Monday, October 31, 2022

Record Store Visit: Long In The Tooth - Philadelphia, PA - 10/20/22


I don't travel as much as I'd like.  I don't think most people really do.  But whenever I do travel I really try to hit up at least one new record store in whatever city I'm in.  I recently had to go to Philadelphia for work and while it's really not so far away from where I live that I'd consider traveling, it is still a city I'm not in very often.  Luckily, the hotel I was staying at was only a few blocks away from a record store called Long In The Tooth. 

It may not look like much from the outside, but once you go in there's a lot to love about this place.  Now, full disclosure:  I didn't buy anything while I was there.  However, I'm still going to say it was a great store it is.  That might seem somewhat incongruous, but I really do feel that way.

I think the main reason is because they had so many great records that I already had.  Just because I didn't need anything there that day doesn't mean that someone else that might not have my exact collection wouldn't find something they'd be really excited to pick up.  The store is very vinyl heavy, predominantly LPs.

Their rock section is really expansive and it passed the smell test by having the recent Rocket From The Crypt represses from Vagrant in stock.  But they had plenty of other goodies.  Mostly punk and indie rock with a few other things thrown in there.  The also had the No Knife record Hit Man Dreams up on the wall.  $125 does feel a little pricey for that record, but it really is hard to find and also very great, so I give them kudos for knowing what they had.

The 7" section wasn't nearly as big as the LP area, but they had a nicely curated selection of used goods.  A lot of 90s stuff and I almost picked up the copy of the Supersuckers' Born With A Tail 7", but the cover was a bit more beat up than I would have preferred.

The last section I spent time in was their hip hop LPs.  This was another area that was surprisingly great.  Very 90s heavy, as it should be, and they did a really great job of both stocking classics that are in print and having some used gems as well.  Again, nothing that I needed, but certainly the sort of section worth digging through.  I also have the feeling that if I lived there, I could very easily have them keep an eye out for stuff for me.  It just has that kind of vibe to it.

All in all, a fun store.  I would definitely go back if I was in the area.

Friday, October 28, 2022

30 Amp Fuse - Saturday Night at the Atomic Speedway LP


Dedicated (1997)

I have had this on CD since it came out in 1997.  Whatever label Dedicated is, it was either distributed by or owned by BMG.  As you can imagine, promo CDs of this flowed like water.  A true cut out bin champion if there ever was one.  I got my copy for review when I was writing for my college newspaper.  I've always been partial to 90s major label guitar pop bands.  And while 30 Amp Fuse definitely fits into that category, there's just enough grit in the vocals that things remain kind of punk rock for most of the album.

Where the record isn't punk rock is the production.  It's super slick and glossy with the guitars sounding crunchy, but weirdly perfect.  It's one of the more unique guitar tones I've heard.  And not that it's bad, it's just oddly clinical at times.  Vocally, there's certainly a bit of a Social Distortion, greaser sort of rasp going on here.  But in general the vocals are way more melodic and singer Mike Smithers definitely knows his way around a hook.

Was picking this up on vinyl a totally mandatory purchase?  Would my collection have been incomplete without it?  No, I would have been fine only having my promo CD from '97.  But it's a fun record with some really catchy tunes.  I probably won't listen to it a ton, but I will every once in a while and I'm glad it'll be in the collection when the mood strikes.

30 Amp Fuse - Saturday Night at the Atomic Speedway:

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

House of Pain - Self Titled 2xLP - Orange Vinyl & White Vinyl


Tommy Boy (2022, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

While I absolutely had this album when it was first released, I wasn't sure if I was ever going to add it to the collection on vinyl.  I had this album really early when it came out in 1992, I remember the first time I had heard about it was via a promo sticker that had come with an issue of The Source that I had.  I then saw the video for Jump Around on Yo! MTV Raps and picked up the album.  This was before the song would take off into the stratosphere and turn into a perennial Jock Jam, completely inescapable.

So, I soured on House of Pain a bit and just sort of let them be forgotten.  As I started ramping up my hip hop vinyl collection, I wondered if I should give the album another chance.  So about a year ago I downloaded the MP3s and gave it a whirl for the first time in probably 25 years or so.  It's still a pretty solid album in spite of itself.

What I really mean more than anything is that this is a pretty good album in spite of Everlast.  It's the beats.  The beats on this record are just incredible.  Muggs, Lethal and Ralph string together a parade of hits.  Even "Jump Around" is completely undeniable from a production standpoint.  Everlast's lyrics are another story.  They were never great, but with thirty years of hindsight, they sound even worse to me.  Gravelly throated, Irish pride was kind of an odd thing for rap in 1992 and it sounds even weirder now.  Nothing about it is necessarily bad, but it's such an outlier for the sort of records that were coming out back then.  But I keep coming back to how good the production is.

Which, ultimately, is why I decided to pick up the album and specifically, why I decided to buy the fancy double LP version.  This one has all of the remixes, including Pete Rock's excellent version of "Jump Around."  If I'm going to add this to the collection, I'm going to add the best possible version.  That said, I didn't get the free jump rope that was supposed to come with it.  Oh well.

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Karl Hendricks Trio - A Gesture of Kindness LP


Fiasco / Peas Kor (1995)

Karl Hendricks Trio was one of the early bands I got into as I started exploring the worlds of punk and indie rock my junior year of high school.  My friend Pat was the one who first introduced me to them via their first album Buick Elektra.  That remains my favorite of Karl's many records, though I'm sure a large part of that is the nostalgia and my general propensity for having the first record I hear by a band remain my favorite.

For whatever reason, A Gesture of Kindness is the Karl Hendricks Trio record I was least familiar with back in the 90s.  I'm not sure why it didn't get as much play as some of the others, though the fact that I was almost constantly listening to Buick Elektra and Some Girls Like Cigarettes probably played a factor.  That said, I recently decided that I could no longer exist having most of my Karl albums on CD, so I'm trying to pick up the missing ones on vinyl where I can.

I got a very nice deal on a copy of this in really excellent condition and I'm really happy I did.  This is such a great record.  It sounds old, in that it very much has a 90s feeling to it that you'll never hear today with it's blown out guitar sound, but it still manages to sound fresh and exciting.  There's just so much energy crammed into these songs and the quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamic is one of those things I'll just never get sick of.  

For those not familiar with Karl Hendricks Trio, it's really not the worst place I could think of to start out.  While, as I mentioned, I like Buick Elektra more, I think A Gesture of Kindness or S0me Girls Like Cigarettes will probably yield the best results for first timers.  Give them a shot, they really were one of the great bands of the 90s.

The Karl Hendricks Trio - A Gesture of Kindness:

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Das EFX - Hold It Down 2xLP


Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

When Dead Serious, the first Das EFX, album came out in 1991, I was pretty obsessed.  Great beats, cool vibe and wild lyrics that made more than a couple of pop culture references that really landed with me.  When it came out, I felt like I was one of the few people that liked their second album, Straight Up Sewaside just as much as Dead Serious when it was released in 1993.  I even remember reviewing it in my high school newspaper and proclaiming it better than the first.  I don't really feel that way anymore, as nostalgia is a real beast sometimes and the first album just evokes a different strain of memories.

I'll be honest, when Hold It Down originally came out in 1995, I never listened to it.  I had pretty much moved on from hip hop at that point and I think that year's Souls of Mischief record might have been the only hip hop record I bought.  I'm not sure if hearing this album then would have really changed my mind about anything, but after going back to it and spending some time, I can claim this is one of a very small amount of 90s post -994 hip hop albums that is actually worth a damn.

The beats are really strong for 1995, when I felt there was so much trash polluting hip hop.  They're still grimy with a strong snare crack and deep, grooving bass lines.  Lyrically Hold It Down sits inbetween the constant 'diggety' of the first record and the 'no diggety at all' of the second.  They break out their signature flow here and there, but they don't beat it into the grouond.  My only real complaint about it is how long it is.  Seventy four minutes is way too long for any album, it's nearly double the length of Dead Serious and it's certainly not twice as good.

But there's way more good than bad on here and it's definitely worth giving a listen if you missed it first time around.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Bart And The Brats - S/T LP


Big Neck (2022)

Bart and the Brats is a new venture from Bart De Vraantijk, known to some as being a member of bands like Wild Zeros and Teenage Hearts.  Though if I'm being honest, I'm not particularly familiar with his work, though I have at least heard of those two bands.  On this album, Bart is working solo, having recorded everything himself.  But don't worry, this isn't an acoustic, singer-songwriter adventure.  We've got the full complement of guitar/bass/drums at play.

This very much sounds like something that Ptrash would have put out in 2009 or so.  Fast and catchy garage guitar riffage with snarling vocals.  The simplicity of the Ramones with the energy of the Carbonas.  It's much catchier than a lot of other records of this ilk, so it's connecting with me way more than most.  I think if the vocals were a bit more melodic, I'd probably really dig it.  As is, I think it's pretty solid and something worth checking out if you dig on these type of fast and furious sounds.

Bart And The Brats - S/T:

Friday, October 14, 2022

Swami John Reis & Creepxotica - Shelter Island 7"


Swami (2022)

This is a collaborative 7" featuring the skills of Swami John Reis and Creepxotica.  It was first sold at an event at the Bali Hai restaurant and then the leftovers were sold on the Swami website.  I was not able to go to Bali Hai, being on the wrong side of the country and all, so I was glad to have been able to wrangle one from the website.

Both songs are instrumental surf tunes, though they are dramatically different from the Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake team up.  That was was louder and more aggressive.  These songs are more in line with traditional surf music ala The Ventures.

Side A is the mellower of the two with "Shelter Island" being a pleasant mid tempo number that feels like the soundtrack to a sunset on a slightly breezy day.  I don't know exactly what that means and if you want to call bullshit on it as a description, that's fine.  But that's the vibe I get from it more than anything, it conjures a vision in my head of a relaxing evening.

On the B side we have "1 Mai Tai... 2 Mai Tai... 3 Mai Tai... Floor!"  This one is a little faster and it's built around a person ordering mai tais.  As they order their first, the music starts up.  When they get the the second, things start getting a little louder and looser.  This continues until the end when the fourth mai tai hits the floor.  A neat concept.  Even though I can't say this 7" hits me as hard as the Blind Shake LP, I still really enjoy it and would really like to hear more from this partnership.

Swami John Reis & Creepxotica - "Shelter Island" (This is a live version from the show that the 7" was sold at, the one on the record is a studio version)

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Down South - Lost in Brooklyn 2xLP - White Vinyl


Big Beat (1994)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

While I have found a few examples of records that do buck this trend, I typically consider 1994 the last year that good hip hop records were released.  And while there are some really great records that came out this year, it's certainly a bit scattershot.  It's also the year that I really fell out of touch with hip hop as I was becoming much more interested in punk and indie rock.  As a result, I've discovered that quite a few albums from '94 flew under my radar.  Lost in Brooklyn is one of those.

Down South is from Virginia, if the world wide web is to believed and they are definitely bringing a southern style twang to golden era hip hop.  Luckily it's not in an annoying way like say Outkast or something like that.  While they do lean into so southern stereotypes when it comes to lyrical content, musically they have much more in common with a group like Alkaholiks or Beatnuts (which makes sense as Beatnuts were involved with a few tracks on this record).

While I can't say that Lost in Brooklyn is a surefire undiscovered classic, it is quite good.  I think I would have loved it if I heard it in 1994.  And if I then had almost thirty years of history with it instead only a year or two, it would probably be hitting the nostalgia vibes pretty hard.  But again, I really like this record a lot and I think it's one of the cooler discoveries that I've made digging around for albums I missed the first time around.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Ice Cube - The Predator 2xLP


Capitol/Priority (2003, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

It took me a while to find a reasonably priced copy of this, the third Ice Cube album.  This version came out in 2003 and is a double LP that comes with a few bonus tracks and remixes.  It's been out of print for ages, so the cost had gotten prohibitive.  Now, I did pay a decent price for this, but nowhere near the $200-$300 range I've been seeing it in lately.

I wasn't even sure I wanted this record again until recently.  I had the CD back in 1992 and enjoyed it quite a bit.  But over the years the album as a whole was overshadowed by its biggest single "It Was A good Day."  I never liked that song.  I thought it was too slow and the lyrics were kind of goofy.  So the record fell into the rearview and eventually at some point I sold the CD during one of my purges over the years.  The Predator was never in the same league as Amerikkka's Most Wanted or Death Certificate and in my brain I just sort of forgot about it.

For whatever reason, I decided to revisit it within the last eight months or so.  I was surprised by how many of the songs were instantly remembered by my brain, despite not having heard them in ions.  I have sorely overlooked this record and it holds up way better than I had expected.  I still don't like "It Was A Good Day" all that much, though I probably can tolerate it better now than I did in '92.  But the rest of the album is remarkably good.

The "We Will Rock You" drum sample in "When Will They Shoot?" kind of sets the stage for the entire record.  Hard beats with Cube's fiery lyrical delivery.  It's one of several truly great songs like "Wicked," "Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha" and "Check Yo Self."  "Check Yo Self" in particular was one I didn't remember being as great as it is.  I think part of that was due to the over saturation of its remix that basically took the lyrics and dumped it on top of the instrumental of "The Message."  That version still kind of sucks, but the LP version is great.

So, I didn't evaluate this album properly.  I thought Death Certificate was Cube's last stand, but in fact the bulk of The Predator is just about as good.  There's a few tracks that musically have a little bit more G/P-Funk than I typically prefer, but as a whole, a great listen.  I also checked out the 4th Ice Cube record Lethal Injection, to see if I wasn't giving that one the credit it deserved.  But I can assure you, I didn't overlook that one.  It's still pretty not good, so I won't be adding that one to the collection.

Ice Cube - The Predator:

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Missed - Activation LP


Just Because (2022)

I was pleasantly surprised when this LP by The Missed came in.  They had put out a really good 7" back in 2019, but I hadn't really heard anything since then.  Enter Activation, their eight song album.  Now, I could easily argue semantics about whether or not an eight song, twenty-five-ish minute release is really a full length.  I've always been of the mindset that ten songs is kind of the minimum, unless you've got a few pretty long songs in the chamber.  But that's not really my decision to make.  They say it's a full length, so who am I to argue.

Like their 7", the thing that really jumps out at me on this album is how perfect the guitar tone in.  It's warm and crunchy.  Distorted without being too noisy.  The way it meshes in the the low rumble of the bass and the excellent drumming really helps make these songs sound great.  The vocals are a bit more subdued for the bulk of the album, but they do what they are supposed to.  They carry along complimentary melodies and hit just the right level of urgency when the song calls for it.

If anything, the only complaint I really have is that the album goes by way too quick.  I almost wish they hadn't released those four songs on that 2019 7" and saved them for this album.  But there's nothing stopping me from listening to them back to back, I suppose.

The Missed - Activation: