Tuesday, November 30, 2010
"It's so groovy now/People are starting to get together"
I had a friend in high school whose mother was a traveling Swedish folk musician. She would go out on tour through Minnesota and the Dakotas for a month or two several times a year. Each time, she’d enlist a friend to watch her son as a live-in minder. His house was usually a free zone for him and his friends and it got better when he was being watched. The place was a big stucco house full of harps and papier-mâché troll and goat masks.
One of his watchers was the friend and lover of the male singer from this group. This was the nineties. He was no longer in that group. He had followed the trends and was now a Mark Twain impersonator. Anyway, he was a nice, wily old hippie on the couch upstairs. I was a little star-struck. This guy was known as a real sixties person in our town, and he too was a massive figure in the thrift LP piles I was searching those days.
When we finally had an introduction in the kitchen one day, his response to my name was sort of typical of guys his age (guitar store people, record store people, teachers). “Your name’s Roche? You mean… ROACH!” After a brief conversation I left to rejoin my friends. The singer called for me, “Hey Roach?” I came back. With a weird grin, “Hey Roach, I’m gonna smoke you.”
“Reach out in the darkness/Freak out in the darkness”
Monday, November 29, 2010
My house is full of LPs, most all of them my girlfriend's. She's the collector, not me. I try never to own more than 3 crates at a time. The exchange rate for in store credit feels like a scam in every record shop in the world. Still, I do it every time. Even if its 6:1, trade-in is a better thrill than cash. So most record purchases I make are in a "fun money" head space. In recent years I've met so many people who are heroic collectors. One really has to dig through every record in the shop and try every possible misspelling for Ebay searches. I'd rather be hit by the bus. My feeling is that records should simply happen to you.
When I lived in Iowa, I still thought I had it in me to maybe become a great record collector. The fundamental difference back then, the real source of possibility, was that I knew next to nothing about anything I found in the stacks in record stores and St. Vinnie's. I was always learning and my taste was largely shaped by accidental finds and loans from friends. In all those days searching I only really scored twice. Once at the Blind Society in Dubuque I found a copy of Maggotron on LP. Another time in Madison, I found Lora Logic's Pedigree Charm for 10 cents.
One record that regularly turned up in my early attempts at digging through the thrifted LPs is what I've posted here. The Hemlock Singers was a folk group from the town of Epworth in rural Dubuque County. The group was on the sunny, vocal chorus end of the folk revival thing. The stuff was pretty clean, but probably no more so than what was typical of that genre and era. Although they were seminarians at Divine Word College, the music wasn't religious. In fact barely any of the guys in the group went on to become RC priests. One of the non-priests eventually became my father, so this should explain why I've zeroed in on this one, basically obscure LP. If your father put out a self-released LP in the town you live in, a trip to the thrift store is bit like being the kid of some classic rock person in a normal record store. My dad's music was permanently in stock.
The design of the label on The Hemlock Singers 2nd LP is really basic. Dad is listed as the artist on the jacket, but I don't think he did the label. It sort of looks like a default design, but perhaps he picked out the colors, in which case, cool color feel Dad!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Rolling out some primo retro-psychedelia eye candy (and ear candy) for the last post. ZZK brings the cumbia again with this recent release from Argentina's Lagartijeando- which appropriate to the graphic is a heady brew of real- deal shamanic field recordings and deep bass. This is some serious business, thanks for looking people! And happy 1st birthday CnC!
Oh boy oh boy, saved the best for last. My last two posts feature label designs from ZZK Records, the preeminent label for digital cumbia out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. What's not to love about a label named after Slavoj Zizek! Here we've got the superb debut by El Remolon, full of dubbed out textures and futuristic cumbia beats. Love this label too with its elegant urbanity.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I've always had a sweet tooth for Latin rhythms. So, I was visiting my lil' sis in SF a few years ago and we decided to go out clubbing on a whim and lucked out to find Montreal DJ Ghislain Poirier spinning at a club near her place. However, it was not Poirier who ruled this dancefloor, we were really fortunate to catch two young DJ's- Oro 11 and Disco Shawn, aka Bersa Discos. They rocked the digital cumbia vibes for our virgin ears. I already knew I liked cumbia, but this set of dubbed- out traditional beats woven with bleeps and bloops was the best dance music I'd ever heard. Thus began my love affair with the cumbia. Its really global music- the two producers featured on this record are Uproot Andy from New York and Sonido del Principe out of Amsterdam. Cumbia originates in Columbia but is popular throughout Latin America, with scenes of this new clubby incarnation thriving in Mexico and particularly Buenos Aires. New York DJs expand the sound further mixing it into Tropical House sets. This record is put out by those two DJs I saw that night, who are based in the Bay Area and are one of the few labels pressing this stuff on wax. Obviously, their visual identity appeals to me as well- taco trucks, stacks of amps, and palm trees in acidic color washes. ¡Soy cumbia!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This jam was a dancefloor anthem in 2010- the magnetic Maluca seductively raps through Spanish chorus and English verses over a brisk, yet sly and slinky, merengue- inflected house beat produced by Diplo. Great track. The Virgin de Guadalupe may be an obvious design choice for the breakout record by this Dominican- American chanteuse, but it is pretty, an understated design for a typically over-the-top record label. I especially like the ring of roses on the B-side. And big ups to my friends, NGUZUNGUZU on the remix!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Kuduro is a dance music style born and raised in Angola. It has a stripped down, hard hitting sound- a marriage of African rhythmic structures and house or techno, oftentimes at a breakneck tempo with a call-and-response type rapping vocal. The label to this excellent six track compilation is simply an iteration of the Angolan flag, which looks pretty badass (I'm not sure its okay to describe a flag this way, but how many flags out there have machetes on them?). And the vinyl itself is colored split black and red, which is undeniably badass!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Cool design from Honest John's. The die-cut sleeve has really neat patterning on it too. An interesting record that spans up-tempo "tropical" house from Diplo, a grime remix of Tony Allen, and new school Nigerian.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I love Shockout records, an imprint of Tigerbeat 6, which in the mid-decade got a head start on releasing global/urban fusion sounds- the type of mongrel dance music forms that have been continually rising to prominence on dancefloors since. Here, producers like Kid 606, DJ/rupture, and The Bug were mashing up the sounds of grime, dancehall, reggaeton, and pre-dubstep advancings of the garage/d 'n b sounds. Here we have the august Gregory Isaacs with his sweet syrupy croon (digitally stretched in certain places) over playful digital beats. I particularly like the throwbacky drum and bass sound of the DJ C remix, which remarkably keeps the island vibes laid back despite the breakbeats. Oh yeah, this is the classic Shockout label, a different color for each release with the roaring Lion of Judah and shock logos.
R.I.P. The Cool Ruler.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Good ol' Soul Jazz bringing the brilliant graphics again. I really dig their dubstep/ UK funky new school 12" releases, always packaged with clean, bold, and simple design. Here we've got a nice slice of grimy earlier dubstep/ digital dancehall with vocalist Warrior Queen dropping the roughneck bizniz.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Another retro look from Dave and T&A- this time seemingly indebted to the esteemed horror/thrash stylings of Puss Head. The graphics are courtesy of hydro74. The beats here, while maintaining the signature B'more breakbeat, veer into the dark, low end sound of dubstep, a chilly and heavy mood appropriate to the menace of the graphic.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Dave Nada's 12's on T&A tend to feature wacky-fun late 80's retro design. This was the first label to feature Dave's signature logo- which I can't help but compare to the style of one of my 10-year-old-self's pop cultural favorites- Mad Balls! Unfortunately, I could not track down the designer to credit for this. Its a fun single too- more B'more Club remixes- the "Fat Bottom Girls" in particular is a dancefloor anthem and the rendition of "I Put a Spell on You" bangs pretty hard as well. More Nada manana.
Monday, November 15, 2010
What up vinyl lovers! Eric checking in on my first post of the week. I'll be bringing you label designs from contemporary club music 12" singles that span several musical styles from the global dance underground. The 12" single format, like the 45, is often packaged in simple or generic sleeves with little design aside from perhaps the label's logo. This shifts the record's graphic identity to the label itself and in recent years I have noticed a trend in more elaborate and clever design. It has become increasingly rare that modern dance tracks are even pressed on vinyl, so I find these designs to be a little treat to those of us (also shrinking in numbers) that stick to the old ways. First up and for the next few days I will be showcasing T & A record's label designs. Today's feature is a compilation of Baltimore club style remixes of old R & B favorites by a variety of producers.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Classic Columbia logo and label from DAC, the Original Rhinestone Cowboy. I saw Coe once at the Macon County Fair in Decatur, IL and, no joke, the opening act was a bunch of trashed-out circus elephants slam dunking basketballs in a portable hoop. I think every biker in the county was there; beers were a dollar. Every song on this record is solid country gold and , boy, can Coe sing. This is way before he started to look like Rob Zombie.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Weird-o artsy pre-Jethro Tull electric folk rock from St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Some of these songs were written and collected as early as 913 A.D...
"The priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem at Bishopsgate founded in 1247 became the male lunatic asylum known as Bethlem Hospital or Bedlam in 1547. In 1815 it was moved to Lambeth in the buildings now housing the Imperial War Museum and in 1931 was moved to Beckenham in Kent. The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen (Maudlin) was its female counterpart. During the 16th and 17th centuries the man in the moon was depicted as a bent old man with a staff leading a dog, carrying a thorn bush and a lantern."
Friday, November 12, 2010
When my good friend Jack Sloss moved back to Philadelphia, I inherited a massive box of Zappa vinyl. Actually, I still consider it to be his if he ever wants to retrieve it. In the meantime, I've been playing the crap out of them for the last six years or so. My favorite is this crazy three-record set that splices together in the most beautifully meandering and sprawling way many of Zappa's most exhaustive and legendary live guitar solos. Its really wonderful and out-of-control, feels like the bottom is going to fall out of everything at any moment, but still manages to be relentless and pointed. I think Barking Pumpkin Records was Zappa's own brand and I've always loved the logo.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Library sale find: first printing, first edition. I've known many a drunk, fat Welshman in my day and I know they want nothing more than to be taken seriously. Since I'm pretty much the same way, I feel this side provides a nice break from my earlier posts, i.e. crusty-noise-gutter metal rock made by testicle-obsessed Satan worshipers. Boy, the Welsh can really sing, I mean serious pipes. Makes me wonder if Dio was Welsh. It's ironic that this is a spoken word LP. Anyway, I do love this double album and the center label and the thick-ass vinyl. I have always wanted to record my own version of A Child's Christmas in Wales/Berwyn. If you read this, tip your next jar of autumn ale to the man who porked Shirley Jackson right under her husband's nose.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Nothing says "Tad" better than a hulking ball-sac off some random barnyard beast. Tad is a beast. I've always had a soft spot for Tad. Literally. A couple of months ago I posted a recent picture of an older, more wisened Tad complete with gray hair and beard; kind of looked like an evil Santa Claus. This delightful image is from the flip side to the original Sub-Pop pressing on green vinyl with original album cover art that has since been changed.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Later release by one of the few good things to come out of the decrepit state of Indiana. This reminds me of two things. "Collage is the highest form of art." I can't remember who said that, but also an old Shellac poster: "Yes. the original MX-80, in their only Chicago appearance ever." Am I stuck somewhere in time, or what?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Totally fucked-up and demented prison concept album from the Ratfucker himself. This piece of gold (which I got for practically nothing on eBay) has to be heard to be believed. I have no idea what to say about the center label other than Schaubroeck's records always strive for a sense of weird legitimacy and professionalism. For example, this album is a totally over-produced triple-LP gate fold record with all kinds of crazy drawings and photo stills on the inside. Indeed, still waiting for that ultra-glossy career retrospective boxed-set that I can put up in my glass hutch.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Quintessentially American, indeed. I truly admire this gesture of patriotism. This band had more balls than the rest of the entire KRS stable combined, which, I suppose, isn't really saying much. I saw them live twice; their releases seem to be obligatory compared to their incredibly powerful live sets.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Music To Strip By - Party Fun Songs from the Golden Age of Burlesque Played by "Bald" Bill Hagan and His Trocaderons (1966)
Obviously the most played side in my collection. "Party Fun Songs from the Golden Age Of Burlesque" Tonight!!! A Funfilled Party Program From The Golden Age Of Burlesque Featuring The Pulsating Rhythms Of--"Bald" Bill And His Trocaderons!!! A Rollicking Show For The Pleasure Of All Who Enjoy The Gentle Art Of The Strip-Tease!!!
Friday, November 5, 2010
This is a family heirloom. It used to belong to my older brother, then my next oldest brother and so on. Also, my favorite picture of Eddie. Eerily evocative, mysterious, elusive. Almost artsy.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The mighty Anthony Elms has already posted/covered DAM on this blog, but this may be the only time I'll ever get to compare collector dick size with him. I can't remember what this flexi-record 45 was included in, but I remember (about ten years ago) acquiring a massive pack of DAM stuff including a hand-painted VHS anniversary video, a Jim Shaw silkscreen bandana, loads of misc. stickers, cards, and other printed detritus, a newspaper, and a small cd. All from Book Beat in Oak Park, MI. (see Elms post) Anyway, this is limited to 100 copies.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I have always maintained that there is no such thing as a Tim Kerr "complete-ist." Even Tim Kerr isn't one. The same, of course, can be said of Art Chantry. He designed this snappy little bugger. I love this Estrus release: gnarly little off-center ghouly that wobbles when you play the record, octagonal jack o' lantern sleeve AND (!!!) glow-in-the-dark vinyl.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
For those of you who appreciate a bit of whimsy, this Beat Happening single comes in a totally handmade package: two-color silkscreen cover, totally off-register and a bunch of rubber stamped info on the back. From England, on the BiJoopiter Presents label, this single features two pretty decent outtakes from the Dreamy sessions.
Monday, November 1, 2010
All hail the Goat! So proud to own this jar of death-encrusted scum. Stu Spasm was curiously absent (along with the Cows) from the Amphetamine Reptile 25th Anniversary bash this summer, but like I said, I'm so honored and privileged to have this slice of gutter trash in my attic that I know, deep down, I'll never need anything more. I wish someone would sack up and reissue the Goat's lost catalog, but again... I'll never need anything more.
Sometime in the early 2000's I snatched up as much Amphetamine Reptile vinyl as I could find. Most of it was really cheap and golden. I love the AmRep logo. I duct-taped my old baseball cap together for the big party in Minnesota this summer and I was reminded that pretty much any picture of me that was taken in high school somehow incorporates this menacing logo. Ah yes, I miss the 90's...
Anyway, it's also powerfully wrong that most of the lyrics are printed inside this AmRep reissue, but the greatest bit of additional strangeness is the band photos: each member photographed with his head strung up and bound with a trillion rubber bands.