Friday, July 12, 2024

Ultimate Fakebook – This Will Be Laughing Week LP - Coke Bottle Green Vinyl (/250)

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Rocket Heart (2024, Reissue)

In 1999 I was the music director of a college radio station in New Jersey.  Every day we'd get packages in the mail of CDs that labels and promotions companies wanted us to play.  It should come as no surprise that the vast, vast majority of these were completely terrible.  Particularly when it came to bands you probably never heard of before.

Back in my music director days I had a very strict formula to try to get through all of the albums that were arriving every day.  I had to make quick decisions about what should get played and what should go in the garbage.  There just wasn't time to listen to every note of every CD.  That amount of time was only given to ones that were definitely going into rotation - which were reviewed, scanned for curses and had recommended tracks picked.  

How does an album end up in that pile?  By passing a test that originated hanging out with my buddy Alan at the record store.  You get the first 30-60 seconds of the first three songs.  If you don't show something interesting in that time, you were in the garbage pile.  

One day, in one of these constantly arriving packages, A CD from a band called Ultimate Fakebook appeared.  It had a roughly drawn cartoon monkey on the cover and lots of weird high school yearbook style artwork.  It seemed kind of charming, but I can't say I expected much of anything from the album.  I pressed play on the Ultimate Fakebook CD.  "She Don't Even Know My Name" came ripping through my speakers and knocked my socks off.  Holy crap, I was not expecting a perfect guitar pop band.  

Let's try the next song.  "Tell Me What You Want (I'll Be Anything)" comes on and it's another absolute hit.  Great chord progressions, killer drumming and the vocal melody is a total earworm.  At this point I already know that this record is going into rotation, but I'll move on to track three just because that's what I always do.  "Of Course We Will" isn't as immediate as the other two.  It has a slower pace but hits in a similar way as something like "Say It Ain't So" does.  Maybe not as angsty, but in the way that a slower song can fit into the context of an album and not drag things down, even ending up as a highlight.

After those first three minutes I was instantly an Ultimate Fakebook fan.  I played the CD to everyone I possibly could, trying to get DJs and friends to hear a band that was very obviously flying way too far under the radar at this time.  That record has been with me ever since, one of my favorites from that era and most likely the best new band I ever discovered during my time working as the music director of the radio station.

The band would go on and get picked up by Epic records, who would rerelease the album, but with different, slicker artwork.  It's that artwork that adorns the cover of the first vinyl pressing of this wonderful album.  And it's the only complaint about this release that I have.  I just wish they used the original monkey art, because that was the art on the copy that I fell in love with 25 years ago.  That's a minor complaint though, now that I finally, FINALLY have this record on vinyl.  It was one of a handful of CD only releases I had that was still waiting for an LP.  One down, a hundred or so more to go.

Ultimate Fakebook – This Will Be Laughing Week:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mhddJ5KECXwRAG3k0eEWstb0LEz9fcweY

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

King Tee – Tha Triflin' Album LP - Orange Vinyl

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Taha / JTLM (2020, 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 thirty 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.

Although this record came out in 1993, which was probably the year I was most focused on hip hop and buying the most records during that ear, I literally never heard of King Tee or was aware of this album.  Despite the fact that it had guest appearances from Ice Cube and Tha Alkaholiks, it was not on my radar at all.  It wasn't until much later that I gave a few King Tee albums a chance.  Though the others never really grabbed me the same way that Tha Trflin' Album does.

The production is outstanding. It has a bass heavy feel that's smooth like West Coast style of the time, but still has enough hard hitting East Coast boom bap that it doesn't turn into the g-funk nonsense that bored me silly back then.  There's some real heavy hitters on the production side of this album,  The aforementioned Alkaholiks, Marly Marl, DJ Pooh, Bobcat and King Tee himself take turns mapping out the feel of Tha Triflin' Album.

Lyrically, King Tee does feel like a West Coast rapper.  It's no surprise that he was friendly with Cube Dr. Dre and folks like that.  He can tell stories just as well as he can battle and it's his voice that is the glue of the album able to take the work of so many different producers and have it still feel like a cohesive, and wonderfully diverse album.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Godfather Don - Hazardous 2xLP - Red Vinyl & Yellow Vinyl (/750)

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90s Tapes (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 thirty 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.

My pile of records to write about is still pretty big and today I'm reaching back to a record I picked up two years ago:  Godfather Don's Hazardous.  I had first heard of Godfather Don due to his work the 1993 Ultramagnetic MC's masterpiece, The Four Horsemen.  Back when I first had that album, I don't think that I was aware that the Godfather was responsible for the production of several songs, I mostly knew him from his guest verse on "Raise It Up."  I never heard any more from Godfather Don at the time and was completely unaware that he had released his own LP two years earlier.

When I did discover the existence of Hazardous, it was long, long out of print and at the time was commanding crazy prices on Discogs and eBay in the multiple hundreds of dollars.  Luckily 90s Tapes came to the rescue with this, the definitive double LP version.  It looks amazing and sounds even better.  The odd part is it was reissued again a year later by Select Records.  That one's just a single LP, so I really recommend hunting down the 90s Tapes version, which is still surprisingly affordable on Discogs.

As far as the album goes, it's a pretty perfect slice of 1991.  It's heavy on breaks and samples, with the sort of full sounding production that was coming into vogue at the time.  It's sounds old, but it sounds classic more than it does dated.  And for 1991, it was pretty much on the cutting edge of hip hop production, while still hanging on to some of the 80s techniques.  It's a great album, that really bridges two schools of production style.

Lyrically, Don more than holds his own.  He's no Kool Keith or anything like that, but I'll put him up next to anyone putting out records in 1991 and Don is just as good as.  After many, many years of trying to find a copy of the record I could afford, I was thrilled to add this to the collection.  Sure, it took me a minute to finally write about it here, but I've certainly spent a good amount of time playing it these past two years.

Godfather Don - Hazardous:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k_B0nwoRM8Y2MH7yBy3wFx7r1qWftG99E