Sunday, August 23, 2015

Is Crosley At A Crossroads?

There's talk on reddit's /r/vinyl/ about a new Crosley turntable. There's always talk about Crosley in general there: they're cheap, they eat your records, wouldn't give one to my worst enemy, etc.

But what's all this? Adjustable counterweight? An Ortofon cartridge? What happened to the Crosley we all know and hate? It doesn't even have this table on its site yet. Is it a late April Fool's joke?

Judging from the number of hits I got about it on Google, there's a chance. But our tipster reports it's true because there's a link to a record presser that is apparently selling this suspiciously respectable right now. Want a look for yourself? Here you go.

Rumor is - and again, it's just rumor at this point since like I said, Crosely itself is virtually mum about this table - it might be a rebadged Pro-Ject. Which is indeed a good table.

A new version of its Keepsake now sports an Audio-Technica cartridge and diamond stylus. So if there are any rumors about Crosley gaming up its overall quality, they might be true. And I, like a lot of others, would be glad to see Crosley finally changing its tune.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back in action

It's August...the students are moving back into their dorms and the football players (who are also students) are readying up to take the field here in my NEW location! What a long, strange trip it's been. What a hideoulsy expensive move. What a disappointing area for thrift stores. What stories I have to catch you up on.

And of course, what music I have to talk about. I just got a nice load of it the other day from a flea market a friend took me to. And there may be another load of it next weekend if I'm not careful. I found out the seller has an album that's much sought-after in certain circles. With luck he'll still have it by the time I see him again. We're both hoping I do see him - we had a nice conversation as I dug through his massive collection to make some of it part of my massive collection.

I'll be digging more through that massive collection...and I'll also be looking for some kind of alternative to Deadshare - other bloggers like me have turned to Google Drive for uploads, but since Google owns Youtube, and Youtube is the way it is with copyright claims, I'm hesitant. Ideas are welcome so I can restore what many people consider the main reason for blogs like this.

facebook is no substitute for the real thing, but you'll be entertained there between the posts you see here (and there have been a couple lately). So good to have you back if you've gone, and welcome if you're just joining.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Please Stand By...

Things are a-changin' 'round here. Even the "here" is changing.

Yup, I'm makin' a move. As I pack up, I may have some goodies to throw up on our facebook page. I just got a few tasty things I'll share with you there. Once I'm re-situated I'll go deeper with some of them...and I'll continue the search for a replacement to Divshare.

So sit tight, hang loose, and wish me luck. I'll be back here by summer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An Older Guy Buys Vinyl At A Young Person's Store

I'm sorry. Divshare went down hard a few weeks ago. It says it's "relaunching its services" now and you at least for now have to be a premium member to upload things. So if you were expecting to hear some of the Walter Raim album I featured in the last's gonna be a while. Mean time, just so you don't think I've abandoned you, I'm gonna talk a little bit. After all, I did intend for this blog to be about more than just showing off.

I had a birthday a couple months ago...almost to the day. So I treated myself to a day at a mall that had an Urban Outfitters. A lot of people hate Urban Outfitters for the sole reason that they cater to hipsters. Others hate them for selling Crosley turntables. I, who could almost pass for said hipster, had no opinion because I stick to thrift stores for my vinyl. But I decided to splurge and get some records that were fresh-off-the-presses new rather than just-donated new. How did I like it?

For the most part, I enjoyed my experience. Per my nature, I stuck to the $9.99 clearance section. And lo and behold, I found some things. Some familiar, some not. A lot of albums ended up in weird places; misclassified by genre, alphabetized by album name rather than artist name, or by first name rather than last name. Some albums were even alphabetized by the second word in the band's name. I saw some albums that were definitely used, which was a little strange to me.

We have two Outfitters in my area, and I witnessed the same things at the other one. So maybe their workers aren't quite as educated in music as they could be. But for those who are, there are plenty of rewards. I'm a sucker for production music, or "library music" for you British "readres." I lucked into a sweet 2-volume set called TV Sound And Image on Soul Jazz Records. Basically it's a 4-record set of British produc library music that spans from the '50s to 1980. If you're familiar with names like Barry Stoller, Brian Bennett, or the king himself, Keith Mansfield, search this one out.

I discovered Calexico a few years ago when they teamed up with Iron & Wine for a few songs, most notably their cover of Love's Alone Again Or. I'll be listening to Calexico by itself on its Algiers album.

I have a lot of listening to do when it comes to Syl Johnson. Poor guy didn't want to have his Complete Mythology box set released because of his distrust of record companies. But the Numero Group did him justice. 6 LPs and 4 CDs chronicle the height of his career, from 1959 to 1972.

Urban Outfitters will never be my main source of vinyl, but it'll be worth a check-in or two once in a while.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Classics For Now

Last time, I showed you what happens when classical music gets tangled up in rock 'n' roll. This time, the classics have a tryst with the "Now" sound.

The front cover's pretty much the same, minus the track listing.

What we have here, according to the liners, is music "utilizing modern instrumentation, tone colors, and the kind of rhythmic support to which our ears have become widely accustomed." Basically, it's classical rearranged for the modern ear. It's noted that "only rigid purists are likely to find anything but enjoyment, and a measure of discovery, in listening" to these pieces.

Speaking of discovery, the liners also reveal that many classical composers did the same thing Walter Raim did here: they rearranged and rewrote their own pieces according to purpose and the availability of musicians. In this case, Raim rewrote these pieces for the 65-piece 21st Century Orchestra commissioned for this album.

Divshare's been down for a few days, but when it comes back up, I'll have a couple tracks for you. I think you'll like them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Earliest in "Classic" Rock

What have they done to my song, ma? And don't get me started on the price tag stuck on this cover!
Now for a 180 of sorts from the last post. Here's that rock 'n' roll feel of the 1950s...applied to music from the 1750s. Or thereabouts.

101 Strings' Back Beat Symphony was famous for trying to meld the rock 'n' roll sound to classical music. This album, J. Gaines's Rockin' The Classics Suite, was not quite as famous for doing the same thing, but it does have a more interesting backstory.

Rockin' The Classics Suite was on Golden Crest Records, a Long Island label known mainly for its classical releases. But one major exception to that was a high-school-age group that Golden Crest's owner discovered on a trip to Washington state. The group was The Fabulous Wailers, and their hit Tall Cool One made rock 'n' roll history after the group drove cross-country to record it. If not for The Kingsmen, many say The Fabulous Wailers probably would have been the ones that made Louie Louie a hit.

The pieces here on Rockin' The Classic Suite were hits a couple hundred years before The Wailers. In fact, this album was released a couple years before The Wailers got their first national exposure. This 1957 Billboard blurb calls the album "very amusing," and if you're into stylistic mashups like this, it is. The liner notes (written by "Punk Cadenza") play the rock bit to the hilt. The last paragraph: "The guys on this date are some of the greatest. They really are. On one of the playbacks one of 'em thought he heard a funny whirring noise comin' outa the speaker. At first they couldn't figure out where it was comin' from - then one of them pinned it down. He said it must be the noise of these composers rockin' in their graves!"

J. Gaines gets the credit for this album, but the supporting players are lost to history since they went under names like Serge Sputnik and Mose Ligature.

As for Golden Crest, they're still around. Music historian and author John Broven married the founder's daughter and has great info on his site. Much of Golden Crest's back catalog is still available, but this album doesn't seem to be part of it.

Here's Liebestraum:

You might recognize this one from Allan Sherman's Hello Muddah:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Latest In Rock 'N' Roll: The Earliest in Counterfeit Music

It's not always easy to tell a counterfeit. But sometimes you come across something that just screams it's fake. Even if you have to turn it around for it to start making noise. And this album's gonna get loud. Oh, it's a real record, and there's real music on it...just not the exact music '50s kids were clamoring for. And as you'll find out later, the music's not all that's loud on this album - one of the earliest from a genre I call "rocksploitation."

You've probably seen it on TV innumerable times: Now That's What I Call Music has done over 50 albums of repackaged hits. K-Tel, Ronco and Adam-VII used to do the same thing. They were pretty top-tier since they were all from the "Original Hits, Original Artists" school. Lesser labels like QMO and Pickwick had in-house bands to re-record popular songs, and occasionally rewrite a few lyrics to avoid having to pay royalties.

Then you had the bottom of the barrel: the strictly no-name bands on strictly no-name labels trying their damnedest to cash in on whatever was popular at the time, artistic integrity or even ethics  notwithstanding.

OK, let's dissect all this:

That's the first clue you've got something a little bit special. They're bragging that you get to hear 100% of every song!  They recorded every note. In fairness, I point out that that didn't always happen with albums like these.

"OK, uh...Let's Go? The crystal ball lady said that won't be a hit for a few years yet. Round Robin? I don't remember the words exactly, but that doesn't sound right. Low Man? Stampede? Blazing Home? Well, now it sounds like I bought a country-and-western album! What's going on here? And I've never heard Moon Dream and Sky Rocket on my transistor radio before. I must have the wrong station on. Where are those 'top hits and current favorites' I thought I was getting?"

I know I didn't ask for any of these songs, but yes, I guess you can dance to them, so technically they may have been honest about that.

And speaking of "technically:" I cleaned this record before I dubbed the two tracks you're about to hear. These budget labels were not well known for sound quality, despite what some of them would have you believe. I've even heard of some labels recycling their vinyl, melting it down to be pressed into other records. I can't help but wonder if this happened here...or whether people who bought this record wished they could do.

Here's that little-known gem, Jump The Gun. How many defenseless sax reeds had to die for this one?

I think someone deserves a Time Out: