Monday, October 31, 2016

Hot Blood

Artist: Hot Blood
LP: Disco Dracula
Song: "Terror on the Dance Floor"
[ listen ]

Happy Halloween! This song would be a lot more fun if there hadn't actually been terror on the dance floor in an Orlando nightclub five months ago. But that was just a regular fucked up lunatic macho homophobe human being with easy access to guns. Thank god he wasn't a vampire.

[ Disco Dracula Men's Halloween Costume ]

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

Artist: Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
LP: The Game of Love
Song: "Game of Love"
[ listen ]
Song: "Too Many Tears"
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I guess there were probably dozens of handsome young male quartets forming in Britain in the mid-1960s, each hoping to catch some tailwind from the fab four's outer-space rocket ship. Here's one of them. Wayne Fontana and his Mindbenders did catch a little wind—"Game of Love" was a #1 hit in the USA—but I think it's safe to say Wayne Fontana is not a household name today. He did once set a police car on fire with a policeman still inside it. That was eleven years ago. In 1965 he up and left The Mindbenders in the middle of one of their concerts. The group continued on with Eric Stewart at the mic and they scored another top ten hit

"The Game of Love" is one of only two records I picked up at Lakeshore Record Exchange in Rochester—the other was an old Johnny Cash LP. The Record Exchange is situated not on the shore of a lake, but in a trendy little nook of the city, with sidewalk cafes and such. The store seems more focused on 'new and cool' and not as much on 'interesting.' When I asked the salesmen to play samples for me from this Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders record, they had to interrupt the loud contemporary noise-rock they were listening to in the store. I definitely felt like I was cramping everyone's style. But they were still nice about it.

Someone named Julie evidently once owned this copy of "The Game of Love." She vandalized the back of it with notes proclaiming her affection for a John and a Frank—though Frank seems to have been her #1 priority.

[ Lakeshore Record Exchange — Rochester, NY ]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pete Burns [1959-2016]

Artist: Dead or Alive
LP: 7" single
Song: "Hooked On Love" 
[ listen ]

*** We interrupt our special coverage of Alex's Upstate New York Road Trip Record Store Bonanza for this important news bulletin: Dead or Alive frontman Pete Burns is dead; he is no longer alive. ***

This makes me sad. I can recall exactly where I was the very first time I heard Pete Burns' wonderful, booming voice. Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" suddenly stabbed its way through my little cassette/radio boom box speakers at the dining room table in our farmhouse in Tampico, Washington one afternoon. Even the horses stopped grazing so they could hear. I was 16 years old and I thought it was absolutely the greatest song that had ever been played on Yakima's Hit Music Station, 107.3 KFFM. In fact, it's still probably the best song they've ever played. Dead or Alive became my new favorite band.

I bought a copy of their followup single, "Lover Come Back to Me," at a record store in Munich when I was there with my mom for a Shaklee convention in the summer of 1985. "Brand New Lover," which was nearly as big a hit in the USA in 1986 as the by-this-time-overplayed 'record-spinning' song had been a few years before, is still one of my favorite hits of the '80s.

It's been a long time since I've purchased a Dead or Alive record. But strangely, I just found this Australian copy of the group's 1987 "Hooked On Love" single, and also the Australian release of "That's the Way (I Like It)" with a picture sleeve, at Vortex Records in Kirkland this past Saturday. And then boom. Dead. There's a nice Pete Burns obituary in The Guardian here, you can read about him on Wikipedia here, and find the Dead or Alive discography and chart history here. "Hooked On Love" went to #33 in Australia in 1987. 

I admit I'm not a huge fan of some of the looks Pete has created for himself over the years, like this one or this one or this one (wait, is that Kate Winslet?) But I do quite like this one from 2006 that they've included in The Guardian article. It brings to mind a lovely mixture of Faye Dunaway and Sandy Dennis

Pete Burns
[ August 5, 1959 — October 23, 2016 ]
We will miss you, Pete.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Calypso Rose

Artist: Calypso Rose
LP: Splish Splash
Song: "Me Ein't Going"
[ listen ]

Record Archive is humongous. When I first laid eyes on its Tweety Bird yellow exterior walls, I figured there was simply no way that the entire building could be filled with record store. But it is. I felt like Charles Foster Kane in Xanadu when I stepped inside. It's got to be one of the vastest record stores I've ever seen. Anyway, after recovering from my awestruck state, I had only about 45 minutes to browse before they closed for the day. So of course I was back the next morning when they opened the doors to pick up where I'd left off. Even then I was only able to dig through a small fraction of the records they have for sale. 

It was at Record Archive that I finally found the ever-elusive 7" of Missing Persons' "Walking In L.A.," which I'd been hunting for since the 1980s; I found a Bohannon record I hadn't seen before, a couple of Billy Williams LPs, and a few other goodies too—including this 1970s album by Calypso Rose (she was called Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis, when she was born, so you can hardly blame her for the name change). Rose has been living in New York City since before I started looking for that Missing Persons single, and even earlier than that she was the first woman to win the Trinidad Road March competition. That was in 1977, and she won again in 1978 too! There's more to know about this dynamite diva on Wikipedia here.

[ Record Archive — Rochester, NY ]

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Celia and the Mutations

Artist: Celia and the Mutations
LP: 7" single
Song: "Mony Mony" 
[ listen ]

After a visit to Niagara Falls, an overnight stay on the shores of Lake Ontario at Golden Hills State Park, and a delicious breakfast at James Brown's Place, I stopped in at Bop Shop Records in Rochester on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Sadly, I had to choose between visiting Bop Shop or the George Eastman Museum, since both are open on Sunday afternoons, but closed on Mondays. 

Bop Shop had a few museum pieces on hand (nifty old picture-sleeve 45s by The Beatles and Rolling Stones, etc.) priced at $50+, but they also had lots of good stuff, and tons of 45s, priced for regular people to buy too. This 1977 single by Celia and the Mutations (these particular mutations are reportedly The Stranglers) was only $6, and I also found 7-inches by The Walker Brothers, The Monkees, Grace Jones, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Jay and the Americans, and more..all for between $4-$8 each. You can read about Celia and her Mutations here; it's too bad she didn't have a bigger hit and become a star. I think it's cool that she's basically a punk rock Glenda Jackson.

[ Bop Shop Records — Rochester, NY ]

Saturday, October 22, 2016

U.N.

Artist: U.N.
LP: U.N.
Song: "Get It On"
[ listen ]

The last and final record store I visited in Buffalo was Revolver Records on Hertel Avenue. I had saved the best for last. The store's owner, Phil, told me that he's only had his shop open there since November of 2015. Before that he attended record shows and sold records out of his garage. There was tons of stuff to look through at Revolver Records, and all of it was reasonably priced. The most I paid for an LP there was $15; the bulk of it was between $3 and $8. I bought so many records here, Phil had to give me a box instead of a bag. 

He'd recently gotten a bunch of great disco records in, including this sexy 1979 U.N. LP on Prelude Records, written and arranged by Tony Green. It was $6. If you'd asked me if it was possible for a great disco track to feature a saxophone solo, I would have said that it was not. But according to the U.N., I would have been dead wrong. I've just read a terrific interview with Tony Green by Seattle's own Kelly Wayne Hughes, where Tony reveals that those are models (not musicians) on the U.N. cover, and that lead vocals on the LP are handled by Goldie Alexander.

[ Revolver Records — Buffalo, NY ]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Swan Silvertones

Artist: Swan Silvertones
CD: Amen, Amen, Amen: The Essential Collection
Song: "The Day Will Surely Come"
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Song: "Mary Don't You Weep"
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The fifth Buffalo record store I went to was the oldest one in town—Doris Records, founded in 1962. Their advertising suggested that they've got jazz, gospel, hip-hop, R&B, blues, etc. so I was pretty excited to check them out. Sadly, though they're called Doris Records and they've got a vinyl LP painted over their doorway, they don't actually sell any records. They do sell CDs though, and cassettes, and clothing, and other odds and ends. Since I was determined to obtain a Doris Records souvenir and my rental car had a CD player, I decided to poke around to see what I could find. 

I asked the young guy working there (not Doris, I presume) if they had any old gospel music from the 1950s or '60s, but he said no. All their gospel music was from the 1980s or newer. To make conversation, I suggested that they should consider offering used LPs there, since I bet people would probably bring in all kinds of neat stuff that they could sell. He replied only that he'd forgotten that white people like to buy other people's used stuff. I was taken aback, so only grinned and agreed, "They sure do!" 

As I continued to browse the gospel section and the helpful sales clerk continued to tell me that they didn't have what I was looking for, I suddenly came across this sun-faded Swan Silvertones CD on the shelf. Bingo! From that point on, this wonderful gospel group became a major contributor to the musical soundtrack of my road trip. Swan Silvertones serenading you at top volume at 7:30 in the morning while you're zipping through the misty, sun-lit farmlands of upstate New York, headed toward bacon and eggs...it just doesn't get much better than that.

Swan Silvertones on YouTube:
[ "Only Believe" ]

[ Doris Records, Inc. — Buffalo, NY ]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Raymond Rasberry Singers

Artist: The Raymond Rasberry Singers
LP: He Doeth All Things Well
Song: "Drive Him Away Lord"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Chariot's Coming"
[ listen ]

If you ask me, some record stores should be required to call themselves 'record museums' instead. These are the stores that stick prices on their LPs that are so hilariously high, you just have to assume the people running the shop have never stepped inside another regular record store before—and they've certainly never browsed through the dollar vinyl at any of their local neighborhood thrift stores.

When a store's barrel-bottom 'bargain' price for an LP is $8 and you're asked to fork over $10 or more for thrift store staples like this one, or this one, or this...well then you're not actually in a record store at all. You're in a museum. Sadly, you might actually find really neat records in the bins at the museum—like this one for example, or this one—but they'll be priced at $45, $75, or even $100, which of course no normal person should ever be willing to pay. You'll often find a date included on the LP's price tag that shows when the record was put into stock, so you can see for yourself that these outlandishly-priced records have been languishing in the bins for six, seven, or eight years or more, with nobody getting to hear them. And since the prices are never reduced, you can return there six, seven, or eight years later to marvel at the exact same vinyl exhibit that will still be on display. I hate record museums, and I just want to slap the morons who run them.

If you're the record-hoarding curator of a record museum, but you actually do want people to purchase and enjoy the music in your store, it's an easy problem to fix. Just ask the guy who runs Black Dot Records in Buffalo, a terrific little vinyl boutique on the northwest side of town. You'll find arrival dates on the price tags of the used records there, and if an LP has been in the bins for 10 months or more, it's automatically 50% off. If an album has been sitting in the bins for over 15 months, then the discount is 75%. It's smart, it's simple, it's fair, and it gets the records out of the store and onto people's record players at home. If I lived in Buffalo, I would always start my record hunting here

[ Black Dots Records' discount pricing structure ]

This 1960 gospel LP by The Raymond Rasberry Singers had been at Black Dots since January of 2016, so I didn't actually get a discount. But it was marked at just $3.99 anyhow, so they're not peddling their vinyl at museum-piece prices to begin with. There's no listening station available, but Josh, the owner of the place, offered to play some tracks from the albums I was interested in on the system in the store. I knew I'd be buying Ray Rasberry's record two seconds after the needle hit the groove, since I'd struck gospel gold!

The Raymond Rasberry Singers on YouTube:

[ Black Dots Independent Record Boutique — Buffalo, NY ]