Thursday, November 12, 2015

It Came from the Garbage

Weird as it may sound, the VVers, on a seemingly annual basis, come across vinyl thrown in the garbage.  Usually there are only a few records, but occasionally there is an entire box.  Recently, the VVers were walking out of a local record store and just twenty steps up the road found a massive stack of records cascading out of a garbage can.  A lot of these were very clearly beyond hope.  Quite a few were water damaged and were starting to show signs of growage.  This is where the buck stops.  Sifting through the trash heap, at least three of James Brown's most sought after records were found in this condition.  Sad as the thought of that may be, this discarded bunch contained many of the sorts of records that deserve to be put out of their musical misery.  A few exceptions?  There was one 70's "Fat Albert" animated series record, which at first glance looked ok, but upon further inspection (mind you that the inspection was going on out on the sidewalk of a busy street with VVer #1 digging in a garbage can, awkward) the vinyl was badly warped.  Initially, an "All in the Family" TV soundtrack looked sharp, but then it turned out the record itself was missing.  Fear not dear reader.  Digging a bit deeper, a few things were salvaged.  Important to note, when these records entered the House of VV they received a thorough, double cleaning, inside and out.  Here are the three that were rescued:

Aretha Franklin - You - 1975

Unfortunately, this record survived.  Side one is slightly listenable, lead off track "Mr. D.J. (5 for the D.J.)" being one of the funkier numbers.  It's also the only track she wrote on this trashed LP.  The ballad, "I'm not Strong Enough to Love You" is pretty on target.  Not really the sort of thing that makes hearts happy in the House of VV, but not too painful.  The rest are just rough.  VVer #2 was very unsympathetic to Ms. Franklin's caterwauling so much so that most of the album was accompanied by a dying cat impersonation.  It's for the best.  The most entertaining quality for this one is the photograph on the cover.  The outfit, the glasses, the blowout 'do, the pose, the campy smile... it's a special kind of train wreck.

Mr. T - Mr. T's Commandments - 1984

Tougher-than-nails 80's superstar, Mr. T, raps, does spoken word, and tells it like it is, with his back-up singers keeping the tempo up.  The album is a total cluster, geared towards young-ins.  The synths and songwriting are horrendous.  The tempo-less Mr. T's voice is like a bag of gravel being rolled around on concrete.  Think Oscar the Grouch and you're almost there.  Granted, his message to kids is full of wisdom, "Don't Talk to Strangers," "No Dope, No Drugs," and the like.  The tunes that really fail hard though are the ones about himself, "Mr. T, Mr. T (He Was Made for Love)," "The Toughest Man in the World," and "The One and Only Mr. T."  Taking corny to an entirely other level of pain--way to go T.  Somehow they figured out how to take the tough out of the toughest.  Awful.  He wrote exactly zero percent of what's on here so let's at least hope he got paid.  Those gold chains don't pay for themselves!  Again, the album cover is probably the most entertaining thing here.  Mismatched tube socks, boots held together with duct tape, gold chains, feathered earrings, and of course the mohawk.   He's a true original, sort of a disco era fashion icon of rags to riches.  It's just one of those ridiculous 80's artifacts that have to be seen (and not heard) to be believed.

James Brown - Nothing but Soul - 1968

All instrumental, a little chaotic, kind of funky.  There is a chance the VVers hold on to this one for a little while.  The Godfather of Soul takes a break from shouting about Hot Pants and Soul Power to instead focus on "his increasing technical ability as an organist," says the back cover write-up.  Also, it describes the album as a "series of instrumentals that should find their way on the turn tables of disc jockies and home recording machines of millions of his fans."  Good luck arguing with that!   Rhythms and soulful swagger are here, especially on the all too short "Buddy-E."  Not too bad, but sometimes it flows into a blurting, wince-inducing, scat-clarinet territory.  It tortures the ears.

Of the three, no big winners here.  In doing a bit of reading on the interwebs it turns out that all three albums are out of print, which is interesting, and not entirely disappointing.  Also, there is a good chance the Mr. T album is worth a little chunk of change, somewhat justifying the effort.  Sometimes garbage is just garbage, but you'll never know until you give it a spin.  Dig it!

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