March 31

Everybody needs one. My copy of Tony Bennett ‎– I Left My Heart In San Francisco was a $1.00 rescue from a local thrift store.

I hadn’t planned on record hunting that day but another chore put me in the vicinity… what was I to do? Anyway, the cover was in fairly good shape, without a wear ring and with pretty good edges. There was no inner sleeve, which is normally an automatic pass… but the vinyl looked to be in very good condition regardless.

After a thorough wash and dry the thing plays well, just a slight amount of surface noise, well covered up by the lush orchestration on this record.

Welcome to The Collection Tony!

March 30

In 1978 AM pop music radio was bloated with Bee Gee/Grease/dying disco/soulless love song/ballad crap, and I loved it! There was also some really interesting music burbling beneath that syrupy sweet AM radio veneer that would occasionally find a fissure to escape from. Most of the time that crack in the AM armor came in the form of an older relative that would turn you on to something different. My cousin Ross and his wife Linda lived in the basement apartment of our house. 10 years older than me they taught me lost of cool grown up stuff, but one of the most memorable was in the music department. They owned a Datsun pickup truck that had a cassette player installed… the first cassette player I ever remember. I’d sit in the driveway pretending I was a race car driver and play music on the cassette. One album that they turned me on to was Slowhand by Eric Clapton. Slowhand was quite a departure from what I was used to. Lay Down Sally was played occasionally, but Cocaine? I thought it was illegal to even mention it, let alone sing about it! My favorite track was The Core, co-written and co-sung by Marcella Levy who went on to form Shakespears Sister

ps…happy birthday E.C.

March 29

A music lover with limited resources has to make choices; prioritize. As a 12 year old music lover with limited resources you also have to take in to account factors such as what your friends think and what will you parents allow in the house.

The time to make these important decisions is not while surrounded by other stupid 12 year olds in the checkout isle of Market Time Drug minutes before closing time.

But, that was the position I found myself in… two LPs in hand, enough money to buy just one and my jury of peers favoring the lessor of the two.

In one hand I had the megasuperhit You Light Up My Life from Debby Boone, in the other was Little Criminals from Randy Newman.

BoonevsNewman

I was in favor of the Boone record. You Light Up My Life was a monster hit, it was the theme song for many a school dance and the girls loved it! My mom loved it. We couldn’t loose if we had that record to play! Plus, she was cute! Randy Newman was just some weird looking guy…

My friends were in favor of the Newman record, the song Short People was popular too and it was funny! The rest of the record must be funny, right?

Peer pressure won the day and I came home with a shiny new Randy Newman record. Short People is song one side one and we played it over and over until we knew every word! Moving on, the rest of the record wasn’t funny at all!

It was slow and boring and some songs are just him and the piano! I was right, I should’ve stuck with the Debby Boone record…

Exiled to the closet and eventually the back of a milk crate in various dank basements of my life Little Criminals recently got paroled and the spit and polish treatment and a fresh listen with older ears. What a joy! Quirky character driven story songs, gorgeous arrangements, and a cynicism that was totally lost on 12 year old me.

I never did buy You Light Up My Life but maybe I should just to see if it holds up as well as Little Criminals

March 28

I first heard Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks on an episode of Austin City Limits in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s:

This encounter led me to the Mills Brothers, The Andrews Sisters and, especially important, to Django Reinhardt. Suddenly that hokey old music seemed cool… and Hicks’ dry humor delivery only made it more appealing.

I got a chance to see the reunited Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks in the beautifully restored Grand Theater in Ellsworth, Maine in around 2007… two things about that show stand out; #1 he did a version of the standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”:

“Missed the toilet last night

Peed all over the floor

Cleaned it up with my toothbrush

Don’t Brush my teeth much anymore”

Which had me rolling and I still serenade towards my unappreciative wife and;

#2 we were from a small town 200 miles north of this theater and some of the local drunken obnoxious residents of this small town also managed to show up at this concert, small world.

Anyway, I have a fair copy of Last Train To Hicksville… the home of happy feet and it is freeking awesome! The standout song for me is The Euphonius Whale, invite your kids, they’ll love it!

March 27

I can’t think of too many other pop/rock albums that are as strong out of the gate as Huey Lewis And The News ‎– Sports.

I think every song on side 1 was a hit…

In mid 1980s you were absolutely inundated with this music, four of its five singles cracked the top 10, the thing was certified Platinum seven times over, MTV couldn’t go 30 minutes without playing a HL&N video and they were touring arenas world wide.

I saw them in 1986 for the Fore tour with the Tower of Power Horn Section, the concert I still attribute most of my hearing loss to.

So, even though they were ramming this music down our collective throats, I can’t say I put up much resistance. I do remember we played Physical Graffiti on the drive to and from the concert… that’s a little resistance I guess.

My copy still sounds great and holds up remarkably well 30+ years on. It’s corny, sure, but it was big, fat and fun and sometimes that is enough.

Remember the movie American Psycho when Christian Bale’s character made Jared Leto’s sit on a newspaper covered floor while he donned a raincoat and killed him with an axe?

He was talkin’ Sports but playin’ Fore… here’s Huey’s response (and payback to Weird Al for I Want A New Duck):

March 26

I was underage at a drinking party in 1978. This house had a rocking stereo set up in the living room and an 8-Track of the Joe Walsh record But Seriously, Folks playing on an 8-Track loop.

That song, that novelty song, Life’s Been Good was so popular song, it was everywhere! I’d never heard of the James Gang and didn’t know that Joe Walsh played with the Eagles… I was a drunken oblivious under-aged sponge that just soaked up this awesome music.

I bought the record the next week and recorded it straight to cassette. My once played record still sounds as great today as it did that teen-aged afternoon when I recorded it, but it will never match that warm summer night when I first heard it on 8-Track in a strange front yard full of inebriated teens just trying to figure out the ins and outs of life.

March 25

I used to buy a lot of greatest hits compilations. It was an easy way to sum up a known artist’s repertoire before buying a bunch of records you are unfamiliar with.

I knew Steve Winwood because a DJ friend of mine loved the Arc of a Diver record and played it over and over again. So, my solo look back started with The Spencer Davis Group – The Best Of:

30+ years on, I am so disappointed! Sorry, I know this will offend some, but this record sounds like shit! Compressed, thin, I don’t know what the heck is going on… I know there were great recordings being made around this time (1967), I know there were great recordings of Steve Winwood around this era (Blind Faith and Traffic) these recordings are lifeless!

Give me a modern Blues Brothers recording of these tunes any day! Off to the trade in pile go you The Spencer Davis Group – The Best Of

March 24

Traditionally, a person would buy a record because they like at least some of the songs included on it. Maybe they would hear the song on the radio, or hear a copy being played by a friend, and go out buy their own copy.

I bought my copy of The Alan Parsons Project ‎– Eye In The Sky, not because of a single track or top 40 hit, but because of how the thing sounded overall:

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that this record sounded so good… Parsons was a studio engineer for George Martin when the Beatles were recording Abbey Road and worked on a number of great sounding classic rock records… most notably Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon.

Anyway, if you’ve never sat down and listened to an Alan Parsons Project record, treat yourself. They don’t necessarily lend themselves to earbuds on the treadmill or car stereo roadtrip, but if you can spare the 40 minutes or so to just sit back and pay attention to the detail contained on the record, you will be happy you did.

PS… be sure and crank the first two songs Sirius and Eye In The Sky up to 11, those two songs comprise one of the best record opening sequences of all time!

Here it is on your crappy computer speakers:

March 23

Thrift Store Vinyl Record Digging 101…

OK, tell me this hasn’t happened to you…

I recently found a record in a thrift store that I was interested in owning. The album in question was:

Jerry Jeff Walker ‎– A Man Must Carry On

This 1977 two record compilation was to serve as a starting point to get in to other JJW recordings. I dutifully looked over the album cover with care… how frayed were the edges? how pronounced was the wear ring?

Passing those tests, I pulled the vinyl discs and peered at the black… a few surface scuffs, nothing to be too concerned about, I glanced at the labels, no tell-tale spindle marks…

This was a $1.00 record that I was willing to bring home!

After the home-brewed cleaning process, I was putting the newly scrubbed vinyl into fresh record sleeves when I noticed my JJW ‎– A Man Must Carry On record side 1 and 4 was actually “The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” of the movie Car Wash!

Now, if I would’ve found a clean copy of Car Wash at this pick, I would’ve been truly excited! But, now I have a hybrid side 2-3 of JJW and a side 1-4 of Car Wash, you can understand my confusion…

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Record digging 101, CHECK YOUR RECORD LABLES!!!!

March 22

Dupli-pick, part two: On the same pick as my last post, but in a totally different thrift store, I found another sought after record, in duplicate… with an added bonus!

ray

Ray Charles ‎1962 Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music Volume Two… all mono.

Now, I’m no statistician, but I would have guessed the odds of finding a pair of sought after records in a single lot pretty slight, but it happening twice in the same day?

This album is pretty bad ass. I mean, think about it: 1962, pre-civil rights era tensions building, Vietnam, Bay of Pigs and this guy, who’d achieved some significant cross-over success (both commercially and racially) decides to release not one but two albums of the whitest music possible!

Van Morrison, quoted in Rolling Stone’s Immortals issue, summed it up:

“There’s a reason they called Ray Charles “the Genius.” Think of how he reinvented country music in a way that worked for him. He showed there are no limitations, not for someone as good as he is. Whatever Ray Charles does, whatever he touches, he makes it his own. He’s his own genre. It’s all Ray Charles music now.”