Record Store Day (Part 3)

And now because I’ve made Kelly suffer a bit through some pretty dicey New Wave shit, so too must I suffer with our next selection, one of Kelly’s choices for Record Store Day, ‘The Best of Blondie‘  by Blondie.

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Yeah, she’s pretty excited.

And while I won’t deny that Blondie made several first-rate albums, most of their best songs were released as singles, which makes ‘The Best of Blondie‘  more or less an essential collection…

Yes, even if you absolutely hate “Best of…” or “Greatest Hits” collections albums such as I do.

However, ‘The Best of Blondie‘  glosses over their punk roots – very little from the first album, apart from the vicious ‘Rip Her to Shreds‘ and the seductive ‘In the Flesh‘ – but the band’s pop hits are among the finest of their era and encapsulate all of the virtues of new wave.

Apart from genuine chart hits like ‘Heart of Glass‘, ‘One Way or Another‘, ‘Dreaming‘, ‘Call Me’,Atomic’, ‘The Tide Is High‘, and ‘Rapture‘, I will give Kelly full credit that this album picks up several of the group’s best album tracks, like ‘(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear‘ and ‘Hanging on the Telephone‘.

The Best of Blondie‘ isn’t all you need to know, but it is an excellent introduction to one of the best new wave bands.

On a personal note, I remember listening to this record in the basement laundry room at a friends house.  Why the family turntable was located in the laundry room I’ll never know, but there you go.

Shit, I can even remember the strong smell of Tide as the opening chords of ‘Heart of Glass‘  begins to play…

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Record Store Day (Part 2)

This was the second to last impulse purchase I added to my pile as I tried to check out and drag my ass out of Niagara Records this afternoon for Record Store Day, the ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret‘  album by Soft Cell.

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Oh.  Yes.  I.  Did.

In the U.S., Soft Cell, the British duo of singer Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball, was a classic one-hit wonder, that hit being the remake of Gloria Jones’ ‘Tainted Love‘, which dominated dance clubs and eventually peaked in the pop Top Ten with its synth-pop sound and Almond’s plaintive vocal in 1981-1982.

In the U.K., the group not only had a longer career, but also influenced a raft of similar performers. ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret‘, originally released in Britain in the fall of 1981, contained both the band’s first hit and its follow-up, ‘Bedsitter‘, its title referring to what in America would be called a studio apartment. (A third U.K. Top Five hit, ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye‘, emerged from the LP.)

At full album length, lyricist Almond’s primary preoccupation, only suggested in ‘Tainted Love’, was spelled out; this was a theme album about aberrant sexuality, a tour of a red-light district. The point was well made on ‘Sex Dwarf‘, with its oft-repeated chorus “Isn’t it nice/Sugar and spice/Luring disco dollies to a life of vice?” and other songs like ‘Seedy Films’, ‘Entertain Me‘, and ‘Secret Life‘ just expanded upon the subject. The insistent beats taken at steady dance tempos and the chilling electronic sounds conjured by Ball emphasized Almond’s fascination with deviance; it almost seemed as though the album had been designed to be played in topless bars.

British listeners saw through Almond’s pretense or were amused by him, or both; more puritanical Americans tended to disapprove, which probably limited the group’s long-term success stateside. But the music was undeniably influential.

I thought that, at the very least Kelly would get a kick out of ‘Tainted Love‘…and she did.

Mission accomplished.

The rest of the album, well, not so much.

So this is really bad, eh?

Oops.

It doesn’t help that she also thinks that David Ball on the cover looks like infamous Canadian sex offender Paul Bernardo.

Oh well.

You can’t win them all.

 

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Record Store Day (Part 1)

Instead of buying extortionately priced re-releases of frankly, some pretty boring, over-blown albums, and instead we all headed to Niagara Records to browse the used records instead.  This was the last my Record Store Day purchases, the ‘Crossroads‘  soundtrack.

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Get this:

Ralph Macchio is Lightning Boy. A kid who can make a slide guitar sing. Blind Dog is an old pro who knows it. Together, they’re headed to a place where deals are made. And legends are born.

Fuck yeah.

Let’s do this.

Anyway, this album served as somewhat of a doorway for me at the time into the blues.  I mean, I didn’t get get the blues until much, much later, but what I did know about it when I started to garner a serious interest I learned from this schmaltzy 1986 movie staring the Karate-fucking-Kid.

How could I resist now all these years?

The (truthfully – very mediocre) film was written by John Fusco and directed by Walter Hill and featured an original score featuring Ry Cooder, Arlen Roth and Steve Vai on the soundtrack’s guitar, and harmonica by Sonny Terry.  As it happens, Vai also appears in the film as the devil’s guitar player in the climactic guitar duel.

So, yeah, the soundtrack definitely kick-fucking-ass.

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Core

IT’S RECORD STORE DAY!!

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Before that however, is what almost certainly promised to be a long and lonely bike ride out to Doan’s Ridge.  Before that though, I’m here kicking off Record Store Day in style on my mat with something straight from my Cornball collection to accompany this morning’s Day 90 of the “Core Project”, this ‘The Mellow Guitar Moods of Los Indios Tabajaras‘ featuring the Los Indios Tabajaras (The Indians).

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So, yeah, two (the Indians) performing dueling jazz and Latin pop guitar licks from 1964.

Do I know how to kick off Record Store Day in  style or fucking what?

I wonder though why the album doesn’t mention the names of either of these performers, instead only referring to them repetitively as the “Los Indios Tabajaras Indians (the Indians)”.

Is the writer they trying to confer to us in a hushed tone who these Los Indios Tabajaras characters really are with a subtle nod and wink?

I don’t get it, (the Indians)?

Why the brackets?

Do they have actual names?

Were we supposed to not know they were Indians?

(Not that their head dresses on the front cover gave anything away)

Where did they come from?

And, most importantly, how did they ever come to be sitting in a recording studios playing Latin pop, easy jazz, and a fantastic Hawaiian-sounding cover of Bessie Smith’s ‘St. Louis Blues‘) in New York City of all places?

Are they both driving around in Bentley’s now, or did the record execs simply throw them back into the wild with a container of fries and a string of glass beads once the sessions were over?

My brain is literally EXPLODING as I ponder all these questions while I hold my planks so, yeah, as I said before, it’s a terrific way to start to what hopefully will turn out to be a successful, fun-filled family day of old, dusty records…

…providing I can thaw myself out first, mind you.

It is also worth mentioning that I bought this record for ¢0.75 while Goodwill Hunting at the Value Village in St. Catharines, and that the second track on Side Two (‘Adios Mariquita Linda’) almost sounds like the theme to ‘The Brady Bunch‘ in certain places which, when you think about it, given the release date of this particular album and that of the release of the popular television sitcom in 1969, well, it’s not altogether impossible.  Let’s at least just hope that those Indians were at least given some gravy for their fries before they were driven out of town and unceremoniously dumped off by the side of the road somewhere in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Just sayin’…

So, yeah, another reason to love this particular record as a start on this, most Holy of all Holy days.

Let the games begin…

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And, just because I can, this record is now also Day 17 (‘An album for which you had zero initial interest in…‘) in Part 2 of my “31 Day Record Challenge” because, it’s true, I didn’t exactly have high hopes for it when I plopped down my three quarters in change on the counter but, ya know, those mellow Indian guitar moods sure won me over!

Me dig very muchly.

Who knew?

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Fartek Run (8k)

The only real workout on today’s agenda is an attempt at my first true fartlek run in weeks because, well, I really need to start salvaging some quality running in the coming weeks/months.

Thankfully, it finally seems like Mother Nature is beginning to get over her late season bitchiness…

*knocks on wood*

Anyway, today’s 8k out and back along Thunder Bay Rd. is set to the ‘One Foot In the Grave‘  album by Beck.

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Recorded prior to ‘Mellow Gold‘ (one of my absolute favorites) but released several months after that album turned Beck into an overnight sensation, ‘One Foot in the Grave‘  bolsters his neo-folkie credibility the way the nearly simultaneously released ‘Stereopathetic Soul Manure‘  (to be reviewed here at some point) accentuated his underground noise prankster credentials.

One Foot‘  is neatly perched between authentic folk-blues – it opens with ‘He’s a Mighty Good Leader‘, a traditional number sometimes credited to Skip James, and he rewrites Rev. Gary Davis‘ ‘You Gotta Move’ as ‘Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods‘ – and the shambolic, indie anti-folk coming out of the Northwest in the early ’90s, a connection underscored by the record’s initial release on Calvin Johnson’s Olympia, WA-based K Records, and its production by Johnson, who also sings on a couple of cuts.

Parts of the album may be reminiscent of other K acts, particularly the ragged parts, but it’s also distinctively Beck in how it blurs lines between the past and present, the traditional and the modern, the sincere and the sarcastic. Certainly, of his three 1994 albums, this one errs in favor of the sincere, partially due to those folk-blues covers, but also in its overall hushed feel, its muted acoustic guitars and murmured vocals suggesting an intimacy that the words don’t always convey.

Much of the album is about mood as much as song, a situation not uncommon to Beck, which is hardly a problem because the ramshackle sound is charming and the songwriting is often excellent, channeling Beck’s skewed sensibilities into a traditional setting, particularly on the excellent ‘Asshole‘, which is hardly as smirking as its title. It’s that delicate, almost accidental, balance of exposed nerves and cutting with that sets ‘One Foot in the Grave‘ apart from his other albums; he’d revisit this sound and sensibility, but never again was he so beguilingly ragged.

Today’s run, as per usual, was just to persevere as best I could, avoid injury, and simply get ‘er done…and I did.  The first 2 x 2 minute pushes even felt good but then, yeah, I turned around to come back and suffered the next 4 intervals back into a strong headwind blowing eastward up Thunder Bay Rd..

Good times.

Also, I have no idea what it is lately but holy shit am I ever “regular”.  After three epic shits already this morning, I felt the urge around the 40 minute mark for #4*, hence the add-on of a sixth 2 minute interval to get myself  home even quicker because, well, yeah…I’ve been there before and, hey, no thanks!

(click HERE).

Never again.

*It was spectacular.
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Core

Full disclosure:  I’ve been a lazy shit this week.

Not so much in that I’ve missed any of my regular weekly swim/bike/run workouts, but in that I’ve been taking them a bit easier than I would normally be accustomed to around this time.

But that’s okay.

One thing in particular that has really suffered though has been my daily morning mat workout.

What can I say?

This has just been one of those weeks where there were other responsibilities to take care of first (like, say, a “Bug Convention”*) and I recognize that I’m feeling a bit tired, so I opted then once or twice in favor of the extra 45 minute sleep in the morning.

Sue me.

Anyway, I’m up successfully now to get that shit kick-started once again by completing Day 89 of the “Core Project” with my usual partner, Toby the “Morning Crack Cat” and this ‘Bird at the Roost: The Savoy Sessions‘  album by Charlie Parker.

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Released in 1977, this “Cool Jazz” album was among the most rewarding live recordings of Parker’s career; a regular series of broadcasts that emanated from the Royal Roost during the period between 1948 and 1949.

Muse, in its Savoy series, released all of this valuable music on two double LP’s and a single album. This first volume has six of these radio air-checks (with Symphony Sid Torin announcing), and finds Parker and his quintet (either Miles Davis or Kenny Dorham on trumpets, Tadd Dameron or Al Haig on piano, Curley Russell or Tommy Potter on bass, and Max Roach or Joe Harris on drums) getting the opportunity to stretch out on four- to five-minute versions of such songs as ‘Groovin’ High‘, ‘Big Foot‘, ‘Ornithology‘, ‘Slow Boat to China‘, and ‘East of the Sun‘, among others.

A special highlight occurs when Bird answers a request on the December 25th broadcast and does a brilliant reworking of ‘White Christmas‘ and considering that there is still snow on the ground presently – IN APRIL! – it’s not altogether awkward, or out of place this morning.

Highly recommended listening for a late and relaxed morning routine such as it is today, with one too many coffees** in me and one very needy kitten.

*Imagine spending 8 hours in a second rate hotel conference room with 70 other people to browse and learn about all the latest bug zappers, trappers, repellents, poisons and other fancy ass state-of-the-art bug and rodent fucker-upper’s.  If yesterday turned out to be the day when the insect overlords rise up to take control of the planet and enslave mankind, I would have found myself in no better place.  Note to self:  I do, however, need more keys to dangle from my belt.
**Because it’s not a morning mat routine until there has been a near accidental mat shitting.
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Sunday Vinyl (Part 3)

This past Friday, Kelly and I enjoyed a nice Date Night out at The Sanctuary to see some live Canadiana music and this was one of the two record takeaways from that evening, ‘Panther In the Doll House‘ by Whitehorse.

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Up until the owners of the place recommended this band, I had never heard of them before.  Whitehorse is a Canadian band consisting of husband-and-wife musicians and songwriters Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland and they’re awesome.

I likely should be starting with the album previous to this one but, meh, I’m a bit of a renegade like that.

That, and I also like the pink pussycat on the front cover so there!

Oh, and it’s on PINK vinyl!

This album, apparently, is a bold departure from their folksier repertoire. ‘Pink Kimono‘ boasts a punchy garage rock rhythm, ‘Trophy Wife‘ is a sweltering, blues-leaning number and ‘I Can’t Take You With Me‘ opens with a beat and a sweetly melancholic riff, along with a sing-spoken vocal turn from Doucet, that would fit snugly on any Top 40 pop playlist.

Fans of Whitehorse’s more minimalistic, Americana origins need not despair, though. While McClelland and Doucet delve into other genres on ‘Panther’, there are still plenty of familiar elements for their dedicated following, be it the desert-hot Southern gothic vibes of tail-end track ‘Nighthawks’ (which is reminiscent of the Handsome Family‘s ‘Far From Any Road‘ that you’ve heard so many times while watching the opening credits of ‘True Detective’, except it’s even more spookily glorious) or the socially conscious, downcast ‘Kicking Down Your Door‘.  The latter is arguably the most moving deep cut of 2017; it’s the type of song that inevitably helped to keep this album in the conversation when the “Best of 2017” lists were drafted up.

Most definitely a fun listen while I pour myself a pint of Brimstone Brewing‘s ‘Passion of the Lychee‘ as the cold, shitty wind howls outside and the icy rain continues to pour down (I think Mother Nature is, in fact, the one having the meltdown today) and I attempt to procure something for tomorrow’s lunch.

At the very least, it’s helping to avoid social media today given that the high probably of posted pictures of random stupid shit covered in ice will likely be enough to drive me to strip naked and plunge myself into the nearest snowbank in order to await my inevitably, icy fate.

Also to note, this album also initiates Part 2 of my “31 Day Record Challenge” (not that I’m completely finished Part 1), being Day 7, ‘An album with a kitty cat on it…

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