Saturday, May 20, 2017

Vlog #1: Misprinted LPs and the Stickers That Love Them

Here's the first Vlog from yours truly for this Fuji Puzzle Box blog, and it's all about LP covers that were misprinted and then fixed with stickers - one before sealing, one after! Featuring Piano Improvisations Vol. 1 by Chick Corea (ECM, 1971) and Reads Peter and Paul by August Plinth (Vox, 1973). August Plinth? Who could that be? Why that's a poet who recorded at least seven private press LPs of spoken word, whose work I hope to be sharing with you very soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Владимир Высоцкий в записях Михаила Шемякина / Vladimir Vysotsky: The Mikhail Shemyakin Recordings




I just got a parcel from Russia and it's GODDAMNED EXCITING. Here's an unboxing video I made for the 7CD box set Владимир Высоцкий в записях Михаила Шемякина / Vladimir Vysotsky: The Mikhail Shemyakin Recordings, from Bomba Music.

Vysotsky was, if you must, the Soviet Union's own Bob-Dylan-Marlon-Brando, an actor and folk singer, considered persona non grata but grudgingly tolerated by the Soviets, beloved and endlessly cassette-bootlegged by the Russian public. He had a Russian friend in exile in Paris, painter Mikhail Shemyakin, and when Vysotsky would visit Shemyakin (always to visit, never to defect), Shemyakin would make home recordings of Vysotsky performing. There's a lot of those tapes; this 2013 box set runs 5 hours 21 minutes and contains 104 songs. (Bomba also released it on vinyl the same year; both the CD and vinyl versions are reissues of an original 1987 vinyl box set on the Apollon Foundation label, New York, copies of which are now a little scarce.)

I was introduced to Vysotsky’s work thanks to the movie White Nights, which includes a scene where Mikhail Baryshnikov dances to recording of Vysotsky performing his song Кони привередливые (Fastidious Horses), and it’s one of the most gloriously gutwrenching songs ever recorded - like Vlad had “Die of total organ failure” on his to-do list that day but put it off for a few minutes in order to record this song. That specific performance is not included on this box set, but another great performance of the song is included on CD 7.

Кони привередливые is variously translated as "Fastidious Horses" or "Capricious Horses". Here’s Vysotsky performing it live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zGf4hlzgYg

Monday, January 9, 2017

Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre: Homemade Radio

From 1983 comes this very scarce early compilation of Duck's Breath radio work.

Ian Shoales: Mysteries of the Universe
Sesame Street Blues
Ask Mr. Science
Life Unearthed: Sponges
We Both Read It
Tech/Style: The Body Monitor
Dhandi
Ian Shoales: Advice to Young People
Naked People’s Court
Office Psychologist
One True Radio
Ask Mr. Science: Taste Buds
Sleepy Bear Minute Mysteries: The Silver Spoon
Neatness Counts
Ian Shoales: Art Grants
Office Psychologist: Hostage Files
Tech/Style: Ears
Minute Mysteries: The Backwards Clock
Ask Mr. Science: The Scientific Method
Heroes of the Future: Meter Maid
Pennsylvania Dutch Rub Massacre
Voices From the Past
Autoaerobics
Sensitive Male Hotline
Presidential Tape of the Month Club
Ian Shoales: White Lies

Cassette audio & artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

High Wire Radio Choir

At the recommendation of David Ossman I picked up a used copy of this baby on Discogs, and it’s stone brilliant. San Francisco’s High Wire Radio Choir only existed for a late seventies / early eighties moment, but founding member Doug Ferrari later stuck it out on the road as a stand-up. For background don’t miss this post from The In Crowd blog as well as this 1992 profile of Ferrari from the Los Angeles Times.

Teenage Mutant Love
Big Bellied Woman
High Wire Hotel
K-Sell

7" audio & artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Will Jordan: Ill Will

Here’s an excuse for me to plug Gerald Nachman’s essential history of pioneering stand-up comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Seriously Funny – it contains a concise career overview of Will Jordan, one of the “sick” school of stand-ups and an inspired and technically brilliant mimic, who had his own special corner of purgatory carved out for him when other comics lined up to steal his best bits:


Jordan didn’t just invent the Ed Sullivan phrase “really big shew”, he invented “Ed Sullivan”, the caricature, more famous today – and more bizarrely endearing – than the real man. This is his stand-up LP on the Jubilee label from 1961, presented by Hugh Hefner. Jordan appeared on other LPs in the 1960s, including Tapped Wires with Rhoda Brown in 1963, but this was his only solo album. It’s surreal and really enjoyable – but I bought it, and you’re going to listen to it, because of THAT COVER, which is a gift that keeps on giving. In your waking hours. In your sleeping hours. For the rest of your life.

When I First Started in Show Business
Somewhere in South America
Ike on Television
All Rabbis Have Perfect Diction
Sammy Calls His Best Girl
Those British War Movies
The Pres. (of the Actor’s Union) Speaks
The Japanese Prison Camp
The German Teacher
Frankenstein
How Sir Ralph’s Picture Got in Lindy’s Window


DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Space Art: Trip in the Center Head

Excellent synth-pop album from the band Space Art, released in France in 1977 (they got "classic 1980s synth-pop" about five years ahead of schedule!)



Speedway
Odyssey
Eyes Shade
Watch It
L’Obsession D’Archibald
Hollywood Flanger
Psychosomatique

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Christian Marclay: Record Without a Cover

Christian Marclay is a turntable terrorist, sculptor, and video artist. His cut-up album More Encores was one of the first albums made entirely from recycled materials, and along with John Oswald’s Plunderphonics is part of the bedrock of our cut-and-paste age. His art can be as awesome as it is goofy. His album cover cut-ups are legendary. His 24-hour movie The Clock is built entirely of clips from movies where the time of day mentioned in the original film plays out at the same time of day you watch the movie. A 1994 exhibit in Geneva called False Advertising consisted of outdoor paste-ups of five posters in different styles of five imaginary Christian Marclays – chansonnier with an autoharp, heavy metal shredder, folkie guitarist, classical violinist, and jazz saxophonist.

Many Marclay CDs are in print, but punishingly few of his records ever turn up for sale. You may never find the vinyl More Encores, or Footsteps, a 1000-copy run of records that lined the floor of a Zurich art gallery in 1989 as patrons walked on them for six weeks. That’s why when I walked into Exiled Records in Portland and saw Record Without a Cover on the wall, I grabbed it (how much did I pay? I demur). It’s Marclay’s first record, released in 1985, and you want to write him a million-dollar check just for the concept: it’s a single-sided platter, sold without a cover, with printed instructions on one side demanding it should never be stored in a protective sleeve. You put it on, it crackles away, and after four minutes you think "Did I just...hear something?" Noise is signal, signal is noise, you've been hearing it all along.

Sometimes great ideas beget low entertainment value, but this will transfix you. It’s a cousin to Bruce Conner’s Wavelength – what you think at first isn’t much of anything at all amplifies some aspect of itself until it feels like the whole world’s going to explode. Multiple minutes of a stasis of random record clicks and pops lulls the listener into thinking this is a gag record with a blank groove, until very gradually the records playing in the distance move to the front of the mix and the performance is revealed. It’s like locking yourself in a light-tight room and realizing after five minutes that Finnegans Wake is written on the wall in lumisescent ink, and it’s getting brighter. Or how an astronomer in 1995 pointed the Hubble telescope at an empty patch of sky for 100 hours and the final composite image revealed 3000 galaxies. When you listen to this, you will lean in!

Record audio & artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.