Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Music From Star Wars: Performed by the Electric Moog Orchestra


Music From Star Wars: Performed by the Electric Moog Orchestra - 1977


This a pretty terrible record. It pretty much nearly made Sara cry. I kind of like the fact that it sounds a little like early video game music with better drums, but generally, it is the piece de regurge. So why review such a lousy record? Well, besides the fact that it only ran me a buck at CD/Game Exchange in Silver Spring, I have to also give a shout to one particular track. On a whole, the album is lame bleeps and bloops, which really drains the joy out of John WIlliam's superb original soundtrack. One track in which this actually complements the original source material is the music from the Cantina Band. You know, that scene in the first movie with all of the fun oddball creatures getting their drink on whilst networking for space related job activity? Well, the band in the futuristic space dive bar is busting out some serious space funk. It's easy to picture the moog version fitting right into the movie, it's so shitty/futuristic. The moog version has a lot less jazz and swing, it fills in with a bitchin' drum solo, manic crackhead tempo, and it even gets kind of dark and psych-rock towards the end. It's the kind of track that will turn your head because it actually one-ups the original in a dirty kind of ham fisted way. Is this enough to recommend seeking out the entire album? No, not by a long shot. Nice to know it happened though. The decision to green light this project must have been made around the same time George Lucas approved the Star Wars Holiday Special. Also bad, but some parts just work and are kind of revolutionary in they're own freakish way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It

Fuzzbox - We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It 1987

This is actually one of the very first vinyl records I ever purchased. Picked it up in '91 at Yesterday and Today Records along with "Bleach" from Nirvana on pink see-thru vinyl. Before '91 I was listing to mostly crappy glam hair metal, tried and true classic rock, and whatever lame pop rock that was radio friendly. A high school friend I barely knew lent me a video cassette of an English comedy show on late MTV called "The Young Ones"(worth seeking out, if you're a crackhead) and the tape included about a half an hour of the early alt music show 120 Minutes. Cable television had not arrived at our house just yet, so what I was seeing was completely new, strange, and compelling. The Fuzzbox video for "Love is the Slug" was absolutely crap, but it also completely blew my mind. What the hell was going on here anyways!?! These sort of Jem and the Holograms looking pop/punk young ladies were dancing badly, sort of dancing, not really dancing. It looked stupid, but it was train wreck stupid. Most importantly though was the buzzsaw sound that accompanied the driving pulse of the tune. Yeah, the ladies chirp and tween through the almost incomprehensible lyrics, but it never tops that grinding guitar fuzz. It's a freaking monster.

The album is just a damn bastard. It's bouncy and filled with plenty of thunder. The songs are generally mini stories about love and loss for the high school set. "Love is the Slug", "Jackie", You Got Me", and "What's the Point" all follow that mold to a t. The last two tracks of the album, "Preconceptions" and "Rules and Regulations"(the first single the group ever recorded) break away from this and actually do a fine job at explaining why being a teenager and being different can just completely blow. The whole thing is done so tongue in cheek though, it's hard not to smile and dance. Even "XX Sex" which has a sing along "rape, rape, rape" finale, will make you jump up and down like an idiot.

Why did people forget about this great band? Well, the rest of their career was absolute poop, lacking almost any signs of the aforementioned good stuff. Bugger.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Le Noise

Le Noise 2010 - Neil Young


So I sold my soul to the devil by buying this record.  The act of purchasing vinyl from Amazon.  As my alibi, I did it solely for the price.  Local stores were retailing this one for about $37, and I cannot justify paying that much for ONE record (unless is has been encrusted with gold plated rubies).  I honestly feel awful for small record stores, because I have no idea how they are supposed to sell new vinyl to folks who aren't rich or stupid, or both?


The album is, as far as I can tell, strictly guitar and vocals which are melded into a feedback drenched apocalypse.  The guitar is full of grit and static, and just might be played in an echo room vortex.  Neil is exorcising some real demons in the form of an "end of the world/end of his rock life" rock out explosion of ennui.  I mean, Eddie Vedder must be just pooping his pants right now.  That is not a dis.  Neil is doing what he does best.  He is dissecting himself and everything around in the most basic and honest ways.  Having really feasted on Neil's back catalog lately (most recently the really obscure 80's cannon) this is refreshingly diverse, odd, and unencumbered by anything resembling bullshit.  It is totally legit.


Produced by fellow Cannuck Daniel Lanois, the two Northerners kick up a good deal of drift and side winding washed out fuzz.  It works, I'm really not sure why, but it seems Neil really was just digging doing his thing.  There are flourishes of spanish guitar, tidbits of tunes long lost, and a slew of nimble/catchy odes to the art of singing about love and war.  He even gives a shout out to the greatest Neil Young album of all time, "TRANS" during the song, "Hitchhiker" where he lifts the hook from "Like an Inca".  Way to go Mr. Y, sampling your own work.  Neil has this strange knack for sounding like he is doing things on purpose; the purpose of making music that is interesting to him.   If you can tune into that, then you're golden.  He's jumped into all sorts of genres over the years and certainly had his share of drug induced/producer induced WTF moments committed to record, but this one seems truer than true. My question is does anybody actually still care?  For some reason I feel like Neil may have just blown straight past any actually radio format.  Will he ever get play again and really, does it matter?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fabulous Poodles - Mirror Star

Fabulous Poodles - Mirror Star 1978


Ok, it's important to note that this album is hot pink vinyl. A demo copy, found in the twenty five cent bin at the Deep Groove Records in Richmond, VA, and it's hot pink. How do you refuse an album like that? Not knowing anything about the band had me close to second guessing, but I am certainly glad that I went through with my big purchase. Did I mention the pink vinyl?

What happens musically here is really a treat. You get tinges of 70's Rolling Stones (Chicago Boxcar), early Elvis Costello (B Movies), and some new wave as well.  Flashes of 50's era "strum and tumble" show up here and there also.  It's a spare affair, with a few dashes of just about everything rock and roll that had come before.  I can imagine that "turn off, turn off, turn off my microphone!" would have been a great sing-along before leading into a wicked drum/synthesizer breakdown.  Some of the tunes even get into country and doo-wop territory (Roll Your Own).  It is all here.  Lead man, Tony de Meur has traces of Bowie, Thorogood, and Jagger.  This particular record is a combination of the first two releases from the UK which seemed to be enough to propel them stateside as opening act for Tom Petty, The Ramones, and even as the backing band for legendary Chuck Berry.  So what the F#&^$% happened to these guys!?!  Was it because they were called the Fabulous Poodles?  Probably, but the internet tells me it was more a case of the music business (relentless touring, a lack of label support, and an evil overlordish manager) and who am I to argue with the internet?  Well, the internet isn't saying much.  Seems this group's three album achievement wasn't enough to garner the attention of the modern media.  Did I mention hot pink?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plain Brown Wrapper


The Best of Peter and Gordon


How can you resist buying this record for $0.99 from Joe's Record Paradise?  Someone back in the day clearly cared enough about this album to create a new handmade painted cover made from a paper bag.  Did this record lose its sleeve or do we have an arts and crafter who did this to all their vinyl?  Regardless, this cover is awesome and deserves a blog.  The music is good, nothing to write home about.  The Beatles wrote for these guys, so the album is a cross between the Fab Four's lyrics and guitar and the harmony of the Everly Brothers. Not too shabby.  But seriously, back to the cover.  I can see the pencil of the cursive handwriting as the first draft of the cover before the owner painted it.  The paper is even shellacked or finished in some way to keep it from aging.  Nice craftsmanship.  
Turn over this stellar cover and it details not only the names of the tracks, but also their playing time.  Take notice of the Capital Records logo in the lower righthand corner.  Now that takes commitment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control

Ray Manzarek - The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control - 1974

Curiosity about the former keyboardist from The Doors led to the purchase of this one from CD Cellar in Falls Church, VA, and its definitely worth a spin, or two, or three (getting the idea?).... The record starts off as you would expect with classic Door-sy sounding keyboards and vocals. Who knew that Mr. Manzarek could sing too? He sounds strangely like he's doing his best Jim Morrison impersonation, and this is in no way depressing. It all works well, but give it til track 3, "Whirling Dervish" where you will realize you've found something special. Steve Reich-esque minimalist scaling, featuring clarinets and sax, morph into what sounds like a middle eastern Hava Nagila inspired break from the main loop. Wait for the end of Side A with "Begin the World Again" that funkifies the whole album.

This record is spattered with Manzarek's deep voice which falls somewhere in the range of Johnny Cash or Glen Danzig especially on the catchy "I Wake Up Screaming" and "Bicentenial Blues" (which features Manzarek's liberty in including the hook from "Light My Fire"). It's a dancing disco tinged affair that is well worth your time and boogie.


On a side note, if you care what your neighbors think, don't play the end of Side B during the summer with the windows open in the middle of the day. It starts off innocent enough, but quickly takes a turn for the worse, when it vividly could double for the soundtrack to a raunchy 70's porn.


Of Note: the sleeve give a special thanks to Iggy Pop and credits Patti Smith as Poetress. Nice.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mono-Printing / Zinefest



At the SPX last month I picked up a flier for the Richmond Zine Fest. Having no prior knowledge of the fest, knowing little to nothing about Richmond, and with mini-comics piled up, the Vagabonds headed two hours due south of DC for adventure. I had never made what I considered a "zine" before, but during the week, in a fit of middle of the night dreaming, I realized that this blog thing could be organized, jazzed up, and turned to print. The organization was pretty easy. Microsoft Word and I got along pretty decently, and the copy machine only gave me a few minor headaches. Still, the book looked kind of dull. Arting up the cover was something that sprang to mind, though I don't readily have access to screen printing materials these days. With an old 45 from my brother's abandoned collection, a brush, and a tub of screen ink I went to work.

Pretty easy to do with only a minor mess. The 45 (The Other Ones - Holiday) will likely never spin again, but my books were complete. Folks at the fest reacted well to the vinyl-file content, the snazzy covers, and the VVers had they-selves a true zine. Records; is there nothing they can't do? Up to this point my love of 45s had been pretty low, mostly due to the fact that I always feel like I have to get up to change the record the moment I have sat down. Even recent acquisitions by local DC band “The Shirks” have done little to dull my pain in this department (nothing personal The Shirks, but how about a full length already?). Using a slab of forgotten vinyl to make a project come together really was an unexpected delight.

Several books were swapped and a good time was had by the zinesters.

P.S. Richmond is a super sweet town. Laid back and collegiate, there are heaps of things to do. We found our way to Deep Groove Vinyl after the fest and the friendly owner had a sidewalk sale going on to benefit the local park. Twenty-five cent records (which he eventually made free for a donation to the park fund) netted us a stack of gems. Reviews to come soon...

Thanks Richmond!


P.P.S. Making a zine really got us to look over the blog again and do some cleaning up. Sloppy editing? None more...we hopes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

America

Kurtis Blow - America - 1985


Yet another Kurtis Blow album with an awesome cover. This was eyed while checking out at Joe's Record Paradise last night as  it was sitting behind the counter. Our cashier said this "concept album" was for sale and upon flipping to the back cover, we were all immediately in awe of Kurtis Blow's "sweet mullet" as quoted by the Joe's cashier. Add this to the collection of Kurtis Blow ridiculous back album covers (see our post for his first album).


So buying this record was a toss up, since it a) was not $1 or less for an album that we knew absolutely nothing about, b) is from 1985 c) gives special thanks to Slick Vick (who is this? Slick Rick's inferior brother), and d) has a track called "Super Sperm". However, it does contain a track "If I Ruled the World" - music and lyrics by Kurtis Blow. Could this be the original of the song that I know by Nas and Lauryn Hill? I had to find out.


Of course it is the archetype of the song that I know from the 90's by Nas; I should know by now that very few 90's rap and hip hop songs are originals. The hook is the similar, but the verses of Blow's song sound more like Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme. "As I arrived, the crowd started to cheer - And then someone yelled out, 'The King is here!'" Many lyrics on this one will likely remind you of early Will Smith, one song "Summertime Groove" in particular seems a straight steal by Mr. Smith... perhaps an homage.


The rest of the songs sound a lot like beat boxing, but with a beat machine on a keyboard. This makes sense since this same year he produced the Fat Boys album which pioneered the human beat box along with Doug E. Fresh. I sorta wish I had a boom box to rock this album.


Overall, I think I would be ok just buying a single of If I Ruled the World, nothing REALLY stands out on the rest of the album, but its fun to listen to. The first track has a few moments of inspiration, but it is kind of watered down.


PS - try really hard to not listen to the last track on Side B - "Don't Cha Feel Like Makin Love" - its as bad as your would think for a Kurtis Blow Side B track. What is it with this guy and his incredibly bad album ending tracks? It's like he's trying to prove a point that he can indeed embarass himself at least once per album. This track sounds like the worst Poison song ever recorded. BAD!!!

Blueridgin'


Fall is upon us and I can't wait to get out to Shenandoah Valley for some long solo hikes and back country camping. The drive west always finds me listening to the same play-list, a mix of classic bluegrass and folk, alt-country, and The Fleet Foxes.




I can't think of any other band who's sound instantly takes me to visions of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I speed my way down route 60. The fact that the Fleet Foxes are originally from Seattle is absolutely mind numbing. The incredible vocal harmonies mixed with technical guitar work, simple percussion, as well as the twang of a mandolin hearken back to the music of of pre- 1950 Appalachia. This band started out simply buy posting music on Myspace and gathering a word of mouth following. In 2008 Sub-Pop released the Fleet Foxes first and thus far only album. The self titled album is now being sold as a 2xlp, A&B being the full length album and C&D being their EP "Sun Giant". There isn't a song on these records I could do without, though I do have a favorite "Blue Ridge Mountains"... for obvious reasons.




Get outside, enjoy the cooling temperatures, but make sure you pick up the Fleet Foxes Lp before you do. Personally I have listened to this album so many times that I can recite the entire album as I make my way down the AT. I suggest you do the same.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FAT BOYS!

Fat Boys - 1984
Say hello to the human beatbox. At a mere 15 cents this album was a freaking steal from the newly opened CD/Game Exchange in Takoma Park. It features strong production from the one and only Kurtis Blow and some ahead of its time hip hop from the boys of fat. The songs feature some deft rapping that borders on the ludicrous at times, but never deep ends into clowning. It's a solid effort that can get a living room dance party going in short order. The sleeve mysteriously had a single for "Sex Machine" from a later album crammed in with it. The single (featuring a straight rip of James Brown's "Sex Machine")is "meh". Our copy came in a sleeve that looked like it had been chewed on by a pack of starving hyaenas, but after some close inspection of the dense shmootz at the shop, the grooves were unharmed.

So the guys are fat and they rap. Haha, I get it. That's it, right? WRONG. This stuff is tight, the guys are on their game, and it's a good time! Tracks like "Jail House Rap", "Fat Boys", and "Human Beat Box" are just awesome! The beat boxing, while groundbreaking at the time, still holds strong and is a zillion times better than any auto-tune bs that the new school guys are putting out there. GET A COPY RIGHT NOW.

Not sure why this album got lost to the sands of time, perhaps the Boys let the quality slip a few notches after this first LP, as evidenced by the "Sex Machine" single I mentioned earlier. Maybe they were having so much fun that they became a self-parody. The important thing to remember here is that future platters don't matter much when the one that's spinning is so damn tight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Introducing the In-Car Record Player!

After a long day of digging through crates of vinyl and finding some gems (or what you think could be gems), ever think to yourself while driving home in the car, "Man, I wish someone invented a record player for the car!" Well, folks, your day has come . . . Introducing the first In-Dash No-Skip Turntable! You no longer have to wait the long trip home battling traffic to check out your records, now you can enjoy your vinyl finds en route.


Wondering how the In-Dash No-Skip Turntable plays your vinyl without skipping when you hit a pothole in the road? Well, our product uses cutting edge technology developed by NASA engineers for the currently under wraps Mars mission. This sleek sound system is hydraulically suspended, the turntable and needle hover in a diamond chamber padded with liquid nitrogen. The record enters the chamber much like a CD in a car, press the button, and the needle lovingly hits all the grooves. Our patent pending design is vertically mounted, which enables less of a chance of skipping and superior sound quality for you!


Upgrade your model to include the specially featured smoke machine! Pulling from our liquid nitrogen already used in the suspension of the turntable, create your very own smokey ambiance in your car while you groove to your tunes.


So hurry and order your In-Dash No-Skip Turntable for your car, truck, bus, van, train, airplane, or Winnebago today! While supplies last!


Coming soon the Egg-Crate No-Skip Turntable for bicycles!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Aqualung


"Aqualung, my friend..." [must be sung with a squished up face and lower jaw jutted out]


Well, this purchase was indeed all inspired by the silliest of silly movies, "Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (for Ron's inspiration in the movie listen to Side B "My God" which features a disturbingly powerful flute solo with mad trillos).  Expectations for this one were pretty low and yet, there was a glimmer of jazz flute that induced hope.  Found in an egg crate bin at Gerosa Records in a VV's hometown of Brookfield, CT, this album got dusted off to travel back to DC with us.  


Jethro Tull's masterpiece is a rocking, epic, profane mess of bluster, theatre, and hooky jams.  More guitar and rhythm section than flute (though the flute is certainly well featured), this record gets the head bobbing in an appreciative "satan is the master" sway.  It is truly a rocking album mostly about a hobo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Save it for a rainy day



First I want to say thanks to Eric and Sara for inviting me to guest blog on Vinyl Vagabonds. I’ve been working at Smash Records for a while now and have always gotten a kick out of watching them come in (typically looking for Devo records) then seeing their response via this blog. So thanks again!


Now down to the dirty work. As I sit in my apartment on this overcast day contemplating my first entry, one album comes to mind, American Football’s self titled LP released in ‘99 by Polyvinyl. This band was active in the late ‘90s and only had two released (the LP being proceeded a by a three song EP in ‘98). This is true emo, there are no silly haircuts, no guyliner, and no nail polish involved with this music. American Football is simply three incredibly talented musician laying down tracks that evoke memories in anyone who has ever felt heartache or lack there of. Lead singer and guitarist Mike Kinsella’s (Joan of Ark, Cap’n Jazz, Owen) melancholy voice and nihilistic lyrics resonate in your head for hours after listening to even a single song. Personally there are two stand out tracks on this album. The fist track “Never Meant” is about falling out of love, the line “you can’t miss what you forget” pretty much sums up the mood of this song. Track #7 “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional” is a bit faster in tempo then the rest of the album. The lyrics speak of selfishness but not in a relationship but the lack of one. It is as if Kinsella is justifying loneliness. This album is not going to put you in a good mood, it may very well make you a Nihilist haha, but it is well worth the listen because of its sheer musical qualities. If emo sounded anything like this these days it would surely have a different reputation in the music world. Sadly you are not likely to find this on vinyl at your local shop but Mp3’s and CD’s are still available. Drop some dimes for the downloads and save them for a rainy day

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Medicine County

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs - Medicine County

This album made its way to our turntable from the pretty damn awesome city of Milwaukee, WI, where we saw Holly Golightly play a boozy show at Mad Planet. While in town for a random "check out the city" vacation, we stumbled across the listing for this gem in a local free paper and got tickets on a whim. Definitely a good choice! We trekked to a northern neighborhood despite the rain and tornado warnings and caught this great duo in between honking back many cans of Blattz and games of pool with some nice locals.

So who is this Holly Golightly lady anyway? Well, shes been making retro tunes since the early 90's and is currently touring with "the Brokeoffs", her longtime US bandmate Lawyer Dave.  She describes her music as a "
a mixture of pre-rock electric country blues, folk and less frantic rock & roll".  Less frantic is right.  This stuff is the opposite of frantic.

The album sounds like it was written after a lot of smoking and drinking took place, but in a good way. "Two Left Feet" and "Forget It" get this album going with a stuttering swing that fits in perfectly with the duo's off-kilter vocals.  There are bright and sunny spots, but not in a cheesy way.  "Escalator", "When He Comes", and "Medicine County" are good examples of a goofy, deadpan, skiffle cheerfulness.  It seems these two know their share of boozin', screwin', and losin'.  
Some lovely fiddlin' on "I Can't Loose" also.  How about that?  A least they seem to have a powerful appreciation for old school country.


The show itself was very cool as the band really seemed to have a solid sense of doing a show without any BS.  Holly and Dave had a stellar rapport with each other and the audience.  They also stuck around for a while post show (on a Monday!) to talk music, sell/sign records and were both absolutely cool.

Cover Notes: The quaint cover art was painted by Holly's mom and the back cover sports a creepy/cool picture with a male/female merged image of the duo.

Inside the Sleeve: Tie-dyed lime green vinyl w/ hot pink...SCORE!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Same Records Everywhere, A Proposal


Every Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Neil Diamond album ever recorded, is found in every record haunt we scour. Imagine how much better life would be for everybody if these records were gone. Nobody is looking for these records and all they do is act as time consuming obstacles for music hounds everywhere. "I'm looking for a DEVO record, not Manilow LIVE!" On a side note, last night we ventured into Smash! and were later found enjoying a drink at a nearby bar and basking in the fact that we just went to a record store and didn't dig through any of the aforementioned crappy albums. Some stores are ahead of the curve. Where did these abundant and discarded records come from in the first place? Older music aficionados surely jettisoned them when they made the conversion to tape/cd in the 80's. These Manilow fans are not likely to be trawling the record bins at thrift stores. Why? Because if they were, these records would not be EVERYWHERE. Not only are these records everywhere, but more importantly, there is little chance they will ever relocate. So what is to be done?

Here is one plan:
-all albums made by Manilow, Streisand, Diamond (are there others I should be adding to this list?) will be gathered in a central warehouse by state.
-gathering these albums will be a piece of cake as they are EVERYWHERE.
-each crappy record warehouse will be sealed off to protect generations of people with taste from potential harm.
-the warehouse will only be accessible in case of emergency (such as ... that star trek movie, you know the one with the whales)
-once the warehouses reach capacity, any additional albums will be loaded into a giant rocket and shot into the sun. Awesome!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Doors - Alive, She Cried - 1983

So usually the year an album is released has something to do with how good an album is, or at least, if I know nothing about an album, I do a year check, and that gives some insight to where the artist was in their musical development. Alive, She Cried was released in 1983. Ummm, this must be a greatest hits live album from The Doors....blah. Au contraire, this live album is a compilation from performances recorded from 1968-1970, which vanished in the 70s and was considered to be lost forever. That is until a videotape of a Copenhagen performance surfaced and yielded "Texas Radio and the Big Beat" (full of Jim Morrison's spoken poetry) and "Love Me Two Times". The rest of the live recorded tapes from these years were found in an undocumented shipment at an LA storage facility that longtime Doors producer, James Rothchild, used in the rest of this album. Rothchild notes that in the making of this live compilation album, he would not repeat any titles from Absolutely Live, no matter how different the recordings were, making this album chock full of totally unique live recordings. Thank you to the Black Cat's Record Fair where we scored this one.

The story behind the making of this album is intriguing, but I have yet to mention how good the music is. For live recordings, the fidelity is as good as any studio album. The album opens with a version of Van Morrison's "Gloria" as recorded in the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood as a trial run in a series of future upcoming shows. The harmony of the band is unparalleled and you can tell they are having a great time playing for the crowd. A shoutout to Krieger for his sweet waaah wah waaah on the bottleneck guitar on "Moonlight Drive." "Little Red Rooster" is in full glory in this recording with an appearance from John Sebastian of The Lovin Spoonful, and easily sounds as if they were having a blues jam with Taj Mahal or Buddy Guy. The whole disc is infused with a ramshackle stuttering blues swing.

Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal - The debut album from this legendary blues artist was a lucky find and pick-up at the
CD Game-Exchange in Takoma Park. There was a hunch that this fella was a mean music maker, but I couldn't put my finger on why. Well, about twenty spins later the proof is in the playing. Side A is full of classic sounds, several of which remind me of Hendrix blues of the same era. These are the blues that make you want to get up and dance, while he really gets the sad jazzy, county blues on Side B. Taj Mahal (aka Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) studdied animal husbandry in school, but for some reason decided to rock out instead. Good choice Taj.

Of note on this album is his rendition of "Statesboro Blues", which in my opinion is better than the later to come Allman Brothers version. "Diving Duck Blues" is reminiscent of what The Doors were doing with funky blues and soul. A dimly lit bar and whiskey on the rocks is what comes to mind with "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" and I wouldn't be offended if someone put this track on repeat on the jukebox all night. In fact, this album should definitely be a staple in the jukebox of a good bar.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath - 1970

All hail the birth of heavy metal. Iommi, Butler, Ward, and Osbourne. What happened that winter of 69/70 that led to this perfect storm of music, and created an entirely new revolution in rock and roll? Well it probably had to do with a good deal of drug, drink, and reading sci-fi/fantasy stories. Happily picked this up at Joe's Record Paradise in Silver Spring and it has been on heavy repeat ever since. Its quite hard to concentrate on anything but the music when its playing. Ozzy and the gang demand your attention - and its an incredibly impressive debut. Others may sing the praises of their follow up album "Paranoid" as the quintessential Black Sabbath album, but this self titled debut has plenty of aces up the sleeve (wicked pun...nice!). Many riffs died to bring this album to life, as well, the improvisational vibe is strong.

Side A features such nasty tunes as "Black Sabbath", "The Wizard", and "NIB". None of these cuts is weak in any way. It's pure evil all the way. A little silly in the lyric department at times, but if you're on board, which I know you will be, all will be well. It's side B which really might catch you off guard. If not for side B the entire affair could just get shelved as a never was rock episode but side B shows off the band as real powers. It could easily be written off as a blues imitation were it not for the guys in the band crushing it with savage and soulful justice. They key things down so it's just as heavy and full of sludge as can be. Total meltdown.

By the way, who names a band BLACK SABBATH in 1960's? That alone was so opposite of what was happening in music. Music inspired to make you feel like you were watching a horror movie! Brilliant and way ahead of the curve. Of course the 60's had plenty of war, rioting, and general hellfire going around to inspire a lot of dark tunes. These guys just happened to do it first and best.

Also, guitarist Iommi was briefly in Jethro Tull, a few years before "Aqualung". Curious, but true. Glad he decided to return to the Sabbath fold to make this classic.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The record that I just can't get rid of because it doesn't suck that much. That is all I have to say.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Human Highway...


So, we went out of our way to rent the stupidly hard to find, and notoriously bad "Human Highway", a film by Neil Young, featuring Devo. Once again I will state that Vinyl Vagabonds is a vinyl records blog, but occasionally it happens that a certain vinyl purchase or two will send us venturing away from the vinyl medium to experience something... other. A vagabond of a film like "Human Highway" is something other alright. Not available on DVD and hard to track down on VHS (thank you for coming through Potomac Video), we gave this 80's trash monsterpiece a viewing. Can I recommend it? Not really. The centerpiece of the film is a completely psyched out performance of "Hey, Hey, My, My" by Neil and played with Devo. A rarer performance would be hard to imagine. The film itself has barely a shred of redeeming script, acting, or visuals. Neil does play the role of a the gas station simpleton very well and if you want to have a chuckle, that's probably where you will find it.

The story revolves around residents of a small town in the dessert of the west dealing with tough economic times whilst ne'er do wells from the local nuclear plant plot to dump nuclear waste into the nearby land. Dennis Hopper is a complete freak-out in this, Also there is a large nuclear missile, but I really have no idea where that comes from.

Oh, I almost forgot. The film features great music! That's why we sought it out in the first place. It has cuts from "Trans" by Neil. A great album of techno/rock wizardry before anybody but Kraftwork was even doing that sort of thing. Also featured are several great tracks from Devo of the early 80's, the best type of Devo for sure (unless you have had a chance to check out the new album "Something for Everybody", which from what I've heard so far is going to be a return to greatness).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kurtis Blow, 1980


I've been waiting on writing about Kurtis Blow's self titled 1980 album because I wasn't sure where to take it after this, it could go to his second album Deuce, Run DMC, or the Fat Boys.... So now that I've given a preview of upcoming reviews.... THESE ARE THE BREAKS!

The Good: "Rappin Blow (Part 2)", "The Breaks", and "Way Out West", which is all of Side A. Blow's lyrics encouraging the listeners to interact with the music is kinda revolutionary. This might be the first time we hear "Throw your hands in the air, and wave em like you just don't care", "Somebody scream!", and "Just do it just do it just do it do it do it." The single, "The Breaks" is epic, especially with the drum solos, which I'm pretty sure is actually someone playing the buckets. You really cannot listen to Side A and not get up and dance.

The Bad: SIDE B. Its really not good. In fact, you really have to ask what he was thinking recording "All I Want in this World." The lyrics are ridiculous: "A cute one, a shy one, a slim one, a sly one, a big one, a small one, a real off the wall one, all I want in this world is to find that girl." I don't believe I actually just listened to this song twice to write these lyrics down. His cover to "Takin Care of Business" is a clear display that he should stick to rapping. It's fucking horrendous! It's kind of great awful, but you should probably not be sober for it.

The Ugly: Back Cover. Do not look at it. In fact hold it very far away from your face when trying to read the track titles. Pretty sure Kurtis Blow's face is larger than life size, unless he is a giant. Not attractive.

This album is really a bridge between funky 70's disco and 80's rap and hippity hop. The catchy flows and sweet lyrics really make this album, whether they are good or bad (mostly good). He seems like he's not really all that interested in making any particular type of album, he's experimenting a lot. Dangerously bad results ensue on side B, but the good stuff cannot be ignored and is pretty damn funky. Although Blow's "The Breaks" is often mentioned with Sugar Hill Gang's "Rappers Delight" it's sort of amazing that Blow laid the track as a solo rapper instead of a group. These singles are cited as being the birth of modern hip-hop. Pretty boogaloo awesome.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dum Dum Girls









Through the influence of a good write up in the Washington Post we went to check out these LA ladies at DC9 a few weeks back. They were opening for a group never heard of and not worth naming for this blog. Dum Dum Girls played a short, tight set. Maybe ten songs... they opened up with Rolling Stones cover "Play With Fire". A retro choice for a retro girl group with a modern goth drone wall of sound.

So why talk about the concert on a vinyl site you ask? It's because the full album was not available on iTunes so I picked it up on vinyl at the show for $15 bucks (probably the most I have ever spent on a vinyl record). A lot of the fun of this "vinyl thing" has been in seeking out unusual and lost discs at random record repositories and getting them DIRT CHEAP. Well, this is the first brand new full length record that I have purchased since the vinyl fascination began in earnest and it's solid.

The record was concocted from lead lady Dee Dee, with some minor assistance from Yeah Yeah Yeah's guitarist Nick Zinner and Crocodiles singer Brandon Welchez. The album is produced by Richard Gottehrer a veteran of 60's girl-pop, 80's new wave punk, and several recent stabs into the new indie world.

Listen to this album when you are in need of an antidote to your hip-shaking doldrums. Other than one slow burn ballad, the whole album shimmies like a be-sequined flapper.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vagabonds






In the attempt of searching out new and wonderful tunes, we've made some missteps. Here are several that we gave a brief home to, but ultimately passed back into the record stores of DC.

No explanation needed. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Eulogy for Records in the Streets

Biking down to Petworth the other day we happened upon the wreckage of a record collection, strewn and smashed down 8th Street, NW, literally in the street.

Most of the records we did not recognize. They mostly seemed of the R & B, Funk, and Disco variety, with cheap looking generic paper sleeves promising a "Disco Hit" or something. No big names come to mind. A strange final resting place for a vinyl collection. Did they get thrown out in a rage? Were they a DJ's bread and butter? Did these platters get thrown out of a moving car or tossed up high in the sky via tornado? What exactly went wrong?

In homage to these outcast records, a eulogy to bad records, lost records, scratched records, and especially misunderstood records. May they serve a better purpose to someone at some future time. Though their dense grooves will likely not be needle warmed again, the music continues in vinyl press, in thrift shops, an on turntables around the world. Whether it be for 15¢ or 15$, spin, spin, spin.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yazz Flute


What is it about buying crusty looking records for a dollar or less? Well, it isn't always about the actual record I can tell you that.

Example: Harry Belafonte - Live at Carnegie Hall. Double album purchased for $1 in downtown Silver Spring. The album itself is a total dud. Sure, the music is fine, and Belafonte does what he does with skill. It's just incredibly dated and goofy as hell. So why mention any of this? Well, in a lucky stumble of good fortune, tucked inside said double album was an added bonus. A pristine disc full of the most amazing jazz flute ever! The disc: Herbie Mann - Live at the Whiskey a Go-Go. circa 1969

"Mr. Burgundy, we would be honored if you play some yazz flute for us tonight."


Mann was among the first jazz musicians to specialize on the flute and was perhaps jazz music's preeminent flautist during the 60's. He's accompanied by a crew of pros and the record gives them all a chance to show off their chops. It swings, it really swings. The connection to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is only an added, albeit hilarious bonus.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are We Not Men?


Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo! - Devo - 1978

There is so much I want to write about this album, found in a thrift shop in Langley Park, but I really have no idea where to start. Any ideas VVer #2?

Yea Yea YeaYeaYeayayayayaaa!!
Sorry busy with the uncontrollable singing.... wow that was corny, but so is this song!

So everyone knows Devo as that silly band wearing red plastic hats and yellow jumpsuits but did you know they were on the tail end of the first wave of American PUNK?! That puts them in the same ranks as Iggy and the Stooges, the Ramones, Velvet Underground, Television, Patti Smith, and New York Dolls! This album (Q&A) has all the hallmarks of a great punk album from this era, its fun, noisy, creative, and oddball. Songs you should check out immediately are "Uncontrollable Urge", "Jocko Homo", "Mongoloid"... David Bowie and Iggy Pop were directly responsible for DEVO getting a record deal with Warner Brothers. Nice to have famous fans.

I think its appropriate to add that the VVs recently checked out a band called the Polysics play at the Rock N' Roll Hotel in DC. The Polysics are a Japanese band that get their name from a brand of synthesizer the Korg Polysix, and are heavily influenced by DEVO. Think Devo, heavy synth, in Japanese, plus extra punk, plus LOTS of jumping around, oh, and dressed in Devo-esque jumpsuits. Pretty awesome.


The hunt for further Devo vinyl has proven rather difficult. Only their most recent super synth records are in the bin. Still, a copy of "Freedom of Choice" is probably out there somewhere, in some forgotten pile of some dusty thrift shop...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Business As Usual


Men at Work - Business As Usual - 1981





And then there was our Men At Work debut album that the cheesy 80’s loving VV sneaks into the record player at least once a week … Yeah, yeah, everyone knows “Down Under” and “Who Can it Be Now?” but do they know the insanely catchy “Be Good Johnny” or “Underground”? Not only does this album have fun Australian accents, but it also has reggae undertones and lots of synthesizers … perfect for the 80s dance-party in your household. But really, this is one of those records that you can just let play from beginning to end and not want to skip a song - which is my prerequisite to be a contender in the VV album catalog. It's also one of those rare records that Side B is far superior to Side A, at least in my opinion. Highlight to the album is that the inside sleeve gives credits to one of the band members, Russell Deppeler, on the Telephone and Calculator. Oh, music instruments of the 80s, how you never cease to entertain me....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Folk of the 80's

Men Without Hats - Folk of the 80's 1980

I know I mentioned a Devo album as the next review, but this one has been stuck in my head lately and it's a true winner. We picked this up at a record fair at the Black Cat on Valentine's Day, so romantic. I think we both were hesitant about picking this album up. This four song EP, their first ever release, has four songs, one of which (Antarctica) is on the bands full length album "Rhythm of Youth" (A great album). So why drop five bucks for three songs that could be total crap? We were likely propelled by the fact that "Rhythm of Youth" was such a good album, but really I have no idea why we bought it. The first song, "Modern(e) Dancing" is such an ear-worm that it's been locked in my head from listen one. It has goofy bleeps and bloops, an extremely catchy chorus, and some strange yelps from singer Ivan Doroschuck. The band is French Canadian, known as great yelpers... did you not know that? "Modern(e) Dancing" also features the line "with 60's hairdo's and 90's eyes", which seems incredibly futuristic for an EP put out in 1980. The other three songs; "Utter Space", "Antarctica", and "Security (Everybody Feels Better With)" are strong, memorable, and worth serious repeats.

"So where can I get one?" Turns out this is another hard to find album. Strangely, only "Antarctica" shows up on compilations and the other three songs are impossible to locate. I suppose people heard "The Safety Dance" and just assumed that anything else these guys put out was ignorable. Well,however you track this record down, it'll be worth it. At $1.25 per song in the current digital age of music, I feel we got a great deal.