Excuse Me. Your Excused.

Monday, December 29, 2008

:: Songs of Safety Part One ::

:: Songs of Safety Part Two ::

:: Manners Can Be Fun Part One ::

:: Manners Can Be Fun Part Two ::

:: Health Can Be Fun Part One ::

:: Health Can Be Fun Part Two ::

Fun. We all like to have it, especially kids. When I first popped this on, I couldn't believe how unfun it sounded, especially when I tried to imagine being a kid and being bombarded with these condescending messages set to music that I doubt any kid was ever into. Things like making sure you don't cook your fingers by confusing the hot and cold faucet handles, and to hang on to your mother's hand when you are watching a parade, which incidently would be where you might hear music such as this. But the more I listened, the more the quaintness of it drew me in and by the time it got to manners being fun, they actually kind of were.

Some context helps here. I was under the assumption that this record was from the sixties, and from the inner sleeve this pressing was from at least 1967, a year I don't associate with hokey whitebread music using words like "motorcar." So I looked this stuff up, and this is just three 78's from the 40's put onto one LP, one of countless repressings that had been done over the years. That explains why this sounds so square for the late 60's, when surely talking magic mushrooms were already teaching kids to read.

Frank Luther is an interesting character. He started out doing very country Country Music, and later settled in as a top childrens records artist. The label this was on, Vocalion, which as this point had been revived by Decca as a budget label for reissues such as this, has a tremendously rich history, including the only Robert Johnson records ever produced.

So sit back and have a listen, and try to imagine an age when kids needed a whole lot of instruction just to stay alive and not be run over or burned alive, and then laugh thinking about how these days junior has to show grandpa how to download a photo attachment from an email.


I Count Six

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

:: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ::

Have you heard enough of the Christmas classic, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to last you a lifetime? Of course not, especially when you can hear this one - brought to you by a sixties Taiwanese all-girl band called, The Five Petals. After you’re all through, though, I dare you to head over to and attempt to listen to the other 26,532 versions of the song without going completely batshit.


It's All About Venus and Mars

Monday, December 22, 2008

:: Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay ::

:: Lies ::

:: Call of The Wild ::

:: Megalomania ::

:: Cactus Fruit ::

:: You're A Dancer ::

:: And You Know ::

:: Bandit ::

:: Get Down Woman ::

:: Visions Through an Empty Glass ::

While searching through the new arrivals bin at Amoeba one fine day, I did a double take when I laid eyes on this one. I could tell immediately it was a "vanity" record. In other words, some guys figured that since no real record label would sign them, they'd put up the cash themselves and obtain fame and fortune via the back door route. These records are always fun in some way or another, but Amoeba wanted $20.00 for this one. Why? I didn't know, but since then I've seen it around a couple of times at different stores, and it was even more expensive. Something about the name of the band gave me pause though. Jupiter. "Why do I know this?", I asked myself. I squinted my eyes and looked closer. There, grinning back at me from the back cover was my childhood friend Tim. The rather dapper looking guitar player is Lorenzo, a guy I went to high school with. Tim and I played in Lorenzo's band for a month or so during my freshman year. $20.00? No problem.

Tim and I were best buds during our middle school years. We got into the rock & roll when we were about 13 and went to our first "concert" together (Creedence with Booker T & the MGs and Wilbert Harrison at The Forum). Tim took up guitar, and showed me a few chords. We convinced our parents to lay out the big bucks and buy us brand new Teisco Del Rey guitars from the local Thrifty Drug Store ($50.00 price range). Mine broke within the first week when I leaned it against the wall and it slid down and hit the tile floor, the neck snapping clean off at the body. I got my money back and traded down for a more "practical" item; a bean bag chair. Shortly thereafter, Tim bought a Harmony Strat-O-Tone from the local pawn shop for $12.00. By this time he had acquired quite a few cheap, semi-functional guitars, so he gave me the Harmony. I still own this guitar and will be forever in his debt.

Tim and I drifted apart during high school, the band with Lorenzo being one of our final attachments. A couple of years after high school, Tim turned up again after he got wind I was in a punk band and started hanging out with us, but we were in two different worlds. Another couple of years later he showed up on my doorstep with a record in his hand. Turns out he and Lorenzo had gotten back together again and started a band called Jupiter. And look! Their version of "Mongoloid" made it onto a Devo tribute album put out by Rhino Records called "Devotees". Well I'll be damned.

Maybe I was jealous, or just didn't care, but I didn't even bother to go out and buy myself a copy of Devotees at the time (a move I later regretted, although I now own a copy and they're not all that hard to find). I didn't see or hear from Tim for another 25 years after that, and I had no idea that Jupiter put out their own LP. I kind of wished I'd stayed in touch now, but at the time I was about to get married and settle down, and I'd had enough of the whole band scene (little did I or my future wife know that after a couple of years of marriage, I'd join a band and would always be in one band or another from then on).

Some time during high school, Tim asked if I would record his band on my new JVC reel to reel, which had a "sound on sound" function allowing you to multi-track. I went to Tim's house and recorded him and his friends Tom and Wes in Tim's bedroom. Tim and Tom played acoustics and all three sang harmonies. One of the songs was "Lies", a bright, poppy early Beatlesque little number which Jupiter gave the power-pop treatment here. Way to go Tim.

Well worth the $20.00 I paid for it, Multiple Choice is truly a pop gem that grows on me with each listen. Lorenzo (as I recall) was a total Byrds freak when he was 15, and as you can see the Rickenbacker and Vox thing was still his sound of choice at this point. The 60s are an obvious influence, but they were ready to take this thing into the 80s. Megalomania is a revelation and hints at a darker side I would love to hear more of. Even seemingly daft throwaways like Cactus Fruit and Bandit eventually reveal hidden layers. The ambitious closer, Visions Through an Empty Glass starts off wearing it's Pink Floyd influence on it's sleeve, but then goes punk/pop bat shit crazy, then back again.

The final bit of 6 degrees for me is the fact that the album was recorded at Media Arts Recording in Hermosa Beach, where my punk band had recorded some demos a couple of years previous. The studio would become synonymous with Black Flag, and the house engineer, Spot, would become SSTs go to guy for Hüsker Dü and The Meat Puppets.

Now I wish I'd stayed in closer contact with Tim and Lorenzo in those days and had seen Jupiter play some shows. Oh well, never too late for a comeback...


Requiem For A Lightweight

Friday, December 19, 2008

:: Moonlight Masquerade ::

Taken from Mickey Rooney Jr’s 1978 solo album, aptly titled Crazy Ideas, “Moonlight Masquerade” is a shameless rip off of Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood’s 1972 hit, “It Never Rains In Southern California.” While the production, harmonica lick, and chord progression sound just like it, the lyrics are much lighter, such as with the opening lines:

When I first saw you at the all night supermarket
And I held a watermelon in your hand
Do you remember all the promises you told me
As we ate it in the back seat of your van

In verse two he continues the food metaphor when she promises to give him all her cupcakes all she can. But to his credit, Mickey Rooney Jr. got the jump on Dan Fogelberg, who didn’t get hip to the ‘saw you at the grocery store’ angle until 1981 with the regrettable release of “Same Old Lang Syne.” Unlike the dismal winter imagery of that song, the chorus of “Moonlight Masquerade” takes on a balmy, Hawaiian tinge. The lap steel guitar part and lilting female backing vocals are suggestive of a climate suitable for having unprotected sex in a van, and more feel-good overall than dead Fogelberg’s frostbitten dick vibe.

According to his myspace page, Mickey Rooney Jr. lives in Hemet, California and still performs occasionally, while his former bass player John Blanchard is in a California State prison serving time for murder, so it’s all relative.


Jerry's Ids

Monday, December 08, 2008

:: The Rake ::

:: Wild Times ::

:: Don't Think Twice ::

:: Stone and Steel ::

:: Baby Eyes ::

:: Boil the Kettle, Mother ::

:: Butterly Kiss ::

:: Short Circuit ::

:: Just Who ::

:: The Inner Sounds of the id ::

Yet another uncredited lp by the late great session guitarist, Jerry Cole. This one is different though: The id were a full on pop group with vocals and radio ready pop tunes and the whole nine yards. Coming at the beginning of the psychedelic age, the songs reflect the times minus much of the amateurish wankerings of many of their contemporaries, replaced by solid musicianship and tricky time signatures.

I'd been looking for this lp for quite some time. Once I finally found a copy, I was surprised by how much I actually enjoy listening to it. 1967 was such a landmark year in pop music, it's no wonder such a fine lp was overlooked, but come on.

The lp has been reissued on CD (in Germany, I think), so if you look around you can find it. It's been covered ad nauseam on other blogs as well, which gives me pause when it comes to whether or not I should post it, but my version is in full spectrum monophonic sound, and I'll be damned if it doesn't sound delicious too. So that's my excuse.