Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How To: Downsize

Ever pick up a box full of records?  Did you pull a muscle?  Are you still wincing in pain?  Do you have insurance?
Vinyl Vagabonds are clearly the first ever to acknowledge that vinyl records pose a very real threat to your health. These seemingly innocent platters can stack up and, in quantity, they are HEAVY.
The VVers actively had to confront this demon when the move to a new condo loomed.

VVer #2 "Holy !@$($#&^ we have a #$^&%(^ ton of records"
VVer #1 "Yeah!  Isn't it great!"
VVer #2 "Holy #$(%$&^ we're gonna have to move all this $#)^*%$%^*)"
VVer #1 "Ohh... ($#&%)$@%("

After letting this concept settle in for a day or two or ten, the VVers engaged in a carefully orchestrated plan to cull the chaff from the wheat (WHAT?).

The slightly less loaded Expedit.
A system was chosen that was relatively straight-forward.  Each VVer picked a section or cube (surely you have stumbled upon the lucky coincidence that IKEA's Expedit is perfectly made to fit vinyl records) and pulled out records that either have not been listened to in over six months or that the VVer actively despises, attempting to take into account the alternate VVer's tastes as to not offend too much (haha, not really).  In doing this, some pretty obvious stinkers have been jettisoned.  These seemingly harmless platters have worn out their welcome in the House of VV!  A few needed multiple spins to make absolutely sure an informed decision was made: example, Dusty Springfield Stay Awhile - I Only Want To Be With You and Big Brother and the Holding Company self-titled.  Both not bad, but would they ever be sought out for another listen?  Doubtful and goodbye.

One record that had kept getting passed over that got some well needed attention during this culling was Ray Manzarek The Golden Scarab.  Do you know Ray?  Of course you do!  The VVers have written about his solo music before: good and bad.  He was kind of a big deal; the keyboardist from the Doors.  Ray also happened to be a genius musician who, when left to his own devices, went hog wild in the studio.  The sound on The Golden Scarab bounces joyously between disparate styles.  Samba, heavy rock, salsa, lounge, folk, electronica, psych; for better and for worse it's all here.  Ray's voice is somewhat similar to Jim Morrison's in style and tone.  He doesn't have the depth of the Lizard King and often his cadence makes him sound sort of like a swaggering Elvis. If Ray is trying to convey some type of message about the meaning of life in Golden Scarab's lyrics, it's hard to take him seriously with his show-boaty, lounge-singer vibe.  The swinging tempo mixed with the introspective, poetic jib-jab is certainly unique.  Take for example opening track "He Can't Come Today," where he sounds like a game show host set against a marimba rhythm.  "What is your question? What will you ask him? What will you want from the truth? ... Where did we come from?  Where are we going? What are we all doing here?"  Why am I listening to this song? Why do I own it? Will it stay in the collection? 

The album's weirdness continues on a tremendous instrumental called "The Moorish Idol."  This nearly six minute spaced-out jam undulates with laser beams, propulsive percussion, and a galloping bass line.  Massive amounts of Ray's deft keyboarding create this amazingly futuristic sound.  Don't be afraid, the whole album isn't this unconventional, there are plenty of highly listenable tracks; "Downbound Train" is a powerful bluesy/evil sounding take on a Chuck Berry tune.  On a few songs Ray does some spoken word poetic scatting and shouts out various Egyptian gods and goddesses, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Not sure why this LP  kept getting ignored.  Maybe the cover has something to do with it.  He just looks... awkward.  Maybe a little too much LSD led to him having this cosmic Egyptian freakout?  Look at that back cover.  He should have named the album The Golden Sideburns!  FREAK OUT!

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