day Instrumentalization
- Tim Hardin – Lost in L.A.
- The Kinks – Phobia
- Van Morrison – The Alternative Moondance
- Harry Nilsson – Pussy Cats
- Arthur Lyman – Bahia
- Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music from Out Space
One part feeling kind of lazy, mixed with a healthy dash of missing hype stickers, we’ll (briefly) stop to focus on this vibrant stamp on the left. This one is for Roy Orbison’s debut album from 1961, which received the RSD Black Friday treatment back in 2014. Numbered, limited, all that jazz, but most importantly, she’s an affordable way to enjoy this legendary artist’s first studio record. Thanks, hype sticker! You’ve done your job.
Did some late RSD Black Friday shopping and nabbed this groovy 10″ by At the Drive In. Apparently there exists a black / doublemint version limited to only 100 copies, but I’m happy to settle for this coke bottle clear w/ bone splatter version (but seriously, who comes up with these vinyl color names?!).
I’m excited to start my collection of reissue debut classics from the seminal four from Sun Records. First acquired is Roy Orbison’s At the Rock House (originally released in 1961). Somewhere in transit is Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1958 debut of the same name, and down the pike will be Dance Album of Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash’s With His Hot and Blue Guitar. As you can plainly see, Roy’s reissue is on rockin’ red vinyl, where Mr. Lewis’ is on sleek silver. Carl’s is on blue suede, and Cash’s on fire orange. A great (and cheap) way to acquire these rock n’ roll classics.
I was beside myself with excitement back in 2015 for this Record Store Day release of Rainbow Ffolly’s 1968 debut, Sallies Fforth… that was until I realized that it skipped on all three of my turntables. Brand new, extracted from beneath the cellophane coffin myself, and she skips… multiple times. This led me to believe, or at least consider, that it may be time to up the quality of my “everyday” turntable. So, once the fog of damage that is my car repair bill finally settles, it’ll be turntable hunting time. I guess it would be cheaper just to buy another copy of this classic psychedelic album, but I’m not one for taking chances.
So, it appears that Vagrant Records is doing a 20th anniversary vinyl rerelease series, and its two Rocket from the Crypt records are showcased. Both 2001’s Group Sounds (one of their best), and 2002’s Live from Camp X-Ray (not a live album, and neither 20 years old) are featured. The record to the left isn’t part of that series (I only just ordered the lot this morning), but instead was sold at both the band’s 2013 European reunion tour, and on 2013’s North American Record Store Day. Here is the Vagrant link if you fancy a look.
Another day, another essential, yet overpriced Kinks Record Store Day release. The only one I was unable to acquire from this year’s Black Friday releases was the black and white swirled version of 1977’s Sleepwalker. I mean, Sleepwalker isn’t bad, but they need to start releasing sexy colored versions of Muswell Hillbillies, if you ask me. And since you didn’t, I’d suggest something similar to the 2011 UK rerelease of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (green translucent / orange splatter colored vinyl). Well, there’s always next year, I suppose.
There are only two bands whose 7″ Record Store Day overpriced buffoonery I’d throw money at, and one of these bands is The Kinks. Complete with hype sticker (that will never be removed as far as I’m still breathing), this Village Green-era make-shift EP features the classics, Do You Remember Walter? and People Take Pictures of Each Other, both found on the Village Green masterpiece, as well as the brilliant throwaway, Till Death Us Do Part, which was apparently the theme to a film based on a popular British television series. Long story short, one can never go wrong with any Kinks record, and this EP is certainly no exception, regardless of its hefty price tag.
Just one of the great Record Store Day Black Friday releases acquired this morning in Los Angeles, Mike Watt + The Bobblymen’s The Bobblymen EP. If three unreleased tracks from over three decades ago originally intended for The Minutemen isn’t enough to persuade you, have a read at what Mr. Watt himself has to say about this historic 7″:
“Here’s three tunes I wrote for The Minutemen thirty-five years ago that never got released (hell, one never ever got play live and the other two only a tiny bit), I recorded them very recently w/guys I regularly play w/but never together in this configuration which was Bob Lee’s idea and hence the name of the proj” – Mike Watt
Between rain delays and episodes of Murder She Wrote, I was able to get through a few records this weekend. One of which was this Record Story Day release by bay area misfits NOFX titled, Sid & Nancy. With some sources claiming a limited run of 1000 copies, and others saying 750, I felt it wise to enlist / convince a buddy to nab an additional copy. The music is run of the mill NOFX (and that’s a good thing), but the vinyl presentation is brilliant. Full disclosure here, I forgot to take a photo for today’s post, and was stuck with attempting to salvage whatever random record related photo I had on my phone… hence the birth, and by tomorrow, the ultimate death of this post. When your reminders go off, don’t ignore them…
Death of a Clown received an outstanding rerelease on this Dave Davies Hits 7″ for 2016’s Record Store Day. One of three Kinks releases, Dave Davies Hits also contains the personal fav, Susannah’s Still Alive. I, of course, say this with all due respect, but thankfully, Dave’s personal career didn’t take off in 1968. Village Green, Lola, Arthur, and Muswell were all to follow, and I for one can’t imagine what they would have been without master Dave on the 6-string.