Yazoo Records delivers us THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF

This post was originally published April 22nd, 2013.

Robert Crumb Blues Icon TemplateWhen I think of the most obsessively fanatical collectors that populate our planet, I have to give the prize to record collectors. 

Even well beyond folks that seek out rare comic books, watches, autographs or toys, it is the passion of music enthusiasts seeking out that rare vinyl LP, forgotten release, or long thought lost recording.

This obsession can turn many an individual into a deviously sneaky, frothing at the mouth, crazed vinyl addict.

 

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As evidenced by this past weekend’s annual holiday for the record collecting fan, Record Store Day, turnouts around the world were huge, as independent music shops celebrated what has become their biggest retail day of the year.

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Folks swarmed shops everywhere in an attempt to purchase the many exclusive limited edition vinyl titles that record labels the world over released on this special day.

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Music fans are still crazy for vinyl, and the demand for LP’s and singles is increasing by the year.

Some things never change.

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THE ROLLING STONES: SOME GIRLS Live in Texas ’78

This piece was originally published April 8th, 2013.

Some Girls still stCharlie Watts Some Girls Icon Templateands today as one of The Rolling Stones last incredible album masterpieces.

While they certainly made some outstanding albums afterwards—Tattoo You and Undercover are both high points—there were none that would be so perfectly complete as Some Girls.

Released in 1978 and quickly becoming a #1 album, it is hailed as an across the board classic, and one of their all time best selling studio albums.

Recorded in ’77 & early ’78, the writing and sessions were done amidst a time of even more internal turmoil than usual for The Stones, with Keith Richards’ looming Toronto drug bust a concern as to whether he could be imprisoned for years, and the challenge of responding to punk rock’s ground zero takedown of the dinosaurs of many of rock and roll’s giants.

 

The original cover art (there was also another color variant cover) to the 
Some Girls album, spoofing a wig ad is brilliant. The cover was quickly changed 
when copyright issues came up regarding the various female celebrities depicted.

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THE UNDERGROUND X-RAY RECORDS OF THE SOVIET UNION

This piece was originally published March 25th, 2013.

Soviet X Ray Records IconIt’s easy to take entertainment for granted.

In our present day we have the ability to purchase and enjoy so many recreational items: play a video game, listen to whatever it is we want, watch whatever we want, and, though there are still many folks out there who wish they could control our choices, read any books we can find.

Folks happily embrace the technology that has made obtaining our selections quick, simple and affordable, and we think nothing now of versions that exist only on the ether, or rather—on a cloud.

Still others, myself included, like to seek out older formats and what some will call obsolete mediums.

Some of these formats such as the vinyl LP have actually increased in their yearly sales and there are constantly new purveyors now marketing records, both for new album releases and reissuing older releases.

The annual April celebration event for small independent record shops around the world, Record Store Day, has increased popularity and made it a huge success. For many of these brick and mortar stores and the independent record labels that send exclusive items for sale on that day, it is their best retail day of the year.

Long thought dead formats such as 78 r.p.m. records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, VHS tapes and laser discs, still have numerous aficionados and collectors that will readily discuss at great length their obsessions and collections. In fact, there are even record labels, bands and filmmakers that choose to only release their output on some of these “antique” formats.

It wasn’t always this easy though…

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Bryan Ferry’s THE JAZZ AGE: A Masterpiece In Mono

This piece was originally published February 25th, 2013.

The 1920’s was a time not that unlike the 1960’s in that it was a period when new fashions, new music and new freedoms were celebrated with a youthful exuberance that sought to shake off those of the older established mainstream.

It was a time of partying and cheering for the end of the previous dark period of World War I, a time where women’s suffrage was peaking and was subsequently celebrated with the rise of the independently-minded, adventurously daring Flappers.

Most notably, it was a glorious time for a musical genre called Jazz that had seen its birth in the African American communities of New Orleans, and was now seen as the dance band choice of the young and young-minded everywhere.


Image of Bryan Ferry Orchestra


With radio broadcasts playing a large part in spreading the zest of Jazz, as well as folks flocking to dance-halls to see the bands themselves, Jazz became the rebellious music.

Bryan Ferry is no stranger to rebellion. Beginning as a part-time art teacher, his band Roxy Music released their stunningly original self-titled debut album in 1972.

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BEWARE OF MR. BAKER: GINGER BAKER VS. HIMSELF

This piece was originally published February 11th, 2013.

Even when I thought I knew just about everything creative, compulsive and crazed when it came to tales of the man and his music, I saw this film and realized my knowledge was only a small part of a wilder story.

  Beware of Mr. Baker is a documentary on the life of the legendary British rock drummer with a mane of flame and the eyes of a madman, Ginger Baker.

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THE REPLACEMENTS: REUNITED FOR SLIM

This piece was originally published January 28th, 2013.

Formed in 1979 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Replacements were one of the great groups that merged a love of classic rock, hook-laden bands such as The Beatles ( they named one of the albums Let It Be ), The Rolling Stones, and Badfinger with the proto-punk of The New York Dolls and the more recent snap of The RamonesThe ClashThe Jam and The Dead Boys.

In their early sloppy, alcohol-sopped party rock days, when they weren’t downright terrible, they could be a short distance from their musical heroes, The Faces

 

The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Rod Stewart and The Faces defined great drunken Rock and Roll

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When they summoned up a melodic beauty in a song’s refrain, they could reach the cosmos of one of their other major influences, Big Star

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The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Stinson, Slim Dunlap, Steve Foley

Big Star with Alex Chilton (right)

Through their earlier days the line-up was founder/guitarist Bob Stinson who, in an effort to keep his little half-brother out of trouble, presented Tommy Stinson with a bass. Adding their friend, guitarist turned drummer Chris Mars, the new band, Dogbreath, would cover Ted Nugent, and Aerosmith, standard stuff for 70’s kids to play.
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REVEALING DAVID BOWIE’S BIRTHDAY SECRET

This piece was originally published January 14th, 2013.

David Bowie Secret Post IconOn Tuesday, January 8th at 5:00 AM, David Bowie, on what was his 66th birthday, gave his fans around the world an unprecedented gift by suddenly releasing a single, with an accompanying video and new photograph, on his web site and for immediate download purchase on iTunes.

The song was simply added without any notifications or press releases.

As I saw the video and listened to the song, with those incredible, familiar sounding chords, I knew that, for myself, 2013 was already off to a great beginning. For here was never expected new music from one of my top 5 favorite artists that I have revered since I was an inquisitive little child staring at the strange alien-like being depicted on the American LP cover for his Space Oddity album.

Presented was this fantastic surprise that is truly one the best kept secrets to ever have been tucked away by any legendary mega-selling. hugely influential musical performer long thought to be retired and finished with making music.

Where Are We Now?, The Next Day, Ziggy Stardust, Berlin Trilogy, Thin White Duke

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A Few of My Favorite Television Show SPIN-OFFS!

This piece was originally published January 2nd, 2013.

J.J. Walker Post Icon jpgThe history and “family trees” of television series spin-offs can be as complicated and intricately detailed as a giant spider’s web in a dark cave.

We are all familiar with a typical spin-off of a popular sitcom or drama series.

For instance, Happy Days giving us Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy or Buffy the Vampire Slayer providing us with Angel, but those are the obvious, things can get more convoluted and far less easy to spot sometimes.

Some shows that we take for granted as always being around, such as The Tonight Show, with all of the many hosts and longevity that show has had, is technically a spin-off of a show called Broadway Open House which ran from 1950 – 1951, and was NBC’s first late night series—with The Tonight Show making its debut in 1954. 

A series may spin-off of itself, as in the case of say Rowan Atkinson’s brilliant Black Adder, which would then give the world Black Adder II and Black Adder The Third, etc.

There are shows, especially of the variety or anthology type, that would spin-off something much greater than the original, with the most famous example of all being The Tracey Ullman Show providing the world with The Simpsons.

To really get detailed, the fun, goofy comedy anthology series Love, American Style (which ran from 1969-1974) is the show that originally spawned Happy Days (which gave us many spin-offs, mostly terrible, aside from Laverne and Shirley), as well as Wait Til Your Father Gets Home (1972-1974), the first prime time animated series to last more than one season since The Flintstones and before The Simpsons.

So in thinking about spin-offs, and the complexities involved in sticking to what constitutes a true spin-off (a re-boot of a series such as with Battlestar Galactica is not a spin-off) here, in no particular order, are a few of my faves.

Unpredictable are some, while others, perhaps not so much. 

I will only be listing television shows that are with live actors, so no animated shows this time around, but I promise that Mystery Box column will come in the near future, and with something to look forward in this column, you would be amazed if you knew just how many spin-offs a few animated series like The Flintstones or The Archie Show spawned!

Lastly, I’m also not going to mention anything from the Star Trek world on this list, as it would take up several columns to discuss these shows. To put it simply, I worship the original classic series, loved Enterprise, really liked Next Generation and found the other two spin-offs to be a chore.
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LED ZEPPELIN: CELEBRATING THEIR LAST HURRAH!

This piece was originally published December 17th, 2012.

Led Zeppelin Post Icon
Ah, Ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow,
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla I am coming!
On we sweep with thrashing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.
© 1970 Led Zeppelin

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The above is the lyrics to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” from their third album, 1970’s Led Zeppelin III.

It was written by Robert Plant after being inspired by a concert the band played at a college in Reykjavik, Iceland and touring the country, which reminded him of Viking hordes and big ships.

It’s perspective, as that of the Vikings leaving Scandinavia in search of new lands and new adventures, always left me with the impression that it easily could have been a song about the members of Led Zeppelin themselves.

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The gods swooped down to conquer in their own private jet

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LYRES: Back on Fyre! — MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3!

This piece was originally published November 19th, 2012.

Lyres Post Icon TemplateOnce again, here is the next installment of a series of columns that would each cover one musical act that I would gladly go to see in concert over and over again.

As previously mentioned in an earlier episode, in deciding which acts should go into this list of live favorites, these are my prerequisites:

1) They are still currently making music I like and are touring live.
2) I’ve seen each more than a few times.
3) All stand out with a unique sound, presence and charisma.

Here I present to you,  MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3 — LYRES

By the time he had assembled his band Lyres, Boston singer/songwriter/tambourine shaker/pianist/Vox Continental organist, Jeff Conolly, had already become a legendary figure on The Hub’s local music scene via his band DMZ.

DMZ was one of the nascent punk rock bands formed in Boston, early 1976, that landed a label deal with Sire Records (and later Bomp!) with their Stooges/Saints/Stones sound filtered through a heavy dose of  ’60s garage trash punk.

 

DMZ featuring singer Jeff Conolly (center)

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After DMZ broke up, Conolly, a.k.a. “Monoman” (a nickname that has several possible origins including Jeff’s obsession with ’60s monaural soul and rock and roll recordings and collecting them, as well as a single-minded obstinate determination when it comes to running a band) founded Lyres in 1979, retaining the fiery power of DMZ, but pushing even more of a garage rock and soul 60’s sound to the forefront.

The two members of DMZ who stayed on as the first of a billion changing lineups of Lyres would be the always present Jeff Conolly and bassist Rick Coraccio.
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