Over-Nite Sensation

Overnite Sensation and bourbon

The Preample:

Frank Zappa was one of the coolest men ever to roam the earth.  Hitting the scene while the love movement was in full bloom, his music was counter culture yet anti-hippie.  A musical perfectionist who weaved avant-garde compositions about cream cheese, dental floss and catholic girls, he also sang of freedom of speech and obliteration of censorship.   He gave his kids names like Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva, was appointed by the Czechoslovakia government to head their department of trade, cultural matter and tourism, and testified before the United States Senate.  Fucking eh.

It’s easy to write him off as a parody act or freak show, yet digesting his discography one can argue he’s the greatest composer of the twentieth century.  Who else you going to nominate…John WilliamsVangelis?  Not even fucking close.  Zappa.

My wife hates his music.  Guaranteed way to get rid or her.

Anyways, listening to Over-nite Sensation tonight which is credited to the The Mothers.  Apparently this LP and Apostrophe (‘) which was credited to Frank Zappa, were part of the same recording session.  Regardless, Frank’s the conductor so it doesn’t matter what you call the band.  Oh yeah, Tina Turner’s on this album, albeit uncredited!

The Record:

Artist: The Mothers

Title: Over-nite Sensation

Label: Discreet

Year: 1973

Catalog: MS 2149

Country: Canada

Matrix:

Side 1 – MS-2149-A

Side 2 – MS-2149-B

Barcode: N/A

Mastering: Unknown

Pressing Plant: Unknown

Discogs: www.discogs.com/release/692634

Notes: I bought this LP ages ago.  If you put me to the sword, I would guess 1992 or so at Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum…this could very well be the very first Zappa record I ever bought.  Back when one could buy a great condition Zappa record for under 4 bucks.  Nowadays, you’re looking twenty bucks or so.  This copy’s in grand condition.  Both sides would be grated a NM if it wasn’t for some kind of stain on both sides that stubbornly will not come off.  Smaller than the size of a dime, its origin befuddles me but if I were to guess, I’d say cum.  So lets grade it a VG++.

The jacket’s a VG+.  No ring wear, but there’s a bit of fraying of the spine although it’s entirely legible.  The cover’s got a lot going on.  It’s a fantastic gatefold with loads of shit to look at… a McDonald’s fast food box, Florida map, a disembodied hand, a donut, what appears to be a CD player and an orange with a vagina.  The gatefold’s full of lyrics, band pictures and a shit ton of mustache (must be November).

The Accompaniment: 

Received a couple of bottles of Champagne for my fortieth a few months back.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful…but come on?  Champagne?  Luckily all spirits in the beautiful province of Ontario is sold at the LCBO which takes returns.  So three bottles of French fizzy wine gets me a bottle of my beloved Pike Creek and a flyer on a bottle “premium” bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.

As you can see in the pic, I’ve already broken it out on a few occasions.  So far so good, time to pair it with some Zappa.

The Listen:

After taking the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some live Bowie and whiskey (haven’t broken out the Hayden’s yet…starting off with some Forty Creek).  By the end of Diamond Dogs, Bowie’s sounding fucking awesome and I can’t wait for some Zappa.

The Bowie finishes and I pour myself a triple bourbon.  Compared to the Canadian whiskey, it has an immediate sugary perfume of black licorice.  It has a pleasant smell, sweet taste and short finish.  Agreeable enough, it has me taking large sips.  As much as I love sipping whiskey while spinning vinyl, I must admit I wish I had some king cans to go with the Zappa.

I drop the needle and am instantly encircled by sweet analog sound…but I lift the tone arm.  This shit requires more volume.  After fiddling with the knob, I re-drop the needle to an amazing clatter of drums, tambourine (?), guitar licks and Frank himself.  Instant 10 out of 10, Camarillo Brillo’s one of my favourite Zappa songs.  It’s a great track with some horn interplay which slowly gains momentum throughout the tune, taking center stage come the third go around.   Ending with a piano ditty I’m at a loss for words.  Four or so minutes effortlessly past.

I’m The Slime opens with the same airy sound (I’ve found all Canadian Zappa records to sound excellent), drums ruling before switching to a slow & low vibe while Fran expounds against mind control and commercialism as always with a political bent.  An Ikette makes her vocal entrance as some sort of radio/TV announcer…but fuck man, the drums!  The song ends way too soon.

Next up is Dirty Love…fack, can’t wait until it starts.  More fantastic drum sound staging accompanied by a cat on keyboards.  DL’s some sludgy Frank with vocal effects, a bass voice in the right channel and female in the front.  “Just like your mama make her fuzzy poodle do”…I thinks I would like some dirty love right about now.

Fifty-Fifty is a quicker number with a keyboard and bass opening for Ricky Lancelotti singing about his bad hygiene.  I’m losing control at this point, on my feet dancing to the song.  A minute in the craziest church organ solo north of the Dixie Mason erupts…the song’s going somewhere as the baton’s passed to Ponty on the violin.  HOLY SHIT!  GO JEAN-LUC!  This song’s pure psychedelia.  By the time of Frank’s guitar solo the song is driving mad as I’m still on my feet looking the part of the middle aged dufus (lets try and not throw out a back tonight).

That was a fucking righteous side.  If you can’t handle it don’t bother coming over to play.

As I drop the arm onto side 2, I notice just how skinny the deadwax is…good omen as that means more music.  Zomby Wolf’s another sludge guitar riff interspersed with rapidly changing instruments; the song bounces between speeds, instruments and direction.  More heavy psychedelia.  After about 90 seconds of this, a guitar solo tries to make sense of the song.  There’s some nasty keyboards during the backup singers… a few songs on this album are The Ikettes albeit uncredited…that means Tina Turner is on this recording.  The song ends…every song thus far a perfect 10.

The opening riff of Dinah-Moe Hum sounds like an 80s hip hop sample…Frank even raps!  DMH’s another mash of fast moving instrumentations (or at least, I think it is, kinda buzzed at this point).  Oh yeah, this long has the best interlude ever!  The Ikette resurfaces as one (or both?) of the sisters Frank makes a bet with…then Zappa raps some more over a soundtrack-like soundscape.

Whadd-ya mean cooties!  No cooties on me!

The female vocals are the cherry on top of this masterpiece…not to mention the cowbell.  The erotica interlude has me howlin’ at Frank’s mad mind (I’m thinking DMH’s just another true band story involving groupies).  The song breaks out of the long interlude to a reprise of the opening musical juxtapositions.

Damn, last song already.  No worries, I’ve already decided to drop another Zappa LP after this is done.  Montana’s the slowest track on the LP, drums still sound awesome.  This one’s a narrative.  A story about Frank moving to Montana to grow some dental floss, all the while riding vibes and a sick guitar solo.  The bass during his solo is legendary, pure fucking music…and I can’t help it; I’m up and dancing again.  Now it’s definitely The Ikettes in either a trio or duet (can’t quite discern).  According to legend Frank hired Tina Turner & The Ikettes from Ike Turner and it took them 3 days or so to nail the “I’m pluckin’ the ol’ Dennil Floss” bit, Tina excitedly called over Ike to hear it in which he responded “What is this shit?”  He later insisted that Zappa didn’t include The Ikettes on the credits.  They never knew what they were getting themselves into.  The right channel vibes literally jump out and slap me in the face, Yippy-Ty-O-Ty-Ay, and a tear materializes from my left eye as the song, side and album end.

The Postamble:

Yup, I’m giving this LP a 10.  Both the music and sound stage are excellent and riding Frank at the peak of his powers.  This record has a “sister record”, Aprostrophe (‘) which apparently was part of the same recording session but released as a Frank Zappa solo album (that’s what I listened to after this LP).  This LP is highly recommended for any Zappa fan or any stew made up of fusion, avant-garde, prog and parody.

As I mentioned earlier, I tend to find all US and Canadian Zappa records of the highest sonic quality with tons of magic pixie dust.  These old Zappa records are getting harder to find and more expensive all the time and I’m glad I was able to grab it for a fifth of what it typically goes for now.  That said, I’m very curious about the recent reissue cut by Chris Bellman.  A shoot-out would be definitively fun.

The bourbon was mighty tasty, but it might have been better paired with a more conventional jazz or rock record.  This LP called for beer.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze

KurtVile_and_Forty_Creek

 

The Preample:

I’ve been on a Kurt Vile kick for a while now.  My introduction to Kurt was 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo and I immediately loved it, playing it nonstop, turning all my music listening friends onto him, etc.  Anticipation for this newest release, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, was high…and it definitely delivered.  I’ve been spinning this double record regularly since its April release, and have been blown away enough to (luckily) find and purchase the rest of his OOP catalog.  His output just keeps getting better and refined with every release.  I finally saw Kurt & The Violators live a few weeks ago at TURF, it was an amazing set…one of the best of the festival…too bad he didn’t have any merchandise for sale, I was really looking forward to getting a concert tee.

Oh well.  Nonetheless, constantly rotating his discography and his show one of my summer’s live music highlights, it’s only fitting I review his latest release.  Unlike most of my recent reviews, I’m not going into this one blind…in fact it’s my third spin this week.

The wife’s out for the night, the kids are in bed and I’m going to have some whiskey as I listen to this kick ass record.

The Record:

Artist: Kurt Vile

Title: Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Label: Matador

Year: 2013

Catalog: OLE 998-2

Country: US

Notes: Wakin On A Pretty Daze was released as both a regular double LP and deluxe double package.  I opted to pay the extra 5 bucks or so for the deluxe which comes with blue pressed vinyl, a very cool alternate cover without the graffiti on the wall, a sheet of stickers of the graffiti icons that allow you to customize your cover, and limited to 3500 US copies.  The cover is also printed on solid cardboard stock, gate folded, with custom printed LP inners & printed lyric sheet and includes a low & hi rez download card.  This LP scores very high as far as tactile experience, with vivid color and tons of shit to look at and read while listening.  Very fucking cool.

I guess the only (potential) downfall is the fact is it was pressed at United Record Pressing which from personal experience can output some duds.  I have my fair share of URP records with infill problems and other manufacturing and QA problems.  I bought this album new and everything’s NM (hard to tell with blue vinyl) with superb playback.

And it’s worth reiterating one more time; the deluxe issue is one cool set.

Matrix:

Side 1 – OLE-998-1A-RE1 RJ STERLING

Side 2 – OLE-998-1B RJ STERLING Ⓤ

Side 3 – OLE-998-1C RJ STERLING Ⓤ

Side 4 – OLE-998-1D RJ STERLING Ⓤ

Barcode: 744861099802

Mastering: Ray Janos at Sterling Sound

Pressing Plant: United Record Pressing

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/4448552

The Accompaniment: 

Helped out my friend Paul a few days moving a swing set for his little girl.  Paul’s a great guy and when asked if I was free and willing to help of course I said yes!  He was looking for enough muscle and I was able to recruit Pete also without any effort.  Testament to Paul’s character he paid for our labors with bottles of whisky.  All I expected was a few beers to keep cool, so this was a nice surprise.  So I took home a bottle of Forty Creek Barrel Select, a local whisky (distilled and aged less than an hour away in Grimsby, Ontario) made of up rye, barley and corn distillates aged for 6 to 10 years in American White Oak barrels, and blended before a 6 month finish in Sherry Cask Barrels.  Sounds yummy!

The Listen:

Putting on the first side I remember how static-y these LPs are.  A total dust magnet…the vinyl literally fishes floating dust right out of the air.   Anyways, side A.  It opens with the album’s title track (well almost), a mellow groove floating in a dream (or pretty daze I guess you can call it).  The guitar and vocals are immediately recognized as Kurt.  His laid back style illuminates stellar vibes out of the speakers.  Wakin On a Pretty Day is one awesome tune…I liked it the first time and love it after incessant listens.  This is a song that rewards you with repeated listens.  The song moves with a fluidity that I don’t notice the guitar solos until they’re gone.  The song’s outro bristles with psychedelia and as the song winds down a huge smile steals across my face.  Killer track.

KV Crimes takes a 90 degree turn sound wise.  It has a cool guitar opening and the song sounds like a slowed down AC/DC track.  A very simple rhythm allows Kurt to meander between singing and guitar licks.  I’ve had the volume on pretty low so far and it’s somehow adding to my enjoyment of the tune.  I remember this song being good played loud too.  Was All Talk shimmers back and forth and I still have the big smile from the opening track going strong.  I’ve played this LP at least a dozen times if not more and still not a pop, tic, click or anything the whole side.

Making Music is Easy

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Watch Me

Fucking awesome.

The percussion on WAT is also fucking awesome.  What the hell…the whole side was fucking awesome.  All three outros had me totally dialed in and tripped out.  The side finishes with a great rock & roll growl.

Flipping the record it’s easy to think the record may take a rest after side A’s greatness, but the first track sounds like a continuation of side A.  Kurt’s telling a story about a Girl Called Alex with intermittent jingling guitar solos.  A brief organ solo adds sparkle to the song.  In fact, the entire song sparkles.  And then Never Run Away starts.  Fack man…what a tune!  This one’s huge…it may be my favourite of the album.  It plays as leisurely as the rest of the other tunes, with perhaps the catchiest lyrics of the bunch.  It’s simply composed of guitar and drums with Kurt repeating “I know you’ll never run away” about 50 times throughout the tune.

Pure Rain is a testament to the quality of the songs so far.  Although my least favourite thus far, it’s still a great playable tune.  I have to admit it sounds monaural…has the whole LP been mono so far?  I plan on paying closer attention and it immediately appears not.  It’s more like Kurt is mixed in mono with left and right sounds piped in.  Throughout all first LP, Kurt’s vocal & guitar have been front center stage.  The sound stage is sufficient, better than most indie LPs these days.

The first LP was so awesome.  On to the second LP, side C.

I’LL TRY NOT TO PARTY………………TOO HARD

Ha.  The first song is Too Hard in which Kurt vaguely reminds me of a younger Neil Young due to country twang-ness qualities.  I just love Vile’s transitions from vocal to guitar work.  He truly has a unique style.  His songs seem to last forever, so easy to get lost in them.

Shame Chamber effortlessly meanders similar to the album hence.  Kurt’s yelping over a keyboard ditty sounds so cool.  And I’m pretty sure I hear a cowbell.  He yelps again, this time with some extra instruments joining the fun.  The song finishes with a great outro…maybe the best so far?  Snowflakes Are Dancing has more pace then up to this point, it’s basically Kurt rocking out, not losing an ounce of his signature sound.  I hear the dog walking upstairs thru the baby monitor…let me turn the volume up a bit.

With lament I put on the last side.  Amazing listen so far and looks like only two tracks to go.  Air Bud’s (remember that movie?) opening synth-scape is a favourite of mine continuing with the album’s mood architecture.  I wonder if this song was named after that lame 90’s movie.  The song’s not lame though…I’ll be humming this tune to myself for hours if not days after.  Sonically, my chosen of the album (I have been drinking).  The song ends with the familiar synth-scape and words fail me.

The Goldtone song name not only sounds like a Stereolab title, but it actually echoes of Stereolab.  (I tried my best to make that sentence make sense).  Goldtone actually sounds similar to the opening track…I just may play side A again to compare.  Actually, playing the whole album again appeals to me!  Vibes pan across from left to right, the song tickles me in all those places I like to tickled.  And just as the song starts to finish 10 minutes later the wife gets home.  Fantastic timing.

The Postamble:

I had an easy time finding the sweet spot for the listen.  Although not the final word in sonics, there’s a nice separation of the instruments and Kurt’s tiniest guitar nuances come thru nicely.  But most importantly, it breathes life.  The album’s mix of folk rock and psychedelia interlace with an indie presence.  Owning all of Kurt Vile’s LPs you definitely witness his maturation.  Where  God Is Saying This To You… and Smoke Ring For My Halo may have taken big steps forward, Wakin On A Pretty Daze takes a quantum jump.  He did not run out of ideas in filling 2 LPs worth.

Kurt uses the same vocal delivery throughout the songs, prone to bouts of repeating a key lyric over and over again…with “Yeah” being a particular favourite of his.  It’s an effectively catchy style.  The songs an unhurried success.

I’ve been really enjoying the Forty Creek also.  It’s a very flavourful whisky, with a subtle fruitiness.  I definitely recommend it as a buy and try.  It’s got a sweet price point and it’s distilled an aged just an hour or so down the QEW in Grimsby.  Hundred Mile Diet baby.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

Ghetto_And_Pike The Preample:

Summer here but it’s almost gone.  I’ve been spinning a shit load of vinyl, but have been out and about all summer and haven’t committed to typing a write-up.  This shit’s actually time consuming I’m finding.  The record’s done in under an hour but it’s 4 times that to post.  I was hoping using a computer would really speed up the process.  Anyways, playing a compilation tonight for the first time that I’m hoping will be worthy while sipping on my favorite whiskey.  I’m going to try and shave an hour or so, give me some hope of prolific posting come fall.

The Record:

Artist: Various / The Philadelphia International All-Stars

Title: Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

Label: Columbia / Philadelphia International Records

Year: 1977

Catalog: PZ 34659

Country: Canada

Notes:

I picked this LP up last weekend at a garage sale, $2.  It seemed interesting enough, with the cover black and white strongly contrasting, and I’ve listen to enough funk compilations to know this just may be dirty funky.  The only bands I’ve heard about listed on the lower right cover are the O’Jays…figured that’s a good sign, right?  Both sides are a strong VG+ lightly played; the cover VG+ with a touch of wear.  No clue of on mastering and pressing plant…the matrix code hints at CBS Don Mills mastering, but there’s no faintly etched “DM” that’s common on Canadian pressings from Don Mills.

It’s a compilation, but The Philadelphia International All-Stars get top billing including caps along the top of the labels.

Matrix:

Side 1 – AL-34659-1A-2G:

Side 2 – BL-34659-1A-2G:

Barcode:

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/3041247

The Accompaniment: 

I can’t stop drinking it.  Pike Creek again (not Pike’s Creek which I’m prone to calling it).  It’s officially my favorite Canadian spirit; a staple in the cupboard.  And the best thing is the LCBO at Dufferin & Wilson scans at the wrong price!  Buy it there, and I guarantee $9.95 less than listed price…

The Listen: 

I had a buddy over for some vinyl and drinking tonight.  Spun some killer records and I polished off the last third of a bottle of Pike.  No worries…I see him to his cab, take a minute to say hi to the neighbor over the fence and crack open a new bottle.  I’m flying and anticipation is high as I drop the needle.  Lou Rawls opens up with Trade Winds, a smooth number (a little too smooth for my liking to be honest) reminiscent of an afro crooner.  The orchestration is kinda cheesy.  Actually it is cheesy.  Not liking this shit at all…this comp is no longer looking promising!  The sound is OK though, nice clear vocals and tacky instrumentation, with no insinuation of surface noise.

The title track, Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto, starts with a soliloquy…”Garbage 2 or 3 stories high”…fuck, imagine that.  Nice driving beat though, I’m feeling it before the song breaks into a disco funk jam.  I like it but this isn’t the best shit I’ve ever had in my pipe.  Too much disco and not enough funk.  Plenty of soul though.  The longer the song lasts (it’s a long one) the better it sounds, with a pretty cool trumpet solo and the same heavy beat.  Half way through the song, I conclude it’s actually amazing as the guitar solos and then a sax.  Awesome stuff!

Dee Dee Sharp Gamble’s Ooh Child is next and it’s a familiar tune.  Was it the Boyz In The Hood soundtrack?  A Hip Hop sample?  No clue, but the sonics are amazing.  Turning up the volume a pubic hair makes the shit sound even better.  Now Is The Time To Do It sounds “Shaft!” vintage, with lots of similarities.  “Shaft!” was never a favorite 70s sound of mine, and I don’t expect this song to be neither as there’s nothing special about it.  The last song is totally shit.  I’m not going to waste any time with The Three Degrees and Year Of Decision.  I want to fast forward and end the side.

Side 2’s opener is from a band I’ve actually heard of.  I can’t name off any songs form The O’Jays…but I’ve heard of them, so I figure The Big Gangster should be a good tune.  Nope.  TBG’s opening sucks and the song (and I’m realizing the whole LP) comes across as a public services declaration.  I want to fast forward again.

Crime Doesn’t Pay.

It does sound amazing though, but at this point it could very well be the whiskey talking.  New Day, New World Comin’ has a respectable opening, let’s see if it falls apart or not.  Vocals come in…still sounds good!  Thank you Billy Paul.  The trumpets on the left, guitar licks on the right and backup chick singers on the center all sound perfect.  Great sounding tune.  Not so much for Archie Bell & The DrellsOld PeopleOP opens with a quick, cool, panning drum across the speakers then descends into Love Boat theme crap.  I really want to just stop the record at this point.  The thought of taking this LP into the used record shop tomorrow for trade enters my head.  Some poor sucker will pay $10 for it…I paid $2…I just want my toonie back!

I’m not even paying attention to the music anymore.  Sorry Intruders and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, but I ain’t even gonna talk about your songs.  It’s just background noise at this point as I check out the cover…turns out this here’s a charity record.   I change my mind…I will say something about the last 2 songs…Save The Children is a boring song (written by Gil Scott-Heron couldn’t save it).  It just doesn’t have any redeeming qualities to necessitate a repeat listen.  Everybody’s Talkin’ sounds like an older 60s tune, the right channel’s guitar’s enjoyable as are the left channel’s drum; it’s the vocals that make this song crap.  Can’t stand it.

The Postamble:

Not recommended.  Overall, except for the Philadelphia International All-Stars and Dee Dee Sharp Gamble on Side 1, the LP was disappointing.  As a fan of 70s black music I must say this album sucks.  The music has no rawness or edge; it’s just a bad black soul disco album.  Still…the records does sound great from a sonic perspective.  I wonder how much change came from this record’s sales, cuz now’s the time to do it.  And eerily, looking at the front cover, the 12 year old girl looks to be dressed like a nun.  I wonder if it that was on purpose.

As for the Pike Creek, highly recommended.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.