Happy 2016! Introducing… the latest addition to the collection, Introducing…, an original copy owned by my SO’s mother, gifted to me this holiday season. England’s No. 1 Vocal Group just found a welcoming, and respectful home. Dear neighbors, this is your soundtrack tomorrow morning. You’re welcome.
Modern contemporary conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, Mr. Arthur Fiedler tackles The Beatles with his 1969 album, Play the Beatles. This is EXACTLY what you’d think it would be from the master composer at age 75. 12 classical-pop interpretations of Penny Lane, Hey Jude, Eleanor Rigby, With a Little Help from My Friends, among others, done the only way Mr. Fiedler and the Boston Pops knew how… straight fucking forward. The only provocative part about this record is the album cover, which in no way represents the contents within. That certainly does not, however, make for a tedious listen. If your expectations are high, and I’m not exactly sure why they would be, pass this one up, but if you’re in the mood for a middle of the road take on British pop songs you’ve heard a thousand times, check out Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Play the Beatles.
Walter (or Wendy) Carlos performing Moog interpretations from of The Beatles, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Burt Bacharach, and Johann Sebastian Bach? Hell yes! Sign me up! Released in 1975 on Columbia Masterworks (and this truly is a masterwork), By Request is a great little novelty album perfect for lazy Friday afternoons with little-to-nothing to do. Enjoy your records responsibly, kids, and happy Friday!
This 1964 Kapp Records release of Satchmo’s Hello, Dolly! was more of a happenstance release, capitalizing on the Kapp Records success of Louis’ #1 hit single of the same name. Some sources say that Armstrong’s Hello, Dolly! knocked The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love from the number one spot, but my sources may be inaccurate. 12 tracks of unmistakable Louis Armstrong trumpet bliss, Hello, Dolly! features Dixieland jazz renditions of Blueberry Hill, Jeepers Creepers, and A Kiss to Build a Dream On. Some days call for the subtle, honest brilliance of Louis Armstrong, and today is one of those days.
Let me first say, Happy Halloween, everyone! Second, let’s trick our treats with 1978’s blue vinyl comp, 1967 – 1970. It’s hard to believe this double LP is 37 years old already, but this late era Beatles comp is essential listening material, regardless of the holiday (also available is the early-era sibling, red vinyl version).
Comp albums by the world’s most popular musical act are nothing new, exciting, and / or controversial, but double, colored LPs are a horse of a different color. While going to school up in Ventura, CA some years back, a record store, whose name I cannot recall, went out of business and was celebrating with a storewide ½ off sale. Among some German Simon & Garfunkel, clear vinyl Drive Like Jehu, original pressings of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, I acquired both this, 1978’s 1962 – 1966, and the blue vinyl sibling, 1967 – 1970 for $10 each. They had a Spinal Tap picture disc displayed on the wall… I wish I’d gotten that guy too. Anyway, there is a time and place for compilation albums. I’ve yet to find that hour and location, but I’m sure they exist.
This 1967 psych-rock album is the first from Long Island’s Vanilla Fudge, and would serve as the band’s most successful offering, peaking at #6 on the Billboard charts. With only three originals on the album Illusions of My Childhood, Pts. 1-3 (all instrumentals), Vanilla Fudge contains far-out and refreshing covers by The Zombies (She’s Not There), The Beatles (Eleanor Rigby and Ticket to Ride), The Supremes (You Keep Me Hangin’ On), and Cher (Bang Bang). For a refreshing take on classic 60’s flare, try some Vanilla Fudge in your groove diet.
1969 Beatles-inspired electronic music should sound a juicy-ton better than this Zapple Records, Electronic Sound release. Was track / side two’s No Time or Space in fact a casual demonstration from Mr. Krause to Mr. Harrison, or was it actually a composition intended for, albeit, avant-garde, reception?
Only the Moog III knows…
Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is perfect in every way humanly, or robotically imaginable. Obvious statement. With perfect albums comes countless repeated listens… then a lull, then another listen, then an even bigger lull, then another nostalgic listen, then a lull lasting close to five years. What’s great about this 2004 Instrumentals version, apart from its radiant highlight of J-Swift’s well, swift production is the resounded (uh) freshness it gives to a well-worn (and thoroughly played) album.
I’m becoming an avid fan of instrumentals or show vinyl versions of classic albums (Paul’s Boutique, Abbey Road, Renegades, Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By, Deltron 3030, Check Your Head, Dr. Octagon, and so on). Strip that shit down to its core, and enjoy the purest of prudent beats.
Mr. Chub Check was, single-handedly and without question, the Tycoon of Twist. In the wee years before the British invasion, kids of all ages, and of all nationalities, wickedly wiggled and provocatively pranced to the world’s first dance craze. It was a short-lived event, charting on Billboard from ’59 with Hank Ballard and The Midnighters’ The Twist, and ending with Twist and Shout in ’64 by The Beatles (a cover of the 1961 single by The Top Notes). A total of 19 twist-influenced (twinfluenced?) tunes hit Billboard between these six years, but no one artist was more prolific and prominent than Ernest Evans (aka Chubby Checker).
The road to 3000 has been a long and winding one, and the choice of the mighty 3000, being the featured white vinyl version of the Beatles 1968 self titled album, is nothing short of exaccurate (exactly accurate).
I’d been hunting this monster down for more than a few years. The hefty price tag ($100+ complete w/ all four headshots and poster) always deterred me from pulling the trigger. That is, until I found this beaut off ebay last week. Knowing the inevitable 3000 was rapidly approaching, my once torrid, vinyl-hording obsession turned into a frugal-minded halt, as I forwent the “casual” purchasing phase until the mighty 3000 came home. I certainly hope #4000 isn’t for quite some time, as space is really starting to become an issue… one that every collector knows all too well.
18 tracks weren’t enough for the illustrious London Calling, the third studio album by the legendary misfits of genre-bending punks, The Clash. Unofficially hidden, or rather lopped on after the appropriate concluder Revolution Rock, the third and final single stemming forth from this prodigious album, Train in Vain (not unlike a retaliatory missile, or the first bullet fired during a revolutionary riot), was originally written and recorded as a giveaway track for the publication NME (or New Musical Express… I just found out), and was to be released as a flexi-disc single through the magazine… something that, for whatever reason, never came to be.
Certainly not news to the astute a-Clash-ionado, this little nugget of info explains why London Calling ends perfectly (with Revolution Rock), then spits out an unscheduled, and unwanted encore with Train in Vain. This is certainly not to say TiV is a song of lesser listening value, rather its inclusion on London Calling, or its position therein rustles the feathers of album perfection. Since London Calling is the closest thing to a perfect album as is (save maybe for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, This is Tim Hardin, The Shape of Punk to Come, Paul’s Boutique, Circa: Now!, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, or Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde) it really doesn’t matter.
The 33 1/3 book series by Bloomsbury Publishing is a perfect collection of nerd-focused musical insight into the historical happenings of the development and recording of some of the most essential albums ever released (depending on whom you ask, of course… judge me not by this collection, you will). With 90 books currently published, and many more in the works (including upcoming releases that will warrant almost certain purchasing by yours truly… Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables; Freedom of Choice), my (current) collection of a measly 17 (or 5.29%) books from the series is, I feel, a decent start, and acts as a non-audio musical oasis of printed, historic pleasure.
I’ve finished The Village Green Preservation Society, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Led Zeppelin IV, Paul’s Boutique (working on my third time through… it’s that good), Use Your Illusion I and II, and Double Nickels on the Dime, and am currently in the wee pages of Let it Be. (Check out the 90 titles here.)
If you’re in the mood for a quick, compact, in-depth analysis of some of the more quintessential albums of modern day rock (generally), look no further than 33 1/3. They’re cheap, and they look majestic all lined up on a bookshelf, or so I tell my significant other.
Finally haven woken from last night’s debaucherous slumber, I stumbled into consciousness to discover that the evening sun had already set, drowning itself in the salt-laden Pacific. Lucky for all involved (me and my morning bourbon), I’d previously saved a delectable Capitol Records insert some time ago, and my worried woes of missing the prominent opportunity to snap that perfect sun-kissed photo lay as insignificantly dormant as a piece of driftwood washing up upon the Santa Monica shoreline. AKA, I REALLY didn’t want to write today.
For just $1 (circa 196?) you can inform the “gentlemen” (sorry ladies of yesteryear, your day had apparently not yet come) that you’d generously prefer an introductory membership to the prestigious Teen Set, exclusively offered by Capitol Records. Yes, The Beatles are present and accounted for, and yes, The Lettermen are lingering there too, but the real steal is the “official Teen Set membership card.” Justified bragging rights for any and all who join, the Teen Set on Capitol seems like the logical, and most important post-pubescent decision any of us has ever been forced to make. Tickle your fancy with The Four Preps, The Goodtime Singers, or even The History of Drag Racing, and maybe, just maybe, your remaining teenage years will be void of awkward embarrassment… though, chances are, that inevitable boat of fictitious folly has already set sail.
In 1988, Laibach, Slovenian grandfathers of avant-garde industrial, released Let It Be, a cover of the famous Beatles album of the same name. Apart from the deviant departure in genres, Laibach’s Let It Be bypasses Maggie Mae and the title track to the album, but offers a strikingly charming and elegant version of Across the Universe amongst its polluted sea of military-inspired, industrial-themed, Cold War anthems.
This cover album is worthy of a listen, if just for the sheer cat-killing curiosity factor. Laibach is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for fans of top 40 radio, but gentility and fascination certainly make their glowing presence known throughout this 11-track cover album. Diehard Beatles fans may see this as a chronically sick joke, and I imagine, above all else, that was without question Laibach’s main objective during the production of this legendary album. If you don’t like the harpsichord, steer clear of this, and every other Laibach album, but if you’ve got an ear for prideful adventure, seek out this version of Let It Be. There will undoubtedly be a strong divide separating your time before Laibach, and your time after them. Good luck, and I’ll see you on the other side.
One word… Superposter. It’s not just your routine poster. Standard posters are for coupon cutters and puddle jumpers. Superposters… now, that’s the bees knees, you dig? Got a neighbor with a bum knee who can’t will himself to the kitchen to boil an egg? Give ‘em a Bob Dylan clown head Superposter. Want to grease the wheels with your kid’s 2nd grade math teacher because your kid keeps bringing home C’s? Give Mrs. Fractionstein a Moby Grape Superposter. Before you know it, little Suzysucksatmath will be merrily skipping home with her justly deserved B-. (Allow three weeks for delivery. Offer expires 12/30/69.)
Superposters… putting ordinary posters to shame since the late 60’s.
If you were stranded on a remote island (that conveniently harbored electricity, speakers and a bomb-ass turntable), and you were only allowed to pick three albums with which to spin for your remaining, ocean-gazing days, what three albums would they be?
For me, the first two albums were no-brainers. Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Choosing the proper versions, both albums are double LPs (1998’s Grand Royal reissue and 2011’s mono/stereo split), so you’re already a leg up on the island dwelling competition. The third and final album requires much more, overanalyzed thought. Do you play it safe and pick Abbey Road? What about The Beatles, also known as the White Album? Or, do you skip the 12” format altogether and grab your favorite song, which just happens to be a post-hardcore thrasher by the obscure Wisconsin band, Defacto Oppression? Certainly NOT an easy decision to make (in this overly voluptuous hypothetical), second-guessing is sure to follow after the inevitably dreadful decision is (finally) made.
Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska garnishes some thought, but would probably be far too depressing… after all, these three albums will help feed, or deter the fact that you are, after all, stranded on a remote island. Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan is a considerably strong candidate, but would immediately be my number four pick. Bizarre Ride II (The Pharcyde), In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live) (Ministry), This is Tim Hardin (Tim Hardin… duh), and Circa: Now! (Rocket from the Crypt) are all, exceptional lily pads on this thought pond, but none of them make the distinct cut.
London Calling (The Clash), Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen), Singles – 45’s and Under (Squeeze), Energy (Operation Ivy), Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses), which would easily be my number five pick, Black Monk Time (The Monks), and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys) all lay floating in the salted sea of “never to enjoy again.” Damn, this post is depressing.
And the winner goes to… The Shape of Punk to Come… the quintessential soundtrack to my evasive youth wins the number three spot, and with little hesitation, I might add. Refused’s best, and another double LP, this top three has quickly turned into the top six, and would respectfully demonstrate, and/or adequately demolish my headspace for the rest of my delusional life. To pick three out of 2,800 is certainly NOT an easy gesture… if asked again tomorrow, I’d have a completely different roster. Oh, the joy, and immediate pleasure of viable options.
I’ve only recently begun collecting solo Beatles’ work, but my father owns just about everything, so for the next week or so, I’ll enjoy perusing through his Beatles-heavy collection and making a well-thought-out checklist.
George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music is next on the platter, but will more than likely NOT yield a post. Busy day over here… off and running!
Back when my only CDs were Gonna Make You Sweat by C+C Music Factory and Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em by the illustrious MC Hammer, you can imagine my childish shock upon hearing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Polythene Pam for the first time, let alone I Want You (She’s So Heavy). It was the summer of 1992, and all I listened to, all summer, was 1969’s Abbey Road. It was a stern suggestion from my father, and was a crucial, and unforgettable introduction to the boundless universe of planet Beatle.
Needless to say, that summer changed my life. I hit the Beatles accelerator (on my VW Bug… sorry, had to) and have yet to look back.
Thanks for the scholarly advice, dad, and for opening the door to a lifetime of euphoric, and essential music. Happy birthday, Big Guy!
Today, Charles Hardin Holley would have been 77 years young. In the 22 years he walked this Earth, the legendary trailblazer, in the most modest of senses, achieved, in terms of profound influential force, more than any other artist ever to wade in the fervent pool of rock and roll. The Stones, the Beatles, and the giant led balloon would certainly not exist, in any fathomable form, had Buddy Holly not first set foot upon that timeless and immortal stage.
Happy 77th Birthday, Mr. Holly!