Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two New and Three Soundtracks from the Stacks...

As promised (but sadly delayed), I've gathered a couple more LPs that recently tripped my trigger.  Also, I've been cleaning guns.

The first two are brand spankin' new, and still have that 'fresh from the plastic' smell.  As well as the manufacturing debris that requires immediate cleaning.  All I ever do is bitch and moan.  Poor baby has to clean his records before he listens to them....I could be donating my record funds to the starving and disease-ridden peoples of third-world nations.  Nah.

I'll begin with the Radiohead 12" single release of "Supercollider" b/w "The Butcher".  Released by Ticker Tape/XL and pressed on a beautiful slab of 180 gram, this sum bitch sounds exquisite.  It's the perfect continuation of King of Limbs, and recommended for any Radiohead fan out there with a turntable.  Granted, the digital versions accompanied the deluxe release, but having a beefy physical copy sure looks pretty next to it on the shelf.  Also, note the extremely clean bass on both tracks.  Well produced, again, much like the aforementioned album.

Radiohead 12" Single on Black 180 gram

Radiohead - King of Limbs 2x10" on Clear Standard - Newspaper Edition Set

Next, I have for you the AMAZING new Beastie Boys release entitled, Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two.  This set includes two 180 gram white vinyls slipped in sturdy paper stock sleeves featuring full lyric sheets.  As an added bonus, a white 7" is included, with the tracks "Pop Your Balloon" and "B-Boys in the Cut."  And, an additional digital download code as well as an iron-on t-shirt image are included.  BONER!  For about $20, this set cannot be beat.  Speaking of beats, this album has 'em by the handful.  See what I did there?  White street cred, bitches.  Sounds good, by the way.....excellent for people that hear and/or hipsters that can only relate to those that lived through the 80s.

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two 2x180 gram on White with bonus 7" and Iron-on

Digging into the summer stacks, I decided to get my soundtrack fill.  And fill I did get....I have no idea what that fucking means.  Anyhoo, I kicked off my cravings with some good old Ennio Morricone, the master of scoring Spaghetti Westerns.  Featuring whip-cracking, cowboy chanting, lonely harmonicas, and glorious horns--oh, the beautiful horns--on both A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Yet, I continue to search for the one remaining Leone/Morricone missing from my collection....Once Upon a Time in the West.  One day you will be mine.  One day.

A Fistful of Dollars OST on Standard Black

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly OST on Standard Black

And finally, the tour-de-force that is Stand By Me.  What an amazing summer movie and a fantastic compilation of 50s rock and bubblegum pop.  I don't want to get too reminiscent here, but the goddamn movie changed my existence and the music always takes me back to a place where friends were actually friends, problems were fleeting, and leeches on your balls was the most horrifying thing ever.  Kicking off with Buddy Holly and ending with Ben E. King, this LP is essential...each track a bygone classic.

Stand By Me OST on Standard Black

Also, I love the deep press label on Stand By Me (Atlantic)...which reminds me of another deep groove label I always look forward to finding (Dot).  Both are pictured below.

That's all folks.  Enjoy the tunage.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two from the Summer Stacks...

When summer hits, I get the itch.  I take to the streets in hopes of finding a garage/estate sale with a choice selection of vinyl stashed in the back.  Granted, nine times out of ten I'll find a crate filled with beat to hell polka, Streisand, and The Graduate soundtrack.  But, every once in a great while I find a goldmine.  This summer would be no different.

Over the next few weeks I'll post some of the more excellent discoveries, ranging from Morricone Spaghetti Western soundtracks to 60s Psychedelia to 80s synth rock.  Good shit.

To begin, I was most excited to find a clean copy of Graham Nash's unbelievable solo effort entitled, Songs for Beginners.  The sleeve is beat, with extensive edge wear, and some solid ring wear...but the vinyl itself is well kept and pop-free.  For $1, you can do no wrong.

The album kicks off with a whimsical, marching sing-along anthem called "Military Madness" only to be followed by a quiet, dark examination of lost love, titled "Better Days."  Each song that follows has aged amazingly well--thanks to an excellent production.  Other standouts include: "Be Yourself" (a catchy plea to resist conformity), "Man in the Mirror" (a drunken Country Western toe-tapper), and "Chicago" (an organ heavy cry for help).  Definitely worth a listen if you have the time and/or are a fan of CSNY.

Another LP I was ecstatic to find was Mama Cass' (Elliot's) Dream a Little Dream.  Her first solo release, and an exceptional example of her musical abilities.

The album smacks of off-kilter, poppy psychedelia with an excellent sound design.  Recorded almost completely live, the tracks will drift from stage performance (with chattering, chanting, clapping, even howling audience participation) to beautiful studio production (with lush guitar work and deep, rich bass).  All-in-all, a concept album that pleases on many levels.  Standout tracks include: "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "Talkin' to Your Toothbrush" (love the bass here), "Rubber Band," and the Graham Nash penned "Burn Your Hatred."

Next week I'll pull a few more from the Summer Stacks.  Hope you enjoy the tunes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DIY Cork Turntable Mat in 30 Minutes

I've been looking into the benefits of using a cork turntable mat (it helps to dampen vibration and can limit the build-up of unwanted static), but was surprised by the cost.  Seriously, $20-30?  Fuck that.

So, I took it upon myself to create my own mat on a budget.  Here's a step-by-step breakdown with the fetching results.

First, acquire the essentials:
  • 12" x 12" Cork Sheet (1/8" to 3/16" depth for best results (depending on your deck)) - this can be purchased at most craft stores for approximately $3 per sheet.  (This sheet was purchased at Michael's)
  • Hand Clamps
  • X-acto Knife (sharp)
  • Masking Tape
  • Cutting Board
  • Marker
  • A record that can be properly abused

Next, clamp your shittiest (unwanted) copy of the Oak Ridge Boys (or Wham!) to the 12" x 12" cork mat, with a cutting board beneath.

Now, cut out the center spindle hole portion (later you may have to flip it to cut the other side - this will provide a cleaner opening).

Next, simply start at the top (nearest the clamp) and follow the blade along the edge of the record.  It's best to make careful straight-down cuts rather than striking quickly over and over.  Again, you'll get a cleaner edge.

Then, once a full half is complete, carefully remove the clamps and flip the record with the cork so that you can easily cut the remaining two quarters.  If you have a smaller cutting board surface you can omit this step.

Now drink.

Once all sides have been cut, carefully move the clamps to the side (still clamped down) and X-acto any left-over edges that are evident.

Again, you can then flip the cork and place the record on top to remove the spindle hole.  I wouldn't recommend drilling the center...that shit will tear up the cork.

Anyhoo, you should be left with a pretty decent mat at this point.  So, drink again.

To clean up the mat, I would advise using masking tape (preferably a roller) and simply dab both sides, as well as along the edges.

There you have it.  I also threw on a RPM speed sticker from Sleeve City that I pulled from a felt mat, to gussy things up.

The Results:

Now, I'm a man.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Into the White: A Pixies Bootleg

I recently obtained a free promotional copy of a Pixies bootleg entitled: Into the White: BBC Recordings from 1988 and 1989.  On first glance, I was really taken aback by the quality of the sleeve design (a nice two-color screen print) and the look of the vinyl (a sturdy standard weight pressed on transparent dark green).  But, then I listened to it.

A good portion of the tracks have been taken directly from the Pixies at the BBC CD, originally released in 1998 by 4AD, omitting Subbacultcha, Is She Weird, Ana, Letter to Memphis, and Monkey Gone to Heaven.  The good news is that two unreleased tracks have been added: Tame and Into the White, both of which sound exceptional.

Keeping in mind that this was a bootleg, I didn't have too high of hopes for the quality of the sound.  For the most part, I was correct...but I was also occasionally surprised.  Surface noise and the random 'pops' aside, this isn't a bad release.

The Good:
  • Two unreleased BBC recordings
  • The condition of the vinyl itself as well as the sleeve
  • Supposedly limited to 100 (transparent dark green) or 500 (standard black)
  • Caribou sounds fantastic
The Bad:
  • Caribou is completely left off of the track list (on both the sleeve and LP's label)
  • Nearly every track cuts in at the beginning
  • Some songs have the channels reversed (comparing to Pixies at the BBC)
  • Noise between tracks (but not as noticeable during songs)
Sure, it's a bootleg...but the price was right and I don't mind adding more content to my Pixies collection.  If I want quality sound, I'll stick with the Minotaur set....maybe I'll do a write up of that set in an upcoming post.  Maybe.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Reissued

Although I can't say that I've been an avid Tom Petty fan, I've always had a great deal of respect for his musical abilities.  As a result, my Petty consumption has been limited to the 'best of' or 'greatest hits' category, which I now find quite sad.

It wasn't until a few months ago when I picked up a limited 7" featuring off-record "Damn the Torpedoes" tracks, "Nowhere" and "Surrender," that I realized what beautiful and rich production TP and the gang have become famous for.

As a result, when I discovered that Chris Bellman was mastering the reissues of both the self-titled debut album as well as "You're Gonna Get It" for Record Store Day, I bit the bullet and dropped the cash.  I couldn't be more pleased with the purchase.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Self-Titled release on Standard 120 gram WHITE vinyl

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - You're Gonna Get It release on Standard 120 gram Transparent BLUE vinyl

Although I don't have the original releases for comparison, these remasters are unbelievable!  Guitars leap effortlessly from left channel to right channel, the percussion has pulsating bite, and the vocals are clear and upfront (for the most part).

Completely satisfied with these copies, I then set out for the tour-de-force itself, "Damn the Torpedoes" - the deluxe edition on limited double vinyl.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes release on 2 LP 180 gram BLACK vinyl

Extras include a second disc of unreleased/alternate and live tracks, in paper/poly sleeves, with high definition download, and a 12 x 12 photo/lyric book, all within a beautiful gatefold

I couldn't recommend this reissue any more.  Granted, the album initially sold millions of copies and can easily be discovered in the used racks for a few bucks...but THIS release is the way the album needs to be heard.  Simply put, it's sex for the ears.

Kick back and enjoy, I know I have been.

Click READ MORE for a full track list and audio players.