A weekend project is to take all the remaining vinyl 33 1/3 recordings and sort them so I can find what I’m looking for then put them into newly polished and cleaned teak boxes with sliding doors.
A: “Ananda Shankar” the son of Ravi who put a little rock to the sitar, “The Archies” yeah so sue me, “Adrian Belew” took feedback to another level with help from FZ and Fripp, “ARS Nova” an early ’68 band who combined Gothic classical with rock
The first project is to get them all out in one spot. There are only about a quarter of what I used to store, but through the years I found some I didn’t like, some I wondered how I ever acquired, and some that had to be sold to pay for food. These are the cherished ones.
B: “Barbarians” with a drummer with one hand, “Blue Cheer” the loudest band of the time, “Blues Magoos” with psychedelic lollipops, “Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” 40’s sounds with wonderful comic insight (note: Magical Mystery Tour), “Buckingham & Nicks” the beginning of a Fleetwood Mac sound by two teens, “Buggles” because video did kill the radio star
I’ve made a database of all the titles / artist / producers/ musicians / songs / studios/…. (only because I’m anal) so I have a list to organize with. Some are show tunes, some are classical, some are new wave, but the majority is good old rock and roll. And when I say “old” I mean the originals.
C: “Camel” did try to keep the Beatle smooth sound going, “Charlie Watts Orchestra” who would have thought he could make it swing, “Chesterfield Kings” a group of guys who mimicked the 60’s to a key, “Country Joe and the Fish” no other music sounds like what they captured
This mass of plastic have only moved a few times, so the wear and tear have not been too bad. I’ve always tried to keep the covers clean and upright in protected shelving.
D: “Donovan” made children’s music; “Doors” introduced by a little girl, “Duke University” the only recording of my father’s music
For years they have sat, taking up space due to the turntable dying and I never purchased another one. Recently I bought one with a USB plug to digitize some out-of-print copies.
E: “Easy Rider” a pivotal soundtrack, “Eric Clapton” surprising commercial on second listening, “Eagles” great, great harmonies, “Everly Brothers” more great harmonies and not as hillbilly as I remembered
So last winter, I decided to play every album. This was to see if the quality was still listenable. It was also to see if I really wanted to keep all this cardboard.
F: “Fanny” the first REAL girl rock and roll band, “Flo & Eddie” more great harmonies with a lot of fun, “Francis Vincent Zappa” what can I say, his music changed my life, “Fugs” irreverent poetry
Some of the sounds caught my ear since I had not listened to them in decades. Some surprised me with an almost new sound. Some brought smiles of familiarity. Some proved to me that I supported some artist over and over. Sometimes that worked out well, sometimes not.
G: “George Harrison” you see, this is why I have to organize them, this should be under “H”. Was not as impressed with his box set since 3 sides were jams but love his “Wonderwall Music” soundtrack, “Grandmothers” a bunch of disgruntled Mothers of Invention players who said they wanted their royalties
My first venture into listening to plastic brought back the sounds of scratches and pops, but even through small speakers the sound was full and rich, as I had remembered it being years earlier.
H: “Hall & Oates” was not that impressed with their music until they copied the Apollo, “Herman Hermits” a true capture of the English pop-wash sound, “Hits of the Mersey Era” is an attempt to remember all those other one hit pop wonders who invaded from England
Then came the skips. Those annoying jumps in the middle of a note or verse or thought brought out the wiping rags and Discwasher DR Hi-Technology Record Cleaning Fluid and I swirled the black disk in a ritual passed on by audio aficionados.
J: “J.S. Darling” the music teacher of Williamsburg who played at my first wedding, “Jean-luc Ponty” a fine French violinist who enjoyed FZ music, “Jeff Beck” didn’t like his early stuff, but he found a niche in electronic sound unlike anyone else, “Jimmy Carl Black” the Indian of the group, “John Sabestian” always like the Lovin’ Spoonful ragtag sound, but this solo album captured what you didn’t hear at Woodstock, “John Small” a local musician with a cover by my bud Bill Nelson, “ Joshua Rifkin” with his baroque Beatles
When the skip reappears, I recalled an old wives tales of weighting down the tone arm. Since there was not adjust to the weight, a penny will have to do. Eureka! It was just enough pressure to keep the needle in the groove.
K: “K-tel” don’t fool yourself, we all bought this stuff, “Kate Bush” turned on by a friend of mine due to a great poster, but the music and writing captured me, “ Kevin Ayers – John Cale – Eno – Nico – and the Soporifics” made a definitive 1974 experimental recording live, “King Crimson” one of the most flexible sounds with unexpected results, “Kinks” a great band not nearly respected enough
I thought about putting some in a pile to go sell after listening to them again while others brought new wonder. I had not remembered some of these songs.
L: “Leopold Stokowski” his presentation of Fantasia is a classic, “Lighthouse” a Canadian horn band following the trend but never had a hit, “Living Guitars” a gift from someone I’ll get back with songs made famous by the Rolling Stones, “Looney Tunes” one of the wonderful compilations from Warner Brothers in the late 60s early 70s, “Lothar and the Hand People” interesting band who’s hook was a Theremin, “Love” whose first two albums changed things, “Lovin Spoonful” music reminds me of a little girl and simpler times.
Some of the titles I remembered shelving after an initial listening due to lack of interest but I wanted to keep it for a complete set of the artist. These surprised me with sounds that were new and refreshing and very, very good. Maybe over the years my listening palette has changed.
M: “Mandrake Memorial” with an Escher cover and interesting electronics from a trio, “McCoys” yes, that three chord wonder, “Miami Vice” soundtrack to pastel adventure television, “Moby Grape” what a wonderful album. I recommend everyone listen to the first album, “Monkees” what, everyone has this album, “ Moody Blues” good tripping music, “Mothers of Invention” music is the BEST, “Move” great power band with classical background who went on to become ELO, “Music Machine” a 66 leather band with a gimmick of wearing one black glove yet good recording for the time.
Some were imports, but most where the copies any red-blooded teenage boy could buy at Gary’s or Walter D. Moses or Woolworths. Hours were spent flipping through plywood bins of these 12” x 12” images capturing our imagination. So many albums were bought for the cover design and photography.
N: “New York Rock and Roll Ensemble” classical meet doped up rockers talking about grave digging, “Nice” more classically trained players who like to throw a Hammond organ around the stage then stab it with knives to go on to for ELP, “Nico” the Chelsea girl who lived the life and died on a bicycle, “Nighthawks” wonderful blues, “Harry Nilsson” one of the best song writers and performers (when sober) of our time, “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band” found it’s niche with old country songs and recording an old man and his dog
Of course there were 45s around, but they only had one or two songs per side and the joy of a long playing album was it played several songs before you had to get up and go back to the turntable to flip it over and reset the needle for more music.
O: “Oingo-Boingo” wonderful pop from a writer who would turn to movies, “Orson Welles” 1938 recording of War of the Worlds, “Outsiders” a formula band from the mid 60s
The other joy of the large format was that a lot of information could be put on the cover. Names, photos, details, recording history and other silly stuff the artist or “groups” wanted to display. This material became topics for conversations at parties and other gatherings.
P: “P.D.Q. Bach” a college professor who took Bach to another silly level, “Paul Revere & the Raiders” who were lucky enough to be televised by Dick Clark to become THE teen cover band, “Paul Winter” bringing in various sounds to make early Earth music, “People” a one-hit wonder with potential, “Pink Floyd” had an interesting sound until it became dreamy
Even the fashion style was emulated by teens since this was the closest many would ever get to the celebrities of the time.
Q: “Queen” from a trio band with a powerful singer showed what multi-tracking can produce, “Quicksilver Messenger Service” never made it much further than the San Fran sound but were a compliment to Janis, the Airplane and the Dead
Fan magazines were taken over by MTV. The quick dying 8-track was taken over by the easy to carry cassette which music on the move. Analog became digitized. The entire industry changed.
R: “Randy Newman” a commercial writer who could write a commercial everyone would buy, “Rolling Stones” like them better (in the beginning) than the Beatles due to a gritty sound covering Chicago blues, think I have a complete set of vinyl’s?, “Rotary Connection” inter-racial group with covers and strange sounds like early Sly, “Ry Cooder” after his influence on Stones albums, he showed how the slide guitar could become popular
Today groups and artist and want-to-be singers and guitar players can post short videos of their attempt at entertainment, some with success and others with great talent yet no audience.
S: “Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes” a companion to Bruce Springsteen, “Spanky & Our Gang” with a smooth combination of politics and big band vocals, “Spirit” had one song that caught me, but it is still good, “Statutory Rock – WRXL – 102 FM” a time capsule of 1981 in this town, “Steeleyed Span” English rock and classic folk songs, “Supertramp” very easy to listen to and the last concert with my first wife, “Suzanne Vega” folk singer with deep messages
For in the long run, the thrill of the sounds coming out of the radio and then on albums you could purchase for $3.50 and take home to listen to over and over, was just business.
T: “The Andrew Oldham Orchestra” the Rolling Stones first manager recorded songs using the backup musicians, a REAL Classic, “The Beatles” should this be under “B”? , “The Kingston Trio” from the late 50s, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir” singing songs from the North & South 1861-1865, “The Police” energy punk, “The Rutles” the pre-fab four, “The Soft Machine” played with Hendrix and the first album blew my socks off, “The Who” power rock at it’s best, “Them” Van Morrison blues
The ones we thought were rebels and the cutting edge were only popular due to extensive marketing and continuous photo distribution.
U: “USA Africa” yeah, I know, we all fell for trying to save Africa through music
I can tell by the grooves in the record which artist or composers or performers caught my ear at one time or another. They arranged the notes and sounds to match my mood at the time. Some reflect an era while some may have had the same effect on millions of others, but the sound was personal to me.
V: “Vanilla Fudge” who took a short song a stretched it out, “Velvet Underground & Nico” with a Warhol banana cover with NY earliest punk, “Ventures” great surf sound on the radio
So I’ll dust off this library and place them gently into their new homes. There they can sleep until the electronics awaken the sound again.
W: “Weather Report” jazz with a beat to turn on so much more, “Wings” to show how commercial Paul could be, “Witchcraft Coven” songs of the dark side
And while the cassette tapes and CDs and MP3s and whatever comes next will offer convenience, this old friends will remain a treasure.
A little piece of history to be shared with those who wish to come and listen. A sample of what moves people, what stirs the sole in all of us?
Y: “Yardbirds” had a wonderful tinny electric sound with so many guitars but lost their energy, “Yes” complex intertwined band who were very tight
For music, I believe, is the universal chord. More than language, fashion, politics; Music can be shared and enjoyed by anyone who listens.
Z: “Zabriskie Point” soundtrack to a movie that cannot be found, with Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead being the fill, “Zachariah” soundtrack to a 70s western with a theme of peace and naming a friends first born, “Zodiac” comic sounds of the stars, man
There are more but my fingers are tired and I have to move records.