Posts Tagged ‘Chipmunks’

Keeping Track: The LP Log

May 14, 2022

Originally posted August 12, 2009

Some time during the past year, I mentioned for the first time that I’ve kept track of when I’ve acquired my LPs and that I have a log for them that goes back to 1964. A few people asked me to write about the log, and I don’t think there’s a better time to do so than on Vinyl Record Day.

I remember when I thought for the first time that I should keep track of when I got my records: It was during the summer of 1970, when I bought my copy of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. After I played the record, I thought to myself that I needed to find a way to keep track. So I pulled the out the plain white sleeve and wrote in pen at the very top (on the side margin actually, which is at the top when the sleeve is turned sideways) “June 1970.”

Then I went to the box where my sister and I kept our rock and pop records and did the same for the six of those records that were mine: Sonny & Cher’s Look At Us; Beatles ’65; Herman’s Hermits’ On Tour; the 5th Dimension’s Age of Aquarius; the Beatles’ Let It Be; and Chicago’s silver album from 1970.

Details stick with me: To mark my records on that first day, I used a red pen that happened to be sitting near the stereo in the basement rec room. It was a pen labeled “Property of the State of Minnesota” and no doubt came home from the college in my dad’s pocket one day. I used that same pen for about three years, I think, then switched to blue or black ink, whatever was handy.

For some reason, I only jotted down the month and year I’d gotten the records. And I only marked the rock, pop and soul records. I owned others, kept in a separate cabinet: Records by Al Hirt and the Tijuana Brass, some soundtracks and similar music, and some odd things. I didn’t pull those out and write months and years on them. It didn’t seem important at the time.

“Stardust” by Al Hirt from That Honey Horn Sound [1965]

“Carmen” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass from Herb Alpert’s Ninth [1967]

If I’d wanted to record the actual dates when I’d acquired those first six rock, pop and R&B records, I could have dated four of them with precision. The only two albums for which I would not have known a date were those by the 5th Dimension and by Chicago. But those acquisitions were recent enough on that summer day that I knew the months. As to the others: I knew for certain that Beatles ’65 came to my sister and me for Christmas 1965. [Actually, it was most likely Christmas 1964, just about the time the record was released. Note added January 23, 2014.]  I bought Let It Be on the day it was released, May 18, 1970. I got the Herman’s Hermits and Sonny & Cher albums from my sister for my birthday and for Christmas in 1965; I liked the records okay, but Sonny & Cher and Herman’s Hermits weren’t, you know, Al Hirt and Herb Alpert.

“It’s Gonna Rain” by Sonny & Cher from Look At Us [1965]

“Don’t Try To Hurt Me” by Herman’s Hermits from On Tour [1965]

As it turned out, marking those seven records with that red pen on that afternoon began a journey that finds me today with a database that has information about 2,893 LPs. Like all things concerning my record collection, it’s not something I planned to do. I just kept on keeping track when I purchased or received records, from that summer afternoon in 1970 onward.

I look back now at my early acquisitions and I’m reminded of my own case of Beatlemania, a malady that came upon me in 1970. (That was six years later than the rest of America, and I’ve been running behind ever since. Well, not really, but it sometimes feels like that.) I decided sometime during the summer of 1970 that I was going to acquire all eighteen Beatles albums on Capitol and Apple by the time my pal Rick started his senior year of high school in September 1972. (I didn’t know that I’d set myself an impossible task: There were only seventeen Beatles albums on Capitol and Apple at the time; A Hard Day’s Night was released on United Artists, but never mind.)

So I look at the log for 1970, 1971 and 1972, and I see many Beatles albums: In the last few months of 1970, I bought Hey Jude on a shopping trip to the Twin Cities, I got Revolver for my birthday and a buddy in school gave me his slightly used copy of Magical Mystery Tour, and on and on. By the time Rick and I – with our friend, Gary – headed to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in August 1972, I had one Beatles record to go to complete the collection. I bought A Hard Day’s Night in Winnipeg, less than a month before Rick began his senior year.

(That was not quite so, as I misread lines in the database, an error that I noted in a later post; I bought Beatles VI in Winnipeg and completed my collection with the purchase not long afterward of A Hard Day’s Night.)

If I got records as gifts, I also jotted on the sleeve or on the jacket (oh, the record jackets I’ve written on over the years!) the name of the person who gave me the record. That’s why, when it actually came time to create a database of my records, I could include a “From” column. Probably the oddest notation in that column is my note for Rubber Soul. One morning in January 1972, I got to talking about music with the guy next to me in Math 121. I mentioned my Beatles quest, and he asked if I had Rubber Soul. I didn’t. The next day, he brought me his slightly used copy of Rubber Soul. The day after that, evidently, he dropped Math 121, because I never saw him again. I think his name was Jerry, so on the record and in the database, the notation reads “Jerry in math class (?)”

Another album that I had to guess about came from a discard pile at KVSC, St. Cloud State’s student-run radio station. I took it home and I played it once, I know, and I must not have been impressed, for I put it in the cabinet with my soundtracks and other non-rock stuff. That’s where I found it sometime during the 1990s, when I cleaned out the last of my records and junk from the house on Kilian Boulevard. While I was compiling the database, I came to that one record, Mark Turnbull’s Portrait of the Young Artist, and found that there was no date written on it. I do, however, remember claiming it from the discard pile. And I know that once the 1971-72 academic year ended, I spent almost no time at the radio station. So I got the record sometime between December 1971 and May 1972. I called it February 1972.

Around the same time, in early 1972, I happened upon two albums that led me down roads of exploration, and by looking at the entries in the log, one can see the number of artists and types of music I was listening to grow and grow. One of those albums was the compilation Eric Clapton At His Best, and the other was an album titled Joe Cocker!

“Family Circles (Portrait of the Young Artist)” by Mark Turnbull from Portrait of the Young Artist [1968]

“Darling Be Home Soon” by Joe Cocker from Joe Cocker! [1969]

With Mr. Turnbull’s album being one of the rare exceptions, I continued to record the month of acquisition for my records. When it came time years later to enter their dates into the database, all I had to work with was the month. So I used the first of the month, called it an estimated date and put the entry in italics: August 1, 1972. If I knew the exact date because of Christmas or a birthday or some other reason, I used regular type. That vagueness became unnecessary for records I got after September 13, 1974. Before heading out to a party that evening (who knows why I remember some of this stuff!), I went downtown, most likely to the shop called Axis, and bought a new copy of Duane Allman: An Anthology, and for some reason, I wrote down the exact date, as I would do from then on.

Sometimes I’ve missed. When I was entering all of this data into the computer in early 2002 – a task that took me about ten days, working on it about six hours a day – I found a few other records besides the Mark Turnbull album for which I had no date. Those I had to estimate, looking for a price tag if I bought it used (which would tell me where I bought it, and thus give me a timeframe based on when I frequented that store) or relying on my memory if I bought it new. I may be in error on some of those.

And remember the Al Hirt and Tijuana Brass records, along with the other stuff that predated my rock and pop days? When it came time to enter those, I had to do some estimating, too. One of them, I could date exactly: I got Hirt’s Honey in the Horn for my eleventh birthday. The others, well, I did the best I could.

And I would guess, looking at the database today, that I have exact dates for at least ninety percent of the records in the collection. And when I run through the database chronologically, the dates in italics become more and more rare and begin to stand out in that column as the years roll by. One of those later dates is for a copy – still sealed – of Harry Chapin’s last album, Sequel, purchased sometime during the autumn of 1990 at a record store in a mall on the west edge of Columbia, Missouri. (I kid you not; I remember this stuff.) I won’t open the record, but the songs on Sequel were re-released in 1987 on an album called Remember When the Music. I gave Sequel an estimated date of October 1, 1990.

Not far from Sequel in the log is the self-titled 1977 album by singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff, which I bought a few weeks later at that same store in the west side mall.

“I Miss America” by Harry Chapin from Remember When the Music [1987]
(Originally released on Sequel [1980])

“Someone To Lay Down Beside Me” by Karla Bonoff from Karla Bonoff [1977]

One of the things I did when I compiled the database in 2002 was to look at information in the albums’ notes. I made a note when the album included guest performances or other stars joining in. When I made an entry for a compilation, I put the names of the most prominent artists in the notes column. I also kept track of some sidemen and studio musicians, like the folks who played with Delaney & Bonnie (and Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton and George Harrison) and the Swampers from Muscle Shoals. As I’ve mentioned before, when I shop, I look for those names and a few others in album credits, and when I find those names, I generally take the album home.

One of those albums, one that I found at Cheapo’s in Minneapolis in 2003, raises a question: Who is Lori Jacobs? The liner notes to her 1973 album, Free, tell us that she “lives in Michigan and performs nightly at the Ann Arbor Road House. She used to be a teacher and she used to be married.” And then the notes talk about how her songs “tell the story of a newly-awakened [sic] lady, her loves and sorrows.”

What the notes don’t tell us is how a woman whose credits seem to be that she performs nightly in a lounge in Ann Arbor, Michigan, managed to record her album with the Swampers at Muscle Shoals. They’re all there: Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Pete Carr and Jimmy Johnson. Joining in the fun were Clayton Ivey, Harrison Calloway and Harvey Thompson, who worked at Rick Hall’s FAME studios after Beckett et al. went on their own. Rick Ruskin, a pretty well-known guitarist from Michigan, joins in. And among the folks who came out to sing background on one of Jacobs’ songs were Clydie King and Venetta Fields. Who is this woman?

Jacobs, of course, was one only one of the many musicians who made pilgrimages to the studios at 3614 Jackson Highway in Muscle Shoals. Not many were as seemingly obscure as Jacobs, but my notes point out another singer-songwriter who worked with the Swampers but who’s also spent some time in the shadows.

“Free” by Lori Jacobs from Free [1973]

“Come On Down” by Wendy Waldman from Gypsy Symphony [1974]

(I have a sealed copy of Free which I plan to break open and rip to mp3s one of these days. When I do, I’ll share the entire album here. This mp3 came from the copy I bought in 2003, which has some severe scratches.)

I spend more time these days wandering through the database looking for errors than I do keeping the log up to date. I just don’t buy a lot of LPs anymore. There are only two places to get good-quality records in St. Cloud, and the stock in those stores doesn’t turn over often enough for me to spend much time digging through the records. When I do go through the bins, I’ll grab something if I recognize it from my want list and it’s fairly rare. I also go to garage sales on a regular basis; that’s how I found Chipmunk Rock, from which I shared “Whip It” a while back.

And of course, I use the database frequently for posts here, running through each month’s acquisitions down the years. Once I do that for all twelve months, I’ll have to be a lot more creative when it comes to finding posts for Saturdays.

Digging through the database for this post has reminded me of records I have that I’ve not listened to for a while. Like the Sonny & Cher album, which likely hasn’t been played since, oh, 1968. And Mark Turnbull’s album, which probably hasn’t been played since 1972.

And there are treasures in even the most recent entries. One of the few records I acquired during 2008 was Leo Kottke’s Circle ’Round the Sun, a gift from Mitch Lopate, whose name has popped up here occasionally. There are also treasures less sublime.

“Long Way Up The River” by Leo Kottke from Circle ’Round the Sun [1970]

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by the Chipmunks from Chipmunk Rock [1982]

(All mp3s for this post were ripped from vinyl, so there are some bits of noise now and then.)

People, The Seekers, SCN & Chipmunks

June 20, 2012

Originally posted May 7, 2009

Off to YouTube!

Here’s what appears to be a video produced for the People single “I Love You” upon its release in 1968.

I mentioned the Seekers the other day. As I was digging around this morning, I found a clip of “I’ll Never Find Another You” as performed at the group’s July 7, 1968, farewell concert in London.

Here’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing “Ohio” sometime during the group’s 1974 tour. It’s pretty much as I remember it from the group’s stop at the St. Paul Civic Center that summer.

Video deleted.

Finally, here’s Alvin & the Chipmunks singing “Bad Day,” accompanied by some stills from the 2007 movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Tomorrow, I think we’ll take a look at Jubilation, the third and final CD released in the 1990s by The Band.

‘We’re Only Ordinary Men . . .’

June 20, 2012

Originally posted May 5, 2009

I’ve written in passing at various times about what I call “time and place” songs, songs that are so interlaced in memory that just hearing a few notes pulls me back elsewhere and elsewhen.

I think anyone who loves music has a number of songs that do that. Some of the moments my songs take me to are significant. Others are not, and I think one of the joys of time and place songs is that they remind me of the little bits of everyday life, things that would otherwise go unmarked. One that comes to mind as I write is from 1966: Rick and I were locking our bikes to the rack outside a long-gone St. Cloud discount store called Tempo when we heard the strains of the Seeker’s “Georgy Girl” coming from somewhere. For better or worse, whenever I’ve heard the song for many years, I’m back on St. Germain in the west end of downtown going to Tempo for some reason.*

Probably the most potent time and place song for me is Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them,” from Dark Side of the Moon. As soon as I hear the first notes of the long slow introduction, I’m gone. And as the introduction flows into Dick Parry’s sweet and sad saxophone solo, I’m standing in a doorway between the small lobby and the lounge at the youth hostel in Fredericia, Denmark, so many years ago. A few feet away stands the kiosk where three of our college gals earn a little spending money, selling the rest of us soda, beer, cigarettes and some snacks.

In the other direction, in the lounge, some of the kids are sitting in low-slung chairs near the fireplace, which is never used. They’re studying or reading letters from home or maybe writing their own letters back. Over by the window, a bunch of the guys are playing poker for matchsticks, and right near them, a couple more are hanging around the pinball machine. Just a normal evening in an extraordinary time.

And as the song moves on, I have the choice of digging further into the memories or pulling back and listening in the here and now. The memories are sweet, but my here and now is good, too. Either way, “Us and Them” always has that little tug, whenever I hear it. And I imagine that’s why it’s one of my favorite songs.

All-Music Guide lists just more than a hundred CDs that contain a version of “Us and Them.” Not all of those listings are of the song written by Roger Waters and Richard Wright. I’d estimate that about ninety percent are, though. And of those listings, twenty-two are recordings by Pink Floyd itself.

So that leaves about seventy listings of covers of “Us and Them,” including versions done by Between the Buried and Me, the East Star All-Stars, Ron Jones, David Ari Leon, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, German singer Nena, Out of Phase, Sarah Slean, Jeff Scott Soto, the Squirrels, Supermayor, Switch, Walt Wagner, John Wetton and Holly Wilson.

Two names intrigue me in that list: Nena and Holly Wilson. Nena, because her recording of “Us and Them” is the closer to a double album of covers, one CD of German songs and one CD in English of some of the more interesting songs of the rock era. Along with “Us and Them,” Nena tackled “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “After the Goldrush,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and a few more. I’m not sure I’d listen often to the German songs, but I might like the second CD of the set pretty well.

Then, there’s Holly Wilson. I know pretty much nothing about her, just that she’s a singer who likes to record songs in bossa nova style. For some reason, I’ve recently been digging into albums released during the bossa nova craze of the early 1960s, trying to decide which of the classic albums I want to add to my CD collection. In doing so, I’ve come across some interesting performers and performances. Wilson has recorded four themed albums of covers in bossa nova style in recent years, including Genesis en Bossa Nova in 2005, Queen en Bossa Nova in 2006 and Frank Sinatra en Bossa Nova in 2007. And there was the album I found, Pink Floyd en Bossa Nova, also from 2006.

The CD seems, oddly, to hold up pretty well, though at first there is a little bit of cognitive dissonance in hearing, say, the gloom of “Brain Damage” performed as a sprightly dance tune.

Seven of the ten tracks on Wilson’s Pink Floyd CD are pulled from Dark Side of the Moon, and Wilson’s interpretations of them and of the other three tracks – “Another Brick In The Wall,” Goodbye Blue Sky” and “Wish You Were Here” – make for interesting listening. One of the reasons I think the album works is that Wilson and her producers – whoever they were – made good use of electronic sounds as well as standard instrumentation. And Wilson sings them well, though she might overuse the breathy half-spoken approach a little too much.

I don’t post much that’s been released after 1999, but this was too interesting a cover to let it go.

“Us and Them” by Holly Wilson from Pink Floyd en Bossa Nova (2006)

Tuesday Extra
As the Texas Gal and I wandered through some garage sales Saturday, I kept my eyes open for LPs. And at one sale on the south side of the city, I found a crate full. Lots of country, some Christmas albums, a little bit of rock and pop (things I already have) and one interesting find in near mint condition.

It’s a 1982 album of covers by a group that had eight Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1962. The covers range from “Leader of the Pack” to “Take A Chance On Me” and beyond, with the most surprising being the track I’m sharing today. I’m not going to tell you the name of the group. You’ll have to download the track to find that out. And I’m using Boxnet for this particular mp3 so you can listen to it right away.

“Whip It” (by the Chipmunks)

*I’ve since recalled that Rick and I were having a conversation about “Georgy Girl” as we locked our bikes that long-ago morning. Even with that small correction, the point remains: I hear “Georgy Girl,” and I am back in 1966, on the sidewalk outside the long-gone Tempo store. Note added June 20, 2012.