What's All This Then

Why should I care what this guy has to say?

The correct answer is that you shouldn’t. We’re all entitled to our opinions. Develop your own. I try to be sane and rational, but that may change with the level of caffeine intake. I’m just telling my stories in the hopes they may amuse and/or inform others. And... I Confess... I'm showing off my bitchen collection a bit.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from George Harrison

There aren't that many New Year's  Eve songs out there.   George Harrison put out one in 1974.  Kind of light, but appropriate for the evening.   Play this and a few Guy Lombardo tunes and you're all set.

George already had plans to start his own label when the Apple/EMI expired the following year.  Rather than go for the standard Apple label, he opted for a custom label on the 45 showing (I think) his future wife on one side.   Take that Linda and Yoko.   George can play this game too.

George put himself on the B-Side.   An instrumental invitation to see his next tour.  

George's final Apple release, Extra Texture, featured an Apple logo that was just the core.  Was he bitter? Maybe.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Grandes Hits De Los Rockin' Devils

While killing some time at a thrift store during my daughter, Wendy Saugus', piano lesson, I came across this record.  A scan of the song titles ensured to the world that I would invest the 50 cents needed to acquire this one.  I'm a big fan of current rock hits sung in different languages by local cover bands.

All the way home I kept repeating a mantra.

Please let these be sung in Spanish, Please let these be sung in Spanish

 I rushed into the house and bypassed my usual thrift store decontamination ritual of dusting, slathering with record cleaning solution and vacuuming.  Couldn't wait to give this one a spin.  

I was not disappointed.   It's all in Spanish.  The band is passable.   Favorite tracks here are Up Around the Bend (El Cafe Del Amor - 'The Cafe of Love?"), Whole Lotta Love (Demasiado Amor - "Too Much Love?"), Venus and Victoria.   The last two don't require a translation as they're proper nouns in the original song, but the words are in Spanish on the recording.

i mantener en rockin !

Saturday, December 27, 2014

It Comes in a Brown Paper Bag

I have a few records that originally were packaged in brown paper bags.

Jefferson Airplane - Bark  (Grunt 1971)

Jefferson Airplane's first post Marty Balin offering came wrapped in an imitation shopping bag.   Part of the overall cover concept.   A paper bag wraps a fish.  A fish with human teeth I might add.    

John and Yoko - Two Virgins  (Apple 1968)

Here the paper bag serves a different purpose.  It covers up John and Yoko's naughty bits.

Capital refused to release this in the USA. Apple records was still under the Capitol/EMI banner and carried the catalog numbers of their parent company.     This one was distributed by Tetragrammation which was owned by Bill Cosby.   Mr Jello Pudding Pops.   Dr. Huxtible.  Not shown here is the front cover, which show's Lennon's London Times wafting feely in the breeze.

It's worth noting that this LP measures about 2/3 of a cubit.

Led Zeppelin  -  In Through the Out Door  (Swan Song 1980)

Yet another paper bag.   The gag here was that the album came in six different covers.   The consumer had no clue which one they were going to get.   If you wanted them all, you had to keep buying them.  It worked very much like bubblegum cards.   Maybe that was the plan all along.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I Put a Cork On It

A Christmas gift for my turntable.  I put a cork on it.

I've had a lot of static in my house recently.  Santa Ana winds.  No rain.  The dog (probably not a cause, but we tend to blame atmoshperic anomalies on her).

Static can make a record sound scratchy even though it's not.

Records are spun here on Technics SL-D2 tables.  The original rubber mats had to go bye-bye as they were decomposing into an oily goo.  At first I thought it was just some oil surrounding the moving parts that got loose, but was advised by a turntable tech that it was the rubber.   I then sought out felt 'anti-static' mats.

These looked cool, but it seemed to me they generated static on their own.  Sometimes I'd even take an LP off the platter only to have the 'anti-static' mat come up with it.    Didn't seem like they were doing their job of sucking away the charges.

After about 30 seconds of research online, I saw that cork was the way to go.  Great.  Then I saw that cork mats were in the neighborhood of $50 unless they had some advertising on it.  Some were even as high as $120.

I then did about 30 more seconds of research to discover that they could easily be made at home.

This is exactly what I did.   The process is very simple.

1.  Go to a craft store and get a sheet of cork.  I got a four pack of 12 inch squares for under $10.  You can even find some patterns and colors if you choose.  I got green ones.  Usually you won't see it if you're playing LP's, but I play a lot of 45's.

2.  Find an LP you don't care about.  A hacked up disc or any Eagles album will do.  The LP WILL get damaged.  I recommend using an Eagles album.  It's good for humanity.

3.  Take a sharpie, mark the center hole and trace the perimeter.

4.  Cut it out using an exacto knife.

5.  Voila.

It's got a nice grip.  It's kind to your records. It looks nice.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Austin, Texas.

Austin is a great town.    Live music everywhere.  BBQ joints.  Beer flowing over your grandmother's paisley shawl.  Hipsterism abounds without pretension.  Cowboy hats and fedoras live together without incident.  Bats fly from under a bridge on summer evenings like clockwork.   Old houses get converted into micro-breweries.  Rolling hills.  UT.  Lake Lady Bird and Lake LBJ.  Live music and BBQ at the airport.    You know as soon as you've left the plane that you've arrived somewhere special.

It's not like other cities in Texas.   I've been to Dallas and Houston.  Feh!   I'll take Austin any day.

They take pride in their unique take on things.  'Keep Austin Weird' is their unofficial slogan.

And they have some pretty decent record stores.  

I'll talk about my three favorite.

Friends of Sound

Here's Friends of Sound Records.    It's in the hipster enclave south of the river.   To further make it interesting, the store is located in the back alley.   

Great selection and a bargain room.    What else could you ask for?

The back alley entrance.  Am I supposed to be here?  Will there be zombies?  

I'm pretty sure I got an LP by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders when I was there last June.  

End of an Ear

This is my favorite store in Austin.  Also in the hipster enclave south of the river.  It shares the building with a boutique that sells only used flannel shirts.  It's called The Boytique.

End of An Ear - Official Website


Up on the other side of campus.  A nice store with a great selection of used vinyl.  I got a nice copy of Captain Beefheart's Spotlight Kid here.

Antone's Records - Official Site

And yes there's Waterloo.  I was a bit overwhelmed after an hour or so and left without making a purchase.  I have the same problem with Amoeba in Hollywood.  Down the road from Waterloo was a shop called El Cheapo.  I don't think they're around any longer.   

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Time is Here Again - Happy Holidees

What are the dogs staring at?

The photographer is obviously holding a steak or something off to the left.

The music is peppy instrumental organ music.  I've seen another album by this guy where he's water skiing with his organ.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Time is Here Again - The Taiwanese Ventures

The Tiawanese Ventures?  At least how it was explained to me.  I got this at Paul's in Hong Kong.  With a cover like that, how could I possibly resist.   It's even got a uke.  

The music doesn't come close to The Ventures or any other instrumental band from the early '60's.  The Challengers even put it to shame.  But That Cover!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dylan - A Tale of Two Blondes

Blonde on Blonde.  Dylan's classic album from 1966.

The outside unfurled

And the inside photos

A while back, I found a mono pressing.  It was a bit of a surprise to find different pictures on the inside gatefold.

I have a late '70's pressing in stereo.   Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands sounds extremely muffled.  Not so on the mono version.  The mix on all the other sides is stellar.  Even though there is a bit more surface noise, the loud pressing and the mix make this my go-to version of Blonde on Blonde when I'm in the mood.   Side 3 is currently my favorite Dylan side.  Side 2 has the hits.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Esquivel vs. the Ames Brothers

Esquivel's trademarks were otherworldly sounds and ping pong stereo effects.  Today we call this 'space-age bachelor pad music'

Esquivel was embraced by the early hipsters about ten years ago which caused the prices to shoot up in the used record emporiums.  
Things are now getting back to normal.  Enjoy the splendor of the cover.

About a week after writing about the Ames Brothers' Destination Moon album, I pulled this Esquivel album out when we had some friends over for cocktails.  Something seemed familiar......

And there you have it.  I guess RCA didn't want to spring for a new backdrop.     

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beatles Anthology and Christmas Time is Here Again.

Ever since the breakup of The Beatles, fans had been clamoring EMI to open the vaults.  The record company insisted that there was nothing worth releasing.  This was proven wrong (sort of) in the early '90's when the Unurpassed Masters bootleg CD series appeared.  

The remaining band members responded with a 10 hour documentary and 6 CD's worth of previously unreleased material.  To sweeten the deal, the remaining band members took two unfinished Lennon songs and finished them.  

Those two songs were included on The Beatles Anthology and also released as 45's with B-Sides that were not included on the massive set.   

I can't let mention of The Beatles Anthology CD's go without my humble opinion getting in the way.  In reality, there is only an album's worth of good material here.  This works out to be only 12% of what ended up being released.  The bulk of the rest consists of ideas that were scrapped in favor of the final release, some low-fi live tracks, and the worst of all 'outfakes.'   An 'outfake' is a blending of several tracks to come up with a unique version.  An extra instrumentation from this track.  A scrapped vocal added this other track, etc.  Take, for example,  And Your Bird Can Sing. Giving us a vocal track where the band descends into laughter is fun, but a bit tacky to manufacture.

With all this, where are some of the rumored tracks?  The 25 minute Helter Skelter?  The I Want You (She's So Heavy) with a McCartney vocal?   It's All Too Much with the extra verse as heard in 'Yellow Submarine?'  The rooftop concert complete and unedited?   They may be out there, but they may not be that good. 

Bottom line  - The Beatles Anthology took 6 CD's to drive home the point that The Beatles made the correct artistic decisions the first time around.   There's a reason they scrapped those ideas in the first place.  

Here are the 45's

Free As a Bird b/w Christmas Time is Here Again

Lennon demo completed by the other Beatles with production by Jeff Lynne.   The B-Side is a Christmas ditty originally part of one of the yearly records mailed to the fan club.  Personally, I would include this on the (imagined) single LP version of Anthology.  It didn't even make it to the massive set.

Real Love b/w Baby's in Black

Another Lennon demo finished by the others.  B-Side is from the Hollywood Bowl concerts - which was released on vinyl and has not yet seen the light of day digitally.

You may think that George, John and (especially) Ringo are flashing gang signals or signaling the pitcher, but in reality they were holding cigarettes.  Someone airbrushed them out to make the photo safe for today's consumer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jack in the Box Volume 2 - Where Oil comes From

Another volume in the Jack in the Box flexis.   This one explains where they get all the grease for the onion rings.  Typical millionaire making the clown and the immigrant do all the work.

Here we have Mr. Liederhosen making excuses as company arrives.  He's been eating nothing but Jack In The Box food. He who smelt it dealt it.

The clown seems to be pretty happy going into a house that smells.

and of course this one deserves a lyric reprint.

This earth is very, very old, and in its early days
There once grew plants and creatures
In the strangest shapes and ways
Some plants and fish and animals
Why they lived on a stony ledge
Beside the shallow water, that is at the ocean's edge

There came a time when the waters rose

Above the ocean side, and millions and 
Millions of these living things
Whey they were flooded and they died.

These plants and animals decayed

We're not surprised at that but what
Is very strange is that in time
They turned into a mass of fat.

When more time passed, and brought a change

Upon this heavy fat
You see it was buried under heavy mud
That pressed it very flat
Now the center of the earth was extremely hot
And all this heat and weight turned this solid mass of fat
Into a liquid state

More time went by than we can count

And so it came to pass that all this fat turned into oil
And gave off natural gas

Yes, natural gas and oil

Were living creatures long ago
And that is what has made the oil
From the oil wells flow


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Places my Louie Louie Has Been

Here I take you through the journey of my first 45.   Louie Louie by the Kingsmen on Wand.  Had it since I was a tyke.  It's been with me most of my life and I can say with certainty that it was played on every turntable/record player I've ever owned.

A Typical Kids' Player

I started with something like this.  Most people of my vintage did.   It was a General Electric, but I couldn't possibly say which model it was.  Memory says it was white.  The 45 spindle rose up from the middle.

The Grundig Majestic

Parent's stereo in the living room.  They didn't have very many records.  The Readers Digest Big Band Era box set comes to mind.  I have that one in my collection now.

Kids weren't allowed to play their records here when parents were home.  This thing was LOUD.  It had a tube amp and deep rich bass sound.  The turntable lived in the cabinet on the front of the console.

Many years later this ended up in my room.  Poor me.

The Admiral

My dad built out the basement as kind of  a rec room.  We had an Admiral portable stereo down there.   I believe this is the exact model.  I remember putting my Matchbox cars on it and turning it on 16.

After we moved into a house with no basement, this ended up being ferried between my room and my sister's room.

The Panasonic.

Jack's Record Player. Vintage Panasonic RD 7376 Automatic Turn Table Record Player LP 78 45 33 16 RPM | eBay

The first truly mine stereo. It's from Builders Emporium - a local hardware chain that had a record department.  Cheap little job that came with component receiver and speakers.  Ceramic cartridge.  Heavy tone arm that could be enhanced with a coin if it wasn't tracking well.

The Pioneer PL-12D

My first quality turntable. When I got my first job, this is what I bought. I sensed that I was wrecking my records with that heavy tonearm on the Panasonic.  I still ran it though that cheap Panasonic receiver and it needed a preamp.    It was decommissioned because it wouldn't hold the pitch between 45 and 33.  If one was adjusted correctly the other would be fast or slow.

It was a single play with no automated features.  I could play the run out grooves on Sgt Pepper, The Who Sell Out and King Crimson USA.

I still have it in a storage locker.  I'm too sentimentally attached to let it go.  It got me all through high school and college.

The Dual

Got a dual hoping it would be a better table.  It held its pitch better than the aging Pioneer.  Still, I never really liked it.  It had an annoying motor rumble that could be heard during the quiet parts of loud records.  I was listening to a lot of prog then.

The Technics SL-D2

Taking Louie Louie For a Spin

This is the table that my wife had before we were married.  It's a direct drive Technics.  Love these.   This replaced the Dual as the main table.  Subsequently, I got another on Ebay.   They're both in service.  Over the years, I've been getting beat up ones for parts.  They're quiet and easy to work on.  Used to be able to get them for around $40 on eBay.  Now they're closer to $250.

They've got a strobe and an adjustable pitch control.  Perfect for the pitch conscious listener.

For those who have these - toss the rubber cover over the platter.  They disintegrate into an oily goo.  I use a felt pad instead.

I'm using the Shure M97 cartridge on both of them.

They're great little workhorses.  Hope to keep them running for a long time.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Fair Lady

Who is the fairest of them all?

To each his own I guess.  Try to figure out the look on her face.  Is it 'come hither' or 'where the hell have you been?'   Looks like she's been waiting at the dining room table for hours with nothing to do but blow smoke into the low hanging chandelier.  

I don't mean to insult this woman. I'm sure she's a very nice 3rd grade teacher by day.  Kind of reminds me of Miss Lonelyhearts from Rear Window.  

Well she must have been in the mood for love.  She pressed those ash tray lips against the back of the record.  Probably while waiting for her man to show - if he ever did.

The songs from the hit play/movie are all here.

I Could Have Danced All Night (If you bothered to show up)
With a Little Bit of Luck  (You just might show up)
On The Street Where You Live (Don't get too smug mister, I know where you sleep)
Wouldn't it Be Love-erly (If I just showed up there unannounced)
Musical Moods of England (Moods?  Don't talk to me about moods.  Do you want me to tighten that gag? )
The Rain in Spain (It falls on the plain.  That's gives me an idea.)
Open Countryside (Where I will dump the body)
Shepherd's Dance (What they'll do after I pay them for the burial)
Get Me to the Church On Time (I wouldn't miss your funeral for the world)
Morris Dance (What I'll do with my cat when I get home)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

West Coast Punk - The Bags

I believe this was the first LA punk band I ever saw.  They opened for the Weirdos at the Whiskey.  Must have been 1977 or 1978.   Went to the show out of curiosity.  From there I was hooked.  What a scene.  Tons of bands playing high energy original material.   Shows somewhere every weekend.  

Ended up seeing the Bags often.  They were always around with the first generation LA Punk Bands (The Germs, X, The Screamers, The Weirdos).   

The band was led by two women from East LA, Alice Bag (vocals) and Pat Bag (bass).  Rock critic/writer Craig Lee was on guitar.  The lineup was completed by Rob Ritter on other guitar and Terry Dad Bag on drums.

This is their Dangerhouse single.

Survive b/w Babylonian Gorgon

As with many of the Dangerhouse singles, the cover was merely a folded piece of paper in a plastic sleeve.  This one didn't cover both sides leaving a blank space on the back.

The Bags in action.  This pretty much captures what it was like.

Pat Bag left the band prior to their appearance in 'The Decline of Western Civilization.' where they appeared as The Alice Bag Band.  Rob Ritter, Pat Bag and Terry Dad Bag ended up in The Gun Club.   Pat Bag further went on to join The Damned.  

They are missed along with all the other bands and the scene.