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tom waits russian lpIn case you were wondering how to spell Swordfishtrombones in Russian, here’s a counterfeit copy of the classic 1983 album by Tom Waits. The cover features a painted adaptation of the original artwork (not the slight variations), and the album’s sequence is changed a little, moving “Frank’s Wild Years” to open the second side. The sound quality is sort of poor, but the album is still pretty awesome.

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We love the text on this old Columbia inner sleeve. And it’s only partly out of date.

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HERE’S HOW RECORDS GIVE YOU MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT.

1. THEY’RE YOUR BEST ENTERTAINMENT BUY. Records give you top quality for less money than any other recorded form. Every album is a show in itself. And once you’ve paid the price of admission, you can hear it over and over.

2. THEY ALLOW SELECTIVITY OF SONGS AND TRACKS.  With records its easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side. All you have to do it lift the tone arm and place it where you want it. You can’t do this as easily with anything but a phonograph album.

3. THEY’RE CONVENIENT, AND EASY TO HANDLE. With the long-playing record you get what you want to hear, when you want to hear it. Everybody’s familiar with records, too. And you can go anywhere with them because they’re light and don’t take up space.

4. THEY’RE ATTRACTIVE, INFORMATIVE AND EASY TO STORE. Record albums are never out of place. Because of the aesthetic appeal of the jacket design, they’re beautifully at home in any living room or library. They’ve also got important information on the backs — about the artists, about the performances or about the program. And because they’re flat and not bulky, you can store hundreds in a minimum of space and still see every title.

5. THEY’LL GIVE YOU HOURS OF CONTINUOUS AND UNINTERRUPTED LISTENING PLEASURE. Just stack them up on your automatic changer and relax.

6. THEY’RE THE PROVEN MEDIUM. Long-playing phonograph records look the same now as when they were introduced in 1948, but there’s a world of difference. Countless refinements and developments have been made to perfect the long-playing record’s technical excellence and insure the best in sound reproduction and quality.

7. IF IT’S IN RECORDED FORM, YOU KNOW IT’LL BE AVAILABLE ON RECORDS. Everything’s on long-playing records these days … your favorite artists, shows comedy, movie soundtracks, concerts, drama, documented history, educational material .. you name it. This is not so with any other kind of recording.

8. THEY MAKE A GREAT GIFT. Because everybody you know loves music. And everyone owns a phonograph because it’s the musical instrument everyone knows how to play. Records are a gift that says a lot to the person you’re giving them to. And they keep on remembering.

AND REMEMBER … IT ALWAYS HAPPENS FIRST ON RECORDS.

PinkFloyd-album-ummagummastudio-300Of course, one of the most famous is these is the so-called “Gigi cover.” Early copies of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma depict a copy of the cast album. The picture is also a unique example of the droste effect (a repeating picture within a picture) because the band members change places with each iteration.

More often than not the albums which appear on albums are on shelves in the background. We like the idea of a passing glimpse at the collection of a favorite artist. It’s no surprise to us that Andre Previn’s shelves are far tidier than Roland Kirk’s.

right as rain

roland kirk

 

We’ll bet it would have been a lot of fun to go record shopping with Roland Kirk or Leontyne Price. And Andre Previn, who incidentally composed the Gigi score seen in the Pink Floyd album above, can have any record he finds at Hymie’s on the house.
Photo on 7-12-15 at 5.05 PMTake a close look at Santana’s Amigos and you’ll see a blue monkey holding a copy of their debut album — the monkey’s got good taste!

ernest tubb record shopAnother common way for records to appear on the covers of other records is when the performer poses in a record shop. Ernest Tubb is seen beaming before a rack of albums from his label-mates in his own record shop on the cover of this 1960 album. There are now two Ernest Tubbs’ Record Shop locations in Nashville, Tennessee — at the Music Valley Village location you can also see the Green Hornet, a 1964 Silver Eagle touring bus used by Tubb himself. It travelled over three million miles before being restored for display!

hard promisesAnd Tom Petty is seen inside an un-named record shop on the cover of Hard Promises. To Petty’s left you can see the same sort of spinning 45 rack we have here in our shop — we would like very much to know where this shop is so we can go there and straighten up those singles!

Petty’s choice of setting is fitting, for Hard Promises was of course the album over which Petty fought MCA’s policy of “superstar pricing” (charging an extra dollar for top-selling artist). Olivia Newton John and Steely Dan gave in, but Petty was next in line and considered either not delivering the album to the label or titling it the standard price, $8.98, to protest the increase. As if we needed another reason to think Petty was a good dude.

DJ shadow

Another album which fittingly features a record store on the cover is Entroducing…DJ Shadow, a highly influential (and enjoyable) album built around innovative samples. In the documentary Scratch, he returns to the record shop where he found most of the albums sampled on his 1996 debut album. He’d gone there for years before they let him look through the basement where albums were stacked everywhere under bare bulbs.

“Just being in here is a humbling experience for me,” he explains. “Because you’re looking through all these records and it’s sort of like a big pile of broken dreams.”

 

spitfire LP montrose LP

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Dragons are one of the most universally cool things in the world, and like all such things — for instance spaceships or girls on roller skates — they appear on album covers a lot more often than they do in real life. For the life of us we can’t imagine why a band that’s actually called Dragon wouldn’t put one on all their album covers.

dragon lp

Our favorite album about a dragon is the one where Spider-Man saves the Earth from Draco, King of the Dragon-Men. Our second favorite is “Perci the Dragon” by folk singer Ken Lyon.

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DSC07400We wouldn’t call her a contender for “America’s teenager,” but it’s still hard to believe Cyndi Lauper is sixty-two years old. Her birthday was yesterday — a day she shares with Kris Kristofferson, Roy Drusky, and one Osmond or another (Alan? Is that an Osmond?).

We have a paperback of This Day in Music History in the office. It’s where we find the birthdays we write on the blackboard each week. Afterwards its not really something we think much about, but this week it seemed like the musical birthdays would make a peculiar playlist. Here today are a few from this weekend.

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“Can’t Slow Down” by Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie was born on June 20, 1949, and was thirty-four years old when Can’t Slow Down, his second solo album, began its fifty-nine week stay in the top ten. That’s why you see copies of this album in nearly every record store in America — but you know what, it’s that popular for a reason. When was the last time you played your copy? You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy hearing it again.

Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual isn’t quite as ubiquitous as the first three Lionel Richie albums, but for folks in their thirties these days its an old favorite. That’s why Lauper took the entire album on a world-wide 30th anniversary tour two summers ago.

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“Snowbird” by Anne Murray

This was the song which set singer Anne Murray’s career on track — it wasn’t originally chosen as a single from her album Country in 1969, but becoming an unexpected hit when released the following year. “Snowbird” was written by another Canadian, Gene MacLellan.

Golf For Women magazine named Murray the world’s best female celebrity golfer in 2007. Betcha didn’t know that.

Billy Guy was one of the longest-serving original members of the Coasters. He also released a series of solo singles in the sixties on Double L Records and — true to the group’s narrow walk between pop and novelty — had a couple of comedy projects in the seventies. One was a double album about drag queens and the other, The Tramp is Funky, featured his own raunchy stand-up material. “Poison Ivy” captures the Coasters’ flair for suggestive humor.

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“Poison Ivy” by the Coasters

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“In My Room” by the Beach Boys

And last we have Brian Wilson, the enigmatic Beach Boy who released his eleventh solo album, No Pier Pressure, earlier this year. We still have one copy in stock for those of you interested in hearing it. The album was originally planned to be a Beach Boys record, to follow their 50th anniversary album That’s Why God Made the Radio, and so includes some of his former bandmates, though obviously not Mike Love who for all intents and purposes fired founding members Wilson and Al Jardine, and David Marks who had been a member since 1962. Mike Love has his own, more profitable version of the Beach Boys which is playing shows in California this month. We’ll let Cyndi sum it all up for today…

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“Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper

atlantis in hi fi yodeling in hi fikentonDSCN0706guy lombardo

hi fi harp

mr bongos in hi fi sarah vaugh in hi fi

DSC07343Burt Bacharach is turning eighty-seven on Tuesday, and local guitarist Brian Peterson asked if he could come in and perform some of Bacharach’s many famous songs — so he’ll be here this evening at 5pm for your listening enjoyment. In the meantime, we had fun looking for some interesting recordings of his songs. Here’s the ones we chose:

story of my lifeThe Story of My Life

“The Story of my Life” was one of the first major successes for Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who had started writing songs together about a year earlier. The single by Marty Robbins reached #1 on Billboard’s country chart and #15 on the pop chart in 1957 — another version in England by Michael Holliday was also a #1 hit. Robbins later re-recorded the song for a 1970 album, and its title was used for a Columbia Legacy compilation disc.

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“Story of my Life” by Marty Robbins

DSC07346The Blob

Bacharach also wrote songs over the years with Hal’s brother, Mack. One of them was “The Blob” for the 1958 monster movie starring Steve McQueen. The silly song was recorded by a Los Angeles studio band led by Bernie Knee. The single by the Five Blobs was a surprise hit, reaching #33 on Billboard’s pop chart.

Folks in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania host an annual “Blobfest” which includes re-enactments and a photo opportunities at a facsimile of the basement of Chef’s Diner.

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“The Blob” by the Five Blobs

DSC07347Move it on the Backbeat

“Move it on the Backbeat” is another song Bacharach wrote with Mack David. The uncredited singers are the Gospelaires, an in-demand backing vocal group which including at that time Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, as well as Cissy Houston.
You can also hear them singing on records by the Drifters, Dinah Washington, Ronnie Hawkins and on Doris Troy’s “Just One Look” (Troy was previously a member of the group). And of course “Move it on the Backbeat” was the beginning of a long collaboration between Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, who recorded dozens of Bacharach/David songs.

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“Move it on the Backbeat” by Burt and the Backbeats

casino royaleThe Look of Love

Casino Royale was the third soundtrack album Bacharach worked on. The title song was performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Dusty Springfield sang the sultry, memorable tune “The Look of Love,” one of the most well-known Bacharach/David songs of all.

In the days before eBay and internet dealers, original stereo pressings of Casino Royale were one of the most sought-after albums for audiophiles. This is a result of the recording process, in which high-grade tape was used and heavily saturated to nearly the point of distortion, leading to extreme high and low ranges on playback. Our fairly worn mono copy is hardly a gem, but then again we’ve never really understood audiophiles anyways — they sure can take all the fun out of record collecting!

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“The Look of Love” by Dusty Springfield

DSC07344South American Getaway

Bacharach’s score to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of the records we’ve had in our collection for the longest. He received one of his three Academy Awards for the music, and the B.J. Thomas recording of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” was a huge hit. The music fits the film magnificently, as in the montage scene where Butch, Sundance and Etta travel to Bolivia and this song is heard.

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“South American Getaway” by Burt Bacharach

smithBaby It’s You

Bacharach and Mack David wrote “Baby Its You” with Luther Dixon, who was the producer who established the Shirelles’ sound (he’s credited as Barney Williams on the single). It came out in the middle of their string of successful tunes for Scepter Records in the early sixties. The song was also a hit for the Beatles, and later an even bigger hit for Smith in 1968, which featured a full-throated delivery by singer Gayle McCormick.

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“Bqby Its You” by the Shirelles

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“Baby Its You” by Smith

DSC07352Trains and Boats and Planes

Originally titled Hit Maker!, the first album Bacharach issued under his own name didn’t feature his own voice. Instead listeners found lush, mostly instrumental arrangements of songs he and David had written for Warwick and others. A largely anonymous chorus sings some of the songs, including “Planes and Boats and Trains,” which was had minor success as a single in England.

Also among the anonymous contributors were Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, session musicians in their pre-Zeppelin days.

The album has been reissued many times over the years, most often as Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits.

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“Planes and Boats and Trains” by Burt Bacharach

DSC07351Walk on By

“Walk On By” was one of the many hits Bacharach and David wrote for Dionne Warwick in the sixties. The song’s woe-is-me narrative draws out a unique quality from nearly everyone who interprets it.

Isaac Hayes turned it into a bombastic, epic jam on his 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul, and about ten years later the Stranglers recorded an equally over-long version driven by a plodding bass line and an extended organ solo. Shortly after that the Average White Band recorded a great, funky version on their album Feel No Fret. Its a song which has inspired many interpretation and many imitations, and is surely one of the most beloved Bacharach songs.

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“Walk on By” by Isaac Hayes

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“Walk on By” by the Stranglers

DSC07348

My Little Red Book

The lyrics of Hal David were often melodramatic and self-depreciating, which fit well with Bacharach’s style. We read an interview once where he described how the music should tell a story, just as the lyrics do.

Whether “My Little Red Book” was intended to reference the ubiquitous and famous Quotes from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, published the same year as the song, is as debatable as theories The Blob was an allegory for Soviet communism. The song was one of the first Bacharach and David wrote for a British pop band, probably connected to their continued chart success across the pond beginning with the cover of Marty Robbins’ “The Story of My Life.”

When Love recorded the song for their first album, guitarist Arthur Lee completely re-invented the chord changes, to the chagrin of Bacharach. Still, the song was a hit and has become a favorite of garage rock fans and guys who like to hang around record stores and talk about where punk rock was invented.

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“My Little Red Book” by Love

DSC07345I Say A Little Prayer

Several of the hits Bacharach and David wrote for Dionne Warwick became jazz standards, although his use of unusual chord progressions probably made it more complicated for performers. Stan Getz recorded an entire album of Bacharach/David songs in the seventies (What the World Needs Now Is Love), and Ahmad Jamal opened his 1968 album Tranquility (one of our favorites of his) with two of their songs: “I Say a Little Prayer” and “The Look of Love.”

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“I Say a Little Prayer” by Ahmad Jamal

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“The Look of Love” by Ahmad Jamal

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