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, June 28, 2016

Ultimate Spinach

When I first saw this record at End of An Ear in Austin, TX, I thought it was a spoof.   The name of the band meant I had to at least check it out.  I love bad psych albums.  But no, it was a real band.  It ain't half bad either.

Ultimate Spinach (MGM 1969)

The name sounds like a fictitious band from a 60's sitcom.  The Velvet Vultures from Family Affair comes to mind.   Or The Atomic Enchilada from The Turtles 'Battle of the Bands' album.  

A little research reveals this is the third album by an established band from the psychedelic Boston scene.   One of the musicians here is Jeff Baxter, later of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan.

My favorite track on this is Eddie's Rush.  I don't think he was trying to join a frat.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

G is for Grand Funk Railroad

Not the most respected of the heavy bands from the late '60's.  They were very popular with the Jr. High set at the time.

Grand Funk came from Detroit rising out the ashes of Terry Knight and The Pack.  Besides the Motown output, Michigan spawned a lot of great bands.  The Stooges, The MC5, The Amboy Dukes and Mitch Ryder come to mind.

For their fifth album, they made the cover like a coin

Grand Funk Railroad - E Pluribus Funk  (Capitol 1971)

So here we got Mark, Don and Mel on the head of a coin.  No denomination is given.  I often saw this for 50 cents in the used bins.  I thought it would be fun to buy one with a Kennedy half dollar - just as a private performance art piece.

On the back it's supposed to be Shea Stadium where Grand Funk Railroad broke The Beatles sales record for the venue.  They were huge.

And we get a round inner sleeve as well.  Everything about this record is round.  Even the new round Capitol logo.

As far as I can tell, this is one of the (if not the) earliest instances of a custom label.  As the '70's progressed these became more common for prestige releases - especially for prog bands.

How is the music you ask?  I've always considered Grand Funk Railroad to be big dumb fun.  I still get a smile when I put it on.  Very heavy on the bass and drums.  Very simple playing.  Very simple lyrics

If we had a president that did just what he said
The country would be just alright and no one would be dead

A musician friend of mine described a drum solo he witnessed at one of their shows.  The drummer appeared to bang his head on his drums to make a loud crashing sound,  In reality he was playing his bass drum and high hat foot pedals when his head got near the drum kit.  The middle school kids thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I had this at time of release. When purging uncool records in high school, this was one of the first to go.  I felt I had outgrown it.  I found it in a used bin many years later and repurchased it.

I have long since had a policy of not purging.  I may file some things away from the main collection, but no longer purge.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here

Back in the '70's, bands (especially prog bands) were compelled to have eye grabbing graphics on the their covers.  Hipgnosis was one of the leading designers of prog albums working for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd among many others.

Here's a package of theirs from the 70's complete with trippy photos in the Hipgnosis style.

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here  (Columbia 1975)

Released in 1975, but most of the material was previewed live in 1974 along with some tracks that ended up on Animals in 1977.

When one walked into the store looking for the striking visual expected of Pink Floyd, they were confronted with an album wrapped in opaque shrink wrap.  I managed to peel it off the album without tearing it.

Inside on the cover and inner sleeves, we're presented with photographs depicting the four elements.  Each had a flaw representing said element.

1.    Fire - With a little bit of burn on the upper right of the photo.

2.   Earth - With a little bit of sand coming out the bottom.

3.  Wind - With the sides of the photo flapping a bit.

4.  Water - with a bit of water coming out the bottom.

Since water was a bit smaller, we got a postcard.  The photo is of a swimmer doing a hand stand in stinky shallow Mono Lake in Central California.  A very interesting place with tufa spires and brine flies.  It's incredibly salty and it smells.

And of course it came with a special label.

I'm quite fond of this record and Animals. These were the last times the band seemed to actually function as a band.   Sue me -  I hate The Wall.  

I saw them when they did a tour of this material before the album came out.   The Los Angeles Sports Arena  (a moment of silence, it's being torn down as we speak).   April 24, 1975.  Sat in Loge 7 Row 3 Seat 7.

I managed to save a program which features the lyrics to Shine on You Crazy Diamond.  Also lyrics for Raving & Drooling and You Gotta Be Crazy which later saw the light on Animals as Dogs and Sheep.

And a cheery little flier from the LAPD who were very aggressive with the arrests.   For many years, bands wouldn't play a venue within the city limits.  Instead they opted for The Forum in Inglewood or the Arena in Long Beach.  LAPD chief Ed Davis soon went down in a barrage of scandal.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Mr. Cha Cha Cha

If you have kids, you're probably familiar with Mr. Choo Choo.  As adults in the early 50's, Mr. Cha Cha Cha arrived on the scene.

Rene Touzet hailed from Cuba.  After moving to the USA in 1944, he had gigs with Desi Arnaz, Xavier Cugat and Stan Kenton.

Rene Touzet - Mr. Cha Cha Cha (GNP 1958)

I dig the drawings of the instruments.

This record came from the vast father in law collection.  He let me have them with the caveat that he could make requests when he came over  - which meant I had to catalog them and know where they were at the drop of a hat.    Many of them later ended up in a big ol' box.  When moving some things around, I came across this one.  I'm playing it as I type.

According to Wikipedia (so it's gotta be true), Touzet's arrangement for El Loco Cha Cha originated the riff which would later be used for Louie Louie.   So he might be one of the contenders to the title Mr. Rock and Roll.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Happy Flag Day

In honor of June 14th, Flag Day here in the USA, I give you.....

Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (Epic 1971)

A red white and BLACK flag with suns instead of stars.

No text on the cover - front or back

No song list or credits on the inside gatefold.

the only place we see what it is would be the labels.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Yet Another Thing I Once Believed That I Now Know Not to Be True - The Rolling Stones

Myth:  The cover shot of The Rolling Stones - High Tide and Green Grass Big Hits Volume 1 was shot in some idyllic English garden.  At least that's what I always thought growing up.

Reality:  It was shot in Franklin Canyon Park just behind the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.  Just a few miles from where they recorded at RCA near Sunset and Vine.

Franklin Canyon is pretty much at the geographic center of Los Angeles.  Other noteworthy uses include the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show and the hitchhiking scene in 'It Happened One Night'

Here's a link to the Wikipedia Page

Franklin Canyon Park

The photo session sourced a few Rolling Stones picture sleeves from the era as well.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Those 45 Insert Things

Those 45 insert things.....

They've become iconography for vinyl collectors.

RCA developed the 45 to replace 78's.  They also marketed a changer/player to go along with it.  The big hole is the result of the large mechanism needed at the time for the spindle.  Jukeboxes were made to accommodate the big hole.  After a while, this became the standard for 45's made in the USA.

Initially, Columbia didn't feel the need for a changer as their LP design could play up to 18 minutes per side.   Stereo manufacturers developed one anyway.   45 changer adapters could fit on top of the LP changer spindle.

The iconic 'adapter' enables 45's to play on turntables with a standard sized spindle.  I never could see the reason for this as most turntables have spindle adapters.  Do you really want to pop this is and out for each play?

I have about 1,300 45's and prefer to use the adapter that came with the turntable.  It's much less labor intensive.

Outside of their iconic shape, which used to give me a smile when I saw them, they really have no use.  Now it just seems to be an emblem to show others how hip you are - whether you comprehend the full meaning or not.  Kind of like Che Guevara.