Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself

AnnihalationIs that a Ronald Reagan look-alike grabbing his nether regions in apocalyptic agony? Why, yes, it is. Following the international success of their first single, Relax, Frankie Goes to Hollywood released the anti-war, half tongue-in-cheek, half a bit-too-close-to-home, funk-friendly dance anthem, Two Tribes.

Accompanied by an outrageous video, Two Tribes broke a whole bunch of UK chart records that, at the time, I was completely oblivious to. To be fair, in 1984 my daily routine consisted of dropping my Bespin Han Solo action figure from a covered bridge in a suicidal leap just in time for my electric train to speed by and run him over. Han survived, and was able to go on fighting the good fight (that was, until Joe & Cobra infiltrated my childhood just a few short years later).

ReaganFocusing on the hyper-exaggerated (he said jokingly) possibility of global nuclear war, Frankie & crew regurgitated a positive product from an extremely negative scenario. If you ask me, and you didn’t, Two Tribes withstood the test of time, and should serve as a welcome accompaniment to any record collection, regardless of which side of the fence your political beliefs may fall.

Scotch on the Rocks

ScotchOk, so it may be a little early for scotch and/or rocks, but The Band of the Black Watch, and their merry-bagpipe-playing-parade-music, is just the right brand of kilted syncopation for this dreary Monday morning (it is certainly not a dreary Monday morning, I just enjoy the word dreary… and lagoon… lagoon is a fun word to say… I invite you to say it aloud right now… lagoon).

Let me tell you, hearing an official military unit consisting of brass and reed instruments performing Caribbean Honeymoon is definitely something I can honestly say I never thought I’d hear. This three minute and seven second window into the rivers of Heaven make me want to march off into battle, presumably to confront the individual whose sole purpose is to end my life, while simultaneously drinking a Mai Tai and holding the hand of my newly acquired soul mate.

Like a flowing bloodbath of sun-soaked romance, The Band of the Black Watch delivers a combination of lighthearted, side-to-side-swaying, maniacal military music that would make any citizen of Scotland proud beyond their years.

Magic Brain: A VERY Brief History

Magic BrainStarting around 1934, the term Magic Brain was given to high end, and often-expensive (especially for the time) radio receivers manufactured by RCA Victor. This new, futuristic, prewar technological improvement to the widely used radio receiver, allowed the heavy-pocketed user to 1) enjoy their favorite radio programs with new, higher fidelity tone performance, 2) tune in to more stations, 3) get exclusive access the RCA Victor’s “X” band, the same station aviators heard for up-to-the-minute, U.S. Government weather reports, and 4) the apparent alleviation of physical pressure when tuning into specific frequencies. (Citation)

Paralleling the start of the Second World War, RCA Victor released the Magic Brain RCA Victrola. This new, music listening wizard provided the same, groundbreaking, and industry redefining, features of the Magic Brain radio receiver, in a state-of-the-art radio-phonograph. The Magic Brain RCA Victrola offered a 180-degree shift in the way records were played, and how phonographs were manufactured. This model offered a tandem tone arm, which allowed the unit to play both sides of a record without having to flip it (there is something romantic about manually flipping a record, but there are certainly times when I’d love the ease and convenience of the Magic Brain). In addition to the tandem tone arm, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola allowed for up to two full hours of continuous, uninterrupted listening pleasure by the oversimplified ease of a single, pushed button. Mechanical noise was eliminated, the need to lift a lid was done away with, and the overall capacity was increased, housing up to 15, 10” records, or 12, 12” records.

Certainly an interactive jukebox for the family living room, this ingenious machine would unfortunately live an exceptionally short life. Due to the U.S. Government’s need for shellac, the material in 78rpm records as well as the main ingredient in U.S. made bombshells, it obtained nearly 70% of the nation’s supply, forcing two revolutionary music listening necessities. 1) With nearly no shellac to make new records, record companies began buying back out dated and/or unwanted records from the public (paying 2-3¢ per disc, equaling close to 500,000 lbs of shellac), to grind down in order to make new records. 2) With the short supply of shellac, and the high demand for consumable and obtainable mediums of portable music, the experimentation, and eventually the manufacturing of the vinyl record was introduced, and the rest is record collecting history. (Citation 1, citation 2)

With a new format, the Magic Brain RCA Victrola was rendered obsolete, and therefore was swiftly removed from production. A video of this monster in action can be found here.