Good Book Record Hunting: October 22, 2015

So I snuck off to the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale on Thursday to raid the LPs.

Here’s what I got:

This includes:

  • Pete Fountain The Sunsetters $2.00
  • Sergio French La Dolce Italy $7.00
  • Brass Impact Going Someplace $7.00
  • Roger Blackburn Barbershopping in Brass $5.00
  • Henry Mancini 10 $0.99
  • Pete Fountain Plays and the Angels Sing $3.49
  • The Brass Connection $4.50
  • Steve and Eydie Together on Broadway $4.50
  • Perry Como Hello, Young Lovers $0.68
  • Dinah Washington What a Diff’rence a Day Makes $0.99
  • Jackie Gleason Presents A Taste of Brass for Lovers Only ?
  • Maria Callas Arias I Love $4.54
  • Dean Martin Greatest Hits Volume 1 $0.50
  • Dresden State Orchestra Wagner Overtures ?
  • Jim Howard Pat Sullivan Jazz Orchestra No Compromise $9.99
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Lazy Lively Love $1.25
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Lush Musical Interludes for That Moment $1.00
  • Quincy Jones and His Orchestra The Quintessence $1.50
  • Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra Blows His Horn $4.49
  • Artie Shaw and His Orchestra Moonglow $1.00
  • Pete Fountain Something Misty $0.90
  • Boots Randolph The World of Boots Randolph $0.51
  • Living French $3.00

All the LPs were a buck each; the thumbnail values above are courtesy of Discogs. They’re a quick lookup, represent what others are selling the items for and not what people will pay for them, and in no way shape or form should be used in tallying my personal wealth.

Still, Discogs leads me to believe I might have come out with $40 more value than I spent. Of course, they’ll give me hours of enjoyment so it’s more than that.

I also picked up a couple dollar books on the way by: A short bio sketch of H.G. Wells and a dollar collection of chapbooks grouped about their common theme of humorous accents. No doubt you’ll see some of them reported on biemby.

I don’t know if I’ll hit the Better Books section of the sale on half price day (Saturday) or bag day (Sunday). It’ll have to depend upon how flush I’m feeling on the weekend and how the scheduling shakes out. But I notice that the Friends group has wisely scheduled bag day on the Packers’ bye week. Do they know me or what?

Ancient Philosophers Answer Pop Music Questions

Miss Ford asks:

If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain the same?

We turn to members of the Eleatic School, Parmenides and Zeno, to answer.

Parmenides: Yes indeedly do (Μπορείτε να στοιχηματίσετε γάιδαρο σας). How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown.

Zeno: That counts quadruple for semi-forgotten 80s hair metal. Then it counts double. Then it counts once. Then one half. And so on into infinity. If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.

Parmenides: [What exists] is now, all at once, one and continuous… Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike; nor is there any more or less of it in one place which might prevent it from holding together, but all is full of what is. So get over yourself.

I Don’t Want To Make You Feel Old, Old Man, But…

The baby that the poet-narrator of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” didn’t give up would turn 30 next year.

What a strange world we live in, professor. The film garnered some controversy in the 1980s by its frank portrayal of teenaged pregnancy. I remember, if my aged memory serves, much of the hubbub was because some said it promoted teenaged sex which, I’m told, occurred amongst some of the population when I was teenaged. However, in the twenty-first century, it might garner more controversy for the poet-narrator deciding to keep the baby instead of producing post-conception raw materials for profit.

New Thrift Store Record Finds

Perhaps I should start a new series called Good Record Hunting to account for my trips to thrift stores looking for LPs (and, in my defense, a cheap television to hook up old computers).

Yesterday, I visited the DAV Thrift Store and briefly browsed its LPs, but they were poorly arranged for browsing and cost $2.48 each. I also visited the Salvation Army thrift store next door. There were fewer, they were easier to browse, and they only cost $1 each, so I got:

This group includes:

  • The Opera Society’s small disc version of Rigoletto’s Verdi. Or Verdi’s Rigoletto. Sometimes, with these modern things, it’s hard to tell which is the band name and which is the song.
  • Keely Smith, Be My Love.
  • Perry Como, In Italy. To be honest, I didn’t look close to see if he sings any Verdi.
  • Dean Martin, Everybody Loves Somebody (The Hit Version).
  • Perry Como, Just For You, a Sylvania-branded record.
  • The Czechoslovakian Philharmonic Orchestra doing some Mahler.

It’s funny when you go to thrift stores and book sales, you seem to find more LPs than cassettes. I don’t know if this is only a perception thing because they’re bigger than tapes, but it’s probably because the LP sale prominence lasted for decades and audio cassettes only sold for, what, twenty years, mostly in parallel with LPs and then CDs. Also, they’re small and easy to throw out and LPs are big enough to think they’re worth something.

Also, I don’t think I’ll start a whole new category of posts, as I don’t imagine I’ll do this that often. Although it might prove to be more often than I go to book sales these days.

Also, please note I use Discogs for my record research (and I poach images of the LPs from them). It’s a cool site. If you dig records, you should check it out.

Down the Slippery Slope

The critics predicted it: Gay marriage becomes the law of the land, and people would start buying albums of show tunes.

Although, in my defense in this case, it was a collection of Pat Suzuki singing show tunes:

If Mark Steyn can listen to show tunes, I can, too.

At any rate, the acquisition stems from a recent trip to the local thrift store. I was looking for a cheap television set to hook a couple of old computers. I didn’t find any, but I did find the shelf with the crates of LPs on them. Ha, just kidding! I knew where it was all the time, and I went right to it after realizing that thrift stores generally don’t have old televisions any more.

At any rate, check out what I have in a sort-of Johnsonesque roundup:

This includes:

  • Quincy Jones Explores The Music of Henry Mancini.
  • Boots Randolph Yakety Sax. My children will never equate this song with sophisticated British comedy that our fathers all enjoyed.
  • Boots Randolph More Yakety Sax.
  • Boots Randolph Boots with Strings.
  • Boots Randolph Sunday Sax. I figure, if I buy one from a new artist, I should buy all that I find. Just in case I like the artist.
  • Claudine Longet Claudine.
  • Claudine Longet The Look of Love. Claudine Longet, at first blush, seems a little soft and breathy for LPs. I tend to put on a record and listen to it from the next room, so stronger voices tend to sound better. Longet, like Erin Bode, might be better for CDs and closer listening. Longet appears on A&M records, Herb Alpert’s label. I’m enjoying exploring its catalog as I gather records.
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass The Beat of the Brass. I bought this one, a title I already owned, because the cover is in better condition. If I put the better record in the better cover, is that like mixing serial numbers on a collectible car or gun?
  • Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme We Got Us. I will buy Steve and Eydie albums because of Eydie; I left a couple of Steve Lawrence solo works in the bins.
  • Benny Goodman and His Orchestra Let’s Dance Again. Pete Fountains is leading me to appreciate the clarinet. How many people in the 21st century would say Pete Fountains led them to give Benny Goodman an audience? Very few. Or one.
  • The Isley Brothers Do Their Thing. Not to be confused with “It’s Your Thing” which the Isley Brothers do. The Isley Brothers do all things.
  • Olivia Newton-John Making a Good Thing Better. Because as of this spring, I’m apparently a collector of Olivia Newton-John albums.
  • Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars I Love Jazz!.
  • Perry Como Season’s Greetings from Perry Como. Because I’ve recently started finding Perry Como albums in the wild (after I said one rarely does), I’ve started buying them.
  • Dean Martin Winter Romance. This is the other Christmas album, the one with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on it. (The non-other album, of course, is The Dean Martin Christmas Album.)
  • Bennett & Basie Strike Up The Band.
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons.
  • Harry James and His Big Band Mr. Trumpet. I’ve never heard of Harry James before, but apparently he played for Benny Goodman before starting his own band at 23. I’ll look for more of his work in the future.
  • The McGuire Sisters May You Always.
  • Eydie Gorme Vamps the Roaring 20s.
  • Natalie Cole Unpredictable. When I first say it, I thought the word was Unforgettable, and I was confused as to why the song was not actually on the album. Danged cursive.
  • Pat Suzuki The Many Sides of Pat Suzuki.
  • Pat Suzuki Broadway ’59. Again, when I see multiple discs from an artist I don’t know, I’ll tend to buy them all in case I like the artist. This turned out well, as Suzuki has a strong voice and belts out some songs. These two discs represent half her catalog, which is a shame.

It was a fruitful trip, except for the no televisions. I think I’ll use the search-for-televisions thing to hit one or more other local thrift stores and see what other LPs I can gather, at least until my beautiful wife becomes my beautiful-when-she’s-angry wife.

It’s A Shame They Broke Up; Neither Love Nor Rockets Found Much Success Solo

The Love and Rockets song “So Alive” has entered the playlist of about 200 songs that the local “Most Variety” radio station runs through in roughly the same order but at different times during the day. Almost as though making the programming run on an 18 hour cycle will mask the fact that it’s canned and looping.

I don’t particularly care for the song and didn’t when it was on the radio as a hit; I remember hearing it come on as I was up late on summer vacation, typing computer programs from magazines into a computer room at the house on the gravel road deep in the Heads Creek valley between House Springs and Otto, Missouri, after the rest of the household had gone to bed. The reward was seeing a terribly low resolution ball bounce in a terribly low resolution maze if all the typing matched the checksums at the end of the line.

Now, I hear the song on the radio, and I quip to my children, “It’s a shame when they broke up, because neither Love nor Rockets had much luck solo.”

They don’t get it.

And back in those Commodore 128 summers, we didn’t actually have a way to easily look up whatever happened to those guys. They cut a couple records after the one that spawned their biggest hit, but did not have the same success and they broke up in the 20th century and briefly reunited in the 21st century for a bit of nostalgia.

Good Book Hunting: June 12, 2015 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church

The Catholic church down on Republic Road had its annual garage sale this weekend, so I sneaked off on Friday afternoon to see if there was anything for me. I don’t know why, but I’ve been a little down on going to garage sales of late. In the past, I’ve found things I could use in crafts or around the house; I’ve found things to sell on eBay for a bit of walking around money; I’ve found things I collect myself, like old computers and electronics; and I’ve found books and music.

However, I’m not doing the crafts or the eBay much these days, and I’m stuffed to the rafters with books to read. You don’t find old electronics in garage sales these days, as they’ve already found their ways into collections by this point. And the household stuff available is generally ticky tack, and although I’ve been a bachelor and once had a cable spool covered with shag fabric as a central piece of furniture in my loving room, I’m entering the age of my life (that is, married a while) where I’m moving away from pressboard if I can. We’re even down to only two secondhand (garage sale, natch) Sauder printer stands as central pieces of furniture in our house. So the only thing I’m really interested in is maybe some music or records. But I’m still drawn to garage sales for old times’ sake and because, hey, who knows. But I favor the church sales because normal garage sales are rife with kids’ things and things young families want to get rid of. I’m not in a young family, so I don’t need what they have to offer.

At any rate, I did find something:

Among the books, we have:

  • A Norwegian-English dictionary, just in case I ever get to greet the members of a-ha in their native language.
  • Four books in Andre Norton’s Witchworld series in a box set.
  • A book of holiday jokes to scan during fall football games and then to pass onto the joke-loving children.
  • Two of the Richard Marcinko Rogue Warrior novels whose names I didn’t recognize.
  • The Book of Useless Information, another to flip through between football plays on Sunday afternoons.
  • A couple books of manga. I don’t know anything about manga, even how to pronounce manga. I want to pronounce it with a j sound, like mangia, but that’s because I did an open mic night at a little restaurant called Mangia Italiana a couple times back in the day. I’m not sure whether to try it like mango (as Americans pronounce it) or mango (like it’s properly pronounced by Spanish speakers). Given that I spoke Japanese with a Spanish accent back when I tried to learn it from a text-based computer program and pronounced all transliterated Japanese words with Spanish phonemes, I’ll go with the latter until I embarrass myself and say it in front of someone who knows how it’s pronounced.
  • Mele Abbey a guidebook for a landmark of some sort to flip through during football games. Hey, it’s OTA time for the NFL. I have to prepare for the season, too.
  • The Road to Serfdom by Hayek. For fifty cents.

As to music, I got:

  • The Denver Brass, Misbehavin’ on CD.
  • The Best of Romance of The Spanish Guitar on CD.
  • The Dave Brubeck Trio, Time Out (1959) on vinyl.
  • Pearl Bailey, Saint Louis Blues on vinyl.
  • A 78 rpm picture record of Joan Edwards singing “More than You Know” and “Go West Young Man”. It lists on eBay for 40-80 dollars. W00t! And it sounds good.
  • A couple of Bing Crosby 78s. It’s the binder for songs from the film Going My Way, but of the 3 platters, only one is included, and its spindle hole is damaged and requires repair; another disc is “White Christmas”.
  • A 78 song and story book for “Little Toot”.

Additionally, I picked up two videocassettes: Crocodile Dundee and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown along with a book about drawing heroes that I’ve passed onto my children.

The total cost was $17.50. I was tempted to return today to buy the rest of the 78s for a buck (it’s a dollar for a bag at noon), but I’m resisting it.

That Other Londonbeat Song

In 1990, a band called Londonbeat charted a song called “I’ve Been Thinking About You” which you sometimes hear on the radio even today. Well, I assume somewhere, you might; here in Springfield, it doesn’t fit into the three radio formats and the 1000 songs on their combined playlists at any given time.

In 1990, Londonbeat charted a follow-up single. Deb, a woman I hung around with and would eventually date briefly, loved Londonbeat, but I was just then growing my mullet and listening to album oriented rock at the time (which survives as classic rock, one of the three radio formats in Springfield–the other two being country and the greatest hits of all time which means music from the 1980s and 1990s and, when they’re feeling saucy, a Bruno Mars tune (but don’t worry about that program director who went a little too far–he’s fired!)).

Where was I before I digressed two sets of parentheses deep?

Oh, yes, I made light of Londonbeat, especially their second hit, which includes the lines:

On the harbour bridge
The rain was gently falling down
On a lazy summer day
Your face appeared
There on my windscreen
You smiled and slipped away

“My God, he just hit her with his car,” I said because I have always had this grim sense of humor. Also, because it was the 1990s, a dark age, so I apologize for expressing the thought that the poet-narrator was talking about a woman.

So, at any rate, I made light of the song, and in the infrequent times I thought of Londonbeat over the years, I mostly remembered “I’ve Been Thinking About You” and could not remember the name of this song. Sometimes, I’d think that the last time I thought about Londonbeat a couple years ago, I could remember the name of the song, but I probably did not.

I know, I know, some of those times were in the 21st century, and if I’d been at a computer, I could have looked it up to see the name of the other song. Why, this sometimes even occurred in the smart phone era, where I could whip out a portable computer and I could look it up. But I didn’t, probably because I thought of Londonbeat while driving or in circumstances where I didn’t want to stare at a portable computer screen while life occurred in front of me.

However, this morning <fanfare>>fanfare<, I was at my computer thinking about Londonbeat, and I looked it up, and (re)discovered:

“A Better Love”:

Now, more than twenty years later, I listen to it, and I think, Hey, that sounds okay. Maybe I’ll pick up a Londonbeat album now that I’m an old man and am branching out from the AOR.

Now, the challenge that will follow me around for the next twenty years: What was that other song by Soul II Soul? Like Londonbeat, Soul II Soul charted more than one song, so you don’t hear “Back to Life” on the radio on the One Hit Wonders special programming.

Help Settle A Marital Dispute

There’s a little contention at Nogglestead about which version of the song “Radioactive” is the best.

First, the original by Imagine Dragons:

Second, the cover by Within Temptation:

My beautiful wife thinks one is the definitive version, and I think the other is.

Please, let me know which you think is the better.

I don’t want to bias you, but clearly one version is slower and building, which is appropriate pacing for a song about waking up and reinvigorating, and one is up tempo and nice and all, but it doesn’t convey that same sense of awakening.

Good Book Album Hunting: Friends of The Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale, April 22, 2015

Today, I visited the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Spring Book Sale for the first time. Over the last couple of years, I’ve adopted a staged approach to the book sale. First, I go for the albums, and then I go back and look over the books, preferably on half price or bag day.

So today I bought 31 record albums (at $1 each). I also got a couple books as I passed by the History and Poetry tables in the Value Books section.

Here they are:

I got:

  • Four albums by the Four Freshmen. I already had The Swingers and have hoped for the opportunity to expand the collection. This time out, I got Four Freshmen and Five Guitars, Freshman Favorites, In A Class By Themselves, and Fresh! which is from 1986 and is probably a new set of singers.
  • Linda Ronstadt’s What’s New which looks to be a collection of standards.
  • Pete Fountain’s Mood Indigo. I got a couple of Pete Fountain’s albums in the autumn, and I liked them well enough to look for more.
  • Mary McPartland Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn
  • Ray Parker, Jr., The Other Woman
  • Yello, One Second featuring “Oh Yeah” (which also appears in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When my children were littler, I played this song for them a lot on YouTube. It will seem strangely familiar to them now when I play it on record.
  • Doc Severinson and the Sound of the 70s, Feel Good
  • An album of Gregorian Chant
  • The soundtrack to the film Xanadu to replace a copy I bought last autumn which skips.
  • Two other Olivia Newton-John albums, Don’t Stop Believin’ and something else because my beautiful wife has a lots of her albums. When I showed her the new ones and asked if she had them, she said no. Also, she doesn’t really like Olivia Newton-John.
  • Diana Schuur, Schuur Thing
  • Tito Rodriguez, Este Es Mi Mundo (This Is My World).
  • Jackie Gleason, How Sweet It Is For Lovers
  • A collection of television theme songs not by the original artists.
  • A bunch of classical stuff because it looks as though the college radio station was dumping a lot of classical records. It’s hard for me to pick amongst classical things, as I’m not sure what of the great composers we have or lack (aside from knowing we have a lot of Beethoven but no Fidelio).

This year, the Rat Pack and Herb Alpert were poorly represented; only The Dean Martin Show and a copy of What Now My Love were present. A lot of Olivia Newton-John, though, and a lot of Barbra Streisand.

I also got a couple of packs of poetry chapbooks (bundled together for a buck each), A History of Rome to 565 AD, and a collection of musings called Ginger Snaps.

So my bookshelves are not bulging much more from the purchase, but my record storage is now sadly lacking. I’ll have to invest in a nice record cabinet sometime to store them properly.

And I’ve discovered that I get a more acute sense of anticipation buying record albums than books. When I bring the records home and put them by the record player, I find myself inventing reasons to be in the parlor just so I can listen to another of the new platters. When I bring the books home, I’m often interested in reading them, but I no longer really get a I can’t wait! feeling. Because, as the years have proven, I often do wait.

The Platter Stack

Every week, I listen to a pile of records. Well, not a pile. A stack.

You see, as I get them out from the shelves to give them a spin, I start stacking them next to the record player not unlike a college student stacking his beer cups at a Milwaukee church fair. As trophies of music listened to. Also, it ensures I get decent rotation on the LPs so I listen to different things daily.

At the end of a week, it looks like this:

The platter stack

Last week, I listened to:

  • The George Shearing Trio Jazz Moments
  • Living Brass Songs Made Famous By Tom Jones
  • Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Volume 2
  • Frank Sinatra September of My Years
  • Frank Sinatra That Old Feeling
  • Maynard Ferguson Conquistador
  • Herb Alpert Rise
  • The Swedish Gospel Singers Take A Little Time to Sing
  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
  • Guy Lombardo Alley Cat
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music to Make You Misty
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass What Now My Love
  • Bobby Dukoff Sax in Silk
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass SRO
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Going Places
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Warm
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Debussy La Mer and Ravel La Valse and Valses Nobles et Sentimales
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass The Brass Are Comin’
  • Los Norte Americanos The Band I Heard In Tijuana
  • The Melachrino Strings and Orchestra Music for Relaxation
  • Dean Martin You Can’t Love ‘Em All
  • Mercury Records Music to Live By
  • Rocio Jurado Senora
  • Daniel Barenboim Mozart in Minor
  • Maynard Ferguson High Voltage
  • Emil Gilels Beethoven ‘Emperor Concerto
  • Frank Sinatra Only the Lonely
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Sounds Like
  • Jackie Gleason Presents The Torch with the Blue Flame
  • Chicago Chicago
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Greatest Hits
  • Soundtrack Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Paris Conservetoire Orchestra/New Symphony of London Favorite Overtures
  • Lawrence Welk Polka Party
  • Dean Martin The Dean Martin TV Show
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music, Martinis, and Memories
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Coney Island
  • Gary Graffman and the New York Philharmonic Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto/Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
  • Herb Alpert Beyond
  • The Trumpets Unlimited Sounds Tijuana!
  • Percussion Espanol
  • The Jay Gordon String Orchestra Music for Day Dreaming
  • The Houston Symphony Orchestra Johannes Brahms Symphony 3 in F Major
  • Bamberg Symphony Orchestra Rossini William Tell and other famous overtures
  • Henry Mancini The Music from Peter Gunn

I also probably also listened to a Beethoven symphony or two, but I put the boxed sets away immediately and don’t stack them.

As you can see, I favor the 1960s Tijuana trumpet sound. Also note that the record collection tends to run towards big band, crooners, classical, and trumpet selections with only a few post-1960s titles and movie soundtracks. Because that’s what I like to play in the background for meals or main level house living. The rock is all on the computer for work-time listening.

Biography of an LP: Fletch Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

LP coverI bought this LP for a buck, probably, at Recordhead Music in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early 1990s. I’d just gotten a sweet deal on a stereo with a turntable (Originally priced $20, but Gome’s mom insisted he charge me more because it had big speakers, so I paid $25 for it. After that, I bought a lot of inexpensive LPs from the era. A couple of years later, I sold it at a garage sale for about $20, but it had my copy of The Dark Side of the Moon on it, and I let Pixie, the friend who bought the stereo, keep the LP since I meant to get the album on CD. I did, more than a decade later).

Sorry, I was talking about the Fletch soundtrack here, wasn’t I?

When I bought the LP, it seemed old. Probably because it was used and it was an LP in the world where audiocassettes had taken over. But it was only five or seven years old at the time, and I’ve owned it for twenty-five years (off and on).

I bought the LP because I liked Fletch from the books, and I think I’d caught the film once or twice on cable. It didn’t get heavy rotation on my $25 stereo turntable–Billy Joel and Pink Floyd did at the time, and most of my music library was cassettes anyway.

When I graduated college and moved home with my mother, she had a large console stereo with a turntable, and since I had an English degree, I guess I expected to live there for a while, so my turntable became superfluous, and I sold it. When I moved out a couple years later, I left my albums in my mother’s custody since I didn’t have a turntable. After a while, she migrated my LPs to the garage sale bin. Apparently, nobody wanted it for a dollar, which is good, since it was not my mothers to sell. On the plus side, she did not set it on a table in her driveway the (rainy) night before the sale (unlike several boxes of my books), so it remained intact until my mother passed away and I took possession of my remaining records, her LPs and 45s, and her mother’s LPs and 78s.

After we moved to Nogglestead, we put a radio with a turntable on it in our parlor. Eventually, I brought up the LPs from the basement. We didn’t have many then–this was before I listened to LPs daily and started buying them in vast quantities at book sales, antique malls, and thrift stores. In the mornings, while preparing breakfast for our children, I’d play this album first thing in the morning.

My youngest child, three years old at the time, would come and dance to the album. Dance, to a three year old, means run around in circles while the music plays. Come to think of it, this is what dance means to me, although with more air guitar, head nodding, and rhythmic finger pointing (which explains why I am not allowed to dance). On many occasions, I’d play the LP before the child was out of bed, and he would tear out of bed, run down the hall, and begin his circling dance to Stephanie Mills before he was fully awake.

For some reason, the older brother, five at the time, started calling “The Name of the Game” the Charlie Brown song. I’m not sure why; perhaps the intro reminded him of Charlie Brown’s teacher. But his brother latched onto that and called it the Charlie Brown song for months after his brother stopped in the way the younger brother does. Where the utterance of the admired older brother becomes a badge of their alliance, where repeating it proves the younger’s loyalty to the older. Or something. Because the laddie still does it at six years old.

The other night, the younger brother repeated one of his brother’s passe quips (“Ketchup saves the day!” as the reasoning behind getting the said bottle from the refrigerator with flourish before dousing a lovingly crafted entree to make it palatable to children).

Inspired, I put the album on and recounted its history, including the Charlie Brown song.

And the younger son danced with his mother in the parlor with more sophisticated dance moves gleaned in the first grade, apparently.

So this album, just a silly soundtrack from a decent movie from a good set of novels provided a set of memories years past its social relevance and continues to provide new memories.

Not bad for a buck. Plus, it’s got a couple of fun songs from Dan Hartman and Harold Faltermeyer.

Brian J., Parental Saboteur

My son goes to a Lutheran school, and twice a week he has to recite a bible verse from memory. Today, he is to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

I shall plead innocence if I’m asked why he thinks this is the Lord’s Prayer:

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble
when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror;
I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me.
Well, I must be a hell of a man.
Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble,
but I’m doing the best that I can.

Courtesy Rev. Mac Davis:

The Herb Alpert Album That Gets Short Shrift

As some of you know, I have a lot of Herb Alpert LPs that I like to listen to from time to time. I listen to The Lonely Bull a lot, Rise fairly often, South of the Border and What Now My Love? [sic] frequently, and Sounds Like…. and Warm from time to time (but less often than I would if the covers did not look so similar).

You see, I pick the next album to play based on the bit of the cover that I can see in the gap of a couple inches as I flip through them on the shelf of record albums.

So The Best of the Brass:

The Best of the Brass

gets passed over more often than it should. Why? Because it looks just enough in that gap like Fly on Strangewings by Marianne Segal and Jade Silver:

Fly on Strangewings

I guess it’s the color of the trees in the background and the yellow ground that does it. Also, I’m generally not getting that close of a look at the cover as I flip through.

The former I bought because I like Herb Alpert. The latter I got for free twenty some years ago in the free box at Recordhead, a used record store in Milwaukee. I’ve listened to it only a couple of times.

Strangely, according to Discogs, the latter goes for $30 and was rereleased on CD this century. Maybe I should give it another listen after these twenty years.

An Uncomfortable Venue, An Uncomfortable Admission

So somebody posted an announcement for a concert in St. Louis on Facebook:

Halestorm/The Pretty Reckless Concert Announcement

Hey, I thought, I like both Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless.

My original response was to go with the I could trade my 3 Dar Williams, 1 Ani DiFranco, 1 Sarah Brightman, and 1 Mary Chapin Carpenter/Shawn Colvin concerts I attended with my wife for this joke. Normally, the joke goes that I’m saving up for a Larry the Cable Guy or Blue Collar Comedy Tour concert with my wife who would not be inclined to see these things of her own accord.

Of course, as I mused on it, I would actually still prefer the comedy concert over the hard rock concert.

You see, my friends, I am a middle-aged, balding man prone to dressing like Cary Grant. Were I to go to these concerts, I would look severely out of place. And I would focus on that every second of the concert.

I’ve been to a couple of hard rock concerts in my time. Poison, Warrant, Ripd, Biohazard, Lillian Axe, and so on. However, in those cases, I was younger and had long hair. And I still felt a bit out of place. Like a poser.

The concerts I tend to attend these days (and by “these days” I mean “these decades”) are jazz concerts in clubs rather than glam rock bands in arenas or hard rock bands in small clubs. Places where the crowd is a little more reflective of my calendar age.

So I’ll pass on this one, and Shaman’s Harvest, and Three Days Grace, and Five Finger Death Punch, and so on. But I’ll still rock out to them at home and in the car.

Christmas Album Review: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole (1962)

Book coverGentler reader, I know I’m not saving the best for last in presenting this album on December 12, but this is the best Christmas album of all time. This album makes me wish Nat King Cole were my dad, okay? His warm, smooth voice infuses all of these tracks with a hominess that makes all of them mood music. Or better yet, primary music: you want to put the record on, stop what you’re doing, and just listen to it.

The track list includes:

  • The Christmas Song
  • Deck The Halls
  • Adeste Fideles
  • O Tannenbaum
  • O, Little Town Of Bethlehem
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • O Holy Night
  • Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  • A Cradle In Bethlehem
  • Away In A Manger
  • Joy To The World
  • The First Noel
  • Caroling, Caroling
  • Silent Night

If I had to gripe, I’d say the version of “Deck the Halls” is a bit manic, but, hey, who hasn’t been a touch manic getting ready for a big party.

The modern CD rendition of the album features five extra songs and opens with a spoken Christmas greeting. Yes, I have both. Let that be your guide as to whether I recommend it or not.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: The Little Drummer Boy by the Abbey Choir (?)

Book coverThis album includes the definitive version of “The Little Drummer Boy” in my mind. When I was a little boy, I had a book with the lyrics to the song along with some pictures of what’s depicted in the lyrics, and when my mother played this album, the song came to life. Or so I thought at the time.

The truth of the matter is that this disk is a collection of choir renditions of some common Christmas carols and some uncommon ones.

The track list includes:

  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • Silent Night
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • The Twelve Days Of Christmas
  • As With Gladness Men Of Old
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Christians Awake
  • The Wassail Song
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  • Once In Royal David’s City
  • The Holly And The Ivy
  • Angels From The Realms Of Glory
  • Ave Maria

For the most part, I’ve reviewed individual artists’ albums and collections of individual artists’ songs, but the choral album is integral to the whole Christmas experience, and you can’t hardly go wrong with them as background music. This album gets plenty of play in the household. And, apparently, it’s available on MP3s for you 21st century types.

Album mentioned in this review: