I’ve never said I was a “cool dude”, or “hip” or “with it”. I’ve never been a trendsetter or even a trend follower for that matter(I don’t think acid washed jeans or Alf count.) If I’ve ever been a fan of the cool it’s completely by coincidence. I’ve always cringed at the modern hype machine. It’s usually been like this, “Oh? So this is cool? Great, then let me just get the lighter fluid so I can burn it in effigy.” I’m not saying that’s a healthy way to live, but it is what it is. Having said that, I picked up a couple records over the weekend that may kick me out of the running for the “Cool Dad of the Year” award. I can live with that loss I think.
The wife and I headed out, just the two of us, on Friday evening for some food and possibly shoe shopping for her. She has this favorite shoe store north of here in a town called Goshen that she likes to peruse when she can. They’ve got some decent food spots as well so it worked out on all accounts. The first stop when we arrived was Ignition Music and the coffee shop Electric Brew. I wanted to buy a pound of roasted beans to take home for the week. Of course they had two guys working that looked completely flustered and out of their element so they couldn’t answer my simple question of “How much for this house dark roast?” We just made our way out to the record shop and forgot about the beans. I didn’t have anything in-particular in mind to buy so I just started leafing through the “new arrivals”. Three records in I come across Dokken’s “Beast From The East” double live album.
This was an album that I played repeatedly back in the 8th grade. I loved it. I loved Dokken, too. This was primo hair metal time back in the late-80s, and you had your fluff hair metal and you had your hard rock hair metal. The hard rock guys were the ones that were wearing make up and spandex because the times called for it. They would be just as happy in jeans and t-shirts. The fluff hair metal(Poison, Warrant, Firehouse, etc) rode the wave of pop metal blech because the girls liked them and they could write a radio ballad. Dokken, Ratt, LA Guns, and Faster Pussycat were the hard rock guys. You didn’t lose street cred by being a fan. And Dokken came from the early 80s where they were definitely more metal. Their debut Breaking The Chains and the follow-up, the most excellent Tooth And Nail, were both very metal and George Lynch was a pretty great guitar player. So by the time Beast From The East came out they were four albums into their career and just about to fall apart and everyone go their own way. This live album was their final farewell to all those folks that kept buying their records until the very end. For me, this was an epic album that I remember fondly as I got this album Christmas of 1988, along with a Tom Scholz Rockman from my parents. The Rockman was a portable guitar effect box that was the size of a Sony Walkman that you could actually clip to your belt like a Walkman. It was designed and created by Tom Scholz of the band Boston who, regardless of your fondness or disdain of his main band, was a hell of a guitarist and an engineer with a degree from MIT. This little box basically had two channels; one clean and one distorted. Each of those had three settings with chorus effects you could use. For me it was great as up to that point I only had a small practice amp. With this thing I could put headphones on and rock out on my Squier strat in the living room while mom and dad sat and watched 60 Minutes undisturbed by my salacious guitar shredding.
You know, now that I think about it the Rockman is what made that Dokken record so special. That Dokken album came along for the Rockman good vibes ride. Still, I’m glad I got that album. For $4 it was a steal.
The next album I found was Walter Carlos’ Switched-On Bach II. I’ve known about Walter/Wendy Carlos for a long time. Her score for The Shining is an album highly coveted here at Jhubner73.com, and one I must own before I see my last sunset. Well, I’d heard of Walter Carlos’ take on Bach music using nothing more than the Moog. It seemed to be something of a novelty thing since the record came out right around the time the Moog synthesizer was gaining some momentum. I’d never considered seeking those albums out, because of the novelty of it all, but when seeing a decent copy at Ignition for $3.99 I couldn’t pass it up. It seemed to be fate. Well upon getting it home and cleaning the record up a bit I threw it on the turntable expecting something a little on the cheeky side. Man, was I wrong. First off, let me explain something about the Moog synth. It’s a monopoly(no, not the board game) synthesizer, meaning you can only play one note at a time. Listening to Carlos’ take on these complicated Bach pieces and hearing the well-layered, multi-noted pieces I couldn’t imagine the time it took to record these pieces. And the music is absolutely beautiful. I’ve heard the Moog Cookbook records and those seem like pure novelty. Switched-On Bach II is anything but novelty. Walter Carlos was not only an adept and prodigious synth player, but a classically-minded musician. And let’s not forget he was also one of the pioneers of analog synth playing. Walter went through gender reassignment surgery in 1972 and became Wendy Carlos permanently. A pioneering musician and a pioneer in the transgender community.
The last record I found felt like serendipity as I’d just recently dug into this band’s discography online. I was doing a last minute sweep of the “rock” section when I saw Dixie Dregs. In particular I found their classic album from 1979, Night Of The Living Dregs. It was in great shape and only $7 so I felt the Gods were offering this to me. I snagged it as well. This is probably my least favorite of my finds as it didn’t have as many great songs as I’d hoped it would. The absolute best track is album opener “Punk Sandwich”. It’s a groovy little rock number that mixes rock and roll, jazz fusion, and a touch of country twang. It’s a really great track. After that there isn’t anything nearly as catchy, but there’s plenty of serious musicianship going on. Lead guitarist Steve Morse is a monster of a guitar player. He mixes hard rock, fusion, and country twang to make a truly unique sound. Sadly, my first experience with Mr. Morse was in 1986 when he played with Kansas and they had a minor radio hit with the cheese-pandering ballad “All I Wanted”. Drummer Rod Morgenstein I knew from Winger, but I don’t hold that against him. All in all, Night Of The Living Dregs will get a couple more complimentary spins before it’s shelved for some lonely Saturday night spin.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with these finds. Nostalgia can get the best of me sometimes, but it can also open my eyes and ears to some things I may have forgotten about.
Regarding the rest of the Friday night date, the shoe place was closed by the time we made our way to it. 6pm. They were closed by 6pm, as was the deli we planned on eating at. So, we hopped in the Ford Flex and drove north to Columbo’s for some damn good Italian food. My wife ordered the Chicken Parmesan and I ordered a 14″ pizza with sausage, onion, and bacon. By the time the food arrived we were pretty much full from the salad and breadsticks. Still, it was a delightful meal and a long overdue night out for the wife and I. We made it home in time to watch the first episode of the second season of Daredevil on Netflix with our oldest daughter and our son. The kids were appreciative of the leftover pizza, too. Though the wife didn’t get shoes, I got records. That’s really the most important thing, is it not?
Not a bad weekend, folks. Not a bad weekend at all.
I can’t find any Walter Carlos videos, so just imagine some cool Moog goodness here.