Monday, August 11, 2008

Vinyl Record Day, #2

vinyl record dayOn August 12, 1877 Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and tomorrow will be August 12. That's a lot of years of vinyl. This is the second time I've actively participated in vinyl Record Day. My friend jb over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’
has once again organized a blogswarm about this day. After the many fine postings I read last year it would be worth your while to head there and check out the list of folks who will be participating this year.

For me I grew up in what I label as the golden age of vinyl. I don't know if this is necessarily so but I have to say it was the golden age as far as I was concerned. If one doesn't believe me then just look at the mountainous stack of classic vinyl albums that came out between the years of 1968-1982. I can't recall exactly but I think it was somewhere around 83 or 84 when demise of vinyl was coming round the bend. There were whisperings and mutterings of what we now know as the digital age. Not to say that vinyl is dead. I know several people that still worship at the altar of vinyl and will have nothing to do with CD's or mp3's, saying that the music sounds too cold, processed and impersonal. I know one guy who special orders new releases on vinyl and he has a collection to die for. Sadly a lot of great music never made the transition from vinyl to this newfangled digital age and I fear it may be lost forever. I've managed to find several sites that specialize in ripping their old vinyl for aficianados to download. I know the record companies hate this and want to sue everybody and their dog for doing this, but it is a better solution than letting some of these great albums slide into obscurity, never too be heard from again.

I read in the paper the other day that the new digital age may be claiming another musical victim made famous by vinyl, mainly the album. I can't remember everything the article said, but the gist was that nowadays, people don't care about the whole album and only want to download one or two songs and throw the rest by the wayside. So artists are now concentrating on writing one or two "hit" songs and are focusing less on the album format. Wow, that is sad, sad indeed. I really hope this trend does not come to pass. Try to imagine a world without Sgt. Peppers, The Wall, Welcome to my Nightmare, London Calling or any Rush album. Has it really come or going to come to this? Are artists now going to go on tour to promote their new song instead of album? In my many rants here people kinda get the idea of where I stand on the music industry as a whole so I don't think I need to rehash everything I've said before. Just a couple things.

If you've read my vinyl post from last year, one of my favorite things was actually holding the album and reading the liner notes while listening to it for the first time. Some of the album artwork and album packaging was masterful and unto itself a work of art. Last Year I focused on Alice Cooper's Schools Out album as one of my most prized pieces of vinyl. If you're new to Good Rockin' then you can read that post as to all the why's and such. In my last rant one reader left a rather long and insightful comment about his preference for mp3's and such. At one point he said, "Liner notes? Who even writes those anymore. I can't tell you how disappointed I have been in those for the past decade." I have to agree with him there for the most part. Yet recently I was most surprised by a recent purchase. Here comes the full circle part. Alice Cooper recently released his latest album on July 29. The album is called Along Came a Spider, which features a fourth go round of a character we were first introduced to on his Welcome to My Nightmare album. The little boy who couldn't escape his night terrors in Welcome to My Nightmare, battled the devil in his own disco during Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, then got trapped in an evil carnival to fight off The Last Temptation has grown up to be a serial killer. Along Came a Spider is the musical diary of Steven's carnage and the album is a dark, conceptual masterpiece and at times very disturbing.

While I wouldn't classify this as is best album it has filled me with joy. The lyrics are pure genius yet in many places the music could have been a lot creepier to match the lyrics. A 60-year-old Alice plays the role of his alter ego, Steven, a knife-wielding, leather-clad ladykiller who feeds on human flesh and stitches detached limbs together into a rotting humanoid arachnid, all the while writing his brilliant but self-incriminating deeds into his diary.

alice cooperThe album itself harks back to the 70's for another reason, the liner notes are simply fantastic and this album is available on vinyl to boot. In the liner notes you have some of Steven's murderous drawings and artwork. Each page features the lyrics to one of the songs accompanied by a some great B movie poster art featuring Alice(Steven) in all of his menacing glory on each page. The result is simply fantastic, harkening back to the glory days of vinyl, reminiscent of Billion Dollar Babies and School's Out. Here I was all set to announce the demise of the album and Cooper comes out with this, which I felt tied in perfectly with vinyl record day. Other artists may be ready to abandon the classic album format but I feel the Coop isn't one of those. Thank you Alice as I have listened to your new album several times while holding your album in my hand, reading the liner notes and in a sense reliving a time for me that I classify as the golden age of vinyl.

Now my friend who organized this event suggested posting up something that may have only been available on vinyl and that is something I'm willing to do even if it brings the wrath of the industry down on my head. So here goes.

Slim Jim Phantom, Lee Rocker and Earl Slick's debut album from is an excellent rockin album that is a classic that never made the transition from vinyl to digital. In late 1984 when the Stray Cats career started to decline and tensions among the band members were on the rise, Brian Setzer decided it was time to call it a day and the trio was no more. Bass player Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom hooked up with guitarist Earl Slick, who had played with David Bowie and Silver Condor as well as leading his own band. The Cat boys brought along their rockabilly roots, Slick brought along some glam rock muscle and in 1985 Phantom Rocker and Slick released their self titled debut. Most critics hated it, but I freakin' loved it. The best song by far on Phantom, Rocker and Slick is "Men Without Shame," a swaggering 6 1/2-minute jolt of pure electricity. Slick's guitar work is masterful and bears down on you like a locomotive. On the strength of this song alone the album stayed on the charts for six months. Keith Richards and Nicky Hopkins make an appearance on the album and there is not a bad song to be found. Several are in fact much better. My personal faves are What You Want and Lonely Actions. Took me three years to finally find it. Never released on cd. The cassette(yuck) sometimes goes for 40 plus dollars on ebay. Out of print and wrongfully so. Earl Slick's guitar is the star of this album. but catchy pop tunes makes it a classic.
phantom rocker and slick
192 kbps

1 What You Want
2 My Mistake
3 Hollywood Distractions
4 No Regrets
5 Well Kept Secret
6 Men Without Shame
7 Runnin' From the Hounds
8 Time is on My Hands
9 Sing for your Supper
10 Lonely Actions

So there it is, my second vinyl day contribution. I would like it to be known that I would not share this album were it available to purchase. Hopefully someone will make it so. I would like to thank those of you that actually took the time out of their busy day to read this entire mess and if you have time maybe go and check out other folks recollections of that once spectacular medium known as vinyl. Keep on Rockin'!

Funny Toon