The Hippie Record Store – Part 2

3-29-12          The Hippie Record Store – Part 2

Singer Astrud Gilberto born 1940, Jane’s Addiction guy Perry Farrell born 1959; F > M.

Employees sometimes got to make “displays” for new releases – you could call the representative (“Rep”) of the record company directly and ask for empty LP covers (sometimes known as ‘slicks’), posters etc. – you open up a few 25-count boxes of product, make a geometric pattern with the empty jackets, and prominently post your “sale price” – this attracts the eye of the customer.

I remember doing a display for Vangelis “Albedo 0.39” and I believe the “Rep” did come out and take a photograph of my display, thought I don’t remember winning any prizes.

We were way out in the suburbs, so not all of the “Reps” would make it out to us with any kind of regularity.  Sometimes the managers / buyers would get invited up to the distributor, to meet the “Reps” – and maybe hear some new stuff, B.S. with all of the other managers etc.  “Hey, this is what we are selling in Costa Mesa, maan!” etc.

It was also possible to merely call the “Reps” and ask for concert tickets; though they were usually offered freely, without you having to ask!  The best deal I can remember was getting two free tickets to a show (because of our proximity) to the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA – with an unlimited “tab” (as opposed to a “2 drink tab”) – this meant you could order dinner (and drinks) at the club, and the record company picked up the bill!  The idea was that if the store manager / buyer could see the group play live on a stage, perhaps you’d hustle on back to your little hippie record store, play the band’s album a few times, maybe encourage others at the store to “get behind” an album etc.  It’s called “Promotion”.

If the band was something that everybody wanted to see, it was usually up to the manager to decide who got the free tickets – I don’t remember everybody ever going to a show together, and – God forbid – the store being closed for an evening!  Yes, our hippie record store opened at 11:00am and closed at 11:00pm.  Sunday:  11:00am – 7:00pm.

So, the store closes at 11:00pm; you turn out the big lights – the manager whisks away the register drawer into the back room to “settle up”.  You might have to run the vacuum, wipe the fingerprints / drool off of the “Accessories” case, maybe straighten up the “Top 10”, make sure you had filed Stevie Wonder in the rock section (“More people will see it that way!”), maybe take out some trash – and play a record you wouldn’t have during store hours (The Fugs “Golden Filth”).  Typically, you set the alarm, and left with the manager – a bit before midnight.

Maybe you went out for Mexican food, or maybe you just drove home.  You would’ve watched TV for a while, before “crashing”.  You gotta be back at the hippie record store at 11:00am, dude.

The Hippie Record Store – Part 1

3-28-12          The Hippie Record Store – Part 1

Plasmatics’ singer Wendy O. Williams born 1949, Lady Gaga born 1986; I doubt I own music by either, but I met Wendy O., once!

As an 17-year-old in early summer 1976, I got my first job in a hippie record store.  I was fresh out of high school, with no qualifications apart from liking phonograph records a lot.  I worked the register, tidied up the shelving and record bins, took out the trash and emptied ash trays – yes, you were allowed to smoke cigarettes in the hippie record store!

Very quickly, I got asked to “Inventory the hit sheets” – a list of about 200 or so titles that you were more likely to have sold over the last few days – this let the store’s buyer know what was selling rapidly.  Everything else got marked in a 3-ring-binder – “The Order Book”, which was written by and sent in to the distributor (that owned the store), maybe several times a week – supposedly this book contained everything they actually carried (in about 4 years, I was put in charge of writing the “Order Book”, but that’s about 4 years down the line!)

I also quickly learned about filling out “Special Order” slips – for titles not in the “Order Book” – I rammed about 25 of them in almost as soon as I started working there – with the help of my manager – “Go ahead and get 25 copies, if you think we can sell them!” – the title in question might’ve been Can “I Want More”, as a British 7” single.

In addition to LP’s and 45’s, our store also carried 8-track tapes and cassettes.  Almost everything else was referred to as “Accessories” – 8-track tape / cassette carrying cases, LP inner sleeves, 45 outer sleeves…and stuff that hippies used to consume illegal drugs:  rolling papers, screens (for pipes), water pipes, small mirrors etc.

The employees of the store were encouraged to make descriptive signs to help sell the products.  If it was an LP, you cut a piece of chipboard to about 12” x 3” and you taped it to the front of the wall hanging bin where the record was being displayed:  “Goblin – Profondo Rosso – excellent horror film soundtrack played by jazz musicians, but it ain’t jazz!  It’s evil!” or thereabouts.

Of course, we could play records in the store all day, while we worked. Typically, 3 (or more) employees were working at the same time, so you got to hear a variety of music.  The manager would play Steve Hillage, Mott would play Kiss, I would play Frank Zappa (“Zoot Allures” was the new album) – the “buyer” was a guy from somewhere down south, so I got to hear a lot of Marshall Tucker Band, too.

I was fond of making cassettes at home of records that we would never have been able to sell, and playing those cassettes in the record store, while I worked.  I remember that the 45 version of “In-a-gadda-da-vida” by Iron Butterfly always used to go over well; people would groan when it came on, with everybody thinking that a punishing 17 minute drum solo was on the horizon – all over in 2:52!

Alice Cooper

3-27-12          Alice Cooper

Singer Sarah Vaughn born 1924, film maker Quentin Tarantino born 1963; I own a Sarah Vaughn CD (“Millennium Collection”).

I was never a giant Alice Cooper fan, but recently, I did re-buy 4 of his better albums as SHM-CD’s from Japan, with brand new 2011 mastering!

  1. Love It To Death (1971)
  2. Killer (1972)
  3. School’s Out (1972)
  4. Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

I first heard Alice Cooper on a Warner / Reprise “loss leader’ sampler record; alas, I don’t remember which one – or what song it was.  I knew that Alice Cooper had been involved with Frank Zappa, but that didn’t translate into sales, as far as I was concerned.  It wasn’t easy to find the first two albums (“Easy Action” and “Pretties For You”) at the time.

What lead me to buy “Love It To Death” was seeing the Alice Cooper band perform “Black Juju” on TV, likely in the summer of 1971 (“Midsummer Rock”, anybody?) – and a different Warner / Reprise sampler had “Be My Lover” on it.  I did not buy LP’s for “Killer”, “School’s Out” or “Billion Dollar Babies” upon their original release…I had moved on.

But in the CD age, I came back to these titles.  Though not quite “classic rock”, all four of the above mentioned albums are reasonably good, fairly easy to listen to and understand etc.  And, of course, when the Japanese decided to re-master them, they also made perfect replications of the original packaging!

That’s right, “School’s Out” comes with miniature panties; “Killer” has a miniature 1972 calendar; and “Billion Dollar Babies” comes with the punch-out cover and a mini dollar bill!  Not sure how many of Alice’s albums that Warner Japan re-mastered, but I bet they re-pro’d all of the original packaging for all that they did.

I am a little bit aware that quite a few fans doubted Alice, once the original band was ‘dismissed’.  I hadn’t realized that it has been essentially the same band throughout all four of these records; I now realize that’s probably why I continue to gravitate towards these four.

I never had the opportunity to see Alice Cooper play live, but I did once fly to Portland, OR with him on a jet from Burbank to PDX!

So, check these four titles out – if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you already know what these four Alice Cooper albums are, then be aware that they have been re-mastered in Japan, and made available with all original packaging.

Time Machine 1972 (Phonolog)

3-26-12                     Time Machine 1972

Phonolog Reports – New Releases

Week of March 27, 1972

Caught my eye:

TEN YEARS AFTER – Alvin Lee & Company (Deram XDES 18064) (LP)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big Sur Festival (Columbia KC-31138) (LP)

CREAM – Live Cream, Vol. II (Atco SD 7005) (LP)

AL KOOPER – Possible Projection Of The Future / Childhood’s End  (Columbia KC-31159) (LP/CD)

Deram cash-in with a TYA collection.  Big Sur Festival live record has Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury etc.  More live Cream from the vaults.  And a new Al Kooper record (the single of “Monkey Time” preceded it).

Also of interest:

RORY GALLAGHER – Deuce (Atco SD 7004)

FIELDS (Epic E-31154)

60,000,000 BUFFALO – Nevada Jukebox (Atco SD 33-384)

Atco had Taste, Rory Gallagher’s band, so it makes sense that Polydor England licensed his solo debut to Atco.  Never knew Fields (which included Rare Bird members) came out in the U.S. – I don’t recall ever seeing a copy.  Certainly never saw the 60,000,00 Buffalo LP – it must be one of the last numbered Atco SD 33-3xx series, eh?

Notable singles:

RINGO STARR – Back Off Boogaloo b/w Blindman (Apple 1849)

GARY OWENS – Foonman Airlines b/w The Presidents (Lion / Pride 107)

DR. JOHN – Iko Iko (Atco 6882)

A wonderful Ringo A-side!  His best?  I never knew that the Gary Owens 45 came before his astonishing “Put Your Head On My Finger” LP.  And a neat A-side from Dr. John (is this the single from “Gumbo”?)  Also a ton of Project 3 label singles released this week – ‘easy listening jukebox’ fodder?

Time Machine 1972 (Strange Days)

3-22-12          Time Machine 1972 (Strange Days)

Songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber born 1948 – well, I did like “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

Another month of releases from Strange Days Magazine in Japan!  This is their choice for February, 1972.

Neil Young “Harvest (Reprise US LP MS 2030); The Allman Brothers Band “Eat A Peach” (Capricorn US 2LP CPN-2-0102); Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – self-titled (Philips UK LP 6360 086); Nick Drake “Pink Moon” (Island UK LP ILPS 9184); Strawbs “Grave New World” (A&M UK LP AMLH 68078); Todd Rundgren “Something / Anything” (Bearsville US 2LP 2BX 2066); Return To Forever – self-titled (ECM Germany LP ECM 1022); Scorpions “Lonesome Crow” (Brain Germany LP Brain 1001); Brinsley Schwarz “Silver Pistol” (United Artists US LP UAS 5566).

Today, I only have the Neil Young LP / CD, an SA-CD of The Allman Brothers title and a CD for the Nick Drake title.  I would love to find a UK LP for the Strawbs title!

I had really liked Neil Young’s previous album, “After The Goldrush” – but the “Heart of Gold” 45 was played to death locally, so this LP didn’t catch my eye or ear until decades later.  I had liked the two Allman Brothers albums on the Atco label, but the double LP for “Eat A Peach” didn’t quite make my radar.  In 2012, I have a multi-channel SA-CD of it!  When Manfred Mann Mk. II ended, I never made it to the jazz versions of his assorted bands; it’s interesting that this LP seems to have a Vertigo UK numbering, despite being on Philips UK!

I was an Island Records UK fan as a youngster, so Nick Drake was definitely on my radar; I think I had a US LP of it upon it’s initial release.  I wasn’t really heading in that direction, musically, so I got rid of it – and then Drake passed away and was forgotten for the better part of 30 years.

I was never much of a Todd Rundgren fan, so a double LP of his wouldn’t’ve interested me then or now.  I was not paying attention to much of anything on the German jazz label ECM Records.  I would not have known who Chick Corea was in 1972, either.

I doubt that I heard of Scorpions in 1972; likely that came after they signed to RCA Records.  But I definitely remember seeing this LP in “Import LP” bins, around town.  Same deal with Brinsley Schwarz; I remember seeing their albums, but I never heard them at that time.

Tubby Hayes

3-21-12          Listening to something new…Tubby Hayes!

Soul singer Solomon Burke born 1936, Johann Sebastian Bach born 1685; R&B.

It’s not everyday that I get to hear something entirely new to me.  One such wonderful record that I recently got a CD issue of is TubbyHayes “Down In The Village” from 1962, recently released by Universal Japan.  Classic British jazz!  A live recording, and very impressive.

The only person I recognized on this album was the piano player, Mr. Gordon Beck – who appeared on Dick Heckstall-Smith’s wonderful solo album, “A Story Ended”.

Tubby Hayes was a rather interesting person in British jazz – I remember hearing older British guys talking about him, but at that time (the 70’s) – I had never heard or heard of Mr. Tubby Hayes.

Per Wikipedia, Mr. Hayes arranged and played on the debut album by Family, “Music In A Doll’s House” (1968).

5.1 Audio on DVD’s – Part 2

3-20-12          5.1 Audio on DVD’s – Part 2

C&W Singer / Songwriter Jerry Reed born 1937, reggae guy Lee “Scratch” Perry born 1936; I own music by both.

Silly me – I’ve been trying to find feature films on DVD that have nice 5.1 audio.  I started with a basic list made with the help of my friend Warren – who recommended a few websites to look at.  I made my list, and went out into the stores…

…and ended up with a Paul Verhoeven festival in 5.1!  “Robocop” and “Total Recall” – two films I did not see upon their original release.

“Robocop” had quite a bit of “80’s Excess” – lots of ultra-violence, unrealistic bad guys, big crunchy machines, hookers and blow.  It read like a comic book; it was easy to watch – and there was a lot of 5.1 amusement to be had.  The $3 DVD of it that I found has a 3-D cover on it!

“Total Recall” was made a scant 4 years after “Robocop”, but Verhoeven had his dystopian shoes sharpened:  more unrealistic villans and a science fiction plot that was difficult to keep track of.  Is this real?  Or?  Dear old Arnold made his moves as only he can, with that charming Austrian accent.  However, the vehicles in this film – not that “Robocop” was slouch with their futuristic vehicles – deserve a special mention. Nice ‘n’ futuristic, unrealistic…and I am a sucker for machines that look like they will grind everything down to the center of the inner-core of whatever planet you’re on!  I read that this was considered an expensive movie, at the time of it’s release.

Ugh!  I tried to watch “Lethal Weapon 2” for it’s 5.1 kicks, but…couldn’t get very far with Mel Gibson’s mid-Pacific accent and fairly juvenile humor throughout.  I don’t even think I will keep this one for the 5.1 collection!

But it does give rise to my interest in the films of Paul Verhoeven.  I guess he had some slightly more mainstream / popular films, too?  I like this dark science fiction stuff, I must confess.  Any fans want to tell me what’s the next Verhoeven film to search out, in the cheap-o DVD’s?  5.1 audio is a plus, but not 100% necessary.  Just good, solid dystopian mayhem.

Also must rummage through my DVD’s of films – and see if there’s any fun 5.1 entertainment still lurking in my already-obtained titles.  I hate it when I remember buying a film, then – when I am all done – it ain’t in my list.  How did that happen?  Did I put my $2 copies of “The Matrix” and “The Abyss” in a special carton somewhere, where I can no longer locate them?

And, of course, the films I really want to watch again and again won’t have any kind of special audio at all.  “I’m All Right Jack” remains in mono.

Time Machine 1972

3-19-12                     Time Machine

Phonolog Reports – New Releases

Week of March 20, 1972

Looks like we missed a week somehow!

Caught my eye:

SMITH, PERKINS & SMITH (Island / Capitol SW-9317) (LP)

BERT KAEMPFERT – 6 Plus 6 (Decca DL 75322) (LP)

U.S. band signed directly to Island UK – I really like the single from the Smith, Perkins & Smith album, “Save Me”.  I understand that Wayne Perkins played on the re-recorded Bob Marley records.  German maestro Bert Kaempfert is still EZ.

Also of interest:

THE STRAWBS – Grave New World (A&M SP-4344)

WACKERS – Hot Wacks (Elektra EKS 75025)

LILY TOMLIN – And That’s The Truth (Polydor 24-5023) (LP)

British group Strawbs get yet another US release.  Isn’t The Wackers = Bob Segarini, the Canadian guy?  Comedy LP from TV actress Lily Tomlin – she had been a big success on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” with her ‘Edith Ann’ character – and this is the LP of it.

Notable singles:

BADFINGER – Baby Blue b/w Flying (Apple 1844)

BILL BLACK COMBO – Harlem Nocture b/w Sassy Pants (Mega 0070)

DEEP PURPLE – When A Blind Man Cries b/w Never Before (Warner 7572)

AL KOOPER – Monkey Time (Columbia 4-45566)

Great A-side from Badfinger; The Bill Black Combo moves into the 70’s on Mega (after leaving both Hi and Columbia); A Deep Purple Mk. II “Fireball” single; Al Kooper covers Major Lance (not sure which Al K. LP it’s from).  Also issued this week, but not listed – Polydor pick up about a dozen or more James Brown “King” label 45’s, re-issue time – big time!

5.1 Audio on DVD’s – Part 1

3-15-12          5.1 Audio on DVD’s

Soulman Sylvester (Sly) Stone born 1944, guitarist Ry Cooder born 1947; I own music by both (close call).

Since getting a 5.1 DVD set-up last year, I have been in search of discs with 5.1 audio – whether they be music or films.  Of course, I already had quite a few films with 5.1 audio, on DVD.

Bummed that I couldn’t find a website that listed which films has particularly good audio in 5.1, I asked a few of my friends – and the suggestion came up that I look at which titles had won academy awards for ‘best audio’ etc.  For latter day films, this list would be films I had never seen, by directors I had never heard of etc. – famous films, to be sure, but not in my universe.

Sometimes when looking at the external packaging on a DVD, it’s hard to find what audio is present.  I like it when they hit you over the head with this:

The little box with the 5 dots tells me that this disc has what I am looking for!  Of course, not every DVD with 5.1 audio has this charming little illustration!

So, anyway – there I am, upstairs in Amoeba Hollywood – in search of 5.1 audio on DVD films.  They couldn’t make it any more difficult if they tried!  The film could be filed under director or in genre!  And what is the genre?  If “Face/Off” an “Action Adventure” or “Science Fiction”?  Or is it filed way over there under the director’s name?

This scenario reminds me of:  Is it filed in oldies, when I think it should be in the A-Z of “Rock”?  Where is Eric Burdon & The Animals?  In oldies, of course!  When did they move from being a rock band to being in oldies?  Jefferson Airplane is still in Rock!  How to make determinations of this nature?

So I am shuffling around between sections, trying to find used, inexpensive DVD’s with 5.1 audio.  Sometimes, the exterior packaging says if it has 5.1 audio, sometimes not.  I got a nifty “Lawrence of Arabia” DVD 2 disc set – and what I got definitely looks to be the “Deluxe Edition” (they also had an older version, in a plain DVD box); couldn’t tell for sure until I got it outside that it was the right version!  No matter – I could’ve just marched right back in, saying “Wrong audio, let me go get another one” – or words to that effect.

C’mon Amoeba!  Make it easier to find feature films upstairs in your Hollywood store!  Or would you allow me to go up to the info counter back there and ask, “What section is ___________ filed in?” without you rolling your eyes at me?  BTW, congrats on having so many PAL AC:2 discs up there – I didn’t know that was going on!  Nice!