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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Let's Twist

The Twist was all the rage in the '60's.  It started with the teens, but pretty soon the cocktail set wanted to join in too.  This is a record for them.  The cover depicts what would happen if you didn't follow directions.

You don't want to get yourself into a position where you would require years of physical therapy or get a job as a human corkscrew.   Follow the easy directions on the back to get through this twist craze without injury or trauma.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sinatra Likes to Watch

Ah, young love.  Who better than Frank Sinatra to release an album of dance music for young lovers.

Frank Sinatra  - Songs for Swingin' Lovers  (Capitol 1956)

Sinatra was a pioneer of the concept album.   Rather than release records with just random tracks strung together, Ol' Blue Eyes compiled them based on a theme.   Here he provides uptempo numbers for young lovers who like to dance.

The cover shows our young couple in a close embrace focusing on each other.  In the background, Frank is staring wistfully off into the distance as if to be thinking 'Ah, young love.'

Something strange happened to the cover with the second pressing.  Sinatra is no longer staring into the distance.  He's a bit older and has already whipped his young lovers into an amorous frenzy.   

Now he wants to watch!   

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Inland Empire Record Shopping Adventure

I recently had to drive to Temecula (about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego on the inland route).  The route took me right through California's Inland Empire - a desolate wasteland of railyards, meth labs and 909ers.

The area has a few claims to fame.
  • It's the birthplace of Camper Van Beethoven.  
  • It was where a baboon heart was first transplanted into a human
  • It's the location of the very first McDonald's
  • It was where the Rolling Stones played their first US concert.  
  • It was where Grateful Dead played Terrapin Station for the first time.  
  • California Jam and The US Festival were both Inland Empire events.
  • It's the birthplace of The Hells Angels
  • It's the title of pretty bitchen David Lynch movie (although it doesn't really take place there)
The area also boasts a few record stores.

Before I dig into the individual stores, let me explain something most crate diggers know.  I'm never looking for for anything in particular.  I always wait for that magic moment where selection, price and whim come together at the same time.   If it doesn't happen, it's not the fault of the store.  I came up empty handed a few times on this trip.

First stop.  Rhino Records in Claremont.                 Rhino's Website

Located in the 'village' section of town.  Right next to the Claremont Colleges.  Once affiliated with Rhino Records near UCLA, they went independent many years ago.  It's a pretty large store that shouldn't be embarrassed by their selection of vinyl.  They should, however, be embarrassed they sell Crosleys,   Nothing really clicked for me in their regular section, but I found a few things in the bargain bin.  Most notably a mono copy of Terry Knight and The Pack - a Detroit garage band that later morphed into Grand Funk Railroad.

Next Stop.  Penny Lane in Upland.        Penny Lane's Website

An odd little store located in the back of an industrial park with no signage.  I spoke with the owner about the rare LA punk singles he was selling for $50 - $75,   I didn't need them because I had most of them.  The owner told me he's actually selling them at that price.  Great selection of 45's.  Unfortunately for me, nothing really clicked.   No fault of the store.  I will definitely return if I'm ever in the area.  It's down the street from a restaurant shaped like a boat and a motel that's a collection of Wigwams.   Remnants of Route 66.

Next.  Mad Platter in Riverside.     Mad Platter's Website

Located in a butt ugly newish shopping center adjacent to UC Riverside.  Post Modernism at its worst.  They're a sister store to Rhino in Claremont.  Great selection of vinyl.  Nothing clicked for me here other than a hacked up twist record in the cheapo section.  I can't resist twist records.

Finally, made it to Temecula and visited Old Town Records.   Old Town Records Website

Temecula used to be a small town on Route 395.   It's recently gentrified due to a local wine business, fancy ass spas and Indian gaming.  The east side of the Interstate is where they keeps their ugly shopping centers and Olive Gardens.  The west side has managed to keep it's old charm, even though  upscale restaurants (with tablecloths and everything) and antique shops have taken over the buildings.   Old Town records is right at the center.

And thank you for not adding an 'e' to the end of Town.  I always hated that.

Enjoyed this store a lot.  Great selection of old blues and pre-70's stuff.  Lots of 45's and picture sleeves.  Cool things on the wall for big bucks (like a copy of The Velvet Underground's Loaded autographed by Lou Reed - $700).  Nice vibe in the store as well. I left empty handed and spent the next half hour with a magazine and margarita across the street.

The day of my trek was President's Day.  I didn't get a chance to sample Groovers in Riverside as they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  No exceptions for holidays.  Maybe next time I'm in the area - or more likely just passing through - I'll hit them up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant was probably my favorite of the '70's prog bands.  They never really caught on with the mainstream in the USA, but prog geeks and future scientists loved them.

They didn't get signed to A US label until their third album, Three Friends.  Columbia had them for that release and the follow up Octopus.

Then comes their fifth

Gentle Giant - In a Glass House  (WWA 1971)

Most hardcore fans of the band consider this their best work.  Columbia, in all their wisdom, decided to drop the band when it was released.  This record never had a release in the USA, but quickly became one of the best selling imports - only outdone by the first Clash album ironically passed on by Columbia as well.

The cover depicted the band printed on clear plastic with an inner sleeve with alternate takes to create a 'glass house' motif.

About a year later, the band was picked up by Capitol for the remainder of their career.   The next few records, The Power and The Glory, Free Hand and Interview, were all top notch.   Then they took a turn.  Perhaps inspired by Genesis who attained massive success as their music became increasingly bland, Gentle Giant followed suit.  I find their final few albums downright unlistenable,

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Moby Grape - Pull My Finger

When releases go from a local independent label to the majors, there sometimes are adjustments to appease sensitive stockholders and mainstream retailers.

Moby Grape released their first album on the independent San Francisco Sound label in 1967.

The cover of that release is depicted below.

Once the San Francisco scene began to take off after the initial success of Jefferson Airplane and Monterrey Pop, all the majors wanted a piece of the pie.  Columbia's acquisition (along with Big Brother & the Holding Company and It's a Beautiful Day) was Moby Grape.

Ever sensitive to Mid-America retailers, they saw fit to airbrush out the offending middle digit protruding over the washboard.

In true Highlights Magazine fashion, see if you can spot the other change.  (answer below)

The back cover was not immune to senseless changes.   Aside from the usual branding change to Columbia, they decided to somehow show the brand of drums being used.

Magically suspended over the bass drum - which has no cover by the way - are the words 'Rogers'

Answer:  No, I'm not referring to the cropped picture and the addition of song titles.  For some reason, Columbia decided to change the color of the flag from red to black.

And yes, I have the full color poster with the Columbia release.  It doesn't have the finger.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Music to Work or Study By

As stated before, there's a record for every situation.

Here I offer you Music to Work or Study By.

All well and good, but I think there's much more going on with the cover than the title suggests.

What could she possibly have done?  Did she steal a car? get knocked up? chew gum in school?

Her parents hired a moonlighting prison matron to watch over our poor student.  This matron possesses what appears to be a baby's arm possibly to whack our poor pupil if she gets out of line.

Who knows?  Although she may be under strict watch, it looks like she's more focused on that apple on the floor than her books.  Shades of Eve?