Category Archives: 10″ vinyl

Record Store Day 2021, Part 1 [Vinyl]

I picked up nearly two handfuls of vinyl for Record Store Day 2021 (first drop) and decided to “review” them, in a pair of parts, based on my initial impressions. It’s a fact that many of the items we pick up for RSD get played once and then filed away, likely to never be pulled from the shelf again. That’ll be great for resale one day – maybe – but it’s certainly not the way you wanna tie up your record money if you can help it. On the other hand, some gems only come to reveal their beauty further on down the road, so… I don’t know… Ah, let’s just get going.

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS – Angel Dream (Warner Records 093624882312) – Sort of a companion to last year’s Wildflowers extravaganza, Angel Dream is a “reimagining” of the songs Petty and crew did for the movie, She’s the One. I don’t know if anyone remembers the movie (I don’t) but the songs are memorable. In some ways they share a lot of the vibe of Wildflowers, kind of laid back, but there’s a lightheartedness with these tunes that doesn’t surface in the others, quite likely due to the fact that they were written to accompany a film. I wouldn’t hold this one up to Petty’s greatest albums (Wildflowers is one), but it’s got a charm to it that’s hard to deny. Together with Wildflowers and Finding Wallflowers (a 2LP set of Disc 4 of last year’s heaping helping of Tom’s hospitality), Angel Dream is one purchase you would listen to again.

ELTON JOHN – Regimental Sgt. Zippo (Rocket/UMe RSDRSZ2021) – This one’s really out of left field! Yeah, if you’re trying to guess by the album cover, you’re right: it’s a psychedelic EJ album that was never released. Recorded in early 1968 at DJM Studio in London (home of Elton’s record label in the UK), it’s Elton and Bernie Taupin in their salad days, taking a break from trying to find their own voice and instead working up some groovy, of-the-moment (but now fairly aged) psych-pop. Surprisingly, the arrangements are much more fleshed out than I was expecting, sounding very much like a serious attempt to write an album’s worth of tunes good enough to release. And they are/were! Why this wasn’t put out until now is a good question, and probably even Sir Elton doesn’t quite remember. But at this point in his career – and after most of these songs made their debut on last year’s Jewel Box set – it makes sense to put out a vinyl relic of what Elton & Bernie were spending their time on while still wearing creative short pants. The songs are certainly on the derivative side but they’re fun to listen to, making Sgt. Zippo a nice one to reach for when you’re in the mood for something different. And I like the play on Elton’s given name, too.

TOOTS & THE MAYTALS – Funky Kingston (Get On Down/Island GET54103-LP) – This is one of the greatest reggae albums of the ’70s, even if this particular configuration isn’t the same as its original Jamaican counterpart. Funky Kingston, as it has been since its first international release, is mostly that original issue, with a few tracks brought over from another album and “Pressure Drop” ported over from a ’69 single. Whether or not you consider this a proper album or a compilation, you can’t dispute that this may have been Toots’ peak as an artist. I would’ve liked them to do a 2LP set containing the original Funky, with the extra tracks they swapped in from In the Dark, and whatever else would’ve made sense. But, I guess for that there’s always my Very Best Of… CD, not to mention a host of other compilations still available.

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES – I’ll Have A… Bucket of Brains (Parlophone 0190295104139) – It may have gotten its name from an obscure Welsh beer, but this record’s got the Groovies’ best known song on it, “Shake Some Action,” a stone cold klassic that you should crank anytime you get a chance. This little 10″ mini LP, “The Original 1972 Rockfield Recordings for U.A.,” contains seven songs the San Francisco band did with nascent producer Dave Edmunds for the UK wing of United Artists. UA released a couple of the band’s rock ’n’ roll singles at the time but they were (at least in hindsight) doomed to fail, being released during Britain’s glam rock craze. Yet “Shake Some Action” eventually became a touchstone of power pop and more bands have been influenced by it than probably even know it. Here, Bucket of Brains provides the single version and the original recording at its slightly slower speed (in a 1995 mix) that reveals more of what makes it so damn good. Plus, there’s a killer version of “Tallahassee Lassie” (crushes Freddy Cannon’s original like a grape!) and their other klassic cruncher, “Slow Death.” This was only available as a UK CD (and under a couple of other names in other countries) mostly in the mid ’90s. As a 10″ it is the perfect vinyl artefact. If this doesn’t help you bust out at full speed, then I don’t know what you need… to make it alright! – Marsh Gooch

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Robyn Hitchcock/Andy Partridge • Planet England [CD, 10″ EP]

As if I don’t cover ROBYN HITCHCOCK & ANDY PARTRIDGE enough already, they go and put out a record together. I didn’t see that coming. Planet England is the name of their nascent collaboration, a 4-song 10″ and CD EP featuring the two elder statesmen of new wave/post punk playing a style of rock that’s a mixture of the typical sounds they’re known for, with a splatter of psychedelia thrown on top.

This fab four starts with “Turn Me On, Deadman,” which isn’t as Beatles-y as you’d expect from the title – it’s more Egyptian than Liverpudlian. “Flight Attendants, Please Prepare for Love” is my favorite here, with Hitchcock taking the lead vocal on a slow, dreamy tune that sounds more like XTC than any of the others; you could say it’s got a slight Dukes of Stratosphear vibe going, too. The bass riff plays well against Hitchcock’s higher pitched voice, keeping this one in the air – or ear – long after the flight ends. Flip over the ten-incher (or let the CD keep playing) and “Got My…” registers as the one track where Partridge and Hitchcock share the main mic. It‘s a spare, folky ditty that sounds like neither fellow’s own stuff (though lyrically it appears to come from Andy’s pen). The EP closes up shop with the title track, the least interesting song of the bunch (surprisingly), though that’s relative because all four songs on this EP are worthwhile listening.

Fans of both Hitchcock and Partridge will be drawn to Planet England. It’s not different enough from either’s catalogs to turn off their fans, nor is it different enough to lure new recruits to the cause. That being said, if anything, it’s a great teaser for the rumored Beatles cover album they’re doing. I may not have seen this pairing coming, but now that I’ve witnessed it I’ll be sure to keep my eyes ’n’ ears open for their next outing.

3/5 (Ape House APEEP902, 2019)

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Andy Partridge • Apples & Oranges/Humanoid Boogie [10″]

Here’s a couple of brand new cover songs by ANDY PARTRIDGE, he the main man of XTC and the Dukes of Stratosphear. Undertaken to ring in the completion of his new home studio, the two homages – to Pink Floyd and The Bonzo Dog Band – are played entirely by one human(oid).

“Apples & Oranges” is the A-side, a sweet ’n’ crisp version of the Floyd’s 1967 single (penned by Syd Barrett). The stereo and mono mixes are quite good and fairly close to the original, though Partridge sings it in a lower key. “Humanoid Boogie” comes in stereo and mono mixes, too, and is less faithful to The Bonzos’ original (from their 1968 album The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse [or Urban Spaceman in the US]). I like how Partridge slows it down a bit and gives Neil Innes’ tune a more funky beat, and how he practically raps the lyrics.

Many fans of Mr. Partridge are probably expecting something that sounds like the Dukes of Stratosphear, XTC’s doppelganger in the psych rock world. But neither cover really enters that land, even though they’re both from the era the Dukes mined for their two celebrated records. And though I would be prone to favor either song, being a big fan of both early Pink Floyd and The Bonzos, I’m going with “Humanoid Boogie” – by a sliver – as my pick from this limited edition 10″ record. Rumor has it that it’s already sold out (they only pressed 1396 copies, for an arcane reason that Andy Partridge explains here), though a CD single and downloads are likely to follow. The two sides of this single definitely make a nice pair.

4/5 (Ape House APEEP 901, 2018)

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Los Straitjackets • Yuletide Beat [LP]

[Review originally published 12/10/2009 on Skratchdisc]

A limited edition 10″ vinyl release, Yuletide Beat is LOS STRAITJACKETS’ second holiday hootenanny, and a worthy companion to ’Tis The Season… [which was reissued last year (2016) on red vinyl – ed.]. Sticking closely to the template The Ventures established many decades ago of doing Christmas instrumentals wrapped in popular rock ’n’ roll arrangements, the ’Jackets nail ten (one per inch) instros down perfectly. This is my favorite kinda music for this time of the year: you get the Christmas tunes, alright, but not the boring, stodgy arrangements we used to have to hear every year on records by Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis. Here you get guitars, pounding drums, and even wailin’ sax doing it the way it oughta be done.

4/5 (YepRoc/Spinout YEP SPIN 2813; available as download at YepRoc Records)

Sun Ra & His Arkestra • “Rocket Number Nine” [10″]

sunra_rocketnumbernine_front_300pxThere’s a lot of activity right now in the universe of SUN RA. Just who or what is he/it? Short answer: He was a jazz pianist and composer who created some of the craziest music ever committed to vinyl. The guy who was born Herman Poole Blount in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914 was definitely a cosmic cat, and in the last year (over twenty since he passed into the great beyond) there has been some notable additions to his discography, including a double album of singles and a recent Record Store Day live release.

This 10″ record, put out by Sundazed’s new Modern Harmonic label, is but a trio of slices of his multi-flavored pie. “Rocket Number Nine” originally came to my knowledge via a cover version by rock ’n’ roll’s Sun Ra equivalent, NRBQ. It’s a bit kooky, and not surprisingly, the ’Q’s version ain’t that far off from this. Recorded in 1960, this version is “one of the earliest renditions” of the song so apparently he recorded it more than once. It starts off with an uptempo groove and a small chorus singing “Rocket number nine take off for sunra_greenduo_300pxthe planet Venus, Venus!,” then comes a quiet section with a moody and slightly off-kilter cello (part of the rocket trip to Venus?), followed by a short piano bit (presumably by Sun himself), and the “second stop is Jupiter” finale. It’s a fun piece to hear and I’m curious to know what other renditions are like. The other two cuts, “Ankhnation” and “Project Black Mass,” are previously unissued cuts and are a bit more normal – whatever that is in early ’60s, semi-bebop jazz. The latter is basically solo piano with someone banging a solo hubcap for rhythm. (Interesting but a little on the annoying side.)

One of the things that really makes this record cool, to me, is the artwork. The cover illustration is by Ian Schoenherr and it, along with the typography, make this record a real nice addition to your library. The fact that it is a ten-inch on clear green vinyl just adds to the fun. Modern Harmonic has a number of Sun Ra records out, all licensed from the man’s estate, and I plan to collect ’em all, along with  the aforementioned singles 2LP set.

3.5/5 (Modern Harmonic/Sundazed)


Off! • Live from the BBC [10″]

off-frontTrying to figure out just what show on the BBC would have a hardcore punk band like OFF! on it? How about the BBC Radio One Rock Show. They had this clutch of punk lifers in their London studios in October 2014 to record the ten songs that make up Live from the BBC, an album released on 10” vinyl for Record Store Day 2015.

This epic 16-minute platter brings some of Off!’s best tunes to life, having been played and recorded live in the studio. The mix sounds a bit muffled, perhaps befitting the band’s genre, and the vocals are low enough in the mix that it sounds like the songs were recorded at a show with a weak PA. Intentional or not, it sounds as punky as you’d hope. There’s no lyric sheet so, just like at a gig, it’s hard to tell what Keith Morris is singing about, but off-label“Over Our Heads,” “Meet Your God,” and “Darkness,” for instance, leave no doubt that the band’s bothered about something. There’s nothing all that ground breaking here—it’s pretty hard to break new ground in such a genre—but Off! play the kind of hardcore that most of us either live for or would rather die than hear. I fall somewhere in between, closer to the “I was listening to punk rock before you were even born” side than the “turn that racket DOWN!” one.

3/5 (Vice, 2015)


The Replacements • EP [10″]

replacements_ep10inchOriginally released in 1987 as part of the campaign for The Replacements‘ second big league effort, Pleased to Meet Me, this EP is half teaser for the LP and half outtakes that didn’t make the album. This time, as a 10″ EP, it’s been released for Record Store Day 2015 just as the band (re-formed with two original members) go out on tour in the USA. “Alex Chilton” blasts out of the speakers like an ICBM, thanks to a detailed mastering job by someone who must appreciate the band’s ramshackle brilliance. The song’s about a guy you may have heard of who once led the power pop underdogs Big Star (and was the teenage lead singer of The Box Tops), and it’s one of the best tunes on the aforementioned LP. Up next is “Nightclub Jitters,” another album track that’s loaded with Paul Westerberg’s reality-based observations on dating and a nice standup bass line. (It actually stands out nicely on the vinyl, even when you consider the tracks were recorded in the infancy of digital.)

replacements-band_300pxOuttakes make up side two: “Election Day” is a slow blues with a powerful slide guitar lead that could have been on the album (which only had eleven songs) though it does feel slightly unfinished. Next the band covers “Route 66” in a throwaway piss-take complete with wrong lyics that’s pretty enjoyable but certainly not a vital part of the band’s legacy—it’s perfect for a B-side.

In all, a nice 4-song platter that makes a tasty appetizer for the record that was The Replacements’ greatest main course.

4/5 (Sire/Rhino, 2015)


Fela Kuti • Fela and His Africa 70 [10″ EP]

FELA-10inch-frontAnother Record Store Day gem, which I didn’t buy on that fabled (last month) date but just found the other day. My friend Gary brought over his copy of Fela Kuti‘s EP on Knitting Factory, Fela and His Africa 70, a few weeks ago and I really dug the West African pop-meets-jazz ‘n’ soul vibe. I’m not sure about the origins of these tracks, and the label’s website has scant info on them, so all I can say is the tracks on this 140-gram, 10-inch record sound like they’re from the ’70s, with a very soulful vibe and some great grooves.

You know, just trying to describe this music makes me feel very, ummmm, white. Like when I wear this really cool King Tubby t-shirt I have, I feel conspicuously visible. Or when you see a drunken frat boy wearing his Bob Marley shirt at a club and you think, “You probably don’t know any other reggae artists, you frickin’ moron!”, that’s what it’s like. I guess you just have to sample the music for yourself and see if it moves ya. I like the groove of “My Lady Frustration,” with its cool bass line and horn riffs. Fela sounds frustrated, kinda, but his band doesn’t let him get mired in it at all. If James Brown was Nigerian and could just slow down a bit, that’s kinda what you have here. If you know the song “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango, it’s a lot like that but less poppy. It’s got a real sweet trumpet solo too. Definitely a jazz record, though, so if you’re against jazz (c’mon, man, just try it, you might like it!) then you’ll want to pass. But I think this 10″ record’s a winner.

4/5 (Knitting Factory, 2010)

[Another re-post from my previous blog, Skratchdisc, from May 2010. This 10″ was available on Record Store Day 2010.]

The Sonics • 8 [10″]

[Since this blog is named after a series of 10″ record releases from the early ’80s, I’m starting off with a re-post of this 10″ release from late December 2010. It originally appeared in my old blog, Skratchdisc.]

Yes, “8.” I have no idea what the significance of the title is*, but I do know why this release is significant: It’s the first release of new music from The Sonics in decades! And while there’s only four new studio tunes, there are six new live recordings from their recent European tour (you only get four on the 10″ vinyl).

To see these guys live—even today!—is to experience rock ‘n’ roll the way it was meant to be. Their manic, loud, practically deprived performances are what it’s all about. I imagine there’s no need to “introduce” you to The Sonics, since you probably already know they were a Tacoma, WA garage band from the mid ’60s who followed in The Wailers’ footsteps, but took it a few steps further, into the grimy back alley of what we call rock. Their original tunes “Psycho,” “Strychnine,” and “Cinderella” were some of the best original rockers of the decade. (All three are performed live on this release.) So, now we have 8, a short, sharp, shocking piece of wax (or aluminum and plastic) with some new tunes. When I interviewed the band in late 2008 for the article I did in The Big Takeover**, Larry Parypa said they were planning on recording some new tunes but were worried that they couldn’t find a producer who could do it as raw as they wanted. Well, it seems they got in touch with Jack Endino somehow, and though Jack only gets an engineer credit, and Larry himself is credited as producer, the record definitely has the raw power Parypa was after. That being said, there’s a bit of high end lacking (and that may just be modern ear syndrome), yet the result is overall pretty pleasing. I mean, let’s face it. Everyone looking forward to a record like this thinks to himself, “I bet it’s gonna suck.” But if you’ve seen them live recently (and they’re playing a show on New Year’s Eve in Olympia, WA), you gotta figure there’s a good chance they could manage a respectable rekkid. And they have…

sonics-8_250pxI like the new tunes on this, especially “Cheap Shades” and “Don’t Back Down” (not The Beach Boys song), both sung by Jerry Roslie, and the other two aren’t bad either (sung by latter day bassist Freddie Dennis). But it’s the live tracks that everyone’s most interested in. Well, they certainly deliver the goods, performance-wise. The sound quality’s not what you might expect from a 2010 live recording, but then again, the “very good quality board tape” quality is definitely in your face and fills your ears. (Here I’ll mention that the other live tracks on the CD are “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and not on the vinyl, “Boss Hoss” and “The Hustler.”) Kudos to Jim Anderson, Seattle soundguy extraordinaire, for not overdoing it, separating it on 24 tracks, or using modern post-production tricks to make it sound clean. Dirty is where it’s at, folks, and The Sonics are dirtier than bands half their age. Hell, a quarter of their age!

3.5/5 (The Sonics Record Co., 2015)

* Aha, could it be because there’s eight songs on the record? Sure, but there’s ten on the CD and that’s what most people will buy.
** Issue #64, and available at their web site on the Back Issues page.

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