Well, I can’t for the life of me recall this Less Than Jake show at the Barrymore back in November of 1998. I can’t tell you who opened, who I went with, or if was any good, but for $10, you just sort of go to these things when Wisconsin winters loom and you’re underage.
Witnessing Jello Biafra’s spoken word performance at Madison, Wisconsin’s Barrymore Theatre was something of a marathon… to say the very least. I’m happy to have experienced this entertaining sprint, though the unexpected 4+ hours eclipsed the rest of our evening’s planned activities. All of this is irrelevant, of course, because we were told, firsthand, about the brutal and legal-laden break-up of the Dead Kennedys. If invited to do it all again, I’d probably say yes, which is what you should say if you see Jello’s name pop up on one of your local theater fliers. The man is a legend, a pissed off legend, but certainly worthy of the nominal cover charge.
The Promise Ring’s debut album, 1996’s 30° Everywhere is, was, and will forever be the soundtrack to dark and dreary winter evenings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Originally released on Jade Tree Records in a variety of colors (blue, grey, red, white, yellow…), this 12-track opus is considered an integral part of emo’s second wave. Most scoff at the term emo, and they’re not necessarily wrong, as the term has ballooned into absurd and embarrassing proportions, but this album, this band, at that time… well, there was little better.
Oh, man. The BoDeans. I distinctly remember hearing them blasting from top 40 radio in the mid 80s, likely from the portable Walkman I’d borrow from my father on bicycle trips across town. Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (featured here) is the band’s debut album, and although not their most successful, is considered by many critics to be their greatest achievement. I fall somewhere in the middle, taking a fancy to 1987’s Outside Looking In, but they’re both solid pieces of 80s pop.
Oh, man. I can say, with an honest tongue, that the Dead Kennedys were my favorite band for about six months one year back in the early 2000’s. This copy was purchased at a little book store in Madison, WI (I believe it was Frugal Muse) while on my way back to the pizza shop on a delivery. One takes luxuries now and again, and for only $10 which, at the time was high, but seems like tip money now. I think my move to California and my new found love for James Booker knocked me out of my DK cloud, but their first two albums are still in my top 20 of all time (1980’s Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and this, 1982’s Plastic Surgery Disasters). Cheers.
Arguably Madison, Wisconsin’s most prolific achievement, punkers Naked Aggression barked socialist ideals over light speed rhythms for audiences of couch protesters and pro-choice supporters alike. Though their idea of state smashing and organized religion bashing weren’t new as of the early 1990s, their collective voice has withstood the test of time (a rigged, almost impossible test to pass), and are greatly deserving of a solid, and focused listen.
Little known fact… I did not know that Steve Miller, Milwaukee, WI native, was the Godson of guitar legend Les Paul. I’m not surprised, per se, but it is an interesting fact. It just so happened that I found The Steve Miller Band’s sophomore studio album (pictured here) at a Goodwill near the Milwaukee area, some several years ago. With a beautiful cover, Sailor featured the last appearance from original band member, Boz Scaggs. The more you know.
Back in 1997, alligator-fighting, pop-punk Floridians Less Than Jake released their third studio album titled, Hello Rockview. 1998, in all its majestic glory, saw a reissue of Rockview in a 7x 7″ box set, featured here. It shames me, but I haven’t heard this album (series of 7″ records) in nearly 20 years, having purchased it from a forgotten record shop in Milwaukee, roughly around that time. I’ve sold many records, for many reasons, throughout the years, but I’ve kept this box set. Something (something?) tells me, it was for good reason.
I’ve been an avid listener of The Statler Brothers, long before I knew who they were. WXRO, Dodge County’s home to early 80s country (my grandparents’ favorite channel), blew out boom-chicka tune after boom-chicka tune of earnest, earworm, country ballads. Often heard filling the warm, rural walls of the busy farm house were the elegant harmonies of this magnificent quartet. Listening to them now takes me back to a much more simple time. One filled with Miller Lite pull tabs, and hornet infested tire swings.
Among the pile of “to be entered into Discogs.com” is this 19?? 78rpm of Peter Cottontail from Capitol Records. Bozo approved, which I imagine was a purified sign of prestigious quality back in the day, Mr. Cottontail’s, well, tale, will be the first spun during tomorrow’s mid-mourning session. Let’s say I didn’t watch Bozo the Clown on WGN in the mornings before school for, oh, let’s say close to 10 years, and let’s say I’m not a strong advocate of Mr. The Clown’s Grand Prize Game on said show. If both of these weren’t painfully obvious, I’d still lean my attention to a Bozo approved 78. Mr. Cottontail certainly had some heavy endorsers in his bushy, stolen carrot-filled pocket, and, well, he just made another. Peter Cottontail by Jimmy Wakely on Capitol Records is Groove approved. Next…
This Telegraph, Skolars split is something of legend in my personal circle (of two). Ever since seeing Telegraph opened for Less Than Jake at my buddy’s 18th birthday (way back in 1997), I’ve been a (wherewithal) loyal Telegraph fan. I saw The Skolars here, and then their reincarnation at said 18th bday, LTJ show. I’m ecstatic to own Quit Your Band (97 Demo) and Open 24 Hours on vinyl. It’s a good day when these tracks get spun, and I encourage all quasi-ska-punk lovers to consider both The Skolars and Telegraph to justify your next swing-filled fix.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about which record, song, or band related article of clothing could be worthy of the 1000th post milestone. I’d thought about an elaborate photo shoot involving mannequins, mood lighting, and every colored vinyl record I own, but quickly abandoned that scheme due to time and budget. So instead, I’m reaching back… WAY back to my elementary school years to one my most prized possessions, 1984’s The Music Book.
My grade school had a music house, an old, free-standing building acquired by the administration which was converted into a large singing and instrument-practicing box. From kindergarten through 6th grade, I’d shuffle across the street with my coworkers (classmates) and we’d put on our color-coded name tags and learn about the wondrous world of music. In the early years, before poorly attempting my hand (and lungs) at the alto sax, we’d sing various songs from the purple bible known as The Music Book. Rife with colorful illustrations and catchy, young crowd-pleasing songs, The Music Book sat in a long row on the North wall of the music house, and each grubby little troublemaker would grab one before taking his or her assigned seats. Our teacher, the lovely and talented Mrs. Fenske, would take roll call, then requests for which song the class wanted to sing first. At the Court of King Carraticus, It’s All Right to Cry, and The Lollipop Tree were all crowd favorites, and often sung every day.
Now, I’m not sure if it was youthful innocence, the comic-like illustrations, or the music itself, but for a bunch of us, The Music Book meant so much more than just another text book. It represented a blameless and simple era of our lives inspired by the art of noise, and served as an open door to a lifelong appreciation for the medium. Because I’m a sentimental sap, I hold this book very dear to my heart. It is a symbol of purity, of animated gaiety, and I look back at that time with fervent admiration. For my love of music, I have Mrs. Fenske and The Music Book to thank.
Feeling a bit on the homesick side of things lately, and it doesn’t get more “home-y” than J.R. Cash. This 1968 copy of the 2-LP set, The Heart of Johnny Cash was owned by my Grandfather, and was one of the great, many Cash albums I acquired after his inevitable, yet unfortunate death. What I wouldn’t give to share a whiskey and a spin with him now.
Johnny Cash, the perfect remedy for the homesick blues.
For their third album, Milwaukee natives Violent Femmes veered toward a more pop-influenced and mainstream radio-focused offering with their 1986 release, The Blind Leading the Naked. The first of their albums produced by someone other than Mark Van Hecke, TBLTN featured the production skills of Talking Heads’ keyboardist, and fellow Milwaukee native, Jerry Harrison. Featuring the mild hit Children of the Revolution, and the fan(tastic) fav, Old Mother Reagan, TBLTN was the first album by the band to chart on Billboard, followed by 1989’s 3, 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing?, and 1994’s New Times. Nothing beats 1983’s self titled debut in my opinion, but decent Violent Femmes is better than no Violent Femmes at all.
I never knew Ike, but as an adolescent fan of 80s pop radio (Madison, Wisconsin’s Z-104), I knew Tina Turner. I knew her for asking the simple, yet tough questions in life, like, what’s love got to do with it, and what’s love but second hand emotion? I still haven’t 100% figured that out, but I’m forced to humbly accept that fact.
Released in the Orwellian year of our lord, 1984, Private Dancer was hugely successful for this pop dragon, and proved to be one of Tina’s best selling albums (selling over 5 million copies). Four Grammy wins for Private Dancer, and this majestic beast would be forever cemented into the sponge-like minds of rural Wisconsin’s youth.
EBM… a former roommate introduced me to Nitzer Ebb, and I thank you explicitly, Tricia. This $3 necessity was had from a little hallway of a record shop across the street from Nick Nice’s shop in Madison, WI. This is the humble shop where I acquired my first Revolting Cocks record… where I snatched the Hot Snakes debut, the Lenny Soundtrack, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack, and Johnny Cash’s American IV… needless to say, $3 for Ebb’s debut, however mangled, was a bargain, given the circumstances. Covers be damned, until the time in which they be praised.
2000’s Pump Up the Valuum was just about the time I started to “respectfully” lose interest in NOFX. As one who is prominent in giving respect where (crass) respect is due, I’ll always hold the NOFX hand close to the chest, but at a certain point, abandonment seems a worthy option.
I doubt I’ve heard this album in over 15 years… that, is my cross to “badger.”