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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Exotic Island - Martin Denny Light

In the vein of Martin Denny, I give you The Sounds of Exotic Island by the Surfmen.  

I know absolutely nothing about this record.  I got it from a friend who gave me first crack at the records being sold when her mom was 'downsizing.'   She thinks it belonged to her father.  

There's something special about this record that makes it a joy to bring out at parties.  The Martin Denny Orchestra included band members who made bird calls.  These bird calls sounded real and added to the tropical rain forest feel of the music.

Well, the Surfmen, whoever they are, adopted this technique as well. In contrast, they weren't that good at it.  The result is the sound of humans going 'caw caw' very loudly over the music.  You don't have to be a member of the Audobon Society to know it's not a bird. 

Oh yes, and a pretty racy cover as well.  That might have been why my friend's father bought it.  It couldn't have been the music. I can't tell where the Sweet Leilani ends and the orchid begins.  Kind of reminds me of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' for some reason.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Prima Time!

Gotta love the Prima!.  Very exciting stuff that must have been a gas to hear live.  He performed with Sam Butera and the Witnesses.   In the band was his wife, Keely Smith.  

She was a good singer who occasionally had a film role here or there.  Most notably in Robert Mitchum's 'Thunder Road'.  You can refer to it as a Mitchum film because he wrote it, produced it,  starred in it, wrote the title song, performed the title song, and fathered the main supporting actor.

David Lee Roth thought he could do Prima with Just a Gigolo.  I don't think anyone who's heard the original would think so.

Strickly Prima

A thrift store find

Call of the Wildest

Another thrift store find.  He must have loved that sweater, because it appears in both album covers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Belafonte introduces Dylan

Harry Belafonte was a big star in the late 50's/early 60's.  He introduced calypso and Carribean Folk to the masses.  He championed liberal causes throughout his carrer.

Belafonte was very popular in liberal households.  Anecdotal evidence from friends with liberal parents whose collections ended up with me.  I also tend to judge the deceased at estate sales.  Seeing some Belafonte in the stacks of LP's tells me a lot.  The album below was once owned by Babette Oppenheimer.

I present his album The Midnight Special (RCA 1962).

Not sure what the cover image is trying to convey.  His posing in front of that light makes the whole thing look like the ace of spades.  Is he making some sort of comment on racism by having it be the color of hearts or diamonds.

One thing this album is noted for - The first recorded appearance of Bob Dylan.  This was released before his first album.

So thank you Harry, for doing the right thing, for popularizing Calypso music in the USA, for your activism for racial equality, and for giving Dylan some session money so he could buy a new coat.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CD Trader in Tarzana, CA

Tarzana, CA.  Yes, it's named after Tarzan.  Edgar Rice Borroughs had a ranch there.  It's now a fairly affluent suburb of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.  In an unassuming strip mall on Ventura Blvd lies CD Trader.  It's sandwiched between one of those breakfast places that people stand around for an hour to get a table (That's something I could never do - wait for food) and a BBQ joint called El Paso BBQ.  For some reason, a BBQ joint in a affluent suburb doesn't interest me.  I'm a big fan of Dr. Hoggly Woggly's Tyler Texas BBQ in Van Nuys.  Or anything in Austin, TX.

So anyway, back to CD Trader.   Don't let the name fool you. They've got plenty of Vinyl.  I'm not certain, but I think they were once affiliated with the now defunct Record Trader in Reseda.  I've gotten some gems at both stores.  Just yesterday (the day this picture was taken) I picked up Message From the Country by The Move.  Something I've been looking for a long while.  Also got my mono Blonde on Blonde for $5.  They've got 45's too.  

The store is kind of bright for a record store.  They've got a buy 10 get one free stamp card.  You just have to remember to present it.

If you look at Yelp for this place, you'll see some negative reviews of the staff.  Yes, some of them are snotty and surly.   I once placed a stack of LP's on the counter and the clerk looked down upon me and said 'I'm in the middle of a transaction.'   I really didn't know what that meant.  There was nobody else at the counter.  My vocal response was 'What should I do, come back later when you're not busy? Just give me the 'all clear' when you're ready to receive me.'   My silent response was 'What do you have to be snooty about? You're working retail.'   

That guy isn't usually working when I go now as my daughter's piano lesson has moved to a time when the clerk is this guy who used to run Ear Candy Records in Van Nuys.  It was next door to the RSL Speaker store where I got my original speaker gear (which is still running beautifully BTW after a recone job by Speaker City in Burbank).  He's a nice guy and actually gets excited and starts conversations about what you're buying.  Just like the days of old where those who worked in record stores did so because they needed to, not just because they needed a job.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Record Store Day - What's it All About and Thoughts on Vinyl in General


This is now, what, year eight of this annual holiday?  I've seen it grow from a scant few releases to the mega event it it today.

I still support it.

But, what's it all about?

We all know by now that vinyl is hip and trendy.  Many new-found enthusiasts get snobby real fast, much like born-again anythings that are suddenly holier than the old guard.

Don't get me wrong, I welcome them.  I'm not one to looks down upon someone because they like some band (to their face at least).   I've been at this hobby/obsession/way of life/sickness for about 50 years now.

In the old days, vinyl was pretty much the only way to acquire recordings.  It wasn't about the medium, it was about the music.  It wasn't that you had something on a certain format.  There were no special pressings or special packages or super-deluxe reissues. Those are for suckers.  I refer to those as sucker-packs.

When going over to someone's house, you could find out all you needed to know about them by looking at their records.  If you liked punk and your potential friend had disco records, the relationship would probably not work out.  Music was that important.

Some got over-passionate about it.  In the late '70's I happened to like both punk and Grateful Dead.  It would get a rise out of the non-conformist punks if I wore a Dead T-Shirt to a punk show.  I guess I didn't conform enough to their non-conformist ethos.   Didn't stop me.   It was kind of entertaining.   Deadheads didn't care.  They were (and still are) a very tolerant bunch.

The Line Behind Me 2014

So back to what I like about the holiday.

I support my local store on a regular basis.  It's nice to see a crowd there as that will ensure that they stay in business.  As a rule I don't go for the reissues unless it's something super-rare that I haven't been able to get a hold of.   The best thing for me are the rarities that come out.  7" records especially.  I like free stuff.  It's fun to hear what other people have to say about music.  The smell of unsealing new vinyl.

The Line In Front Of Me.  That child had too much coffee.  Dad had to take her somewhere as she was getting squirmy.  They never returned, leaving me one person closer.

And what I don't like

The flippers on eBay.  The prices.  The fact that I have to get up so early to wait in line.  The madhouse that Amoeba has become.  A few scammers in the line (those going to the front and giving someone some cash if they get something super limited that they'll just flip).  Those who brag about having a copy of some record that was pressed in the tens of millions.  Hearing someone spin a yarn that's not true. ( I can sympathize with Woody Allen in 'Annie Hall' when he brings Marshall McLuen in to shut some guy up in line.).  Trying to explain to regular people walking down the sidewalk what the line is for.  Drinking coffee in line and then having nowhere to pee.  The paper cuts under my fingernails after slitting the shrinkwrap of a new title.

Just Do It.

Support your local record store.  Not just on this holiday, but all thoughout the year.  Amazon may be easy, but it won't help keep vinyl alive.  Vinyl is something that you see, hear, and touch.  You can't get that online.

See below for more information on local events/celebrations and list of special releases.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

West Coast Punk - X

In my humble opinion, X was the best band to come out of the early West Coast Punk Scene.  

Their sound was loud and aggressive like the other punk bands at the time, but a few things set them apart.  Their guitarist came from Rockabilly as his previous gig was in Gene Vincent's band.  Their drummer was capable of complex poly-rhythms as opposed to the basic 1-2-3-4 of other punk drummers.  Bassist and vocalist John Doe had a love of country.  Singer Exene came into the fold from a poetry workshop.

Lyrically, they dealt with themes more akin to film noir and Raymond Chandler than snotty punks.  Dark tales of Los Angeles at night captured the mood of the city far beyond the sunshine.

I saw them many times in the early years.  At the Whisky in Hollywood, the Hong Kong Cafe in Chinatown, various free shows on local college campuses.

After seeing them a few times, it just clicked for me.  I couldn't say whether it was them or me.  Did they suddenly get better as a band or did I get it for the first time?

And their career had legs.  They continued to put out great work for many years.  They still play.  I saw them last year with all four original members.  It was still fresh and exciting.

X - Adult Books b/w We're Desperate  (Dangerhouse 1978)

Their first single.  Typical Dangerhouse packaging with a folded piece of paper in a plastic bag.

And besides, early on they did one of the best Doors covers ever.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lowe and Bowie

In 1976 David Bowie released the album Low.

Nick Lowe was flattered and returned the favor by releasing an EP entitled Bowi.