Monday, November 30, 2015

Billy Idol

Artist: Billy Idol
LP: 7" single
Song: "Dancing With Myself" 
[ listen ]

I heard on NPR this morning that today is Billy Idol's 60th birthday! One of my biggest teen celebrity crushes, Billy was pretty damn cute in the early days, before his sneer became a 'thing' and way, way before his sneer started to seem like it might actually be caused a gastrointestinal disorder. My copy of "Dancing With Myself" is the 1983 re-release, which peaked at #102 on the singles charts, barely missing the Billboard Hot 100. (The initial 1981 release didn't register on the charts at all.) You can read all about Billy Idol here, there's another sexy photo here, and go here for a recitation of "Billy Idol's Penis," a poem by Zilla McCue. Happy Birthday, Billy Idol!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Artist: Griffin
LP: Hot Fingers
Song: "Lock It Up & Rock It (The Wild Thing)" 
[ listen ]
Song: "No Humans Allowed" 
[ listen ]

Reggie "Rej" Griffin was in the group Manchild during the second half of the '70s (he's front/left on the LP cover here) before going on to work with fellow bandmate Kenneth Brian "Babyface" Edmonds throughout his solo career. Speaking of solo careers, Rej Griffin produced this solo LP of his own in 1984, on which he handles all lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, bass guitar, Voyetra, Prophet, Korg, Oberheim and Yamaha DX7 synthesizers, piano, electric piano, alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, turntable scratching, percussion, drumulator programming and loud, obnoxious basically, just about everything. Someone named Rayford Griffin helps out with percussion, as you can see in the slightly blurry notes below. I wonder if he's Rej's brother! It's too bad Griffin isn't better known today. I like that on the back of his record he encourages fans to register to vote. In my many years of dating, it's been virtually impossible to find a man who dresses this well and has good hair, who's also civic-minded, has hot fingers, knows how to program a drumulator, and who can play three types of saxophones and a korg! This gives me hope.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Stephen Whynott

Artist: Stephen Whynott
LP: From Philly to Tablas
Song: "What Have You Seen" 
[ listen ]

There's a lot I'm thankful for this year, including living in a state that's governed by someone who understands the meaning of 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' and not in one of the states being run by a cowardly idiot. I'm also thankful to be able to pull beautiful music out of my record collection that I don't even recognize. Here's something I found in my bins this morning; it's a lovely listen for first thing on a sunny-but-chilly holiday morning. 

There isn't much to be found about Stephen Whynott on the internet (which might be why he's considered one of the unsung heroes of the late '70s music scene), but I did discover that he now resides in Washington state up near Bellingham and that he once even lived right here in Seattle! The following biographical outline is copied from his Facebook page, and below that there are some notes and a photo from the back of his 1977 "From Philly to Tablas" LP. Happy Thanksgiving!

Stephen's career in the musical world has been filled with diverse extremes. He's been named one of the unsung heroes of 1978 by Modern Recording Magazine (along with Bruce Cockburn and Dave Brubeck), and been told how he and his band, "Calico," recorded one of the best unrecognized LPs of the early 1970s. Stephen began his solo career when Gunther Wiel at Intermedia Sound in Boston heard Steve playing some of his original songs and offered the use of the recording studio for as long as needed. The result was "From Philly To Tablas." The recording of that album and those songs sent Stephen on a quest to realize where his true calling would be. City life was rapidly losing its appeal, even though his gigs had introduced him to such notables as Fleetwood Mac, B.B. King, Aerosmith, etc. 

He decided to go across the country to Seattle, where he was signed to a record contract with "Music Is Medicine," the sister company of First American Records, which led to the creation, recording and distribution of his follow-up LP, "Geography." After leaving Boston for Seattle, Stephen's music gradually developed into beautiful instrumental stories about how much his life had changed from the whirlwind craziness of rock & roll, playing with his band "Calico" as the opening act for Tim Hardin, Al Cooper, The J. Giles Band, The Hampton Grease Band (along with other members of Frank Zappa's band "Mothers Of Invention"), Van Morrison, and many others. His recording career had included sessions with oboist Michael Kaman, members of Moby Grape, Tim Moore, Cleve Pozar, mellotron/pianist Dan Frye, bassist/recording engineer/producer Zed Mclarnon (worked with "The Paul Winter Concert"), recording engineer/producer Adrian Barber (recorded "Cream"), and Michael Leary (recorded Harry Nillson, Jonathan Edwards, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Loudon Wainwright, The Steve Miller Band, and Jefferson Airplane). 

But now he was truly a solo act; living in a new land, with new faces and new ideas. Nature became his companion of choice, and his music began to reflect the depth of that decision. The beautiful instrumental CDs "Apology to the Animals" and "Lost Land" are the culmination of all that Stephen has experienced during his travels through this unrelentingly exquisite and painfully humorous journey called life.  

[ Stephen Whynott ]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Babadooks of Hazzard

Just'a good ole demons from a children's storybook, never meanin' no harm. Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born. ♫ ♪

side one:
01. Muscle In Plastic - Bauhaus
02. Three Steps to Heaven - Showaddywaddy
03. Stars In My Eyes - Diez & Bischof
04. When I Was a Painter - The Breeders
05. I Destroyed Your Love (Part 1) - Terry Huff and Special Delivery
06. Kveikur - Sigur Rós
07. Lonely Women Cryin' - Jeanne Pruett
08. Return of the She-King - Dead Can Dance
09. Fernando - ABBA
10. Want to See the Face - Jeong Juhui
11. City of Stone - Pat Lundy
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Big Girl - Dr. Dog
02. I Destroyed Your Love (Part 2) - Terry Huff and Special Delivery
03. I Leaned on a Man - Myrna March
04. Part of Me - Music Go Music
05. Pyre - The Revival Hour
06. Oka! Oka! La'u Honey - The Samoan Surf Riders with Bill Sevesi & His Islanders
07. Physical - Olivia Newton-John
08. Electric Blanket Mama - Danny Cox
09. Falling - Here We Go Magic
10. Colony - Joy Division
11. Sowing Seeds - The Jesus and Mary Chain
12. When the World Was Young - Charles Boyer
[ listen ]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rex Trailer and His Cow Hands

Artist: Rex Trailer and His Cow Hands
LP: Western Favorites
Song: "Cow Poke" 
[ listen ]
Song: "Red River Valley" 
[ listen ]
Song: "The Last Roundup" 
[ listen ]

Like many, I haven't been able to get the Paris terrorist attacks out of my head. At first I thought maybe I'd post a French record here to show my solidarity, but then I realized I'd also want to post a Lebanese record to show that my thoughts are with the people who were killed and injured in the suicide bomb attacks at the market in Beirut last week too. But in that case, I really should have posted a Turkish record a few weeks ago, since nearly 100 peaceful protesters were killed in Ankara by a bomb attack there. And if I'm going to pay tribute to masses of innocent lives lost at the hands of idiots and lunatics, then I ought to have been posting Syrian records over the past four years, as well as records from Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of George W. Bush's appalling fireworks display known as 'Shock and Awe.' There is no record I could post for all of this. So instead, I'll just send out this happy little 'howdy' from the old West, from me to you. I hope the world gets better soon. 

Rex Trailer grew up near Ft. Worth, Texas and spent summers on his granddaddy's horse ranch near Thurber. The ranch hands there were all rodeo cowboys; one taught Rex roping tricks, another taught him how to handle a bull-whip, and a third cowboy taught him how to play the guitar. Rex eventually made his way into children's television entertainment and ended up as a Boston-area celebrity known for "Boomtown," a children's show on which he employed all the tricks he'd learned from the rodeo cowboys of his youth. The show ran from the mid-1950s to 1974. A strong advocate for children with disabilities, Trailer's show was one of the first in the nation to feature kids with disabilities on television. Rex cut a couple of country music albums right around 1960 (they're brilliant—you can practically smell the wet paint on the cardboard backdrops!) and "Western Favorites," presumably also released somewhere around that time, includes tracks from both. Rex Trailer remained a local celebrity into his later years, even appearing with Winona Ryder and Cher in the film MERMAIDS. He plays a doctor.

On September 11, 2011, Rex was scheduled to be in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to sing songs, meet fans and sign autographs. His appearance there coincided with the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, so Rex performed a song he had written in honor of the victims of 9/11 called "I Appreciate You." As he explained it, "Ever since 9/11, the world has changed for all of us. We have to stick together, protect each other, and let those you love, respect, and admire know how much you appreciate them." You can read more about Mr. Trailer here, with LP liner notes providing a brief historic summary of Western music included below. 

[ Rex Trailer: September 16, 1928 — January 9, 2013 ]

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sofia Rotaru

Artist: Sofia Rotaru
LP: Sofia Rotaru
Song: "My Birthplace" 
[ listen ]

I've been hanging onto this terrific 1970s (probably?) Russian pop record for years without being able to read a single word printed on the label. Today I pointed my trusty new Google Translate app at it and voilá! Unlike Japanese, the Russian language requires no highlighting of text. As soon as I point my phone's camera at the label, the words I see just switch from Russian to English. It's like magic! I thought maybe 'CTEPEO' was the name of the singer, so I translated that first: 'STEREO'. Well, okay. I next pointed my camera at the label on side one of the record and it told me everything I needed to know. The singer's name in English flickered back and forth between "Sofia Novel," "Sofia Battalions," and "Sofia Rotaru," but a quick Google search told me which of those I was listening to.

Sofia Rotaru was born on August 7, 1947 in the Romanian-speaking village of Marshyntsi in Ukraine, near the Romanian border. She learned music from her older sister, Zina, performed in choirs at church and school, and then found early success as a folk singer after appearing in a musical film in 1966. Her husband encouraged her to switch to pop music, which caused Sofia's popularity to grow. Despite rumors in the late '70s that her voice was a product of computers, unaffected by political tensions between Ukraine and the Soviet Union, in spite of her legions of fans clamoring to know which nationality Rotaru most identifies with, and even following a brief stint in a nunnery, today Sofia Rotaru remains as popular as ever. She was the highest paid celebrity in Ukraine in both 2008 and 2010. There's lots more to read about Sofia Rotaru on Wikipedia here, and you can find this CTEPEO record's labels in both Russian and English (sort of) included below.

[ Sofia Rotaru ]

Monday, November 9, 2015


Overheard when: 7:09pm on Monday, November 9, 2015
Overheard where: Front dining area at Ruzhen Mongolian Grill in the University District — 4523 University Way NE in Seattle, WA [map]
Overheard who: Two handsome, typical-looking 19-year-old University of Washington college students having dinner together at the table next to mine. Both had short black hair, neatly combed, with dark complexions—possibly of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent, though they spoke with American accent
Overheard what: 
Student #1: "Dude, I can't believe I'm going to be a radio show host!"
Student #2: "That's cool. My friend had a radio show he hosted last year called Am I Masturbating? where he would talk about a bunch of topics, just talk about whatever, and people had to call in and try to guess if he was actually masturbating or not. He would make random noises and stuff and people would have to guess. Then they'd have to wait until the next week to find out if he was masturbating or not."
Student #1: "Did he ever actually masturbate?"
Student #2: "He told me that he did."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Siedah Garrett

Artist: Siedah Garrett
LP: 7" single
Song: "Everchanging Times" 
[ listen ]

As the purging from the record collection continued this afternoon, I came across this single by multi-talented singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett. It's the theme from BABY BOOM, a 1987 Diane Keaton vehicle in which she plays a successful, tough-as-nails New York City businesswoman who is suddenly thrust into the role of motherhood when an excruciating toddler is plopped into her lap by the wacky hands of fate. "Everchanging Times" is so incredibly and mind-bogglingly unremarkable that it's fascinating. I haven't heard a movie theme as lifeless and completely without personality or pizzazz since this tranquilizer was released back in 1983. If "Everchanging Times" had even an ounce of the zip displayed by the acid-washed, braided and bejeweled ensemble Ms. Garrett threw together for the picture sleeve photo, this single wouldn't be atop my vinyl 'discard' pile today. 

Siedah Garrett has worked with the likes of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Pointer Sisters and Jennifer Hudson; she's helped write hits like "Man In the Mirror" and "Love You I Do" and has labored in the music business for nearly 40 years. You can read lots more about her here. She certainly deserves a better theme song to showcase her musical talents. Hell, even Diane Keaton deserves a better theme song than this. The neverchanging blandness of "Everchanging Times" helped catapult it onto the Adult Contemporary singles chart (contemporary adults have notoriously awful taste in music, but even they could only drag it up to #30); the song failed to appear on singles charts of any other sort. How this record ended up in my collection I'd like to know. I'm pretty sure it was sabotage.

[ Siedah Garrett with Mr. Jackson in 1983 ]