Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ain’t No Radio Stations Getting Blown Up On My Watch




In remembrance of the legendary Fats Domino, here’s a collage I did a few years back for the Johnny Brewton Kut-Up zine. Utilizing almost exclusively materials that were within immediate reach from the desk in my TMR office, my inspiration for this piece came from the first broadcast of Mick Collins’ Night Train radio show around a decade back.

As the story goes, there was a deranged man repeatedly calling and threatening a radio station. Kept on demanding they play Fats Domino or he was going to bomb the place. There was a big to-do, the offender was tracked down and charged with the appropriate crimes. As Mick tells it, no one ever thought to just play some damn Domino. So with all the determination of a man on a mission, Mick proudly declared “Ain’t no radio stations getting blown up on my watch” and launched in to a half hour of music from the master. This is how he STARTS his public radio career. With style.

It is undoubtedly the favorite radio moment I’ve experienced in my lifetime and I was overjoyed to commemorate it in collage form.

Someone actually bought the original of this for something like $75. Insane.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Record of the Week: Mattiel

Mattiel

self-titled

Burger Records

scum stats: limited quantities on cloudy-clear semi-transparent vinyl, a shit ton on black


I don’t ask much of you folks. I offer up my half-baked opinions here, a link or two and hope it connects with your souls. If not…oh well.

But today, I really, 100% sincerely implore you to put the time and energy into listening to the entire debut album by Mattiel.

I cannot remember the last time I’d discovered a new record that made me feel this good. Personal and the Pizzas Raw Pie? Tyvek’s Fast Metabolism? This is HIGH praise.

The album is flawless. The Jonah Swilley/Randy Michael production team is deadly. Mattiel’s delivery, voice and lyrics are all incredibly inspired and unique and entirely hers. Her confidence is staggering. There is no comparison.

The front album cover photo…it looks badass and imbues an added layer of IMPORTANCE to everything. Someone standing on a horse confers impending greatness in my book. Like an army general ready to conquer an oncoming horde of marauders.

The “Cass Tech” song put me on the verge of tears, everything else crisp, fresh and inviting. I do not peddle in exaggerations. This is truth.

DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS RECORD!

If you at all consider yourself barely a collector, do yourself a favor, buy the colored vinyl now and thank me later.

COLORED VINYL AVAILABLE HERE!

I cannot say enough good things but it feels like I’ve already said too much. Please…on this one, just trust me. It is worth your time.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Record of the Week: The 5.6.7.8's go ska

The 5.6.7.8’s
“Mothra” b/w “Dream Boy”
Time Bomb Records
Limited to 500 copies




Sometimes I marvel when I consider the multiple intersections of my life with the 5.6.7.8’s.

My first serious, in-person conversation with Mick Collins was at a 5.6.7.8’s show at the Magic Stick in Detroit. I was 17, we’d talked on the phone previously about me joining the Dirtbombs, but when talking in person, he asked “Are you in high school? Or college?”

I was in high school, I still got the job.

Five years later, the 5.6.7.8’s are opening for the Dirtbombs at the Magic Stick at the height of “Woohoo” post-Kill Bill exploitation. A LOT of folks in the crowd who’d never seen the Dirtbombs before and would never see us again. In all honesty, we probably should have been opening for the 5.6.7.8’s.

Six years after that, the band is in Nashville, not only recording a live show, a Blue Series single AND a Vault single, but also celebrating Third Man’s reissue of their seminal self-titled LP. Still one of my absolute favorite moments in TMR history is hearing them tear through Ralph Nielsen and the Chancellor’s “Scream” in the Blue Room. There’s no truer distillation of said “Back From the Grave” classic song in my book, not even the original. The 5.6.7.8’s own it.

This is a band that is not of my age, is not from the continent I’m from and can barely speak the only language I am conversant in. By all accounts, we should not be in the same orbit. But we are and I am eternally grateful for it.

I would have a hard time naming a more fully-realized band than the 5.6.7.8’s. Everything about them feels absolutely perfect. Even their first single, slightly off-brand projecting more of a 50’s greaser juvenile delinquent vibe is still so…them. The impeccably dressed, brimming with style Japanese girl-group approach to American surf, garage and (occasionally) rhythm and blues is valhalla. They exist on their own plane. They have no worthy heirs or imitators. They…be.

I became aware of this single way too long after it was released. Probably a year ago? It sat on my Discogs wantlist, ready, available, for nearly a year. I just couldn’t motivate myself to spend $30-ish on the record. I kept on thinking in the back of my mind “There’s got to be a better way.” And for the record, the 5.6.7.8’s are a band that I collect HEAVY.  I’ve got approximately seventeen of their 7-inch singles and that’s a LOT for a band of their vintage (and damn-near every one they’ve released).

Not too long ago it came into my mind that I could just ask their Japanese label, Time Bomb, if they wanted to do a trade. DUH. I was able to include a couple of their LPs I hadn’t grabbed as well and it was as smooth a transaction as possible.

The tracks themselves are an interesting veer from their standard, straightforward garage rock approach. “Mothra”, (originally written as the mightily orchestrated theme song to the 1961 Japanese horror movie in the “Godzilla” vein) echoes with shades of 1960’s ska. Now if I’d read someone else saying that about the 5.6.7.8’s I would immediately mumble “bullshit” under my breath. But when you actually listen to the song, it 100% makes total sense. Just like their foray into traditional Japanese-styled folks songs on their Blue Series single, they’ve made this “ska” approach seem and feel entirely within their wheelhouse.

“Dream Boy”, originally features on the band’s 1996 EP “Bomb the Twist” EP in a more sedate, traditional 50’s R&B doo-wop persuasion. But this song too is presented via the lens of 1960’s ska music. And it’s suited wonderfully.

And now it all makes sense. Taking the pre-existing songs, running them very loosely through a stylistic filter and pairing them together, released in a limited edition of 500 copies through a Japanese record label. Simply beautiful. The continued existence and output of the 5.6.7.8’s puts a smile eternal on my face. Were they ever cease, I would be truly, truly sad.

P.S. the 5.6.7.8’s (in that form) is my favorite band name to type. Every one of those periods pounds out of my keyboard like a foot-stomp along to their tunes


Monday, July 31, 2017

Dissecting the White Stripes First Ever Live Performance...

The White Stripes
“The First Show: Live on Bastille Day”

All of this is from memory. Sometimes memories are false. But anything here is not purposefully false.
I have far more explicit memories of the show the White Stripes would play a month later, their first “full” show with proper setlists and flyers and more than ten folks in attendance.
To me, I remember this as a one-off, as a lark…that Jack and Meg went to the Gold Dollar open mic with little-to-no warning to just test out what it was like being on stage.
As Jack recalls in the Under Great White Northern Lights interview (some of this may be unpublished…you heard it here first!)
Mr. Historian:  What do you guys remember, I wasn’t there, but what do you remember about the first show you played, open mic night at the Gold Dollar?
Jack: Open mic night at the Gold Dollar, I remember there being maybe just a few other people, like 7 or 8 other people there and Neil the owner, and I think all the other bands were from Downriver they were all from Wyandotte or something.  Which is pretty funny they drove all the way to play open mic night in the Cass Corridor.  It was only a three minute ride for us.   We played three songs.
Mr. Historian (Ben):  What three songs?
Jack: I think "Love Potion #9"
Meg: Yeah definitely.
Jack: Which we changed to "Love Potion #10"
Meg: Was it "Screwdriver"?
Jack: Maybe "Moonage Daydream."  "St. James Infirmary" maybe?
Ben: It wasn’t "Moonage Daydream," I want to say maybe "Jimmy the Exploder."
Jack: "Jimmy the Exploder," "Screwdriver," and "Love Potion # 10"?
Ben: Yeah.
Jack: Anyways I remember the band after us did a cover of "Born to be Wild" [laughs].  And after we were so drunk and wasted, I was sitting there with Neil and they started the song, which sounded pretty note perfect, but then the singer says “get your motor running head out on my asshole!”  Which we didn’t seem to understand what he meant by that [laughs]. Not a typical impersonation of "Born to be Wild", maybe Downriver in Detroit, I don’t know [laughs with Meg].
Ben:  So then after that you guys did, like a month later, you guys played two more shows at the Gold Dollar.
Jack: Was it that week we played or a month later?
Ben: So that first show would have been Bastille Day July 14, 1997.
Jack: Ok.
Ben: And then the shows with Rocket 455, and the Henchman were the 14th and 15th of August.
Jack:  Oh I seem to think we went to go do open mic night the week before we went and did those shows
Meg: Yeah I thought so too.
Jack: Because we were worried that we weren’t going to know what we were doing when we got up there.
Jack:  Maybe Bastille Day was our first practice Ben?
Ben: Maybe?
Jack: I can’t remember, but yeah then we booked the show with the Hentchmen outside the Demolition Dollrods show, we had a copy of the album out in front of the Magic Bag and the Hentchmen walked by.  I said hi to them.  That was the first time we met them. 
Meg: That’s right.
Jack: Remember I gave him my upholstery card.  He wasn’t sure about booking us for the show, but he did say he may have some upholstery work for me in his Piermont wagon. 
Then we booked a show with the Hentchmen first.  And then we booked a show with Rocket 455 after that, because we went and saw Kitty Wells (to Meg) remember? Play at that old senior citizen center?
Meg: I don’t think I was with you.
Jack: Went and saw Kitty Wells with Dan and Tracee from Blanche, we were starting Two Star Tabernacle at the time.  Dan, Tracee and I, and Damien Lang who drummed for the (Detroit) Cobras, and then we went and saw Kitty Wells at this senior citizen community center, and we met Jeff Meier from Rocket 455, so we booked a show with Jeff opening up at the Gold Dollar after the Hentchmen, but we actually played with them first, so they both are always laughing and arguing over who we played with first, where our first show was.  But the first three shows were at the Gold Dollar, that’s for certain.  An old... it used to be a drag queen bar in Cass Corridor.
Anyway, folks have said it before, but it cannot be stressed enough…damn-near EVERYTHING that made the White Stripes “THE WHITE STRIPES” exists right here, day one, without waver. Yet they had absolutely NO idea it would ever get this big. From another interview I did with Jack back in 2003…
BB: I remember you saying, when the White Stripes first started playing “Two Star Tabernacle, I can see us getting really huge, the White Stripes, maybe we’ll do a record or two, be some kind of cult band.”  It’s kinda changed since then, don’t you think?
JW: I don’t remember saying that, but I guess it’s just the opposite.  The Two Star 45 is like a cult thing.  The White Stripes have become some insane institution…in some sense.

The idea of a two-piece band, wearing red-and-white, with a childish approach to their art was solidified on this day.
They were childish because of the extent of Meg’s skill on drums and because of Jack's intent on guitar. 
When TMR obtained multi-track masters of a bevy of White Stripes and Jack White-related live performances from the Gold Dollar, this show was, unshockingly, not available. The master of this performance exists as a cassette copy, mixed live by bar owner/sound engineer Neil Yee and handed to Jack immediately after the performance. Important stuff.
From there, this tape was deemed LOST (by me anyway) for a few years. In the pic below (pulled from the legendary White Stripes / Arthur Dottweiler video clips) you can see a big huge metal Coca-Cola sign on top of the refrigerator. That sign was there forever. It wrapped around all three exposed sides of the fridge. Behind THAT was an old-fashioned metal bread box that held all sorts of badass historic tapes. Not gonna lie…the lone complete copy of the Vegetarian Cannibals master was in that box.
Anyway, when the cassette was unearthed (I wanna guess 2002 or 2003) I remember listening to it and Meg not being terribly pleased with her performance. But she had literally been playing drums for no more than four months, and not on some insanely dedicated rehearsal schedule.
To start the whole performance with “Alright, uh, we’ll just bore ya for two or three songs…” is beautiful. What a start, a disclaimer! Jack’s solo after the second verse sounds like he forgot he had to play one at that point. But the way he exits that portion, with some chugga riffing and a sweet descending measure is excellent and would not appear on the rendition one month later in the first full show at the Gold Dollar on August 14th.
Also, THAT show is burned in my brain because Jack let me make a copy of that cassette early on. For the longest time, that was the ONLY recordings of the White Stripes I had to listen to. So the version of “St. James” from that show is primarily what I think of when I imagine that song.
The last verse struggles for a second to find footing amidst what could be a fake false ending. I would’ve liked to hear it play out with just Jack’s vocals and drums, but this boy will be left to dream.
“Jimmy the Exploder” is what I thought was the band’s “hit” single at the time. So much so that I was quite surprised when Jack told me that “Let’s Shake Hands” was going to be the a-side of their first single. They’d barely even played that song at that point. But Jack let me in on the secret, “I think ‘Jimmy’ is too good for the single. We’re saving that for the album.”
The album? “The balls on him” I thought. No one’s around trying to put out a White Stripes album in early 1998. But as is usually the case, he was totally right and exhibiting just the appropriate amount of foresight. This is why I would wallow in the barely-functioning independent rock and roll underground for years before being brought along for the TMR ride back in 2009.

Jimmy heroes about as complicated a drumbeat as Meg would tackle in the first few years and despite starting off rocky, I like the way that she inverts the beat around the 23-second mark (and the 50-second mark) as it is reminiscent of Scott Ashton's badass stutter beat on the Stooges "Dirt" at the 5:03 mark.

As Jack declares at the ending, "Jimmy the Exploder" is about a monkey who explodes things that are the color red. Or is it things that AREN'T red? "Green apples are gonna be exploding now" lyrics throw me off and I realize that in the intervening 20 years I've argued BOTH sides of argument and cannot remember where I'm supposed to end up.
Ending with “Love Potion #9” which for years was my favorite cover the White Stripes did, despite the fact that by 1998 it had all but disappeared from their set. I have a memory of Jack asking his brother Joe if he could borrow a copy of this song (the Coasters version?) on 45, and it seems like it was explicitly to cover it. 
THIS is so pure, so simple, two chords, one additionally thrown in for an accent here and there, Meg’s drums locking on waltz signature, the interplay with the audience, “What he said…one, two, three four!” and NAILING that next note. Wow. If we didn’t have this tape to prove it I would never believe the performance would’ve been so wonderful.
There’s no tangible way to measure how much joy, love, pain, stress and absolute great feelings in my life are ultimately tied to these inauspicious events that happened twenty years ago today. So I’ll just continue to listen, as I have been for the past twenty years, and marvel at what a beautiful sound could be made by two of my favorite people on earth.

Listen here...

The White Stripes The First Show: Live on Bastille Day 7-14-97

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Record of the Week: Sonic Graffiti

Sonic Graffiti

self-titled 
REAL TIME RECORD REVIEW! I will only write about this record in the time it takes to listen to it.

First song “Broke My Brain” is barely long enough to pay homage to Ty Segall’s Goner-era classics. This is just good motoring punk-and-roll. Love the second song title “Fuck the Police Fuck the Jesus Freaks” and the track pumps with joie de vivre and a slightly detectable punk attitude.

I was hipped to this record by solidly reputable Keith Glass at the Nashville record show last Sunday. Dude’s Australian, lives in Mobile and is of a certain presence where you just LISTEN to what he has to say. He had Sonic Graffiti on his display wall for $20, colored vinyl, limited to 100 copies. I found a copy of Gabriel and the Angels “Chumba” in his 7” box and ultimately passed on it because I was pretty sure I already had it. Walked away, made the rounds.

“Mutiny on the Ant Hill” is more in the realm of solid Seventies psych six-minutes strangulation with verse-like punctuation of Sixties frat styling. Noodle-y guitar scribbles for an extended breakdown manage not to kill the vibe.

The record show was a unique trip as I’d brought my four-year-old daughter along. First time. I really, sincerely struggled with the idea of bringing her…what’s the purpose of a child at these things? Would she just run amok and flip boxes of priceless breakable 78s? Would she even understand what a record show is? She had NO business being there.

“Let’s Die Again” introduces acoustic guitar and a monotonous distant piano. A welcome change of pace at the perfect spot in the running order.

“I’m the Slut” is a memorable title to a forgettable song.

“I Wanna Love Love But Love Don’t Love Me” is a jam. Hendrix-styled held notes and wheedle-wheedle-wee guitar sounds. Warm tone on the guitar. Dig.

But then I realized, my parents took me to ALL KINDS OF THINGS I had no business attending. Shit, most summer Friday nights from the ages of 7 to 10 I spent running around my dad’s softball games, only to be dragged to the BAR afterwards. Begging for quarters for video games (if we were lucky) or more likely the jukebox. Kids in a dank midwest softball bar? Not ideal. Kids at a record show? Acceptable.

Side B begins with “Witch in My Heart” and some shapes thrown in the spirit of Jack White initially felt pastiche, but by the end of the song it felt like guitarist Drew had come into his own.

“Broken Window” is inoffensive and maybe that makes it ultimately offensive?

So Violet behaved herself. I was originally just going to have her walk around with me (like an idiot) but mom suggested I put her in the stroller and lock her down. Brilliant idea. At the earliest sign of impatience I just handed her my cell phone. I’m not proud of it, but such is the price you pay for the ability to dig. She randomly called some family, Swank, watched some YouTube and responded to text messages with stickers (which I’ve never used on my own) giving off the impression I’m more hip to technology than I legitimately am.

“Party Song For My Funeral” is the next song. Equally inoffensive?

“Ghost Steppin” feels changed in a welcome way. The world has not enough fuzz bass solos, so the one placed here is doing God’s work, tempered with melodic, downtempo interstitials. Me likes.

My wife gave me shit for the fact that Violet doesn’t have her own record player yet. I felt assured that she wasn’t ready, but Malissa kept pushing me. Said she needed a record collection too. Damn. Found a $1 copy of “Tequila” by the Champs, which was not only my favorite song when I was five years old, but Violet has also come to love from exposure via “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and occasional one-on-one performances by Uncle Jack. Scooped it up and once I find the copy of “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?” I bought for her three years ago, we’ll have the beginnings of her very own stack of wax.

“Good Time in Misery” feels rote standard blue progression, but I can deal.

Penultimate song is “Nematode Grenade” begins with the lyrics “I was an alien but now I am a slave” and I have no idea what that means. I feel like the drums are buried a bit and that’s probably my only legit complaint about the mixing here, everything else is accurately and interestingly presented. I can also look past the fact that the guy is playing a Jack White Airline model, but I imagine some other folks may not be so forgiving.

After one guy stopped me as “didn’t you run the white stripes email list?” and another guy recognized me from Dust and Grooves, I spent a bit of time at the Goner Records table discussing the intricacies in pricing Elvis Sun 45’s (and bemoaning the fact I could not remember which two of those singles I did not have), we made our way back to Keith, who ultimately seemed surprised I was buying this LP. Said they’d played a few in-stores at his shop and they were, by far, the best band to do so. From Florida (they are forgiven) personal recommendations are still the preferred way to discover something to love.

“Shadow is My Only Friend” coasts along with atmospheric effects and is an apropos album closer. Ending on a fadeout? Ballsy move. I bet these guys are WAY better live and that’s no slight on the recordings, I just feel like a small, sweaty room probably conveys these tracks better than vinyl grooves ever could.  I am ultimately sincerely impressed with this Sonic Graffiti album. Curious as to why the cover I have is completely different from the one depicted on their Bandcamp, but will ultimately track down whatever other vinyl they have available. I suggest you do the same.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Record of the Week: Counterfeit Jack White!

Jack White
Live at Third Man 2 x 12” and Blunderbuss demos 7”
COUNTERFEIT

So the drive home for the holidays was a dream. I flew the girls and mother-in-law up to Detroit and packed the family Flex with sundry goods and a smattering of Christmas presents which would all get wrapped at the last possible moment before their opening. So that left me, paternity leave winding down, with a solitary drive from Nashville to suburban Detroit. This was my last stand.

There were drive through A&W cheese curds. A stop in Cave City where I bought switchblades, stiletto/lighter combos, brass knuckles and a $16 crossbow from a kind man who had no legs. Arby’s.

But the highlight for me would be hitting Shake It Records in Cincinnati. I hadn’t been since Dirtbombs tour ’08 and some time to just decompress flipping through those stacks would be a perfect halfway point celebration.

Man, Shake It Records is soooooo perfect. I love the place hardcore. Exactly what a record store should be.

So I stock up…the 7” dollar bin is beautiful, a copy of Cope’s Compendium, Manson Family LP, a used Komeda LP, and other assorted slickness all happily fill my bag. A cursory look through the White Stripes/Jack White section turns up a copy of the 2xLP live at Third Man Vault #14 release. Priced $45. “Not bad for a used copy,” I think to myself.

But something feels off.

There’s no lenticular cover.

“Oh, but we actually printed underneath the lenticular” I remind myself. (also…yeah, we printed underneath the lenticular. Surprise!)

“But wait a minute…we didn’t just print the photo” I internally monologue (and yeah…totally different image underneath the lenticular. Surprise!)

The entire thing is a super-high-gloss that I don’t recall us ever using on any release. As the person who was probably most involved in the total sum of the parts of this package, my brain is really confused and taxed at this point, unable to really figure out what the fuck is going on.

Thankfully packaged in a resealable plastic sleeve, I open the baby up to examine more closely.

I peek into one of the jacket pockets and see a TMR 7” company sleeve with the Blunderbuss Demos single tucked inside.

“Well who would go through the trouble of all THAT versus just making the 2xLP?” my brain rages on.
Finally, the only true indicator I can ever trust or believe in…the run-out groove etching.

The dead wax of the LPs…nothing. And shitty center labels on top of it. The single says…MADE IN UK!

Then and only then did it finally hit me…WE’VE BEEN PIRATED!

This just wasn’t a run-of-the-mill bootleg, where someone takes an unauthorized recording, radio session, singles compilation, puts their own artwork together and presses it up in the “fan club” intention. No…someone went through extreme pains to try and match everything on an authorized, legal release and pass it off as legitimate. This is pirating. This is counterfeiting…the kinda shit that organized crime partakes in with Louis Vuitton bags.

The initial feeling is incensed. That quickly subsides and I feel…flattered. In some weird way, I feel like this is a sign that we’ve made it. That the Vault has really established itself. A wry smile crosses my face. I’m happy about the existence of this, but not happy about it being sold and potentially fooling folks.

So I bring it up to the counter, ask for the big wigs, explain the deal to them and they’re legitimately intrigued. I’ve heard plenty of stories of artists outright TAKING releases of this nature out of record stores. I ain’t that bold (or the artist) so I said to them, “Listen, please don’t order this again. I want this record, but I will not pay $45 for it. I’ll pay your cost.” Jim and Darren Blase, brothers and co-owners of the shop were completely understanding, solid dudes of the highest order who were more than conciliatory in their offer.

One of them grabbed a box sitting behind the counter, a collection of detritus, oddities, forgotten ephemera and just general shit fished out of LP jackets. After rooting around for a second he pulls out what I surmise is a 1970s era American Airlines luggage tag. Written widely on it is “Bo Diddley Archer FLA.” I take all of a half-second to recognize “Oh shit…that’s clearly hand-written by Bo Diddley!”

Being the dudest of dudes, Jim says “It’s yours. Take it.”

So Mabel’s first Christmas and Violet’s fourth were beautiful and full of happy memories made with family and friends and the framed Bo Diddley luggage tag will serve to remind me of that in a odd, roundabout manner, as an indirect showcase of how we got there.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Record of the Week: Young Zee "Stay Gold"

These "Record of the Week" posts began a few months back on the paid end of the Vault subscription site as a little bit of "content" for the customers there. Being a man of the people I can't let that shit live behind a paywall forever and will pull the best of those entries and let them live here for all the world to see. Enjoy!
Young Zee (No Brains Class)
"Musical Meltdown" Part One

Getting the Sonos back up after months without because of a router replacement had me building a monstrous stream-of-consciousness playlist. Honestly one of my prouder moments...not sure if you all can click in on it, but it's titled "Just Some Shits" if you're curious.
In the process of compiling the list, this song "Stay Gold" popped into my head as it has, on and off, over the past three years. And prior to popping into my head for those years, there was a little morsel of it buried in the deepest folds of my brain. 
So there's a clip I remember seeing MANY times on MTV. Featuring the Fugees, probably 1995 or so, I recall it being somewhat structured as a press conference, someone off camera says something inaudible and Pras or Wyclef say "Yo, they wanna know if we gonna do a rap about OJ" and Lauryn Hill steps up and immediately unleashes this verse (or a slight permutation of it)...
"These dimensions and extensions will secure my future pension
When I mention corporate lynchin's like the cowboys did to Indians
The intention of the Devil is to cause me hypertension
So stay gold like Stevie Wonder don't blunder like OJ Simpson"
Pure fucking genius. Unforgettable. Wowed my mind back then and I get chills just typing and re-reading it today.
Fast-forward a decade plus, and SOLID Milwaukee brother Chris Schulist starts a hip hop reissue label called Dope Folks. Shit is real, they don't mess around, put out tons of records and send multiple copies of all of them to TMR. I'd never heard of Young Zee before, but apparently these tracks were originally a cassette-only release that got four mics in a review in the Source but never saw widespread release.
When I put this on "Stay Gold" from this album the Christmas lights in my brain illuminate all corners like Clark Griswold. I KNOW THIS! The same damn verse from the Fugees press conference!
But YouTube detective work turns up absolutely no evidence of the aforementioned freestyle from back in the day. And I become more and more aware of a phenomenon that needs a name (if it doesn't have one already)...the doubting of memories solidly held because there's no corroboration of them. (I used to feel this about the fake episode of "Saved By the Bell" featuring Marsha Warfield, but that's been subsequently proven). I'm worried this will only be exacerbated by the seemingly absolute nature of the internet. If it's not on there, it must not exist...right? 
SIDE NOTE: It makes me want to dig through the garbage in my mom's basement and grabbed all the soot-stained VHS tapes, featuring old episodes of Squirt TV, long forgotten commercials and Presidents of the United States of America late night television appearances, digitize them and make sure they BE for everyone else out there who just might be curious. I know there were multiple episodes of the TV show "Comic Strip Live" that my brother taped...EARLY shit from Greg Proops (talking about Pixie Stix), EARLY Jeff Dunham featuring Peanut, Amazing Jonathan...we watched them endlessly, helping form the comedic bedrock that my life is based on. I met Proops once and asked him specifically about the Pixie Stix routine and he said "I literally cannot remember anything about that entire set other than I mentioned Pixie Stix." I get scared when I think that jokes are lost to time, if not for VHS tapes just waiting to be saved.
Anyway, the plucky high-pitched timbre of the backing melody on "Stay Gold" is just lazy and loopy enough to constantly replay in my head. But only this week did I think to ask Chris about all of this. Texting me tonight, he said "She would recycle that verse a lot. Especially on Sway and King Tech." Immediately followed by "Funny thing is at the Vanguard (bar Chris owns) right now we are having RAPPY HOUR where a DJ plays classic rap videos and he was just playing "Fugee-La." I saw this text and looked around like you guys were here punking me!"
So that leads me to intensely question whether the verse is written or spittin. Not that it really matters, but...I can't recall the other songs on the 12" and am not even going to bother trying at this hour, honestly anything/everything on Dope Folks is worth grabbing if you have a jones for old school, unknown, unheralded hip hop gems. NO ONE does it better than them. 
Texting through the night with Chris (who was lead singer in the Mistreaters in a past life) had him say "I sincerely wish we lived closer to you guys. It's crazy to think our dumb bands could forge such lasting friendships. I love it." I then sent him a pic of seventeen-year-old me sleeping on a recliner at his house and he said he wished he was at home to send a pic of my high school poetry zine...yeesh!
Followed up with "Are you drinking? This seems like drinking Blackwell"
Not drinking. Just drunk on memories and the tricks the mind plays on them.