Saturday, July 31, 2010

A serious flaw

I'm listening to the Stan Getz CD I got the other day, and I just realized there is one very important piece missing that should be there. Anyone want to take a guess? Here's a hint.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Emphasis on Dog

First I would like to make a clarification. There is a group called Dogwood who is currently extant who are a Christian punk group (the mere mention of such a genre has sent my curiosity meter to 20 over 9), but they are not this Dogwood.

When I was attending college in Abilene I walked into the dorm one day to find someone had put a bunch of junk they didn't want on the RA's desk in the lobby. By the way, the whole time I was there I think I saw the RA only one time, and that was for a little talk/sermon he gave to us, I guess is a good word for it. I remember the whole episode as being somehow awkwardly embarrassing yet disturbingly arousing. Anyway, all this junk had little price stickers on it and there was a small cardboard box to throw your money in for anything you wanted to take. There was this record there, so naturally I took it. The price sticker which I peeled off before scanning the cover says I must have paid 30¢ for it. Then I saw there were actually two records inside the jacket, the one that was supposed to be there and another different album by the same duo.

I found it to be a quite difficult task to find anything about this group on the internet. I finally came up with a mention of them that described them as Christian folk/country. It would have been more accurate to say they were extremely lame Christian folk/country. I listened to one of the records, then considered putting it back and taking back my 30¢, which after all was enough to pay for half of a honey bun, or 3/5 of a can of Mr. Pibb. But then I decided that no, I would keep it as a reminder that not every record is worth the 15¢ you pay for it. I never listened to the other record.

The cover art should have warned me off, but at the time I was thinking there was no way I could lose for only 30¢. I was wrong.

Schroeder would understand

Sometimes I wonder what the heck kind of paper they make these record sleeves out of. Some kind of sooper-seekrit extremely fine sandpaper, maybe? I have this one record that I played once--once--at which time I taped it and listened to the tape only from then on, and that record is scratched up like someone was using it for home base.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And that goes for "Giddyup Go" too

Well that Trucker's Jukebox Anthems double-set seems an odd bunch of songs. It's got a few songs that don't have anything to do with trucking that I can discern, such as "Busted" by Johnny Cash, "Patches" by Alabama and Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" covered by Waylon Jennings. That cover of "Up Around the Bend" by Elton John is another odd one. I had to do some research on it; apparently he recorded it in his early days but it was never released on an album until 2009 when it was put on a sort of retrospective of his early years. To my ears it doesn't even sound like him, and basically it's a carbon-copy of the original. The set is a definite win, however, in that it's a collection of trucking songs without a single song by Red Sovine. If I ever hear "Teddy Bear" again, things are gonna get ugly. Of course they had to put C.W. McCall's "Convoy" on it, but in my opinion "Wolf Creek Pass" beats that one by a long shot.

And now we come to the most difficult part of this post, in which I admit something potentially embarrassing: I like LeAnn Rimes. You may now feel free to ridicule me mercilessly, but I don't think it will change my mind.

Now that that's out of the way, I came across an interesting cover the other day. I was looking for other versions of "Seven Bridges Road" and found that Rita Coolidge had recorded it on her first album, which is not available anywhere anymore except as a collector's item. I went looking to see if maybe as a last resort I could download a bootleg copy of it and couldn't find it, however I did come across her version of "For the Good Times." Written by Kris Kristofferson (one of the greatest song writers of all time, in my opinion, but an execrable singer himself again in my opinion). The only version I've ever heard is the famous one by Ray Price and I've always counted it as a favorite, but Rita Coolidge changed my mind. Her version is now my favorite by far. It's on her album Out of the Blues.

Finding Ian Matthews' version of "Seven Bridges Road" the other day reminded me of another song that I put on a keeper tape from The Tumbleweed Connection radio show. It's a trucking song that, so far, I have never heard on any compilation of trucking songs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Marshall Tucker Band - Carolina Dreams (1977, LP)

I don't remember buying this one, but I could have. My late mother-in-law had a bad habit of putting her name on her records. Sometimes she used a felt-tip pen on the jacket or the center label on the record itself. Sometimes she stuck a return address label to the jacket. This is a bad habit she passed on to her daughter (my wife). Fortunately since we don't buy records anymore it's no longer a problem, but sometimes my wife will still write her name with a Sharpie on the jewel box of a CD--which doesn't bother me as much since it's not on any of the paper itself. Anyway this record doesn't have any such thing on it, so I might have bought it, and it's the kind of thing I could have easily bought, then stuck on the shelf and forgotten about. Since I started working on this one some weeks ago, I discovered I have one other album (so far) by them that I might have bought also. Who knows.

So anyway, The Marshall Tucker Band is one of those bands I heard mentioned a lot but I couldn't name any of their songs. I figured I had probably heard something by them and just not been aware it was them. I was correct in my suspicion. This album has the radio single "Heard it in a Love Song" which I remember hearing several times in the olden days.

They were a southern rock or country rock band. Far too rock to be played on country stations, but much more country than what passes for "country" nowadays. As the Wikipedia entry mentions, they have a much more country feel than some other famous southern rock bands, except that they had a flute player (who also plays keyboards--which reminds me that Firefall also had a keyboard/flute guy). Sometimes this album even has a definite western swing feel. There is a modern version of the group who are still active.

The rip isn't perfect but pretty close, and a lot better than I expected for a used record. It has a relatively high Amazon rank of 32836 so I guess people are still buying it. Although I wouldn't call it a "great" album, I like it and I think I'll add it to my list of LPs to burn to CD. I think it would make good road music on the long drive home.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More music

As I mentioned earlier today, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary with a lunch at one of her favorite restaurants (Ryan's in New Braunfels). On the way there, we stopped at an old haunt--Hastings in Seguin--with the idea of killing some time and maybe getting a CD or two while we were there. We found that they had a lot of CDs on sale for $3.99 each so we ended up buying about $50 worth of CDs. It was a great haul. Feel free to speculate on which on which ones were chosen by her and which were chosen by me.

Trucker's Jukebox Anthems -- A 2 CD set of "trucking" songs, although some of these must be loosely interpreted as such. The inclusion of Elton John in this set is somewhat puzzling to me, but I have yet to listen to it.

His Hand in Mine -- A collection of various country artists singing gospel songs. Note: This and the previous set were not to be found at freedb. Must be kind of obscure.

Stan Getz - Jazz Moods: Cool. One of two CDs I found in an apparent series of "Jazz Moods: Cool." A compilation of his pieces from the 60s and 70s. Includes "Misty." None of the others ring any bells just from looking at the titles.

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue and Jazz Moods: Cool. The first has been on my hit list for a while, and in fact I think it's in my queue at so I'll have to check and delete it from there if so. The second is a compilation from the 50s and 60s with a couple of pieces I'm familiar with and several I'm not. Some minor overlap between the two.

Son House - The Original Delta Blues. From 1965. Another that I consider an essential addition to the collection.

Sonny Rollins - The Best of the Complete RCA Victor Recordings. This is a "best of" from a 6-CD set of his complete RCA Victor recordings. All recorded between 1962 and 1964.

Thelonius Monk - Monk. This is another one that's been on my list for a while.

Duke Ellington - The Best of the RCA Victor Recordings. Same kind of thing as the Rollins CD. Recording dates range from 1927 to 1967. A few pieces that I'm familiar with (for example "Take the 'A' Train") and a lot more that I'm not.

Jeff Beck - There and Back and Jeff. The first from 1980, the second from 2003. This doubles the size of my Jeff Beck collection and it's all great instrumental rock with some jazzy and bluesy stuff thrown in. I could buy anything by him.

LeAnn Rimes - Blue. Her first.

I'm still stuffed from that lunch. Topped it off with lemon meringue pie, apple pie and cheesecake, then topped off that desert with watermelon and strawberries.

A good day

It's mine & my wife's 17th anniversary today. We went out to eat at one of her favorite places--Ryan's in New Braunfels--then had a clearance-sale-CD-buying binge at the Hastings in Seguin. More details on all the new acquisitions later.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Live Dead

A long time ago I had bought a cassette repair kit, for splicing broken cassette tapes. I don't have it anymore, unfortunately. Today I was going to rip a single song, "Seven Bridges Road" from my old Eagles Live tape, and it broke as I was rewinding it back to the beginning of side 2 where the song is. I tried repairing it, but it was too much for me. So this one gets crossed off the list. I really only wanted two songs from it, the one mentioned and "Life's Been Good." The rest of it I can do without; I have all those songs on studio albums and the live versions don't do anything extra for me. So I guess I'll have to add "Seven Bridges Road" to my list of singles to download.

Anyway, this came up because back in the late 80s-early 90s there used to be a program on KZEP on Sunday mornings called The Tumbleweed Connection. I don't remember the name of the guy who hosted and programmed it, but it was two hours of Americana music (more or less) and I really enjoyed it. I would tape it every Sunday and then listen to the tape two or three times during the week at work, driving back and forth, etc. Occasionally he would play a song that I especially liked so I would record it again to a keeper tape and I eventually had 3 or 4 tapes full of these songs. Unfortunately all these tapes are gone now, and the notes I had made for them (artist, song title, etc.) are also not to be found. But I remembered a version of "Seven Bridges Road" that was not by the Eagles and which I thought was a much better version. I remembered this song, for some reason, earlier this week and spent a little time researching cover versions until I figured out that the one I was looking for was by Ian Matthews, which I downloaded yesterday.

Like I said, I think it's a better version. It's slightly slower and much "spacier" and has a certain haunting quality. And although on their live album they credit Steve Young, the writer of the song, with teaching it to them, the Eagles' version is obviously a copy of Matthews' version. It's from his 1973 album Valley Hi. I think I'll have to get this full album pretty soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's like Neuromancer combined with Gone With the Wind

Saw this thing I Write Like at Trailer Park Paradise and thought it might be amusing. I don't put much stock in such things internet, and this site looks mostly like a way to generate Amazon associate links. Anyhow...
Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.
Not sure why they had to italicize those words, but anyway, I realize that I am not a real writer and that my "style," if any, tends to fluctuate rather alarmingly. So I thought it would interesting to run a bunch of different stuff through it and see what turns up.

From The Last Ancient House:

"Darker" -- Chuck Palahniuk. I had never heard of him, so I had to look him up. He's the guy who wrote Fight Club.

"Homecoming" -- Margaret Mitchell. Huh. Maybe it was the mild use of southern slang.

"Lamentry" -- David Foster Wallace. Never heard of him, either. Looked him up, and I've never heard of any of his novels.

"Nyarlathotep's Lament" -- Stephen King. Well at least I'm familiar with that one.

"Seafoam" -- Vladimir Nabokov. Oh, come on now.

"Snake Oil" -- Ray Bradbury. YEAH!!!

"The Caverns" -- Jack London. YEAH again!!!

"What Is Within You..." -- Dan Brown. Huh. The comparison is actually sort of interesting to me.

"The Owls" -- H.P. Lovecraft. AT LAST!!!

From The Hunter Chronicles:

"Welcome to My World" -- Margaret Mitchell. Again. Odd.

"Tearless" -- Raymond Chandler. THE OTHER MASTER!!!

"Changeless Since the Day She Died" -- J.D. Salinger. I'm on a roll.

"The Pretender" -- Chuck Palahniuk. Again.

"Secondhand Blood" -- William Gibson. Now that's really cool.

But like I said, I don't put much stock in these things, because it seems that Herman Melville writes like Robert Louis Stevenson. Surprisingly, Stevenson writes like Stevenson.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My 80s fantasy woman

If she looks familiar, it's because she's that woman who played "Micki" on Friday the 13th: The Series. And here she is, looking pretty much just like Micki but with more makeup, like that time she was possessed by that one artifact and it turned her, wait a minute, that didn't really happen. That was just one of my, uh...fanfic stories. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So anyway I came across this at Yesterday's Warehouse* and bought it cheap, probably 50¢ or so. Because, well, because it was the woman who played Micki. It apparently had one minor hit called "One Night in Bangkok" but I've never heard the song anywhere except on this record.

She is a musician and songwriter as well as actor. She co-wrote two of the songs on this album. I listened to it a couple of times way back when and I remember being unimpressed. The record looks like it's in good condition, though. I might have to play it again just to see how it's held up. It's unusual to get a used record that looks this good, but then again I don't think it got much use to begin with. This is one of a handful of records I have with a disclaimer like this on the back jacket: does have this CD, however it is titled One Night in Bangkok. My record has no title other than her last name, which she also used to identify herself in the TV series (her first name is Louise). Most of the comments there are favorable, so I guess I'll have to give it a new listen sometime soon and see if my opinion has changed from back then. Also the track list is different on the CD. The CD's tracks 1-4 make up side 2 of the record, while track 5-8 make up side 1.

So this started out to just be another "odd cover art" post, but I guess I'll have to post something about the music itself once I get around to listening to it again.

UPDATE: Okay, well, it's just plain old solid 80s electronic dance pop. Nothing to make it bad or good--it's just sort of there. I think my favorite from it is "Bored and Beautiful," which pokes fun at vapid teenage airheads, and which is probably going to be a timeless theme. Then again my favorite title is "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," which is...a lovesong? I think?

As for the record itself, I got a near perfect rip without any editing, which is really amazing for a used record.

*Which means nothing to most people who read this, but quite a lot to two of you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The knees! The knees!

This must be from the inherited collection. I'm not saying I didn't buy this, because it's exactly the kind of thing I would buy just for the oddness of it--but I'm pretty sure I didn't buy it myself. This is an album of music for contest twirling--the contestants were to use it to practice for the actual contest.

I'm not sure why anyone who was not a twirling contestant would have bought this. Every time I look at this I think that someone, somewhere missed an opportunity at creating yet another weird anime movie.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds - (1978, double LP)

click to enlarge

Click: "No one would have believed..."

In the early 80s there was a radio station in San Antonio with the call letters KLLS, which played what I think they call "adult contemporary" music. I listened to it a lot between the time that I got tired of listening to what was passing for "country" back then and before I started really listening to rock. Anyhow, one day as it was approaching Halloween they had an announcement that beginning at 10:00 PM on Halloween night they were going to play this album in full (Halloween being the time of the broadcast of the old Orson Wells radio adaptation). At the time, I had never heard of it, but they did a good job of talking it up and everything they said about it made me want to hear it.

So at ten o'clock on Halloween night I was ready, with my boombox set up with a couple of fresh cassettes, and I taped the whole thing. They did indeed play the album in full, with no commercial interruptions, which seems quite amazing now since this album runs more than 90 minutes. And since no one at any record stores had ever heard of this thing, those radio tapes were the only copy I had of it for several years. Any time I ran into someone with whom I'd have a conversation about music, I made it a point to ask if they had ever heard of it, always seeking information on it. No one ever had.

Jeff Wayne has an entry on Wikipedia that can fill in lots of blanks. As a quick summary here I can say that he is a musician (keyboardist and composer) who has written many theme songs and jingles but has produced only two albums, of which this is one. The other is a musical version of Spartacus which apparently is no longer in print and available only as a collector's item.

The mid-80s came along and one night at work I was talking music with a co-worker who had also become my friend (Babel and Brer might remember shift leader Greg) and I was surprised and delighted to discover that he had actually heard the album! A friend of his from high school had bought it and he had made tapes of it for himself but eventually wore them out.

More time went by, several months at least. One night at work he told me that he had seen the album at Hastings that day! He said he almost bought it, but he knew how badly I wanted it so he had left it there for me, and if I didn't buy it the next day he was going to go in and get it himself (if no one else had bought it, either). I thanked him profusely and hurried in the next day to buy it for myself. The one I bought was the only one on their racks, and it was never replaced after I bought it.

This is a rock musical adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, of course, and you can read all about it at the link. It was ground-breaking in its use of electronic orchestration. It is also unique, I think, in using rock music to adapt a classic of literature. I don't think there is any other album like it (except perhaps for the out-of-print Spartacus, which I have never heard).

There are several recurring motifs used throughout the album, and I have included clips of two of the most famous here. The first is an ominous-sounding monophonic synthesizer portamento that signals the approach or nearby presence of Martians: ominous. In this version from the beginning of the story there are background sounds like a heartbeat and crickets chirping (or something). Later versions have a repetitive staccato synthesizer pulse that follows the "ominous" sound.

I think the most famous motif, and the sound by which secret fans of the album recognize each other (joke--sort of), is the "ulla" sound. This is how it's spelled in the liner notes, but it isn't a very expressive spelling. I think a better way to spell it would be "OOOOHHHLLLLLLAAAAAAHHHHH!!!" The album credits state that this is performed by Jo Partridge and is "The Heat Ray," however whoever wrote the credits made a small mistake here. This is not the sound of the actual heat ray, but the sound the Martians howl as they are attacking. Click to listen: ulla. The last time we hear this sound, it is no longer a blood-curdling attack howl, but a ghastly death moan as the Martians lie dying from Terran diseases against which they have no immunity: ulla death.

Some of the performers on this album are still unfamiliar to me, though I know they are much more well-known in England: the aforementioned Jo Partridge as the voice of the Martians; Julie Covington as Beth, the parson's wife; David Essex as the Artilleryman; and Chris Thompson who sings one of the album's two singles, "Thunder Child." However other names are known to me and probably to you as well: actor Richard Burton plays the Journalist, who narrates the story in first person; Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues sings two pieces, "The Eve of the War" and "Forever Autumn," the latter of which was another single released from the album; and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy who plays Parson Nathaniel and sings a duet with Julie Covington in "The Spirit of Man." Here's another quick sound clip of Lynott as Parson Nathaniel: devil. I've been considered loading this one onto my phone and turning it into an interesting ring tone.

The album is long even for a double LP, running about 94 minutes total. I worked with special care on this one because I wanted to get a really good rip. This time I did something I hadn't done before: after I had finished working it over, I burned the wavs to CD so that I could re-rip them and go back and fix any new noise that I might have missed. Of course I then converted the wavs to mp3 so I could play them on my computer or mp3 player.

The album was later released on CD and still later re-released on enhanced CD with lots of extras. If any of this sounds even remotely interesting to you, I recommend that you buy it, and I don't think you will be sorry for it.

Amazon link: Jeff Wayne

Friday, July 16, 2010

John Denver's Greatest Hits

When I was a kid, this became my very first favorite album. It was a cassette that my mother had bought. In a previous post some time ago, I said that I thought I had bought a CD of it but hadn't. In combing through the shelves a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had bought the record. The one that I had tried to rip & convert before had been either my wife's or her mother's, and was in bad shape so I didn't get a very good rip. However my own record was still in quite good condition and I got a very good rip from it.

I also noticed that in the inherited collection there's the album that has "Some Days a Diamond, Some Days a Stone," which is another favorite of mine. I'll try ripping that one soon but I don't have very high hopes.

I still don't like "Sunshine on my Shoulders" though. And G-d help me if I ever hear "Annie's Song" again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In the jungle

Cycle 11 today (Harry Wurzbach & Rittiman). I saw it coming earlier this week and knew that I wouldn't get to skip it this time. However, I made sure to warn two "superiors" that I probably wouldn't be able to finish a full assignment; that is, I would probably finish the full route, but not the partial that's always tacked onto it. I was right.

When I last did this route, in April, it took me 4 3/4 hours. That was 1/2 hour longer than the previous month and 45 minutes longer than the month before that.* I remember telling one of the supervisors that if it kept raining now and then, by the end of the summer it was going to be a 7-hour route. Today it took me 6 hours. So it looks like my prediction is on schedule. I had only about 20 minutes left to work on the partial route before I had to go back to the office.

In case anyone wonders, I am allowed two 15-minute breaks and one 45-minute lunch. I usually don't take any breaks or lunch, so I can finish sooner. On a day like today I took my lunch. It's almost impossible for someone in my line of work to take their 15-minute breaks, unless you just want to sit down and not move for 15 minutes, and there wouldn't be much point in that.

So anyway I decided that today's hard work justified cutting open my last stash of Bayou Night. I tore off a couple of hunks and re-sealed it. This is still my favorite pipe tobacco.

*I don't remember all these details. I have a small notebook that I keep this information in. It's helpful, sometimes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You know what?

After all this time and all the publicity, all the movie & TV treatments made to these books, all the public commentary on and about them: if you still can't make up your own mind if you should read them or not, then why in the hell are you asking me?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Live

I'm sure this album of duets by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell is chock full o' perfectly fine vintage rock and roll. But for some reason I find this cover art frightening.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Okay, this is not weird cover art. I just wanted to share it with you. Above is the front cover. Below is the pertinent selection of the back cover. Click to enlarge.

The song, it haunts me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


There were times this week, especially Friday morning, that I felt it was one of those weeks when I should be thankful that I survived without injury. The alleys on my cycles 5 and 7 are getting dangerously bad. Seven is the least worst, because it only has about 100 alley meters out of 475 total or something like that. Five is worse, with around 250 alley meters out of about 450 total. Last month on the cycle 5 I painted the snot out of everything to mark the meters. The brush is so thick that the fences are too hidden to paint, so many times I just painted the brush or even the grass on the ground. I'll probably have to paint it again next month, because the paint doesn't stick too well on vegetation.

In going through my digital collection I suddenly realized that I had never purchased The Doors' Strange Days on CD. Don't know how I overlooked that one.

I finished cleaning up The War of the Worlds this morning. It will probably be a few days at least before I say any more about it, because I want to make a few more sound clips and get them uploaded before I write it up.

In looking for a few more odd album covers today, I came to regret the passing of my old sources of very cheap, obscure used records. It would be nice to be able to browse them again just to look for weird cover art.

I wonder whatever happened to all that stuff left over when Yesterday's Warehouse closed down?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Attila (1970, LP)

So I've posted something album-related every day this week, I think, but don't get used to it. Anyhow here at last is my Official Post on Attila. This Wikipedia stub has one paragraph that tells you pretty much all you need to know.
They released only one album, Attila, in 1970, later reissued by CBS Inc in 1985. Attila is often selected by critics and other music journalists as one of the worst rock albums of all time, but also receives a significant amount of praise from people who normally would not listen to Billy Joel. Joel himself has gone on record as describing the album as "psychedelic bullshit".
I fall into that latter camp of "people who normally would not listen to Billy Joel."* The album is interesting as an experiment into a 2-person power trio, if you know what I mean. It's quite obvious that Joel's voice is not suited to this kind of music, however in my opinion his organ playing is really good and for me bears up to repeated listening. Click the following link (previously posted) to hear a 40-odd second sound clip of his organ playing: Selection from "California Flash".

The lyrics are generally fairly stupid. As an example here is another piece (full song, lo-fi, previously posted) called "Revenge is Sweet."

I don't know what the original release label was for this record, and to me the most astounding thing is that it was ever released at all. I think someone must have had something on somebody to get this thing pressed on vinyl. The version I have is the 1985 re-release by Back-Trac Records, which is a subsidiary of CBS. I'm sure this re-release was one attempt to capitalize on the Billy Joel fever that inexplicably gripped the world in the mid-80s.

Oh, I should mention that this album has two instrumentals, so not every piece has vocals.

What genre is this stuff? I call it metal, or at least proto-metal (which would make it ore?). If you can accept that music can be metal without guitars, then it's metal. If you can't accept that, then I leave it to you to decide what it is on your own. There are parts of this album that remind me of both Emerson, Lake and Palmer and early Uriah Heep (like from the Very 'eavy, Very 'umble era).

So here's something I haven't posted yet. The liner notes. This is where it gets really good, and I've uploaded a large enough version that you should be able to read it, I think. The notes are so pretentiously over-the-top that they are just hilarious. "He...only sweats two things: perfecting his sound and South East Asia" still cracks me up.

Time has passed and it is now obvious to all that Billy Joel had much bigger and more commercially viable things ahead of him. Three years after this album was released, he was the Piano Man.

*I used to have a cassette of Glass Houses. I thought the album as a whole was pretty lame, except for one song which is still a favorite of mine and is certainly my favorite Billy Joel song: "You May Be Right."

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Come on down and meet your maker

I got rained only a little today; we had a very easy route and I finished early, picked the kids up from Grandpa's house where they were making sour milk sugar cookies from an old family recipe (had a few--don't let the "sour milk" part throw you--they're awesome), had a long nap, watched some 'Allo 'Allo from the latest Netflix DVD, and am now listening to a new addition to my CD collection.

So today has been an above-average day.

Back in the 80s when I was a pizza delivery guy, a co-worker and fellow driver had their Declaration CD which I thought was awesome. He loaned it to me and as was my wont, I taped it and eventually wore the tape out. Went looking for it somewhere and couldn't find it, but I did find their Electric Folklore Live which I bought since it had a couple of the Declaration songs on it. I still wanted a really good collection of their stuff and when I saw this at I put it in the queue.

My only gripe with it is that it has the single versions of pretty much all the songs on it. The album versions were often longer. But I guess if they had used the album versions they couldn't have put as many songs on it. 21 songs in all for a total playing time of 76 minutes, so they packed this one as full as it would go. I never understood why these guys weren't more famous than they were. They were often compared to U2, but personally I'd rather listen to The Alarm than U2 any day.

I might still have to download certain album-length tracks from Amazon just to have the full versions. But this one is still a great example of 80s music that did not suck.

And here's some unrelated music humor from Not Always Right.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Also that's Potsie in the corner, eating fries in eternity

click to enlarge (in case the small version isn't sanity-blasting enough)

Witness Jimmy Milligan and Betty Sue Olsen. Just two kids looking for a night of fun, a night of dancing, in a place new and exciting. They took a road they had never been on before, to a little place that serves burgers and malteds all night long and the jukebox is always free. It's a friendly little place not far away and just inside...the Twilight Zone.

See his mouth drawn back in a rictus of unspeakable horror. See her blank gaze, struck numb with a terror from which there is no relief nor recovery.

This is another inherited record. Back in the ye olden days certain record companies would record a bunch of moderate hits using unnamed studio musicians and release records like this. So no, you're not going to get "Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke or "My Heart is an Open Book" by Carl Dobkins, Jr. You're going to get a bunch of lame covers by a group of perfectly adequate studio musicians who did the dirty work and never got credit for it.

Just in case you missed it in the big version above, here is a cut-out to highlight what someone once wrote on the cover.

Other than the minor scratches that come with a record of this age that hasn't been well cared for, there is nothing physically wrong with it. So I can only speculate on what the person who wrote that meant.

If that cover art isn't a picture of two lost souls suffering eternal damnation in their own special kind of hell, then I don't know what it is.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Possibly oldest music video?

I don't know about that for sure, but it's quite old. I saw this clip as part of a documentary about Count Basie that aired on Ovation last night. The singer is Jimmy Rushing, who was part of Count Basie's orchestra during the 30s and 40s. Okay, it's in black & white, the music is swing blues (jazz) and it's around 70 years old, but otherwise it bears all the marks of a modern music video. Watch it see if you don't agree.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Petra - Beat the System (LP, 1984)

When I bought this album around '84 or '85 there really weren't any good ways to get further information on groups and albums. I think I must have read a little about them in the old Rolling Stone Record Guide which I had read from cover to cover in the early 80s.

So most of what I know about Petra I have learned only recently from reading online sources. The most significant thing about them is they pretty much created the genre of Christian rock.

Beat the System came out before "contemporary Christian" music had really established itself and ruined popular Christian music forever. This was easily their most popular album which is probably why I came across it at Hastings. They changed their sound quite a lot over the years, always trying to stay current with popular sounds (which you can interpret different ways) and this album has a very 80s electronic sound but with a much harder edge than stereotypical 80s pop. The lead singer at this time* has a voice that I would compare to Rik Emmett (of Triumph) in range and timbre.

Each song is referenced by a scripture from the Bible and the album is overtly Christian in theme. So if that turns you off, you won't like it. A couple of tracks (I'd say the first two for sure) have themes that could be interpreted in a more secular way of the individual standing against the "system." This album has one song that proved to be very controversial called "God Gave Rock and Roll To You." Heh. Another song called "Witch Hunt" criticizes so-called "Christians" who spend all their time "witch hunting" instead of applying themselves to their "Gospel labors" as they should.

I probably played this record only once when I bought it, at which time I recorded it to cassette and listened only to the cassette after that. This time my old habit paid off and I easily got a pretty much perfect rip. I have only one other album of theirs, but I bought it used and I don't think it will be in as good shape. So really, this is the only album of theirs I've heard so far, and I can't comment on any of the others.

Amazon has sound samples of all tracks.

*They had several through the years, including the guy who used to sing for the popular rock group Head East after he converted to Christianity.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Cover art of local interest

click to enlarge
21 All Time Golden Hits Vol. One - KTSA

This is not one that I would consider strange or weird really, except that it has some images specific to San Antonio and is a reminder of the olden days when KTSA was a Top 40 station. I did find some information about this and related records at this Take 6 Album Discography.
Take-6 Enterprises, Incorporated, was located at 6565 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Take-6 issued albums exclusively for radio stations to use as promotional items, giveaways, or sales. Occasionally they were sold in stores, but only locally. Since the albums issued were all local items not meant for national distribution, Take-6 used the opportunity for a huge overlap in songs from album to album, with Take-6 licensing a relatively small number of songs and reissuing them over and over. The albums themselves were not reissued per se, but the songs were mixed and reordered so that two albums may differ only by one or two songs, although the song sequence was quite different. Album cover art was reissued, however, as several of the albums have the same basic cover art, modified to meet the needs of the particular station, even to the extent of working drawings of the deejays into the cover scenes.


Since Take-6 albums were issued in limited quantity only to certain locales, they are difficult to find today. Since they were manufactured for radio stations, they did not show up in standard references such as Schwann Catalog.
If you follow the link and scroll down to view the various variations on cover art, you can see that the KTSA version is basically identical to the KROY, KDWB and KIRL versions except that images of the Alamo and the Tower of Americas have been added. The majority of these albums all used the same elements in their cover art but the elements are arranged differently. Also, further toward the bottom of that page you can see that this record was issued for KTSA another time with entirely different cover art, which looks to me like someone was trying to imitate an R. Crumb comic.

No specific year on this, but the songs are all rock & roll hits of the 60s with a couple of tracks venturing into the more commercially accessible boundary of psychedelic rock and maybe a couple more that could be called folk-rock. A full track list is available at the link.

I haven't listened to it yet, but looking at the record I'd say this one isn't in good condition and so even though it's a relative rarity I doubt if it's worth anything.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

I think I'll pass

click to enlarge (if you dare)

Today I went through the shelves and grabbed a few of what to my perceptions are "odd," "strange," or perhaps even...but no, I don't think I quite have anything "bizarre" that I know of. These records were selected not for the music on them, but for the strangeness of the cover art. I thought I'd go ahead and just get this one out of the way. Note: This is something from my late mother-in-law's collection.

Steam was a pop-rock music group best known for the 1969 number one hit song and perennial favorite "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." The song was written and recorded by studio musicians Garrett DeCarlo, Dale Frashuer, and producer/writer Paul Leka at Mercury Records studios in New York City. The single was attributed to the band "Steam" although at the time there was actually no band with that name. Paul Leka and the studio group recorded the first album.
So, if you've ever been afflicted with that song and I'm pretty sure at one time or another you have, this is where it came from. I found this passage from the above link particularly amusing:
To make the song less palatable to DJ's, they lengthened the song with a repetitive chorus of "na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye". Nobody believed that Na Na was worth anything and since neither Leka or DeCarlo wanted to have their names on it, the song was attributed to a non-existent band that they named Steam.
And they used this song for a throw-away B-side. But even though they intentionally tried to make the song even worse, some DJ decided to flip it over and play the B-side, requests for it came pouring in, Mercury noticed it was getting airplay and spent $50,000 to buy 100,000 copies of their own single to make sure it went onto the Billboard charts, and...
By the beginning of the 21st century, sales of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" had exceeded 6.5 million records.
I've listened to side 1 and the rest of the songs on that side are the same kind of bland early-70s bubblegum pop. The last song on side 1, "Love and Affection," even throws in an occasional "na na na na" to echo the hit song that begins the side.

I hope you'll allow me the luxury of not listening to side 2.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Inconsequential trivia

Did you know that some CDs are encoded with additional "breaks" within tracks? Long ago I had CD player that, like all other players, displayed the "track" number. However, it also displayed a small Roman numeral to show which section of the track was being played, but only on certain CDs. At that time, in my collection I had Beethoven's complete symphonies and a couple of other classical CDs, and these extra breaks were displayed to show which section of a symphonic movement was being played. The only non-classical CD I had at that time that displayed these extra breaks was 2112 by Rush.

I don't have that player anymore and no other player I've had since then had the ability to display these internal track breaks, so I don't know if any CDs I've acquired since then have this. Anyway upon recently re-ripping 2112 for encoding at a higher bit rate, I ripped "side 1" to wavs and manually broke it into its separate internal breaks before encoding to mp3 so when I'm listening to my Rush collection on shuffle play it doesn't play the whole thing at once. Which I think is cool.


I threw something together for supper tonight that turned out pretty good. Having spent the entire day soaking wet since I got caught in a downpour at 7:15 AM, I wanted a hot meal with a lot of body, but I wanted something slightly more interesting than hamburger helper. (Also: I hate cooking.)

So I made some "Spanish rice" flavored Rice-a-Roni, browned a pound of hamburger in another skillet, then mixed it together along with a can of Rotel and let it simmer for a while (you know, "until the rice is tender").

Very good.