Christmas Memories

12-24-10

“Christmas Memories”

Here’s a few chestnuts for Christmas…likely Xmas 1970, there were some records that I wanted, but…too expensive to just ask my dad for ‘em.  Notably George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” – it hovered around the $9 price point, I believe – way out of my ballpark.  I did make it known that I wanted this album.

I do not now remember how I decided to actually searching our house for potential “Christmas Presents” – old enough to know that Santa Claus had very little to do with stuff that I wanted, I just knew my dad was hiding something for me…somewhere in the house.  I found the “All Things Must Pass” triple-LP boxed set in his dresser drawer (the drawer beneath where I used to steal his pocket change, at times).  Aah! I was going to get what I wanted!

Being a Triple-LP, it took some time to play it all.  The first two albums were pretty much straight-forward George Harrison pop songs, ‘lavishly’ produced by Phil Spector.  But that 3rd album, “Apple Jam”?  Hmmm…  Who are some of these people?  How recently had it been “Johnny’s Birthday”?  (Oh, October 9th!)  They’re just jamming, folks.  I guess it didn’t matter if it wasn’t a very long album…nice poster!

This album will always be inextricably linked to Christmas for me.  Perhaps I’ll get out and finally play the remixed / re-tooled CD boxed set of it this Christmas.

Another Christmas memory – waking up in Las Vegas on Christmas morning – bitterly hung-over, exhausted from a night of drinking and gambling – and some moron in the room next to us was playing Paul Revere & The Raiders “Greatest Hits” a bit too loud – Kicks do, indeed, keep getting harder to find.  I was restrained, I did not go next door and bang on their door and read ‘em the riot act.  I think what we did was to go to an International House of Pancakes for breakfast and gamble a little bit more, before getting on the long road home.

After my childhood, I don’t remember very many Christmas day activities occurring between the two above described events – but they must be at least 15 years apart.  As with many holidays, I always knew that Tower Records would be open, if I felt like record shopping on Christmas day.

I have also spent Christmas in New Zealand, Holland, Japan and (most recently) Singapore!  Now that was a fun Christmas – botanical gardens in the morning, Indonesian lunch on Orchard Road – and a reservation at Raffles Hotel for “High Tea” – followed by a walk through Little India in search of a spice shop!  Now that’s a real interesting Christmas!

This year, I am at home for Christmas.  Mom is still alive, at 90 – and she knows who she is and where she is.  I will see Dorothy later today, and we have a bit of running around to do before I go back to my office on Tues. 1/4/11.

I will be taking a short break from blogging.  All will resume as normal on Monday 1-3-11 – Imagine that!  2011! Numerologists’ delight:  1-11-11!

2010 has been an amazing year for Music Purchases; lots of 45’s, some SA-CD’s, even some Minidiscs!

How many record stores will close in 2011?  How many will open in 2011?

I understand that when the postmaster general retires, he will abolish Saturday delivery and raise the rates once again.  Drat!

For some of my Xmas vacation, I will be visiting the San Francisco bay area.  Always nice to visit the Amoebas up there; the Streetlight stores, the Rasputin’s stores etc.  I hope they all have a prosperous 2011 and remain in business for me to visit!

The “Time Machine” series has been enormously popular and I am happy to announce that it will increase in frequency, around April of 2011.  That’s right, folks – I found my notes!  I have dozens of Phonolog sheets from 1971 – 1972!

So, what will we all listen to in 2011?  What will we collect – continue to collect?

We never like to lose any players in our chosen pass-time – so, goodbye to Ari Up, Tuli Kupferberg, Bo Hansson, Captain Beefheart, Rowland S. Howard…all of these artists meant a lot to me.  I actually got to meet Rowland S. Howard, back about ’83 or so – everyone else, I admired from afar – Tuli Kupferberg since I was a child!  I think I am missing 1 x Hansson & Karlsson LP and possibly 1 x solo Bo Hansson album.  I’ll get there one day!

Preparing for a trip…

12-23-10

Preparing for a trip…

Lately, I have been preparing for a trip.  That’s right, after Xmas, we will drive up to San Francisco for a week’s visit.  Preparation for a trip includes making various artists CD’s that nobody will object to; preparing boxes of CD’s to trade in @ Amoebas Berkeley and S.F.; getting the bottled water in; necessary research in finding where the best coffee is being sold in S.F. etc.

However, this year I have it easy.  Ever travel with “Books on Tape”?  For our driving pleasure, this trip I have obtained John Waters “Role Models”, a 6CD set of the author reading his work.  Wow, that ought to keep us busy as we drive towards San Jose!

Having been home all week, I feel like I have tied up a lot of loose ends:  I did all my laundry etc.  So, I’m ready for some time away from the ranch.

After tomorrow’s post, I will be away until Monday 1/3/11.  I hope everybody has a nice Christmas and a smashing new year’s eve / new year’s day.  2011 should be an amusing year.

Got any big plans for 2011?  It will be the 40th anniversary of 1971!  No big trips are on the books – but likely we will go to some old favorites again – San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas etc.

Still trying to write a book – but I am a bit undecided over what direction / style it will take.  The tentative title is “200 Years of Record Collector Glory” – but is it a research paper / romance novel / comic book?  Will there be characters or merely titles, labels & numbers?  The jury is still out.  What do you think?  A tale of feudal Nishi-Shinjuku honor?  Burgess Meredith as the last person on Earth, only to realize he’s gone deaf?

The new album from my band, The Decayes, should be released shortly.  It will be available only in Japan and will be titled “Aquarium” (but in Japanese, of course).  It’s our first album since the mid-1980’s!  Sadly, there is no more ‘music industry’ for us to shun.  Likely someone will post our album on the internet (for free), so nobody will have to buy (or own) anything they don’t want to.  All music is free, right?

Tip of the cap to regular readers Jim D, Brian W, Dana M (“Big D”), Warren B, Ken H, David Z etc.  Caledonia Mahogany’s Elbows to Rick S.

You guys are why I keep writing this stuff!  More to come…

Time Machine 1970 #10

12-22-10

Time Machine 1970 #10

40 years ago!! Strange Days magazine in Japan is keeping up with it’s “Time Machine” series, which I find quite interesting.

Strange Days 2010.12 lists “October 1970 Albums” as: Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin III” (Atlantic UK 2401 002); Genesis “Trespass” (Charisma UK CAS 1020); Pink Floyd “Atom Heart Mother” (Harvest UK SHVL 781); Kevin Ayers and the Whole World “Shooting At The Moon” (Harvest UK SHSP 4005); Incredible String Band “U” (Elektra UK 2665 001 – double LP!); Dr. Strangely Strange “No Heavy Petting” (Vertigo UK 6360 009); Bob Dylan “New Morning” (Columbia US KC 30290); Frank Zappa “Chunga’s Revenge” (Reprise / Bizarre MS 2030); Tim Buckley “Lorca” (Elektra UK 2410 005).

Yet another month where I certainly know all of these; I presently own 8 of the 9 titles (no go on the Tim Buckley).

I actually got an English copy of “Led Zeppelin III” right about the time it came out, with a red / purple label, nice glossy cover etc.  I hadn’t yet tired of them.  It’s probably my favorite LZ album, to this day – but I do not listen to them.

I came back and got “Trespass” by Genesis, after hearing the next few albums, so I noted the US issue on Impulse at the time.  I got “Atom Heart Mother” as a US pressing, but…didn’t really ‘get it’ – and sold it off fairly quickly.  I re-bought it as a Quad LP, a while back, happy to own it for it’s Ron Geesin content.  I also didn’t get the Kevin Ayers record right away, but I got it around the time I got “Bananamour” within a few short years.  (I just got a 4CD set of Ayers “Songs For Insane Times”).  I’d been listening to the Incredible String Band ever since “Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”, so I did get a US copy of “U”, but it took a while.  My ISB fandom heated up again with “Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air” in ’72.

I had found an Island UK LP of “Kip Of The Serenes” by Dr. Strangely Strange, so I was (and am) a great fan of this fine (mostly) Irish band.  I no longer own an LP of “No Heavy Petting”, but I do possess a lovely Japanese re-pro paper sleeve CD of it.

I like Bob Dylan a lot better now than I did then.  While I got and kept “New Morning”, it was never my favorite album of his.  I loved “Chunga’s Revenge” from the start – even the Flo & Eddie vocals.  Lovely stuff, a great Zappa solo album – I even have a copy where the cover is in Spanish: “La Venganza de Chunga”!

Last and certainly least for me is the departed minstrel himself, Tim Buckley.  I never quite got the message about his singing voice, but I do keep original copies of his first few Elektra albums in 2010.  I seriously doubt I ever even heard “Lorca” – it was neither British nor progressive rock, which was what I was listening to in October, 1970.

Frank Zappa’s 70th Birthday

12-21-10

Frank Zappa’s 70th Birthday

I am not usually around during the week before / after Christmas, each year.  This year, I am at home during the week before Christmas, so I can appropriately commemorate Mr. Zappa’s birthday this year.

My older sister Marilyn is responsible for starting me on the road to Zappa fandom.  As she and my other sister, Susie, baby-sat me, they played me “Wowie Zowie” from “Freak Out”, the debut Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention album.  I was given Zappa’s 2nd album “Absolutely Free” as a birthday present – I had asked for it – for my 9th birthday!  I guess it became a ritual – I was being given Frank Zappa records for my young birthdays, for Christmas etc.  In fact, I think I was probably given all of Zappa’s Verve label albums as ‘presents’!

The important fact is that I listened to them.  While I might not have understood the adult nature of some of the humor, I could hear the humor anyway.  This was before it was known as “attitude”.  It all got in my head before the inspector therein applied too much scrutiny to my perception of rock music.

After my sisters left home, it was up to me to get my own Zappa albums.  For a short while, I depended on my dad – I would mow the front lawn (or do the edging) and get an album as a reward.  “Hot Rats”, “Uncle Meat”, “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” were all obtained in this process.  By the time of the Flo & Eddie / FZ albums, I was definitely watching for each new Zappa release.

I started working in record stores in the summer of 1976 – so, I quickly got whatever I had missed – that I could find.  In the years between actual childhood and starting work, I had managed to find a way to get to L.A. to look for records – to buy promotional copies of albums etc. – in addition to being a valuable desirable pressing variant – promo LP’s were usually a dollar or two cheaper than buying the LP “as new”!

And when one went to the nascent record collector swap meets in the parking lot of Capitol Records in Hollywood, or to The Country Club in Reseda…I bought Zappa posters, press kits, other odd promo materials (a mobile for “One Size Fits All” etc.)

My Verve 45’s came from the Capitol swap meet – probably the top price I paid for any of ‘em was $5 in mid-70’s money.  There is, of course, wonderful non-LP Zappa music to be had in this way.

Visiting Europe at the end of the 70’s – I definitely started collecting the cover variants etc.  And eventually, I find that I have the beginning of a nice (and massive) Frank Zappa collection.  I live in L.A., so it was easy enough to deal with the Barking Pumpkin mail-order operation of the day – expensive boxed sets, videotapes etc.

So, thanks for the music, Mr. Zappa.  I am still listening.

Bootleg book

12-20-10

Bootleg book

I have been reading a book about the supposed ‘history’ of rock & roll bootleg LP’s.  Interesting for me to note that it seemed to be based in L.A. – I actually recognized several of the early titles:  “Get Back” by The Beatles on Lemon Records, The Rolling Stones “Liver Than You’ll Ever Be”, Bob Dylan “The Great White Wonder” etc.  And then the Rubber Dubber titles, Jimi Hendrix “Live at The Los Angeles Forum” etc.  Rubber stamped covers.

I remember all that stuff!  You could buy bootlegs at Licorice Pizza or go up to Hollywood and find ‘em at Lewin’s Record Paradise on Hollywood Blvd.  Slightly later on, I remember stores spring up that ONLY had bootleg LP’s for sale!  But, of course, they didn’t last long…

At the time, I went for The Beatles and the Stones – I did not bother with the first Bob Dylan bootlegs – I did that a bit later (“John Birch Society Blues”).  Sure, the sound quality wasn’t top drawer, but…at the time, the bootleggers beat the record company to a live Stones album…and there was a whole set of Beatles’ songs that were floating about without a home – we’re talking 1969 – 1971 here, folks.

Much later on, I could find things like Frank Zappa bootleg LP’s.  Hah!  Printed covers from Europe!  Material I hadn’t heard etc.  It got weirder in the 80’s, when material not previously heard began surfacing on The Beatles, Bob Dylan etc.  I think I even found a bootleg LP by The Fixx!

The amusing conclusion to this sordid tale is that I started going to Japan in 1994.  I shall never forget the heady rush of illegality I sensed, as I first walked into “Airs” in Nishi-Shinjuku.  Holy cow! A whole store set up in Tokyo that had nothing but pirate videos and CD’s!  And weird stuff, too – progressive rock!

So, I guess ultimately, I prefer a bootleg CD to a bootleg LP.  At times, the sound quality can be comparable, but…some of the bootleg LP pressing were definitely ‘funky’; as CD’s are not touched, per se – no worries there.  And all the bootleg VHS tapes?  Gee, I never saw The Fugs on stage before!

Mr. Contradiction: I would be mightily unhappy if there was ever a bootleg LP or CD of my music!  Well, I would probably enjoy an LP of it, as I know how much work is involved.  But a bootleg CD?  Been there, done that…I have found people selling bootleg CD-R’s of my LP’s.  Grrr…they owe me $15~!

Still the ‘Bootleg book’ is fascinating reading.  I recommend it to anyone who has a curiosity about the “other record industry”.

Ultimate Collection #007

12-17-10

Ultimate Collection #007

John Entwistle – “Smash Your Head Against The Wall” (Track Record UK LP 2406 005)

I first hopped on to The Who bandwagon around the time of “Tommy” – but I doubtlessly knew of their hit singles that came before “Tommy” – like “Magic Bus” and “Happy Jack”.  I always instinctively knew they were ‘hip’, but…I was unprepared for how good both “The Who Sell Out” and “Happy Jack” / “A Quick One” are as albums.  These guys are great!!  When the big book gets written, Pete Townshend is up there with John Lennon, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan etc.

How could one not love the author and singer of “Boris The Spider”?  “I’ve Been Away”?  “Doctor Doctor”? etc.  I fully embraced “Tommy”, and couldn’t wait for whatever was next from these guys.

I do not remember the chronology exactly (I was too young), but before “Who’s Next”, there was a John Entwistle solo album.  I saw it, couldn’t believe my eyes – and asked my dad for the $5 necessary as quickly as possible (for the original mix British LP on Track Record) – I have 5 variants on this album, and some singles from it as well.  The current CD issue (an SHM-CD paper sleeve CD from Japan) has numerous “bonus tracks” – all of which matter not a whit.

I love each and every track on “Smash Your Head” – I was always sorry that he seemed to keep remixing this album – the US version of the LP had different lead vocals on some songs!  As with most of “My Ultimate Collection”, at some time or another – each and every song on this LP has been a favorite song that I have sung to myself (and others).  “Pick Me Up (Big Chicken)” is probably my single favorite work in the entire canon of work by the members of The Who.  I still discuss this album with friends of mine!  “Is ‘Cyrano’ really Pete Townshend?” – uh, no.

I was all of 12 years old when I got this LP!  It totally got in under the radar.  I just couldn’t play it enough!  20+ years later, I went and saw John Entwistle play a show in a tiny nightclub – with enough amplification for a 14,000 seat ampitheatre.  Deafening! But I went (and stayed) because of how much I love this album.

Even when albums by The Who got to be rough sailing in the latter part of the 70’s, one could still go straight to the John Entwistle songs therein and see what the fuss was about.

I definitely cried when The Ox checked out in Las Vegas.  One couldn’t replace Keith Moon in The Who – but…one really can’t replace John Entwistle.

Rest in Peace, John Alec Entwistle (1944 – 2002)

Japanese Genealogy

12-16-10

Japanese Genealogy

http://park10.wakwak.com/~techno/jgenealogy.html

Take a look at the English-language Japanese artist genealogy that this guy has worked up (some time ago, I might add!).  I have always tried to piece this stuff together, not with 100% success.  It’s much easier to do if you’re in Japan and can see what everything in this genealogy looks like!

As I do not read Japanese, I always found it very helpful when stores in Japan group ‘like artists’ together.  “What does this record have to do with YMO?” – oh, it’s on one of their labels (Midi / School, Yen, Tent, Non Standard etc.)  But I spent years not having any sort of English-language “guide” to what I was looking for with my Japanese collection / collecting.

The gentleman who made this Japanese artist genealogy specializes in “Technopop” – bands like Y.M.O., Plastics, Pizzicato Five etc. – so I’m still out of luck with figuring out how 60’s Japanese bands turn into 70’s Japanese bands, turn into 80’s Japanese bands etc.

So, I eventually met people in Japan, made friends etc.  I was recommended to an 80’s magazine called Takarajima – as an invaluable resource for “up to the minute” info on lots of artists that I liked.  I never found any issues of Takarajima, but I did eventually find a large paperback book that seemed to cover most of the 1980’s.  I can recognize the names of some of the artists  that I like, and I can certainly recognize record covers and a few faces!

I visited Japan many times between 1994 and 2007 – I lost count!  I found lots of cool Japanese domestic artist vinyl, I bought many limited edition CD packages, found tons of 7” singles…in 2010, my collection of Japanese artists numbers in excess of 1,600 titles!  I collect the Trattoria Records “Menu” series – yes, I was given many of them, but I always keep my eyes open for new “Menus”!

I confess that there was a big attraction to trying to collect a genre that there was virtually nothing written in English about it!  The first time I really went to Japan in 1994, I was still carrying notebooks with my lists – it was pre-Palm!  I got to make so many mental leaps, while searching for stuff in Japan – it was so much fun!

The specific scene I was working just seemed to evaporate – Trattoria ended it’s “Menu” series, Pizzicato Five broke up – and Konishi-san has made it very difficult to try and track down what he has done in the ensuing decade.  I regularly “read” Strange Days and Record Collectors Magazine from Japan – but there’s no more Music Life, Swing Journal etc.

So, enjoy the work of the guy who made a beautiful Japanese artist genealogy.  If only I’d had this while I rifled through countless bins of records in Tokyo…over the years…

Icehouse

12-15-10

Icehouse

The venerable Iva Davies!

12″ BABY, YOU’RE SO STRANGE                                                    REGULAR AUS      X 14279

1986 4 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ BABY, YOU’RE SO STRANGE (7″ x 2) (PS)                             REGULAR AUS      K 9924

1986 4 TRK EP; with pic sleeve, 7″x2

CD BOXES (w/ Sydney Dance Co.)                                                  CHRYSALIS US     VK 41659

1985 21 TRKS Iva Davies

10″ CAN’T HELP MYSELF (as FLOWERS)                                     REGULAR AUS      X 12501

1980 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ CAN’T HELP MYSELF / SONS                                                   CHRYSALIS US     CHS 2568

1981 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12″ CRAZY                                                                                            REGULAR AUS      X 13285

1987 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ CRAZY / NO PROMISES (Live) (PS)                                         CHRYSALIS US     VS4-43156

1987 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

12″ CROSS THE BORDER                                                               CHRYSALIS US     4V9 43062

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve

12″ CROSS THE BORDER (Interview) promo                               CHRYSALIS US     VAS 2389

1986 11 TRKS promo-only 12″, no pic sleeve

7″ CROSS THE BORDER / FLAME, THE (PS)                             REGULAR AUS      K 97

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

CD FLOWERS                                                                                     MASSIVE                  780941.2

1980 14 TRKS (3 x bonus tracks)

CD GREAT SOUTHERN LAND (Collection)                                  CHRYSALIS US     F2 21680

1989 11 TRK Collection (1 x bonus track)

LP GREAT SOUTHERN LAND (Collection)                                  CHRYSALIS CAN   CHS 41680

1989 10 TRK Collection

12″ HEY LITTLE GIRL                                                                         CHRYSALIS UK     CHS 12-2670

1982 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

12″ HEY LITTLE GIRL                                                                         CHRYSALIS US     4V9 42731

1983 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

LP ICEHOUSE (1981)                                                                       CHRYSALIS US     CHR 1350

1981 10 TRKS U.S. version

LP ICEHOUSE (as FLOWERS) (1980)                                          REGULAR AUS      L 37436

1980 11 TRKS original 1st Aust. release

7″ LOVE IN MOTION / GOODNIGHT, MR. MATTHEWS (PS)     REGULAR AUS      K 8486

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP MAN OF COLOURS                                                                     CHRYSALIS US     OV 41592

1987 10 TRKS

CD MAN OF COLOURS re                                                                 WSM AUS                748985.2

1987 17 TRKS (7 x bonus tracks) (’02 issue)

LP MEASURE FOR MEASURE                                                        CHRYSALIS US     BFV 41527

1986 10 TRKS

CD MEASURE FOR MEASURE re                                                   WSM AUS                748984.2

1986 17 TRKS (5 x bonus tracks) (’02 issue)

12″ NO PROMISES                                                                             CHRYSALIS US     4V9 43009

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve

7″ NO PROMISES / INTO THE WILD (PS)                                    CHRYSALIS US     VS4-42978

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ NO PROMISES / PERFECT CRIME, THE                                REGULAR AUS      K 9850

1985 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12″ NO PROMISES promo                                                                CHRYSALIS US     VAS 2362

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo-only

7″ PARADISE / BABY, YOU’RE SO STRANGE (PS)                    CHRYSALIS US     VS4-43041

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

CD PRIMITIVE MAN                                                                             CHRYSALIS US     VK 41390

1982 10 TRKS

LP PRIMITIVE MAN                                                                             REGULAR NZ         RRLP 1204

1982 10 TRKS

LP SIDEWALK                                                                                     REGULAR AUS      RRLP 1206

1984 10 TRKS

LP SIDEWALK                                                                                     REGULAR NZ         RRLP 1206

1984 10 TRKS

CD5 TOUCH THE FIRE                                                                        CHRYSALIS UK     CHSCD 3472

1989 3 TRK CD Single CD5

10″ WE CAN GET TOGETHER                                                         CHRYSALIS UK     CXP 2527

1981 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ WE CAN GET TOGETHER (as FLOWERS)                            REGULAR NZ         K 7999

1980 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

7″ WE CAN GET TOGETHER / PARADISE LOST (PS)              CHRYSALIS UK     CHS 2527

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

I was never an Icehouse completist; as you can see, my Icehouse collection is neither massive or ”complete”.  I did re-buy “Measure For Measure” to get all the B-Sides of “Baby You’re So Strange” on CD, however.

I saw Icehouse live at “The County Club” in Reseda, CA about 1981 or so.  I remember that they dressed like squares, had their dad’s shoes etc. – at a time when the whole scene was wearing a torn shirt with krazy-kolor in it’s hair.

Always nice to try and find original Australian pressings of Icehouse LP’s – they always seemed to take a bit more care with the paper, printing etc.

And Icehouse was one of the Australian bands who got taken very seriously in Europe, making for some nice European additions to their catalogue.

I stopped following Icehouse after their first “Best Of” – “Great Southern Land”.  There were a few bands that I perhaps unjustly relegated to “The 80’s”, and I believe Icehouse were in that batch.  But – dang – this stuff almost never turns up “used”!

So, Brian – is there a DVD of all the clips?  Has “Boxes” made it to DVD now?