Lazy Friday Vinyl (Part 2)

While Kelly and HRH  puts the final touches on this evening’s ribs & rice dinner, I’m chillaxin’ in my EZ-Boy and zoning out to the ‘Magical Mystery Tour‘  album by The Beatles.

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Three days before I did my Superman impression on the Port Colborne canal bridge (click HERE), I listened to my first Beatles album posted to this blog, the ‘Yellow Submarine‘  album, which only served to kill my Beatles momentum at the time dead in it’s tracks.  In all honesty, it killed just about every musical momentum I had going at that time.

This evening however, I’m going to further open that “Like WOW man!” door a tad more.  Kelly will definitely approve and maybe even HRH  will like it.

That’s if she can actually tear her eyeballs away from her cellphone and consequentially  stimulate normal cognitive functions by staving off the normal technological burning off of excess brain cells for 40 minutes or so.

Honestly, I have my doubts.

After the Beatles recorded ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, Paul McCartney wanted to create a film based upon the group and their music. The film was to be unscripted: various “ordinary” people were to travel on a coach and have unspecified “magical” adventures.  The resulting ‘Magical Mystery Tour’  film was made and included six new Beatles songs.  The film originally screened on BBC-TV over the 1967 Christmas holidays but was savaged by critics.

The psychedelic sound is very much in the vein of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s‘, and even spacier in parts (especially the sound collages of ‘I Am the Walrus‘).  Unlike ‘Sgt. Pepper’s‘, there’s no vague overall conceptual/thematic unity to the material, which has made this album suffer slightly in comparison.  Still, the music is mostly great, and ‘Penny Lane‘,  ‘Strawberry Fields Forever‘, ‘All You Need Is Love‘, and ‘Hello Goodbye‘ were all huge, glorious, and innovative singles.  The ballad ‘The Fool on the Hill‘, though only a part of the original soundtrack, is also one of the most popular Beatles tunes from the era.

Me, personally, I’m rather partial to ‘Baby, Your a Rich Man‘.

Whatever is playing, it all served as a fun lazy Friday vinyl listen for sure.  I just hope that the trend of my listening to Beatles albums three days before wiping out on my bike or doing something stupid doesn’t continue.

That shit I can do without.

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Lazy Friday Vinyl (Part 1)

I originally had grandiose ideas of cycling out to the gum, lift some weights and cycle home.  But then I woke up this morning and decided, ‘Meh.  Fuck it‘, and I’ve been sitting in front of the new Ken Burns Vietnam War  documentary on PBS ever since.

I’m beginning to stir now however and have decided that I should begin to replace a months worth of bootleg CD’s that I’d previously listened to in the car; let’s call it a “project”.  The immediate positive spin off is that I can use this as an opportunity to listen to another  80’s-themed ¢25 Goodwill Hunting find, the ‘Arc of a Diver‘  album by Steve Winwood.

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This is the second solo studio album (released in 1980) by singer/multi-instrumentalist former Spencer Davis / Traffic / Blind Faith boy wonder (Winwood), released in 1980.

Winwood plays all of the instruments on the album.

Think about that for a second:

ALL  the instruments.

That’s some impressive shit.

Featuring his first solo hit, ‘While You See a Chance‘ (which peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US), this was Winwood’s breakthrough album as a solo artist.  It peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart, successfully establishing him as a commercially viable act.

Yay.

Doing it alone however meant converting a studio space, then laying down all of the tracks, a process that took most of those three years. “Basically,” he told the Associated Press with a chuckle in 1981, “I thought it was going to be cheap, easy and quick – and it was expensive, hard and slow, as it turned out. I didn’t really expect that, quite.”  In fact, Winwood was smart to wait. His D.I.Y. approach meant relying more than ever on the emerging keyboard technology of the day, synchronizing Winwood’s album perfectly with the New Wave zeitgeist. It was like the previous era of struggle had never happened.

Well, for every one else, that is.

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Thursday Evening Vinyl (Part 2)

Because that mind-scrubbingly awful schmaltz that I peddled earlier was so incredibly bad I figured, hey, why not go with Round Two of yesterday’s Goodwill Hunting 80’s-themed Shit List freakout, this self-titled album by the Fine Young Cannibals.

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When Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger split from the rest of the English Beat to form General Public, Andy Cox and Dave Steele originally advertised on MTV for a new lead singer for the Beat.  When that didn’t pan out (although it did work for Wall of Voodoo), Cox and Steele hooked up with the unique and soulful singer Roland Gift and formed the Fine Young Cannibals.

Though the trio first hit the mass U.S. consciousness with 1989’s electronic dance-pop ‘The Raw and the Cooked‘, their 1985 debut was a soul-jazz pop charmer that’s more low key but every bit as entertaining.  Along the lines of early Everything But the Girl (the two groups share a producer, Robin Millar) with a heavier Motown influence, the songs on Fine Young Cannibals are uniformly strong.  The singles ‘Johnny Come Home‘ (a plea to a runaway that sounds like the Beat’s ska stripped down to its tense and obsessive essentials) and ‘Blue‘ (one of the more oblique and successful anti-Margaret Thatcher tracks of its era) are terrific, but album tracks like the casually devastating ‘Funny How Love Is’  and the manic ‘Like a Stranger‘  (which incongruously ends with a female chorus shrieking “You’ve been too long in an institution!”  repeatedly while Gift tries out his Otis Redding impression) are even better.

The album’s highlight, though, is a reworking of ‘Suspicious Minds‘ (with scarifying backing vocals by Jimmy Somerville) that, while it doesn’t replace Elvis’ version, certainly takes the song into an interesting new direction.  Although often overlooked, especially in the U.S., in the wake of their massively successful follow-up, ‘Fine Young Cannibals‘  was a satisfying debut.

It’s not exactly what I figured I’d be sitting around listening to in my mid-40’s but, meh, fuck it.

It was ¢25.

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Thursday Evening Vinyl (Part 1)

I experienced an extremely satisfying, proud step-dad moment the other day when HRH told me that had informed her music teacher at school who is, apparently, a fellow Genesis fan, that she “only likes Peter Gabriel Genesis and not Phil Collins Genesis”. 

It makes me all teary just to type.

(That’s my little Music Snob)

So it’s a bit odd then that this evening we are now listening to the ‘Hello, I Must Be Going!‘  album by Phil Collins.

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Throughout University and, well, ever since University really, I maintain that Phil Collins was a scourge released upon the Earth.

Prior to that, though, I was kinda  fan.

I admit, it’s a sad fact that when I first heard ‘You Can’t Hurry Love‘, I thought it was a song by a pudgy balding man from London, England and not The Supremes.

Don’t hate.  I was young, stupid, and didn’t have the benefit of 30 years of in-depth musical exploration that I have now.  Having said that, when I saw it the other day at the Goodwill store in St. Catharines for another whopping ¢25, I said:

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And it comes to be that we are listening to Phil Collins this evening.

Haters gonna hate.

Anyway, after the massive success of his 1981 album ‘Face Value‘, Collins didn’t take a much of a break.  Genesis released ‘Abacab‘  six months later, then headed out on a long tour. When they got back, Collins jumped right into recording his second solo album, 1982’s ‘Hello, I Must Be Going!

The album wasn’t a huge departure from the formula established on ‘Face Value‘, built as it was on introspective, gut-spilling ballads, horn-driven R&B jams, arty rockers, and dramatic breakup songs.  In fact, the first track, the vitriolic ‘I Don’t Care Anymore‘, sounds like a very close relative of ‘In the Air Tonight‘, only less mysterious and more in your face. Still effective though, and with the same magical drum sound Collins got on that earlier song. ‘Do You Know, Do You Care?’  is also a pretty niffy, creeper little number as well.

The R&B-based tracks are well served by the Earth, Wind & Fire Horns, and if nothing is quite on par with ‘I Missed Again‘, there’s not a huge drop-off in quality.  There are a few less ballads, with Collins only slowing down on the lovely ‘Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away‘  and the lush ‘Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning‘, which foreshadows his career as a singer for hire on many a movie soundtrack.

Along with the upgraded production values overall, there are a couple of surprises on this album, notably the uptempo pop tune ‘Like China‘ (which features some blistering guitar work from Daryl Stuermer) and, of course, the almost note-perfect take on the Supremes’ ‘You Can’t Hurry Love‘.

See?  I wasn’t wrong.

Of course, now that I’ve managed to scratch this itch – hopefully for good – this will be the last Phil Collins post for some time.

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Tuesday Night Vinyl

Now that the day’s tasks and dramas are out of way temporarily, I am settling down with an old friend (‘He Died With a Falafel In His Hand‘  by John Birmingham), a pint of Brimstone BrewingMalt Shoppe Milk Shake Ale‘ and the ‘Country Songs, Old and New‘  album by The Country Gentlemen.

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‘Country Songs, Old and New’ is the debut album by the progressive bluegrass band Country Gentlemen, recorded in 1960 on the Folkways Recordings label.  What it does rather well is demonstrate how the original Gentlemen helped define modern bluegrass as we enjoy it now.

Well, you rubes anyway.

It’s chalked full of all that old-timey bluegrass goodness like ‘Drifting too Far‘, ‘Roving Gambler‘, ‘The Long Black Veil‘, ‘Turkey Knob‘, ‘A Good Woman’s Love‘, ‘Tomorrow’s My Wedding Day‘, and, shit, let’s just say it has a lot of awesome emanating outward from the turntable.

Every snap, crackle and pop worth…

I’m digging deep into the collection this evening and taking the risk that Kelly isn’t going to go all bat shit crazy on the traditional mountain twing-twang.

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Core

I wrapped up my season with Run Well Events this past weekend by helping to host the “Final Lace Up” for the Island Girl Half Marathon on Toronto Island.  This means that I got the rare opportunity to camp out on the island the night before* and, yes, I won’t deny that also getting the chance to experience 400+ ladies all barreling down on you with smiles on their faces moments after the beginning of a race.  It’s a total Mick Jagger moment.  Of course, it all goes a bit sour when they also take a sudden complete 90-degree change in course like a herd of Lycra-clad deer gracefully taking evasive action together in order to avoid beasts of prey.

But I digress…

Today it’s back to the grindstone; easy grindstone that it is.  I am only accomplishing a small core workout this afternoon with another recent ¢25 addition to my Cornball collection, the ‘That Handsome Creature‘  album by Smokey Pleacher.

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This album was also the result of my having to kill 20 minutes between physio appointments this past Wednesday by Goodwill Hunting at the Value Village store on Lake Street, St. Catharines.

I had no fucking clue whatsoever who Smokey Pleacher was.

Sadly, it was not this guy (click HERE).

But, still..

Just.  Look.  At.  This.  Fucking.  Guy.

Seriously:

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Smokey is the guy second from the right; he looks like Ernie’s inbred half brother.

So tell me then that for twenty-five cents that you would not be interested to hear what this buck-toothed, back water bumpkin is all about.

Amiright?

Regardless, never mind the obvious implication that Smokey is a pretty good looking fella, how can your curiosity not be tempted with such conflicting song titles as ‘The Old Sow Song‘, and ‘Hawaiian War Chant‘.

Smokey must surely have his cosmic hillbilly shit together!

Whoever Smokey is, or whatever this  is exactly, it’s hard to describe.  It might be called ‘That Handsome Creature‘, but it could also be ‘Live, On Stage Performance with Doc Williams‘  as that also happened to be scrolled across the album cover to.

Charles “Smokey” Eugene Pleacher – “Country Music’s Greatest Comedian” – is apparently born in Manns Choice, Pennsylvania in 1918.  Likely abandoned in a back wood somewhere by his parents at an early age, after cohorting around with other colorful characters as Hawkshaw Hawkins, Stoney Cooper, Ramblin Lou, Hiram Hayseed, Lonzo & Oscar, and the Kinfolks, Smokey stumbles into Doc Williams in 1962, the host of the popular WWVA’s Jamboree (make sure you scroll through to see the other very notable guests who were performing there around the same time) in Wheeling, West Virgina.  Hardly the “Big Time”, sure, but West Virginian’s clearly love them some inbred Ernie’s and Smokey apparently makes a pretty good go of it with this particular album being one of the interesting results.

Released in God-only-knows when, the album is printed by the Wheeling Recording Company and distributed by Quality Records in Toronto so, apparently, Smokey even got himself some hillbilly Canadian fans along the way.

Sure your interest isn’t piqued yet?

Someone (the former owner maybe?) has even scribbled a very enthusiastic “YES!” across the front cover so now you just know  that this album then is going to be something special, and it certainly did not disappoint.

*Not that sleeping with two gassy teenage boys is anything special, mind you**.

**Okay, so maybe I  was the gassy one.

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Makin’ Dinner

Doing errands in the car with my mom weren’t necessarily “fun” as a child.  It wasn’t so much the monotonousness of being constantly told to “sit down, buckle up and “be quiet back there!”, or even the inevitable boredom of actual the destination itself once we arrived.

The actual worst part was having to listen to my mother’s  music.

My mother kept a tight stranglehold over the car’s FM radio and cassette player and that meant a constant stream of Herman’s Hermits and Barry Manilow.  Every now and again though if we were really, really, lucky, she might let us play something that didn’t immediately make us want to wretch.

For me, the only other album that she had stashed away in the bottomless console between the seats was this ‘The Big Chill‘  soundtrack.

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Wednesday’s are “Rehab Day”, meaning that I have to visit both my occupational therapist for my hand and then my chiropractic-physio-wizard at the Legacy Health & Performance for, well, other stuff.  Between these two appointments, I have about 40 minutes to kill so it has become custom to swing by the Value Village to browse the used records.

Usually, I find nothing but scratched up copies of Charlie Pride and Engelbert Humperdink but, yesterday, sitting there staring back at me was this awesome 1983 soundtrack to the popular Lawrence Kasdan film, and all the memories of those less-than-painful rides in my mother’s car came flooding back.

Needless to say, that for a mere ¢25, that shit was coming home with me.

I think it’s extremely safe to say that everything I knew about Motown and soul music at the time I more or less gleaned from this specific soundtrack, which is funny seeing as how it’s a film about whiter-than-white baby boomers.

No shit.

In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that ‘The Big Chill’ (film)  influenced the white-than-white TV series thirtysomething.

Regardless, it was Motown who scored big with this album, which contains ten ’60’s hits, from Marvin Gaye‘s ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘  to Procol Harum‘s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale‘, just the sort of music loved by the yuppie thirtysomething  characters in the movie and just begging to be rediscovered by the film’s audience.  Then you throw in the Rascals, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Aretha Franklin to boot, well…

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And here’s another random memory:  mother always hated the song ‘My Girl‘ (Temptations) because she always though that the line “I don’t need no money, fortune, or fame (ooh hey hey hey) / I’ve got all the riches baby one man can claim (oh yes I do)”  was actually “I don’t need no money, fortune, or fame (ooh hey hey hey) / I’ve got all the bitches baby one man can claim (oh yes I do)”.

Yeah.

Watching her sneer in disapproval and cringe like someone had just dumped a jarful of spiders down the back of her blouse was always the cherry on top for me on those car rides.

*sigh*

Good times.

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