by Mat Weir
Black Friday has come and gone once more. This year we didn’t have as large of a turnout as in previous events, but the people who did camp out in front of our store were there for hours. And their labor paid off!
We received multiple copies of almost every Record Store Day release and the first in line always get the first crack at the section.
However, a week later and we’re shocked at some of the gems still hanging around our shelves! Here are a couple you’re going to want to pick up before it’s too late. Afterall, Santa already has a lot on his plate.
The Sonics – 50
Ok, we know you can already get reissues of Boom and Here Are The Sonics, but this beautifully assembled box set is not to pass up. Included are those two albums along with a third disc of rarities and outtakes. Thrown in are a 18”x24” poster and a 5,000 word, 36 page history of the band complete with detailed pics of the boys. Pretty much the end-all-be-all on a great band in rock history and a great gift for any collector.
The Buzzcocks – Another Music in a Different Kitchen
The debut album from a quintessential band in punk rock lore. In 1978 a 23 year old Pete Shelley would write some of the most surreal and dreamy music from the time. By blending these elements with the burgeoning punk scene, the Buzzcocks helped create a sound that would later gain momentum in the 1990’s, giving them the well-earned moniker the “Godfathers of Punk.” This reissue come on translucent orange vinyl, putting a fresh face on a classic album.
The Zombies – BBC Radio Sessions
It’s not unusual to see the Zombies on the RSD list, since there always seems to be at least a 7-inch reissue coming out around the holidays. However, this year they bring us a beautiful, two LP set compiled by Zombies expert/archivist, Andrew Sandoval, featuring previously unreleased tracks, interviews, and versions of classic songs. An obvious must-have for any Zombies fan, but it doubles as a great intro for newbs because of the BBC’s impeccable recordings and journalists.
Why is this Still Here? We have one copy of the fantastic Jurassic 5 wood, vinyl box set for the album Quality Control.
An exclusive from Record Store Day, the box has been quietly hanging out, like a prize puppy at the shelter, waiting for a good home.
When Quality Control was originally released in June of 2000, it launched the Los Angeles hip-hop crew into the spotlight and solidified their place as legends of the underground.
The wood box consists of four LPs of original tracks and instrumentals, a 24-page book with extensive liner notes and interviews with all six Jurassic 5 members. The collectible box itself is a work of art, with the J5 logo wood burned right onto it. It goes for $69.98.
With double the pleasure of your average hip-hop group – two DJs and producers (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark); and four MCs (Chali 2na, Akil, Marc 7 and Zaakir aka Soup) – they brought the late 1970s “unison MC” style of pioneering groups like the Fantastic 5 and the Force MCs to a new generation. Even more surprisingly, they did so out of Los Angeles, whose hip-hop flavors generally leaned towards Gangsta, G-Funk or Electro lines.
Musically inventive and lyrically forward-thinking, each song on Quality Control is a new adventure, exploring engaging territory, delivered via one of the best live hip-hop shows fans had seen in years.
by Mat Weir
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the record industry is a strange one. We sell fetish items to over-obsessive collectors and carefully guide the neophytes down a path of righteousness, trying to avoid the perils of auto-tune, well-researched marketed beats and other cheap trickery.
But every once in a while even we, the humble stalwarts of sound, slip up and let some great jams fall through the cracks. I came across such an item while flipping through our rock 45s and knew I must wrong this definite tragedy.
“Animal Party” was the last single King Khan & the BBQ Show did before their first break-up in 2010. Comprised of Blacksnake (King Khan) and Mark Sultan (BBQ) formerly of the Spaceshits, this band’s brand of psychedelic garage pop is raucous, catchy and twisted like the cartoons you watched as a kid. You know there was a deeper joke happening, but you just weren’t worldly enough to recognize it. Luckily (hopefully), things have changed.
Everything about this single is worth owning. For starters, the art (done by Mathieu Trudel) is extra-cartoony with a sly nod to Ren & Stimpy AND it comes with a bonus, illustrated coloring book for the title song, “Animal Party.” However, we’re not here to talk about the packaging.
“Animal Party” is a three-minute ditty about King Khan & BBQ just hanging around, when Mr. Pig stops by and throws a wild party with animal guests! (Then out of my window/came three chickens going cluck-cluck/And I said “what the–” *ba-cock!*).
The B-side, “God of Raisins” is about–well, I don’t know WHAT it’s about, but it’s equally as catchy with religious chants and gospel call-back shouts.
With the great art, mind-burrowing earworm songs, just enough weirdness to make it cook but not gimmicky and only $7.98, I have to wonder. . . why is this still here?!?
The Common People – Of The People/By The People/For The People From
1969, Capitol Records
Go down Center Street in Baldwin Park, California on any Friday in the late ’60s. Just as the sun is going down you will see a row of motorcycles perfectly lined up on the sidewalk in front of a place known as Common Land. Inside, under the black lights, Hell’s Angels and local kids hangout, smoke weed, and dig the West Coast moody, late night, psych sounds of The Common People. Handsome and charismatic front man Denny Robinett leads the group with guitar, vocals, and his beautifully lonesome psychedelic compositions.
The group released two insanely rare singles that were played quite regularly by radio disk jockey Wolfman Jack. The singles caught the attention of Seeds and Lollipop Shoppe manager, Sir Tim Hudson. He was so taken by their music that he became their manager and soon got them a $75,000 contract with Capitol Records. Hudson had a vision to incorporate strings into their sound so he hired the legendary David Axelrod to arrange them. However, on the day that they were to begin, Axelrod’s wife got into a serious accident and Axelrod had to step away almost completely from the project.
Contrary to popular belief, Axelrod did not arrange any material on the album, simply signing off on the work after completion. The conducting and arranging was left to Sid Sharp who had previously worked on the Pet Sounds sessions with Brian Wilson. The band had completed 40 songs and it was left up to Hudson to choose the songs that would go on the album. Here’s hoping Capitol still has those remaining tracks somewhere.
Tragedy seemed to hang over the group from the beginning. The brooding vibe of the album can certainly be contributed not only to Axelrod’s wife’s accident but also more to the death of a friend of keyboard player William Fausto, who was killed right in front of him. The opening track “Soon There’ll Be Thunder” is a lovely, slow, soaring ballad that conveys the somber mood of the musicians. The string plucking of the track is pure genius. The following track “I Have Been Alone” has a great simple reverb guitar part and the strings in the chorus complements Denny’s emotion perfectly. The swirling dizzying strings on the epic “Those Who Love” is the epitome of psychedelia meets classical. Lee Hazelwood wishes he had written these tracks.
For the rest of the album the strings take sort of a back seat to more guitar- and keyboard-driven songs that are equally amazing. “Go Your Way” is an excellent hippie biker jam. My favorite track from the album is the A-side closer, “Take From You.” A funky bass line and a couple guitar slashes burst into a nice groove in this song, and there’s a little chord change that makes my heart sing. The vocals come in and make it even better, and the chord change is even further accentuated with a little drum roll and quick crash hits. I never want it to end.
Other great tracks are “Feeling” and “Land Of A Day.” A couple of the later tracks even have some unexpected horns. This album is worth buying even if the rest was of the album were made up of goofy tracks like the silly B-side opener, “They Didn’t Even Go to the Funeral.”
Original copies of this gem are very hard to come by which leads me to believe that it wasn’t made widely available to begin with. This may also explain why it wasn’t a commercial success. The group faded away soon after the release. Since this album was rediscovered, every effort has been made to try and locate the original members, to no avail. This only adds to their almost mythical image among fans. It seems one day they jumped on their bikes and rode off into that infinitely warm West Coast sunset, never to be seen again.
Recommended for fans of: The New Dawn, Lee Hazelwood, and David Axelrod.
Ugly Custard – Ugly Custard (1971)
The biggest surprise to come out of last year’s Record Store Day was this grinding organ-drenched monster! With the blessing of Mr. Parker himself, the good people at Strut officially reissued this exploitation classic and made it available in the US for the first time on heavyweight vinyl. This album is a moody, jazzy, psychedelic blend of prog, funk, and soul by London’s top session men. Sampled heavily by the hip hop producers in the know, this is a must have addition to your cool, sixties-themed collection.
The group consists of Herbie Flowers (bass), Roger Coulam (organ), Clem Cattini (drums), and is led by Library master and classically trained guitarist, Alan Parker. Parker has worked with Donovan, Serge Gainsbourg, and Scott Walker. The group injects standards and Parker originals with wild organ and guitar freak-outs. The album is best known for the track “Custard’s Last Stand,” written by Parker and his friend and fellow collaborator, Alan Hawkshaw, a living legend in his own right. Mr. Hawkshaw lends his organized knowledge to create a timeless piece of freakbeat, floor-killer gold. If you’re not dancing by the end of this one it’s because you don’t have legs.
One of the standout tracks is the six-and-a-half minute “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” A departure from the other “swingin’ 60s” tracks, this slow-burning ballad begins with an unobtrusive organ and builds to a brief drum, bass and guitar workout before returning to the busy organ in the background. This track stands up against the best that Vanilla Fudge or Deep Purple ever did. The following track “Cry From the Heart” is slightly more upbeat and is led by beautiful sitar-shredding that takes you right back to that late-night London freak party back in 1966 that you have never been to. The part beginning at 2:11 is one of the most rewarding moments of the entire album.
On “Never in a Blues Day” the band flex their blues muscles and prepare you to walk out dancing with the funky bass line on “Feel This.” The organ suddenly pulls the rug out from under you and you find yourself back in the present day. But don’t worry, you can always start it over again. First, of course, you have to run to Streetlight and buy the album which has been sitting in the rock section since it arrived early last year! Come on, Santa Cruz. Once it’s gone it’s gone forever.
For fans of the Mohawks, Bram Stoker, Blue Phantom, and the Underground Set.