April Come She Will

Sounds CoverApril has come (as if you didn’t know), and she brought with her an excuse to write about one of my all-time favorite songs: Simon & Garfunkel’s April Come She Will.

You wouldn’t know by listening to it, but it’s actually a pretty short song. Clocking in at only 1:49, April Come She Will is the shortest track on the 1966 masterpiece, Sounds of Silence. Although written by Paul, April’s sweet melodic melon collie was sung by Art. It must have been difficult for Mr. Garfunkel to go to work each day. I mean, sure, Art Garfunkel is great in his own right… great singer, great range, but his partner is Paul freakin’ Simon! One wonders how powerful Simon & Garfunkel would have been without Art. Maybe he was the man behind the successful curtain. Who knows?

April LyricsApril Come She Will is the prefect soundtrack for those moments when you just wished you were somewhere else. Alone, walking between silent, somber trees, or alone, walking amongst a sea of warm strangers, this dreary song reminds us that new eventually becomes old, and judging by the song’s length, how quickly that can happen. A kind of hopeless notion if you think about it.

May April offer you blossoming new beginnings, and may September not rob you of the aging beauty of those beginnings. Old doesn’t need to lose its alluring frenzy. We just need to be reminded of how new it once was. Here’s hoping September doesn’t forget to remind us.

A Not So Sweet Easter Treat

P. CTailMy “Jesus Rose from the Dead” records must be on loan, so I’m reluctant to write about rabbits. My only Bugs Bunny record is a Christmas album, so I’m forced to inundate myself with Peter Cottontail Plus Other Funny Bunnies and Their Friends.

That Pete Cottontail was a sly one, wouldn’t you say? I mean, just look at that face… deep in profound thought.  Released in 1963 by the racist, homophobic granddaddy of greed and deceit, Walt Disney Productions, Peter Cottontail Plus Other Funny Bunnies and Their Friends is a heavily produced, fantasy-inducing, rabbit nightmare that’s sure to linger inside your head long after the point of discomfort.

Weaving between catchy kid tunes and one-woman interpretations of classic rabbit stories, Peter Cottontail Plus Other Funny Bunnies and Their Friends does NOT come recommended by The Prudent Groove.

LPsOn the plus side, the back sleeve offers an eye-catching display of previously released Disney “Musical Highlights” (I shudder to think) in the shape of the letters, “LPs.” For only $1.89 in 1963, which would be $13.99 today, you could pollute your ears with everything from Little Toot to Savage Sam. Save your money, and your sanity, and skip any and everything Disney related.  Your soul will thank you.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Music to Make Time By

CoverOk… there’s a lot going on with this 7”, and I don’t have a lot of time, so please, no talking and we’ll get through this quickly. Okay? Okay. First and foremost, this record is NOTHING more than an audio advert for Caravelle watches (a division of Bulova, which originated in 1875).  I know, shocking, right? I mean, the cover SCREAMS wisping romance, but wait… huh! What nice timepieces!

Second, the “band” is called, The Caravelles. Well, isn’t that just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?! Take the name of the company, and slightly tweak it to label your vehicle for perfectly timed music. See what I did there? Perfectly timed… nevermind.

Third, and this is a big one. The songs, all four of them, ARE ABOUT WATCHES! But wait! There’s more! Side one is about male watches and side two is about… wait for it… female watches.  Allow me to present the tracklist for those of you too lazy to look at the above picture:

1. I Didn’t Know the Date it Was

2. I Get All Wound Up

3. I Change My Charm From Day to Day

4. Charmed I’m Sure

Back“I Didn’t Know the Date it Was?” Really? That’s the best Caravelle could do?

The music is just as hilarious as you’d think by seeing the cover. I Didn’t Know the Date it Was is a quirky easy listener about a guy who got his days mixed up. Uh oh! Time for a new Caravelle watch! Side two’s Charmed I’m Sure is a little bubblegum popper that seems to aim for the tween demographic more than the 30-somethings who actually care about ugly, dangling heart clocks.

Music to Make Time By is a hidden gem I honestly didn’t even know I owned.  A copy recently sold on eBay for $9.99, but I assure you, it’s worth 10-times that. Watch out for one, won’t you? (That was terrible.)

The Triple P

Mercury Phonograph InsertOn my quest to find the perfect portable phonograph (the Triple P, as I call it), I stumbled across this weathered insert from who-the-hell-knows-when. A quick Google search reveals that Philips began manufacturing these beauties in 1963, so I guess, now-we-all-know-the-hell-when.

This insert features two, distinctly different looking players. First is the AG-4026. This compact player is perfect for annoying your temporary beach neighbors with your controversial Lenny Bruce albums, and plays 4 speeds on 7”, 10” and 12” record. Operating on easily accessible flashlight batteries, this lightweight (8 pounds) transistorized phonograph offers distortion-free response from 80-16,000 cps from its new 7” TICONAL speaker. The word around the waves is that it’s the “Big Set Sound” so, there you go.Beach Bums

The second is the AG-9115. Think of the AG-4026 as being the “Four” series and the AG-9115 as being the “Nine” series. This is NOT a kids toy. This portable Hi-Fi STEREO phonograph provides two TICONAL speakers, separate tone and volume controls, a new “auto-manipulator” tone arm and weighs a slender 24 pounds. Alright, that may be a little heavy to tote around on a bike trip or on a romantic picnic, but I’d still love to see the AG-9115 in action.

Made in Holland by Philips, these two portable players, one mono and the other stereo, would be perfect for my everyday record-listening mobile needs… if, you know, it were still the early 60’s. My hunt for the Triple P marches on.

Reform and Bust

JLIt’s comforting, just how powerful the sadness of others can be. One man’s sadness is another man’s solace, I always say (I’ve never said that).  I’m not saying go out and make someone cry, I’m just saying the emotional release that some artists offer can be a wonderful companion.

While painting pictures of our ancestors desecrating the Plaines of our nation’s majestic beauty, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard offer a beautiful imagine of how the diseased minds of those ancestors would respond upon seeing their failed endeavors being overtaken by beautiful, luscious flowers. “Let us sacrifice our time, our family’s time, our souls, our worries, and our lives to the building of this conveyance called, the railroad… then lets abandon our progress and allow for nature’s beauty to restake her claim,” said no one ever! Probably because “restake” isn’t an actual word.

8Bugs & Flowers is a rolling wave of solace. It’s that much needed alleviation when you had no Earthly idea you were in desperate need of it. Clocking in at 4:13, Bugs & Flowers is the comfort from a loved one that you want never to leave your side, but eventually always does. The entire album could be this song repeated, 11 times and show no hint of getting old. Melancholy is a powerful thrill.

Throughout the song, Mr. Lewis talks of taking a solitary walk in the forest over a series of deteriorating crossties. Along this self-reflecting journey, he comments on the backs of shiny bugs, infinite dust, and crosstie devouring flowers.

It’s difficult sometimes, when the whiskey takes over. It’s as though solemn innocence loses its struggling will to survive. Lucky for me there’s a soundtrack to this struggle.

Do You Take Sugar? One Lump or Two?

SugarAlternate titles to today’s post are 1) The Groove Gets Nostalgic, 2) My Undeniable Infatuation With This Song, and the Reason My Father Hated It, and 3) So What If I Had Def Leppard Posters Up on My Walls as A Kid.

Def Leppard. It took me a few years to realize how much of a rip-off their name was, or, to put it more lovingly, how much of a COINCIDENCE it is that their name mirrors the mighty Led Zeppelin. If you’ve never seen this mind-blowing parallel, here it is:

Def Leppard

Led Zeppelin

Notice 1) the three letter first word, 2) the second letter to the first word being an E, 3) the first word having one syllable, 4) the second word containing EPP, and 5) that I may be obsessing over this a bit too much… nah!

My father, whose favorite band was Led Zeppelin, always seemed to have it out for Def Leppard and specifically the song, Pour Some Sugar on Me. This may have been because it was a striking departure from the music of his youth, but more likely it was because I played this song… ad nauseam… everyday… for like, two years! Can you blame me? I was eight! I know, I’m still making my round of apologies.

Pour Some Sugar on Me was the Stairway to Heaven of my youth. It spoke to me in a language I’d never heard, but instantly understood. I wanted to share my feeling of exceeded joy with any and everyone who would listen. More times than not, my biggest audience consisted of one individual… my cat.

One could say I got burned out on this song. A sensation, at the time, I’d never experienced. I’ll still give the ol’ girl a spin now and again. And when I do, I’m back in my bedroom, frantically trying to learn the lyrics, and understand what “sugar” actually meant.

I won’t go into how I used to hide my arm in my t-shirt and pretended to drum like Def Leppard’s Rick Allen. That’s an embarrassing revelation for another time.

Music by the Hour

Music by the HourYet another insert? Either I’ve got a stockpile of particular inserts, or I’m excessively lazy. The jury has been out for over a week.

There’s a lot to learn from an insert. They’re a time capsule filled with images and ideas of what men in suits, getting paid a lot of money, thought people desired. They’re ripe with branding, marketing ploys, and artists’ renderings of “regular people” enjoying their product. In this particular case, its Columbia Records.

Columbia Records was pretty monumental in the heyday of record utopia. Here are a few facts that Columbia Records would like you not to forget. These, and others, can be found within this iconic promotional advert. Who knew learning could be so stunning?

– The “LP” (short for Long Play) was introduced by Columbia Records and was legally backed by a registered trademark.

– Men liked to smoke.

– The “LP” debuted in 1948.

– Women enjoyed picking their nails while listening to music by the hour.

– “LPs” allow for up to thirty minutes of music per side. That’s up to one full hour of music!

– Women loved to lean, uncomfortably, on the backs of men.

Mondays are for Wankers

ElvisIt’s Monday, and you know what that means… it’s time to push that rock of content up the endless hill of life. It’s also time to revel in the rhythmic delights of Declan Patrick MacManus (AKA Elvis Costello) and his solemnly realistic fantasy-bursting reality-screamer, Welcome to the Working Week.

Arriving at track one, side one from his debut album, My Aim is True, Welcome to the Working Week is a playful pass of judgment to the 9-to-5’ers; the head-crushing business men and women of our land pushing papers so that the fat have the means to get fatter.

Side oneWelcome to the Working Week, it’s album, My Aim is True, and pretty much ANYTHING by Elvis Costello comes highly recommended by the Groove.

If you haven’t spoiled yourself with the sweet musical nectar of “the other Elvis,” I’ll pass judgment and offer these words spoken by the man himself:

You gotta’ do it till you’re through it so you better get to it.

On Legal Speed (The American Way)

Lag FrontCoffee is a wonderful drug. Its stimulating warmth delivers that little bit of pep so often missing in the early morning hours… whatever you consider those “early morning hours” to be. If noon is early for you, good on ya’. I won’t judge. But I will ask that you save me a cup.

Lagwagon’s 1992 debut, Duh, is a metal-influenced-punk-long-player, featuring a Creedence cover, a melodic romp about the deceptive eyewear resulting from drinking too much beer, an aggressive interpretation of the Inspector Gadget theme, and most importantly, Duh fosters a vicious ode to the mastered art of straining hot water through ground up roasted coffea seeds.

Lag BackLagwagon’s Mr. Coffee provides the audio equivalent of orally consuming a hot cup of joe. With its rapid approach and short-lived tenure, it leaves the consumer wanting another two-minute and fifteen-second fix. Mr. Coffee has been an early morning favorite for me since discovering Lagwagon nearly 20-years ago (yes, I’m old).

There really should be more songs about the essential joys of coffee. Its importance cannot be understated.

“TRINK, SING, TANZ!!!”

Zillertal“All the gusto and fun of an authentic German Beer Hall in your own home.”

You don’t need to be German to enjoy music arranged, performed and recorded solely for the purpose of drinking beer.  It’s Friday. Why not relax with a cold one? Fill your stein, put up your feet, and surround yourself with the friendly swells of The Zillertal Band and their jolly-good-time-music. This album was however recorded live at the world famous Zillertal in Hamburg, Germany, for crying out loud! (Do people still use that phrase?)

You can rest assured that the quality of this album will exceed your High Fidelity-hipster needs. After all, the back cover explains, in striking detail, just how great the audio quality is:

Editing and transfer from tape to lacquer has been under supervision of the top audio engineers in the industry. All metal parts used in the pressing of the finished product are solid nickel to guarantee the finest surfaces and distortion free reproduction.

Free Fact-Packed Book

Cert BackMarketing records can be an embarrassingly hilarious industry. From the album cover, to a free book on The Wonderful World of Country Music used as incentive for consumers to purchase and collect 5 insert certificates, it seems as though Time Life Records in 1981 would go to great lengths to confirm the sales of their Country Music series. Such a clever title for a series, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at the top selling points for The Wonderful World of Country Music, shall we? I mean, if I’m going to hunt down four more albums in the Country Music series in order to get this “free” book, I’m going to want to know what I’m in for, right?

Cert FrontFirst off, it’s a “big” book. This certificate was nice enough to offer the book’s dimensions (8-1/4” x 10-3/4”). Second, it contains 240 pages and the biographies of more than 150 stars! ARE there 150 stars in country music? And I’m talking about the GOOD country music here. Maybe that “150 stars” thing was a typo and they meant the “15 stars.” That makes more sense. Third, this book contains the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Alright… any country music lover worth their weight in Hee Haw one-liners NEEDS the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Forth, you get an intimate glimpse into the astrological future of your favorite 15 stars by the horoscopes offered in this monumental book, and finally, “bluegrass, outlaw, oldtime.” I’ve got to admit, I have no idea what the hell that means. Perhaps the book touches on these off-shoots of Country music? Yeah, no idea.

I’ve got to say, I’m not entirely sold on this ploy, but a quick ebay search yields five The Wonderful World of Country Music auctions currently underway. So, at one time, somebody found these selling points irresistible… but the novelty must have worn off because now the book can be had for only $4.74. Tempting…

Barbi Mandrell

K-Tel’s Disc-O-Matic

Disc-OLodged inside an obscure comp album from the Netherlands, this glorious insert advertises K-Tel’s celebrated Disc-O-Matic in pure, late 70’s peculiarity. Printed almost entirely in Dutch, this ad boasts about the magnificent wonders of this record organizer that’s bekend van de T.V. (known from the T.V.).

Holding 24 LP’s, this chincy looking piece of plastic allows in enkele seconden je favoriete platen te vinden en altijd netjes opgeborgen (in a few seconds your favorite records to find and always neatly stowed away), or something. There is a bit of disconnect between languages on Google Translate, but you get how amazing this gadget is.

So, for 1976’s 14.90 (roughly $76.74 today), you could be the proud owner of K-Tel’s Disc-O-Matic. It’s known from the T.V., people! What are you waiting for?

Interesting how there’s no contact info for K-Tel. Oh!!! I guess Vraag by uw platen-handelaar means roughly, “contact your record dealer.” So, this upcoming Record Store Day, be sure to ask your local brick-and-mortar about K-Tel’s Disco-O-Matic. You’re sure to disappoint yourself.

We Are Not Two, We Are One

StrangersReleased on 1970’s Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Part One, Strangers wasn’t written or performed by The Kinks’ vehement songwriter, Ray Davies, but instead by his equally talented brother and lead guitarist, Dave Davies. Strangers is MY definitive acoustic love song. With its intercontinental grandeur, its vastness can be realized from coast to coast, from continent to continent, and from heart to heart.

Strangers is the most important song I’ve ever heard, because it, above all others, connects me with the love of my life. It acts as the vaccine to life’s woes, and the reliever of its burdens. It’s a symbol of strength, a foundation of trust, and a song of admired fervor. It is a song performed by my favorite band, and a song adored by my favorite person.

Happy birthday, Jillian. I love you.

Strangers Cover

Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo

Live Mechanical Sound Effects Cover SmallerWhen I began collecting records, I never thought I’d be in possession of an LP containing 38, live mechanical sound effects in stereo. So after purchasing Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo, I am a firm believer that our connection, our joint acquaintance if you will, was inevitable. I mean, let’s be honest for a moment (a very brief moment). Who doesn’t need a record containing the live, and in stereo, sound effect of an Adding Machine? What about a Small Cement-Mixer? An Escalator Ride? AN ESCALATOR RIDE! Do you even know what that sounds like?! I can think of countless social scenarios in which that would come in handy. Specifically while on the phone with a student loan lender… “Sorry, I can’t here you… I’m on an escalator. Can’t you hear? It’s in stereo!” Click (the sound of an old fashioned phone hanging up) and boom (the sound of financial freedom)! Phone call over.

In the desperate attempt to sell this record to the “general listener” instead of the “sound freak,” the back cover exclaims: “Heard in pure form, without dilution by other sounds, every sound, whether it happens to be a nuclear explosion or the squeak of a mouse, can conjure up fascinating images of its own.” Yes! A nuclear explosion CAN conjure up fascinating images on its own! Imagine my complete dismay upon realizing that this record in fact DOES NOT include such sound effect. DAMN YOU, LIVE MECHANICAL SOUND EFFECTS IN STEREO PRODUCED EXCLUSIVELY FOR REALISTIC BY AUDIO FIDELITY RECORDS! I guess I’ll have to settle for the next best thing… the sound of a Packaging Machine, Collator.

The next time you find yourself in the market for the stereo sound of an Electrocardiograph, you need look no further than Live Mechanical Sound Effects In Stereo.

By the way, the stereo sound of a Small Cement-Mixer is highly provocative and insanely disturbing. I strongly suggest it.

Cleanliness is Next to Grooviness

PropGrowing up, Saturdays meant one thing: cleaning. Rain or shine, root beer hangover or not, when Saturday reared its ugly head, you knew, at the very least, you were going to clean the house.

Sprouting from a household of three (my parents being the other two), we assumed the old “divide and conquer” strategy and cleaned the entire, two-story house. Now, as an adult shaped boy-child, Saturdays are STILL synonymous with cleaning. So, as my beautiful counterpart and I clean our pad, I suggest Propagandhi’s 1993 major label debut (if you consider Fat Wreck Chords a major label), How to Clean Everything.

It’s political pop punk from Canada, and it’s proven to make you clean faster. It’s also available on transparent gold vinyl, as you can clearly see (see what I did there?).

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!

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.

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.

Album Review: The English Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It

Beat CoverWhy the works of The English Beat weren’t more prevalent during the Ska resurgence in the mid-to-late 90’s in rural Wisconsin is far beyond my feeble comprehension. With unknown bands like Skapone, The Skolars and The Parka Kings gaining constant play among me and my friends, the far superior talents of 6 early 80’s upbeat Ska professionals went ignorantly overlooked. Saxa, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everette Moreton, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling… I am forever sorry for the immature neglect I bestowed upon your great, but limited works.

This album starts off with an atom bomb (or a whisky shot to your ear’s liver) with the now famous (thanks to its picture perfect usage in 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank) Mirror in the Bathroom. Catchy, upbeat Ska that makes any listener want to skank like an adolescent fool, this track, and much of this, their first album, digs a deep groove of head-bobbing, jive-swaying bowl-full-of-happy-time moments that don’t seem to get old some 33 years after their initial release.

Highlighted moments throughout this album will bounce around your head like a 22 caliber bullet. With the above mentioned Mirror in the Bathroom, Twist & Crawl and the side 1 ending, Click Click, I Just Can’t Stop It could easily work as the band’s greatest hits album save for the regrettably missing March of the Swivel Heads made famous for its use in the 1986 John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ska, as a whole, understandably, isn’t a genre for the masses. But I challenge any willing reader to embark on this creative milestone of positive grooves and NOT dig just about every Surf-Rock influenced, Rastafarian-vibe, bass-heavy, foot-tapping, good-ol’-fashioned-merry music found in this 1980 Sire Records release.

End of side 1

Beat BackMan, The English Beat make me wish I had a swimming pool to wade in and drink my pitcher of Mojitos. I’d settle for the kiddie pool in which we used to wash my Grandparent’s dog. There’s just something about this music that touches upon the “fun in the sun” pleasure spots. Do you know where your “fun in the sun” pleasure spots are? Go ahead. Touch them. You’ll thank me.

This album is pretty tightly produced, and is overall pretty slick. It’s evident these guys practiced a few times before recording this album, which, makes sense if you think about it. The only criticism I would offer is that the majority of the songs sound alike. That can be a good and a bad thing. If you’re into strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles, then you’ll likely want all the strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles you can get. This album, not unlike strawberry ice cream with hot fudge and gummy bear sprinkles is a specific palate, but oh, boy, what a palate it is!

On the back cover is a picture of a short skirt-wearing chick holding an album while standing next to a New Age looking turntable. The album in her hands? Why, I Just Can’t Stop It, of course. She’s got a smile on her face, which implies that the music from this album will cause you to smile as well! Some subtle marketing can go a long way.

So, ok, bottom line: GET THIS ALBUM!

End of side 2

As seen on TV

Record Vacuum - BoxThis 1976 “Record-Vacuum” by Ronco™ is hardly a vacuum. It’s basically a record holder with a wheel that spins the record against 2 foam brushes. This may have been the talk of the town back in ol’ ’76, but now it’s virtually just a Record Dirtier (As seen on TV).

I guess after 37 years the brushes may need to be changed out. Not sure if Ronco™ is still manufacturing those. The history of Ronco™ can be found here.  Surprisingly, the damn thing still turns on!

I basically keep it around as a conversation piece, but sadly, those conversations are quite short (much like this post).

Record Vacuum - Pryor