Singles

Someone posted this classic from 1978:

The Zeros “Beat Your Heart Out”

Still got the single. Man….those was the daze. I’m remembering looking through my uncle’s collection of 45’s that same year,1978. Elvis, Jerry Lee, Little Richard, Chuck Berry. They were ancient…a stack of twenty year old records. And now my Zeros’ single is thirty five years old. Funny how relative time gets. Then it runs out.

I seem to remember picking this up in a Licorice Pizza in Orange County. There was some guy in there who kept ordering ball these punk rock singles, probably more than any other store in Orange County. Beat Your Heart Out sleeveHe put it on. About six chords in I said I’ll take it. He said listen to the whole record! I said OK, but I’ll take it anyway. It was such a great record, all you needed was a couple seconds and you knew how great it was. I bought a bunch of other records that day too, but I couldn’t tell you what.

It was all about singles back then. For the first couple years punk rock was a 45 rpm seven inch music. Albums eventually took over, but we liked our punk in furious little two and three minute bursts in the early days, usually so short you couldn’t even sit down before you had to put on another. Not that we ever sat down. There was too much electricity in the air, too much wild energy, the music dared you to sit still. You couldn’t do it. Not even stoned. This was music to move to. And back then your punk rock hipness was measured by your singles collection. You’d show them off, especially the rarities no one else had yet. To this day I have them in a separate rack, and when people come over to party the geezers ignore all the jazz and whatever and go right to the punk rock singles, and it’s 1978 again.

The Zeros....must be 1977.

The Zeros….must be 1977. Dig the flares.

Vinyl

Records are so hot now. Burning hot. Paycheck blowing hot. Obsessively hot. Get a life hot. Stacks of platters. Analog, baby. People lining up on record store day and they don’t even know why. U2 just downloaded their vinyl only album onto an old Big Country LP I didn’t even know I had. Weird.

I liked it better when CDs were king and no one bought vinyl. CDs were everything. Digital baby. It’s the future. Box sets. Booklets with really long dull essays. You could play CDs in the car and not have to listen to Jim Ladd at all. Records were sad. They scratched. Surface noise. You had to get up off the couch to flip them over. A drag. Analog. Unhip as unhip could be. Unhipper even than cassettes. And that is unhip.

I’d stopped buying albums, too. I was getting rid of them. Giving them away. Dumping them at the thrift store. No one was buying. I was into cds. Digital. The future. Then one day Rockaway Records here in Silver Lake was having one of their huge sales. I wandered into the room in the back. It was full of records. Out front the CD bins were a desperate struggle and here was nobody. Literally nobody. Not one customer. It was hushed. Untouched. Archaic. A window into a ridiculous past full of styluses and RPM’s. I wandered along looking at one of the dozens of shelves. I realized I was looking at hundreds and hundreds of jazz LPs. And this was the $3 and under room, and everything was 75% off…..which meant the most I could pay was 75 cents. I pulled out a Sonny Rollins LP priced at twenty nine cents. At seventy five percent off that would come to, umm, seven cents.

I’d found a new hobby.

I’d find incredible stuff, walk out of Rockaway with fifty or sixty records for twenty or thirty dollars. The sales went all weekend so I’d do that on Saturday and Sunday. Get me a hundred records. A month later there’d be another sale. The record room would be full of more albums than before, and was just as empty. I’d be there for hours, leaving with another fifty records. I’d be the only one in line buying vinyl. People eyed me suspiciously. The clerks rolled their eyes. Maybe they’ll be valuable someday, I said. Yeah right. Meanwhile people are fighting over the CDs.

Since even record collectors hated jazz back then the pickings were mine. All mine. And there was world music, all kinds, platters from everywhere. And impossible as it is to imagine now there were amounts of soul and sixties stuff that people were buying on CD only. They wouldn’t touch these. You had to get up and turn then over. Talk about a buzz kill. No one had to get up and flip a CD over. So all this sealed, or mint, or as close to mint as near mint vinyl could be went ignored. Except by me. For maybe five years it was heaven. I ran out of room. Too many records. Some I’d never played. Some I didn’t even remember buying. I was beginning to worry.

Then suddenly vinyl was hip. I was saved. Damn.

The good thing, though, was that I resold most of the records at more than I paid. All that fire sale vinyl paid the rent a few times. People pay ridiculous money now for vinyl. Some guy will show me a record he paid thirty dollars for. He’s thrilled to death. Maybe I picked up the same record a decade ago for a buck, say, or six bits, or even a quarter. Seven cents. I never tell them that, though. It’d be mean. Though no one would believe me anyway. So I just say cool….

You know, you can get amazing CDs for fifty cents now. Find them everywhere. Thrift stores are overwhelmed with them. No one buys them. I have way too many. It’s embarrassing. I can’t even read the tiny print in the booklets anymore. They’re a drag, compact discs. Digital. Unhip as unhip can be. Unhipper even than cassettes. And that is unhip. I should know. I have too many cassettes, too.

Stacks.

Where the rent money went.

Mix tapes

Was reading about the lost art of cassette tape spines at Dangerous Minds. Silly little bit of nostalgia, maybe, but it brought back some memories.

cassette spine art

I have so many of these. Found a mess of wonderful compilation tapes I made back in the 80’s (before they were even called mix tapes) and I don’t even know what all the music is, even though I made them. I remember watching High Fidelity and knowing how infinitely cooler, crazier and non-bogus my compilation tapes were than their weak record geek little things. And I didn’t need no fucking theme either. Then again, mine weren’t plot devices. And it was a good movie. But I’d never invite any of those losers to a party at my place. Jack Black maybe, if he promised to be an asshole. None of the sensitive little fucks, though. The world is full of sensitive little fucks, and they all irritate me. Anyway, some of the tapes I found have stoned spine art like those in the picture (not that I could stand the music on these, of course). I can’t really get into the mindset of the stoner cassette (or K7, to use 80’s hipster speak) spine artist, though, even though I was one. Like what was I thinking? Did we really have that much spare time back then? What a lazily analog world that was. We would read books. Whole books. Imagine that. And we hung out and talked with people we actually knew, and could even reach out and touch, especially if we were drunk and they were female and probably played bass in a band. Continue reading

Record collection

The cute lady in the Santa hat came into the dining room. Brick, Brick…who is this? I listened. Eric Dolphy. Right! A few minutes later, she comes back into the dining room. Brick, Brick, who is this? I listened again. Tuxedomoon. Right! A few minutes later…Brick, Brick…who is this? Listened a minute. Earl Hines? Yes! Wow! A few minutes later, she’s back, very cute, very determined and very drunk. OK, Brick, we’re playing Stump Brick, who is this? The Pretty Things. Damn. How do you know all this music? Well, they’re my records. Damn, she said, and stomped off.

Pretty Things, “Dream/Joey”, Silk Torpedo (1973)

 The Pretty Things "Silk Torpedo" album cover.

In German that would be one word

When I was a kid I thought Kraftwerk were the lamest band ever. Like this is what happens when you lose two world wars. That kind of lame. But that was a long time ago. I’m more sophisticated now, more worldly, more open to new ideas. And now I think they are just one of the lamest bands ever. But their hipster fans might be the lamest fans ever. Though nothing personal, really.

Saw some guy on Facebook begging for Kraftwerk tickets, screaming really, in all caps. So desperate. Oh man, I thought, get a life. Better yet do away with the one you have. OK, I didn’t actually think that. I just thought how sad. Demeaning yourself in all caps just to be able to sing Autobahn with a bunch of record collecting hipster losers who get a little too excited over silly assed Krautrock shit played by geezers old enough to be their fathers. In German that would be one word.

Ein wenig Hass ist manchmal gut, nicht war?

Desert Island

So someone asked me what ten albums I would take on a desert island with me. I asked if there would be electricity. She said yes. A desert island with electricity? This is more Bob Denver than Tom Hanks, then? Just shut up and write the ten records. Jazz records? Well, if you must, then jazz records. I couldn’t come up with just ten jazz records, I said, I don’t do lists well. Then ten rock records. There must be ten rock records you like. Like enough to take to a desert island? Yes, like if you were going to be marooned on a desert island what ten records would you take with you? Marooned? Would there be native girls? Giant stone heads? Don Ho? Apparently I was no longer funny. I started on the list, came up with four records and got stuck. Not sure why those four. I gave her the list. Where are the other six? I could only think of four, I said. You’d take only four records? I travel light, I said, and someone will have an iPad. No answer. You said there’s electricity. Still no answer. I can think of six songs, I said. I rattled them off. She’d never heard of them. Not even Home is Where the Floor Is. But that’s one of my favorite songs ever, I said. It was HUGE. It wasn’t actually, of course, just in my head. What album is it on, she said. Some comp. I sold it. Then you couldn’t take it with you onto the desert island. You mean I have to actually own the record? There won’t be an iPad? Nevermind, she said. And somewhere, there’s a blog without my list of four records.

Five records. I just thought of another. Tables and chairs and TV and books and other stuff.

Jazz album covers

Just saw a photo of a bunch of jazz musicians–some of the very best in fact–making silly faces. I was taken aback. I mean is the serious jazz picture phase is over? Did someone kill it? I don’t have a jazz column anymore and don’t keep up with these things. I can never keep track. There have been so many phases. I have records from the fifties with these old time musicians grinning like happy drunks. Which they probably were, bombed. A little reefer. Meanwhile the bop guys are all serious, way serious. Suits too. Matching. A little too big but matching. None of them ever cracked a smile. Too many changes. Wild tempos. Pawned horns. Suits were out by the angry album cover era. Dashikis, even on white guys. With their dashikis, long hair, and horn rimmed glasses, the white guys always looked like engineers on acid. The black guys looked angry. Man, were they angry. Scary angry. I once looked at a Pharaoh Sanders album and hid under the bed for three days. I was never comfortable with the 80’s happy jazz picture phase. Sonny Rollins happy was weird. Chick Corea disturbing. I’d listen to the albums but try not to look at the covers. My favorite period was the jazz musicians in bell bottoms and sideburns and leisure suit era. You’d see them on their album covers trying to look like hippies but always looking like heroin dealers. Then there was the everyone dressing like Sly Stone period. Huge hair. Huger flairs. Heels so high they created their own weather patterns. And bling baby, bling that made Isaac Hayes blanche. Sometimes, though, the players looked less like Sly Stone and more like Elton John crossed with an electric chicken. Which wasn’t actually the intended effect. But I digress.

A lot of those albums sure were great, though.

Herbie Mann saving money on clothes.

Herbie Mann saving money on clothes.