Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Outta My Wednesday Moanin' Mind...

I feel like I've got a lot of scattered thoughts but none significant enough to warrant enough bile-spew, so instead I figured I'd sorta employ the old Joe Falls ramblin' format. In writing that sentence I found myself troubled to recall if it was either Falls or Bob Talbert who made familiar-to-me that style. If you're reading this and know who both of those people are (and more importantly, who used that style) please forgive me as it's hard to accurately recall the specifics of newspaper columnists at the time I was ten years old.

Is it just me or are CD's increasingly looking a lot like cassette tapes right about now? At the record store yesterday I was torn between the CD and 2xLP formats of the remastered version on Nirvana's Bleach. I already own, by my estimation, four copies of this album on vinyl and one copy on CD. Both formats come coupled with a previously-unheard live show from the era. The CD was priced $9.99 while the LP was $26.99 and came with an mp3 download code. I legitimately felt like I really only wanted the mp3's, if only because a) I don't see myself listening to this release very much, b) if I want to indulge in a vinyl listen, I already have four different colors to choose from, c) having spent plenty of time with live Nirvana recordings, I don't find myself going back to them too often. In spite of all that, I STILL bought the LP.

Did you know Dutch Elm Disease did not originate from the Netherlands (ie, the Dutch) and was merely first identified in that country? The disease originated in Asia and the introduction into America can be traced to a single shipment of logs from the Netherlands, said to be slated for use in Ohio furniture production as veneer. Despite the claims of people my parent's age, I think the eventual diversification of Metro Detroit's tree stock was, in the long-term, worth having cut down a shit-ton of trees. See also The Virgin Suicides or anything else Eugenides has written as it is utterly phenomenal.

Being away from Detroit has made long for music from there in weird ways I could've never predicted. I'm buying the most random records on eBay for the stupidest reasons… like the labels share the same zip code as the house I grew up in (48224) or the mere fact that it's FROM Detroit. I am also legitimately looking for copies of 7"s by Friends of Dennis Wilson, Bang Bang and Child Bite. These are all bands I have never listened to and never saw perform live. I guess I'm merely overcompensating in trying to maintain a bit of Detroit musicologist cred. But seriously, if anyone has a lead/line on any of those singles (and let's not forget that Grayling 7" with the man fishing on the cover or the Ethos single with the pic of the girl in tight-fitting skirt from behind) I am legitimately interested.

I've lately been envisioning something bigger for the time I've dedicated to Detroit music and its history. If I had half a brain it would manifest itself into a weekly podcast dedicated to the topic and featuring NOTHING but music of the city from the past 100 years…but barring someone physically workshopping me through that process I don't see it happening. Maybe it has more life as an informative website…label scans, release years, other pertinent info. All of this I see as moreso dedicated to the unheralded music of Detroit (I have to fight the urge to refer to it as "this" town and keep reminding myself I don't live there anymore) as info about Motown or Hideout has already been exhausted. But what about Fiddler's Music Productions…one of those labels that shared my childhood zip code and also housed a music instrument store where I bought my first pair of drum sticks? Or Blue Rose Records, seemingly the earliest purveyor of rap on vinyl in Detroit? I can't be the only one thinking these things. Also, I am by no means making a claim on the merit of ANY of this. I'm not reticent to admit that a LOT of this music just does not speak to me, that it is downright BAD and is probably ignored for a reason. Regardless, it has, whether positively or negatively, contributed to the musical fabric of the city and the continuing narrative that runs throughout our history.

Blue Rose Records is indicative of a larger obsession for me of late…early Detroit rap and hip-hop. For the past few years I've gobbled up every last shred of info surrounding this seemingly forgotten area…Freddy Fresh's Rap Records Book is a good place to start for discographical information, but he's still missing A LOT of info. I've taken to buying any rap record I can find from pre-1991 Detroit. I've knocked on doors in Detroit neighborhoods I'd never imagined visiting in hopes of tracking down Darryl Nicholson. From what I can gather, Nicholson was EVERYTHING behind Blue Rose…the writer, the performer, the publisher, the label itself. I even had some help from a private investigator in tracking him, but still no luck.

(I understand that in the ultra-territorial world of record nerds tracking down old record makers that offering up this info is considered uncouth. But at this point, I honestly don't care. If anyone else can track find this guy, all the better. Hopefully they are as well-versed in his history as I've become and just ask him the right questions. And if they can find a spare copy of the Breeze 7" I would be glad to pay handsomely)

My interest in Detroit rap stems from the decidedly rich musical history of the city and the seemingly nonexistent information available about it. While my heart lies much closer to the world of Sixties Back From the Grave-style garage rock, that vein had been mined for a good twentysome years before I even knew what it was. For anyone to truly consider themselves a fan of music, they need to grow more accepting and less discerning with time. While I would just love to discover an unknown garage 7" from 1966 with a 48224 zip code, I know the chances are slim that will ever happen. But as the field of rap history is one still emerging into its own I stand a much larger chance of making an impact in that area.

Tip: next time ANY organization asks you for your zip code, offer up 48222 (commonly referred to as the "triple-two" amongst area postal enthusiasts) as it will routinely render useless their efforts of marketing. 48222 is the zip code for the JW Westcott, the mail boat that services passing freighters at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge.

If anyone has a copy of Nicola Kuperus' First Edition book (hardcover or softcover) I will gladly pay you TWICE the amount you paid for your copy. Can't believe I slept on this one and word is she does not plan to print any more any time soon. Viva Detroit photography.

Cass Records will have new releases available before 2010. Our first release in over a year (blame the fire and the move) will be a 7" by the Readies, followed up by a 7" from Nashville's own Turbo Fruits and then a 12" single from the Dirtbombs.

Last week the Dirtbombs became, by my estimation, the first band to play all four rooms of the Majestic Theater complex, with performances in both the Café and on the Garden Bowl Lanes in the same evening. I'm not sure if this is a feat to be praised or not, but the sheer incalculable number of hours I've spent on that block must be staggering. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I dare anyone to find a band that has played the Magic Stick stage more than us.

Making a want list is the best thing you can do as a record collector and I can't believe I've gone almost two years since I last published one. Look over at to see my original wants and clearly you will be as amazed as I am about how many of those I've obtained in such a seemingly short time. Let's see how quick we can cross these off the list…

Rodriguez "Inner City Blues" 7" on Sussex
-"To Whom It May Concern" 7" on Sussex
-"Sugar Man" 7" on Blue Goose
The Fourth Movement 7" Tryangle Records
Mudhoney Promotional Cake Mix Box for Piece of Cake album
The JuJus – Do You Understand Me? 7" (United Records)
The Birds – You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care) 7"
BMW – Chillin 12" (Blue Rose Records)
BMW – Rock the House12" (Blue Rose Records)
The Breeze - Breeze Rap 7" (Blue Rose Records)
The Coloured Balls "Ball Power" LP
Danny Dell and the Trends "Froggy Went a Courting" 7-inch
The Misfits "Bullet" 7-inch (Plan 9 records, black or red vinyl)
Spiritualized Ladies and Gentleman… LP
Paul Nichols- Run Shaker Life 7"
Fireworks – 10"
The Sloths – Makin' Love 7"
Tribal Sinfonia – Something Has You Turned Around 7"
the Lee VI's – Pictures on My Shelf 7"
Kack Klick - Lord My Cell is Cold b/w One More Day, One More Night 7"
Reverend Drayton - "By and By" b/w "On the Battlefield" Cogic Records
The Black Diamonds – I Want, Need, Love You 7"

I'm absolutely enamored with Bored to Death and am sad that the season finale is already upon us. When originally presented with the premise as "It's a modern take on the classic private eye story with some dark humor" I was extremely skeptical. But with a perfect trifecta of main cast (Jason Schwartzman, Zack Galifinakis, and the absolutely phenomenal Ted Danson) supported by exciting guest stars (Kristin Wiig, John Hodgeman, etc) and what emerges is clever but not ironic, funny but not pandering, relevant without being preachy and personally, the position of Schwartzman as the possibly-succesful novelist-turned-PI beholden to the whims of his eccentric mag editor boss (not so secretly modeled after Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair) doesn't seem the least bit far-fetched to me. Not since the debut of The Tom Green Show on MTV have I been so excited about a television program. Let's hope season two is timed to run at the same time as season two of Hung and thus make my Sunday nights complete.

I've recently come into possession of one of the coolest, most unique items of Stooges memorabilia I can fathom. I talk about it in-depth in Robert Matheu's illustrated official biography of the band so search out my exact words there (and enjoy the unreal photos he unearthed for the tome), but for now, absorb the absolute beauty that is the Armed Forces Radio and Television Services label for the Stooges Fun House album, side two.

(this is the first and most likely last LP I've ever wanted to frame)

I mean, I miss Detroit music so much I actually purchased a used CD copy of Deastro's Moondagger yesterday. It's as if the other bloggers have won some prize no one wants.

I've currently been engrossed in Chuck Klosterman's latest collection of essays Eating the Dinosaur If you haven't already indulged, do yourself a favor and search it out as CK is quite possibly the most incisive pop culture critic we will see in our time. He is also one of only two living people that I sincerely want to meet (the other being Dave Grohl). I feel like Chuck and I have enough in common that we could engage in mutually beneficial conversations and legitimately be friends.

Anyway, a few thoughts on issues CK brings up in Dinosaur:

-his comparison to David Koresh and In Utero-era Kurt Cobain is, while completely absurd, insanely captivating. I was especially dumfounded with the clarity of one particular line…

"Koresh decided he was literally God. Cobain was told he was figuratively God. Taken on balance, which would make a man crazier?"

-the insight into laugh-tracks and all things laughter is equally as compelling. His observation as to German people only laughing when they are legitimately amused seems peculiar, but when broken down to analyze that Americans have three laughs (real, fake real and filler) is especially interesting when he explains…

"People halfheartedly chuckle throughout most casual conversations…it's a modern extension of the verbalized pause, built by TV laugh tracks."

I'll be damned if that didn't open my eyes to a previously un-tackle-able line of thought.

-Klosterman waxes about the connection between Pepsi and its efforts to align itself with the hope-happy ideals of the Obama campaign and ties it all in with references to Mad Men and how the advertising world seemingly operates. My only beef with this argument is that he fails to raise the most obvious point. That is, did you not see that Pepsi re-jiggered their logo to almost completely ape that of the Obama campaign? I mean there were more than just a few articles on this on websites as significant as Slate. How did this fact manage to elude not only you, but your editor, your agent, your wife and seemingly anyone else who read your words before they went to print. To talk about Obama and Pepsi and to not even make a passing reference to the similarity of their logos is egregious. See below...

-CK's assessment of football is, to me, someone who really does not care for the sport, insightful to a point that I almost want to pay attention to it now. Almost. The breakdown of the implementation of different defensive and offensive strategies and how they can mostly be traced to individual progenitors within the past 50 years seems incredible to me. I also wholly dig that Klosterman unabashedly mixes writing about music and sports.
Again, please do search out any of his writings (I particularly like Dinosaur and Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs) and you will not be disappointed.

Mick once told me he had a MS Word file that was nothing but an exhaustive listing of Detroit record labels of years past, complete with their addresses. He never gave it to me. Does anyone have it? Can some enterprising soul fabricate an easy-to-navigate map of this information, complete with color-coded pins according to genre and hyperlinked to available discographies? Or do I need to do it all by myself? Seriously, the things I'd do for Detroit…

A lot of records aren't expensive…they are just rare. But somehow, when I want a copy of a record that's "just rare" is soon becomes expensive.

Another Detroit music nugget I've stumbled onto lately is the Archer Record Pressing numbering system. When I first mentioned this to a local record store impresario he started with "Oh great, here we go…" as if I'd gone off the deep-end. When I'd discovered that records mastered through Archer have a sequential numbering, it became clear that once a significant amount of those records have been compiled, it makes it possible to date undated/mystery/unknown records.

In the grand scheme of things this isn't that big of a deal, but it can prove to be very helpful if trying to answer some music nerd questions.

In the above-pictured example, notice on the right side register of the label the AR8594 code. This is what I'm talking about. With seemingly no other relevant information pointing to an actual date of this release, based on what I've compiled, I can tell you that this record was mastered sometime after 1989.

The idea of all this excites me…I just wish I had more time to devote to it. Full-time jobs really limit the scope of geek-outs lately.

Did you know that Election Day warrants no mail delivery in Nashville? And in Pittsburgh you cannot purchase alcohol on Election Day. Is that not fucking weird?

Seriously, not only did I just buy a Deastro CD, but I went trolling around for rare, unheard, unreleased, whatever Detroit electro shit. Found this with help from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Dig it?

And I'm spent. Feel free to fill up the comments with critiques, likes, dislikes, leads on my want list, suggestions, bacon recipes, AR-XXXX catalog numbers and anything else of note.