Original Format: cassette
This was my tribute to vinyl and also, I thought, a fond farewell. At the time CDs had been the dominant medium for a decade, and there was no way of knowing vinyl would make the comeback it has. I’m happy for it, though I find the whole phenomenon surprising and a little confusing.
As for the artwork: I honestly can’t remember. I was smoking a lot of weed at the time, that may have had something to do with it.
I Love My Albums Albert Brooks
The first part of Modern Romance, where Albert takes a quaalude and gets in touch with the full gamut of his deepest emotions, is one of the funniest things ever committed to film. If you haven’t seen it, oh my God, you really need to, but you’ll need to rent it or something; all I could find on YouTube was this short, lo-res clip that will probably disappear tomorrow:
A Fifth of Beethoven (excerpt) Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band (45@33)
During this period I was a bit obsessed with playing my 45 RPM records at 33 1/3. You get some thick, sludgy grooves that way, and it opens up new spaces in the sound, especially with disco for some reason. Songs with vocals often end up sounding like the Sisters of Mercy, but I personally love the Sisters of Mercy.
Los Dangerous Haiku D’Etat
“Haiku D’Etat was more a makeshift hip-hop revolution, or perhaps a temporary force of nature, than a genuine rap group; although “supergroup” is certainly a decent enough beginning, as far as descriptions go, for this magnificent if entirely too short-lived project. An explosive one-off, Haiku D’Etat came to fruition as a result of the teaming up of three of the most gifted West Coast MCs ever to trade tongue-twisting similes and extended metaphors: Mikah 9 and the legendary Aceyalone of the fabled and much lamented Freestyle Fellowship, and Abstract Rude of fellow Angelino mavericks Abstract Tribe Unique. Matching their superior microphone skills to a lush bed of live instrumentation, the trio recorded a sole, practically undistributed self-titled album in 1999.” —Stanton Swihart, Allmusic.com
The Sun One Sun Ra and His Arkestra featuring Yochanan
In addition to his many long-form avant-garde jazz odysseys, Sun Ra was also involved in quite a few singles that distilled his essential strangeness into shorter forms. These are much more my speed.
Frank Sinatra Cake
“This song is about the long lost respect for the individual. That respect eminates from the nether reaches of our psyche reaching out to us, the dismembered constellations… ie the conflicted community. Beyond the nuclear weapons that protect us from each other, the burning convictions that keep us in check and the marketing that sells us out, our psyche reflects the ancient traditions of respect and wonders how they can be made valuable again.” —Commenter “half-baked,” Songmeanings.com
Theme for Kinetic Ritual Klark Kent
People of my age group will remember this song, released by Police drummer Stewart Copeland under the Klark Kent moniker in 1980, as the theme of MTV’s The Cutting Edge. Younger people will be all like, “Huh?”
Hot Stuff (excerpt) Donna Summer (45@33)
In 2010, “Hot Stuff” — presumably played at its normal speed — came in at # 104 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” But I like it better this way.
Fried Chicken Ice-T
When Ice-T goes to a restaurant in Hollywood, do they say “This way to your table, Mr. T”? And if Mr. T happens to be there at the same time, do they both turn around? This is the kind of thing I wonder about on an eerie-quiet Saturday afternoon.
I kind of like this fan-made video, except that for my money it looks more like Kurt Cobain than Beck.
Phonograph Blues Robert Johnson
Johnson also recorded another, quite different version of this song:
Little Feats (excerpt) Richard Pryor
This was not something I did on purpose — the record just got scratched to fuck, but I kind of liked the way it sounded. Nota bene: “And It’s Deep Too!” is the name of the gigantic Pryor box set released by Warner Brothers in 2000.
If I Didn’t Love You Squeeze
“This is a really storming lyric from Chris [Difford] and was chosen as a different single in America. It was a massive radio hit there, particularly on the East Coast, whereas it was just an album track in Britain. The lyric caught a lot of people’s imaginations because of that thing Chris does so well, picking up on small, almost irrelevant details. What he wrote here rang absolutely true to me and was all the more powerful for it. The line ‘The record jumps on a scratch’ was such a gift that I had to use it, so we sang ‘If I, If I, If I, If I, If I.’” —Glenn Tillbrook
You’re So Vain Carly Simon (45@33)
In this case changing the speed works like a charm, underlining the emotion of what is, if you’re paying attention, a very sad song. Slowing it down really brings out the pain in a line like “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.” Through this lens “You’re So Vain” reveals itself as a Goth epic; the original song is lightweight in comparison.
A Simple Carpenter/Licks Off of Records Martin Mull
I had no idea that Martin made records until one day I ran across a copy of Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room, I think at Logos in Santa Cruz. It’s a tremendous album and only occasionally too clever for its own good. And if the Carpenters mockery seems gratuitous now, remember that this was 1973, when the early-mid-Seventies soft-rock wave was at its strongest and most terrifying. Somebody had to do something.
The Devil Is My Friend The Jazz Butcher
Rye Whiskey Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
This was on a Flexi-disc included with a magazine, which is why it sounds not so great. The effect kind of works though.
Chrome That Petrol Emotion