Recovery Vinyl

After a relaxing morning spent in front of the boob tube watching Maciej Bodnar attempt to defy the odds against a stacked Peloton, it’s time to do another round of my “Dis Widdle Piggie” rehab exercises with my injured left hand and this afternoon (as well as for the rest of the day because, well, let’s just say that I’m playing “Dis Widdle Piggie” a lot these days), that’s all being done to the ‘Drummin’ Man‘  album by Gene Krupa.

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This was a cast off from Uncle Lance’s collection unto my own.

Score!

Sorry, Uncle Lance.

Released in 1963’s, is more or less a two-LP “Greatest Hits” box set featuring 32 of the best recordings by Krupa’s own big band. All of the drummer’s hits are here including ‘Drummin’ Man‘, ‘Drum Boogie‘, ‘Bolero at the Savoy‘, ‘Let Me Off Uptown‘, ‘Rockin’ Chair‘, ‘After You’ve Gone‘, ‘Leave Us Leap‘, ‘Body and Soul‘, ‘Opus #1‘ and ‘Disc Jockey Jump‘,

In addition to Krupa, the stars on these often-classic swing sides include trumpeter Roy Eldridge, singer Anita O’Day, altoist Charlie Kennedy, and tenorman Charlie Ventura among others.

And while it’ll be at least six weeks before I can even think about playing the drums (yeah, right!), it’s a good listen on this otherwise overcast rainy hump day through my exercises, as it is an awesome addition to my growing Jazz Boner collection.

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Sympathy Vinyl

While my quest to be a 2x Ironman has been thwarted, I have successfully become a 1x Titaniumman (“Titman”?) seeing as how I’m the the new proud owner of seven (yes, seven) titanium pins and screws.  So what am I doing about it?  Well, at the moment, now that my rehab exercises are complete for the evening which, basically, amounts to my playing “Dis Widdle Piggie” with all the digits of my left hand, I’m sulking in my EZ-Boy and listening to the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘  album by Elton John.

This was another generous donation to HRH‘S collection courtesy of Uncle Lance and Auntie Amy.

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It was the album designed to be a blockbuster and catapult Elton to the stars, and it was. Prior to this album, Elton had other hits – his self-titled second album went Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K., and he had smash singles in ‘Crocodile Rock‘ and ‘Daniel‘ – but this 1973 album (recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in France after problems recording at the intended location of Jamaica) was a statement of purpose spilling over two LP’s, which was all the better to showcase every element of John’s spangled personality.

Opening with the 11-minute melodramatic exercise ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding‘ – as prog as Elton ever got – ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘  immediately embraces excess but also tunefulness, as John immediately switches over to ‘Candle in the Wind‘ and ‘Bennie & the Jets‘, (not one of my favorite’s of John’s, but I digress), two songs that form the core of his canon and go a long way toward explaining the over-stuffed appeal of the album.

This was truly the debut of Elton John the entertainer, the pro who knows how to satisfy every segment of his audience, and this eagerness to please means the record is giddy but also overwhelming, a rush of too much muchness.  Still, taken a side at a time, or even a song a time, it is a thing of wonder, serving up such perfectly sculpted pop songs as ‘Grey Seal‘, full-bore rockers as ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting‘  and ‘Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll)‘, cinematic ballads like ‘I’ve Seen That Movie Too‘, throwbacks to the dusty conceptual sweep of ‘Tumbleweed Connection‘  in the form of ‘The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34)‘, and preposterous glam novelties, like ‘Jamaica Jerk-Off‘.  This touched on everything John did before, and suggested ways he’d move in the near-future, and that sprawl is always messy but usually delightful, a testament to Elton’s ’70s power as a star and a musician.

In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The album was ranked #91 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest albums of all Time,  and certified 8× platinum in February of 2014 by the RIAA.

This evening it’s satisfies nearly 90 minutes of reading (‘Getting Stoned With Savages‘ by J. Maarten Troost’), doing some laundry, and just generally feeling sorry for myself hy riding my Percocet high.

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Recuperating Vinyl (Part 2)

HRH and I have decided to keep on with the “Like WOW man!” theme we established with the previous album and are moving onto an album that is near and dear for both of us, this ‘Meddle‘  album by Pink Floyd.

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circa 2013

This album is special for HRH  as it was the first album that she dutifully hunted out nearly 4 years ago after falling in love with the track ‘Echoes‘  which makes up the entire second side.  When she did happen to find it at our second Record Fair, it also just happened to be the Israeli release of the album which was unfortunately a bit more than I really wanted to spend.

Of course, one look at those hopeful little puppy dog eyes and, well, what’s a dutiful step-dad to do?

For my part, this was a regular weekend psychedelic staple back in my ‘ol alma mater days when staying in my bedroom for 48 hours with a baggie of mushrooms was an ideal way to spend time.

‘Atom Heart Mother‘, for all its glories, was an acquired taste, and the Floyd wisely decided to trim back its orchestral excesses for this follow-up album.  Opening with a deliberately surging ‘One of These Days‘, ‘Meddle‘  spends most of its time with sonic textures and elongated compositions, most notably on its epic closer, ‘Echoes‘ which so blew HRH‘s mind one afternoon when it came on the car radio.

If there aren’t pop songs in the classic sense (even on the level of the group’s contributions to ‘Ummagumma‘), there is a uniform tone, ranging from the pastoral ‘A Pillow of Winds‘  to ‘Fearless‘, with its insistent refrain hinting at latter-day Floyd.  Pink Floyd were nothing if not masters of texture, and ‘Meddle‘  is one of their greatest excursions into little details, pointing the way to the measured brilliance of ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘  and the entire Roger Waters era.  Here, David Gilmour exerts a slightly larger influence, at least based on lead vocals, but it’s not all sweetness and light – even if its lilting rhythms are welcome, ‘San Tropez‘  feels out of place with the rest of the album but no less awesome.  Still, the album is one of the Floyd’s most consistent explorations of mood, especially from their time at Harvest, and it stands as the strongest record they released between Syd’s departure and ‘Dark Side…‘.

The fact that I’m currently tripping the light fandango a la Percocet definitely doesn’t hurt it any either.  Not exactly what I originally used to trip to with album in the past, of course, but it’ll do.

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Recuperating Vinyl (Part 1)

Yesterday I was to become a 2x Ironman, instead I spent those approximate 11 or so hours at the hospital becoming a 1x Titaniumman after having two titanium pins inserted into my left hand and pinky finger.  Today, I’m not venturing far away from the comforts of my EZ-Boy recliner, bottle of Percocets, and the Tour.

I’d also like to make a little progress on my “book project” providing I can focus enough to do so and while the pain meds course through my veins, that’s exactly what I’m attempting to do now.  So I may as well compliment my medicinal high with something similarly appropriate, like the ‘The Only Way to Go Is Straight Through‘  by Thurston Moore and Loren Connors.

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This was another cheap purchase a few weeks ago from the soon to be closing Record Theater in Buffalo, New York.

This album was a 2013 Record Store Day 12″ release by Sonic Youth front man Thurston Moore and experimental musician Loren Mazzacane Connors.  The “album” is split into two parts (for an A and B side), each consisting of a live (and apparently largely improvised) recording with the two avant garde guitarists creating a murky, noisy and occasionally melodic songscape that is sure to fascinate musicians (on some level) and scarcely entice casual listeners.  Just the kind of thong for riding out a Percocet buzz.

Side A, entitled ‘The Stone (2012/07/14)‘ was recorded (as the name might imply) at Manhattan’s East Village artist’s space known as “The Stone” during the second annual Spy Music Festival.  This first half could fit well as the soundtrack to a particularly psychedelic action film taking place backstage in someone’s nightmare…that is if the piece truly reached the pinnacle it seems to be striving for.  The 22-minute track feels like it’s building to a crescendo that never comes and the discordant chords never quite come together as more than ambient sound. The closest comparison I can make is Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes‘ (which, honestly, would be a possible listen later on), a similar-length recording that took up an entire side of its album ‘Meddle’.

Side B, entitled ‘Public Assembly (2012/10/17)‘ chronicles Connors and Moore’s second collaboration for this project when the duo reunited to headline record label Northern Spy’s showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon in October of 2012.  Recorded at the Brooklyn venue Public Assembly, the 23-minute second half of the record continues much the same vibe as the first, with grinding picks on strings, heavy distortion, feedback and unmelodic strumming. While the opening of the second side does play with a certain song structure that is even pleasing to the ear, this is quickly eschewed in favor of slow paced, trippy loops that are just begging for a colorful animated accompaniment.

A good listen to fuel a good buzz this afternoon while Kelly is out shopping for pet food.  It ain’t much, but it’s all there is at the time being so I’m rolling with it.

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Friday Chillin’ Vinyl (Part 3)

For the next phase of this afternoon’s “chillaxing” activities (ie. she watching her YouTube videos on mute and me keeping my arm elevated and typing on the “book project” one-handed), we’re diverting from the mellow reggae temporarily back to the Prog Rock with this latest edition to our Genesis collection (also procured from Our Favorite Record Shop yesterday), the self-titled album from 1983.

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Although HRH is devoutly in the Peter Gabriel camp when it comes to Genesis, I figured this would also being a good album for her to check out as, hey, despite being a Gabriel fan myself, this was the first album by the band I both heard and owned on cassette as a kid (not much older than HRH  herself I might add), and also turned me onto the band in the first place.

Yes, similar to Toto, there were many lawns mowed to this album back in the day.

Moments of this album are as spooky and arty as those on ‘Abacab‘ – in particular, there’s the tortured howl of ‘Mama‘, and the two-part ‘Second Home by the Sea’ – but this eponymous 1983 album is indeed a rebirth, as so many self-titled albums delivered in the thick of a band’s career often are.

Here the art rock functions as coloring to the pop songs, unlike on ‘Abacab‘  and ‘Duke‘, where the reverse is true.  Some of this may be covering their bets – to ensure that the longtime fans didn’t jump ship, they gave them a bit of art – some of it may be that the band just couldn’t leave prog totally behind, but the end result is the same: as of this record, Genesis was now primarily a pop band.

But don’t let that “Pop” moniker completely dissuade you, this was a good pop band, primarily thanks to the rapidly escalating confidence of Collins, but this album illustrates just how good they could be, by balancing such sleek, pulsating pop tunes as ‘That’s All‘ with a newfound touch for aching ballads, as on ‘Taking It All Too Hard‘.  They still rocked – ‘Just a Job to Do‘  has an almost nasty edge to its propulsion – and they could still get too silly as on ‘Illegal Alien‘, which HRH  recognizes from the radio, where Phil’s Speedy Gonzalez accident is an outright embarrassment (albeit a fun one).  It has a little bit of everything – pop, art, and silliness – and when taken individually, most of these moments are very strong, testaments to the increasing confidence and pop power of the trio at the time.

What are HRH‘s thought?  Well, she still prefers the earlier and “artier” Gabriel albums, then again, she hasn’t immediately run screaming into her room with her fingers indelibly stuck in her ears either – so that’s a bit of a victory.

For Kelly and I, it was just fun listen this afternoon to reminisce over.

Definitely worth $5.00 I paid for it.

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Friday Chillin’ Vinyl (Part 2)

Up next on our chillin’ turntable playlist is another album we picked up yesterday at Our Favorite Record Shop, ‘Rat In the Kitchen‘  by UB40.

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Before you start to lapse into seizures, this is not the album that has that uber-fucking annoying ‘Red Red Wine‘  on it, otherwise it never  would have made it home.

Believe me.

In the U.K., UB40 were major stars, and this album was their sixth Top Ten hit, featuring the singles ‘Sing Your Own Song‘, ‘All I Want to Do‘, and ‘Rat in Mi Kitchen‘.  In the U.S. though, the group remained a developing act with a modest following, but they were only able to score a hit by covering a previous hit like ‘I Got You, Babe‘ and, yes, that other song whose name we shall not mention.  This album didn’t really do anything to change any of that, although it was, as usual, a tuneful collection of reggae.

I figure it serves as another example of tasteful webejammin tunes for HRH  to expand and develop her interest and knowledge in reggae music.

Also, the album cover is Simply the Tits.

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Friday Chillin’ Vinyl (Part 1)

Today is the day we were supposed to be traveling to the big event (click HERE) this weekend, but instead HRH and I spent the morning relaxing in front of the Tour and now we’re listening to few albums we picked up on the cheap yesterday at Our Favorite Record Shop in Thorold, Ontario, beginning with this ‘Bush Doctor‘  album by Peter Tosh.

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The first thing HRH says when she sees the album:

“Hey, there’s no joint on the cover!”

And that’s true, this is likely the first reggae album we have purchased that didn’t have some massive joint displayed somewhere prominently on the album.

And the “Step-Father of the Year Award” goes too…

This is the debut album for Tosh on the Rolling Stone label in 1978, immediately benefited by the involvement of The Rolling Stones‘ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, as well as the publicity inherent in the high-profile nature of the release.

Thankfully, Tosh was up to the challenge, and although there are moments that are less roots than anything he had previously recorded, ‘Bush Doctor‘  is no slick sellout. It’s bolstered by his incredible Word Sound & Power band featuring the legendary Sly & Robbie rhythm section along with lead guitarists Mikey “Mao” Chung and Donald Kinsey (fresh from his stint with Marley).  Although the cover of the Temptations‘ ‘(You Gotta Walk) Don’t Look Back‘  single featuring Jagger’s duet with Tosh seemed like an obvious ploy at crossover radio play, the rest is more roots conscious, and only slightly less compelling than some of ex-bandmate Bob Marley’s work.

The horns on ‘Moses – The Prophet‘ ” seem like sweetening, but the title track, ‘I’m the Toughest‘, ‘Stand Firm‘, and a remake of an old Wailers’ track ‘Dem Ha Fe Get a Beatin‘, complete with I-Threes-style backing vocals, are some of Tosh’s best songs.  Only the original album’s closing track, an ambitious but overwrought retelling of Genesis (no, not that Genesis) with Handel’s ‘Messiah‘, is a major misstep.  Yet even here, Tosh is pushing boundaries, adding bird and thunder sound effects to his soft guitar strumming accompaniment.

And thus begins our big day of nothingness waiting for the phone to potentially ring informing us of this weekend’s surgery on my left hand (click HERE).

Things could definitely be worse I guess.

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