Springtime here at Vinyl 365 central means it’s time for us creatures to venture into the Great Outdoors, turning face towards the warm sun, shaking off the winter doldrums and dreaming of relaxing in tropical pools while sipping Mai Tais.

In reality, we’re just sitting on the deck enjoying a beer. But, a soundtrack is still in order!

Yesterday was the birthday of band leader Martin Denny who, as a disciple of Les Baxter and teacher of Arthur Lyman, created a music fad known as Exotica.

Denny, in residence at Waikiki’s Shell Room, drew on his Latin beat experiences of touring in South America and merged his current Polynesian surroundings to create this genre. The 1957 album Exotica may have been a one-off were it not for Hawaii joining the United States and fueling the culture of all things Tiki.


Denny at the height of Exotica


Denny in the early 1990s. 

To add to the fantasy, more than a dozen of Denny’s Exotica releases featured cover model Sandy Warner, who became known as The Exotica Girl.


My Sandra Warner collection

Collecting these albums has been a real Joy! Most are readily available at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets and are reasonably priced enough that upgrades and giveaways won’t break the bank.

So let’s all raise an umbrella drink toast to mr. Martin Denny and stare into the eyes of Sandy Warner as we escape into the depths of Exotica.


What evil marketing genius okay’s the release of a greatest hits type compilation album but leaves off the one truly phenomenal hit from that group? The dude from Wand records, that’s who!


To be fair, it is the Kingsmen 15 Great Hits, so I guess, linguistically speaking, they are within their rights to withhold Louie Louie.

Lucky for me I have the fantastic Louie Louie compilation so I’m covered!


One side note about this Great Hits compilation is the back cover release notes were written by none other than Don Steele; famous Los Angeles afternoon DJ who got his start right here in little old Spokane Washington!


Thanks For Keeping Me Alive

19 years ago one of the most fantastic stories in rock and roll unfolded. An amazing artist who had faded Into obscurity 25 years earlier was reborn, live on stage, in front of thousands of adoring fans.

His name is Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, and his story is documented in the film Searching for Sugar Man.


The Cliff Notes is this: unbelievably talented singer-songwriter (in my eyes a mix of Bob Dylan, Jose Feliciano, and Batman) gets picked up out of a Detroit dive bar by a heavy hitter record producer to make an album. The album bowls everybody over critically, but fails to chart commercially.

The artist fades into obscurity.

Meanwhile, an American coed transports this obscure album to apartheid South Africa. The album is shared amongst friends and many bootleg tapes are produced. This bootleg becomes a phenomenon and is picked up by several reputable record companies that service South Africa and is mass-produced, selling hundreds of thousands of copies to this small and oppressed Nation.

Rumors abound that the obscure artist went out in some blaze of glory; self-immolation, blowing his brains out, massive drug overdose… all while on stage in front of uncaring and undeserving audience members.

Some years later, and after apartheid has disintegrated, fans and local journalists seek the truth. Following obscure lyrical references and vague Cold Fact, they stumble upon the truth: Rodriguez is alive and kicking!

He dropped out of the music business because reality is a strong motivator. He raised three daughters while working at construction and demolition, hard labor.

Informed by the investigators of his cult like status in South Africa, he is convinced to perform several live concerts in that country for his long adoring fans.

Those concerts held in early March 1998.

If you own a copy of RodriguezCold Fact, it is a rare bird and worth several hundred dollars. If you don’t own it, it has been re-released and can be had for a $20 bill. You should all go out and buy this interesting record and watch the documentary Searching for Sugar Man that tells the story in depth.


So Long 2016. You Suck.


I’m sure this picture needs an update by now. 2016 saw the passing of too many wonderfully talented, admired and beloved people and too few scoundrels. In fact, it seems like the scoundrels outnumber the rest of us these days.

Happy New Year to you. May you have a scoundrel free 2017!


Ticket To Ride

Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles final ticketed live performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.


Although it doesn’t seem like it was predestined to be the end, the trials and tribulations of their 1966 tour took such a toll that the group decided unanimously to stop “the madness”.

Although there are bootlegs out there of the Candlestick Park concert, the only live Beatles have is the 1977 release the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Selections off of this album were recorded in August 64 and August 65 at the iconic Amphitheater.

I have two copies of this album, both received as gifts.

My first copy was given to me by my friend Tiny (who is actually and above average size human being). My best friend in high school, Tiny and I went to Hawaii as two 18 year olds on a post High School fling before my enlistment in the Air Force. Less than 12 hours after arriving in Honolulu my appendix ruptured and I spent whole vacation in the hospital. Tiny was on his own until my parents arrived to take care of me and keep him company. He managed to find a used record store somewhere in town and got me this copy of at the Hollywood Bowl to try and lift my spirits.


The second copy was given to me by my friend Chris. His father, Bill, was a music aficionado and had a great record collection. Several years after Bill died in a tragic accident, Chris inherited his father’s record collection and, in a stunning act of generosity I still can’t get over, turned them over to me! Bill’s copy is an oddball pressing from Uruguay.


So tonight I’m going to kick back and listen to both copies of The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ll remember the kindness of friends and think about how lucky all those 40-some-thousand Candlestick Park attendees were to be at The Beatles final concert that night 50 years ago. They had a ticket to ride.


March 28

Well this is just sucks! 2016 has been really tough on my musical idols. Having just turned 50 myself, these things are hitting way to close home. Rest in peace master Hicks. http://www.danhicks.net/

Mark's 365 Days of Vinyl

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…

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November 15

I figured since I was taking a look back at influential double live albums I might as well take a crack at another biggie… Frampton Comes Alive! the 1976 tour de force by Peter Frampton:

I hear people poke fun at this album quite often, but I still really like it! My copy was purchased well after the original 1976 release date and closer to the 1978 Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie debacle that Frampton got himself mixed up with.

(I really liked that movie too, but that is a story for a different time)

So, as comic book heroes and monster movies became less cool, beautiful people on the covers of magazines somehow became all the rage, and Frampton was on many a magazine cover back in those days!


And the music was a totally new experience for me. Well apart from the pop music and disco of the day and also removed from the heavy rock of Kiss… this was somehow more grown up at the time.

I guess when you are an actual teenybopper sophistication is not your strong suit.

Anyway, where Kiss Alive! was my air drum launchpad, Frampton Comes Alive was my air guitar introduction.

A couple years back Frampton was touring in support of Frampton Comes Alive’s 35th anniversary. He came to a regional venue and just so happened to be on my birthday!

My wife and I went to the show where the band played the entirety of Frampton Comes Alive in the proper sequence the live shows were performed in 35 years earlier.

Frampton was in great form, full of energy and stories from back in the the day. He was even playing that custom Les Paul with the 3 humbuckers! The slideshow that accompanied the band was mostly pictures from the Tiger Beat Frampton era, but also included dozens upon dozens of images of fans holding that iconic Frampton Comes Alive LP at concert venues and appearances. Old fans middle-aged fans teenage fans… that’s where I got my take you vinyl to a concert idea.

It just goes to show that and iconic album remains an iconic album. People can poke fun of me all they want but I’ll still, proudly, unbutton my jacket so my minimally hairy chest and gold chain will be on full display any time I play air guitar to Frampton Comes Alive!

Viva la talkbox!


October 20

So, you walk into one of your favorite thrift stores and, right next to the stack of vinyl records is a handwritten sign on a colored piece of paper:

“Vinyl records 10 for $1”

Whaaa? Usually this shithole charges a dollar apiece for vinyl records? Why the change?

“So, what’s the deal with the discount on vinyl records?” you ask the helpful assistant near the cash register. “We just got a big load of records in and are trying to sell off the inventory quickly.” she replies.

So what do you do?

For me, the admitted record hoarder, I grabbed a bunch of potentially interesting stuff and brought it home to blog about! Here is what I found:


18 records of various styles and providence. Stuff I have never seen before, stuff I have never heard of, stuff that I have picked before and done well with on record store credit, some unopened gems!

According to my quick Discogs back of the envelope calculation, there could be as much as $70 of retail value here for my investment of $1.80!

I’m most interested in these: Blame It On The Bossa Nova from Edie Gorme, a K-Tel collection of funk and soul tunes called Super Bad Is Back, A Buddah Records release from a group called Chi Chi And Pepe, and a record from a provocative singer named Fran Jeffries called Fran Jeffries Sings Of A Sex And The Single Girl.

February 12

In my latest attempt at jazz fusion, I’ve taken some advice from a friend in the know and picked up the 1974 album Crosswinds from drummer Billy Cobham.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Most of the jazz fusion I’ve been subjected to seems to have been either the noodley variety or chocked full of goofy instruments… or both! Here we have an example that is more straight forward and approachable.

Cobham, as the drummer and bandleader, does one thing that I was not expecting… dynamics! Several times he takes the music down to a whisper only to let it explode full force anew. Unfortunately, these dynamics show off the weakness of the thrift store LP to the point of distraction… hidden pops and clicks on a song like Flash Flood become the most prominent member of the band in Savannah The Serene.

Finding Crosswinds does give me hope that I’m not the philistine that I’ve been accused of. The quest continues.