Number Fifty One

The Ancestral origin of my blog

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies is not shown, but you get the idea

Throughout the ’70′s and into the ’80′s (and apparently into the ’90′s in cd form) Warner/Reprise had what they called their “loss leader” program. The inner sleeves offered the opportunity to buy  two record samplers for two dollars apiece. The idea, of course was that you’d go out and buy the full albums at full price.

I had and still maintain a restless ear that needs a constant supply of new music. It’s rare I play any one thing to death.  As a kid I never had enough money to buy all the music I craved, nor any older siblings to “borrow” from.  As soon as my parents left the house I’d turn on their Magnavox and go to the right of the dial looking for the freeform FM radio stations lurking around 106. This was a full decade before KROQ. The DJ’s would spin a lot of discs without saying anything so I rarely knew what I was hearing, except  it was dangerous, and my parents would hate it, saying it was “Acid Rock” played by people on dangerous drugs (Turns out they were right about that).  As soon as I saw the garage door open off it went before the oppressors caught on what I was up to. Except for when I forgot to turn the radio back to their regular station. They were not amused when greeted by Frank Zappa and the Mothers lovely “Mudshark” from “Live at Fillmore East 1971″

I might have been at a friends house smoking catnip and looking at his big brother’s Black Sabbath album when I noticed the offer on the sleeve. Otherwise I have no idea what album I might have cut out the order form to send off with $3 for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, a 3 record set filled with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Faces, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Little Feat, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, The Fugs, Black Sabbath, along with lesser known acts as like Pearls Before Swine, H.P.Lovecraft, Half Nelson, and Beaver and Krause.
Waiting six weeks for that sucker to arrive was an eternity. It came as a  Box set with Elmer Fudd on the front.  There were extensive liners with biographies and photos.

I just saw one for $90

Eventually I bought six or seven of them. The influence of these records on my development was huge.

Sadly I got rid of them during the great Punk purge of 1979, when suddenly everything sounded so tame, and irrelevant.
Pictured above is one I never owned, as it seemed “too old” in 1972 when I started buying them. I found this one in a thrift store and bought as a tribute to fond memories of all the others.

All through college and continuing today I’ve made compilations similar in concept to these records, although I didn’t put this together until fairly recently. That said, I have to admit my blog is an extension and a descendant of them.
The tradition lives at  Now That’s What I Call Bullshit.

Last week a friend sent me a DVD loaded with something like 600 MP3′s, so I made a playlist of a surveying less than 10% of the music. One song off each album made for 48 tracks and 2.8 hours of music. From the highlights I made a compilation cd for the car.
Entitled, Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 51, it is here for you to download if you like. The link can be found in the comments. Enjoy! And feel free to buy anything you can’t live without.

Of course after I wrote this last night I thought to Google “Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders” and found a buttload of articles about the series including this one:

http://www.dustbury.com/music/wbloss.html

Go there for the full story.

The Playlist

Alex Chilton RIP Big Star

 

Bach's Bottom

William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star.
Chilton’s early commercial sales success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he did draw a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Chilton

The original artifact

I moved to New York City August 1, 1988. It took awhile to get settled which really means not about to get evicted. When I finally had enough coin to buy a little baggie of weed and make a trip to the record store it was sometime in March, 1989. I know this because I have a cassette dated April 1, 1989, which I must have made within a week or two of buying Big Star’s Third. I’d heard of Alex Chilton, knew he’d been a Box Top, and that he was responsible for music I needed to hear. Mixed with this impression was also tragedy, and or failure, and that while he was still making music it wasn’t as it turned out more Big Star. I’d never run across any of his stuff until I found 3rd which I bought and loved on first listen. It was recorded in sessions produced by Jim Dickinson at Ardent in Memphis during 1974, but never properly sequenced and released until years later.

Of course I was back at the record store looking for more within days, where I purchased my second Alex album, Bach’s Bottom, which was an entirely different experience. I’m dense enough not to have realized until just now that the title was a pun on “Box Tops”.
The title wasn’t the only thing that mystified me. The vinyl record of 3rd didn’t have all the extra songs the cd’s come with, just ten of the best, most solid tunes. No “Downs” for instance.
How did the brilliant songwriter and performer who crafted this masterpiece follow it up with the junk on Bach’s Bottom (1975)?  Exactly the question every Big Star fan wonders.  I went back to the record store and bought High Priest. More lame, barely listenable crap, including a throw away “Volare”.   After that I just zeroed in on the Big Star albums and avoided Alex’s solo work just like most post Velvets Lou Reed.

When I really liked something, I’d make a cassette copy to listen to every day and archive the vinyl.  I’d read somewhere once that a record begins to sound different after about eight plays.  I would have copied 3rd almost immediately. The blank cassette I had available was a C-60, so I filled the end of each side with “highlights” from those other albums.

One song from Bach’s Bottom I couldn’t stop listening to was “Take Me Home (And Make Me Like It)”.  Before posting this I did a little research and found that there are three versions altogether on the 1993 Razor and Tie version of the album.  I think the one I like is #2, but on Amazon, the sample you can hear has so much banter at the top that it cuts off before the song actually kicks in.  The version posted is dubbed from the cassette. It’s the only thing I really remember about Bach’s Bottom, maybe my copy had more than one version, I don’t know.  It took me half a day to find the cassette, which disintegrated while I made the transfer, in fact about 2:30 in you can hear where it was almost eaten.   The spirit captured by the recording is so great, I love Alex’s instructions about the headphones and the helpful advice at the end.  Everyone is obviously lit up like a tree,  the performance’s sub demo quality get’s by on charming exuberance and the song still comes through, even though he’d just previously sung “It’s The Singer Not The Song”, which by the way, isn’t true.
It’s got this great tension between what it is and what it could have been which is the story of Alex Chilton’s career.  That’s why I’m posting this and not one of the Big Star classics which I figure everyone else is doing.

I meant to get this up days ago, but I became suddenly busy with Globular Cluster.

"Global" Cluster had a blast at this show

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

Here is a very brief video by William Eggleston shot in Memphis about the same time as sessions for 3rd (Sister Lovers) (1974). Captures perfectly the studio ambience of Memphis nightlife found on  ”Take Me Home And Make Me Like It”, I think.
Eggleston has contributed the cover photos for both Big Star and Alex solo albums Radio City, ColumbiaLike Flies On Sherbert,  and others probably as well.  I’ll have to check later.

The Grandest Time

here’s another:

Be Nice

Number Fifty

As usual it’s been too long since I posted anything of substance. I look at some of my favorite sites, and there’s something new posted every day and I have to think that they must not do anything else except blog. Either that or I’m very slow. Probably a bit of both.  Even this began as a zip file I just wanted to throw up, and now I’m into more than an hour spent writing practically nothing.
As stated previously the blog began as a series of mix cd’s made in response to the demise of my evil i-Pod. I called them now that’s what I call bullshit as a comment on the popular series of Top 40 compilations called Now That’s What I Call Music.  It was a way of processing the ton of music coming my way through friends, downloads, and occasional purchases while I was driving two hours down to South Jersey on surfari.
Many songs posted were originally featured on the cd’s.

I made the first one for Memorial Day weekend in 2006. Here is number 50.

A swell compilation of highlights from the blog so far. It will fill a blank cd nicely, or remain files you can do with what you please.

You can find the link in the comments.

Mine looks like this