Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Redman - Whut? Thee Album LP


Rush (1992)

For this Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesday, I have the first Redman record, Whut? The Album.  The first time I heard Redman was on the EPMD posse cut "Headbanger" from Business Never Personal.  That's always been my favorite EPMD record.  "Headbanger" was one of the highlights and Redman's verse is pretty much the highlight of the song.  After hearing that one, it was a guarantee I'd be picking up Redman's debut.

Back when I got this album in high school, I actually ended up being a little disappointed.  It didn't hit me as hard as Business Never Personal and felt kind of long.  I honestly didn't end up listening to it a whole lot aside from the undeniable first single "Time 4 Sum Aksion."  That song ruled back then and is still my favorite thing on the record.  But past that, it felt like there were too many skits and not enough songs that had the same sort of energy I was expecting.  The CD ended up lingering in the collection as Redman went on to be a pretty well known dude.  I never really listened to anything else of his during his ascent.

I rediscovered the record in the mid 2000s when I started relistening to a lot of my hip hop records.  It ended up being much better than I remembered.  I still think there are too many skits, but in no way is "Time 4 Sum Aksion" the only track worth listening.  "Rated R," "Watch Yo Nuggets" and "Tonight's Da Night" all prove that I was way too dismissive of this record when I was younger.  I still do wish I could trim some of the skits out and shorten the record as a whole just a bit, but even in it's current form it's a great listen.

I definitely wanted to have the vinyl in my collection as the highs are really high on Whut? The Album.  Unfortunately, when this copy showed up from eBay, I discovered that it wasn't in the sort of condition I expected.  The A side, in particular, is in rough shape with hiss and pops and a few skips.  Don't worry, the seller made good and I didn't get swindled out of any money.  But for now this copy will end up as a placeholder until something better comes along.

Redman - Whut? The Album (YouTube Playlist):

Monday, October 28, 2019

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7" - Blue Vinyl (/155)


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Full disclosure, this is a ska 7".  I haven't listened to a new ska band of any kind since 1996.  I really liked Operation Ivy and Less Than Jake back then, so I tried listening to a few other bands of that era, but nothing really stuck with me.  I quickly assumed that I just didn't like ska and Op Ivy and LTJ were the exceptions not the rules.  Even those Less Than Jake records didn't age particularly gracefully.  Have you heard Losing Streak lately?  That might be the worst guitar tone ever captured on a record (Op Ivy still blasts though).

And now in 2019, we have Roka Hueka, a latin ska band from Denver, Colorado.  To say I wasn't sure what to expect going into this record is an understatement, but I quickly discovered something.  Ska was absolutely meant to be played with the singing in Spanish.  It just makes so much more sense.  The way the bouncing bass lines and horn accents mix with the lyrics on "Que No Quedo Huella" transform this genre of music that seems comically out of style into something that sounds fresh and contemporary.  I could absolutely see this being played in a packed club filled with enthusiastic folks dancing the night away.  This song is a hit.

The B side is "Back To You" and is in English.  I don't like this song quite as much as the A side, but it is slower and has a sincerity to it that keeps it from sounding cliche and dated.  To quickly quote the Snappy Little numbers website: "This record is a Community Collaboration project and is fully sponsored by Cereveceria Colorado with 100% of the money raised from the sales of this release benefiting Casa de Paz and Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, two organizations dedicated to fighting for immigrants' rights."  That is absolutely something I can get behind, whether you like ska or not.

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7":

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Standard (1992)

It's rare that I get to buy a new Rocket From The Crypt release these days.  I am committed to trying to track down every single stupid variant of every one of their records, but at this point there's really not many left.  That said, something new always manages to pop up and this 7" is an example of that.

I have had a version of this record since around 1995.  That version had a blue sleeve.  In the early 2000s I found out there was a version with a yellow sleeve as well, so that was added to the archives.  Well, it turns out there was a third version that showed up on eBay a few weeks ago.  This one has a pink sleeve.  Aside from that it's the same as the other two, but whenever I find a Rocket From The Crypt record that I previously didn't know about, it makes me wonder what else could be floating around out there.  Probably more than I really want to know at the end of the day.

Song wise, I can't say too much about Deadbolt.  Their spooky surf didn't really grab me in the 90s and I've probably only listened to their side of this record a couple of times at the most.  But the Rocket side is a favorite of mine.  "Cha Cha Cha" blasts forward with pick slides, hammered chords and that fuzzy vocal feedback that was present on so many of those early RFTC masterpieces.  I just love it and it still gets me pumped up all these years later.  Give it up for the band.

Rocket From The Crypt - "Cha Cha Cha":

Deadbolt - "Down In The Lab":

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

D-Nice - Call Me D-Nice LP


Jive (1990)

As we go through Wednesday Ed Lover Dance Day each week, there will be some things that start create a pattern and explain where my brain was at in the late 80s and super early 90s.  Boogie Down Productions was probably the first hip hop group that I would have considered my favorite when I started to fall into that world in grammar school.  When D-Nice's debut album came out, I remember him being featured pretty regularly on Yo MTV Raps and it being mentioned that he was part of the BDP crew. 

In addition to playing the video a decent amount, I also remember him appearing on the show live to preform.  I won't say that it is for sure the first live act I saw on the show, but it's the earliest one I can remember.  I definitely got the CD as part of one of my BMG music club scams, but have just recently added the vinyl to my collection.

I think this album holds up really well considering that it's creeping up on thirty years old.  The one-two punch of opener "Crumbs On The Table" and lead single "Call Me D-Nice" still hit pretty hard all of these years later.  While the record doesn't really maintain those sorts of highs throughout, I think it's a much better album as a whole than it's probably given credit for.  "A Few Dollars More" combines a slick bass line with forceful lyrics.  "It's All About Me" is built off of a repeating 60s sounding sample, that mixes with bouncing bass and solid scratching in the breaks.  Closing track "And You Don't Stop" loops some 70s funk sounds that provide a base for D-Nice to throw out some 90s shout outs and lay down some quick rhymes on his way out the door.

The whole record is strong.  There was a period of decades where this wasn't an album I really listened to at all, but relistening to it with fresh ears for the last year or so made me realize that not having it on vinyl was a pretty glaring hole in my collection.

D-Nice - "Call me D-Nice":

D-Nice - "Crumbs On the Table":

Monday, October 21, 2019

Warp Lines - Human Fresh LP - White Vinyl (/200)


Dirt Cult (2019)

I've bought fewer new records released in 2019 than any year I can remember since the darkest days of my music consumption in 2004-2005.  The big difference between this year and those years where the passion was being forcefully driven out of my by the music industry is that although I have bought fewer records, the quality of the records I've picked up this year is pretty through the roof.  There have been several albums that I've listened to and thought, 'this could easily be the album of the year.'  Add Warp Lines to that list.  This record is hot shit.

When I found out that the band was from Canada and had a member that did time in the Steve Adamyk Band, I knew it would be worth taking a listen to.  That said, I was totally unprepared for how incredible this album is.  Warp Lines manage to take the sort of riffs and innovative chord progressions that you would hear on a Hot Snakes album, but use them with completely different guitar tones and melodies.  There's a retro vibe in the production with a bit of a dreamy haze floating over the record, but the band cuts through that with sharp hooks and creative song structure.

There are times where I hear a Jawbox sort of vibe emanating from the band's killer rhythm section.  The drumming in particular is outstanding and elevates the songs even higher.  Pounding toms and punchy fills create the backbone of the band's compositions, allowing the guitars to explore new ground, while staying rooted to the goal of ultimately providing a catchy song.  It's rare that I hear a band that can change things up and create interesting soundscapes without losing the plot.  This is an album full of pop songs at the end of the day, but they're delivered through a band that is taking chances and building off of many disparate influences.

To sum it up, this record is outstanding.  It's definitely one of the best I've heard all year.  Maybe the best to be totally honest.  There's nothing I can say to recommend it as much as it deserves.  Just go buy it immediately.

Warp Lines - Human Fresh:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Chippendale - Kill The Time Until Die CD


Fixing a Hole (2018)

I feel like I’m probably gong to be writing about the amazing Waterslide/PopKid show that happened when I was in Tokyo for the rest of my life.  It was such an incredible time and I will never forget how much fun I had and how important that night was to me.  One of the great bands that played the show was Chippendale.  I wasn’t really all that familiar with them prior to the show, but I left that night a pretty big fan of the songs they had played.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I have their full album in my possession finally.  Kill The Time Until Die is a nine song journey through some fantastically bleak, but energetic punk rock.  The bands that come to mind when I listen to the record first are Scandinavian imports such as early Manifesto Jukebox and Phoenix Foundation.  I also hear a little bit of I Excuse is some of the album's more frantic moments.  But where those bands would be a nonstop, aggressive bash in the skull, Chippendale leans towards a borderline shoegaze sound.  I still hear the tinges of anger and dissolution, but they’re presented in a more melodic way.

That’s not to say the band isn’t perfectly capable of turning their amps up to ten and unleashing a barrage of downstroke mayhem.  But I think the band is most successful when they indulge their melodic tendencies.  Kill The Time Until Die is a really dynamic listen.  I’m so glad I got to see them play live, even if it was just that one time.

Chippendale - “Unexpected”:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown LP


Next Plateau (1988)

Ultramagnetic MC’s have long been a favorite of mine.  The first album I ever heard by them was Funk Your Head Up.  I bought that CD at a record store in Heathrow airport while I was on a layover going to Spain as part f a class trip my sophomore year of high school.  I think I may have seen the video for Poppa Large prior to picking up the CD, but I’m not positive.  It was mostly just taking a chance on something I heard of when I had a little extra spending money in my pocket.  To this day, that’s my favorite Ultramagnetic record.

I bought The Four Horsemen as soon as it came out.  I remember seeing a review for it in The Source and I went out looking forward almost immediately.   It’s also a great album and one I’ve listened to countless times.  The reason I bring these records up is because they are my foundation for Ultramagnetic MC’s.  I didn’t get Critical Beatdown until many, many years later.  It wasn’t something easily found when I was younger, so I don’t think I heard the CD until my late 20s and I only added the vinyl to my collection in the past few weeks.

The fact that this record came out in 1988 is kind of insane.  The fact that several of the songs on this album were released in the years prior to 1988 is even crazier.  It’s so different from other albums of the era and so far ahead of its time, I kind of can’t even fathom how it was put together.  There was nothing like this out in 1988, which is probably why it’s super respected by hip hop folks, but also not really know as much by the outside world.  Even today, after thirty more years of hip hop innovation it sticks out a bit as this off center masterpiece.  Kool Keith is one of the most unique MCs to ever pick up a microphone.  I don’t like everything he’s ever done, but the three Ultramagnetic albums are pretty untouchable.

Funk Your Head Up is still my favorite Ultramagnetic record, but relistening to Critical Beatdown, it’s hard not to be floored by the sheer audacity of this album being released in 1988.

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown (YouTube full album playlist):

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline - White Vinyl (/100)


Red Scare (2019)

Sicko is an all time favorite band of mine.  They came into my life at the perfect time and those records are still in perpetual heavy rotation for me all these decades later.  Few bands in the world mastered the craft of pop punk like Sicko.  I always felt like they were probably the best of my big three pop punk favorites.  Mr. T Experience had been around longer and put out more records, but had more filler on their albums than Sicko.  Every Sicko full length is wall to wall classics.  Zoinks probably could have given Sicko a run for their money, but once Zac left the band after their first record, it was all downhill for them.  That leaves Sicko at the head of the class.  Perfect pop punk.

I saw them play at the Pipeline in Newark, NJ in 1996 and of all of the amazing shows I was lucky enough to see in the 90s, it really stands out as one of the true highlights.  It was just so much fun.  I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t go see them at Coney Island High the next night (or maybe it was the night before, I can’t remember the order), but whatever the reason, it was probably a pretty dumb one in hindsight.  Especially since I don’t remember said reason and I remember that Pipeline show like it was yesterday.

At the beginning of 2018, Sicko played in Seattle as part of the inaugural Seattle Pop Punk Festival.  My buddy Alan & I went out to see them (and the mighty Bum).  What a great trip and what a fun couple of nights of rock and roll.  Sicko hadn’t lost a thing all these years later.  This past Saturday, Sicko played in Brooklyn.  In 2019.  It’s not really something I would have expected, but once again Alan & I made our way to another Sicko show. Just like the prior times I got to see Sicko play, it was just an absolute blast.  In addition to being a great band with great songs, they’re such nice dudes.  So much fun to be around.

The reason Sicko played this show was because of this ‘new’ record.  In The Alternate Timeline is a compilation of previously released songs, but don’t call it a greatest hits record.  That said, this sucker is packed full of hits.  If you want a solid snapshot of Sicko’s material, I think this is a pretty good starting point.  You have classics like “80 Dollars,” “Bad Year,” “Kathy’s Dance,” “Believe” and so many more. 

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t a few glaring omissions.  I don’t see how you summarize Sicko without “The Dateless Losers” (It was the name of their fan club in the 90s) or “Escalator” (They even made a video for this song) but in some ways leaving out these songs is kind of a very Sicko thing to do.  Plus I sort of like the idea of someone who has never heard of Sicko buying this album, liking it, deciding to dig deeper and then hearing those songs for the first time.  It’s kind of impossible to squeeze all of Sicko’s great songs into one LP.  They had way too many awesome ones for that.

The version of the record pictured is the tour only white vinyl version limited to one hundred copies.  Only available during a handful of reunion shows.  If they are coming to your neck of the woods, you would be a fool to not stop by, pick up a record and catch one of the best pop punk bands that ever walked the earth.

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline:

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Blues Brothers - Gimme Some Lovin' 7" (Japan)


Atlantic (1980)

I haven't added a new 7" to the Blues Brothers collection in quite some time.  At this point there are so few left that I need, they're becoming more difficult to track down.  Even this one is probably going to end up being something of a placeholder as it has been promo'd by cutting off the bottom left corner of the artwork.  But it's definitely OK to have in the collection for right now.

The artwork for this 7" is the same picture used as the cover of the entire soundtrack as well as a bunch of the singles from the album.  The addition of the Japanese text makes it more interesting to me than some of the other variants that aren't as distinct, but I still wish there was more artwork variety for these singles.

As a reminder, these are two of my favorite Blues Brothers songs with "She Caught The Katy" likely being a top five song.  I still hope to track down some of the weirdo 7" variants I haven't found yet, but so far, no Discogs alerts on those.

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'":

 The Blues Brothers - "She Caught the Katy":

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded LP - Red Vinyl


Traffic (2016, Reissue)

For Ed Lover Dance Day this week, I'm going to talk a little bit about Boogie Down Productions.  They were one of the first hip hop groups to really make an impact on me.  I couldn't say for sure when it was that I started listening to them, but I feel like it most have been something involving Yo MTV Raps and the song "My Philosophy."  When I was at the height of my BDP fandom, the album Criminal Minded was somewhat hard to come by.

I had the main BDP full lengths on CD (By Any Means, Ghetto Music, Edutainment) and I also had their live album.  On the live album there were a handful of great songs that weren't on the other full lengths, so I needed to figure out where they came from.  This is pre-internet (or if not completely before the internet existed it was definitely before I had access to anything), so you can only really get info from magazines and other people.  Not having much in the way of like minded friends at this time, I had to get the info where I could.  I knew there was a first album, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

Then, one day randomly I was at a record store with my dad and I was digging around the rap CDs and I found it.  It looked a little shady to be honest, cover art was blurry and it was decidedly kind of budget looking, but I had it in my hands.  Bootleg or not, I was buying it.  It ended up being one of my favorite albums by BDP.  The production sounds old and dated, but in the best possible way.  It's a classic record with classic hip hop sounds.  I love the piano riff on "The Bridge Is Over."  "Poetry" and "South Bronx" are perfectly old school, but forward reaching.  You could tell they were doing something special and innovative for the time.

For me though, the highlight is the title track, "Criminal Minded."  I had only heard the version on the live CD before finally hunting down this album and was shocked that it was so much longer than the live version.  It's just such a great song and the fact that it came out in 1987 is kind crazy.  BPD went on to release several additional records (all of which I will be writing about at some point as I've added the vinyl of each to the collection), but being able to listen to their starting point on nice heavy red vinyl is a treat I sure didn't think I would be able to experience in 1991.

Boogie Down Production - Criminal Minded (Full Album YouTube playlist):

Monday, October 7, 2019

Your Pest Band - Automatic Aspiration 12" - Brown Vinyl


Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles (2018)

I have a lot of Your Pest Band records.  They just keep releasing music and as long as they do, I'll keep buying it.  This one actually slipped through the cracks on me as I am not positive I knew it was released late last year until very recently.  It's also possible that I saw it was out, made a mental note to grab it and then promptly forgot that mental note.  As I get older I find that these sort of things happen.  I should start keeping more actual notes I think.  I'll make a mental note to do that.

The songs on this 12" are all wonderful.  I like Your Pest Band the best when they lean closer to the pop punk side of the musical spectrum.  Sometimes they get a little too psychedelic for my personal taste, but always seem to have a killer hook waiting for me around the corner.  While the six songs on this EP are really diverse, they are all super catchy and fit together like puzzle pieces.  It's just a great listen start to finish.

12" EPs aren't my favorite format on the best of days, I always just think that it would be better to wait until you have a few more songs and then put out a full length.  But when you hand me six songs this good and this cohesive, it's hard to argue that it wasn't the right call.  Though you could probably convince me that adding four more songs just as good wouldn't be a bad idea either...

Your Pest Band -  Automatic Aspiration 12":

Friday, October 4, 2019

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About LP - Black w/ Splatter Vinyl


Fat Wreck (2019)

Snuff has been one of my favorite bands in the history of the earth for the last several decades.  They've been going since 1986 in one form or another and having a new record from them in 2019 is pretty exciting.  After all, I have a Snuff tattoo and also ran their website for a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s.

In many ways, There's A Lot Of It About is kind of the quintessential post-Demmamussabebonk Snuff album.  Ever since Tweet Tweet My Lovely, there's been things you can count on whenever Snuff puts out a record.  There's always going to be a handful of super catchy, mid tempo pop masterpieces like "Summer's Over," "A Smile Gets A Smile" and "Gyoza." There's a few punchy pop punk blasts like "Kings of the Spanish Oi Scene" and "Bob's Song."  There's a couple of songs with slightly off kilter guitar rhythms like "Dippy Egg" and "Big Shot."  And of course there's always one or two screaming punk hardcore songs.  This time out there's "Kiss My Ring."

There is so much variety in a Snuff album and I always feel like there is a segment of their fanbase that will think each piece is their favorite.  For me, I like a pop song.  Give me something like "Dow Dow Boof Boof" or "Take Me Home" or "Reach" or "Bottom Of The River" and I'm a happy dude.  But I'm positive that there's another section of fan that wants to hear "Who," "Timebomb" and "Fuck Off" even though I'd personally be fine if Snuff dropped that particular song style.  Their ability to appease this wide range of tastes is what's made Snuff so great and so enduring.

There's A Lot Of It About is just as strong as any Snuff record that's come out in the past twenty years.  They are consistent and they are just a great band.  I hope that I keep getting a new Snuff record every few years for the rest of my life.  There's just something so perfect and comfortable about putting their records on the turntable.

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About:

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Casual - Fear Itself 2xLP


Jive (1994)

Wednesday is Ed Lover Dance Day and this album is the last of the records that were already in my collection that I'm going to write about.  As I start writing about the various golden age hip hop records I've picked up over the last couple of months (finally upgrading the CDs I've had since high school), I wanted to talk about the three most important hip hop albums to me.  I've already written about Del the Funky Homosapien's No Need For Alarm and Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, and now we're going to complete the trifecta with Fear Itself, this debut from Casual.

Like Del and Souls, Casual is part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  Fear Itself came out after their records did and was released at the beginning of 1994.  In some ways, it was the last truly mind blowing rap album I ever heard.  To this day, I haven't heard anything that has been released since then that is as good as this.  Though in fairness, it is my second favorite hip hop album of all time, so it's a pretty high bar to try to reach.

Everything about Fear Itself is perfect.  The album slams from start to finish and not only is there not a weak track in the bunch, there isn't really much of anything sub-phenomenal.  I guess "Interlude" might not stack up as high as everything else, but Casual doesn't even rap on that song, so I don't think that counts.  The beats on this record are some of the most consistently incredible I've ever heard.  Innovative sampling that bridges funk, soul, jazz and boom bap.  Whether it's the bounce of "Me-O-Mi-O," the upbeat piano and bass of Hireo posse cut "Who's It On" or the slow dragging bass of "This Is How We Rip Shit" and album closer "Be Thousand," Casual hits it out of the park every single time.  He even manages to put to tape my favorite ever verse from Del The Funky Homosapien on the all too brief "A Little Something,"

It's just a pretty unbelievable album from start to finish, yet I've always felt that Fear Itself didn't get the accolades it has deserved over the years.  I think a lot of folks have either never heard of or have forgotten about this classic album.  It's not super available on vinyl.  I have the old Jive release and that doesn't even have proper artwork.  There is a UK version that does, but the price and shipping costs have kept it just out of arms reach for me over the years. I wish one of those 'Respect The Classics' type of reissue labels would get their hands on this and give it the lavish reissue it so rightly deserves.  When you are talking about the best hip hop albums of the 1990s, they don't get much better than Fear Itself.

Casual - "A Little Something":

Casual - "This Is How We Rip Shit":

Casual - "Who's It On":

Casual - "Be Thousand":