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We apologize for the inconvenience, but we will once again not be carrying Record Store Day™’s official releases for “black Friday.” You will find those ‘limited’ releases quite easily on Saturday, or on internet-sale Monday, whatever that is called. 

We have, however, filled the browsers to the brim with awesome new releases and reissues and original LPs and 45s.That’s what record stores do. The following is an update of what we posted about the subject of RSD’s “Black Friday” last year. We found little reason to change what we had to say:

In spite of our many similarities, record collectors don’t seem to connect with comic book collectors. Sometimes it seems like we don’t even speak the same language. It’s a shame, because so many records have fun comic-themed jackets. hinting at all we share in common. We can’t think of a better recipe for a fun Saturday afternoon than a visit to the Nostalgia Zone, the awesome comic book shop just a couple blocks down East Lake Street from your friendly neighborhood record store. We’re not sure who has more fun with what we find: ourselves or the kids.

The reason we’ve been pondering the differences is that Record Store Day, which will be up to its ninth year this coming April, was based on Free Comic Book Day, a fairly brilliant promotional scene which has sadly been eclipsed by its crass, over-commercial cousin.

Record Store Day may have been just as sincere at its outset seven years ago, but its become the year’s most burdensome seasonal challenge for small shops like ours. Ironically, few of our regular customers express interest in the now hundreds of special releases with the official Record Store Day seal. Many of us who have been collecting, playing and enjoying records all our lives find the entire phenomenon baffling, sometimes alienating. A sought-after record shouldn’t be so because a corporation decided to limit its production, and a new recording by a favorite artist shouldn’t be a challenge to find for fans.

Yes, the official Record Store Day releases do sell well on the third April of each year (and for “list prices,” ie prices set by the wholesalers, which we find to be unreasonably inflated). The enormous sales of these releases each year has given us a budget to host a family-friendly block party featuring fifteen or more local bands each year — and we feel blessed for that.

We don’t expect the major labels are ever going to create a record we could give away just to get folks interested in the very idea of listening and collecting, like Free Comic Book Day has done for years (comic book stores do, by the way, pay a small price for the ‘free’ books you can collect that day, so please support them by buying something else!). We do wish they would create quality products one would enjoy adding to their collection. Unfortunately, while the number of official Record Store Day releases has ballooned into the hundreds in recent years, few fit this criteria.

Major labels have used the event to move massive quantities of moldy catalog material (2014’s official releases included an Eric Carmen single, for Chrisssake). Unreleased archival material that would have made an appealing release without the ‘limited edition’ bullshit is poorly packaged and over-priced. And the dirty secret of record store day is this: none of these products are returnable.That merits repeating: Record Store Day vinyl is a non-returnable product. We’re all stuck with what doesn’t sell.

This event which ostensibly designed to support independent record stores forces us all, the following week, to list hundreds of singles and EPs and janky remixes and reissues online, just to get rid of them. There are RSD releases from four years ago still kicking around our shop, tagged at and sometimes below the wholesale price we paid.

But here’s what we love about Record Store Day: the local music media really gets behind us. Radio K did so much to help  City Pages tagged us the “Best Record Store Day Location” this year, and the Star Tribune has always published our local music lineup for the two stages. Our favorite bands get the exposure they deserve for the awesome music they make — two years ago we were honored to be the site of Black Diet‘s record release show for Find Your Tambourine, and their stellar set in spite of the drizzling rain was one of the best things that’s ever happened here at Hymie’s.


Last year had just as many magical moments. Nato Coles actually picked Irene up and held her over his head on the stage (she DID NOT like this) and Pennyroyal played their last show to an enormous crowd. Each year’s block party has produced these sublime moments, from Fat Kid Wednesday’s smoldering set our first year to the time we pushed Whiskey Jeff up on stage with a borrowed guitar to buy time for another band and the crowd loved him as much as we do. All of this — the stage, the sound, the city’s share just for using the street — is paid for by those special Record Store Day releases.

What makes Record Store Day‘s extension into “black Friday” so distasteful to us is that it seems to have nothing to do with record stores and everything to do with large labels moving quantities of catalog crap. The unfortunate collector who goes home with this schlocky shit (only to find it much cheaper in shops or online two weeks later) isn’t going resent the corporations that now manage the recordings of some long defunct band or dead artist, nor the Record Store Day establishment that’s which has marketed the product. They’re going to resent shops like this one, struggling to survive, and finding the old adage as apt as ever: “With friends like Record Store Day, who needs enemies?”

Black Friday has nothing to do with small businesses or families. The day after Thanksgiving should be an extension of the holiday: a day for making epic sandwiches with the fridge-ful of leftovers, finding the holiday decorations in the basement (our family writes a letter to our future selves about the holidays each New Years Day when we pack this stuff up, so there’s that to look forward to when unpacking the boxes), and catching up with friends who’ve returned from around the country or the world for a few short days. The last thing we’d want to do it drive around town to find some junk which, honestly, is easier to find online twenty-four hours later.



Nicolò Paganini was born in the Most Serene Republic of Genoa, in its capital, on this very day in 1782. The Republic, now contained within Italy, was in Paganini’s time a satellite state of the Spanish Empire. Paganini’s family, however, did not partake in Genoa’s success; his father was a fumbling businessman, forced to supplement his income by playing the mandolin in taverns. This became Nicolò’s first instrument at five, and within a few years he began to play the violin.

paganiniBy the time Nicolò Paganini retired to city of his birth, he was the most celebrated violinist alive, the very definition of a virtuoso. Critics claimed he returned to Genoa with the intention of keeping his legendary technique a secret, but in fact he published compositions and lessons during his brief respite. He moved to Paris to open a casino a few years later, an enormous disaster which left his estates in such ruinous shape that he was forced to sell everything, including his violins. The most famous of these, the Il Cannone, is in the town hall of Genoa today, and on rare occasions loaned to performers.

Paganini may have been a poor gambler, but his other skills extended far beyond the violin. Described by Hector Berlioz as “a man with long hair, piercing eyes, a strange and haggard face — a genius, a Titan among the giants,” Paganini was an irresistible bon vivant, a hard living lover of women and drink. Theories about he suffered from chronic illnesses, that he shook life by the shirt collars in face of secret suffering, but what is known for sure is that he was diagnosed with syphilis in the 1820s, and treated according to the medical standards of the times with mercury and opium. Addiction, madness, and a slow heartbreaking decline followed.

Ailing, wretched, Paganini was sent to a parish priest in Nice to receive last rites. He refused. A week later he died. The Catholic Church in Genoa denied the deceased legend burial in consecrated ground. His body was not even allowed in the Most Serene Republic. An appeal to Pope Pious IX, after four years of negotiation, led to his burial seventy five miles away in Parma.

Here twenty-three year old Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman performs Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 1 in D Major, a rite of passage for the virtuoso. His original works (especially his taxing twenty-four caprices) are beyond challenging to even the most exceptional performer. Perlman is perhaps not the ideal interpreter of Paganini perhaps, but we love him because his work, his life, his deserved success, all embody the same tenacity of the concerto’s composer. Perlman likewise has lived a life of suffering: a polio survivor, Perlman performs seated, and has walked with crutches since childhood. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show at thirteen (it’s fucking awesome, check it out here) in such a way one wouldn’t know, but he was also photographed with the host showing his crutches.

How did Nicolò Paganini become so damned talented? How did he thrive in spite of his body’s obvious desire to dissipate? What was the secret of his success?

Centuries before the “Crossroads” mythology of Robert Johnson, Nicolò Paganini was widely believed to have made a deal with the devil. Many of the illnesses attributed to Paganini’s suffering are spookily supernatural, the milieu of The X Files. Ehlers-Danlos syndrom, for instance, is also called “the rubber man disease” because of its correlation with freakish flexibility. Other theories involve Paganini’s weirdly elongated fingers. There is also the mystery of the unknown benefactor who sustained his late teens struggle with sobriety, and the three years during which the violinist didn’t perform in public. Truth be told, our knowledge of Paganini’s life is spotty at best, just as he briefly wished. From the notes of an early mono recording of the first concerto by Zino Francescatti written by Morris Hastings:

Paganini helped to further these rumors until they become so persistent and widespread that they seriously interfered with his artistic reputation, and from the on he worked desperately to prove that his talents were the result of heaven-sent gifts and hard work, even going so far as to publish a letter from his mother saying that she prayed to God every day for the success of her son.

There are, of course, no recordings of Nicolò Paganini, whose internal hemorrhages took their toll in 1840. It’s always blown our minds that we can hear the voice of Brahms or Saint-Saens at the piano. but Paganini is simply far beyond our reach. Unheard, his legacy is protected from comparison — we’re left to consider his music through the current cult of virtuosity — were Paganini’s twenty-four Caprices best performed by Heifetz? Yehudi Menuhin? To what can we even compare them?

Faustian legends have a long history in popular music, from Mefistofole, the sole opera by Arrigo Boito, which debuted in 1868, to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, released just over a hundred and ten years later. In each of these the Devl’s plan it thwarted, in Boito’s opera by the redemption of Faust and in “Georgia” by Johnny’s virtuosity.

In Goethe’s Faust, the Devil is likewise defeated as Faust ascends into Heaven, his “immortal part” carried by a chorus of angels. They sing:

He’s escaped, this noble member
Of the spirit world, from evil,
Whoever strives, in his endeavour,
We can rescue from the devil.
And if he has Love within,
Granted from above,
The sacred crowd will meet him
With welcome, and with love.

photo (4)This scene is set to music in the second part of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 in E-Flat Major, which is often called “the Symphony of a Thousand” for its enormous demands. Mater Gloriosa, the Virgin Mary, allows a succession of women to plead for his soul: he is defended by the sinful woman anointed by the Savior in Luke 36, by the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well (in John 4, and set most beautifully to song by Dorothy Love Coates in “Strange Man”) and by Mary of Egypt, the patron saint of the penitent. Each is a highly demanding solo as composed by Mahler.

Last, Goethe’s lover Gretchen pleads to the Virgin Mary, who in her only lines in Mahler’s dramatization, grants permission for Gretchen to lead his soul into salvation. In the conclusion, Faust and Gretchen are welcomed by a “mystical chorus.”

This recording of the conclusion of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 was made by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by George Solti in 1972.

And Paganini himself, are we to assume he is playing fiddle for the Prince of Darkness? Hard to say because he is — contrary to Satan’s desire — seemingly immortal on Earth. We are still hearing, playing and loving his music.

Postscript: In the spooky climax of the 1986 film Crossroads, Steve Vai appears as the devil’s representative in a negotiation for the Karate Kid’s soul, and his killer guitar jam, credited as “Eugene’s Trick Bag” is based on Paganini’s Caprice no. 5. This moment is frustratingly left out of the soundtrack album, but what’s memorable is that Vai fits Berlioz’s description of Paganini remarkably: “A man with long hair, piercing eyes, a strange and haggard face.”

Also, because shit who reads this stuff anyway, here’s a joke: Two violinists make a pact that whoever dies first, he will contact the other from beyond and tell him what it’s like in Heaven. Max is the first to pass, and a few days later he appears before his old friend Ralph.

“I can’t believe this is happening!” says Ralph. “What is it like in Heaven?”

Max assures him it’s great, but then says, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s a fantastic orchestra up here. Tomorrow we’re playing Paganini’s first concerto!”

Ralph is incredulous. “What’s the bad news,” he asks.

“The bad news is you’re scheduled to be the soloist.”

Today is Comic-Con day in the Twin Cities! We’re pretty excited to take the kids and spend a day nerding out over comic books, Star Wars toys and other things. Here’s a re-run from the Hymie’s blog archives…

Waiting for you in our the arrivals bins are a couple of blues reissues on the Pearl label (A subsidiary of Delmark) which feature artwork by George Hansen.  The music is jumpin’ and great, and the records just look cool.  This and the inclusion of Newbury Comics (A great shop where I bought my favorite Roland Kirk album more than a decade ago) in Rolling Stone‘s 25 best record stores in the US list inspired me to think about the occasional relationship forged between comic books and albums.  All of the sudden we had a new TOP TEN LIST!


#10 Hellbound Train by Savoy Brown

or then again

Shakedown Street by the Grateful Dead

Amazing but true:  Just as I was set to finish this post, forever ranking Savoy Brown’s Hellbound Train as the tenth best comic book-inspired record jacket, a friend called.  While I was talking to her, I thought I should find some upbeat music to listen to with the kids after they wake up (Fact: Many of these posts are written during naptime).  Off the shelf came Shakedown Street and the list was changed.  I’ve never thought Hellbound Train was a genuine British blues standard, but a lot of people do.  David Ansell’s comic art inside the gatefold is creepy and actually captures the spirit of a hellbound train a lot better than the over-long and bland title track.

Shakedown Street is just great stuff.  The R. Crumb-styled cover art is by Gilbert Shelton.  He is the creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, a comic which is as good as it sounds.

#9 Tales from the Who

Original copies of this bootleg produced by The Mark of Quality have become pretty scarce, but it still turns up often enough – I saw a copy at The Record Show at the Lyndale Avenue VFW in August.  If you’re a Who fan* who really wants to hear it the CD is pretty easy to find – That’s where I got the picture above.  The album contains a Quadrophenia-era live broadcast (From The King Buscuit Flower Hour) but also features rockin’ renditions of classics like “My Generation” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

*I think Who fans should be called “Who-villians”.  Laura says “Who-pers”.

#8 “Weird Al” Yankovic

An epic, if sprawling work of art, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s debut is certainly the best album of 1983 and possibly the best of the 80s.  Few records delved so deeply into the issues that divide us (“Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung”, “The Check’s in the Mail”, etc) or carry such remarkable insight into the anxieties which are overwhelming our lives as in “Another One Rides the Bus”.  “Stop Dragging My Car Around” is one of popular music’s most heartfelt pleas for help, and the intimacy and sincerity of “I Love Rocky Road” cannot be overstated.  Its famous cover was produced by Brazilian artist Rogerio, and contrary to common misconception not by Mad Magazine‘s legendary Jack Davis.

#7 Everybody Love a Nut by Johnny Cash and Songs Mother Never Sang by Homer and Jethro

These are two of the many records to which Jack Davis lent his pen.  Songs My Mother Never Sang is not the only Homer and Jethro jacket he drew, but probably the funniest and the most evocative of his work for Mad.  Others include an otherwise unappealing and forgotten album by Sailcat and a great design for Spike Jones’ suitably zany Thank You, Music Lovers.  I read once that although his work was seldom sloppy, Davis worked incredibly fast.  Maybe that’s why he was able to create so many different LP jackets.

#6  Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin by The Ramones

The Ramones have produced more than their share of amusing record covers, including two consecutive albums with cartoons on the jacket.  Rocket to Russia featured the band in front of CBGB’s on the cover and a cartoon of a pinhead riding – What else? – a rocket to Russia on the back.

[Irresistibly fun fact: The lead off track “Cretin Hop” is not about a cretin.  Its about Cretin Avenue in St. Paul!]

Their next album featured a cartoon of the band by John Holmstrom that is largely indistinguishable from photographs.  Holmstrom is also the artist who created Bosko and Jo, characters you may remember if you read Bananas Magazine.

#5  Chastisment by the Last Poets

Ten years ago when I first brought this record home (From St Paul’s Cheapo in its good ole east-side of Snelling days) my friend Ben sat on my couch and stared at this jacket for no less than twenty minutes.  He was pretty stoned, but there really is a lot going on here. Jim Dyson’s cover art depicts an army of jackals worshiping a sacred cow and the Last Poets as avenging angels.  I can’t say I entirely understand the image, and I’ve never bothered to learn what the arabic text says (I’m pretty sure that if Glenn Beck saw this he’d tell us to be enraged), but its better than the blatantly racist artwork on some records, like Miles Davis’ Live/Evil.

#4 Hickey

Sometimes referred to as “In the Beginning”, this obscure masterpiece is the only full-length album recorded by San Francisco punk group Hickey and it successfully manages to capture than manic brilliance of their various self-released singles.  Probe Records issued Hickey in 1995 and it came with a black and white booklet which included comics depicting the events of the side-long “In the Beginning”.

Hickey’s various 7″ EPs all contained expressive, often hilarious comics and elaborate text.  Several of them offered an hour’s worth of reading material and six minutes of music.  Hickey was issued on CD as well, but I have never seen one so I don’t know if it contains the same comics inside.

It would take a post as long as today’s top ten list to provide a fair introduction to the music of Hickey, one of my favorite groups.  Perhaps someday in the future.  Meanwhile, this link will take you to a memorial site for Matty Luv, who sang their songs and created the artwork shown here.  The memorial site features more of his bizarre, expressive drawings.

A few honorable mentions before we get into the final three: New Birth’s Behold the Mighty Army is undeniably modeled after the covers of Marvel classics like Conan and Man-Thing, but its not a comic.  Another similar example is one of Charlie Parker’s 10″ records on Dial, which combines a comic of a bird and of Bird’s hat with a photograph.  Also not included are records with painted likenesses, even cartoonish painted likenesses, of the artist.

Tiny Tim’s cheerful tune “Comic Strip Man” was issued as a promotional single with a picture sleeve (left) depicting the singer as a superhero.   Here’s the song itself:

Another comic book-inspired record not included is the Blue Magoo’s Electric Comic Book.  I have never seen a copy that has the “comic” intact, and with the exception of their rendition of the Looney Tunes theme I’ve never cared much for the album itself.

#3  Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die! by Jethro Tull

Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die! tells the story of Ray Lomas, “last of the old rockers”.  Lomas tries to adapt to hte 70s but finds the only sympathy he gets (In “From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser”) is from other outdated losers.  After being burned by his “bird”, the old greaser takes off on his motorcycle complaining, “Women–All they want are washing machines, pills and nylon bedspreads”.

Naturally, he crashes (“going 120”) and is laid up in the hospital – By the time Lomas recovers he finds that fashions have changed to again favor his greaser stylings.  At the end, we’re promised “Next week–Ray becomes a pop star!”

A recent CD reissue of this Tull classic added two outtakes, which one can imagine fitting well into the story.  One, “Strip Cartoon” (Which was previously issued on the fantastic 20 Years of Jethro Tull boxed set) seems particularly apt for today’s post:

Of course, we could have a lot of fun looking at the top ten songs about comic books, but if we start on that we’ll never get to the end of this list…!

#2 Who Will Save the World? by the (Mighty) Groundhogs

Like Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick, Who Will Save the World? folds out into a newspaper, in this case the comics section.  Whether its simplistic anti-pollution story by DC Comics legend Neal Adams is really relevant to the record is questionable, but there’s no doubt its cool.  Adams’ work on Superman and Batman during the 70s was seminal, and his political activism on behalf of comic artists (Particularly Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster) earned him near unparalleled respect in the field.


#1 Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company

Undeniably the most iconographic and beloved cartoon record cover rock and roll has ever produced, Cheap Thrills is also a classic album.

The artwork for Cheap Thrills was created by underground comics legend R. Crumb.  In addition to creating a variety of beloved characters like Fritz the Cat and the Keep on Truckin’ guys, Crumb is one of the world’s most enthusiastic collectors of 78s.  In fact, he has issued a few CDs of tracks from his famous collection.

Columbia Records refused the band’s original plan for a naked front cover and Crumb was commissioned to create artwork for the back of a jacket that would feature a portrait of Janis.  She was a fan of underground comics and insisted the artwork be shifted to the front, which explains the back of Cheap Thrills which contains nothing but a black and white portrait of Joplin smiling (and clothed).

ken griffin anniversary songs

Laura and Dave are celebrating their eleventh anniversary today!

The newspapers have been black and white and red all over in 2015, with today’s one of the most upsetting yet. A twenty-one year old man facing a felony charge was given a semiautomatic handgun, which he used to kill nine people at a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The mass killing in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has shocked the nation, especially because it took place in a house of worship with a deep history of protecting the safety, freedom and dignity of all Americans.

It is hard not to think of the September 16, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four little girls were killed in the terrorist attack, called “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity” by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Incidentally, two black teens were also killed by firearms in Birmingham that day, one by a police officer and one by a white teen returning from an anti-immigration rally.

We posted John Coltrane’s harrowing response, “Alabama,” earlier this year on the anniversary of the beginningof the Selma marches. Political response to the bombing was swift and substantial. Public outrage over the crime became a primary catalyst in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We only wish our leadership had the same sort of political courage today.

Another song we posted in response to current events this year was “Heaven Help Us All,” a song by an ex-Marine named Ron Miller, made famous by Stevie Wonder in 1970. It contains the lines, “Heaven help the boy who won’t reach twenty-one / Heaven help the man who gave that boy a gun.”

And we don’t usually comment on politics here on the Hymie’s blog (after all what do we know about how to run the world when we hardly leave our neighborhood) but this line seemed strangely apt today. You may have read news accounts of Roof’s descent into isolation and racial hatred, and recall the twenty-one year old had been charged with felony narcotics possession in February. This, of course, would leave you to wonder how he could come to own a gun two months later, given the provision of the Brady Act which requires background checks before a firearm may be purchased. Here’s how: Roof received the Glock semiautomatic .44 handgun as a gift from his father, and South Carolina is one of the thirty-three states which do not require background checks for private transactions (Minnesota, in case you’re wondering, requires a permit which in turn requires a background check).

And, in addition to prohibiting felons and those charged with felonies from purchasing firearms, the Firearm Possession Prohibition Law, 18 USC § 922(g) & (n), makes it illegal to knowingly sell or give a weapon to an ineligible recipient. We can assume from this Mother Jones article about the attorney who represented Roof in the February case, that the killer’s father Ben Roof was aware his son faced a felony charge when he gave the boy the weapon in April. It’s hard to imaging he wasn’t also aware his son, unemployed and aimless, was hardly a safe candidate for firearm ownership. We hope the prosecutor in Lexington County, South Carolina will pursue charges against Ben Roof.

President Obama began his statement yesterday by saying, “I’ve had to make comments like this too many times.” It’s true: he has addressed the nation following a mass shooting more than a dozen times. After twenty children and six adults were killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, it seemed as though the Obama administration may have gathered the political courage to push for any changes to federal firearm regulations, but any efforts were doomed by Senate Democrats facing “red state” re-election campaigns in 2014.

A Pew Research poll found 85% in support of universal background checks. This is pretty common for polls on the subject. Additionally, Polls have shown strong majority support from gun owners, although the leadership of the NRA changed its position a few years ago to oppose universal background checks. All we know is that once again a person who would not have passed a background check came into possession of a semiautomatic handgun and the consequences were tragic.

“At some point,” the President continued in his address yesterday, “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It is in our power to do something about it.”

If only the leadership of his political party had the courage to act on its conviction, and would allow a vote on the legislation nearly all Americans support.

hammond on holidayBillie Holiday’s classic Columbia recordings (1933-1941) are her very best. Producer John Hammond describes them as “unique in music” on this little bonus record. “I don’t believe we’ve ever gotten this kind of interplay in the years since Billie’s prime,” he continues. The record was included in promotional copies of God Bless the Child, a 1972 double-LP compilation produced by Columbia in response to the success of Lady Sings the Blues, a bio-pic starring Diana Ross. We rarely sell copies of the soundtrack, which hasn’t aged particularly well, but Billie Holiday records have a one or two day shelf-life around here.

“We ought to have a lot of fun, having this record listened to by people who only know Billie Holiday through the movie,” says Hammond at the end.

The movie was loosely based on Holiday’s autobiography. It was fairly successful and nominated for several Academy Awards, but panned by jazz musicians who performed with Holiday, and jazz fans in general. Ross’ meek performance re-casts Holiday as a mid-level pop singer — it’s remarkable, for instance, that neither Lester Young nor Teddy Wilson appear in the film, even though Holiday collaborated closely with each for years (bringing out, we think, some of their very best). Hammond, who produced her records for years, likewise is nowhere to be seen.

Then again, what can you expect from a Hollywood movie starring Diana Ross? At least the film revived interest in her original recordings. There are several collections from her Columbia discography besides the 1972 double LP. Their nine volume Quintessential Billie Holiday series is on the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces imprint (the ones with the blue borders) and the sound on the LPs is fantastic, as are the notes for each. There’s also an earlier three-album box set, sort of a ‘best of’ collection, called The Golden Years. All are worth the search.

the man i love“The Man I Love” recorded December 1939. The band features Buck Clayton and Harry Edison (trumpets), Earl Warren, Jack Washington and Lester Young (saxes), Joe Sullivan (piano) Freddie Greene (guitar), Walter Page (bass) and Jo Jones (drums).

time on my hands“Time on my Hands” recorded June 1940. The band features Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Billy Brown, Joe Eldridge, Kermit Scott and Lester Young (saxes), Teddy Wilson (piano), Freddie Greene (guitar), Walter Page (bass) and JC Heard (drums).



Deep in the Hymie’s blog archives there’s a post about performers who had a tough “first day” on the job, as for instance Temptation Dennis Edwards, who was outshone by his predecessor, David Ruffin, at performances until Motown hired security to keep the ex-Temptation from literally stealing the spotlight.

We ended that post with Heaven and Hell, the first of the few Dio-era Black Sabbath albums. We consider Heaven and Hell a success and singled out “Neon Nights” as a pretty good song, but many regular readers disagreed. There’s never any consensus on Sabbath albums, is there?

The other records we chose all featured disappointing replacements like drummer Kenny Jones, who really can’t be blamed for the Who’s lousy Face Dances album though it’s awfully easy to see it that way. Today we thought we’d feature a successful replacement since there are some. In fact, we think of ourselves as exactly that, not being the original proprietors of your friendly neighborhood record shop. It’s hard to step into big shoes.

bernstein debut

Today’s last-minute replacement, went on to become pretty darn famous himself, and his debut represents a truly historic moment: On Sunday November 14, 1943 twenty-five year old Leonard Bernstein was given a couple hours notice that he must replace the New York Philharmonic’s conductor, the legendary Bruno Walter, who had become ill.

Heard here is the beginning of the evening’s program, which opened with the “Star Spangled Banner” and Robert Schumann’s “Manfred” Overture (Op 115). The highlight of Bernstein’s debut was Don Quixote, one of the most complex and interesting of Strauss’ tone poems. Bernstein handled his assignment with class, and was well received by critics.

He went on, of course, to succeed Dimitri Mitropoulos as musical director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958, following in Walter’s footsteps in one of the most important positions in American music at that time. Bernstein’s eleven years with the Philharmonic included many fantastic recordings which are favorites of ours.

KUSC Radio in Los Angeles, California recorded the performance at Carnegie Hall from a cross-country line. The recording was preserved on 16-inch acetate discs (like the 16-inch records you may have noticed here in the record shop). These were transferred and released by the New York Philharmonic as an in-house souvenir in 1983, the double LP from which we took the recording of Bernstein’s debut.

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