Sunday, October 29, 2006
It was a very rough two years, but I came out of it looking at the world differently. One, I quickly learned that the area I live in is considered "the most conservative area in Washington State", and anything considered "out of the norm" is not considered right. I listened to hip-hop AND heavy metal, had long hair, and also had a big nose, not exactly the stereotypical farmer's kid. I already had bad experiences in high school, but to enter a class that was my dream, only for that to fall apart and then be blamed for some of the troubles the station went through, was something that made me bitter. Two years later, I found myself embracing the local punk rock scene for the first time, and finding a better sense of community than I ever did in my three years at high school. If the punk community consisted of a group of rejects and outcasts, I fit in perfectly.
I've talked about it in writings elsewhere, but outside of the good times I had in Radio/TV Production, I would never wish my high school experience on anyone, ever. It was very much like Enid in Ghost World, where I just floated around and hoped I would be able to find the next bus out of town. Apart from vacations, I'm still waiting for that bus.
However, this post is not about mixed feelings of high school, but about returning to that old building where I did have some good memories. I got there, and not surprisingly I had to walk through the radio station (KTCV, 88.1FM) to get to the CD/Record sale. Lots of rock posters and news articles all over the wall, something that was not allowed when I was in the class. It felt like a class for students, not a business office, so that was cool. I got into the commons, which is where the record sale was happening. It was very small once I looked around, maybe four or five tables consisting of boxes of records, and I saw a familiar face, local radio DJ legend Ed Dailey. When I moved here, he was a DJ doing shows under another name, which I don't remember now, but he had one of the best voices I had heard. As someone who admired the world of radio and broadcasting, Dailey had that cool voice you always wanted to hear. I don't know the full story, but he stopped for awhile and returned to the radio under his real name. I've also seen him on local public access taking part in Christian music shows, but he is better known for his experience in radio and a show he hosts today called Legends Of Country. On top of that, he is also the instructor of the class I had taken part in (I had a different instructor).
Once I seen Mr. Dailey, I had assumed that there would be a significant amount of country. It was more than significant, it was almost all country. Fortunately, my interest in country music has grown in recent years. Dailey came up to me as I stared looking in the boxes and said that all albums were 25 cents, and if someone wanted to make an offer, he would consider it. I figured that a lot of the albums would either be from his collection, old radio stock, or both. I was correct. As I browsed through the boxes, I was hoping to find more rock, more soul, more jazz, more funk. I also assumed the CD/Record sale would have more sellers, but I only noticed one other seller. Dailey talked to a collector who also happens to hold his own show, I wish I had went over to talk story but as any collector knows, if you're slow during browsing someone will snap up that record you may be looking for.
The majority of the records were were unknown to be, but I knew of most of the names: Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Roy Clark, and many, many others. I heard Dailey also say that a good portion of the profits made during the sale would go back into the class, which I felt was cool. Since each record was 25 cents each, I could come out there with some great finds.
About half of the records had handwriting on it, some had seam splits, a bunch had masking tape on the side. In other words, your typical "dollar bin" collection. Dailey said that a lot of these albums were from his father's collection, he has held on to them over the years but now has no room.
Some records were in VG-/VG condition, a few a bit nicer. What I noticed first and foremost was the amount of albums on Capitol that were mono promos. With one or two, there had to be more, and I was right. I wish I had taken them all, and I could have but I resisted the urge. One guy looking through the boxes was on his cell, telling his friend "it's said that my paycheck has to go to rent this month". A Another guy, an older gentlemen, says "wow, this record is beautiful but it's going to mess up my needle really bad. I'll pass on this one." Before that he says "25 cents a record, that's amazing, and I'm probably going to go broke today." Aah yes, I was among my people, my fellow vinyl junkies.
I looked at another dealer, who was selling his collection of 45's. Some of them looked like they came from the bottom of a barrel, selling for $2 each? Not for me. I did spot a 45 of interest, Dyke & The Blazers' "Funky Broadway (Parts 1 & 2)" (Original Sound OS-64). The 45 was priced at $6, the paper in the front of the box said all records in the box was half priced and yet he charged me $5. I'm sorry my friend, but he took an L for that.
Behind me were boxes of promo CD's, as well as a box of CD-R's that were recorded. What surprised me was that they had promos of David Axelrod's The Edge compilation on Capitol, and the recent Mizell Brothers comp on Blue Note. Both are excellent albums, and I'm thinking "these two would be long gone if I was in Seattle."
This is what I made it out with:
Buddy Alan-A Whole Lot Of Somethin' (Capitol ST-592)
Merle Haggard-Strangers (Capitol T-2373)
David Houston-Almost Persuaded (Epic BN 26213)
Ferlin Husky-One More Time (Capitol ST-768)
Sonny James-Only The Lonely (Capitol ST-193)
Sonny James & The Southern Gentleman (Capitol ST-478)
Sonny James-Empty Arms (Capitol ST-734)
Buck Owens & His Buckeroos-Together Again/My Heart Skips A Beat (Capitol T-2135)
Buck Owens-Buck Owens Sings Harlan Howard (Capitol ST-1482)
Buck Owens & His Buckeroos-Roll Out The Red Carpet (Capitol T-2443)
Buck Owens & His Buckeroos-Roll Out The Red Carpet (Capitol ST-2443)
Susan Raye-One Night Stand (Capitol ST-543)
Billie Jo Spears-Country Girl (Capitol ST-560)
Tompall And The Glaser Brothers-"...tick...tick...tick..." (soundtrack) (MGM SE-4667 ST)
White Lightnin'-Fresh Air (Polydor 24-4047)
Soundtrack-Norwood (songs by Glen Campbell and Al DeLory) (Capitol SW-475)
In the 45rpm department:
Kip Adotta-I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus (Laff 024)
The Hagers-With Lonely/Tracks (Running Through The City) (Capitol PRO-4754)
The Righteous Brothers-Dream On/Dr. Rock And Roll (Haven/Capitol 7006)
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
That's not the reason I repeatedly go to the Pasco Goodwill. Those of you who may be keeping track, here's where we stand now. At one point Pasco had three thrift stores. The Salvation Army closed down years ago. There is a St. Vincent de Paul here, but there are records there that have been there since I went to high school. Goodwill updates their floor stock every few weeks. As the weather gets cold in the Pacific Northwest, yard and garage sales fade away until spring comes. There are other thrift stores in nearby places, but it has really become a crap shoot. Why bother with traveling any significant distance if you have a sense there's not going to be anything worthy? The ordeal of the record collector is that "what if?", or really any collector. Nonetheless, it's the Pasco Goodwill I return to, groovin' on a Sunday afternoon.
There are three bins full of records. The left side of the bin has nothing, the same stuff I had seen a week or so ago. Aah, but the right side has a few familiar names. Earl Klugh and... oh, what's this, David Newman on... oh oh, Cotillion? Being an Atlantic junkie, I was happy I found it but unfortunately, no record inside. This meant that I had to go through all of the bins. Not a chore, not a big deal. Or so I thought.
I hit the second bin and it begins with some classical records, some budget country, then the covers start to get interesting. One record, two records, three records, what the hell is going on? Here I am hoping to just find the David Newman vinyl and I'm seeing Quincy Jones, Shirley Scott, Ramsey Lewis. It's not sex, but damn I'm scoring.
Now the math begins. I know how much I have in my wallet ($20), and I know that if there's too many records, I have to:
1) Buy within the budget
2) Leave, rush to the bank, return
I could not find the Newman LP in the records, I knew there was an old phonograph where the cameras are but the only thing there was Chicago XI. No luck. Because I'm a numbnut, I decide to buy the cover WITHOUT the album. It will be a reminder to find the album somewhere. Not the one that's missing, but to find a copy with the record. The curious never rest.
Here's what I walked out with:
ODELL BROWN & THE ORGAN-IZERS-Mellow Yellow (Cadet LPS-788)
The organ was (ahem) big for awhile, and every label had their organ master. Chess Records, via their subsidiary Cadet, had Odell Brown. This is a nice soulful, bluesy, jazzer with some pretty good instrumentals. What amazes me is that the liner note says it was recorded in January 1967, and yet sounds as if it was recorded a few years later. There's a groove that would make these songs work in a number of capacities, but 1967? That's the power of jazz for you, always one step ahead of the game.
BOBBI HUMPHREY-Flute-In (Blue Note BST 84379)
I bought this yesterday, but I'm listening to it now, feeling the drums and I look at the liner note: Idris Muhammad. Life is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Back to the program...
I became a fan of the jazz flute through my dad, who was a fan of Herbie Mann. In the last ten years or so I've expanded my listening habits to cover other people who have played the flute, whether it's Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef, James Moody or Bobbi Humphrey. If there were moments where Mann's music was moving towards easily listening, it seems Miss Humphrey was someone who was going to let her playing shine. This album, recorded in late 1971 and released in 1972, has Humphrey playing with some of the best: Lee Morgan, Hank Jones, Jimmy Johnson, and the aforementioned Muhammad. The vibe, kinda funky, kinda mellow, would make this a suitable release for CTI or Kudu.
QUINCY JONES-Gula Matari (A&M SP 3030)
There is a generation of people who may not have any idea of the music The Q had recorded over the years, especially in the late 60's/early 70's. An album like this makes digging for records worthwhile.
The cover looks like something that would be perfect on CTI, but A&M did that for awhile and for good reason, since this was produced by Creed Taylor (the CT in CTI) For this, Jones went to that cherished place in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey for a visit with the ol' doctor, Rudy Van Gelder, and brought some friends with him: Pepper Adams, Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Gale, Toots Thielemans, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Grady Tate, Ron Carter, and Milt Jackson among others. Also assisting in the vocal department is singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson fame).
Now the music. If you have a short attention span, this album is not for you. The cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" clocks in at 6:10, "Walkin'" at 7:55, and "Hummin'" at 8:05. For the mammoth title track (the best song on the album), he allows himself to explore the depth of the music and shoots for 13:05. "Gula Matari" is a mental movie, and perhaps that's why he easily adapted to motion picture work. He had spent a good part of the 60's being the musical director for Mercury Records, and he did not (nor would not) restrict himself to playing jazz, even though that is the core of what he is as a musician and arranger. There are no short doses here, no time-compressed hits, this is full blown Q at his best.
THE RAMSEY LEWIS TRIO-Upendo Ni Pamoja (Columbia KC 31096)
RAMSEY LEWIS-Don't It Feel Good (Columbia PC 33800)
Upendo Ni Pamoja was one of Lewis' first post-Cadet albums, entering a new world but was he really? The album is known for its cover of War's "Slipping Into Darkness" (which was released as a single, and also features Ocean's "Put Your Hand In The Hand". When you have Cleveland Eaton and Morris Jennings backing you up, you can't go wrong. Lewis knew what felt good.
Don't It Feel Good? Hell yeah. This was Lewis' album after the huge success of 1974's Sun Goddess. It begins with a guitar riff that sounds more like Loggins & Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance", but the Rhodes and synths tell another, much funkier story. I definitely remember my dad buying this album when I was a kid, even though I have not heard this album in a good thirty years. Yet it was Sun Goddess that I flocked too, maybe it had to do with that woman in gold paint.
For this record Lewis gets a lot of help from Charles Stepney. Some might know him for the work he did with Earth Wind & Fire, but Lewis and Stepney go further than that, when Stepney was an arranger over at Chess, assisting in the works of Rotary Connection and Marlena Shaw. Lewis' drummer for many years was Maurice White, who would eventually head to California and form The Salty Peppers before the genesis of Earth Wind & Fire was born. It should not come as any surprise that the success of Sun Goddess, featuring two songs with EW&F involvement, would lead to an album which sounds like an EW&F album. It's funky, it's soulful, and you got the slow jams. You also have a cover of EW&F's "That's The Way Of The World", along with other priceless jems such as "Fish Bite", "I Dig You", and "Spider Man".
It is a fairly mellow record, and I like it. I think people liked it too much and hoped Lewis would stay in this corner. This is probably why he would eventually record something like Salongo a year later.
ROY MERIWETHER-Preachin' (Capitol ST-243)
Roy Meriwether is still with us, but here he is in the late 1960's on Capitol (lime green variation) offering an album that covers his gospel and jazz roots, with no regrets. Side 1 is all about jubilation, while Side 2 has him recording various songs of the day, including "Ode To Billie Joe", "Little Green Apples", and "This Guy's In Love With Me". He released another album on Capitol that I hope to find in the future.
KEN MUNSON-Super Flute (Paramount PAS-6049)
This looked like a budget release, but it was on Paramount Records (as in the movie studio) so it could not have been that bad. It wasn't. Munson plays jazz with the flute, but within you also have some funk jams, including some nice nuggets for sampling.
SHIRLEY SCOTT-Something (Atlantic SD 1561)
I've seen album covers of hers over the years, but never was moved to take a listen. Now I have to catch up. "Something" is indeed the George Harrison composition performed by him and his Liverpudlian bandmates. Scott, a wizard of the Hammond B-3, almost reinterprets it into a church dirge, moving at a pace that is eerily slow but it doesn't steer you away. "Something", a song which Frank Sinatra called one of the best love songs he had ever heard, became an instant favorite when it was released in late 1969, and one can find versions performed by Herbie Mann, Issac Hayes, Joe Cocker and Shirley Bassey among many others. Scott interprets it different from the others, and if anything shows the power of a good song.
The album also features another Beatles cover, "Because", along with other familiar hits of the time: "Games People Play", "I Want You Back", "Someday We'll Be Together", and "Brand New Me". The album is much more spirited, and her playing has to be heard.
TOM SCOTT-Target (Atlantic 80106-1)
Well, this isn't Honeysuckle Breeze, I think that's the one album a lot of cratediggers would like to find, multiple copies even. This one is an 80's album. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of Scott's work for most of the late 70's, so I don't know what made me think I was going to like this. It's very poppy, very new wave and electronic. I like Scott's playing, but Target misses its intended destination big time.
There was a non-jazz album as well:
LEX DE AZEVEDO-Against A Crooked Sky (Embryo Music EM-1005)
A soundtrack to a movie I had never heard of, but it was a quadraphonic LP so I had to pick it up. Azevedo is a composer and arranger who worked extensively with David Axelrod, but many people believed that Lex De Azevedo and David Axelrod are one and the same man. Not true, although Azevedo's work on this album has a lot of Axelrod's trademark anthemics. Or maybe it was Axelrod who was taking cues from Azevedo.
Some of you may be more familiar with another album Azevedo did, the double LP Saturday's Warrior, kind of a rock opera for the Latter Day Saints.
I also found two 45's:
THE BEACH BOYS-The Beach Boys Medley/God Only Knows (Capitol A-5030)
Looking back, it is amazing something like this actually became a hit record. The success of "Stars On 45", created by a group of unknown musicians and singers who recreated Beatles songs over a disco beat, made labels believe that they could do the same thing. Or maybe not.
Maybe labels did not like all of this new wave crap, and felt that it was time to restore music to what it once was. Eh, I don't know.
Either way, someone at Capitol Records decided it would be an interesting idea to create a medley out of Beach Boys songs and release it as a single. It was the actual recordings, spliced together. I remember this song being played A LOT, and in a way that starteda a trend of other medleys by other artists on other labels. Capitol would try this idea again with their other big group, The Beatles, and create "The Beatles Movie Medley" in honor of a compilation they had put together, Reel Movie, to honor the music found in Beatles films. That received airplay too.
These days, I don't hear "The Beach Boys Medley" too much.
Adam Wind-You Don't Need It/Old Funky Song (Valane V-1918)
I bought this for a few reasons. One, the B-side was called "Old Funky Song". Even if it wasn't funky, it would be an interesting listen. Two, it was a regional record, in this case from Kent, Washington. Three, a Leroy Bell was listed as a co-writer for the A-side. Was this the same Leroy Bell of Bell & James fame ("Livin' It Up (Friday Night)") fame? Fourth, I thought it was cool that someone who bought this 45 cared enough to write their name on it, and also what grade they were in when they bought it, in this case 7th Grade. It was someone's personal favorite, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
Both songs are of the pop/rock variety, sounding a bit like Little River Band with a bit of mid-70's Santana. No date of release, but I wish I was an executive producer for a film studio, just so I would be able to place this in a film and give music like this some exposure.
BTW - "Old Funky Song" is not funky, but a good listen.
(UPDATE @ 1:59pm: I did a quick search for "Adam Wind" and they were a band, featuring one Leroy Bell on vocals. One look at their photos and it is definitely the Bell of Bell & James fame, who still calls the Seattle area his home. The funny thing is, I recently reviewed Bell's new album for Okayplayer, and now I'm getting a chance to hear a bit of his pre-disco roots.)
Adam Wind-You Don't Need It (3.1mb)
Adam Wind-Old Funky Song (3.8mb)
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Last night I was searching around online and one thing lead to another, and I wanted to hear an album again. I know I have a copy because I bought it and listened to it a few minutes ago. It's a jazz album. My jazz section is alphabetized by label, which unfortunately I have not undone yet because I'm a lazy ass.
To make a long story short, I've been in my record room for the last two hours and I still can't find it. I honestly don't know where it is. Did I let it slip inbetween some hip-hop? Is it in the Hawaiian section? Is it in my "crap" crates? My box of assorted albums that I haven't bothered filing? No, no, no, and no.
Now, I can go to eBay or GEMM and do a search, buy what I want. That's the ease of record collecting these days, I don't have to travel for the hunt. But is that the hunt?
That's not the point of this post. The point is... well I really don't have a point. I have no idea where my album is. I'm sure if I buy the album again (and I probably will), I will find it when I'm not looking.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Now it's about to get another audiophile treatment, and in what may be a first, it is being remastered in two different ways by two different record labels.
Respected audio mastering engineer Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray have done a remaster for the version that will be released on vinyl only on the Analogue Productions label (which you can pre-order right now through the Acoustic Sounds website). This will definitely be a treat for not only Yes fans, but for those who have enjoyed the remasterings Hoffman has done in the last 20 years.
But that's not the only version coming out.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are also coming out with their remastered version on the label's trademark 24K gold CD series. For those without turntables, you will want to hear what may become one of the definitive versions of this album. (You can pre-order your copy now by clicking to the MFSL website.
Hoffman is known for the CD's he mastered for the now-defunct DCC label, and there are only a few instances when DCC and MFSL released their own versions of the same album. In this case, it is the first time two versions of the same album are being released at the same time. Audiophile and music junkies are going crazy over this right now, wondering which one to buy and knowing that in the end they will buy both.
Let's hope Close To The Edge is next.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I had intended to write about it here, but spaced out and forgot. Poor excuse, but that's how it is. And what it is, is now, a new adventure.
I went to the St. Vincent de Paul in Pasco, WA, not expecting anything. However, there were two new boxes right in front of the record section and I immediately saw the face of Duke Ellington. It wasn't the Duke himself, but a tribute concert done, but with one jazz album there had to be a few others. There were, and it was nice to see new records there, since most of the albums in the racks have been there for the last 15 years.
Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra-Here's That Band Again Today (Flying Dutchman Amsterdam AM-12011)
I bought this because I saw the Flying Dutchman logo, and it was on their Amsterdam subsidiary. Also, I looked at the label and BOOM, it was a pressing on Atlantic Records. Had to buy it (the promo sticker, used by Atlantic during this period, was also a clue).
Well, I'm listening to it now and I had hoped it would be some out there jazz. It is more jazz/pop and definitely would be something my grandfather and Omama would love dancing to. However, it is nice to hear something like this, music that was popular before R&B, blues, and rock'n'roll messed up the youth. The covers of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and "Close To You" are very nice. As the liner notes say, this music will take some of you back to teh years before television, before radio almost, and certainly before a lot of us were around at all".
James Last-Goodtimes (Polydor 24-4512)
Normally I would get adventurous and buy everything this guy has ever made, because I have yet to find anything worthy of a second listen. This man was almost as prolific as Sizzla Kalonji, recording on loads of labels, including K-Tel.
This album has no date, but I'm going to take a guess and say 1971 or 1972, if I am to judge from the songs and look of the photos. I think this was recorded at the height of all of the Godspell and Hair phenomenons, because each song features a group of singers harmonizing at their best. It's not awful, but for me it's not something I would want to hear regularly. Or irregularly. There are covers of "My Sweet Lord", "I Hear You Knocking", "Knock Three Times", "Neanderthal Man", "When I'm Dead And Gone", "Ape Man", and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window".
It is this Beatles cover that I find a bit funny. "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" is a part of the Abbey Road medley on Side 2, and is a brief song. I do know Joe Cocker did a great version of it, but that's Joe Cocker. What James Last and his group of singers try to do is make it anthemic. It doesn't quite work. Then again, I tend to be a Beatle elitist at times, and I don't want to hear verses repeated over and over as if it was meant to be a big pop song. It's a small part of a medley, leave it at that. I think I may have to do some research on James Last, to find how what his deal was.
To be honest, the musicianship is great and there IS that level of cheese that DOES make me want to hear more. But I'm not going to be on an avid search for his entire discography.
(MP3: James Last-She Came In Through The Bathroom Window)
The Newport All Stars-Tribute To Duke (BASF 20717)
At first I thought I had found a Duke Ellington album, but instead this was a show created for performance by The Newport All-Stars, recorded in 1969 and released after Ellington's death three years later. This one features Red Norvo, Barney Kessel, and Kenny Burrell, along with other musicians who create some incredible music. It may not be the Duke, but it is done with him in mind and I'm all for that.
Buddy Rich-A Different Drummer (RCA/Victor LSP-4593)
I don't have any Buddy Rich albums in my collection, odd considering how much I am a fan of the drums. I've borrowed a few from the library during high school, and I guess I haven't taken time to explore his discography either. After hearing this, I think I may start hunting down his records.
The Rich I'm familiar with is from the 60's, when he was doing battles with everybody. This one, released in 1971, has a big band backing. What made me buy it, outside from the fact that it was Buddy Rich, was because it was called A Different Drummer, which comes from a poem by Henry David Thoreau, but was also the subject of a song by Les Crane (look on the B-side of the "Desiderata" 45). I bought that Crane 45 because of that song (I wasn't sure what "Desiderata" was until I played it), and for awhile I played it on my radio show since I felt the poem described me in a way ("If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears A Different Drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away").
Anyway, Buddy Rich. I could only play Side 1 on my Vestax portable, as the record is slightly warped, making Side 2 impossible to play without it warbling. There's a nice drum/percussion segment in "Paul's Tune", and his cover of "Superstar" (from Jesus Christ Superstar) is really good.
(A Japanese CD of A Different Drummer is available through CD Universe.)
Dionne Warwicke-Just Being Myself (Warner Bros. BS 2658)
Note the spelling of her name on this one.
Her Warner Bros. period is not as popular as what came before (Scepter) and after (Arista), so one can listen to this period with an open mind. I prefer this era. It is a Holland-Dozier-Holland production, so it's sounding like something from the Hot Wax catalog. The album opens with "You're Gonna Need Me", and in some tape vault somewhere there is a version of this where the band gets even funkier. "I Think You Need Love" may be familiar to fans of rapper Jim Jones.
This album was recently released on CD for the first time this year, but it was nice to find the vinyl, and a white label promo to boot.
(MP3: Dionne Warwicke-I Think You Need Love)
(You can order this album on CD through CD Universe.)
Various Artists-Guitar Rock (Time Life Music OP-4521)
I'll most likely put this on eBay. 3LP's of classic guitar rock, still in the original cellophone, and made in 1990. And hey look, Joe Cocker's "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" is on it. Also on here: James Gang's "Funk #49", Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love", The Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post", and... Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back". I know that has a nice guitar riff, but is Elton John considered "guitar rock"?
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I hadn't been here in ages, because the last few times I was there the selection was bad. I went in and believe it or not, they had both 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 by The Beatles. I didn't bother picking it up, I'm curious if they gave each one a "collector's" price.
What did catch my eye was a record affiliated with an artist whose work I've come to admire over the years. If any of you have read my previous entries of Thrift Store Adventures, then you may know who this person is. If not, let me explain. If you go to a thrift store, yard or garage sales long enough, you will see some of the same records by the same artists over and over. Some have status, others have none. Some continue to get airplay today, others have been obscured in time. A few of these obscurities have been praised for some of their unique quirks by a number of writers throughout the years. I often refer to a great fanzine from the early 90's called Breakfast Without Meat, put together by Gregg Turkington. It was he who made me interested in such curiosities as 101 Strings and Dora Hall.
Then there's Rod McKuen. You Thrift Store Adventures regulars can skip the next paragraph or so.
In my search for records, I would often see multiple copies of The Sea, The Earth, and The Sky, a triad of recordings that became some of his biggest sellers. I guess for a lot of people, McKuen's work was seen as old, dated, "not good", or even "cheesy". Maybe due to my tolerance and occasional tolerance of "bad taste", I had to check these records out for myself. These three albums were primarily spoken word. A few featured the voice of McKuen himself, but sometimes it would be the voice of others. The words would be poems, essays, "spoken word", basically waxing poetic about the elements and romance. It showed that McKuen was a hopeless romantic, but also someone who wasn't afraid to show the pain and suffering of life and love.
What I also liked was the arrangements of the music, the production, just a huge wash of sound. It was the late 60's, it was on Warner Bros., and people still arranged songs, did scores, and used such words as "lush orchestration". It was big and bold, not unlike a score done for a movie, and I believe some of the musicians used for his albums were those that worked on films for Warner Bros. Somehow I was hooked.
I will be honest and say that McKuen was not on my "must have" mental list. Once I had heard his three albums, I started noticing other titles pop up frequently, not just on Warner Bros. but on Epic and RCA Victor. Then other labels. How many records did this man create? I had to know. I bought them when I found them. I had found In Search Of Eros on Epic, and it had taken me by surprise. It was a little more than "puppy love", it was a bit more "adult". Not pornographic or anything, but a lot more than talking about seeing images of togetherness in the sky.
Eventually I heard him sing. At the time I did not know he was a singer, I assumed that his albums were all spoken word. I'll be honest again, it was a unique voice. It was raspy, in a Reuben Kincaid sort of way. It wasn't a great or spectacular voice, but it was his. As I began to buy more records, sometimes he shined, other times the emotion would take over.
It got to a point where I became an actual fan. It wasn't just the spoken word or the singing, but also the arrangements, and the nature of the recordings. If one takes a serious listen to his work, they will get a lot out of it. I think I now have over 30 albums with his involvement, whether it's under his own name, or albums with his involvement. I think I may have a third of his discography. As of yesterday, I've added another to the McKuen box:
The Stanyan Strings
As I Love My Own
His track record was impressive enough to where he was given his own boutique label, Stanyan. On this album, it was the music of McKuen played by the group who had backed him up on a number of his records. McKuen himself is credited solely with "whistling". When I saw this at Value Village, I was like "oh, a McKuen record I had not seen before". It had a couple on the front cover, embracing, nude but with the woman's back to the camera, and from the chest up. I opened up the gatefold and WHOA NELLY! The gatefold revealed the man and woman, from the back, head to toe, no clothes. OH SNAP! Was the record in nice condition? Oh yes. Immediate purchase. In the CD section was a McKuen compilation on Laserlight. I didn't pick it up, only because with McKuen, it's vinyl/8-tracks or nothing.
Now at home, I pull out the record and I discover there's a poster inside. WHOA NELLY again, it's a poster of the nude couple. I'm someone who was raised in the 70's so there were a few hippie ideals around. I guess that time in history where I wasn't able to experience it myself has always been a source of inspiration, but I can't help but laugh and wonder who would put up a poster like that? Hep swingers? Orgy enthusiasts? Pakalolo brownie chefs?
These records can be listened to for simply listening, but they were definitely mood enhancers. The actual title is listed on the cover as I Love Your Body As I Love My Own, but the emphasis is on As I Love My Own. Not sure if that was a bit of tongue in cheek humor from McKuen himself, but WHOA NELLY, THERE'S A NAKED COUPLE ON THE COVER!
How is the music? Very good. There is something about these records, whether it's McKuen, or Don Costa or an endless list of composers, arrangers, and conductors, that seems to be... let me put it this way, there's a shortage of this. Maybe because I didn't experience this albums first hand, but there seemed to be an abundance of these types of records. You can find Percy Faith everywhere too. I find them interesting from a historical, musical perspective. This was the music that made the world go 'round, and people wanted it because they wanted good music. Yesterday's big record purchase of the week is today's bargain bin discovery. For 30 to 40 minutes, I revive the sleeping dream.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The only think that was of value was seeing the price of gas when I got into Oregon. $2.95 a gallon. There was a station that sold diesel for much cheaper, but you had to have a card.
I went to Goodwill today, in the hopes of finding something. After driving 30 or so miles you'd think there would be one good record right? NOPE! But I did make it out with a Lynn Anderson quadraphonic 8-track, which I may put up on eBay.
As I was heading home, I went to this area where there are three antique stores. There was a Merle Haggard 45 on Capitol, but I thought eh, I don't need it. Second store was fill of nicknacks, so I avoided it and went to the third one. There was a nice direct drive turntable, but part of the arm looked funny to me. Only $10, so maybe it wasn't as bad. Quite a few albums, a few good ones although the vinyl looked shot. I was originally going to make it out with an album by Dennis Coffey and it looked like your typical thrift store run-down record. I go to the cashier and the lady says "you did see how much this was, right?" Eight dollars for a record that was in VG condition and a cover that wasn't too good looking either. I told her I didn't want it.
On top of that, it was HOT AS FUCK. Goodwill was air conditioned, but the antique stores? Fat man in an antique store? Yeah, I was sweating alright, and not a good sweat.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I make it to Thrift Rak and the entire store is a mess. A few records, and some 8-tracks. Records were all crap, but one of the 8-tracks as an album by Michael Bloomfield and another which was a bootleg, with what appeared to be Creedence Clearwater Revival on the cover, but music and songs unrelated to them. I should have bought them, but I did not.
I wasn't going to check out the Goodwill in Richland, and perhaps I shouldn't have. Records again were crap, but there were loads of classical CD's. If I had more money to play with, I probably would have picked them up.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
The Evolution Of Mann
My dad made me a fan of Herbie Mann, as he was a fan. Through him playing Memphis Underground and Push Push, I would eventually listen to Mann on my own terms. I have some of his albums, keyword being some, because Mann recorded A LOT of records. His Atlantic work is what I prefer, but he also recorded for a few other labels too.
The Evolution Of Mann is a 2LP compilation released in 1972, and it looks like it was released around the time Mann's label, Embryo, would be closing shop.
It was nice to go to a thrift store again after being away for too long, and finding something as good as this. That, and the usual family church records.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This clipping was taken from the Steve Hoffman boards. Apparently all this time I've been going to thrift stores and seeing certain RCA/Victor 45's on colored vinyl, there was a reason for it. It wasn't so much a mystery as it was something unknown, at least to me.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Following the devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, it doesn't take anyone within the city limits to see that recovery efforts have been piss poor from day one. We all saw the news reports, and we continue to read stories of how one of the liveliest cities in the United States has almost become flatline. Cyril Neville isn't about to let life go, and he speaks out about it in a great article printed in The Austin Chronicle. You can read the article here:
Friday, April 21, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
People love Kidz Bop. Parents are raging in stores to buy the biggest sensation, the High School Musical soundtrack. You have the second coming of Devo, but in the form of a group of kids calling themselves DEV2.0.
Head over to Billboard and there's a link to a group of girls whom I once saw on TV while turning channels. They call themselves Girl Authority and they are doing covers of various old and new songs, including Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl". Kind of odd, hearing 12 year old girls doing a song about not being someone who wouldn't want to "holla back" at a man. Not as bad as seeing a young girl in Shawnna's new video for "Gimme Some Head", but that's another story another time.
Explain to me how a lot of this Hollywood bullshit music can become huge hits, while real people who make real music, be it hip-hop, funk, country, jazz, gospel, or Hawaiian, have to struggle ten times as hard? You have all of this phony bologna emo-metal bands whom people would have kicked in the nuts 25 years ago because they were poseurs, and now they RAWK!?!?! To whom, to people who don't know any better?
Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson have made not one but two albums. Both went gold. Keep in mind, 500,000 people went out of their way to buy it. Meanwhile, Cassandra Wilson has a new album but is a slow but steady seller only because she's not young and a friend of Kanye West.
Jessica Simpson was once lost in the Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera shuffle and now all she has to do is pucker her ass, show off her horse mouth, and she's a success? What the fuck is going on here?
We're in 2006, and there are more methods than every to buy and obtain music, legally and illegally. The MP3 rage made it possible to not only get the songs you want, but to be able to find music that was either impossible to find or too expensive to buy. Yet who is at #1?
I don't think I would complain so much if it was good songs, but most of the songs are shit. Bring back good music.
I take that back, bring back the record industry I grew up with before it got corrupt, before it was taken over by people who could care less about the music.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
But what to make of this?
This is an official site for a new show uniting the music of The Beatles with the Cirque du Soleil? To me, this is just wrong. Dead wrong.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
I visited Goodwill in Richland, Washington and lately the selection has been junk. But there were a few things worth picking up.
Hubert Laws-Carnegie Hall (CTI)
This is a live album I had never seen or heard of before, but this was Hubert Laws, and on CTI. The album also features Ron Carter, Bob James, and Billy Cobham among others. It's an interesting approach too, the album consists of two songs. That's it, two side-length tracks, with a classical piece getting the jazz treatment, and a medley of two songs (Chick Corea's "Windows" and James Taylor's "Fire And Rain") getting the classical treatment. There are some amazing moments, and anytime you hear James' do his thing on the electric piano, you know it's going to be a ride. Trippy.
(This has not been released on CD in the U.S., but a Japanese import is available through CD Universe)
Siddhadas And Freddie-Morning Star (S.Y.D.A. Foundation)
Two friends who became a part of the Krishna faith decide to celebrate their guru with an album of acoustic folk songs. It is amazing to see how many people in the 70's did albums like these, not only custom/private presses but even Pete Townshend, Carlos Santana & John McLaughin had albums for their gurus. Nothing too amazing on this, but the songs are nice.
Clyde Beavers-That's You (And What's Left Of Me)/Old Tree (Hickory)
I had taken a chance with this. Yes, it's on a Nashville label so almost by default it should be country. Plus, the artist is named Clyde Beavers. Being much more of a soul and funk fan, it is safe to say a soul singer could not get away with being called Clyde Beavers. Sly Beavers... maybe, but some double entendre would be involved.
In this case, it's country. No date given but most likely from the early or mid-1960's. The A-side is a glider, but the B-side had a bit more pep to it. Makes me wish I knew how to play a guitar.
Clyde Beavers-Old Tree (2.35mb)
Railroad Sounds-Last Train To Waterloo (Quadraphonic) (Warner Bros.)
This was a quad 8-track, I had to buy it, even though I have no means of hearing it. This was an album made by Brad Miller in 1972, consisting of nothing but the sound of trains. If the Miller name is familiar, it should be. He had a hand in the creation of the Mystic Moods Orchestra (later shortened to Mystic Moods, and signed to Warner Bros.). Miller was an audiophile and would often feature natural sounds on the Mystic Moods records, from birds to rain to random train sounds. He decided to just release an album of trains, and he was allowed to do so. On a major label no less. Miller would eventually form his own audiophile label, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL), and he was very successful in that venture. Miller passed away in 1998, but not without leaving behind a collection of records and compact discs that helped enhance the listening experience for anyone who wanted to hear more.
Just the thought of hearing railroad sounds in surround sound... THAT'S HOT!!! I'm also a fan of sound effect records, which can be interesting.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
That first sense of new was heard in In A Silent Way, but the world was not prepared for his next album, the immortal Bitches Brew. It brought forth a new type of jazz: fusion. It had been explored a number of times by everyone from Ornette Coleman to Roland Kirk, but this also featured some outside influences, namely rock and soul. It was a double album that sold like crazy, a double album which featured songs with durations of 15 minutes or more. It was a marathon, and either you were with him or you weren't. No inbetween, and Miles probably didn't care if you weren't with him.
Bitches Brew sold millions, a rare feat in itself for jazz. Not many jazz albums sell over 100,000, yet alone 500,000 or a million, but to think that people bought that album in the same way people bought Norah Jones' Come Away With Me is, in perspective, amazing.
What's even more amazing is that Columbia Records made an attempt to market the album to a younger audience by releasing a 45 of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" and "Spanish Key". On the album, "Miles Run The Voodoo Down" goes for 14:01 while "Spanish Key" runs at 17:32. When you locked into the album, you were ready for anything. The single for it, however, seems to pick a random section of each song and then someone said "okay, that's the single". Really? This wasn't an edit of "So What", or something fairly simple as "Someday My Prince Will Come", these were songs that were meant to be listened to as a whole. It's easy to create 45 edits of songs like Rare Earth's "Get Ready", Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", or anything with a traditional verse/chorus/verse format, but this was free form jazz.
In truth, nothing is impossible, but this was not the kind of music that was meant to be heard at three minutes or less. With FM radio being the way "true music fans" heard music, I am sure the album got a lot of play. Yet it's hard for me to imagine a time when someone could fit "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" right between Freda Payne's "Band Of Gold" and Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy". Then again in 1971, radio was like that, nothing was impossible.
Miles Davis - Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (Single Edit) (3.8mb)
Miles Davis - Spanish Key (Single Edit) (3.8mb)
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
In recent years, the Barefoot Boy album has become sought after not only by jazz fusion fans, but also by hip-hop cratediggers who discovered that one of the songs on the album was sampled by a well known group from Los Angeles, the same group that also sampled the Scratch 45 that was in the first installment of my Box Of 45's section.
It is an amazing album, three tracks in total, including the side-long track on side two, "Call To The Higher Consciousness", which came from the teachings of his guru, Sri Chinmoy (Who guitarist Pete Townshend also sought guidance through him in the early 1970's). So it comes as a surprise to me that Flying Dutchman, or at least Atco, went out of their way to release a 45 for two of the songs here. "The Great Escape" is a Coryell original, while "Gypsy Queen" is a Gabor Szabo composition that became famous a year before by Santana when they teamed it up with their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman". "Gypsy Queen", in its released form, is just over eleven minutes, while "The Great Escape" is about nine. In 45 rpm form, both are just under three minutes. It's hard to imagine any radio stations, especiall AM sstations, giving this devoted airplay, when jazz fusion was a bit more sophisticated than the average pop song. It seems they just listened to a portion of a song and said "okay, let's begin... HERE! La la la and okay, the clock is almost to three minutes so let's fade right... THERE!"
As a collector, I'm a huge fan of the Atlantic label and all of its subsidiaries. Atlantic distributed Flying Dutchman briefly in the early 1970's, and at this point Led Zeppelin was bringing in more money for Atlantic than Aretha Franklin. Atlantic were also about to have massive success with The Allman Brothers Band's Live At Fillmore East, it was a different time and it seemed everyone was progressing forward with their music. While the Barefoot Boy album might be considered "on the fringe" by jazz purists, it is more interesting that someone even considered to release a 45 in support of this, when most people who were attracted to this were in praise of the album format. If anything, a nice curio, radio edit style.
Larry Coryell-The Great Escape (Single Version) (4.1mb)
Larry Coryell-Gypsy Queen (Single Version) (4mb)
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Here is the B-side, an original track called "Memories". It's a bit of power pop with an emphasis on Crosby, Stills & Nash-like vocals, with an emphasis on Graham Nash.
On a slight historical note, there had been rumors recently that "Jesus Is Just Alright" on the A-side featured the vocals of Bob Seger, a fellow Detroit resident. It was proven to be just that, a rumor, as Seger had no involvement with 1776.
Attention towards NWA was at an all time high, and people knew Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella (as well as Arabian Prince for you diehards) as much as they knew their favorite pop, rock, or metal bands.
Looking back at the era, this was when the bubble had burst, rap music was no longer just about New York City and a few "outside areas". The music was worldwide, and so would be its contributors. At what seemed to be the height of their success, Oshea Jackson left the group. That's what this interview is about, the departure of Ice Cube, and the status of N.W.A. This was taken from the April 1990 issue of Spin magazine.
Hounded by the FBI and acclaimed as the new, new Sex Pistols, NWA's rise has been rapid and sensational. But now that chief spokesman and lyricist Ice Cube has left the band, has the soul and intelligence of these Niggers With Attitude gone with him?
Article by Frank Owen
Photo by Dorothy Low
The numbers alone are impressive. Both NWA's Straight Outta Compton and NWA member EazyE's solo album Eazy-Duz-It have sold over one and a half million units each without radio play, MTV support or major record company promotion.
Equally impressive is the $650,000 that NWA grossedon tour last year, of which manager Jerry Heller took $130,000. Ice Cube, meanwhile, whom many regard as the group's chief spokesman, went home with $23,000. When Ice Cube asked about profits from NWA merchandise being sold on the tour he was told it was none of his business. That was about par for the course, according to the man who either wrote or co-wrote approximately half of the raps on the Eazy Eand NWA albums. This significant contribution to over three million records sold has so far earned Ice Cube $32,000.
Now that the disgruntled rapper has left the band, the question arises, has the soul and intelligence of NWA walked out of the door with him?
SPIN: Why did you leave NWA?
Cube: Financial reasons, man. I wasn't getting paid. When you contribute to the sale of three million albums, you expect more than $32,000. Jerry Heller [NWA manager] lives in a half million-dollar house in West Lake, and I'm still living at home with my mother. Jerry's driving a Corvette and a Mercedes Benz and I've got a Suzuki Side Kick. You know what I mean. Jerry's making all the money, and I'm not. Jerry has no creative input into the group: he just makes all the fucked-up decisions and gets all the fucking money.
What do you mean "fucked-up decisions"?
Like refusing to do the Jesse Jackson chat show because there was no money involved. Jesse Jackson wanted to do an interview with NWA for his new show "Voices Of America." The topic of the show was the controversial music that kids are listening to today. There's no way on this planet that NWA shouldn't have been on that show. With the exception of Public Enemy, there's no group more controversial than NWA. We should have been on that show, getting nationwide exposure and getting people on our side.
When you turn down something like that, you've gotta think that the man doesn't want it for the group. He's just in it for the short term so that he can make as much money as quickly as possible.
Jerry told me that one of the reasons you left NWA was that your publicist, Pat Charbonet, was filling your head with notions that you were a big star and you would be even bigger on your own.
The only thing Pat Charbonet told me was to get a lawyer. They got mad when I did that. Jerry told me that lawyers were made to cause trouble. But lawyers only cause trouble if there's trouble to cause.
What about the future?
I'm doing a solo album with Priority Records. [Public Enemy's] Chuck 0 and [PE producer] Hank Shocklee are going to produce it. It's going to be called America's Most Wanted. There's gonna be tracks like "Endangered Species." Young black teenagers have now been added to the endangered species list.
There's another track called "Turn Off The Radio," which is about how black radio still doesn't play a fair share of hip hop. NWA has gone platinum with little help from black radio. That song is telling kids, be your own programmer-turn off the radio and make your own tapes.
I was talking to Luke Skyywalker [of The 2 Live Crew] recently about the media's moral panic about supposedly obscene rap lyrics. He said that as long as hip hop remains solely a black thing, it could be as dirty as it wanted: it's only when white kids start apeing black styles that the authorities get concerned.
Yeah! It's like with the gang problem in Los Angeles. As long as the gangs stay in South Central Los Angeles, the authorities don't mind. But when they move into Beverly Hills and Westwood-that's when it's a problem, that's when the authorities kick in, that's when the police come down to South Central and harass every black man in a T-shirt.
"We-tried to settle this dispute diligently," says Ice Cube's lawyer, Michael Ashburn. "We bent over backwards to try and make a financial agreement that was acceptable to both sides. I was surprised how indifferent they were when it came to settling this dispute. It was like Jerry Heller didn't care whether Ice Cube - someone who unarguably had made a major contribution to the group - left or stayed. Ice Cube would still be with NWA if our very reasonable financial demands had been met. They gave us a statement showing that Ice Cube had been advanced $32,700. He's owed at least another $120,000, plus his publishing royalties, which he hasn't received a cent on so far. Ice Cube wanted to continue with NWA, but he just wasn't getting paid."
"Jerry Heller says I encouraged Ice Cube to leave NWA," says publicist Pat Charbonet. "That's the first time I've been accused of inciting slaves to riot."
"The real reason that Ice Cube left NWA was that he was incredibly jealous of the notoriety and success of Eazy E," says Jerry Heller. "He wanted to be Eazy E. He was jealous because not only is Eazy a key member of NWA with a successful solo career, he's also the president of his own record company. Eazy Eis a mjor star and a successful businessman. Ice Cube isn't."
A white-haired music biz veteran with an abrasive manner, Jerry Heller is an unlikely choice as the manager of a hip-hop group. In his heyday he ran Heller For Show, a booking agency that handled tours by top acts such as Elton John, Pink Floyd, REO Speedwagon, and ELO. By the 80s his star was in decline.
In October of 1987 he met Eazy E, a former drug dealer with bags of cash and two very talented friends - Dr. Ore and Yella - who would become the NWA production team. Together they set up Ruthless Records and scored a big pop hit with the corny electro hip hop jam "Supersonic" by JJFad - released on the associated label Dream Team.' Heller tells the story of how, on receipt of a six-figure check from Atlantic (the major record company that licensed the song from Ruthless), he took Eazy to the bank and taught him how to open a checking account.
Today, Ruthless is living largely, as one of the most successful hip hop companies around, with a roster that includes (as well as NWA and Eazy) such new signings as Above The Law ("They're pimps and players," says Eazy, "rolling and clocking ho's"); New York female rappers Bitches With Problems ("They make NWA look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," jokes Jerry Heller); R&B Diva, Michel'le ("She talks live a five year old and sings like a thirteen year old," says Eazy), and The D.O.C., whose rapping career is undiminished by a recent car accident in which he flew through the back window and crushed his vocal chords.
"We've got the makings of a company that's going to be to the 90s what Berry Gordy's Motown was to the 60s," says Jerry Heller. "And the creative nucleus is Dr. Ore, Yella and Eazy." It's difficult to imagine Eazy Ebehind the trigger of an AK-47. A slight figure with processed hair and the brattish demeanor of someone to whom success has come too quickly, Eazy is inevitably described as an angry young black man from the ghetto. But in reality Eazy is the type of guy who only really gets mad when someone messes with his jheri curl. Public Enemy's Chuck D tells a story about being on tour with NWA in Chicago where Eazy refused to leave the hotel room in case his hair got wet. Fellow Los Angeles rapper Ice-T tells a joke about what he imagines an NWA recording session is like - Ice Cube in the corner scribbling down lyrics while Eazy chides him, "Make me sound tougher. You're not making me sound tough enough."
Is the departure of Ice Cube a big loss to the band?
Eazy: No, it means we get more money.
How would you assess his contribution to NWA?
Well, Ice Cube has got comments. He says he wasn't getting paid. He says that you and Jerry got all the money.
On to the next subject.
Let's talk about "Fuck Tha Police." Did you follow what was going on in Boston in January, where Chuck Stuart apparently murdered his wife and blamed it on a black mugger and everyone believed him? Is that what you meant on "Fuck Tha Police"?
No, I don't know nothing about all that. We were just talking about what happens to us in Compton.
But racism isn't something that just happens in Compton.
The black police in Compton are worse than the white police. Chuck D gets involved in all that black stuff, we don't. Fuck that black power shit: we don't give a fuck. Free South Africa: we don't give a fuck. I bet there ain't anybody in South Africa wearing a button saying "Free Compton" or "Free California." They don't give a damn about us, so why should we give a damn about them? We're not into politics at all. We're just saying what other people are afraid to say.
Tell me about the FBI letter accusing you of advocating violence against the police.
It was juice.
We liked it.
Do you think it could hurt your career?
What are they gonna do? Put us in jail for making a record?
Did you get hassled by the police growing up in Compton?
Every day. They stereotype you and mess with you because you got a beeper, a little gold and a nice car. They figure you're a drug dealer or gang member.
Some people say that NWA glamorize black-onblack crime.
So what? They can say what the fuck they like. We're not telling anybody to join a gang or do drive-by shootings or to rob, steal and kill. We're just telling how it is in Compton.
Other people say you disrespect women.
We're not disrespecting women, we're disrespecting bitches.
What's the difference between a bitch and a woman?
A woman is a woman. A bitch is someone who carries herself in a stuck-up way. A bitch is someone who fucks everybody except me.
At the start of the interview, I presumed that Eazy E's laconic, don't-give-a-shit manner was merely a case of the rapper playing a game of pin-the-tale-on-thehonky. By the end of our session, I realized that with the departure of Ice Cube, NWA's 'collective IQ now barely makes it above room temperature.
But this is part of NWA's appeal for some. Funkenklein of Red Alert Productions - a man whose opinions I normally trust implicitly - sees NWA as a welcome reaction against "all that righteous, political bullshit in hip hop at the moment. They don't give a fuck. And that's why they're cool"
Attempting to explain the differences between the more cultural type of hip hop you get in New York and what passes for rap music in Los Angeles, Greg Sandow - music critic of Entertainment Weekly and a strong supporter of the band - explains: "They're two completely different societies. Try and find a credible black leader in Los Angeles. Even an AI Sharpton. Everything that happens in Los Angeles happens in a vacuum. There's no political consciousness being developed, because there's little community activism."
There's no doubt that Compton is a violent, troubled neighborhood, but from the outside, despite the gangs and drugs, it looks surprisingly bourgeois. "It doesn't look like Germany after World War II," says Jerry Heller. "It's all houses with nice little lawns."
Last year, Ice Cube's comfortable, middle-class home was fired on in a drive-by shooting: the bullets were supposedly meant for a neighbor's house. And Jerry Heller tells a story about signing a Compton rapper called E Rock on a Friday, who by Sunday had been shot dead. And Michel'le, on a recent visit to the hairdresser, was held up at gunpoint, her car hijacked, and her money stolen in broad daylight.
There's been a lot of nonsense written in the media about NWA and their neighborhood. Typical was a piece in a recent edition of Option which talked about the band's "threat to middle-class ideology" and the way they provide "a glimpse into the conditions of the inner-city, where poor or non-existent housing and little legal economic advancement have led people to extreme means."
There is an element of documentary realism about NWA's music, but that is largely overshadowed by the gleeful delight the band takes in demonstrating their supposed toughness. In reality, NWA have more in common with a Charles Bronson movie than a PBS documentary on the plight of the inner-cities. The media myth that US crime is black is peddled daily in newsprint and nightly on the networks. Sadly, it's a myth that NWA do little to dispel. Niggers With Attitude? Niggers With Activator, more like.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I am someone who enjoys various aspects of recorded music, and one of them is the 45rpm single. For the most part, 45's are released (and I say "are" because there are a small handful of major labels who are still releasing 45's) for the sole purpose of having a hit. Look at any used 45 bin at a record convention or record store, and you will see loads of promotional 45's by certain labels. The hope was that if one of them was able to make a dent, it would be a regional hit, and maybe, just maybe, a national hit. The recording and radio industry is very different from what it was in the 70's and 80's, but it is interesting to see how much money was wasted for the sole purpose of having a hit and "making a dent".
I have also been interested in seeing 45's by artists who may not have been "radio friendly". On the opposite end of AM radio was FM radio, where things were freeform and you didn't have to conform to playing songs at four minutes or less. If you wanted to play one song at 23 minutes, you could. Walk out the backdoor of the radio station and have a smoke.
However, record labels always pushed for "just one more hit", and that mentality went everywhere from psychedelic folk bands to trippy old ladies who couldn't hold a tune (read "Mrs. Miller").
So what to make of this 45 by Herbie Hancock? Head Hunters was released in 1974 and became one of his best selling albums. The album begins with the funky "Chameleon", running at 15 minutes and a few seconds. Anyone who sits and listens to the album goes into it for the ride, the experience of the groove, knowing that it goes up and down in mood, getting hyperactive with "Sly" and mellowing the listener with "Vein Melter". However, take a different perspective of the album's first song, "Chameleon", and it's obvious that it could have been a massive hit on its own. There was a time when an instrumental out of nowhere would become a huge hit, it has happened many times over the years: "Axel F", the theme from "Miami Vice", "Chariots Of Fire", "Music Box Dancer". Herbie Hancock was at the start of his funky jazz era, and "Chameleon" was a song that once heard, you knew it by heart.
However, Columbia Records felt that it could be a hit single. What to do? Edit. This is not a Rare Earth "Get Ready" kind of deal, where you start the song after the trippy intro, and then fade before everyone does their solos, what someone did was try to take the best elements from "Chameleon" and attempt to make it hit worthy, for the radio, for jukeboxes, and for non-jazz consumption. They did so by creating an edit piece that was 2 minutes and 50 seconds, removing about 80 percent of the song's actual content.
When I read books about how record companies have tried to turn anything into a hit, stuff like this interests me. A song may be too long, so they'll tell you to trim it down by a minute or two, there was a push to get it onto radio, otherwise no one will know about you, and it will not be a hit. In this case, it is taking a 15:40 song, slicing and dicing it in the hopes it would become a hot hit. Condensed for the masses/them asses, and hoping it will make a dent.
Well, the single did not make a dent but the album sold very well and continues to do so. The B-side of the 45 was a 4 minute edit of the 9 minute "Vein Melter". The edit of "Chameleon" in retrospect is genius in itself, but the sad thing is that with more radio formats catering to music from the 70's, this song would be perfect for airplay in 2006 and unfortunately it isn't getting any.
Again, a common song for jazz and funk heads, but heard in a fashion most of us are unfamiliar with.
Herbie Hancock - Chameleon (Single Version) (3.8mb)
Monday, February 20, 2006
Have your eyes deceived you? Did I actually make it out of my immediate circle? YES!
However, this wasn't a typical trip or record buying adventure, but I was an addition to a family trip. I decided to go along and I came across a Goodwill in Hillsboro, Oregon. I have never been to this city before (have been to Portland many times and have been to Beaverton) but I wasn't sure what to expect.
I didn't buy anything there, because prices were kinda high: $1.99 for LP's and $3.99 for compact discs. Oregonians may not question these prices but I'm still paying $1 for my vinyl and $2.50 for CD's. Selection was kinda eh, and I was going to buy some original cast album on Columbia only because it was still sealed. I passed.
I did not go onto "Record Row" in Portland, and again this wasn't my typical record buying trip. I would have went into Crossroads and gone crazy, and perhasp met Dan at Jump Jump if he was there. There is always a next time.
I did, however, have the same kind of sweats I normally get during digging adventures when I visited Fry's in Wilsonville, Oregon for the first time. Fry's is an electronics department store, whose ads I have seen for months in the Seattle and Portland papers. It was great. Loads of SACD's and DVD-A's, a lot of quality computers... I'm not going to turn this into an ad but I will definitely make my way down there someday.
On my way back home, I did eat some Popeye's chicken. a 3-piece with a biscuit and some cajun rice. I haven't had Popeye's chicken in 22 years. It was good. Perhaps not a Whole Foods good but it fills the opu, which in the words of Janet Jackson, is alright with me.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I came across an article that I forgot about, but as I looked it it reminded me of where my head was at at the time. It was May 1985, and the publication was The Rocket from Seattle. I was 14, already a music geek but wanting anything and everything that was rap. I was now a resident of the Pacific Northwest, after living in Honolulu for years. I wanted to know what was "local", and for me that meant Washington State and Oregon. I wasn't sure if Idaho would even have any hip-hop.
I then came across this article written by Glen Boyd, whose name I would often see associated with some of the best in NW hip-hop. It was part of a column The Rocket called In The Flesh, and was called The Hip-Hop Debate: The Northwest Hottest Funk DJ's Square Off. The article documents the music of two guys whom I looked up to, enough to move me to eventually create music on my own. I had done pause-mix tapes (my mixes of Art Of Noise's "Beat Box" and Yes' "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" were wicked) but the way they did it seemed much more intense. It was funky music with a bit of fun and chaos thrown in.
As a sidenote, Mr. Supreme recently told me that he drove Vitamix for the photo shoot which was used in this article. Supreme is also putting together a compilation looking into this era of Seattle hip-hop that will shed light on a music scene that may have been hidden a few times over the years, but not for long.
(Photos by Pete Kuhns)
Seattle' Sir Mix-A-Lot and Baron Von Scratch and Portland's VitaMix represent the orthwest's two opposing sides, in what has become the Great Debate of hip hop.
Although Anthony "Sir MixALot" Ray has done scattered gigs at Club Broadway, the Exhibition Hall (with rappers Jam Delight), and most recently at the Mountaineers, he has spent most of his time sequestered in his small Rainier Beach apartment, with a private arsenal of synthesizers, computers and turntables.
"I come up with stuff as good, from a musician's standpoint, as anything by Hashim or Dr. Dre," MixALot boasts, "and I do it right here in this room."
The results justify the boast. Mix-A-Lot originals like "My Kick Ass Drum" and "Sir MixALot Vs. the Dead Beat" are veritable funk monsters, combining the mechanized beats of early Bambaataa with melodies falling somewhere between Arthur Baker and Gary Numan. The clincher is the evilest sounding rap this side of the Egyptian Lover. MixALot's music, composed on his digital drum machine, Korg and Moog synthesizers and Commodore 64 computer, has produced such word of mouth that his tapes are sought-after commodities and his parties strictly SRO. His originals have landed airplay on K-FOX's Sunday hip hop show, Fresh Tracks. MixALot even composed the show's intro.
In his raps, Sir MixALot openly challenges Seattle's sucker DJs to battle. In one such battle, he and monster mixer Baron Von Scratch employed five turntables to crush the reputedly hot Rainier Valley crew, K.O.C. (Kings of Cutting). "We prefer the private parties 'cause you have too many rules as a club DJ," MixALot explains. "I can be a one man band with my synthesizers while Baron just does all those crazy things with the records."
Indeed, Baron Von Scratch's "Mega Mix III" and "Roxanne's Re-Mix" are marvels of speed scratching. Combined with MixALot's funk technology, the two of them hope to raise Seattle "out of the mud," and onto the hip hop map, thus far dominated by Tacoma DJs.
But not if Portland's VitaMix has anything to say about it.
VitaMix's Seattle reputation has thus far consisted of word of mouth created by the few tapes filtered to local hip hop circles, and a couple of favorable reviews in The Rocket.
But in Portland, Chris "VitaMix" Blanchard is revered as the undisputed Mix Master and Rapper Supreme, and he pulls no punches in his appraisal of the synthesized funk embraced by Sir MixALot.
"The West Coast sound sucks," he says. "The old East Coast records are the all-time best, Spoonie Gee and the Sugar hill Gang had a band behind them. There's no street feel to it anymore, just all these synthesizers. Wellanyone can spend $4000 on synthesizers and be the best DJ in town. But where's the talent? I'm for rawness, this is supposed to be street music."
It is those original early eighties rap records, on labels like Sugarhill that VitaMix developed his skills on, first in his native San Francisco, then on Portland's KBOO FM.
"KBOO is a public service station," VitaMix explains, "and was very freeform in ' 82, which gave me a lot of freedom. I mixed hardcore punk and R&B in the beginning. The first record I ever scratched was Laurie Anderson's '0 Superman. I discovered mixing by playing Grandmaster's 'The Message' and this record called 'Frog Sound in North America' simultaneously."
VitaMix's radio show soon led to a demand for tapes. In fact, much of VitaMix '84 consists of mixes from the show, interspersed with phone-in rappers from the same program. The centerpiece of VilaMix '84, however, is "VitaRap '66" the title comes from Blanchard's year of birth, and features Vita's scratching, beat box, and autobiographical rap.
On VitaMix's new tape, Cut Classics, he breaks new ground by mixing the melody tracks of classic pop records with the beats of hip hop. The results range from a "Purple Hazel Art of Noise" mix to Booker T'g "Green Onions" mixed with Kraftwerk's "Tour de France" to an absolutely wild marriage of square dance music to scratch.
Since leaving KBOO early in '84, VitaMix has remained visible, opening dates for artists as diverse as Los Lobos, Yellowman, and the infamous Afrika Bambaataa fiasco in Seattle.
"We cut it up at that show," VitaMix said. "Bambaataa was told he'd get a band. When he didn't, he still cut a few records, but the turntables were bad so he just bowed out. I don't blame him. Pretty soon another guy from the audience came up and started trying to cut records."
VitaMix's greatest triumph to date was the summer '84 engineering of a breakdance competition to coincide with the grand opening of Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. The event drew 8,000 people and garnered considerable media coverage. VltaMix put together the event, "although KMJK radio took the credit," and provided the master mixing.
"Everyone else is trying to do it now, but I was first," VitaMix insists. "MixALot has all the equipment, but let's get people back into it. Forget the machines."
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
As a longtime record collector, I grew up listening to 45's. There is someone of a mystique about it, whether it's the fact that some artists had enough money to record and press up one record, only to never be heard from again. Soul and funk collectors know exactly what I'm talking about, and finding these records isn't only about looking for popular drum breaks or samples, but to be able to hear a hint of the magic and anticipating the artists had at the time of the recording.
Other times, it's merely looking for something new and different, on a format that was tossed off and abused over the years. 45's are great, and thus I bring to my blog my Box Of 45's, in MP3 form.
As a producer, I too look for weird and unusual samples, as well as breaks of interest. However, I'm someone who loves to hear music that may be unknown. This record was no exception, a record on a label by a band that was unknown to me. I brought it home and it was kinda funky to me, a nice groove. All of a sudden the song breaks down for a quick moment and I'm thinking to myself "why does this sound familiar?" I knew I heard it, and then the singer mentions two numbers. OH SNAP!
I personally like it when well known samples fall into my lap, it's as if these records are saying "come to me". In truth, it's those accidental discoveries that make record hunting so great.
Stretch-"Why Did You Do It?" (4.7 mb)
Monday, February 13, 2006
Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em
After first hearing MC Hammer's de but, Let's Get It Started, I filed it away, thinking, "Just another sucker MC who can't rap." Then Hammer blew up: his videos were kickin', his tightly choreographed stage show was live, his production company, Bustin' Records, busted out by discovering and producing Oaktown's 3.5.7 among others. Started rocked over two million eardrums, and he landed a cameo on Earth, Wind & Fire's album Heritage. All that noise and Hammer's new album made me reassess this Oakland rapper: he's no small-time sucker, but he still can't rap.
Which isn't a knock against Hammer. Somewhere along the line he must've realized that his verbal prowess isn't on par with his physical fitness. "Here Comes the Hammer" and "U Can't Touch This" Hammer's voice is mostly muffled, his words barely distinguishable, his rhymes irrelevant: the thrill of listening to them is left to the imagination - how would Hammer and his posse interpret their slammin' beats onstage? Probably better than Hammer interprets Michael Jackson's "Dancing Machine" and Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me"-two songs Hammer doesn't sample, but interpolates. Interpolates? Yup. Hammer cold-cops the music tracks from these don't-touch-itif-you're-not-gonna-hurt-it tunes, revamps the background singing and adds some rhymes of his own.
"On Your Face" (EW&F) and "Have You Seen Her" (Chi-Lites) are less interpolations than covers. Hip hop covers of R&B songs? Yup. Here Hammer reveals what's perhaps a secret longing-to be a singer, not a rapper. Or better, to be an entertainer. At this rate, if hip hop hits Las Vegas 15, 20 years from now, Hammer, with his business savvy and Oaktown posse, will be there rapping "My Way."
MY COMMENT: Almost 16 years after this review, we can look back at what has happened to hip-hop. Are we in the Las Vegas phase right now? Did this album really pave the way for everything that has happened since then?
Saturday, February 11, 2006
When my website was running, I had a small section called 8'S From The 808, dedicated to 8-track tapes of Hawaiian music, with 808 referring to the area code of Hawai'i. As a Hawaiian originally from Hawai'i, I am very passionate about my music. I decided that I wanted to archive Hawaiian music as it was released in what is still considered the stepchild of music formats. I am, fortunately, a fan and supporter of the 8-track tape, in fact I released my 8th album on the format and called it The Big KA-CHONGK!
Anyway, my gallery featured 8-tracks I had discovered, along with contributions from other trackers who had come across their own tapes. Today at Goodwill I found a tape I could not and would not resist.
Hawai'i's Greatest Hits
(Reprise M 86418)
Don Ho, for most people, had peaked with "Tiny Bubbles", but Ho was still the musical ambassador to the Hawaiian islands, and this was his way of performing some modern Hawaiian standards. I was lucky to score this with the original Warner Bros. box.
I also found a blank Scotch 80-minute 8-track.
As far as vinyl, there was a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull but I passed on it (although since I have one, I could've had doubles and perhaps participated in a Richard Harris routine of some sort).
Cost of 8-tracks: 25 cents each.