Good Album Stuff Hunting, June 26, 2020: Relics Antique Mall

Sorry to continue with the conspicuous consumption that is the hallmark of these pages, but after we got back on Wednesday night from our trip to Branson, I went looking for my most recent annual pass to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to see if I needed to get one before my boys and I take to bike the loop.

I could not find a pass, but I did find the remaining gift certificates for Relics Antique Mall that my beautiful wife gave me for last Christmas which apparently only have a six month shelf life. They were scheduled to expire on June 30. So I was very glad to have found them this Wednesday instead of next Wednesday. They were $70 worth of gift certificates. I would say “I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been to Relics,” but Relics was closed for a bunch of that time.

I find it hard to spend gift certificates in the best of circumstances, but I really felt challenged to spend $70 at an antique mall. I mean, I don’t collect a lot of tchotchkes; I don’t have a lot of wall space for art (or furniture); and even with house money, I don’t want to spend the new-normal of seven to ten dollars on a record (!) because I’d get peeved if it skipped when I got it home. Also, as I had my boys along, I could not spend hours poring through the records anyway.

But I did get a couple.

Yes, I got Phoebe Snow’s debut album.

As you might remember, gentle reader, I first spotted a copy of this record at Relics whilst Christmas shopping in 2018, but I could not buy it as it did not have a price on it. And I have not seen another copy since. Today, I found two: One at $7.99 with 20% off and the second later at $1.99. Instead of taking the expensive one back, I bought them both. In case one skips.

I also got a couple other albums: Twilight Time and My Reverie by The Three Suns; The Sounds of Silence by Jane Morgan; and In A Mellotone by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

The selection of the antique mall records is starting to run towards 60s, 70s, and 80s rock and pop as well as country instead of the older stuff I like to accumulate. I guess my parents’ generation is reaching that dying or downsizing age, which is bringing that stuff to market, and it’s the stuff people my age in the album-buying mood wants to buy, which is why the records are so much more expensive. But I can generally still find things to buy in my mellow, easy listening genres that’s under $4 a record.

But, Brian J., that doesn’t add up to $70 even with the expensive Phoebe Snow album, you might notice.

So what else did I get? Say hello to my other little friend:

As I mentioned when I got my guitar in February 2018, I noodled around on a bass a bit in college. So now I’ve picked up a bass to mess around with again.

How’s that guitar playing coming, Brian J.? you might ask.

Shut up, Ted. That is, it has not gone well. I took lessons for a while and quit because I wasn’t finding a lot of time to practice between lessons, so I was not advancing much at all. So I discontinued the lessons and found even less time to practice. So it went kind of like the worst possible way short of electrocuting myself with the E string.

But now I have two such instruments in my office which will go much better.

But at least I got something for the gift certificates.

Book Report: Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Heavy Metal by Jon Wiederhorn & Katherine Turman (2013)

Book coverMy beautiful wife gave me this book for Valentine’s Day. I started it in mid-March, using it as my “carry book” when I went to the podiatrist amidst The Pandemic even though this book chonks in at 700+ pages. I mean, I didn’t carry it a lot, and I certainly did not get the chance to sit on a bench in church during the Sunday school hour to read it.

Basically, the book is two music journalists presenting the evolution of some metal through the artist’s own words. It groups bands into genres like original metal, British new wave metal, thrash, nu metal, death metal, and so on, and then lets the band members talk about being in the band and so on. The timelines overlap, so we get a little re-starting.

It’s interesting that I recognize the bands up to the early 1990s, and then I have a gap until maybe 2010 or so except for the bands that started / got recognition in the very late 1990s or the bands that were around throughout. So I’m more familiar with the work of Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Testament and then suddenly Disturbed, but I don’t know much about Korn or Slipknot. Also, I’m light on the European bands.

Basically, the cycle is we started a band when we were teenagers, toured a bit, got a record deal, did a lot of drugs and had a lot of debaucherous sex varied a little. The crossover (punk and metal) bands swapped out acts of violence and fighting for the sex, and the black metal bands swapped out killing each other, killing themselves, and burning Norwegian churches (generally not in that order) in for the sex and fighting. So I found it a bit repetitive in the middle sections (nu metal, death metal, black metal) where I didn’t really know the bands.

But it did improve my sense of my own metal cred. I once saw Biohazard in Milwaukee, the week of my college graduation, in a small hall, and lots of bands (or at least the authors of this book) indicate Biohazard was very inspirational. And Static-X was big influence in the industrial movement, and I got a couple Static-X CDs a couple of years ago at a Lutheran rummage sale. So I am at least as hard core as your regular Lutheran.

I flagged a couple of bits in the book: The first is one of the Black Metal guys saying:

There have been times we felt that the whole scene was heading the wrong way, like ’97, ’98, ’99. The scene was permeated by this goth influence, and black metal was suddenly all about synthesizers and these large, pompous orchestrations and femal vocals and harmonies and melody, and everything was so soft and so gothic and so romantic.

Frost, the drummer for Satyricon, is here poo-pooing the rise of symphonic metal, one of the biggest subgenres going today and possibly my favorite, although it’s hard to draw a hard line between metalcore with female melodic vocalists and true symphonic metal.

The second thing I flagged was this unfortunate admission of my cred:

We had this bootleg videotape that we had named “Sex, Death and Mayhem”. It had all this crazy animation, snuff shit, and real death. We decided to splice together an hour of footage for a holiday show, and the footage culminated with the Bud Dwyer suicide. [Dwyer was the former treasured of Pennsylvania who, in 1987, after being accused of accepting a bribe, held a press conference in which he removed a .357 Magnum from an envelope, inserted the loaded revolver in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.]

Ew, you know, I saw that video in 1994 when I was staying with Dr. Comic Book (my friend from college who got a doctorate in rhetoric and now teaches college courses on comic books who, after reconnecting with me on Facebook this century, unfriended me because of our differing political beliefs). We were going to see The Mask and walked over to some the apartment of some of his friends. As Dr. CB also came from a rough neighborhood, his friends are a little sketchy, and they had this death on videocassette, and they watched it over and over again before we went to the movie.

Eesh, I have a lot of cred for a kid who got picked on by metal fans a lot throughout high school.

At any rate, at 746 pages including index, the book is long, but probably not as comprehensive as it would suggest in its subtitle–especially as new subgenres have arisen since then, and several of the interviewees have passed away. Some bands around in the very end of the period this book covers have become very big indeed (Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, and so on) aren’t even mentioned in passing.

Worth a glance, I suppose, but probably in small doses, maybe a chapter here and there to keep the almost monomythic narrative fresh. Or if your beautiful spouse gives it to you.

Now It’s Time For Our Long Distance Dedication

Apparently, a cloud of dust from Africa is making its way through the atmosphere to North America, and the Internet is commenting on it as though it were another 2020 unique catastrophe (spoiler alert: it’s not).

Saharan Dust: Here’s what to expect when it makes it to the Ozarks

What you should expect is me to post the Cutting Crew song “Sahara” from their album The Scattering:

I bought The Scattering on a discounted tape rack in 1990 and became a great fan of the Cutting Crew (most known for “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” and “I’ve Been In Love Before” from their previous album Broadcast). I even bought Compus Mentus five years ago. Although I guess I’m not so much of a fan that I knew the lead vocalist re-formed the band in 2015 and has released a couple of albums since then.

A Timely Post by KCSM

Yesterday, KCSM posted on Facebook:

Which links to a recent bit in the New York Times entitled The Swinging, Jamming Musical Charms of 1940s Soundies that describes Soundies, which were little 16mm reels of music video that played in vending machines. You pay a dime, you see a song.

It was funny to see this on Sunday, as my beautiful wife put a Soundies reel on my desk on Saturday.

As I mentioned, I became the world’s biggest collector of Tommy Reynolds records because my cousin (once removed, by marriage) sang for them in the Soundies era.

I bought this reel and took it to the local transfer shop in December or early January; they told me it would be a couple weeks, but stuff happened. Last week, they called because it was still lying around their shop, although they hadn’t called me to come get it before. So when my wife was out in that part of Springfield on Friday, she picked it up and put the DVD and source reel on my desk on Saturday.

I haven’t looked at my DVD yet, as the computer doesn’t have a native DVD player app in it (what? Is this 1998?). But you don’t have to borrow my DVD; you can find this song on YouTube:

But watching it on YouTube and owning the almost eighty-year-old movie reel yourself are two different things. I, unlike most of Internet-connected humanity in the twenty-first century, am of the latter sort.

Now, to find a Mills Panoram machine to play it on….

The Song Takes Me Back

Wirecutter posted a set of Tanya Tucker songs, including “Texas”:

My mother had this song on a cassette. Not a Tanya Tucker cassette; instead it was a Reader’s Digest collection of country hits, where two cassettes were packaged into an oversized binder that perhaps some people displayed on their shelves. This collection had a bunch of hits from the 1950s to the 1970s or perhaps the early 1980s–I remember it from 1984, but the Tanya Tucker song is from 1978.

My brother and I, when we shared the guest bedroom of my aunt’s house in St. Charles (before we moved into the basement), we would listen to those cassettes on a simple tape recorder. Not a radio/cassette combination–this was one of the type associated with recording things in an office, and it had an earphone. Not headphones: A single earbud before earbuds were the thing, which was just as well as it was not a stereo tape player–it only had a single speaker. We would lie on the floor in that bedroom, marveling in the cool of the air conditioning (whole house air conditioning, not the window kind we’d been used to).

As you know, this was not long after we might have moved to Texas, and the song mentions Milwaukee (“The beer stays cold in old Milwaukee”), further evidence we cited when we urchins tried to convince our uncle of the superiority of Milwaukee over St. Louis. Which I continue to assert to this day although I moved in the opposite direction when I had the chance.

When I hear the song (not so much watch the video above), I can almost catch the remembered experiential flavor of those afternoons that summer, listening to “Tall Oak Tree” by Dorsey Burnette, “Haunted House” by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs, and “Texas” by Tanya Tucker.

By the time my mother passed away, the binders were long gone, and the cassettes were in little plastic boxes instead. I think I might have let my brother have the cassettes along with most of my sainted mother’s bric-a-brac after she passed away. But I’ll go looking for them now as my weekend project.

Homeschooling Modern History through Pop Music Unit 2

Yesterday, we did spend about an hour and a half talking about "We Didn’t Start The Fire" and its representation of the middle of the 20th century and how great concerns that lasted for weeks were eventually distilled into a couple of words in a song (my prediction: if someone writes this for the 21st century, they’ll call it the “Wuhan flu” because of how it scans and how it can easily rhyme).

The boys, as is their wont (or won’t) tried to do the bare minimum required, so they often had basic answers for the lyrics that were technically correct but that did not indicate why those places or names were important in the 1950s or 1960s. And only once (Sugar Ray) in three possible did they list a band and not the actual historical figure or event (the other two being Berlin and U2).

But I’m thinking about continuing this with another unit based on “This WIll Be My Year” by Train:

It lists current events from certain years between 1985 and the first decade of the 21st century. It’s not as densely packed, so it should not take them a procrastiluctant two weeks to do it.

Homeschooling, Day XIII: History of the 20th Century

I think I’m going to make my children transcribe and research everything from “We Didn’t Start The Fire”:

When I was in high school, the last couple of days of the Honors Western Civilization class featured a video that covered the 20th century. For extra credit, we could turn in our notes from watching the film. I transcribed the lyrics to this song (because we did not have the Internet, gentle reader, and either had to go by ear or by the tiny liner notes in the cassette case).

Although I did not actually turn these notes in, a friend of mine took them and turned them in. The teacher, of course, had no idea.

Coronaschooling, Day Something: Wherein Jethro Tull Answers William Blake

Last night’s poem was “The Tyger” by William Blake.

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The poet asks:

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Jethro Tull responds:

He who made kittens put snakes in the grass

The youngest spontaneously burst out singing this song a week or so ago; it’s on my workout playlist, which I played sometimes in the car in the Great Before when we went places such as the gym in our car. So they know the song, and I got to connect the theme from William Blake to popular culture.

Well, culture that’s popular at Nogglestead, anyway, and probably wasn’t even that popular when it came out in 1974 (although, apparently, it hit the top 20).

A Big Part Of The Soundscape In Our Apartment in the Projects

Kenny Rogers has passed away.

I’ve seen him recently in the news as he played in Branson a couple years ago, and the review was a little harsh as he was older and couldn’t do what he’d done in better years.

The best of those years probably came in the early 1980s when he had great crossover success with songs like “Islands in the Stream”, “Lady”, and “Love Will Turn You Around” not to mention the country staples like “The Gambler”.

My favorite Kenny Rogers song was “Coward of the County”:

Mainly because I was a scrawny kid, and I hoped I would be able to lash out appropriately if needed. Apparently not, or perhaps I really never needed it.

Like “The Gambler”, this song was turned into a television movie that I probably saw back in the day. Before cable television and the Internet, gentle reader, you pretty much had to watch what was on, and we did.

I’m also a fan of the recent song “The Greatest”:

Although a little research indicates that this song is twenty-three years old. In my defense, I didn’t listen to country in the late 1990s, and I was exposed to the song as I started to mow the lawn at Nogglestead and could only pull in a “classic” country station. Which is also why I thought “Could Have Been Me” was also a recent Billy Ray Cyrus song.

At any rate, Kenny Rogers left his mark on the music, as he was part of the pop-ization wave of country in the late 1970s and early 1980s that spawned a reactionary, more country sound in the 1990s. And the cycle continues today.

Cue Up The Walter Murphy

I’ve created a couple extra Facebook accounts to use in my software testing for signing up or logging in via Facebook, which leads to a lot of suggestions that indicate that Facebook knows what I’m doing.

Or at least excuses to listen to the Walter Murphy Band.

As I have mentioned, I own A Fifth of Beethoven on both CD and vinyl. So clearly I do not need much excuse to cue it up.

In Their Defense, Boston’s “Long Time” Is Only 5:22 has a gallery of Longtime celebrity couples then and now, although the pictures are actually presented Now followed by Then. But I do not want to quibble with that.

What I quibble with is the “longtime” designation. Sure, some of the couples have been together since the 1980s or 1990s, which is qualifying as a long time these days (he asserted, limping after his most recent triathlon class). But so many of the longtime couples here only became a couple during the last part of the Bush 43 administration.

Maybe that counts as a long time in Hollywood or in San Francisco. However, I go to church, which regularly celebrates 50th, 60th, and 70th wedding anniversaries. So 13th anniversaries of couplehood is a good start.

Since I mentioned it, here’s “Foreplay/Longtime” by Boston. Which runs almost eight minutes, but the intro part (“Foreplay”) is almost two and a half.

You Got Chocolate In My Musical Peanut Butter!

You know, WSIE, the former jazz station and now smooth jazz “The Sound” from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, is not afraid to mix in some interesting musical choices. In addition to Sacha Boutros, Janet Evra, and Ashley Pezzotti (along with other favorites like Hiroshima, Keiko Matsui, Cindy Bradley, Al Jarreau, and so on).

Sometimes, they mix in a little Stevie Ray Vaughn and Steely Dan (and Donald Fagen solo). So they go a little towards blues rock. Today, they were all:

BTO, “Looking Out For Number One”.

You know, it’s bluesy enough to fit in with the sound. But some of us are old enough to consider BTO to be Album-Oriented Rock (later known as Classic Rock).

Fun story: I saw BTO in concert once. I have already mentioned it once, but I haven’t told you the whole story. BTO was the early afternoon act on one of the side stages at Summerfest in the early 1990s, and Weird Al was scheduled after them. So I stood on a bench amidst a bunch of aging bikers and didn’t think anything of it. I danced poorly, probably thrashed a bit, and had a great time. Then, after BTO finished, the bikers meandered off, and the Weird Al crowd of thirteen year olds mustered in, and many of them demonstrated Attitude brokered from being away from Mom for the first time, and they were getting a little restive. So I bailed out on Weird Al, the only chance I’ve had to see him live for nothing but the price of a Summerfest ticket, because I was either going to have to deal with abuse from thirteen-year-old tough guys or might end up in a scuffle with said tough guys, and even if I won (not a sure thing as I was a hundred and twenty gangly pounds at eighteen), I would have lost. You know, it probably wouldn’t have been like that, but I tend to extrapolate every conflict into physical violence as I lack the tact to defuse a situation.

Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, listening to WSIE. Which has returned to its more normal playlist of Diana Krall and Al Jarreau whilst I’ve been typing this and wondering exactly how bad I come off relating the BTO anecdote en toto. Not Toto. That’s another band entirely, and I’m sure WSIE could play some selections from them no problem.

Wherein My Beautiful Wife Mistakes A Flugelhorn For A Trumpet

Gentle reader, as you know, I like to spend my evenings in a recliner with a good book whilst a “fire” burns in the fireplace and smooth jazz plays (although not currently WSIE as the AirPort Express gave up the support ghost).

The other evening, a song came on as my beautiful wife entered the room, and she said, “Rise?”

“Chuck Mangione, ‘Feels So Good’,” I replied. And we repeated the exchange pretty much verbatim until I explained that it was not, in fact, Herb Alpert, and then she heard it.

I mean, I was able to authoritatively say Chuck Mangione even though this song, like “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen and “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, was one that I’d heard in my youth and hazily remembered. Unlike “Hearts” by Marty Balin, this instrumental (radio edit) did not have lyrics that I could have used to look it up on the Internet were I so inclined.

But I still stream WSIE on my computer, and I heard the song a couple of times, and I remembered it and thought, It’s that song. After a couple such instances, I thought, perhaps I should learn its name since I might not get the chance again. So I paid attention when it came on again and looked at the name/artist text on the live stream.

Which is why I could with certainty that I don’t often demonstrate say, “Chuck Mangione, ‘Feels So Good’.”

How good it feels to you, gentle reader, is up to you.

Did Somebody Say ‘Metal’?

High-tempo music may make exercise easier and more beneficial:

A new study in Frontiers in Psychology is the first to show that listening to music at a higher tempo reduces the perceived effort involved in exercise and increases its benefits. These effects were greater for endurance exercises, such as walking, than for high-intensity exercises, such as weightlifting. The researchers hope that the findings could help people to increase and improve their exercise habits.

Many people listen to music while exercising and previous studies have documented some of the benefits. For instance, music can distract from fatigue and discomfort and increase participation in exercise. However, “how” we experience music is highly subjective, with cultural factors and personal preferences influencing its effects on individuals. Music is multifaceted with various aspects such as rhythm, lyrics and melody contributing to the experience.

You know, I’ve been known to tell people that I don’t like exercise, but I do like loud music and that I don’t come to the gym to work out, I come to the gym to listen to the music.

I dispute that the music does not affect lifting weights; I do believe it distracts me from the voice in my head that says I cannot lift that.

Speaking of metal, here’s some piping hot new Semblant.

I just saw that on YouTube, and it’s already on my gym playlist. So I will have to go to the gym tomorrow so I can listen to it.

(Link via Neatorama.)