Saturday, January 16, 2010

VINYL SHELF Episodes 5 & 6...& 7!!

2 more editions of the VINYL SHELF for your listening pleasure...and KISS fans, listen up for a super rare unreleased DANCE MIX ACETATE!

Also, here's a BONUS Episode #7 with more great tunes and we also speed up the turntable to 78 RPM to play my SUPER RARE 1940 Columbia Masterworks recording of Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre Du Printemps" in its entirety.

Rock on lovers everywhere, because that's basically it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I recently scored a stack of 10 stone mint Conway Twitty 45s at a used record store and while listening to them I got to thinking about this underrated country singer/songwriter who’s gigantically successful career boasts over 50 #1 country hits. That’s amazing. Yet he’s often overlooked maybe because of his slick "country soul" period of the 80's when he covered "The Rose" and "Slow Hand" while simultaneously introducing the ‘perm’ to country music. Or maybe it's just because he has a goofy name.

All the country music “purists” always talk about Hank Williams, George Jones and Merle Haggard as they damn well should. But there seems to be a bit of prejudice toward the High Priest of Country Music, Harold Jenkins aka Conway Twitty.

I am a HUGE George Jones fan so I say with all respect to The Possum that Conway was more than just a singer. He was a songwriter as well as a top notch “entertainer.” I’m very fortunate to have seen Conway Twitty in concert with my parents a few times when I was a kid and even got a chance to meet him and get an autograph once. The packed house was on their feet the whole time and I could barely see anything. There were some screams from the ladies but while Conway sang everyone was LISTENING. He NEVER talked to the audience because he didn't have to. He sang hit after hit and when the band kicked off another intro to another #1 song there was immediate recognition and HUGE applause from the audience but the crowd noise died down just in time for the first verse. Conway was a SOUL SINGER.

“It’s Only Make Believe” is a rock & roll classic from 1958 which hit #1 on the Pop charts and made everyone take notice of this guy from Mississippi by way of Arkansas with a funny sounding name who kinda sounded like Elvis. By the mid-60's, he had switched to country music full-time, and in 1970 he had his fourth #1 Country hit called “Hello Darlin’” and it is one of the all-time classic country records. Those two songs alone (both of which were written solely by Conway) would make anyone an instant legend but Conway kept deliverin' the goods with producer Owen Bradley in Nashville until the end of 1977.

I know it’s hard to believe he was once a sex symbol, but many of Conway’s singles had suggestive themes aimed at a housewife audience who listened to country radio and they all went crazy for C.T.’s growl. “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” comes to mind as one of his racier tracks along with other eye opening titles like “Tight Fittin’ Jeans,” “I’d Just Love To Lay You Down” (complete with reverse modulation choruses at the fade), “I’ve Already Loved You In My Mind,” “I See The Want To In Your Eyes” and others.

But one of his standouts is 1975’s “Linda On My Mind” in which a married man is lying in a bed next to his “soon-to-be the one I left behind” while he’s thinking about Linda, who also happens to be one of his wife’s good friends. Genius.

His honky-tonk and drinking songs are also too numerous to mention but “Fifteen Years Ago” could be my favorite. Conway sings of running into an old friend who brings up an old flame from 15 years prior and little does the friend know that he’s still being tortured by her memory after all this time.

I like his cover of the Bee Gees song “Rest Your Love On Me” and even when he tries to be the Barry White of country on “Don’t Take It Away.” And if “That’s My Job” doesn’t tear you up then you simply have no soul.

Extra props go to Tom Petty and Gram Parsons for covering Conway songs and also to Conway himself for getting out of this world before they could make him cover a Beck song or be produced by Jack White or Rick Rubin. You can keep your Ryan Adams and Rhett Millers. Now THERE are two cats who don’t have much going for them other than their hairstyles.

If someone mentions Conway Twitty to me in a conversation about music, I have nothing but respect for them and I instantly can trust their musical taste. We’re speaking the same language.

C.T. R.I.P.

As a fitting tribute, here’s a rare Country Music Radio Show featuring an in-depth interview with Conway from 1980. Vollick, this one’s for you! Enjoy!



New interview with Jim from Rock And Roll Army

I just finished doing an interview with ROCK AND ROLL ARMY webzine from Spain and I thought it was really cool because it was all about music. You can check it out from the source at but they were cool and let me reprint it here in English.

1- This one has been an especially tragic year: Michael Jackson, Ron Asheton, Lux Interior, Willy Deville, Les Paul –among others- have passed away… Which of these deaths has hurt you more?
It’s true, these days it seems like I’m constantly mourning one of my musical heroes and I’m affected by all of their passings. Every time I play my goldtop Les Paul guitar, that’s a tribute. And I’m glad I got to see Ron Asheston and the Stooges play just before he died but I’m bummed I never got to see The Cramps. I listen to more Michael Jackson music now than ever. What a talent that guy was and he left us with some great songs. We are very fortunate all these great aritists shared their gifts with us to enjoy during our lifetime. That’s the best part.

2- In these holiday times, what type of music are you listening to? Do you like Christmas albums? Which do you recommend for us?
I actually do collect Christmas albums and I drag them all out and play them every holiday season. Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift To You” is a classic and also the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley immediately come to mind. Dean Martin’s “A Winter Romance” is another favorite of mine and I also like the Lynyrd Skynyrd Christmas CD from a few years ago.
Other Recommendations:
Nat King Cole-The Christmas Song
Peggy Lee-Christmas Carousel
Paul Revere & The Raiders-A Christmas Present...And Past
Christmas with Chet Atkins
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Christmas Album

3- Everyone has “Guilty Pleasures”… What are yours?
I have a lot of vinyl here at home and I love listening to all of it whether it’s Simon & Garfunkel, R.E.M. or Foreigner. When I was a kid and saw the girls screaming for the Bay City Rollers and I thought they must be the next Beatles. I was obviously wrong but I still listen to their albums for fun memories and it’s nice to know that at least the Rollers played their own instruments! I listen to a lot of old country music but I also love early Elton John, Def Leppard and The Monkees and female pop singers like Claudine Longet and the Carpenters. For classical it’s Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein, who also wrote some great music for “West Side Story” and “Candide.” And sometimes you might even catch my listening to 80’s crap like Duran Duran, Human League and even Van Halen’s “5150” album!!
P.S. Go to my blog
and download episodes of “The Vinyl Shelf” where I DJ and play all kinds of weird vinyl, good and bad. They are one hour long each and you can put them on CDs or on your iPod.

4- I remember that you wrote an article (in Popular1) about Paul Revere and the Raiders. In that article you were expressing your desire to obtain the Spanish version of the single "Mo’reen” Which are the most valued rarities of your collection? Is there some rarity that you haven’t obtained yet?
I finally did find the Spanish Mo’Reen single and you can find that hidden on my blog too! I have some great Beatles vinyl in my collection including a few signatures and a Butcher cover but some of my other favorite rarities is the first Rolling Stones U.S. LP from 1964 with bonus color photo and my collection of Sparks 7” records from all over the world. Before becoming a full-time musician I worked at some great record stores in Los Angeles and I acquired a lot of cool vinyl for my collection.

5- People say that Mother Superior sounds like a mix between The Beatles, Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad… Would you add another great influence? Which were the bands that led you to find Mother Superior's sound?
Stevie Wonder is a really important factor. When we started the band we called our sound “heavy soul” and the idea was Stevie Wonder or Otis Redding songs with guitars. We get the Grand Funk reference thrown at us a lot but truthfully they’re not one of my favorite bands however we share similar influences like Motown. I like them but more in the “guilty pleasure” kind of way!

6- You are a great guitar player: Which are the guitarists that have most influenced you? What’s your opinion about “guitar heros” like Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen? Don’t you believe that one only riff from Hendrix or Link Wray has more value than all his records?
THANK YOU first of all. Again, I’m influenced by many different things. I love Steve Vai with Zappa and my younger brother was a great fan of Yngwie when we were kids so I’ve been exposed to many different guitarists even though I might not play like they do.
For me, Jimi Hendrix is the best. And Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor...Keith and George and Angus and Malcolm and Ace...and CHUCK BERRY!

7- Which is your favorite “live album”? I feel that you will choose one from the 70's!
Rolling Stones-Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out

8- You and your Group are friends of the Spanish band Maggot Brain: Are there other Spanish bands that you like?
Hash, The Soulbreaker Company, Amon Ra, Devil Wind and Los Bravos

Well, Jim, our readers are hungry, anxious to know new music, new bands. I’m gonna ask you about different decades or styles, and i’d like you to recommend to us some bands/records (Preferably not very known):

- The 50’s:

- The 60’s:
THE EASYBEATS (with Angus & Malcolm’s brother George Young)

- Garage:

- The 70’s:

- Punk Rock:

- Heavy:

- The 80’s:

- The 90’s:

- The 00’s:

- Ok, thanks for your answers. If you wanna say something to your Spanish fans…
LOVE to you all. It’s so great to relate with so many music fans in Spain and I hope to see you soon.


Just up the hill from my apartment in West Hollywood is the parking lot that is the actual “paved paradise” that Joni's singing about in "Big Yellow Taxi." At Sunset and Crescent Heights was The Garden of Allah, a luxurious apartment complex with 25 villas built around a main building which from 1927-1959 housed everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bogart, Harpo to Garbo, Errol to Orson, and apparently, Marlene Dietrich swam nude there. It’s mindblowing to think of what it has become. But the pizza place is pretty good.



There are three movies I’ve been watching over and over recently because of the great footage of my neighborhood from forty or so years ago. One is “Myra Breckinridge” from 1970 with Racquel Welch and Rex Reed that is commonly listed by film critics as literally "the worst movie ever made." My Dad remembers seeing it with my Mom at a drive-in and they thought it stunk. But there are amazing scenes filmed from the top front balcony of the Chateau Marmont and a couple of times the camera makes its way down the same sidewalk that I routinely jog past every morning. If you get up early enough you’ll see me. Anyway, they show as far west as the Body Shop and if you zoom in and up, I think you can see my apartment building or at least a blur that could be my apartment building.

Also, there’s “Mondo Mod” which I got from Netflix and it shows footage of the Sunset Strip curfew riots in 1967. And again, the spot is a part of my morning run towards Crescent Heights around the Chase bank. On the corner in front of the bank is in my opinion an ugly 80’s new wave-ish looking sculpture of five silver figures with arms open and ready to embrace with a square plaque on it that reads “The Family by David Green-Commissioned by Lytton Savings.” If you blink, you’ll miss it.

I'm not sure when exactly it was Lytton Savings but the building has just recently been taken over by Chase. I know it was once Washington Mutual and I remember it being something else before that. Recently I came across this photo of the Doors perched on top of a billboard promoting their first album on the north side of Sunset in the beginning of 1967.

Behind the boys you can see “The Plush Pup,” a hot dog hangout which is now “Pinches Tacos” where the kids from “The Hills” like to meet up and get all bitchy and steal each other's boyfriends. But I was SHOCKED to find “The Family” on the bottom left side of the picture!

I wonder how long that thing has been there? I tried some internet research but came up with nothing. Well, at least now I know “The Family” was around for the summer of love and survived the teenage rioting shown in “Mondo Mod.” So much for my 80's opinion...what the hell do I know about art anyway. Just around the corner, Bullwinkle still stands in front of the building that is now “Hollywood Hounds,” a high price dogsitting service where I’ve seen that weird looking fashion critic guy Steven drop his dog off a few times. That building AND the Pinches Taco building were owned for years by Jay Ward, the creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, George Of The Jungle and many other cartoons.

Yes, Bullwinkle has survived but he’s not as visible these days thanks to gated security and he’s older now and doesn’t spin anymore. I’ve also heard rumors that he underwent a paint job although he vehemently denies it.
On the other hand, in the “Mondo Mod” film there’s a psychedelic fashion boutique called “Belinda” that was located right next door to Bullwinkle at 8220 Sunset, an address that no longer exists and with no trace of the original building.

Oh yeah, the third film I’ve been watching featuring great West Hollywood scenes is “The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie” (I never saw a Cassavetes film I didn’t like) from 1976 that has scenes filmed at the top of the hill on Sunset near my other cross street, Sweetzer Avenue, as well as cool Gazzarri’s footage which was later rebuilt as the Key Club and I hear they’ve closed their doors just this past month. Parking lot, anyone?

Ya-Ya's In, Ya-Ya's Out

I've been buying Rolling Stones records since I was a little kid. And by that time they already had a large catalog of LPs to choose from. Anytime I was blessed with a little Christmas or birthday record store shopping spree cash, I always made a point to pick up one or two Rolling Stones albums until I was sure that I had them all. Confronted by an overwhelming selection of Stones titles to choose from in the bins, Charlie on the front cover of "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out" was super intriguing right from the start so it was one of the first ones that I ever bought. And from the first time that I played it that day to just earlier this afternoon, I completely agree with Lester Bangs who said “I have no doubt that it's the best rock concert ever put on record” (but I still don’t like Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

Well, they've just released a brand new remastered deluxe version of this classic 1970 Rolling Stones live album with bonus cuts, an extra DVD with some “Gimme Shelter” movie outtakes and additional performances by the two opening acts, B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner but to me, it’s kind of like adding teeth to the Mona Lisa or buying a copy of that Radiohead CD after you already downloaded it for free. Unnecessary! The original album is a perfect snapshot of the Stones on tour in America in 1969. Unfortunately it’s the only official Stones live album with Mick Taylor. This is my fave Stones live album and one of my favorite Stones albums period because it’s a true Mick & Keith album and I ain’t talking about Jagger.

The sloppy intros and missed outros, backwards backbeats and out of tune instruments played by a band at least twice as stoned as the audience. Brilliant! And while the bonus DVD and music on the new version are very nice, you can’t really improve an existing masterpiece.

So as long as you already have a copy, and it don’t matter if you have an original London or Decca vinyl or an ABKCO CD from the 80’s, you don’t have to rebuy it. Just play the one you have LOUD and even if it’s a sweet Tuesday morning it’ll feel like a dark Saturday night.

“Jumping Jack Flash” is a smoking opener and by the time Mick’s asking if you want his trousers to fall down, you’re sucked in like the stargazed crowd. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Oh my hair’s getting good in the back.

Keith’s perfect tone and Chuck Berry mimicry is showcased on both “Carol” and “Little Queenie” (which the Stones never released as a studio version) and pay attention to Ian Stewart’s piano tinkling. The first 30 seconds of “Queenie” always totally captivates me when Keith and Charlie have their ‘ones’ reversed until Keith slides into first verse and Charlie turns himself around just in time. Every time I hear it, and I’ve heard it a million times, I still marvel at how they pull it together and every day of my life I wish I could be either one of them.

Mick Taylor’s fingers are flying on the monster that is “Stray Cat Blues” and switches to slide for “Love In Vain” and I can honestly say I’ve never heard Clapton do a Robert Johnson song this good. It's a quiet, slow riveting blues number in which the guy follows her to the train station and was even a sucker enough to carry her suitcase.

“When the traaaaain left the station, he had two lights on behind,
Yeah, the train had left the station, I’ll tell ya…he had two lights on behind,
Whoa! The blue light was my blues, but the red light was my mind.”

Purists can call me crazy but I prefer these two live versions over their studio versions on “Beggars Banquet” and “Let It Bleed” respectively.

“Midnight Rambler” and “Sympathy For The Devil” are lengthy jams full of stunning licks from both guitarists and Jagger’s attitude is so present, you can see him strutting, sweating and shaking all over the stage.

And no bitch, they are NOT going to play “Paint It, Black” tonight although I would’ve loved to have heard it too. I wonder what Mick Taylor would have done with “Paint It, Black???!!!”

“Live With Me” is another one that’s more energetic here than on "Let It Bleed" and while “Honky Tonk Women” and “Street Fighting Man” have no chance of ever equaling their studio recorded perfection, both songs move along nicely with the full excitement of an encore.

Charlie’s fuckin’ GREAT tonite now id-nee? Of course I’m well aware that the raw live tapes that were recorded in New York and Baltimore were subject to post-production studio overdubs (Jagger re-did a lot of the vocals and also guitars were touched up in a few places) but I dare you to name one GOOD live album that wasn’t. And besides, the Stones were creating the live rock album blueprint with this one, creating a standard to be lived up to forever.


My fascination with bootleg LPs also started at an early age and another recording from the Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour (with absolutely no overdubs!) is heavily responsible for that. I had read about these unauthorized vinyl LP pressings in record collecting magazines. Many had paper insert covers and weird titles like “Kum Back” by The Beatles and Bob Dylan’s “Great White Wonder” which was a 2LP set featuring music from the “Basement Tapes” with The Band. Another well known one was a Rolling Stones LP called “LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be” that was recorded in Oakland, California and was released in December 1969 and apparently sold enough copies to force the Stones to get their own “Ya-Ya’s” out and quick.

My father is a coin and antique collector so I was always going along with him to flea markets and secondhand shops looking for gems in that box of old dusty vinyl thrown in the corner. At one place there was an old grey-haired sailor-type guy who sold records and other junk out of his van and he told me that he had a storage building FULL of old records and gave me his business card (“Bill Smolka” New Castle, Delaware) and said call him and we could meet there and I could look through ‘em ALL if I wanted. My Dad drove me and he stayed outside in the humid Delaware heat talking to Bill Smolka in the driveway while I went inside this little shack and faced the thick air and thousands of unsorted 45s and LPs.

Smolka sold his albums for “a dollar and up” and he had some knowledge about Elvis, The Beatles and other collectable records (the first price guides had surfaced and Goldmine Magazine was a great source of info in those early record collecting years) but he didn’t really like rock & roll that much so you could sneak lesser known things by him easily. But I knew if I found a good Beatles or Stones record in one of his piles, it would be considered in the “and up” price range.

I started rummaging and before long I had a stack of goodies. I came across a plain white LP jacket that had “LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be” rubber stamped in red on the front. Could it be? I pulled the album out and the red label listed the artist as “The Greatest Group On Earth” and had familiar song titles like “Carol,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Sympathy For The Devil” and six more. The record company name at the top of the label was called "Lurch Records," a classic, made-up bootleg name. SCORE! But I knew that if I told ol’ Smolka that this was a Rolling Stones live album he’d jack up the price so I decided to play it dumb and cool.

When I just couldn’t take it anymore I emerged sweating with black dust all over my fingertips. I handed Smolka my stack of desirables and he smiled at me like I was a sucker and he was about to tally up a small fortune. He started making price piles, sometimes staring at a label for a long time or psychologically asking me what info I knew about it and then deciding which pile it belonged to. When he flipped to my score of the day, he said out loud “Liver than you’ll ever be, what’s this?” pronouncing “LIVEr” with a short “i” like the vital organ. He stared at the low budget white jacket with no photos or information and I had to think fast.

“I’m not really sure what it is but I collect anything on Lurch Records.” Wait a minute, did I just tell him that I collect Lurch Records? Well, it worked. He slung that baby into the dollar pile and I had just purchased my first bootleg LP.

While I had been shopping through the dusty piles of vinyl, every time I wiped the sweat from my face I had unknowingly applied a streak of warpaint. I got into my Dad’s car and saw myself in the mirror with big black streaks across my face looking like I just walked out of a coal mine. When I got home the first record I played was the Stones bootleg. The sound quality was obviously lesser than the real thing but it was nice and raw and it was an 100% authentic Rolling Stones concert recording. Mick’s stage banter is a cool alternative from the common Ya-Ya quotes. There’s a slow and sexy version of “I’m Free” that starts out rough (but that song is supposed to “get out of time”) and later he calls out “Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor” for an inspired guitar solo from the other Mick.

During “Live With Me” Jagger impovs about “I think we got a problem” but I’m not sure if he’s talking about one of the band member’s technical difficulties or scuffling in the audience. There’s funny comments about “blues time” and how the crowd is dressed. And Mick’s “All right here we go, slowly rockin’ on” during a bit of dead air is classic.

By the time the band finishes “Little Queenie” on side two, the audience explodes in applause and their true enthusiasm is felt culminating with Mick commanding the San Fran crowd to “shake your asses” in the coolest lazy British accent. A true captured moment.

And like "Ya-Ya's," this bootleg has been “remastered” on CD with more tracks (and with the apostrophe added title of “Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be” which might help all of the Bill Smolkas of the world have a better chance to pronounce the title right) but again there’s nothing like the real thing, baby.

Since you’ve been so patient reading this, I thought maybe you’d like to hear some classic LURCH VINYL.

A few years later as a teenager I became aware of an incredible collector’s record store about 40 minutes from my house called Jeremiah’s Record Exchange complete with a large bullfrog (which Jeremiah was) on the front sign. The store sold new & used vinyl and had hundreds of different bootleg titles by all the popular rock artists. The bootlegs were pricey but many of the newest titles had full color covers and often improved sound quality compared to the older "white label" bootleg LPs. It was a real treat to add one of these rarities to your collection. Sometimes though, you’d get a real lousy sounding one and they were non-returnable because of that reason. And you never could tell-you’d buy a John Lennon demos album with a super deluxe cover but then brought it home to learn that it had atrocious sound quality. Luckily, there was a large paperback reference book from Canada called “Hot Wacks” which provided bootleg discography information and even sound quality ratings. “Hot Wacks” also published a quarterly magazine with updates of the latest bootlegs and reviews. It was also an interesting magazine because alongside the bootlegs were photos of scantily clad and topless women. “Hot Wacks” was the first place I saw Angelyne, the legendary L.A. nobody in a color foldout of her in panties. Like my “National Lampoon” magazines, "Hot Wacks" was 'dirty' enough to have to stash them in the bottom junk drawer of my dresser away from parental units.

BCR Live In Japan December 1976

Here's a SUPER RARE bootleg LP that I read about YEARS AGO in "Hot Wacks" but could never find a copy of until just this past year (the first one I've ever seen!!). WARNING: There are absolutely NO Ya-Ya's here...