It’s Miller Time

It’s sad that I only recently discovered that the first appearance by The Steve Miller Band (then just The Miller Band) was on a live Chuck Berry record from 1967. Titled Live at The Fillmore Auditorium, this Berry-led onslaught is a classic of R&B numbers made famous, in large part, by Mr. Chuck himself. Johnny B. Goode, Driftin’ Blues, C.C. Rider, and I Am Your Hoochie Coochie Man all get the Chuck & Steve treatment. With Chuck (obviously) taking the lead, the yet-to-be-internationally-famous Steve Miller offers backing vocals and harmonica in addition to his lewd, and Joker-less guitar. As debut albums go, The Steve Miller Band really couldn’t have asked for a more prolific and profound opportunity, than to record with the great Chuck Berry. If you haven’t already, check it out.

Mucho Mambo

Unbeknownst to me, this 1951 10″ by Mexico City’s own, PĂ©rez Prado is considered his first “proper” album. Released the year before as a 3x 7″ box, Plays Mucho Mambo for Dancing houses both Mambo No. 5 AND Mambo No. 8, and although this particular copy skips more than an 8-year-old at a semi-finals hopscotch tournament, it was a no-brainer for a cool $1. Dollar bin hunter level up.

South of the Border Como

Chalk this one up to another of those “you should get this” records. I think I paid something like $4 for this, stupidly, I might add. The wife likes it, so that’s really all that matters. Actually, though there’s little-to-no Latin flair (ok, sure, the title is LIGHTLY Latin…), the Choral Director for this 1966 release was Ray Charles, and really, Perry Como didn’t put out a bad record, so in hindsight, the “you should get this” suggestion was a solid one (he said, reluctantly).

“I Like Jazz!”

(Reads title.) You do? Good for you, but don’t you think you could have come up with something more, I don’t know, jazzy for the title of this 1955 comp? Titles rarely deter from the music within, and this is no exception. I just had to chuckle at how on-the-nose and unorthodox this title was, while at the same time, and rather quickly, adding it to my hefty pile of dollar bin treasures. One doesn’t go wrong with mid-century Columbia Records jazz artists.

Music to Dream By

What’s your dream soundtrack? Do you have a specific playlist for naps? Have you ever given it any thought? If you haven’t, by all means necessary, do not consider CBS Special Products’ 1966 sleeper, Music to Dream By. Filled with a slew of Percy Faith, Ray Conniff, and Guy Mitchell’s of the time, Music to Dream By was a “Collector’s Album of All-Time Dream Hits” compiled specifically for the GE company and their “famous” Sleep-Guard Blankets. Blankets… yup, you read that correctly. This here is a bona fide blanket record, and it will put you to sleep faster than a mashed potato sandwich. Proceed with extreme caution.

Themes for African Drums

Themes for African Drums sounds exactly like one would imagine by one, the title, and two, the striking cover. So I’ll admit, it was in fact this forceful cover art coupled with year of release (1959) that prompted my immediate attention on money, but what I found was that the music within requires more than just a few modestly casual spins. Rhythm and horns, kids… rhythm and horns. The Guy Warren Sounds would release only one other record throughout their career, a French 7″ featuring two of this albums’ tracks, Waltzing Drums and Blood Brothers. Now, I can understandably see how this collection of 8 tracks could be considered a novelty, or theme record, but I speak from experience when I say, this makes for some damn good dinner music.

Green Village

50 years in the making (not really, but sort of), this recent (as of late last month) behemoth of a celebration to The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society comes with everything you see here, and if you were one of the lucky first 1000 to preorder, you received a limited 7″ for Time Song, b/w The Village Green Preservation Society (Preservation Version). If you’ve got the space, this fully-loaded box of essential goodies is a Kinks lover’s dream.

Coffee Time

What coffee-loving, record-spinning, speed-freak doesn’t need this album, am I right?! Leave it to Morton Gould and His Orchestra for taking the mundane and creating a soundtrack for it. It’s like Music to Dream By (aka How to Destroy Your Needle), or Music for Faith and Inner Calm, both of which actually exist. What exactly songs like Jamaican Rumba, Besame Mucho, and Mexican Hat Dance have to do with my morning, coffee-drinking routine, I’ll never know, but this record came (mildly) recommended from a guy who (basically) knows nothing about good music, so, it was worth the $1 spin. #sniff

SST Back

Like countless labels before it, and many after, SST Records (owned by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn) offered specially priced compilations showcasing their label’s talent, aiming at nothing more than to spread their goods, and take your money. With a special list price of only $3.39 ($7.99 today after the inflation adjustment), cheapskaters could further explore the likes of Saccharine Trust, the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, and even Tom Troccolil’s Dog for next to nothing. The comp series was called The Blasting Concept, and you’re looking at the back of Volume II.

Ecstasy

I didn’t find this album to exactly portray its title, but I was nearly 25 years away from the release of Otto Cesana & His Orchestra’s 1955 Ecstasy, so really, what the hell do I know? Sounding immediately like a heavily orchestrated series of montage scenes for mid-century silver screens, this easy-listening-mood-setter is actually a comp comprised of two 10″ records titled Ecstasy, and Sugar and Spice. If you’re looking for a wistful, easily ignorable bed of hopeful mood music, consider a bit of Ecstasy.

Pines

Question: What would a soundtrack to a dramatic thriller composed by master vocal manipulator and genre-bending pioneer sound like? Answer: Well, if you’re talking about the potent Mike Patton, it would sound exactly like The Place Beyond the Pines (Music from the Motion Picture). Ominous, foreboding, dismal, with a hint of underlining grim, this 2013 soundtrack makes it eerily clear that any place beyond the tree line is about as uneasy and unsettling as anything imaginable. Now, I just hope the film holds up to this record.

(Don’t) Skip Kenton

I should have started with cleaning this very dingy, 60+ year-old 10″ of classic, mid-century Jazz greats featured, and showcased by the late, great Stan Kenton (and His Orchestra). I think track one alone, Art Pepper featuring Art Pepper on alto sax, must have skipped a total of six times. My fault for not following the rules: Step 1) Clean. Step 2) Enjoy. Anyway, simply titled Stan Kenton Presents, this little 10″ is getting a duplicate if I can’t clean the 60 years off ‘er, because this is an essential listen, in unskippable form. Another $1 find, kids!

Sofa King Groovy

Skipping or not, a 10″ Latin jazz EP by Perez Prado and His Orchestra is always worthy of your $1. Titled Mambo By the King, this 1956 release featured a sister, pressed as a 12″ (which also contains four additional tracks). This, slightly shorter version still manages to contain some of Prado’s well-known, and unforgettable classics (Perdido, Cuban Mambo, and Mambo Jambo come to mind). Released the same year as his famed Havana, 3 A.M., By the King was one of the many (extremely cheap, yet skippable) gems I recently found in the bargain bin at my local hut. Let the fun begin.

Exotica at 20%

I can’t tell you how I discovered this, but I recently found out that Modern Harmonic is offering the colored vinyl pressing of Sun Ra’s otherworldly comp, Exotica at a dirt-cheap retail price (20% off now, for some strange reason). I received my copy just yesterday, so ignore the $65+ price tags for used copies on Discogs, and get yours straight from the source!

Auto People

Back when I had only a handful of compact discs (I’m about back down to that number “these days”), I owned both 1991’s Out of Time, and 1992’s Automatic for the People, both, obviously essential R.E.M. albums. The CD case for this release was made from bright, neon yellow plastic, which neatly matched the neon yellow disc inside. Now, keep in mind that this was a time when the plastic case disc holder was a standard charcoal gray, so ANYTHING different demanded our Jr. High attention, at least, so we thought. Anyway, an obvious inclusion to this or any library, I strongly recommend picking up a copy, in the format of your choosing (Compact Disc, LP, Cassette, HDCD, DVD-A, and Minidisc are known to exist).

Ray Price aka Hillbilly Circus

For straight-forward, late 50’s country with all the twangin’, fiddlin’, and general “hurtin'” that invariably comes with it, Ray Price’s Greatest Hits is a deserving catch-all for those able to stomach the early genre (early being the optimal word, here). With 12-tracks, including the #1 Country Hit, Crazy Arms, RP’s GH has both feet firmly planted within this country legend’s early material (the album having been released in 1963), and is a pretty good representation of the time, and the talent.

The Phar Cyde: A Personal Original

I was so excited upon discovering this (cheap-ass) reissue of The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, that I didn’t even care it was housed in a generic white, Delicious Vinyl sleeve. Up to this point (sometime in 1998), I’d only had this classic album’s cassette and compact disc releases, and had never even seen a copy of the original on vinyl, then, only six years old. The original is still missing from the collection, but this “personal original” houses a special place within the collection. File this under “one of the first 50 records owned.”

The Make-Believers

Made famous (in part) for their cover of The Kinks’ Stop Your Sobbin’, Pretenders (or The Pretenders, depending on who you ask… no, not the doo-wop crooners from the 1950s), were a London-based edge-band, forming in 1978. Releasing their eponymous debut for Sire Records (United States) in January of 1980, this self-titled masterwork is an effective mix of pop, rock, and punk, featuring the barking vocals of Chrissie Hynde. You should already own this, but if you don’t, add it to your (ever growing) list.

Donny P. and the Bluse Album (An Introduction)

I’m a little reluctant to write about Don Preston and his 1968 debut, Bluse as I feel the story is deserving of more time than I currently have (or am willing) to give to it, save to say, it wasn’t anything that I thought it was, in the best way possible. Purchased as a joke, whose backstory will be saved for another time, I foolishly discovered that Mr. Preston is (still alive) a stellar guitarist, and has played with some of the very best: Rick Nelson, George Harrison, JJ Cale, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ringo Starr, The Righteous Brothers, and Ritchie Valens, to name a short few. Bluse is classic blues-rock (bluse-rock?), and is as anything spectacular as you would think, having read the list of unquestionable legends above.

Meter Me aka Who dat!?

HYPE STICKERS! Come one, come all, ‘n get ‘yer hype stickers! This one is for the 2015 Rhino Records colored vinyl reissue to Fire on the Bayou, the classic album by New Orleans legends, The Meters. Now, more and more collectors these days may be, in-fact, keeping all their record hype (stickers, fliers, download cards, etc.), but the sentimental part of me wonders what hype stickers to classic albums from the 60s and 70s looked like. Some I’ve seen and we’ve explored, but others, I fear, are lost for good. Anyway, this one is only a few years old, but it hyped me enough to purchase the album!