Sunday, March 17, 2013

Course Correction

Just because you put "Ray Charles" on the sleeve of your album, or lure in the curious with "songs of Hawaii" on it, does not mean it is worthy of your turntable.  It seems when eying this one I just picked out aforementioned key words, which when out of context, did not equal what I thought it did when actually heard from the speakers.  Upon first listen I think I almost melted.  Every track was on the verge of being a christmas sing-a-long circa 1950.  Not the sort of thing that is going to get a lot of mileage around this pad.

My mistake for not making the distinction between "The Ray Charles Singers" and the actual "Ray Charles," soul singer, that everyone knows.  Apparently this is none other than the no-one-has-heard-of Charles Raymond Offenberg, composer and leader of the Ray Charles Singers.  How does he get away with parading around as "Ray Charles"?  Does.Not.Compute.  Indeed the group appearing on this record, is also the group who did schmaltzy commercial jingles and choral records for 35 years.  GREAT.  Why didn't anyone inform me of this before spending an entire dollar at the RAG (Recycled American Goods) Shop in Berkley Springs, WV?
And since I'm slagging off on this piece of goodness, who is this faux Mark Rothko that contributed art to this album?  Is this a pig snout? A hippo face? Surely an animal, or a rendering of the Hawaiian islands that they are singing about.  Poop.

Well it's fair to say that the VVers only lasted for half of the first half of side A before running screaming to lift the needle.  In fact, it was so bad, that we took that chance that really nothing could be worse and threw on some Sesame Street tunes that we have in our listening queue for no reason.  In fact Bert's Blockbusters proved to be the perfect follow up.  There were only a few crayon marks on the vinyl.
Lots of gems here.  "Doin the Pigeon" is a stellar and catchy dance number.  The album ends with "Bert is Sick".  Ernie obliviously reads his "How to Tell Someone is Sick Book" to Bert while he is obviously ill.  Priceless.

So, in conclusion I would like to thank the Ray Charles singers for being so awful.  If not for their old-timey harmonizing from heck the VVers would not likely have spent the remainder of the night listening to all of our Sesame Street records.  Happy ending.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wedding Playlist

Since we put all this time and effort into the tunes that would be the soundtrack to our wedding night, might as well share them with you.  All tunes are from our record collection.

Booker T. and the MGs (Golden Slumbers/I Want You) – pre-ceremony
Flash Gordon – Wedding March
The Hero – post ceremony (walk out)

Jazz Cocktail Hour
Getz/Byrd – Jazz Samba - Bata, Samba Dees Days
Getz/ Gilberto – The Girl from Ipanema
Django – Anything...
Louie Prima – Breaking it Up, Mint Julep
Benny Goodman – This is Benny – Anything…
Louis Armstrong – Plays WC Handy – St Louis Blues, Ole Miss
Duke Ellington – Daybreak Express – Anything…
Booker T – Green Onions – Green Onions

Intro (Meet the new couple for the first time as Mr and Mrs)
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath – segue into...
The Gaylords – Pizza Party – Neapolitan Nights (first dance)

Reggae Dinner
Peter Tosh – Mama Africa – Johnny B Goode
Peter Tosh – Mystic Man – Mystic Man
Peter Tosh – Equal Rights – Downpresser Man, I am That I am
Ziggy Marley – New Love
Bob Marley – Catch a Fire - 400 Years, Kinky Reggae, Baby We’ve Got a Date, Midnight Ravers
Bob Marley Live – I Shot the Sheriff, Lively Up Yourself
Jimmy Cliff – You Can Get It If You Really Want, Harder they Come
The Clash – Black Market Clash – Armagideon Time, Pressure Drop, Justice Tonight/Kick it Over

Chuck Berry – Johnny B Good
Chuck Berry – Rock n Roll Music, Roll Over Beethoven
Joan Jet – I Need Someone
Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks – Payola Blues, Kinda Fonda Wanda
Stray Cats – Built for Speed – Baby Blue Eyes
The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run or Rap City
Jack White – I’m Shakin’

Disco Funk Desserts
Herbie Hancock – Monster – Go For It
Stevie Wonder – Living for the City, Higher Ground
Kool and the Gang – Hollywood Swinging, Jungle Boogie
Blondie – Parallel Lanes – Heart of Glass, Rapture
James Brown – My Part/Make It Funky Part 3
James Brown – Make It Funky Part 1
KC Sunshine Band – Shake Your Booty
Michael Jackson – Off the Wall – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Lipps Inc – Funky Town
Thomas Dolby – She Blinded me with Science

Dance Party
Peter Tosh – Mystic Man – Buk-in-hamm Palace
Run DMC – It’s Tricky, It’s Like That, Peter Piper
Run DMC – Run’s House
Duran Duran – Notorious
Kurtis Blow – The Breaks
Kurtis Blow – Party Time
Neil Young – Trans – Sample and Hold
Flock of Seagulls – I Ran
Go Gos – We Got the Beat
Fat Boys – Human Beat Box
Men Without Hats – Safety Dance, Modern Dancing
DEVO – Freedom of Choice – Whip It
James Brown – Sex Machine, Call me Super Bad
Stray Cats – Built for Speed – Rock This Town
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique – Hey Ladies, Shake your Rump
Beatles – Red Album – All my Loving
Michael Jackson – Thriller – Beat It
The Faint – Dance Macabre – Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat
Madonna – Like a Virgin – Dress You Up
Madonna – You Can Dance – Into the Groove
Huey Lewis and the News – The Heart of Rock n Roll
Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop
Lou Reed – Vicious
Jimmy Smith – Hoochie Coochie Man – Hoochie Coochie Man, Mint Julep
The Stooges – Funhouse – Down on the Street
Sugar Hill Gang – Rappers Delight
Whodini – The Freaks Come Out At Night, 5 Minutes of Funk
Young MC – Bust a Move
Paul Simon – Call Me Al
Rolling Stones – Lets Spend the Night Together

Slow Songs:
The Cars – Greatest Hits - Drive
Billy Idol – Rebel Yell – Eyes Without a Face
CCR – Green River - Night Time is the Right Time
Marvin Gaye – Lets Get It On
Louis Prima – All Night Long
Queen – Night at the Races - Somebody to Love (last dance)
Louis Prima – Chop Suey
Frank Sinatra – I Get a Kick Outta You
Beatles – Red Album – And I Love Her
Lou Reed – Satellite of Love

Marvin Gaye – That’s the Way Love Is – Cloud Nine
Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
George Michael – Monkey
Madonna – Holiday
Lionel Richie – All Night Long, Running with the Night
Wham! – Careless Whisper

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Vinyl-Spun Wedding / Northern [Vinyl High] Lights

The VVers planned a big event last fall - getting hitched - and had one crazy idea (well maybe not just one, but only one pertinent to this blog).  We had it in our heads to get a pro, old school DJ that would spin our favorite vinyl for the nuptials and reception.  We actually didn't treat it as a crazy idea at all; in fact I think we would have spun ourselves.  There was pretty much no way that we would settle with someone else picking tunes.  We love our friends and family, but do we really trust them to put in song requests for our big night?  Nooooooo.  In fact, we are not the only crazy people in the world that want to play only records at their wedding.  Turns out Mr. Neil Young's daughter also recently had this magnificent idea (after our wedding, of course).

We found a few DJs early in the process that seemed like they could maybe do it, but there was a good deal of hedging of bets on the vinyl end of it.  Luckily we got connected to Aran at Ridiculous Entertainment.  Not only was he completely on board with the concept, he took it as a personal challenge!  Apparently, doing an entire event with just vinyl and minimal digital set-up was just not done anymore.  This did not seem to faze him in the slightest.  Interesting that on top of Aran having nerves (and wheels) of steel, he also is the "Executive Visionary Commando" for the BROS (Baltimore Rock Opera Society) which be, is, and are completely bad-ass.

The VVers set to the task of going through the entire home collection to find their favorite and most dance worthy tunes.  Said collection has a lot of musical variety and we wanted to reflect that in our playlist.  There would be jazz cocktails, reggae dinner, disco desserts, and anything-goes dancing for the remainder of the night.  I gotta say, this was difficult.  It was really the first time we've ever had to see eye to eye on music choices for a big event.  A good example of the difficulty is when one VVer suggested "She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby as a great tune to get his brother up on the dance floor, while sneers ensued from the other VVer.  Ultimately this VVer was able to work the argument that seeing the brother-man shake his groove thing would be worth it (it was).  The entire process was a great relationship builder.  We had to try to get in each other's shoes a bit and try not to judge too harsh, all while driving the point on certain essential tracks.  Surprisingly we only had to track down a few additional records for our collection to add to the night.  Clearly the record selection at the Casa de VVer is getting quite sharp.

We sent Aran the working playlist and he came over about a week or so later to talk out the ceremony and iron out details.  There was some consternation about the set-up for the wedding and reception as they were going to be in two different areas of the venue (the incredible American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore).  Aran suggested going to digital during the ceremony which was kind of a bummer.  Jokingly, this VVer pointed to a portable record player sitting in the corner of our living room which we picked up last summer in a spectacular find at a local estate sale.  This suitcase like object was in practically brand new condition and only set us back ten bones!  He bought into our joking plan to use it for the ceremony vinyl (Flash Gordon wedding theme anyone?) and he was all about it!  Now this VVer wouldn't normally invite a stranger to my wedding, but holy crap we wish you could have been there.  It was sick!  Pretty sure both my parents had a puddle under them and the brother-man's head almost caught fire.  Several of the friends also were in stitches.  The VVers had their vinyl wedding and all the guests exclaimed it was the best music at a wedding in like, ever!  Most important though is that we had an amazing time; especially at the end when Aran threw down Queen's "Somebody to Love."  It's fair to say that EVERYONE with a pulse was up dancing and singing with reckless abandon.  Queen came through and it made an epic end to our wedding celebration!

Off to the honeymoon in Norway which was not likely going to be a vinyl adventure, right?  Who's going to want to haul around a bunch of vinyl all over the Arctic Circle?  Hahahah!  The Vinyl friggin Vagabonds!  That's who mother#&^%@!

Anyways it wasn't that high up on the list of things to do, but we had some truly fun vinyl moments during our trip.  First off, whilst in Tromso (located within the Arctic Circle) we went to Verdensteatret, an amazing, old school bar/lounge in the front section of a refurbished movie theater.  The bar played 100% vinyl and the walls were stacked with plenty of selections.  Conversation with the bar man:

::VVer- Can I pick the next record to play?
::Bar Man- Yes.
::VVer- Which one to play?
::Bar Man- The best one.

Not only that, but when the bar guys were outside on a smoke break and the record ended they gave this VVer the go ahead to hop behind the bar and DJ.  Ha!  Was it mentioned that we were in the Arctic Circle?  Grand.

A later stop on the trip had us on a very brief day and overnight in Trondeheim.  While cruising about in the phenomenal city we happened upon a great urge for a frosty beverage (not uncommon).  We hopped into Cafe Lokka without any preconceived notions.  While relaxing to our libation in the comfy cafe we noticed above the bar several home-produced seven inch records for sale.  After a beverage or two we queried the tender about the music and he was kind enough to spin them for us.  Sale!  Local Trondeheim band, The Daily Hum, provided us with this easy-to-travel with little 45" performing "The Fireman" in two ways.  The very different renditions of the same song called for one side to be played at 45 speed, the other at 33.  Can it please be more confusing?!  Side "Major" proves to be a peppy, ska version of the track, while side "Minor" is a dark, samba-like distorted outlook on the same tune.  A very interesting find that is highly listenable both ways.  The sleeve features sharp, bizarre, melty artwork with brainy lettering and on translucent, red vinyl to boot.  A good find for the VVers.  Norge five!

Final stop in Oslo on the last night of our trek we end up in Nosbled (Nosebleed) Records, basically the most famous record store in all of the Norge.  We didn't know it at the time though, as we just happened to stumble upon it while being half lost in a mad dash to a museum that happened to be closed anyways.  Still, we were there!

Since we returned from our adventures, our new favorite question to ask each other when picking out the next record goes a little something like this (thanks Norge):

VVer 1: "What do you feel like listening to?" [longingly looking at endless spines of records on the shelf]
VVer 2: "The Best One"
VVer1: [Closes eyes and randomly pulls out a record] "Ahh, the best one!"