Friday, March 31, 2023

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Sings About Misery and Women LP


Fire (1994)

I recently decided to put my head down and finish acquiring all of the Karl Hendricks Trio full lengths that were released on vinyl.  I've had these CDs forever, but never really committed to snagging all of the vinyl.  I've now since corrected that and have a few of his records to write about in the coming weeks.

Sings About Misery and Women was wither the second or third Karl Hendricks Trio full length, depending on what you categorize Some Girls Like Cigarettes as.  It was the first time the group had released an album on a moderately sized label as in the UK this came out on Fire records.  I'm not exactly sure whether or not that made a huge difference for the band as it has never felt that Karl and company really got their due for being as great as they are.

This album is another prime example of that, song after song of powerful music, with Karls bitter, but never defeated lyrics.  Even though his subject matter tended to focus on some of the down times in one's life, there was always a little bit of unflinching optimism peppered through everything.  Glad to have finally picked this one up on vinyl.

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Sings About Misery and Women:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising 2xLP


AOI / Chrysalis (2023, 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 Age' 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.

I've had a complicated relationship with De La Soul over the years.  Not that anything about them is inherently complicated, but I've had mixed feelings about their albums, particularly 3 Feet High and Rising.  I didn't listen to De La Soul as a kid when they were originally out.  In 1989, when this album first was released, I wasn't super into hip hop yet.  It was 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out that sent me down that path, but I didn't look in the rear view for this one.

I eventually became aware of the group and have tried to give their albums chances over the years.  De La Soul has always been one of those groups that I felt like I was supposed to like.  I'm not sure why they hadn't connected with me in a meaningful way.  There were times where I listened to this album and thought it was good.  There were times I listened to it and found it really annoying and so it went over the years.  I had a reissue of the CD that I got while in the music biz in the early 2000s, but eventually sold it as part of a CD purge.  I've probably downloaded and deleted the MP3s of the album a dozen times over the years.  One thing I never had was the vinyl, which has been out of print and expensive for ages.

When the news came out a few months back that De La Soul was back in the mix with their classic albums and that everything was being released to streaming platforms and rereleased as physical media, I figured I would just grab this.  I was finally able to sit down with 3 Feet High and Rising on a turntable, really listening to it.  I've always felt that listening to a record on vinyl is a very different experience than any other way of listening.  It's not because of some magic, audiophile sound quality mumbo jumbo, I just find that when I put on a record, I really listen to it.  It's a different, tactile experience for me.

So anyway, I've listened to the album on vinyl now and I do have some different opinions, but others were reinforced.  First the negatives.  It's too long.  At nearly seventy minutes, I just don't need that much music in one shot.  I also hate the skits.  I know the album is considered very innovative as far as bringing the skit to hip hop, but for me that's not something to be proud of.  I think they bring every album in the world to a screeching halt and it's especially egregious for 3 Feet High and Rising.  If you cut out all of the skits and maybe a song or two the album would be a lot tighter and easier to listen to, I think.

On the positive side, there are some really great songs on here.  "Eye Know," The Magic Number" and Potholes in my Lawn" stand out in a big way, particularly when you realize this came out in 1989 and how little hip hop sounded like this at the time.  I don't think I ever need to hear "Me Myself and I" ever again, but I think that's probably recency bias in that nearly every classic episode of Yo! MTV Raps that's streaming on Paramount+ shows this video and that wore me down after a while.

I am glad I own this record now.  It's obviously important and quite good in places.  It's a little bloated for my personal tastes, but the good outweighs the bad by a long shot.  I have other De La Soul albums on vinyl preordered, so I'm eager to re-experience those and see what other wrong opinions I may have been holding onto over the years.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial! 7"


Feral Kid (2022, Reissue)

This is a reissue of a 7" that originally came out in 1981.  It's apparently quire rare and sought after and if the sales history on Discogs is to be believed, it has regularly sold for many hundreds of dollars the few times it's actually been sold.  Well, much to the dismay of those that shelled out major cash, you can now grab it for seven bucks.  Score.

Musically, it's OK.  I like it better than I do most snotty punk rock of this era.  People throw around phrases like Killed By Death style and while that means very little to me, I know there are others that base their entire existence around those words.  The songs are catchy for the most part with slightly nasally vocals, but there's enough melody there where the record doesn't sound like a parody of itself.

Of the three songs, I like the last one, "Who Needs a Woman Like You," the best.  It's not super different from the other two, but there's some fun saxophone going on that makes the song stand out more to me.  I'm not really the target demo for this record.  I'm old and like old music, but I'm not as old as the folks that came up in this scene, so it tends to sound dated to me and I have no personal connection to it from my youth.   As songs, they are perfectly serviceable old, catchy punk songs, but it's not the sort of thing that I tend to gravitate towards.

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial!:

Friday, March 24, 2023

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T LP - Clear w/ Yellow & Red Splatter Vinyl (/1000)


Org Music (2022, Reissue)

Releases for Record Store Day have typically been getting less and less interesting as the years go by.  In particular, the Black Friday version of the even essentially never has anything that I'm interested in.  This past year was an anomaly as one of the releases was this reissue of the first Overwhelming Colorfast album.

I'm not sure exactly how this one ended up on their list.  I find it difficult to believe that there was a huge clamoring from the general public for this album.  But for folks like me, this is on e of the more exciting records to be part of RSD in ages.

I first got into Overwhelming Colorfast through the band fluf.  I had heard favorable comparisons and fluf even covered the Overwhelming Colorfast song "Song in D" on one of their 7"s.  This album, their self titled debut, wasn't my entry point.  I had picked up Two Words prior to that and honestly, my absolute favorite record on theirs is Moonlight & Castanets.  But I have had the CD of this album forever and it's chock full of noisy, big guitar pop.

fluf is definitely a solid comparison and if that doesn't work for you, I would think pretty much anyone that likes Sugar or the more recent Bob Mould solo records would be happy to add this record to their collection.  I have seen it teased that the band is currently working on getting Two Words pressed on vinyl for the first time.  I can't wait for that one and am just keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get to my favorite, Moonlight & Castanets after that.

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust LP


Def Jam (1993)

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 Age' 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.

I really liked 3rd Bass when I was a teenager and I feel like their albums have held up pretty well over the years, even if the Cactus. Al/Bum is probably about twenty minutes longer than it really needs to be.  When the group broke up, I purchased the MC Serch solo record, Return of The Product.  I never heard from Prime Minister Pete Nice once 3rd Bass was done.

I don't understand how, but I had no idea this album even existed back then.  I should have, I was recently reading an old issue of The Source that I know I had as a kid and there was a gigantic ad for it.  But for whatever reason I forgot or it just never registered.  I definitely don't remember ever seeing a video on Yo! MTV Raps, but I saw one for MC Serch's "Here It Comes."  That's probably the biggest reason I bought Serch and didn't know about Pete.

And that's a shame, because the sinister Prime Minister was always my favorite of the two.  His gravelly voiced, laid back delivery always seemed elevated and mature, especially next to MC Serch being kind of a clown (a lovable clown, but a clown nonetheless).  This album is just chock full of Pete.  It's a strong record with production that reminds me a lot of the second 3rd Bass album, Derelicts of Dialect. As a whole, it is better than Return of The Product, I think.  But MC Serch has higher highs and there isn't any one song on Dust to Dust that is as good as "Here It Comes" or "Back to the Grill."  

I think I also would have liked this more if I had heard it back in 1993.  While I have discovered lots of great albums from that era later in my life, the ones that always stick with me the most are the ones I listened back when they originally came out.

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust:

Monday, March 20, 2023

Travis Cut - In Transit 7" - Yellow Vinyl & Orange Vinyl


Brassneck / Speedowax (2021)

I am writing about this record a bit later than probably is ideal for those involved in its release, but my copies were hanging out in a pile of records from the UK waiting for the appropriate time to be shipped to take maximum advantage of crazy postage rates.  Even though it came out a year and a half ago, it was worth the wait and I can only say if you haven't already picked this up, you should do so immediately.

Travis Cut were another one of those great melodic punk bands that was kicking around in the UK at the same time as Broccoli, Chopper, Skimmer, Hooton 3 Car, Crocodile God and that crew.  They leaned a bit more on the pop punk and J Church-y side of the spectrum and boy oh boy did they put out a lot of 7"s.  And boy oh boy do I own a lot of Travis Cut 7"s.

The three songs on this 7" were originally recorded in 2002 and were meant to be part of a full length album that never came to be.  Finally released now (with a fourth as part of a compilation 7" that's also in the queue to write about), these songs are a perfect time capsule of a music scene that will always be my very favorite.  All three songs are fast, tight and super energetic, with the trademark Travis Cut knack for big hooks and a catchy chorus.  These songs wouldn't sound out of place at all on their singles comp, Another Day, Another Drummer, which incidentally really needs a proper vinyl release so I can listed to these songs on my turntable without having to flip forty records over.

There are two versions of this record on different color vinyl and with different sleeves.  I still feel that urge for variants on some bands so I had to pick up both, but ultimately the best thing about this release is the songs and getting to hear new Travis Cut for the first time in decades.  A true cause for celebration.

Travis Cut - In Transit 7":

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz LP


SOUL (1993)

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 Age' 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.

This one brings back a lot of memories, but mostly ones of annoyance.  In 1993, when this Young Black Teenagers album came out, Yo! MTV Raps played the single off it constantly.  I felt like every episode I was forced to watch the video for "Tap The Bottle."  I grew to hate that song and never really thought about the group once that single finally faded from the airwaves.  That is until recently.

Once again, I was digging around for older hip hop albums that I hadn't listened to in the early 90s and I stumbled across "Tap The Bottle" again.  When I listened to it, for whatever reason, I wasn't nearly as annoyed by it as I was as a teenager.  In fact I kind of liked it? Bizarre.  So, I decided to listen to the whole album.  To my surprise, it's actually quite good.

Sure there's the whole dumb thing of a bunch of white kids calling themselves Young Black Teenagers, though I think that stupidity was mostly litigated during the release of their first album.  What really makes this album stand out is how great the production is.  The rapping is totally fine, it's not elite level, but it gets the job done.  The production, however, is elite.  Top notch beats, loops and samples.  I was really surprised by how strong it was until I looked into it a bit more.  The production was handled by The Bomb Squad, architects of Public Enemy's signature albums.  And while this doesn't sound like PE at all, it does sound outstanding.  Top tier golden age beats.

Basically, I'm shocked by how much I like this, but I have no problem saying it's a pretty great as a total package.  Again, if you are expecting something special lyrically, you might be a little let down, but if you're looking for something that simply sounds good and fits in with your early 90s hip hop collection, you could do a lot worse than this album.

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz:

Monday, March 6, 2023

Jawbox - Absenter 7" - Orange Vinyl (/502)


Bacteria Sour (1995)

This is a fun record, but not one that's probably all that important for most people.  In 1995, Jawbox released this 7" that contains two songs that would eventually find a home on their final, self titled full length album.  The versions on this 7" are different recordings, but they are reasonably similar, I think.  The main version of this 7" (which I haven't picked up, even though it's pretty inexpensive) was released on DeSoto.  This version isn't the main version.

This fancy orange cover is from the Bacteria Sour release of this 7".  Bacteria Sour is a sub label of Pusmort.  Pusmort is Pushead's label.  Pushead did the fancy art for this version.  It's really just a collectible, at the end of the day.  If you just want the songs, there's the regular release that was easy to get a hold of.  If you wanted to wacky, hard to find version, you could chase this one.

Me, I'm often going to chase the hard-to-find, especially when it's a pretty big difference like completely new artwork.  Plus, there's an extra lure for me as anyone who collects Rocket From The Crypt records knows the legend and frustration of their 7"s that came out on Pusmort.  It's just another fun connection for me.  Luckily, this Jawbox 7" isn't anywhere near as sought after as those Rocket ones, so I was able to add this to the collection for an extremely reasonable price.

Jawbox - "Absenter" (7" Version): 

Friday, March 3, 2023

The PeeChees - Life LP


Damaged Goods (1999)

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I am fully aware that I've been writing about a lot more old music than new recordings lately.  I wish I could find more of a balance, but even though last year had some truly incredible records come out, the quantity of new albums I am interested in seems to have decreased quite a bit for me.  The older I get, I suppose it's more likely to happen.  But I certainly haven't lost my passion for music and buying records, my focus has just been more on filling gaps in the collection and revisiting bands and albums that I overlooked the first time around.  This one falls into the 'fill a gap' category.

Life is the PeeChees singles compilation that came out in 1999.  I have the CD, but I never picked up the LP because I had most of the 7"s.  To be honest, I have all of their 7"s that matter to me.  But as I don't really spend as much time with my CDs, I wanted to pick up this on vinyl, for ease of listening when the mood strikes to sit down and crank some LPs.  Many thanks to my pal Scott in the UK for snagging this for me.  In 1994 as I was exploring the world of punk and indie rock for the first time, a friend of mine in high school let me borrow the Kill Rock Stars compilation album Rock Stars Kill.  This was a transformative record for me and even though some of the bands that blew me away didn't pan out to be long time favorites (the Smog song on this album is about a billion times better than any other song I ever heard by them), a few stuck around, at least in the short term.

One of those was The PeeChees.  Their contribution to this comp, "Patty Coahuila," hit me just right for whatever reason.  That song made a bunch of mix tapes for me back in the day and it still kind of gives me chills when I hear it.  That led me to picking up the Cup of Glory 7".  And then the Scented Gum 7" and then the split 7" with Long Hind Legs.  I was obsessed with these records.  In late 1995, Rocket From The Crypt played Irving Plaza and they brought The PeeChees with them to open.  I could not have been more ecstatic.

That was my freshman year of college and I had started writing for the campus newspaper.  The PeeChees ended up being the first band interview I ever did and if I remember correctly, I think they told me it was only the second time anyone had interviewed them.  I'm sure it was awful as I didn't know anything about anything or anyone, but it was a formative experience for me in my burgeoning punk rock life.  They were so kind and it was one of those early experiences realizing that the bands were part of the family, not just aloof people expecting to be fawned over.

This was before their first full length Do The Math had come out, and man oh man did I love that record when it came out.  But those early 7" and compilation appearances always held an extra special place in my heart.  When I listen to the album, the first side is a wonderful trip down memory lane.   About half way through the B side, I kind of lose interest in the songs, wich mirrors my feelings on them as a whole.  I didn't really like their second album and for me, the magic was always in that first barrage of releases.

I don't know if I would like The PeeChees as much if I heard them for the first time right now.  I might, but I just don't know as my love for them is so tightly connected to those early days of finding my way around a new scene.  Regardless of why I do, I really love these songs and am happy to have an easily playable version of them when the mood strikes me to go back in time a bit.

The PeeChees - Life:

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Mr. Lif - Mo' Mega 2xLP


Definitive Jux (2006)

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 Age' 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.

Aside from Del The Funky Homosapien and Hieroglyphics projects, the one person who kept me somewhat interest in current hip hip in the early 2000s was Mr. Lif.  His I Phantom full length from 2002 really made me sit up and take notice and many did I listen to that album pretty obsessively.  It was one of those records that made me realize that it wasn't so much that I moved away from hip hop, but hip hop moved away from me.  Mr. Lif was speaking to me in a way that almost no one else was at the time.

It took a little while, but the follow up to I Phantom finally was released in 2006.  While I could never say that Mo' Mega reaches the same level of perfection that I Phantom does, it's still a truly great album and stands head and shoulders above the bulk of hip hop albums released after the year 2000.  Mr. Lif's lyrics are political and his rhyme patterns are complex.  But his politics aren't necessarily rooted in the beliefs of either party, rather they are more focused on combatting oppression.  He's very passionate and his delivery straddles that line between providing information and showcasing verbal dexterity.

Production-wise, it's also one of the stronger records to have been released after the Golden Age.  In particular, the beat on the album's third song, "Brothaz," is the ultimate head nodder.  It's a perfect storm where the intensity of the beats lines up perfectly with the message that Lif is delivering.  But the entire album is really strong.  I don't feel like this album got quite as much recognition as I Phantom and it deserves way more.  While it's true, it can't quite reach those heights, that's an absurdly high mark to compare against. 

Mr. Lif - "Brothaz":