Monday, August 26, 2013

Where Attrition Is Tradition

See this?
This is a pile of records that's about on its way out of here. It's the third one this size I've assembeld this year, and it's in no small thanks in part to the huge amount of records I've found over the past couple of weeks. After this goes I think I'm just about even.

So what exactly is in here?

Not much of a lot of real dollar-and-cent value. I guess the most would be all the Melanie and Rod McKuen albums. Most of those are the original albums I started my modern collection with almost 20 years ago. Most of them are gone now and I forget more of them than I remember. That in itself tells you how much excess there's been. Some things I'm just not into, others I'd like to keep but their condition doesn't allow it. Quality over quantity.

Just like in the workplace, attrition is a necessary evil. Good people are let go, their positions aren't filled and life goes on for everyone else. Many large collections need to be filtered like this once in a while to keep things fresh and high-quality...and to keep a home from being overrun like this one.

Please, Lord, let me never love music that much.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just in case I didn't warn you...

Some of the posts may change over time. I just edited one because I found out someone else blogged about the same album I did, but his has a different cover from mine. I linked to that post so you can compare them.

I might also replace pictures I feel I can take better. Sure, the ones you see serve their purpose, but some don't capture the albums in all their colorful glory.

And I'm still deciding about the right way to do sound. Some blogs have it, some don't. I'd like for this one to. There's a very fine line between presenting for demonstrative purposes and outright piracy, and it's easy to mistake one for the other - especially if you're someone like the RIAA. Suffice it to say, if it's out there and available to buy somewhere, I'll link to it. If not, I'll put it up on my own. This stuff deserves to be heard. If the record companies who released it don't remember it, who will?

So check back soon...not just for new musical finds and surprises, but new additions to old posts. We can both be surprised at what we learn.

We Did It Our W-Eh

Here's one I bet Ripplin over at Another Crazy Vinyl Blog will appreciate seeing- if he doesn't already have it in his collection. Given where it comes from, odds are he does. What this is is a Canadian group called The Town Pumpers. The town in question is none other than Vancouver, BC, and the Town Pump in question seems to equate to something like a CBGB - the late '80s and early '90s seemed to be its time, from what teh Googlez shows me.

This album is from 1971 and spotlights the talents of Irish "ex-gold miner" Marty Gillan and then-drummer's wife and mother-of-five Karen O'Bray. They do a typical melange of what the liners describe as "comfortable 'now' sounds" that "hang out and come together." And it sure's brought some unusual songs together to hang out: only on albums like these can you hear Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra songs together with originals.

The Salvation Army Grand Finale

The two or three human regulars among you know that it's been quite an exciting couple weeks of finds at my Salvation Army. But as all good things do, this stretch has seemingly come to an end. But it's going out on a sweet note.

I don't need to say too much about this, do I? Ron Howard, George Lucas, Val Kilmer. There y'go. Oh, and this copy has the booklet!

Ah, Fievel Mousekewitz. Little immigrant rodent with big dreams. Lots of people remember that Linda Ronstadt/James Ingram song Somewhere Out There...well, next night you're out for bar trivia (oh hey, that's tonight!), remember that this is the movie it came from.

I must not get out much. I had no idea there was ever a Raggedy Ann & Andy movie in 1977. Even after looking at the cover I still didn't know much about it...besides Joe Raposo, that symphonist of Sesame Street, being the mind behind the music. That makes this a great find right there. A quick look at IMDB reveals that while there weren't the biggest of stars on this movie's roster, they were still good solid names: Mason Adams, Arnold Stang, and game show favorites Alan Sues and Charie Brill. One of my personal game show favorites, Didi Conn, was Raggedy Ann. Andy was played by Mark Baker (not to be confused with Mark Linn-Baker of Perfect Strangers, but easily confusable nonetheless - he's #9 with that name on IMDB).

Friday, August 16, 2013

1 7/8 Revelations Per Second

This may look like a record blog, but occasionally it turns into other things. I warned you that it would do that in the first post. Right now, this is a record blog about cassettes. Maybe you still have some. I know I do. I'm on some of them. For some wacky reason I saved some of the tapes I made back in my radio days. And for some other reason I now have my choice of three players to play them on.

This is the newest: it's an Akai GXC-570D II. Like most Akai units of the '70s, this one's got quite a reputation for quality. It also has quite the list of features. I'll translate its virtues to English as I go.

3 GX heads: one head to record, one to play, and one to erase. "GX" means the heads are covered in glass to make them virtually impervious to wear. Akai is the only company I know that did this.

Motorized door: this one's kinda simple. See all those controls on top? There's a door that covers them and opens when you push a button. There's a pitch control to adjust speed, recording bias adjustments to tailor EQ to the type of tape, a test tone, and controls for Dolby and tape type.

Sensi-Touch Controls: those buttons don't work like regular buttons. No clunking, no pressing. Just a quick, light tap and the tape does what you want it to.

Direct Drive: no belts to stretch (like on my Pioneer), no idler tires to go brittle (like my Nakamichi). The ultimate in low maintenance.

A flea market find from the weekend, sold to me by a music lover who was stationed in Sicily back in the day. Like most servicemen, he stocked up on gear like this. There's an issue or two, but with a little exercise and TLC this should shape up to be a fine deck.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sunday Pt. 2: Hustle And Whoa

Lately, anytime I have to spend $1 on a record I have to think about it. But not too hard. This is one of the albums I got for $1:

I bet you never knew that Valerie Harper had at least one thing in common with Garfireld.
Take a second to think back:

Got it? Need a hint? Rhoda.

OK, how about now?

The answer: Lorenzo Music. To Valerie Harper, he was the voice of Carlton The Doorman on Rhoda. And he was the voice of Garfield himself on the cartoon special CBS aired in the '80s. You'll hear a little bit of Lorenzo/Carlton/Garfield between the musical tracks, but the spotlight here soul legend Lou Rawls and debuting artist Desiree Goyette, who's now a religious singer/songwriter.

Deep in a shadowy world, there are strange parallels to the lives we lead. In our world, Ray Charles was the blind genius who brought us hits like Hit The Road Jack, You Don't Know Me and Georgia On My Mind. But there was another Ray Charles - a white one - who'd make a business of covering songs by the likes of the "real" Ray Charles with a chorus and strings. Cheesy listening by the Ray Charles Singers. He'd actually gone so far as to call himself "The 'other' Ray Charles" on some albums.

Also in our world, Betty White is a 91-year-old TV star who's gotten around more in the past 5 years than Sue Ann Nivens ever did. But deep in the shadows lurks another, less famous Betty White:

And this one's a hustler. Yes, this Betty White, not only eclipsed by her TV namesake, but also by more famous dance instructors like Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire, became a hustler later in her life to make ends meet. She hustled - and waltzed, cha-cha'd and shucked and jived her way into the lives of the unsuspecting who'd apparently mistaken her for the "real" Betty White. Maybe that's a reason why I bought this album still sealed. And the reason so few people own albums by "the other Ray Charles."

I can't imagine how many people own this album:

But I guess it can't be very many. I think that phallic-looking thermometer and his offspring scared off more than a few. But I wasn't scared. I was more intrigued. This is a European album (you can tell by the thermomter marked in Celcius) of disco instrumentals. We have TWO versions of El Bimbo (which was a big hit in 1975) and a song called Diabolic Man. Turns out I already have a couple of the songs on this album on 45s I got in a multipart, monster thrift haul I need to tell you about one day...but this album is still worth having for the cover.

EDIT: I know one other person who owns this album...but I like my cover better.

Sunday: When It's All Over

I'm as passionate about flea markets as I am about the music I find there. Both go way back with me - I think I was 5 the first time I went to a flea market - or more correctly, a farmer's market, which has meat and produce in addition to the aisles of vendors. The rule to live by in either case: come early for the parking, stay late for the deals. If you stay late enough, you may end up getting things free! Just don't go too far overboard.

A vendor left all this - just about half his space - because he didn't feel like hauling any of this back home. But who could blame him? Those 78s get HEAVY! And there were plenty of 'em, now free for the picking along with a whole lot of LPs. I didn't go for much:

Who can resist these two? Not the rarest, and not really the most playable, but it'll do - for someone. I don't think this one's gonna stay here long.

Nobody's gonna be twistin' the night away to this album. Instead, Sam Cooke sings the virtues of Mona Lisa, The Great Pretender and Venus. Produced by the prolific Hugo & Luigi In RCA Living Stereo.

Then, off to the garbage pile. Yes, even in this day and age, people throw out perectly good, playable records...just like these:

A friend of mine was shocked when I showed her this one. She remembers it pretty fondly. Google, on the other hand, barely even mentions it. Facts:

Album released in 1985
Lead singer is Ran Ballard
Face In The Mirror is the hit form this EP.

I have a thing for educational albums like this one. Ever since I found a few incredible ones from the '70s by Hy Glaser, I've been paying more attention to albums like these. This one deserves some attention: each of the tracks on here is based on a TV theme or commercial, with the lyrics rewritten for use with Lummi Sticks. You can sing and tap along! And you can still get this album direct from Kimbo Educational.

Sometimes it's no mystery why an album's been tossed. The cover says it all about this one. More specifically: Care Bears Break Dance Rap.

I'm proud of this little cover collage. I literally picked these records out of the garbage. OK, maybe one of them should've stayed in there. But that's the price of "shoot first, ask questions later." I didn't realize until I got home that I grabbed a handul of 46 late '80s/early '90s hits. Most of them are in their original covers. In addition to these, there's Guns 'N' Roses, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Mellencamp, Cyndi Lauper...mostly real good stuff to make up for the Milli Vanill.

And just so you think I'm not a total cheapskate...I did buy some things. I'll show you some of those next.

Saturday: Things I Bought, Things I Got

There's a difference. Although if I didn't tell you the difference album by album, you'd never know. And for what little I paid, I can hardly tell myself. These are all from the pile I took a picture of the last post.

Here's one of those compilations of songs designed to "sound like" the originals. Truth is, they rarely did. The music itself may have been similar, but the singer usually wasn't, and even some of the lyrics were changed. Pickwick was one of the prime perpetrators of these musical crimes. Its "Million Or More" series followed up "Hot Hits," where a band called Kings Road actually did a better job than some at doing cheap covers of the day's most popular songs. I specialize in this badness, so expect a feature on albums like this.

Not much bad you can say about this guy. Tony Mottola was one of the world's greatest guitar players - and not just in skill. This is one of dozens of albums he did for Enoch Light's Command and Project 3 labels.

Ferlin Husky...THIS is what country is, folks. I'm not a country guy but I couldn't let this one get past.

Kip's first live album, circa 1981. Yeah, things are a little different now, but Kip's still at it - and this album is still available (albeit with a different cover) at his website,

This is quite the compilation here. To save you from clicking the picture, I'll tell you we've got some John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jerry Butler...and even an Eddie Harris track.

The grand finale, next post.

Monday, August 12, 2013

If you ever go to a flea market later in the day and see a pile of records like this at an otherwise empty table:

You'd do well to check it out. This stash netted me about a dozen fine new listening choices. A couple are so new they're still sealed. The good camera is charging as I type this, so stay tuned for individual pictures and descriptions.

In the meantime, I mentioned I'd get into talking about equipment once in a while. Not 10 minutes into this foray, I spotted a pair of headphones. Despite being almost 40 years old, they still seem to hold their own. In fact, for about $100, you can still get a new pair. They're Koss Pro-4AAs. Mine were supposed to cost $5, but I got them from an interesting character who gave them to me for $3 because I don't live in Pennsylvania. I also got an extension cable because I "don't beat the children." The nice thing about a headphone as popular as these is that Koss still sells earpads for them. This pair will get some once I'm sure they're up to the job.

If you'll excuse me, I have a LOT of listening to do. And plenty of sunburn to recover from.

The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

What an absolutely incredible weekend. Let me rephrase that: what a spectacular, star-studded, surprising, victorious, exhausting, satifying, rewarding, grueling weekend. I think I'll split this into sections so you can digest it better. Trust me, there's a lot to talk about.  Here's Friday. Not even off the Island yet and I'm scoring. And not feeling bad at all about missing the legendary NY Public Library Record Sale.

Just when I thought it was all over on Tuesday at the Salvation Army, I made more discoveries. Apparently there was more where the first pile of magic came from because there was a whole new world of greatness to dig through. More CBS Sound Library, more CBS EZ-Cue production music...and more soundtracks. I'm still not sure what the source of it was, but what a rich source indeed. I wish I could find out.

Sam & Dave had the original hit with it, but Saturday Night Live's John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd took Soul Man to a whole other level when they turned into Jake & Ellwood Blues. This peachy copy only cost a quarter. I'm sure it'd cost a lot more if I got it anywhere else.

What kid didn't love growing up on Saturday mornings learning their ABCs from ABC? Interestingly, Schoolhouse Rock really owed more to jazz than to rock. Pianist Bob Dorough and trumpter Jack Sheldon were accomplished jazz musicians, but they parlayed their skills into rockin' numbers (see what I did there?) about every school subject there was.

I had the lunchbox for this in 4th grade. I had no idea that a) it was a movie; and b) that this character's name actually was American Rabbit. I still don't know a lot about it. But I know that this should be a cool soundtrack. It's on Rhino Records, and the music was done by two gents named Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman...aka Flo And Eddie...otherwise known as The Turtles.

A couple friends of mine were surprised that this movie had a soundtrack. They were even more surprised that it consists of music and not robot noises. I don't remember liking this movie much when I saw it. Maybe I should see it again.

Hall & Oates' breakthrough album was 1973's Abandoned Luncheonette. But here's their first album from the year before. That contatiner of oats signifies what they wanted to call themselves: Daryl's last name was Hohl, so changing it to Hall seemed like a natural thing to do. The rest is history.

Some albums I buy just because they look interesting. I like surprises when it comes to recrod hunting. And this is sure to be one: my research tells me it's French heavy metal from the '70s. I should file this next to the Italian prog-rock I found on Tuesday.

Certain areas of the country have legendary kids' TV shows. Philadelphia had Pixanne. Boston had Jabberwocky. New York had Wonderama. And for years, Wonderama had Sonny Fox as its host. When he left, Bob McAllister took over. I don't remember much about Wonderama, but I do remember Bob McAllister. So this album will jog my memory.

Next up: The Saturday Flea

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Today's Top 5

Right with it tonight, aren't we? Well, since I've just taken the pictures, I might as well share 5 of the best finds of the day...even if they aren't exactly in order and the pictures suck. New, properly-taken ones to come.

5. Ricky Skaggs: Music Of America

Back in the day, radio stations used to get shows on what were called "transcription discs." They were bigger than albums, but they worked the same way. As times changed, eventually radio stations did get regular-size records like these. Although by the time this series was produced, times were changing again and shows like this were also being fed by satellite to better-equipped stations.

According to the letter enclosed with the records (notice I'm not calling this an album), this was the first of six nationally-syndicated country music concerts scheduled for air during the summer of 1987. Bluegreass great Ricky Skaggs started things off. George Jones and Janie Frickie shared the bill for the next one, then Dwight Yoakam and Exile, Conway Twitty and Earl Thomas Conley, The Gatlin Brothers and guest stars, and Ronnie Milsap to round things out.

This is the entire program, commercials and all, on 3 LPs. This is the only one of the series that was there, and there were two copies. Even to someone like me who's been in radio, it's a little jarring to be listening to an album and then be interrupted by a commercial while a record is playing. But I have to admit it's fun.

4. Do You Know Me? American Express commercials

You couldn't go too far in the '70s and '80s without seeing someone flash their American Express card and asking, "Do you know me?" Just about everyone did it, it seemed. The first? Norman Fell, aka Mr. Roper from Three's Company. (He didn't even ask the question; that started later.) The last, 10 years later, was horrormeister Stephen King. And that was just their TV ads. This single-sided disc with the title glued onto the cover has 60-second spots in the form of guessing games. Could you identify Gladys Knight, Manhattan Transfer's Janis Siegel, Rex Smith, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Bill Withers and Peter Allen? I was 3 for 6.

3. Dr Pepper: The Most Original Soft Drink Ever

I almost missed this one. It sure looks like a Broadway show album, right? it turns out, this is a showcase for a new-for-1974 Dr Pepper ad campaign, hence the title. The main theme was written by someone you may have heard of: Randy Newman. Two of the contributors, you may not have heard of (but you have definitely heard): Jake Holmes, of the US Army's "Be All That You Can Be" fame; and Dick Behrke, otherwise known as King Richard. Some remember him from the Bobby Darin Show; more don't remember him as the leader of the Fluegel Knights...a group I happen to cherish.

This record (again, not an album, per se) takes listeners through the history of Dr Pepper, from its humble beginnings in Waco, Texas to 1974. And it looks like some trip: Muddy Waters, Anita O'Day, Eubie Blake and Doc Watson are all along for the ride.

2. The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew 

Any time you mix athletes and music, you're sure to have an interesting album. The 1969 New York Mets, The World Wrestling Federation (back when they could legally call it that), and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are just a few examples of what could happen. And with a roster that includes Walter Payton, Willie Gault, Mike Singletary and William Pre-"Refrigerator" Perry, anything probably does happen. You probably would feel a little guilty buying this album strictly for its novelty. So to soften the blow, Da Bears donated "a substantial portion of the proceeds" to charity.

1. Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock

Yup, that last one's a Doozer. I always thought of the Fraggles as kind of a subsidiary of the Muppets. Definitely recognizable as Henson creations, but somehow in a different league. A kid I used to know had HBO and was really into the Fraggles. Me, not so much. (I didn't have HBO like he did, so I suppose that didn't help much.) Apparently this is a 1987 re-release of the original 1984 album with one song missing. I may have the original, too.

Now that I have these and filed the appropriate report here...I guess I should get to listening to some of it, hmm?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I saw the sign...

And somehow I knew it actually read "danger." But I went ahead anyway. The actual wording of the sign was, "All Records 4 for $1.00 ($0.25 each)." At a thrift store, that usually means someone lef them with about nine crapfuls of garbage that just HAS to go: Mantovani, Mathis, Firestone Christmas. Well, there sure were a lot of records, some in places they usually aren't seen in in that store.

But if they only knew what they had...maybe they'd charge more and not worry about all that space. I bet they could get away with it.

And if only I could learn the story of how it all happened.

Not 30 seconds into digging through the oddly-placed cabinet by the register did I realize that someone dropped off a stash with a great history. Broadway soundtracks were vaguely interesting...but look at all these Spanish albums. A Muppet Show soundtrack with a cover in Spanish. Movie soundtracks...Bernard Herrmann, Maurice Jarre, Ennio Morricone.

Loads of sound effects albums. Someone seemed to want to make movies as much as he enjoyed the soundtracks.

Woah...production music! THAT'S what I'm here for! That someone must have been in radio at one time.

Yep. Not only production music, but actual radio shows. And commercials!

Nope, definitely not expecting any of that. Yep, definitely a good idea to stop in. By the time I did my diggin', I ended up with over 30 records...and a Gloria Estefan LaserDisc. Total cost: about $8. And to think, that would've only bought me one album at the other thrift I hit today. Sorry, Frank, I don't need to hear your version of Bad Bad Leroy Brown that badly. And sorry, Linda Evans, but that sealed copy of your Crystal Light Body Workout is gonna have to wait. Daddy found a goldmine today...and he's gonna have pictures to show you. Stay tuned.