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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bob Marley & The Wailers: Early Music

Here's a nifty little compilation of some of Bob Marley & The Wailer's earliest recordings (with Peter Tosh.) Released in 1977 as Bob Marley was making his mark on American FM rock stations and people everywhere were discovering this strange new music called "reggae". Whereas back then, punk was loud, fast and snotty, reggae was the mellow, laid back stuff your stoner next door neighbour played loudly on his stereo every Sunday morning.

While on the surface, this might look like your typical major label budget compilation (Calla was the hard funk/Caribbean music imprint of CBS Records) to cash in on a big trend by reissuing a current superstar's early material, this album is surprisingly well mastered with some instantly catchy tunes ("Wings Of A Dove", "I'm Still Waiting") and excellent liner notes on the back cover.

On this one, you hear more of a '60s soul influence (these sessions were recorded in the late '60s, before Marley's more rock-influenced Island albums in the '70s that made him a superstar) and Bob Marley could have easily scored a few '60s US hits if CBS were actively looking in Jamaica for exciting new music. Which they weren't (NOBODY outside of Island and a few specialty labels were doing that.) These recordings are reissued material Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded for New World Disc Records. It's a necessary companion to Bob Marley's greatest hits album Legend.
And the perfect soundtrack for a Sunday morning.....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Rock Me Tonite" Billy Squier (1984)

Well, let me put it this way. Billy Squier was cool. SUPER COOL. At one time, he REALLY was the most popular solo rock artist in the early '80s in America, At one time eclipsing Bryan Adams, George Thorogood and Pat Benatar COMBINED. And if you don't believe it,  I'll remind you:

 But in 1984, something went wrong......Horribly wrong

He was at the peak of his career when he released Signs Of Life, and from all indicators, it was going to be ANOTHER blockbuster album. And it was. This baby shipped platinum straight from Capitol Records on pre-orders ALONE. And a catchy new song hit the airwaves, "Rock Me Tonite" and all was going according to plan.

And then MTV aired the World Premiere Video of "Rock Me Tonite".......

....and you could hear the sound of a million jaws collectively hitting the floor.

For one thing, EVERYTHING was wrong with the video. Famous heterosexual rock guitarists just weren't supposed to prance around in ripped tank tops and pajama bottoms. Or dry hump the floor. Or wear ANYTHING pink. Or stumble around with the band like a drunken drag queen (with a PINK guitar.) It was a TOTAL image clash from the Billy Squier of just a year ago then. Fans scratched their heads and said "What the fu.....?"

And it was proof positive a HUGELY successful music career can be destroyed almost overnight by just ONE bad music video.

And Billy Squier, who once HEADLINED stadiums was suddenly reduced to playing much smaller music venues. (His loyalest fans were still plentiful, but the mainstream fans had all but instantly deserted him.) Over ONE video......

The next few years were rough as he tried to live down the "Rock Me Tonite" video. He released an album in 1986 Enough Is Enough which was a far more serious effort in an attempt to recover from the video debacle and return to form. But rock radio and MTV had mostly ignored it. They were too focused on the hair metal bands who, ironically, pranced around in ripped tank tops and pajama bottoms. Dry humped the floors. Wore ANYTHING pink. And stumbled around like a drunken drag queens.

Some even had PINK guitars.

His comeback finally came in 1989 with the release of Hear And Now, which scored him his first #1 rock hit since "Rock Me Tonite" called "Don't Say You Love Me"and things looked good again....

But Seattle grunge came and soon wiped everyone off the map.

He left Capitol in the early '90s and the music business for the most part, doing nature conservancy work but he still makes occasional appearances at Classic Rock shows....... 

Tears For Ullman

What happens when you play a Tracey Ullman 45 at the wrong speed (33 1/3 RPM)?


Play this video.......

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Gangnam Style" Psy (2012)

At History's Dumpster, it doesn't have to be old to get tossed in. Pop fads are being created all the time.  There's no reason to make it purely nostalgia. If it were, it would get boring for me as the blogger here. Quickly.

Today, we look at the craze known as "Gangnam Style", an internet meme gone berserk lately. What is it?

If you've been living under a rock (and with things as crazy as they are in the world, I can't really blame you.) "Gangnam Style" is a video and funny dance by pudgy Korean rap star Psy and currently the fastest rising song on today's Top 40 charts:


Flash mobs doing the Gangnam Style dance pop up everywhere regularly and the dance had been a regular feature of morning talk shows. People everywhere seem to love it, as videos of them dancing to it keep popping up everywhere on YouTube.

You could call it The Macarena of 2012.

And in a way, "Gangnam Style" has finally opened up the door for one of the richest known sources of sometimes excellent undiscovered pop music, known as K-Pop (Korean Pop). But I also worry if K-Pop will be pigeonholed by "Gangnam Style" There's far more to it than just this song. MUCH more. But knowing how the record and radio industry work, they always look for copycats of The New Big Thing and never really dig deeper for the hidden gems, which K-Pop has no shortage of

On the other hand, it could usher in a K-Pop music revolution, Having been a fan for years, it's about time.

Here's one of my favourites from Loveholic, a 2004 K-Pop classic, titled - what else? "Loveholic". It's a pop song sung entirely in Korean, but I like the melody. And the lead singer's hair in lights.....Nice touch.

And while for some people, the bowlegged side to side stepping with arms folded looks stupid. But so does every other dance really. And you have to admit, the song is fun relief in a sea of Justin Bieber, OneRepublic and Carly Rae Jepsen tunes that flood the Top 40 airwaves today.

For now.

There will come a time when we'll all get sick of it (some folks already are.) But for now, enjoy it while it's here.

Just don't make any YouTube videos. Please. You don't look as cool as Psy. Please......

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "All Is Forgiven" (Red) Siren (1989)

For today's BONUS lost classic, we feature a band that no one knew what to make of when they came out. Were they metal? Were they pop? The music was metal looks and guitars, but Madonna-like vocals, lyrics and hooks. Mercury Records thought they had a blockbuster.

The band is Siren. And I still remember the early promo hype Mercury Records made over this 1989 album. First, it was supposedly the very first major label studio album that wasn't mastered on tape, but totally to digital hard drive - something that would be eventually be standard in the recording industry.

As for Siren, things didn't go so good. First, they were forced to legally change their name to Red Siren (reportedly after another band named Siren threatened to sue.) The first pressings of their All Is Forgiven LP/CD (under the name Siren) quickly became collector's items.

After a second single "One Good Lover" stalled in the lower reaches of the rock charts, they disbanded. Red Siren's bassist Jon Brandt went on to play in Cheap Trick briefly, but not much is known of the other members of the band.

That's how it goes in rock n' roll sometimes. So enjoy this little chestnut.....

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Hanging On A Heart Attack" Device (1986)

AWESOME lost one hit wonder....and some of the biggest '80s hair of any non-glam metal band you'll ever see!!

Device was a band formed by Holly Knight. She was the writer of some of the biggest hit songs of the '80s, including "Love Is A Battlefield" (Pat Benatar), "Better Be Good To Me" (Tina Turner) and "Obsession" (Animotion). Plus many others too numerous to count.....

This was Device's only hit.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "More Than Just The Two Of Us" Sneaker (1981)

For this morning's Lost '80s Pop Classic Week Moments of Mush selection, I really cranked up the AC (as in "Adult Contemporary".)

If you REALLY want to get a woman in her '40s excited and asking "WHO SINGS THAT?" and "MY GOD, I HAVEN'T HEARD THIS SONG IN AGES!", whip this one out.

Sneaker was a one-hit wonder band of West Coast session musicians from the '70s and early '80s (the "If Toto Can Do It, We Can Too!" school.) They played on recording sessions for Steely Dan (and The Dan thanked them by writing them a tune, "Don't Let Me In" on their self titled debut album, where this tune comes from as well.)

Their name was inspired from a Steely Dan song, "Bad Sneakers".

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


RIP Andy Williams (1927-2012)

Legendary pop singer Andy Williams has passed away today after a long battle with cancer

His hits included "Moon River", "Can't Get Used To Losing You" and the holiday classic "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year".

One of the CRAZIEST records I own is "Get Together with Andy Williams". Where Andy Williams takes on '60s rock music. Here's his rendition of "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" with help from his proteges, The Osmonds


Farewell Andy....You will be missed......

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Don't Shut Me Out" Kevin Paige (1989)

Here's a two-hit wonder from 1989, Kevin Paige was poised to become "the next George Michael" (along with COUNTLESS other male pop acts that year, including Donny Osmond, - of all people - because he also had a similar George Michael-y sounding pop comeback hit himself that year.)

Who knew being "the next George Michael" would be a compliment that has it's boot on entirely another foot today?

After "Don't Shut Me Out" (and it's follow-up "Anything I Want", also Top 20) Kevin Paige completely vanished from the pop scene as quickly as he came. He became a house songwriter for Zomba Records before taking that always lucrative detour of faded pop stars - Contemporary Christian music.

Here's Kevin Paige's BIZARRE conservative Christian reworking of John Lennon's "Imagine"


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Twist In My Sobriety" Tanita Tikaram (1988)

Tanita Tikaram was all of 19 years old when she recorded this song. But she had the voice and words of someone far beyond her age. This was from her apropos titled album Ancient Heart.

But being 19 and singing material this far advanced probably created a bit of an uncomfortable match. Her follow up albums reflected a more pop direction, which didn't sit well with American fans expecting another "Twist In My Sobriety".

She still performs and records and has a new album out, Can't Go Back. This is her new single "Dust On My Shoes".....

The Firedrake

.......and meanwhile, somewhere in rural China.......

Someone turns on a shortwave radio and looks for the BBC, Radio Free Asia or the Voice of America. But instead hears this

Meet the Firedrake.

The Firedrake is a long and complex (you could call it intentionally annoying and you wouldn't be too far off the mark) piece of music used by the Chinese government to jam foreign radio broadcasts critical of Beijing.

What makes Firedrake so effective is how thoroughly the cacophony of noise in the piece covers up the foreign broadcasts. It renders everything unintelligible. Even if the foreign broadcaster were to turn up their transmitter wattage to override the Firedrake jamming, it's still no match for the Firedrake's wall of noise.

Not that turning up their transmitter power would have worked anyway. The Firedrake jamming signals are so powerful, they can not only be heard in every nook and cranny in China, but heard CLEARLY around the world, using transmitter powers of several million watts each.

You might be wondering why the Chinese would even deal with shortwave radio in the internet age. But again, there's really TWO Chinas. And two Great Firewalls. There's the big modern, upscale and urban China in massive cities like Shanghai and Beijing. They have the internet and cell phones. And the Great Digital Firewall. But the vast majority of people live in the still very rural areas and are considered "peasant class". They have old radios. And Firedrake. They also are fairly uneducated and provide the vast majority of the farming labour. If you were running a totalitarian government, you don't want to have them hear anything that would make them QUESTION the life you have prescribed for them now would you?  

And that's the purpose of Firedrake. It keeps the airwaves status quo. And the Chinese people (and everyone else around the world) safe from any bad thoughts about Beijing....... 

Monday, September 24, 2012

"I'm A Gummi Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)" Gummibär (2007)

I'm speechless.......

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Everybody Dance" Ta Mara & The Seen (1985)

I remember first hearing this song on "C-89" KNHC 89.5 FM Seattle back in 1985 and I could have sworn the lyrics went:

Everybody`s dancing

In the nude across the nation

I'll bet you didn`t know

Which left my teenage male mind in 1985 wondering "Where?!...WHERE??!! FILL ME IN!! WHAT DOES THIS CHICK KNOW THAT THE REST OF US DON'T??"

What a drag when I finally pull up the lyrics online almost 20 years later to find the actual lyrics were:

Everybody`s dancing

With a new determination

I bet you didn`t know

Ta Mara & The Seen came out at a lucky time in rock 'n roll history. When Minneapolis was the Seattle of it's day (just like Seattle in the early '90s, ANYTHING that was big in Minneapolis, preferably connected to Prince in some way, got signed to a record deal in 1984/85. Ta Mara & The Seen were produced by Jesse Johnson of The Time, who also was Prince's band in the movie Purple Rain.)

Nothing was heard from Ta Mara & The Seen again.....But they left behind an instant '80s party classic....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The 16 RPM Dance Party Album

Some of you old enough to remember vinyl's heyday are also old enough to remember that 16 RPM speed on that 4 speed automatic record changer in your mom's console stereo and ask "What's that for?"

Well, first 16 RPM was originally invented for special automobile record changers and AM radio fidelity monaural 7" discs that gave an album's worth of music on each side. A slow speed for where there's lots of vibration, but has the benefit of not skipping the tone arm around as badly. Plus you didn't have to change the music so often. Early talking books for the blind were 16 RPM (later cut down to 8 RPM)

.....and even Jimmy Swaggart recorded his sermon albums at 16 RPM.

It was the "misc." speed.

There were also some jazz albums released by Prestige Records at 16 RPM in the 1950s
But that didn't keep Pye Record's South Africa division from daring to be different. I have seen this album before and at 16 RPM, it gave you an entire album's worth of listening on each side (imagine two whole K-Tel albums on one record. There were 40 songs on the record and each side played nearly an hour.)  And anyone who dances like an AT-AT won't be making the needle skip all over the place.

Only problem was 16 RPM for the most part doesn't sound very good (This record however is the best sounding 16 RPM I've EVER heard.) And if was an adopted speed, record companies would have to put out more music than what came in, which was the bottom line. By the '70s, 16 RPM fell out of favour on new turntables as 78 RPM did by 1980.

And that's why there was 16 RPM......

Lost '80s Pop Classic Week: "Robert De Niro's Waiting" Bananarama (1983)

Robert De Niro is one of the COOLEST actors of all time. He's got it all, money, looks, the best of everything. But I never actually WISHED I was him until I saw this video with those Bananarama BABES singing about HIM.

Lucky dog!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Lost '80s Classic Rock Smorgasbord......

"Red Blue Jeans" John Kilzer (1988)

"If Love Should Go" Streets (1983)

"Tell Me What You Want" Zebra (1983)

"Welcome To The Boomtown" David & David (1986)

"Paradise Skies" Max Webster (1979)

"Black Star" Yngwie Malmsteen (1984)

"Take Me Away" Blue Oyster Cult (1983) I actually thought the lyrics of this song's chorus said "I turn my hopes up to the sky/I'd like to know before I die/Memories will slowly fade/I lift my eyes and say 'CALGON take me away'".......

"Don't It Make You Feel" Headpins (1983)

"Call To The Heart" Giuffria (1984)

"Talk To Me" Fiona (1985)

The Hi-Lo's In Stereo

If you don't know who The Hi-Lo's were, you really....OK, I don't know who they were either. And since they recorded for Omega Disk Records, they are guaranteed to forever remain in obscurity. Omega Disk was a budget record label in the late '50s, back when anything with the word "Stereophonic" sold records, no matter how unknown or talented (or lack thereof) the performers were

Not sure what is going on here, we have four guys, three appear to be talking about something that's way out of the league of the little guy on their left. Not that he cares. He's just happily gaping his mouth wide open and that's maybe why the other three decided to keep what they were talking about to themselves. Smart move.

On the other hand, perhaps these three guys are just standing around, slacking off while the other guy was doing the actual singing on the record........

Body On Tap Shampoo

Remember this commercial (starring a very young Kim Basinger)? "Brewed with 1/3rd real beer..(WOW!)..But don't drink it......"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Amitabha Buddhist Chant Player

My Amitabha Buddhist Chant Player
I have a strange gizmo

I can't remember how I found it, but it looked like a little radio, but with no tuning dial. You turned it on and it played a simple Buddhist chant over and over and over again, using a microchip in the unit. That was all it did. On it's side, it had a receptor for an AC adapter and an external speaker (I plugged this into my stereo using a patch cord, but the output was monaural and sound only came from the left speaker of my stereo.) It ran on 4 "AA" batteries. It's model number was #K-747....

Nobody I showed this to knew what it was either. The writing on the unit was definitely Chinese. But although I can tell the differences between Asian characters, I'm not very good at reading them individually. But one character did say "Buddha". So that was my only real clue.

Well, I had a breakthrough a few years ago whilst searching Google. It looks like this was a chant player for Amitabha Buddhists. The chant itself repeated "Ahhhh-Mit-Abha....Ahhhh-Mit-Abha....Ahhhh-Mit-Abha.....Ahhhh-Mit-Abha" over and over.

Here's what it sounds like (though the chant my player sounds a little different....)


More on Amitabha Buddhism and electronic players..... 


This little thing was a mystery to me for the longest time. But the back story is just as fascinating as the player itself.......


"Do you remember the 21st night of September......."

And it's Friday night too......Make it special.....


1976 Mazola Margarine Commercial

"You call it corn, we call it Maize....."

Who can forget this commercial?.........

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rap Snacks


"Fast Food" Stevens & Grdnic (1981)

Remember this classic?

YuMex: Yugoslavian Mexican Music of The '50s

"In 1948, the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito (May 7, 1892 - May 4, 1980) broke up with the Soviet leader Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (Dec. 21, 1879 - March 5, 1953). Yugoslavia was suddenly between the two blocks (in the making). Tito's regime imprisoned many Soviet sympathizers (real or just suspected). Russian films were not so popular anymore.

Yugoslav authorities had to look somewhere else for film entertainment. 

They found a suitable country in Mexico: it was far away, the chances of Mexican tanks appearing on Yugoslav borders were slight and, best of all, in Mexican films they always talked about revolution in the highest terms. How could an average moviegoer know that it was not the Yugoslav revolution?

Emilio Fernández's Un Día de vida (1950) became so immensely popular that the old people in the former republics of Yugoslavia even today regard it as surely one of the most well known films in the world ever made although in truth it is probably unknown in every other country, even Mexican web pages don't mention it much.

The Mexican influence spread to all of the popular culture: fake Mexican bands were forming and their records still can be found at the flea markets nowadays."



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vinyl Mystery: Wrongly Mastered Singles And Albums

Ahhh......the long and odd sounding history of the wrongly mastered record....

Nothing new really. Countless early recordings since the days of the very first hand wound cylinder recordings have had various pitch and speed anomalies until the earliest standard was set when electrical recordings were introduced in 1925, mandating 78.26 RPM as the universal speed for recordings on disc records in North America from 1925 until the end of the 78 RPM record (slighty less, 77.94 RPM for European recordings.).

And all was well...for the most part. There are some who beg to differ. Many Glenn Miller fans had issues with some of his recordings, namely this classic:

But considering there was only so much recording time on one side of a 78 RPM record, if it sounded a tad rushed, it probably was. Just like many other 78 RPM direct to disc mastered recordings. But everything seems to be on the right key here.

However, when tape began to be used as a standard of mastering albums, an old problem reared it's ugly head. Some of the earliest tape mastered albums of the '40s had something called "wow and flutter", very noticeable on analog piano recordings when the player plays a sustained note. (Play a sustained C major note on a piano and record it on an average analog tape deck, then play back the tape and you'll hear the difference.) Technology improved to reduce that artifact dramatically over the years. But analog tape still had that problem, no matter how top quality the tape and recording machine was. But the technology was refined enough on better tape decks to make it much less noticeable.  Digital recording virtually eliminated that problem, but at the expense of everything else in the recording. Namely high-hat and cymbals on the early digital recordings.

Tape and record players themselves always had pitch and speed control problems. Until the '60s when better audiophile technology came of age and pitch controls were a feature of better made turntables, there was not much you could do about the problem.

However in the mastering process of many recordings, either deliberately or by accident, some tracks in the studio tapes were mastered at the wrong speed. The most infamous example was the original Family Production's label 1971 release of Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor LP.

The instrumental tracks sounded fine, but Joel's voice was speeded up and sounded far too high pitched. It's been said Joel himself went around to New England record stores to buy up as many copies of Cold Spring Harbor as he could (luckily, it never fully went into national release at the time. But the 1971 release never sold many copies to begin with.) Some of the 1971 originals sold then and they are prized collector's items today.

The original copies of Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor album did not have a Columbia label.
Here is a sample of that original recording (note the pitch difference in Joel's vocals):

It was re-released by Columbia in 1983 with the vocals restored to normal pitch, but also remixed with slightly different instrumental arrangements on some tracks.)

But the crux of this particular biscuit is Robert Johnson's blues recordings of 1936 and 1937, which have been featured on countless compilations. In 1990, Sony re-released these historic sessions on CD, faithfully remastered from original acetate master discs.

However recently, it's been discovered that the pitch of the original recordings may have been exaggerated. When the recordings were slowed down by 20%, some say they had a more "natural" sound to them than the more frenzied tempo we are used to hearing Johnson's recordings at. The sound that many claim started rock 'n roll.

And if that's the case, how many other classic blues recordings from everybody from Bessie Smith to Blind Lemon Jefferson are mastered at the wrong speed?

Well first, being direct to disc, it's hard to deliberately master the disc at the wrong speed. But on a portable recorder/cutter being battery powered (likely), as used in those San Antonio and Dallas hotel rooms when Johnson cut these sessions, it COULD make a slower initial recording and when the recording was played back at AC powered 78 RPM, it can sound faster than the actual recording was.

It's debatable amongst blues fans, but it IS a plausible scenario.....read more here


Hey Love

I LOVE this commercial.

Three dudes and three chicks, they're at somebody's house, sitting SEPARATELY, doing nothing else but listen to the clock tick.

They are all silent, nobody is busting a move. Detention in Catholic school isn't this bad. And this is supposed to be a party. 

Then one of the guys mentions, almost as an afterthought "Hey y'all, I got a great new album in the mail today"

He puts the needle on the record, the girls begin to smile and everybody begins to dance.

Well, in spite of the fact that in real life, the girls wouldn't have even gotten out of the car, let alone put up with guys this lame. I guess it did sell some records. The selections on this 3 record set looked pretty good......

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gay & Lesbian Record Labels

One of the SUPER COOL things about vinyl is you'll NEVER run out of strange, unusual and bizarre records from the past to discover. Just when you thought you've finally seen and heard it all, along comes something else that absolutely blows your mind.

It's hard to believe today, but decades ago there were a smattering of independent record labels that catered exclusively to the gay and lesbian community.

These obviously weren't available in any retail record store rack in those days. The times were much more crueler for gays and lesbians. It was something that was kept strictly underground and in the closet. The repercussions for being openly gay in the '60s were unimaginable. So people just mail-ordered these out of underground gay and lesbian newspapers and magazines, where they arrived in a nondescript, plain brown package.

The better known of these was the Olivia Records collective, which specialized in lesbian folk music in the '70s, much of the material pretty much of the hardcore feminist sort. Unable to keep up with the changing tastes of "women's music" (which ranged from riot grrrl punk rock to more conventional rock - Olivia even turned down a 1976 demo from a young Melissa Etheridge!) Olivia quit the record business in the late '90s and is now a travel company for lesbian women today.

But Olivia wasn't the first gay record company. In fact, probably the very first was Camp Records in the '60s.

(As a collector, I can't help but notice the striking similarity between the Camp Records label and Pickwick's Design Records - designless? - record label of that same period. Were the Camp records custom pressed by Pickwick?)

In the mid-60s, it was much harder to be openly gay than it was even in the '70s. In contrast to today, where even the smallest towns have open LGBT communities, there were very few options for gay and lesbian people – even in some of the biggest cities. Most states still had enforced sodomy laws, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness. And it's no small miracle that in that more homophobic age that any of these records survived today. Or that a gay record label was even formed.

It's with this in mind which may explain why all the artists on Camp Records were anonymous, save for one “Rodney Dangerfield” (NOT THE Rodney Dangerfield, the “I don't get no respect” Rodney Dangerfield*. This was likely a totally different person altogether, only the stage name was the same.) And since Camp Records released all recordings without copyright, all of Camp's recordings are now in the public domain.

When I was working in the vintage record store, we came across a Camp label twice. They were never listed in any collector's book and until recently, almost nothing was known about Camp Records (and very little is today.) But we all knew who they were for and they had a value in just their rarity alone. No data from the Camp label remains, but I'm presuming about 3,000 total Camp LP's and 45s were pressed - perhaps significantly less than that.

You can read more about Camp and Olivia records here on J.D. Doyle's comprehensive Queer Music Heritage web site. You can even hear these albums and singles on MP3s. Many thanks to J.D. for clearing up a lot of the mystery surrounding Camp and Olivia Records that's bugged me as a vinyl collector for decades:


*The very name Rodney Dangerfield has been a prop name/pseudonym in Hollywood for decades before Jacob Cohen adopted it as his stage name and made comedy history. There's a bit of an interview with famous comedian Rodney Dangerfield in the link above where the interviewer confronts him with the Camp Records Rodney Dangerfield......

The Pallophotophone

Historians have uncovered a previously forgotten recording technology pre-dating the very first consumer magnetic recordings by at least 15 years (not counting wire recordings.)

It was called the pallophotophone (I won't even ATTEMPT to pronounce it.), and here is it's story and a recording of Thomas Edison speaking on it - perhaps the only "High Fidelity" recording of Edison (who died in 1931.) 


Lopin' Along Through The Cosmos

 Seasoned astronauts will tell you one thing about the cosmos - it's a place you just don't go "lopin'" through (or "gallivanting" or "traipsing" either.)

The cosmos has no atmosphere. The human potential is zip without super high tech gear for survival in space. Oxygen tanks are mandatory as well as suits that can deflect dangerous cosmic rays from solar flares. The cosmos is also a vacuum. 

And this cover sucks too.

Ginni Clemmens - who passed away in 2005, was pretty much unknown outside the "women's music" folk scene of the '70s (one of the richest known sources of WTF album covers ever) At first glance, you might think you're getting one of those weird self-help records. But it's very much a folky album.

It's an album cover that seems to be inspired by a lot of hippie babble. And maybe peyote.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Before They Were Stars: The Cars

When you mention The Cars to some people, they, by some primeval instinct or something, quietly sing "Shake it up....ooh-ooh.....shake it up....". Never mind The Cars racked up quite a few hits and "Shake It Up" wasn't even their biggest.

But even more bizarre was the fact that before Richard Otcasek and Benjamin Orzechowski found superstardom (and less surname baggage) as The Cars, they were in a folky pop group called Milkwood and released an album.

The album was titled How's The Weather.

You might wanna loosen up your skinny tie for this one......

Recorded and released in 1972 on the Paramount Records subsidiary of the ABC Records conglomerate (The Paramount imprint is better known for it's soundtracks and albums from The Brady Bunch and Commander Cody)  

How's The Weather didn't get very much airplay. Probably because nobody outside of Boston ever heard of these guys and How's The Weather was one of the most generic album titles in history (it wasn't even printed on the label!) and most likely, it was 1972 and there were literally THOUSANDS of albums released that year ALONE that sounded very similar to Milkwood's first and only album.

So it was pretty obvious how it all got lost in the shuffle. But if you stumble across an excellent to near mint original vinyl copy, you might want to hang on to it. It's worth a bit.

Here's the entire first side of that album for your listening and dancing pleasure. BE WARNED: You won't hear the synthesizers or Ric Ocasek's stifled hiccup that made The Cars records so famous. This is more like Jim Croce meets Crosby, Stills & Nash meets America.

1. With You With Me

 2. Dream Trader

3. Lincoln Park

4. Bring Me Back

5. Timetrain Wonderwheel

Electra Woman & Dyna Girl

Part of the Saturday morning Krofft Supershow, with some of the cheesiest special effects in TV history.

It wasn't until some years later I realized how cheesy this show really was when I found out about the Electra Complex. Since then, I've had to bite my tongue every time someone mentioned this show in high school to keep from laughing......

Loved the Electra Car!

Hip Pocket Records

One of the greatest fads of the '60s, Philco/Ford's Hip Pocket Record machine (1966-68) wasn't the SMALLEST of the tiny phonographs of the '60s. But it was the most commercially promoted.

The shoebox sized player had a built in AM radio (as it's many imitators did) and played 4" records made of the same material as (and most likely made by) Eva-Tone Soundsheets (the makers of those thin square promotional records you found in magazines and junk mail back in the day.)

They didn't warp in the sun as badly as traditional vinyl and the gimmick was you could store them in your hip pocket without damage (let's see the person who came up with that novel little suggestion actually TRY it!) The Hip Pocket record player could also play standard 45 RPM and 12" 33 1/3 LP records (believe it or not!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Remember Alison Arngrim?

Otherwise known as the cruel "Nellie Oleson" of Little House On The Prairie fame, Alison took a stab at comedy records in the late '70s, releasing this rare album, a spoof of then First Daughter Amy Carter on the Laff label (and unlike Laff's usual album covers, which were pretty X rated, this one was one of the few Laff albums that could be found in the racks and not behind the counter.)  

It's pretty campy - OK, it was stupid (hey, it was amateur topical comedy from 1977. What did you expect from a 15 year old?) Also with the star of a family TV series, it was pretty obvious her range of material then also had it's limits.

But this record is one of those obscure '70s chestnuts a lot people don't know about.......