Archive for November, 2013

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No, Barack Obama is NOT the weirdo referred to in the title of this post. I think this is an airbrushed image, but regardless, fucking hilarious it is, so here it is, heading up this oddball entry. The album above is Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. Circa 1969, for your info. About 4 years before I disgraced the Earth with my presence. However, I found out about this work of sonic splendor through that 10-year waste of time known as Jean-Luc. Part of my initiation into his “heart” was an education in all things Captain Beefheart. I got to hear this one evening while drinking ridiculous amounts of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and wolfing down Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pockets. Charlie, JL’s best friend and the best bartender/shyster I’ve ever known in my life, was scoffing and arguing for Tom Waits, but JL wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss out on this. I remember wondering several times if I did indeed smoke pot and forget it. That’s what the first go-round of this album was like to me. A gigantic trip. It made me want to drink more to forget it. But, like sex with the exes, a bad car accident in the sonar waves made me want to try and try again. The second time around, i was still as puzzled. It took many more nights of Captain Morgan and Captain Jean-Luc to convince me that this was an album of legendary status. By the seventieth or eightieth time, I was hooked enough to enjoy the madness that is Trout Mask Replica. And then, I had to have a copy for myself. It took me almost ten years and many nights of patient record store trips with Jen before I finally found it, at a Borders in Orland Park.

For those unfamiliar,Trout Mask Replica is the third album by Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. It was released after Beefheart’s first two albums ran into a brick wall at two seperate labels. This was the third label, Buddah (yes, as in, Buddha) Records, and it got released, although the record company, like the listening public, knew not what to make of it. It’s an album based around Beefheart’s newest instrument, the piano. Except for the fact that, well, he couldn’t play the piano. He just up and decided to learn by trial and error (translated loosely as fly by the seat of your pants and hope to land upright). What resulted, well, is pretty indescribable unless you listen to it drunk, stoned, or completely out of your mind on Vicodin. Or, in the case of a small few, are odd enough to appreciate such a strange mixture of ennui, instruments that are being played with no rhyme or reason, and a bunch of people behind you who are puzzled as fuck by what you’re doing, but they go along with it, record it, and hope for some understanding. That, my friends, is why it’s genius. You won’t find that sort of creativity in today’s musical tilt-a-whirl. You might find some underage, undertalented daughter of a sheep-fucker who can twerk her way into people believing she has talent, but you will never hear a sonic experiment like Trout Mask Replica in today’s world. A review? There’s no fucking way to describe this. As imaginative as I believe myself to be, I could never write a review of this masterpiece. It’s indescribable. You will hear nothing like it in your life. And that’s precisely why you need to find a copy, preferably on vinyl, and listen to it. Stoned, drunk, or stone cold sober on Goo Gone.

Jean-Luc was determined that I would grow into that album. Unfortunately, the insecure Luddite was correct. If you have one of those days where you just say, “I don’t know what to make of this”, Trout Mask Replica is the one to cue up and play. Jean-Luc was so thorough in his plans of brainwashing that he made sure to inform me that Frank Zappa was the producer of Trout Mask Replica. I groaned out loud. He had recently convinced Jen and I to rent Frank Zappa’s movie 200 Motels. We rented it and watched it, with much confusion, several times one Sunday night. Even Pothead Bob couldn’t make sense of it, and that’s saying something. I was trying to get on Jean-Luc’s good side so I could nail him, so I was willing to do anything stupid in the way of art, and hopefully, discovery of misunderstood genius. I didn’t dig Zappa in this, despite the wonderful cameo by Ringo Starr, of all people. We did, however, enjoy Zappa’s movie Baby Snakes much more. It was comprised mostly of a 1977 Halloween concert. Jen and I both enjoyed Frank’s music, much more, than his cinematic dervishes.  I asked him about more of Zappa’s music, and he whipped it out. No, no, no, not THAT. This:

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This is Frank Zappa’s eighteenth album. 18th! It came out when I was a year old. It’s main claim to fame? One little ditty known as “Don’t Eat Yellow Snow”, which got worldwide acclaim on Dr. Demento, of all places. The album is four sides, nine songs total. The first half is Zappa’s encounter with Nanook, as in the infamous Nanook of the North. The other song bookending that one is called “Nanook Rubs It”Don’t judge me, I’m a freak. So is the entire album. “Cosmik Debris” is probably my favorite, although “Stink Foot” is not far behind it. It’s an odd album. But that’s why it’s a true find, for those odd enough to sit down, listen, scratch your head, have more of your substance of choice, and go back and listen again. Frank Zappa, for all of his oddness in recordings, was one smart son of a bitch. Most of his catalog has leanings of political fervor in them, but throw in a huge splash of weird and somewhat perverted humor, and a star is born. I am lucky to have found a copy of this on vinyl, at a garage sale, in Burbank, back in 2007. The little fucking album itself has crayon drawings on the back of it, but somehow, that didn’t anger me. It felt like something that Frank Zappa, wherever he was at that time, would have dug, so I dug into my change purse and paid the 10 cents. 10 cents! I wasn’t going to go Terminator on those people for a few crayon drawings on the back- I have never seen this album otherwise, so I cherish it, crayon drawings, and all.

The best story of both of these albums is that Beefheart and Zappa, former schoolmates and friends most of their lives, got into a violent altercation, that led to their estrangement for many years, to the utter disappointment of fans. However, when Zappa was dying from prostate cancer, they buried the hatchet. Unfortunately, it was too late for another collaboration, but at least there was peace in the valley before Zappa ventured home to the big puff tent in the sky. I am never grateful to the bastards who have graced (greased, in some cases) my wheels in this life, but sometimes, something good comes of it, and often, it’s related to music. So I thank Jean-Luc for giving me the gift of introducing me to two of the strangest fucking albums I have had to hear in my life, and the two creatively odd dynamos that produced them.

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A Cross To Bear: Collecting Crucifixes Without Much of a Reason To

Posted: November 14, 2013 by generationgbooks in Other
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I’m going to do something different today. Dave has said from the start that Hannibal Collector is a blog for collectors, and that it is not limited to vinyl. The majority of my collecting is vinyl and books; however, there are several other items that I collect with alarming regularity. I collect crucifixes and crosses. There is no prerequisite as to what type, color, or size I seek. I’m not even sure what drives me to collect them. I just do. It’s been this way since I was a kid. Some strange compulsion leads me to that image.

I had to find a cool image to accompany this post, so any and all confusion over Black Sabbath should be cleared up pretty quick. This has nothing to do with Black Sabbath, regrettably. I’m not a religious sort, so it really has nothing to do with The Big Kahuna at the sandcastle in the clouds. I guess when you’re young and something traumatic occurs and you remember looking to something for clarity or comfort, it sticks with you through your life. I was in fifth grade and in the final rounds of the spelling bee. I lost on a technicality (I honestly don’t remember the details). i was crushed, so I did what I always did. I put on the Walkman and went walking by my house, listening to Elton John’s horrid song Nikita, and crying (as if listening to the worst song he’s done wasn’t reason enough to weep). I walked a long time and felt worse. I walked all the way down to the old Presbyterian Church of Willow Springs, and went and sat down there for a while (they had benches on the side, in case people wanted to reflect or figure out how to take over the world, etc). I found some measure of comfort in my failure and took my sweet time going home, because for the first time that rotten day, I felt better. I also spent a crazy amount of time checking out the cross on the church itself. It’s an odd practice, and one that I do whenever I have to enter a “house of the holy.” People think I’m nuts, but I’m actually just fascinated. I think that was really the start of my fixation with crosses.

Anyone who knows me and my love of crosses wonders if I’m a religious fanatic. Far from it. I believe there is a being, but it doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have a denomination. Smart ass friends of mine call it an alien. Like politics and the Shite Sox/Flubs rivalry, I don’t get dragged into discussions of that nature, because they turn ugly fast. I’m not on this planet to affix my beliefs, or in this case hunches, to one specific being or institution of religious domain. So I say nothing. It does not in any way drive my collecting crosses. I have, between jewelry, wall decorations, pictures, and crafted items, probably about 400.

I have gotten them from friends, at yard sales, at a sale at Hines last year to benefit the Veterans Administration, at stores, and once, from a stranger on a Metra train to work downtown at Jeff’s old BAM (the fact that less than a week later they told me they were closing my store, and then letting me go shortly after that, makes me wonder about the power of some otherworldly intervention in that action). I have books that I have read that had gorgeous depictions of crucifixes upon them, and I strip the cover so I have a picture of the image. They go in my photo album, in case you were wondering. I have tried multiple times to get one from Amish country, to no avail. I think that’s my ultimate goal, actually.

I can’t, as I said earlier, explain why I love crosses so much. There has always been, for me at least, some measure of comfort in the image of the cross. I don’t think it will keep glittery fanged vampires away, I don’t think it will make a Spaghetti-O Jesus appear in my meal, and I don’t delude myself that it means anything more than just being a symbol of serenity to me. I just enjoy collecting them.

Scream for me, Long Beach!

Posted: November 6, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Generally, I don’t think very much of live albums. Usually, I only buy live albums from bands that don’t regularly put out great albums. I’m looking at you, AC/DC. The simply titled AC/DC Live is freaking awesome, though. Sorry, Queen. You had three greatest hits collections but no more than two great albums. Your Live At Wembley ’86 release, however, is the greatest live album of all time. A charismatic frontman like Freddie Mercury can only be fully appreciated in a live setting.

This brings me to the exception. Iron Maiden has made no less than six classic albums, They have also put out 11 (!) live albums, at least one in between their studio albums since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith re-joined the band. Back in 1985, before they were obsessed with recording every concert they played, they had just finished their run of five albums in five years (three with Dickinson following two with Paul Di’Anno). 1985 was the first year of the 80’s that did not see an Iron Maiden studio release. To sate fans until Somewhere In Time, the band came out with Live After Death, their first (and best) live album.

I first became aware of Iron Maiden in junior high school. I had seen one of their videos from Fear Of the Dark (I think it was “From Here To Eternity”) and thought it looked cool, but the music was ridiculous. This kid Jim that was the resident metalhead in my honors classes wore torn jeans and he had a FOtD hoodie. I remember mocking it, making high pitched screaming “Fear of the DARK!” noises, emphasizing the last word as high as my voice would allow in a fashion that in no way mimicked the song itself. Ignorant little bastard, I was. You right about them, Jim. Also, it would be remiss to not mention the time you superkicked Chris Bergstrom in the face. You didn’t even have to back up or get into position. From a standing position, you just put sneaker to fucking chin. That was the best thing I had seen in junior high.

It wasn’t until high school when I met my excellent friend Joe in the best/worst English class ever. Dude was fucking awesome. As we got to know each other, we found that we were on opposite ends of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. I liked Def Leppard, he was into Maiden. We eventually got each other into our respective bands, even though I definitely got more out of that than he did.

As for the record itself, you are greeted by “Churchill’s Speech”. If you’re British, maybe that fires you up, I don’t know. Right after that, you instantly hear something you don’t hear in subsequent Maiden live albums (aside from the recently poorly transferred Maiden England): Bruce Dickinson’s voice at the height of its power. “Aces High” would never sound this good again. The band was in the midst of their creative apex, which began in 1982 and would end in 1988 with the departure of Smith’s crafty guitar, something they sorely missed with the terribly uninteresting Janick Gers. There’s a roughness to their sound here, a bit of danger.

There are plenty of classics that have been regularly part of their sets for decades like “2 Minutes To Midnight”, “The Trooper”, “Number Of the Beast”, and “Run To the Hills”. They also had the balls to play the 13 minute-long “Rime Of the Ancient Mariner”, which isn’t exactly a slow plodder. It’s not a marathon, but a long ass sprint. But it’s the criminally underrated “Revelations”, “Children Of the Damned”, and “Die With Your Boots On” that make this double record for me. “Revelations” offers the first “get your lighters out moment” with Bruce’s pretty soliloquy before the band goes back to pummeling you.

Up until today, I hadn’t owned any Iron Maiden vinyl. How, you might ask? That I have not purchased any wax by this mighty monolith? Simple, it’s fucking expensive. You can’t find any Maiden vinyl in any kind of playable condition for under $30. Today was no exception. I went to the gym and then took a bunch of books I got from publishers (that I didn’t really want to keep because they weren’t all that good) to Half Price Books in Naperville. For those, I got $35. Better than I thought, I thought. I also had a 40% off coupon for any one item. I thought about the Godfather collection on Blu-Ray that was $35. I saw the Walking Dead omnibus that was $48, down from $65. I could have gotten the additional discount on that, which would have easily been the best value.

Then, I walked over to the vinyl section. I though that I had seen a Mark Lanegan album the last time I was there. It wasn’t Bubblegum or any of his really great ones but Lanegan is Lanegan. Ss I looked along the top of the rack, I saw a trio of Iron Maiden albums. They had the debut album, Number Of the Beast, and Live After Death. The debut was $30 but that was never really into consideration. It was Bruce or bust. NOtB was only $20, while LAD was $30. This was heartbreaking since I had told myself that I would not spend a single cent over what I got from my trade-ins. I decided to go with the higher dollar item since that also meant the greater discount. It was also two discs instead of one and in better condition. I even went back over to the Blu-Ray section and grabbed the first Godfather by itself for $10. It’s, by far, my favorite in the trilogy anyway.

This isn’t over as there is still a 50% coupon for Sunday. I can only hope Number Of the Beast is still there and someone is willing to pick it up for me, as I have to work all day. Collecting would be so much easier if I didn’t have to earn the money to support it.

The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971

Posted: November 4, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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I wasn’t a big fan of The Rolling Stones until “Bud Man, Stink Man” (Ex #2) brought out his vinyl albums one day. I had heard bits and pieces of the Stones through the years, but my Mom did not play them a lot, because she didn’t approve of several songs: “Let’s Spend The Night Together”, “Satisfaction”, “Brown Sugar,” and “Under My Thumb”. Various reasons were bandied about, but I have to think it goes back to the fact that she was somewhat of a prude on many matters of the flesh and wicked sin. Unfortunately, shielding me from music that she deemed “vulgar” did not stop her oldest from being a pervert. Sorry, Mom.

“The Poor Man’s Scott Weiland” had Beggars Banquet, Goats Head Soup, and Hot Rocks 1964-1971, on vinyl. He played all three records continuously when he wasn’t trying to play guitar and cat wauling to Disturbed’s debut album (“The Sickness” indeed. You should have heard them. Shameful.) He thought nothing of putting on the Stones when he was drunk and in the mood to fight. For many years after that, I shunned the Stones, for the simple memory of hearing “Under My Thumb” sang to me while I was having an ashtray thrown at me or being spit upon, ruined that song for me. The message of the song itself wasn’t one that I would universally get behind, either. But there was something to it, some undefinable hook, that still has me tapping my foot to it these days. I do tap with a bit of shame, but I tap regardless.

However, years later, due to the magic that was Carol and Jennie’s sterling influence over me, I rediscovered the Rolling Stones and their magnificent catalog of music. There were many weekends shoving my face with Popeyes, coffee, cigarettes, Beggar’s Pizza, and the entire catalog of Rolling Stones at that house in Blue Island. I still miss it. It was fun. It would be fun again to have days where you spend time just shoving your face full of good, healthy food while listening to and critiquing records. My favorite album quickly grew to be the greatest hits compilation Hot Rocks 1964-1971. Everyone knows I had a fixation with greatest hits records, to the point at one time, that over 60% of my collection, was greatest hits. Thankfully, that lunacy passed and I’m back to actual albums again. 

Anyway, this album was a great find. I found it without actually looking for it. It’s solid gold all the way through all four sides. You start with the crooning, wistful “Time Is On My Side”work your way through the haze that was “Mother’s Little Helper” and “19th Nervous Breakdown”to the later 60’s politically charged atmospheric charge of “Street Fighting Man” and” Sympathy for the Devil”up until the quiet soul of “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses”In between, bookended through those eight years of hits covered, are the ups and downs of the times that are encompassed.

It’s also bookended by many chaotic situations not only in the world around the Stones, but in the lives of the Stones. Multiple drug arrests, the tragic drowning death of original guitarist Brian Jones, questions of relationship swapping and excess between Mick and Keith, as well as the tragic Altamont incident captured in the documentary Gimme Shelter. It wasn’t a happy time, but the music carried on. That’s why it’s a true masterpiece. A lot of greatest hits have filler or craptastic songs just tossed onto the selection to fill up enough for the thieves in the music industry to sell this shit. Hot Rocks 1964-1971, happily, doesn’t have a weak song on it.

I found it at a fucking arts and crafts show at Richards High School. Re-read that again. I went with Heidi and her mom and sisters to a Christmas craft show in 1999. The one table had old school vinyl. Since it was not yet sacrilegious in 1998 to play vinyl and cassettes still, I was drawn to it like Rosie O’ Donnell to a triple decker cheesecake.  A lot of crap was in this box of vinyl- Seals And Crofts, America, Debby Boone (Debby Boone???), Paul Williams, and Rita CoolidgeIn other words, lite rock 1970’s AM radio crap that I wouldn’t be caught dead looking at, much less listening to. However, I had a hunch and kept going.

All the way at the end was Hot Rocks. I shrieked in joy. The fool had taken the vinyl with him when he got booted on VD that year (yes, I ended a relationship on Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I’m bound to some sort of Zoosk dating damnation for that, but oh well.), so I was pretty bored without Hot Rocks to keep me and the Southern Comfort and Peppermint Schnapps company on lonely, dark nights. Lonely no more, there it was. It wasn’t, still isn’t, in the greatest shape, but I have it, I own it, I love it, and if you try to take it, I will rip your arm off. In the meantime, if you have no dastardly intent toward my copy of The Rolling Stones vinyl, you really should pick up a copy of it. Preferably, on vinyl. Preferably not on “the Jungle Path toward bookstore Ruination” or EFlay, but at a record store, if you can find one. Nothing sounds as great as “Under My Thumb”, cracks and pops included.