Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Love the Smell of Vinyl in the Morning

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mouseketeer's Talent Round-Up Record

Retro Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club record Mouseketeer's Talent Round-Up, #653, copyright, 1975; the 45 has the following songs: We're The Mouseketeers, A Rollin' Stone, Talent Round-up, and Hi To You.

The record itself has a big straight split, so I can't play it -- but I can't toss it either. Maybe there's a collector out there who really really needs this cover. Maybe I can discover a way to mend & play the 45. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

This is why I blog; to excuse the crap I hold onto under the guise of helping another collector find what they need.

Thanks to reruns playing after school during my teen babysitting years, every time I spy this on my shelf (and that happens more often than you might think), I hear the Mickey Mouse Club Today Is Tuesday song:

Today is Tuesday, you know what that means.
We're gonna have a special guest
So get out the broom and sweep the place clean.
And dust off the mat so the welcome can be seen.
Roll out the carpet, strike up the band,
And give out with a Hip, Hooray!
Wiggle your ears like good Mouseketeers.
We're gonna present a guest today
'Cause Tuesday is Guest Star Day!
This has nothing to do with the songs on this record, I suspect; but if I must have an earworm, you will too.

That would also be why I blog.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hoop-Dee-Doo, Time To Tie One On!

Vintage necktie advertising Kay Starr's version of the swing tune Hoop Dee Doo on Capitol records; via eBay.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Of Music, Technology & Kids Today :sigh:

The new Jensen JiMS 525i may be a great iPod dockable HD Radio, but as technology leaps ever forward, I can't help but feel old nostalgic. Sure, I use the Internet (far too much, according to some), but I can't help but feel that kids today are missing out. Take music, for example.

So many makers of today's music machines, like the new Jensen JiMS 525i, are selling themselves on the the benefit of iTunes Tagging. "How many times have you heard a song on the radio you’d really like to hear again?" they say. "Wouldn't it be great if you could tag that song and buy it?"

Everyone knows that one of the many joys of music, along with the often related ear worm song, is the nagging annoyance of 'knowing' a song, but being unable to name it or who recorded it.

Honestly. It's a thrill.

There's a satisfaction in ending the auditory blackout -- remembering the name -- right as you walk into the record shop, before you have to ask some clerk and show your ignorance in public. And I love waking up at 3 A.M., sitting straight up in bed and uttering, "Power Station!" before passing out again with a sigh. Maybe I'll remember that in the morning; maybe not. But for now, I got it, damnit.

This deficit on the part of the general population to recall the song's title and artist even when listening to it forces you to listen to the radio announcers (even today on those new music stations), just to hear them identify the song. You beat your fist on the dashboard in frustration when they didn't -- and rhythmically on the steering wheel as you repeated the title/artist mantra out loud when they did (yes, all the way to the record shop). If you were home alone on a Saturday night, you could even call into the radio station and ask... The final nail on your loser coffin. This alone made DJs vital to your life.

But, again, sometimes you couldn't count on the DJ for help. You just wandered, frustrated and annoyed until you found one of those rare and annoying but necessary walking encyclopedias of musical knowledge -- those who can who can hear, process & recall such info (along with band, album name, and concert date at CBGB's). We need these geeks of music. And they know it. Hence their egos.

Now the chips on the shoulders of those who do not recall as well have been replaced by some computer chip.

Sure, it's cleaner, easier, and costs your pride less to hold up a device and get the answer than it is to humbly ask your local music knowledge god. But the computer chip has no great stories.

It won't regale you with tales of rock concerts.

Or of staying home one night after being dumped and polishing off a six-pack of Zimas solo while listening to November Rain over and over again until you could get pissed enough (emotionally & alcohol-wise) to angrily sing-scream along with I Used To Love Her.

(Axel Rose sure knew how to musically score a love life -- or so I'm told. I never did that, of course. It's just an example... From my, uh, friend's life.)

Sooner or later we all have the thrill of playing music knowledge god too. Eventually a friend doesn't know the latest release by the hottest new artist -- but you do. And then you get to express your superiority & snark as you reply, "How do you not know of The The?!" followed by a "sheesh!" or a sigh and the mandatory eyeball roll.

Without these mental musical blanks in the minds of your friends, how would you ever get that opening to tell the story of why you'll never-ever forget the Pet Shop Boys' or West End Girls -- because that song sooo reminds you of the night you were sooo drunk you woke up in the dorm's girls' bathroom, staring at the "janitor's" shoes. (He said he was the janitor, but what janitor wears patent leather shoes to his job?)

How else will we be able to share these stories?

Oh yeah... Blogs.

But then, it's not quite the same as being asked -- and I have no idea if you're even listening.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vinyl Kraftwerks

Hopefully you won't be melting any actual Kraftwerk vinyl (it's worth quite a bit more than this), but find yourself a Sing Along With Mitch and make yourself something pretty. I'm sure my daughter, who walks along the edge of Gothness in her fashion, wants to make some of these:

Making strips out of vinyl, bending them into a bracelet, and adding baubles is so very 1980s, ultra-retro. When we were messing around with melting records this summer, cutting them briefly crossed my mind, but apparently it's easier and more useful than I thought. But a paper-cutter? Ingenious! Metafilter has a bunch of other projects, quite a few more things than just bowls.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

High-Five Fridays (Stuff We Dug This Week)

Want to give high-fives too? Sure you do!

1) If you don't know how to thrift (and frankly, that frightens us), check out welcome to Thriftland.

2) Everyone needs a paint by number farting unicorn -- or knows someone who does! ...Maybe that's just me?

3) Other things we make the kids do. (Don't call the authorities; they like it, I swear!)

4) Aliens & arson in 1935. (Strange Canadians!)

5) What do you do with a Mingering Mike? (Not sure I'd comply.)

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Get Your Rockin' Flock On

This black vinyl record case with "records" flocked in red is enough to make me see stars -- but just to be sure we see them, gold ones are printed on the inside.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Explaining The Tape Away

Find records with tape on the label? This bit in that 1947 Home Kinks magazine explains:
If slightly warped records slip on an automatic record player and distort the tone, this trouble can be avoided by sticking two strips of adhesive tape on each face of the record as shown.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Behold The Mighty Army

I stumbled into this baby on Saturday during thrift shop excursions.

A select group of records, each with sticker prices higher than the LPs in the regular rack, sat at the wrap desk. I poked through them and while I could wrinkle my nose at most of them, this one stuck out both for its comic cover design (as in 'looks like a comic' -- tho, I admit it is comic in other ways) and for its hefty (for me) price tag. $8.99? I've paid much less for a box full of records. In fact, I don't think I've paid this much for a record since they were the only other way to buy them other than cassette tape... And I didn't even know what this one was or who made it.

New Birth? Featuring Leslie Wilson? Behold The Mighty Army? And why did the thrift shop think this was worthy of such a price? Was it the slit-open but largely intact cellophane? Well, curiosity and nice looking vinyl won over and I brought it home.

Turns out New Birth was a concept band. The brainchild of Vernon Bullock, New Birth was a touring company comprised of several groups who could each perform separately as well as part of the larger group. They were formed in 1963 with some help from Harvey Fuqua, and signed with RCA, but it wasn't until 1971 that Leslie Wilson (and his brother Melvin Wilson, Ann Bogan and a few others) joined.

New Birth recorded five albums for RCA. Then, in 1975, they split with RCA, Harvey Fuqua and their management and signed with Buddah Records where they made two records.

At Buddah, Melvin created a new stage presence for New Birth's rebirth. Bill Witten made stage costumes for the group, which had come to Marvin in his dreams. The group also incorporated the use of rear screen projection and had films commissioned to run as part of their performance, which was also a first for R & B artists. (soulwalking.co.uk)

It was during these "Buddah years" that the band "all lived together in a mansion in the famed Hollywood Hills that they dubbed 'the band house'."

Also during this time, in 1976, they released Love Potion. The album had award-winning cover art, designed by Melvin Wilson and photographer Norman Seeff, which featured all 12 band members posing together naked.

In 1977 they released Behold The Mighty Army, which was the last album. In-fighting & bickering over money, creative differences (and likely who used who's toothbrush) brought the New Birth to the same old death.

New Birth's songs have apparently been covered (or sampled) by K-Ci & Jo Jo, Notorious BIG, Something for the People, and De La Soul, to name a few. So some of it may sound a bit familiar.

As for the sound of the LP, it's classic soul mixed with old school funk and it doesn't disappoint.

New Birth still exists -- with Melvin & Leslie Wilson. But that's not the New Birth that Bullock had in mind, now is it.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Craft-Scan Friday: Mod Record Holder

Sure to make your teen scream, this wild 45 holder is as chic-kitsch as it gets.

Bold velveteen animal print and rickrack? Two tacky things that go great together! All topped off with a dime store fashion doll -- like the cherry on this sweet sundae for your eyes. (We don't advise licking fashion dolls.) And the records inside? They are like the scoops of vanilla -- nearly ignored with all those dizzying toppings.

(This is so grand, I think I need to make kitchen canisters like this. Flour, sugar and tea never had it so good.)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Car Record Players, 1961

From the Consumer Reports archives:
The needle of the Norelco Auto Mignon stays in the groove of our 45s, even when we drive over rough roads. But since there's no record changer, we must insert each record we want to play, then remove it when the song is over.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

How the 1950s Saw Themselves

In 1958, RCA Camden released "Hits of the '50s", just 1/5 short of the actual decade's end. Not that they were missing much -- the hits for the rest of the decade echoed what's on this record: light popular music, with just a touch of rock-and-roll. This is a 'cover' album in the traditional sense, new versions of popular music performed by B-list musicians rather than the one who popularized the song. The Honeydreamers, Connie Haines, Dave Martin and the Strollers, they had names outside of this album, and are a step above a studio band. The songs are actually pretty good: Peter Ricardo's version of the Banana Boat Song takes from the Tarrier's version, and is a bouncy alternative to the rather somber Bellafonte version.

However, the cover is excellent:

That space helmet kicks ass -- remember, in 1958, sending a person into space was still a sci-fi fantasy. Once we started popping people out of our atmosphere, space helmets stopped looking like this one, opting for a more stark, aviation style.

The antenna on top is a classy Googie, Jetsons thing -- with radio and television dominating the world, everything in The Future would need an antenna, even your head (they were actually pretty close). Back in the fifties, though, putting airtight plastic over a kid's head was preparation for their spacefaring futures -- their flying cars were only a few years away. Until then, though, Dad dons his porkpie hat, mom wears her opera gloves, everyone hops into the Volkswagen to drive it to the farthest star. Make sure the canvas roof is closed, though. That cloth sunroof, incidentally, warranted a credit on the back of the cover: Volkswagen Sunroof supplied by Fifth Avenue Motors, New York City. The photographer's name, the models' names? Nowhere to be found.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Once upon a time, America was a cocktail party throwing nation."

Spotting these grand album covers at Fabulon I was reminded to direct you to several of my favorite posts at Collectors' Quest:

Drunk On Collecting: Swizzle Sticks & Strange Ads

Drunk On Collecting Continues...

And what's drinking without smoking? Up In Smoke: The Vanishing Culture of Tobacco.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mechanical Recorder, via Edison and Dixie Cups

This cool little do-it-yourself machine takes cues from Edison's original designs, and takes a twist using modern materials. The kit lets you record and play back on essentially an Edison 'cylinder' -- but the medium isn't wax or lacquer: it's a plastic cup.

As a dad, I'm always a fan of anything that teaches, plus has the awe-causing "wow -- how does it DO that?!?" reaction, so this may go a long ways for inspiring some understanding in your kids...the $65 pricetag, however, is a bit high for a novelty project. The mechanics aren't particularly complex, so a industrious Instructables user will probably have something simpler, that can be made with stuff around the house. (via)

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