Chicago Critical Mass 12.29.06

So yesterday after taking a short holiday schedule at work, I went to the city to have my new Dahon Vitesse 5 speed tuned up at Rapid Transit Bikes, where I bought it. This was in preparation for the last Critical Mass of 2006.

I used the new Bolsa bike bag to carry the folder on the Metra commuter train to the city. The ride to the Clybourn stop was uneventful.

We got off the train, folded the bikes up and headed down the bike lane on Cortland through the yuppie borough of Bucktown. As I was pedaling amongst the city dweller hoopties and the yupster whips like Mini Coopers and Range Rovers, I detected a major clicking and vagueness coming from the Sturmey and Archer rear hub. This was not a cool feeling coming from any bike much less one that was a week and half old.

We get to the shop and they put the Vitesse on the rack. There was a mood of familiarity that permeated the room as if they had seen problems with this ride in the past.

Apparently Sturmey Archer is now owned by another company and is NOT known for the quality that I am familiar with from vintage Raleigh 3 speed transmissions.

The mechanic replaced the gear selector cable, ground down the adjustment barrel, replaced the cable again, and when I took the Vitesse on a test ride the same problem was evident. The bike couldn't find gears in the rear end and when it could, it could not stay in gear for long. Bogus.

Things were not looking good to use the bike for the final Critical Mass of 06.

After another agonizing hour, I said that it didn't look like the bike could be fixed, as the mechanic had tried everything. He seemed releived, then he shared with me that they had taken back 5 of this model due to similar issues. Dahon had even made a mod that was supposed to rectify the situation.

Strike #1 Dahon company.

I still kept my cool, but I was very determined to have a bike to ride in the Mass, especially since I took time from work and planned to meet a few people from both out of town as well as from the surrounding area.

They are determined to keep customers happy at Rapid Transit, so they let me pick out another Dahon in even exchange. The one that I selected was the Speed 8, which is much more of a performance bike as opposed to the 16" Piccolo and the D5 Vitesse, which are commuters. Also the Speed 8 has a derailleur instead of an internal hub tranny.

While this bike is off the floor, and could still use a few adjustments, I can say that it honestly hauls. The SRAM shifter moves the chain over the cogs pretty consistently with nary a skip.

So after getting a quick felafel at Sultans Market, (in Wicker Park at North and Hoyne), we flew down Milwaukee and enjoyed the bike lane all the way to Lake Street. We were able to see a tall bike and a stereo equipped trailer bike as we stopped for the requisite Old Style 6 pack.


Abby: Exorcist rip from 74

Here is another winner (loser?) from the CD archives, 1974's Abby. This is a Blaxpolitation version of The Exorcist.

Being an American International picture, it hits on many points in the Blax genre. Also, this is a cratedigger vault member that appears to never have recieved a dvd release. The vhs copy is a multi generational copy from a scratched film print. Some of the scenes are pretty washed out. I would imagine that this is from both the film source as well as the old tape on which the signal is stored, but I digress.

William "Blacula" Marshall co stars in this film and plays a critical part in the plot as well as the resolution. The actor can emote. Not hard to imagine him as Lord Vader in the place of James Earl Jones. He plays Abby's father in law. He is trained in the ways of the Eshu spirits and knows how to deal with them.

This is a real freaky film as it starts all happy and positive with Abby (Carol Speed) moving into a new house with her husband who also happens to be a pastor. Spirits come to visit on the first night and Abby is never the same.

Once she starts to get her posessed freak on, first in a hot shower and then notably while cutting some bloody chicken, the positive tone of the film goes south. I guess this is much like the tone of the US during the early Ford Presidency circa 74.

When she freaks out and gets evil, the reverb used and the spooky green face flashed in really freaked out the youthful members of the audience. Sidenote, when I scored this video 10 years ago, a co worker named G 2 tha E said that he saw it on the West Side and had nightmares for the rest of the year. The combination of sound and visual effects remind me of the 70s anti drug film Angel Dust the Wack Attack!

Abby diverts from her training as a marriage counselor mighty quickly as she becomes the soul shaking hootchy mama enticing the brothers with the soul glow with her evil ways. The bar scene where this occurs will make any crate digger of soul quite happy. There are at least two cool shots of an old jukebox spinning the dusties, and afros and wild threads all over the place.

Marshall ends up saving the day and in so doing gives a positive resolution to the film. This is somewhat unconvential for movies from the blax era.

While being a cheapy, I enjoyed viewing this film again for the first time in years. The acting is not too bad for a blax movie and there is a basic plot that is not hard to follow. This would be great for a beer or cocktail fueled viewing party. Find a copy of this and dig it.

Weekend with The Babysitter

With the Holiday season in full effect, I received a dvd recorder as a gift. As part of the process of learning to use the machine and the related technology, I am digging into the cratedigger movie vaults (boxes and crates) to find movies that are trapped in the vhs domain. Many of these gems are way out of print, (if they were ever in print) on vhs, and certainly do not have a proper dvd release. I am wrong-- look here.

So that said, the first film that I pulled out of the basement video vault was Weekend with The Babysitter from 1970.

This Crown International picture opens with a cool scene at the CA / Mexico border that shows the border security in place in 69/70. Great mid 60s cars are all over the place. A hippie-aged young person gets taken down after he tries to run after being selected for a search. As I watch the film, I wonder what this has to do with the plot. I guess it is an attempt to have a teaching concept to this mild explotative time killer. "Sex and Betrayal," I guess...

George E. Carey seems to have done just about everything in this film (write, direct, produce) and Susan Romen stars as the teenaged, Honda Dream riding, gogo boot wearing babysitter named appropriately enough- Candy Wilson.

The babysitter randomly shows up one evening, apparently univited, The dad, Jim, is surprised to see her. The doped out wife, Mona, is "going to see her parents" with Mike, the wee laddie son. That leaves dad and the babysitter alone for youthful shenanigans.

The question remains, did Mona really invite Candy over to husband sit as a distraction?

Candy is soon making Tanqueray martinis ("on the rocks") and taking Jim to Sunset Strip, for some beer drinking/acid rock/lightshow/dancing mayhem.

Really, Mona is going to hang out with Rich, to get some drugs while her mom takes care of Mike. After a bit, Rich entices Mona to use Jim's cabin cruiser to sail to Mexico on a drug run.

Meanwhile, Jim takes Candy to the mountain house in his airplane.

This movie has it all, drugs, sex, some violence, motorcycles, motocross, youth rebellion, "rock" music, and hip lingo. The plot is pretty snore inducing. But the exploitative nature of this film tries to cover all bases. Some of the coolest footage is of the early motocross action.


JB Update--still b!t$h slappin' from beyond the Grave

I don't know if this is for real or not, but pretty amazing nonetheless.

It appears that James Brown might have locked his wife out of his GA house after his death.

There must be something to the story based on USA Today's coverage:

"It's not a reflection on her as an individual," lawyer Buddy Dallas told The Associated Press. "I have not even been in the house, nor will I until appropriate protocol is followed."

Brown's partner, backup dancer Tomi Rae Hynie, was already married to a Texas man in 2001 when she married Brown, thus making her marriage to Brown null, Dallas said. He said Hynie later annulled the previous marriage, but she and Brown never remarried.

"I suppose it would mean she was, from time to time, a guest in Mr. Brown's home," Dallas said.

On Monday, after the 73-year-old "Godfather of Soul" died at an Atlanta hospital, Hynie, 36, found the gates to Brown's Beech Island, S.C., home padlocked and said she was denied access."

Ouch, JB. You are still pushing people around, even though you are gone. The world is a much less interesting place without you.



This will be a lot less funky Christmas this year.

I just got word that James Brown has passed away.
Rest in piece Soul Brother Number One.

You will be missed.

James Brown dies aged 73

By Telegraph staff and agencies
Last Updated: 10:52am GMT 25/12/2006

James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured "Godfather of Soul", whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco, died today in Atlanta, aged 73.

James Brown
James Brown had a complicated and unhappy personal life

Brown, whose career spanned six decades, was taken to hospital yesterday with pneumonia, said his agent, Frank Copsidas, and died with longtime friend Charles Bobbit at his side.

Brown’s music was a major influence on modern music, and his work has been sampled by rap artists from the 1980s to this day, his famous 1960s and 1970s break beats becoming the basis of hip hop.

"The music out there is only as good as my last record," Brown joked in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. In 2003, he reaffirmed his impact: "Disco is James Brown, hip hop is James Brown, rap is James Brown; you know what I’m saying? You hear all the rappers, 90 per cent of their music is me."

His hit singles include classics such as Out of Sight, Funky Drummer and Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud, a landmark 1968 statement of racial pride.

"I clearly remember we were calling ourselves coloured, and after the song, we were calling ourselves black," Brown said in a 2003 interview. "The song showed even people to that day that lyrics and music and a song can change society."

Brown won a Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (best R&B recording) and for Living In America in 1987 (best male R&B vocal performance.)

He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

He triumphed despite an often unhappy personal life. Brown spent more than two years in a South Carolina prison for assault and failing to stop for a police officer.

Brown, who had his first hit, Please, Please, Please in 1956, earned the nickname "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" for his tour schedule and number of performances. He was still touring this year, with concerts as far flung as Auckland, New Zealand.

"James presented obviously the best grooves," Chuck D of Public Enemy once said. "To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one’s coming even close."

Born in poverty in Barnwell, South Carolina, in 1933, he was abandoned as a four-year-old to the care of relatives and friends and grew up on the streets of Augusta, Georgia, in an "ill-repute area", as he once called it. There he learned to wheel and deal. "I wanted to be somebody," Brown said.

His troubled childhood saw him duck in and out of reform school, and it was there that he met Bobby Byrd, a major early influence. While most of Brown’s life was glitz and glitter, he was plagued with charges of abusing drugs and alcohol and of hitting his third wife, Adrienne.

In September 1988, Brown, high on PCP and carrying a shotgun, entered an insurance seminar next to his Augusta office. Police said he asked seminar participants if they were using his private toilet.

Police chased Brown for a half-hour from Augusta into South Carolina and back to Georgia.

The chase ended when police shot out the tires of his truck. Brown received a six-year prison sentence.

He spent 15 months in a South Carolina prison and 10 months in a work release program before being paroled in February 1991. In 2003, the South Carolina parole board granted him a pardon for his crimes in that state.


The Plastic Cloud

This reissue CD from 68 arrived in the mail the other day. Tonight, being all black and inklike outside seemed to be the perfect time to warm the vacuum tubes and give this CD a spin on the reference system.

Sonically, this record appears to be in early stereo. It is a bit disconcerting, but I guess is part of the trip here. Track 2, Shadows of Your Mind exemplifies the fizz riffing, scale running and balls out jamming appears in the left channel while the plantive vocal attempts to balance coming out of the right channel. A backup vocal appears in the left channel later in the song.

The guitar appears to favor the left channel on Art's A Happy Man as well, the hippy vocal stylings can be a bit trying, but you can feel the build of the song by using multi channel mixing of the various vocals.

Fuzz face or some other cool old pedal appears to be modifying the signal of the guitar at the beginning of the focal point of the LP, You Don't Care. The guitar is mixed into the lower depths here. It moves back and forth. The drums roll and the cymbals are used mercilessly.
"You Don't Care for the morning, you dont care for the sumer rain." Then the guitar takes off. Maybe like a much speeded young Jorma... Everything chills the weird Indian sounding drum tone appears in the right channel, and the master volume of the guitar is somewhat squelched.
Finally the bass moves into an area of the mix where it can be heard.

Bridge Under the Sky, seems like way light after You Don't Care. "Everybody knows, everybody says... might as well be dead." Have to love anti happy hippy lyrics like that. There are some odd tones and hums that leak from various areas of the sound pallette. It is hard for me to tell if it is tape hiss, or what, but it certainly does seem that the system is appropriately grounded.

Dainty General Blues moves the vocals more in the center of the mix. There is a hefty ladel of plate reverb added to the vocals as well. The bass really stomps in the right channel and may bleed a bit into the left. The marching beat matches well with the lyrical matter.

The lp does not end on an easy listening note as they trot to a near sludge beat on Civization Machine. "Finest you've ever seen."

This is a bit off the beaten path, but fans of psych like Love or perhaps West Coast Pop Art Experimental band should dig this. While the fuzz is the element that sticks with the listener, The Plastic Cloud is much more in the psych realm that in garage. This record may contain the highest possible level of fuzz.

In fact, other than the raw production there is nothing garage about this record. The packaging goes to lengths to provide all the material from the original vinyl release. It includes complete lyrics and oddball liner notes that give the feeling that these kids dug their Hobbit.

Plastic Cloud shot a bit of light out of the loudspeakers on this the most dark of nights.

Scoot Cannon

I have always been into scooters, and I even have a pic of this Vespa on the CD listening room wall, but I did not have the full story... until now.

"After World War II, there was little money for defense spending while the nations of Europe rebuilt their industry and society. When there was some cash to spend, one had to be creative to stretch it as far as possible. The French probably accomplished the most astounding example of that with the ACMA Troupes Aeról Portées Mle. 56. Deployed with their airborne forces, this was essentially a militarized Vespa scooter outfitted with a 75mm recoilless rifle. Five parachutes would carry the two-man gun crew, weapon, ammunition, and two scooters safely to earth, and the men would load the weapon on one scooter and the ammo on the other, then ride away. More impressively, the recoilless rifle could be fired effectively on the move by the best of the gun crews. Total cost? About $500 for the scooter and the recoilless rifle was war surplus. Were they successful military machines? Well, the French Army deployed about 800 armed scooters in wars conducted in both Algeria and Indochina."

Kind of like the story of the Vespa scooter itself. Piaggio, was a supplier to the Italian aerospace field, this helps to explain some of the defining features of the Vespa, such as the stub axle and the monococoque integral frame and body structure. The Vespa was very key to the moblization of Europe after the devastation of WWII.

Thanks to Scott for sending the link.


Captain Beefheart - Ice Cream for Crow (HIgh Resolution)

Since it is raining tonight, it is time for some desert bound Capn'

No Drumbo, but dig the Capn's command "Dont shake my hand Gimme' a Claw."

Are you listening, friends? You know that I am a fan of the claw.


Chocolate Soup For Diabetics

I have heard about this series of compilations over the years, but it is only in the past week that I have scored a "copy" of sorts. Chocolate Soup is a series of comps that explore British Psyche, similar to the Rubble series.

I am listening to a CDR of the tracks. Looking at an online database, I see that the CDR to which I am rumbling the HQ, is a comp of the Chocolate Soup comps.

One of the tracks that seems new to me, The Nutchez' Open Up Your Mind has a sort of fey, baroque sound , that has a pretty tasty fuzz riff, over a really booming electric bass line.

One In A Million sings about death, "He won't come back... he's dead now, " in the Fredereek Hernando track. Nice backward coda. Odd song with an odd ending. I have to say that as far as psych goes, I appreciate the spooky, creepy, grey skies, twisted, leafless oak tree sound as opposed to the sunny West Coast sound.

Tinturn Abbey in Vacuum Cleaner conjures some moaning tones from their guitar, some sort of electronic sustain that sounds like it is melting both the tubes of the amplifier driving the speaker cabinet as well as the tape stock running across the magnetic recording head. Perhaps it is just my pre amp tubes melting...

The Misunderstood, from Riverside CA, take up 4 tracks on this. While the tracks are great, I have them on other comps as well as on the Ugly Things CD and the other Cherry Red Before The Dream Faded release from the 90s. John Peel really dug them and played The 'Stood a bunch on his radio shows way back then. I Can Take You To The Sun, please do.

Dantalian's Chariot Madman Running Through a Field has a weird vocal, sort of whiny, with an odd slow break that features some backwards sound effects. Instead of a flute solo, a Hammond jam would have been better in my book. There is also a persistent high pitched tone from a Farfisa or something that is turning the dog's ears for pretty much the entire track. Bizarreness.

The Flies (also on Rubble) bust their jamming version of Steppin' Stone. Great power intro riff that leads into the killer bass line and pounding percussion. Are these dudes Brummies? Double tracked vocals add to the general tough sound. The guitar tone rules and just weaves its' way throughout the mix. "Didn't have no shoes- now you're walking around like you was front page news." Indeed.

In my book, Fresh Windows' Summer Sun Shines should jump through the closest one, and end it, please. But they redeem themselves somewhat with the very next track, Fashion Conscious.

Your boot will definitely tap the carpet to My Father's Name is Dad by The Fire. I have heard this one a bunch, but it has a great simple riff that is punctuated by a pulsing bass. Sappy pop lyrics only help this one.

This comp of comps would be an excellent intro to some of these British psych sounds, akin to an ongoing in the similar Rubble series. The sound on this CDR has a pretty decent range. The (minimal) vinyl surface noise only adds to the listening experience.


THE CREATION - Painter Man +2 (1966)

More Killer Mod Stuff, the quality here is also excellent. The camera work seems to shy away from Eddie Phillips, for this viewer, but we get to see the late, great Kim Gardner hit the bass and the back up vox. Thanks klemtoon for posting these.

The Electric Prunes - A Long Day's Flight

This is a massively cool clip. While it is lip synched, it is is great quality. Rock The Prunes Brothers and Sisters!!!


Searching for Shakes Swedish Beat 65-68

Wot a great cd... Got a cdr of this 99 reissue in the past week. It seems that our musical friends from Sverige were very contemporary with the styles from the UK, and pull it off extremely well.

The reference system really seems to dig on the monophonic glory of the 45s on this. One wonders where Benny Andersson appears on this release. A trip over there a few years back suggested that he is still fairly integral with music and even current bands. I wish I had this cd when I was there as I think that the beer and wine fueled singalongs would have been even more fun with these sounds as source material.

The Namelosers start strong with Do-Ao. Much fuzz leads this moody howler, where the vocalist emits quite a howl among the guitar feedback screech and sustain. Strong.

Early fave is track 3 At The Club, where the T-Boones put on their best English r&b strut. A wonderful reverb ladened push moves this song. "You're my secret-- love at the club."

My fave track is The Tages with their freakbeatish The Man You are Looking For. Swirls of sound spit off the disc here. I am not sure if they put their Norsk brethren The Diworced to shame with their sound, but this one does it for theses ears. Nice strong drums that Mitch Mitchell could be jealous of.

The Lee Kings do a massive Whoesque feedback drenched break as part of the coda in On My Way. Darn impressive is the mood that they dish here.

Steampacket II in Take Her Anytime, assemble awesome Hammond under a sustained guitar distortion wash, more please. I love the clearly stated vocal. Even reverb on the snare. She'll be yours, you gotta be the one for her. This one borders on the psychedelic. I can put this in heavy rotation.

Ah hell, most of this stuff is totally correct for your next aquavit session accompanied with the requisite fiske. These groups also understood that if you can't make it happen in under 3:30, son't bother, as most of these songs are in the 1:50 to 2:20 range as it should be.


Brazilian Funk Experience

Picked this one up yesterday. Not sure what to think... Took a risk and reap the rewards...
Sonically, this cd makes the tubes hum.

The lead track No Baixo Do Separtiero, by Meirelles, pushes with a mad analog synth. Can you sat Moogathon??? The bass percolates and moves the track into symphony territory. I can see a lot of asses shakin to thisn.

Kick the cowbell on track 3, Homenagem A Mongo, into an arrangement that a Mancini on acid would dig. Funkety, funkety, funkety. Great brass accents and killer percussion. I can see someone grabbing some snippets and doing something different with this one.

Cala Boca Menino, has a definitely funky godfather of soul riff to it. The liners say that this had been sampled a ton and I believe it. The bassline is the stuff to lose your brain to, perhaps one could even lose his cool to this track.

The 3rd time through the release, I find myself really starting to get it, and tapping my foot excessively. This is a great way to get immersion into funky Brazilian sounds. The liner notes will even give you some background to help you find more, because we all know that comps are only there to whet your appetite to find more stuff.

Tremendous Audio Action Lately

Cratedigger HQ has been a flurry of activity as of late.

The reference system has undergone a revision and an upgrade. The B&O turntable is now gone, sold at a 330% profit.

Here is the low down on the current setup. Rega Planar 43 turntable, Audio technica cartridge, Dynaco PAS2 preamp, and the Yamaha CR500 bridged, running as an amp. I have upgraded the interconnect between the pre and the amp by going with a Canare interconnect. The loudspeakers are still the AR 2 Axs, running on stands that are 20" off the hardwood floor. For cds, I am still using the AMC CD 8b.

I have also ditched the old vertical format of the stand for the system. The Ikea rack is now in the vault. I now have everything stretched out on an old coffee table between the loudspeakers.

I can detect a definite improvement on the mids and the bass with this new set up. Some of the new tunez have been really shaking the walls.

Baby Huey, esp. Every time the track "Listen To Me" busts out of the break-- the AMC cd8b skips...


Chubby "Chequered" Checker


I have been wanting to hear this LP forever, well at least since I read about it in Ugly Things 23 from a couple of years back. And what did I find in my mailbox this afterlunch, but a copy on CDR from Mockba, no less.

Scott Seward wrote an excellent piece on this record in UT 23, which happens to be Chubby's acid rock album. I know that it sounds crazy, but this is a solid effort, featuring tons of soulful Hammond and acid tinged guitar. His vocal delivery is awesome.

He even uses turned on lyrics- "How does it feel when you smoke by yourself, How does it feel when you trip with someone else?" from the song "How Does it Feel," obviously not anything to do with the Creation track.

The details on how this LP, which Chubby doesn't want to speak about or really acknowledge, are somewhat sketchy. A record company scammer from he 60s, named Ed Chalpin, who also was behind the Hendrix / Curtis Knight chitlin circuit records, released this in Europe and in a cutout version in North America. Money was made on this, but one suspects The Chubbinator did not reap any of the monetary reward.

1971 is listed as the year of release, but since the Moon is such a large part of the lyrical subject matter suggests a possible earlier release (or composition) timeframe.

Wild! The LP leads off with "Goodbye Victoria" a real scorcher. The build of the piano into his haunting acid vocal moves it along.

The pacing of the album ebbs and flows after that, but really "peaks" with the track "Love Tunnel." It is like a more speeded out Arthur Lee with a more heavy acid backing group. "Don't get hung up in the Love Tunnel," Indeed. The drums just pound under the vocals. Just wait until you get to the crazy track that ends it all-- "Gypsy," Chubby sounds like he is really losing it, fast tempo, yelling vocals.

I can't recommend something higher, this is both a novelty and psychotronically entertaining, but also quite good. I can see listening at least to "Goodbye Victoria" and "Love Tunnel" in the future. I am looking for a vinyl version of this one!


Snow Day

Damn. Quite the wet winter wonderland out there. Above see a shot looking south out of my front door. I am snowed in. I think that I have an hour of shoveling after the snow stops before I will be able to get out the old honda.

There is maybe a foot of wet snow, and the air temp is about 30. Need to clear it as soon as it stops, so that I don't get ice.

The dog, of course, loves it. I will love it, if I get a chance to get out on the XC skis.

Velvet Underground Disc-Find of The Decade?

I am not a huge fan of the VU, but this ePay auction has a great story.

For the sake of simplicity, I am going to do a simple copy and paste of the back story:

Following is excerpted and adapted (with the author's approval) from the article written by Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records in Portland Oregon which is featured in the December 8, 2006 issue of Goldmine Magazine currently on newsstands through mid December:


In September of 2002 Warren Hill of Montreal Canada was perusing a box of records at a Chelsea, New York street sale when he happened upon a nice Leadbelly 10" on Folkways, a water damaged copy of the first Modern Lovers LP on Beserkely, and a brittle 12" piece of acetone-covered aluminum with the words "Velvet Underground. 4-25-66. Att N. Dolph" written on the label. He purchased the three records for 75 cents each.

As I have a small knowledge of records and am an old friend of Warren's, I got a call from him the next day in which he described the acetate. Because of the date and the unique type of pressing, we both agreed that it was probably an in-studio acetate made during the recording of the first Velvet Underground LP back in 1966 (I had heard that they occasionally would have
a vinyl cutting lathe in the studio to cut records of the day's recordings for the artists and/or producers to take home for review). Warren didn't want to play the mysterious platter due to the fragile nature of acetates, and the cheap nature of his record needle, so we agreed that the next time he was visiting me in Portland we would check it out together. If it turned out to be what we thought it was, maybe we could sell it at Mississippi Records, the small neighborhood record store in Portland that I work at. Sight unseen and sound unheard, I assumed that it was likely an acetate pressing of the recording which would be eventually be released as
the group's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico".

It took awhile for Warren to visit, but when he did he brought along the acetate. We cued it up and were stunned -- the first song was not "Sunday Morning" as on the "Velvet Underground & Nico" Verve LP, but rather it was "European Son"- the song that is last on that LP, and it was a version neither of us had ever heard before! It was less bombastic and more bluesy
than the released version, and it clocked in at a full two minutes longer. I immediately took the needle off the record, and realized that we had something special. Between the two of us we had heard many Velvets outtakes on both official and less than official releases, but the present material had never been heard by either of us.

The next few days found us scrambling for clues and information about what to make of this find; calling every record collector/historian we knew and reading everything we could find concerning the early recordings of the VU. We pieced together that this was probably a surviving copy of the legendary Scepter studios recordings which had been regarded as lost (hence the epic moniker "the lost scepter studios recordings" applied to these unheard sessions over the years). The recording is comprised of the primitive first "finished" version of the LP that Andy Warhol had shopped to Columbia as a ready-to-release debut album by his protege collective "The Velvet Underground".

This acetate, which is possibly the only surviving copy, represents the first Velvet Underground album as Andy Warhol intended it to be released.

Though the same compositions and even a few of the same "takes" (albeit in different mixes) were used on the subsequent commercial release, that which was eventually issued as their debut album on Verve, "The Velvet Underground & Nico", was a significantly different creation. I had heard of these nascent recordings before... it was said by some that the master
tapes had burned in a fire, by others that all of those recordings ended up being on the released album, and still by others that the only existing copy of that material was on an acetate owned by David Bowie, and that he was known to tout it as his most prized possession.

The truth about what we held was fuzzy until Warren managed to track down the N. Dolph referred to on the label for an interview.

Norman Dolph was a perennial in the New York art & music scene of the 1960's. He worked as a sales representative at Columbia Records through 1967, and was deeply involved with different facets of the independent music world on the side. Andy Warhol, who was managing the Velvets at the time, contacted Dolph & offered him a painting in exchange for services as
"ghost" (uncredited) producer for the Velvet's first recording session. Warhol wanted to record a Velvets album before they had a record company behind them as this would tend to minimize meddling label executives' mobility in compromising the musical arrangement's distraught primal force, not to mention the unprecedented taboo lyrics which openly address sex, drugs, and depravity. Warhol's plan was to have Dolph record it and then shop it around to labels (first & foremost Columbia) as a finished recording.

...and so Dolph rented out Scepter studios, and with an engineer named John Licata by his side, they recorded the Velvets for four days. At the time Scepter studios was between reconstruction and demolition with walls falling over and holes in the floor. Velvets' bass & viola player John Cale would later recall the environment as "Post-Apocalyptic".

Dolph took the master tapes made during this session to the Columbia building, which still had an in-house pressing plant, and cut the acetate "after hours" with people he knew on the inside. Dolph then sent the acetate to Columbia to see if they were interested in releasing it. It was returned promptly with a note that said something akin to "do you think we're out of our f**king minds?" Dolph then gave the acetate to Andy Warhol or John Cale, he cannot remember which.

Six of the songs recorded during the Scepter session made it on to the "Velvet Underground & Nico" LP, albeit with radically different mixes. The other four songs were re-recorded in LA by Tom Wilson. As far as we know, the only listenable copy of the original versions of Heroin, Venus In Furs, I'm Waiting For The Man, and European Son exist on the acetate that Warren
found. (A Japanese bootleg of the same material did appear, but in poor, arguably ‘unlistenable' sound quality. It is possible that the source tape for the Japanese bootleg was made from this very acetate decades ago when it was in different hands. Who knows?) We have since realized that we are in possession of a likely one of a kind artifact - the first recordings by one of the most influential rock bands of all time!

After establishing the authenticity of Warren's find we photographed the item and made a high quality digital back-up copy of the material. A media frenzy ensued, with articles appearing in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Record Collector, The Globe & Mail, and many other news sources. Calls started flooding in from people interested in buying the acetate, as well as record companies interested in releasing the songs on it. After much consideration, we decided that it would be best to release it to the highest bidder through an auction facilitated by our good friends at Saturn Records in Oakland, California (a store that has a well-established presence in the international vinyl collecting community, and an excellent reputation on the internet).

As to the most interesting mystery brought up by the appearance of this item - how did such an important artifact disappear for 37 years & end up at a Chelsea New York yard sale priced at 75 cents? ...We have no answer.

The track differences between the acetate versions and the commercial recordings on "The Velvet Underground & Nico" are detailed as follows:

1.European Son- completely different version,. Guitar solo is much bluesier. Less noisy and experimental. Longer by 2 minutes or so.

2.Black Angel's Death Song-Same take as released version. Different mix.

3.All Tomorrow's Parties- Same take as released version. Different mix.

4.I'll Be Your Mirror-Same take as released version. Radically different mix. No echo on Nico's vocals. Background vocals on end of song are more subdued.

5.Heroin-Completely different take than released version. Guitar line is different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. Drumming is more primitive & off kilter. There is a tambourine dragging throughout the song.

6.Femme Fatale- Same take as released version. Radically different mix. Percussion more prominent. Alternate take on background vocals. Much more "poppy".

7.Venus In Furs- Different take than released version. Vocal inflections completely different. Instrumentation more based around Cales' violin than the guitar as in the released version.

8.I'm Waiting For The Man- Different take than released version. Guitar line is completely different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. No drums, just tambourine. Bluesy guitar solo.

9.Run Run Run- Same take as released version. Different mix.

The weirdest stuff can show up in a pile of junk. It reminds me of a piece of advice that a wise (and very poor) friend gave me once. He reminded me to look down when entering a bar, and from time to time while in the bar. Drunk people have a way of dropping things- money, jewelry, wallets, etc. He would hardly ever go out on the town with any money. His glass was never half empty.

You are not going to see "it" unless your eyes are open.


Chicago Critical Mass 11.24.06

Since Critical Mass fell on the day after Thanksgiving, I had a feeling that we were in for a big treat. I was not let down.
Initially, the Mass was supposed to start at Daley Center as per usual. I had already trained into the City on Metra and ridden the Dahon to meet at Quisp's gf's apartment. The pictures above and below show the nonsensical scene at Daley Plaza. There were so may people attending some German village fest there that there was absolutely no place for bikers.

We ended up getting the word that the Mass would start from Federal Plaza, Below you can see the typical sights of a Chicago Mass.

The Mass seemed to be a celebration of anti consumerism, so with the biggest shopping day of the year with one of the most expensive cities laying in wait, hilarity was destined to ensue.

Above is a shot looking back on Michigan Avenue looking north. The plan was to head north on State weave around the Rush Street area and of course cause havoc on the Magnificent Mile. There was quite a decent turnout and lots of laughs. "Buy some more $#it!" was one of the more amusing comments used again and again with the "Ye AH!" pointed at some out of state shoppers that were so startled that they dropped their bags. At one point the token rollerbalder was going down Mich Ave, and I heard a loud scream. He had jumped onto the windshield of a minivan. I asked him later why he did that. He yelled, "Because they were getting too close!!!"
What stupid fun.

The ride itself wound south through the Loop down to Roosevelt and then out west on Taylor, et al. We did not make it all the way to the destination of 24th Street and Marshall. (There was a party there.) The thought of going all the way north again was too much.

Instead we went north up Damen or something to Elm Street and refueled at the Edwardo's Pizza that is in the neighborhood. All that grease combined with a couple of St Pauli Girls, I was ready for the next phase of the evening- a ride 9 miles north to Rogers Park.

We headed north through Lincoln Park and then eventually up through Uptown, up up up to Roger's. I caught a bit of a breather at the end for some more water, then I sprinted on the Dahon to the train. I made it home to tea and bed by midnight. My knees were killing me from all the distance on the wee bike.



It is 50 degrees or so today with an abundance of sun, so I decided to get the Mustang out of the garage for some speed trials on the streets.

The tank was down to a quarter of a tank, so I went to the local filling station and put 10 gallons of high test in and added 5 oz of STP lead substitute- not for road use it says on the bottle. Yeah, right, want to keep the original seals in the 289 happy. Gimme some more lead.

I warmed up the powerplant on some 30 and 35 mph stretches of road before I got to my favorite mile stretch, which I find out from my neighbor has been a speedway since at least the 70s.

I cross the stop sign zone and turn north rolling at a couple of miles an hour. Then I pointed the coupe northwards.

I hammered the gas and sidestepped the clutch. The new tires that I put on earlier this year made nary a squeal nor emitted the slightest amount of smoke, I was a bit disappointed.

I rode 1st, dumped the clutch and dropped into 2nd and rode it to what seemed the redline. I then short shifted 3rd, and then wound in 4th a bit. The FOMOCO gauge said 65 mph...

Just then I look in the rearview, which I had neglected as I enjoyed both the rush of acceleration as well as the fumes of unspent high test (coated with lead). I see the tell tale lights of johnie law.

I take the right foot to the rest position. I look in the mirror and the Man gives me a wink and a tilt of the hat. Then he hammers his Crown Vic, and speeds by.

I was only doing about 20 mph over the posted, but incidents like the one relayed above, make me realize that I shouldn't push my luck when putting about in the Civic.

As I relaxed my pace on the rest of the am drive, I spent more time looking around. In the distance, I heard the sound of a fierce modern motor. Then I saw the metallic blue paint and the white stripe of the new Shelby GT500. I clicked my headlights on and off and gave the driver the high sign as he roared towards me.

He saw me and waved and then just buried the accelerator. (Remember this is in traffic on a public road in the weekday morning.)

I hope that johnnie law feels generous when he sees this new Stang. This guy was doing some serious damage both speed and soundwise.


Sonics Busy Body

Could this be the reissue single of 2006?

I am not real sure of the provenance of this record. It is a live recording from The Tacoma Sports Arena 11.27.64. Our friends took the R&B flavor and brewed it to an exceptionally strong elixir. Tim "Back From The Grave" Warren mastered this monster and it appears as Norton 133.

The front side is an instro workout with the horns pushing it along and the drums anchoring it down. They took a song that garage afficionadoes are familiar from The Jolly Green Giants, and threw it in the NW R&R blender and came up with something entirely new.

The mastering is extremely loud. The kick drum is very prominent on the mix on the flip, "The Witch," my fave Sonics track. Gary Roslie's vocal is buried in the mix. But hey, I can't imagine the source tape was all that pretty being a live rock and roll tape from 42 years ago.

The guitar brak is tough. This is one that I continue to hit the play button on the Beogram. Repeat!



I made it out to lunch to a place called Beyond Bread for an early lunch. I had a pretty good sandwich, that had olive paste, goat cheeze and carmelized onions.

After these preparations, we headed to Sahauro Monument West. We made our way west out of town on Speedway. The drive is quite exhilierating, but since you cross over the ridge, you really forget that a town of 1 million population is very near.

For fun after the hike we took a drive to see one of Tucson's more classic sites-- The Notel Motel. This place is super creepy. As we pulled in to the parking lot to get some shots in the Honda, I got pretty creeped out. This place is for the Bates Motel school of hospitality. It also reminded me of a Manson family preferred stay property. I don't think anyone had been in the pool since 1968.



I got up early and hit Macy’s before leaving Flagstaff for Tucson. I rolled with Pass the Caviar, Captain Beefheart Lick My Decals Off, Baby, and then a couple volumes of Prae Kraut Pandemonium. I saw a few highway patrols, but nothing was too weird even as I had to slow down for no apparent reason to the direct north of the cancer known as Phoenix.

As I drove down Grant on the north side of town, heading east, I once again realized why I like Tucson so much. It is dirty and everything seems old and worn out- not recycled, just being in constant use. Seeing a 67 Mustang daily driver just all clapped out, but still moving under its own power is a great thing.

We also made a trip out to the Ventana Trail for an afternoon jaunt up the drainage. It is quite evident on that trail that Tucson has had much more rain than normal due to the change in overgrowth on the trail.

Trip interuptted for THE TROGGS

Apparently, Spinal Tap was inspired by this set of tapes, where "during a session and display, according to The Penguin Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, "instrumental incompetence, mutual recrimination and much foul language". They inspired the sequence in which Tufnel and St Hubbins have their row in the Rainbow Trout Recording Studio."




Today was the Grand Canyon.

We made it to the South Rim at about 9:30. Prior to leaving Flagstaff, we grabbed coffee and breakfast at Macy’s. A simple 2 room café where they roast their own beans. The Americano and the breakfast croissant were very good.

When we got to The Grand Canyon, we decided to take the Grandview trail to Horseshoe Mesa. It is roughly 3+ miles from the trail head and it approximately 3000 feet lower in elevation from the parking lot where we parked the Path Finder. I borrowed some hiking sticks.

The views directly below my feet, had at some points 1000-foot drops. The trail is roughly 110 years old and was originally used for hauling copper ore up on donkey back. That said, some of the trail sections are simply old tree trunks mounted into the canyon wall. Behind the dam formed by the attached tree trunks, dirt and ravel comprise the footpath. Pretty bizarre, especially on the return hike.

Going down, was extremely difficult on my knees, even using the hiking sticks. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been without the sticks.

We made it to Coconino Saddle, which is one mile from the trailhead, and stopped for a trail bar.
After this intermission, we quickly came upon an area called The Cobbles, stones were arranged by humans at some point. They must be on at least 20% grade, and there were some many switchbacks, I lost count. The Cobbles are very slippery and conducive to ankle twisting.

After two miles, we made it to Horseshoe Saddle It is very flat, shaped like a horse shoe and I believe that it has 2000 foot drops on some of its many sides. We also came upon what must heave been a cabin 100 or so years ago. It was made with red rocks arranged like bricks. It ended up looking like a primitive Hogan.

We moseyed along past Horseshoe Mesa and down into a drainage. Following the drainage we found a well used trail that was nearly non-existent at some points. At the end of the scary trail that overlooked a 1000 foot or so drop to the Cottonwood River. This lead us to the Cave of Domes.

The Cave of Domes has an entrance where there used to be a door, the surrounding brick work looked identical to the structure at Horseshoe Mesa. Once inside, there was a series of low openings with the roofs opening up to standing height. The first domes had graffiti going back to 1800. When I got to the end (for me) we were in a room that had a 30 foot ceiling.

We got back to the car at about 4:30.
I have never kicked it as hard on any hike in my life.




In the afternoon, We took out the ATVs. I rode a fully auto 700 cc Yamaha. This thing had unending torque. We rode up into the hills, At one point I got the beast up to 60 mph. I would say that we went up to 40 miles away. We had made our way to the Lava Tubes. The Lava Tubes are a cave that goes straight into the earth. We clambered into the ground. Physically, I was fine with the descent, but I started to wig out a bit with the absence of sunlight. Jon worked my mind a bit and we made it a bit deeper into the ground. I would say that in 10 minutes we made it to the main room where the ceiling goes up to 12 feet of so.

the Trip 11.11.06


I left the house with a modicum of damage after last night’s City expedition. The trip on the Dahon, has yet to be matched in my bike riding experience. The rain was coming down so hard that I felt as if it combined with the wind was working to push me backwards.

The night was fun, punctuated by a Delerium tremens and a couple of Laguenista Bruns.

I fell asleep on the train ride home however, and I had to walk 5 miles to the Dahon that was parked at the Depot in the middle of the night. That was a lot of fun.

Today, I worked on getting packed and took a jaunt to the city. I checked out some folding bikes at Rapid Transit, I rode an aluminum framed five speed internal shifting beast called the Vitesse. It was noticeable more stiff than the Picolo that I am currently riding. It seemed a bit lighter, too. The 20 inch wheels seemed to allow a better coasting experience as well.

The flight was an experience, I watched part of that Nascar movie that Will Farrell put out, it sucked, but what stopped me from watching it was the person that went face down in the aisle in 1st class.

I rented a mighty Chevy Cobalt from Avis, the drive from PHX to Flagstaff was different for me. First of all, I 17 seems to be in great shape, I also was not piloting a broken down car. I felt naked as I did not have a weapon on board.

I abused the stereo by playing Wyld Canada v.1n at top volume.

Two typical AZ events unfolded on my journey. North of PHX, I got caught in a pack of 6-8 Civics. They were going pretty fast and after they surrounded me, they slowed down. It was a bit of a white knuckle, but they got off at Deer Valley.

South of Prescott (”Presskit”), I 17 is a 4 lane divided highway, that is 2 lanes of traffic, going in the same direction are separated by a large stone and tree median. I was shocked to see a set of high beams coming right at me. Some tweaker was heading south in the slow north-bound lane. The limit is 75 mph there, and I was struggling to keep the mighty Cobalt under 90. If I didn’t swerve onto the shoulder, I shudder to think what may have happened.


It is one of those nights

Where you don't really know if it is night or day. The wind is out of the north gusting at 40mph. It is inky black out, the rain is coming down in sideways sheets, it is 40 degrees.

Even the dog doesn't dig it.

So it is a spin of the Dahon, a ride of the train and the consumption of a couple of Belgians in preparation of the trip.

Maproom expedition, here I come.


Check out these posts

Coop has some excellent travelogue pics going right now of the coming La Carrera race in Mexico. I can't do justice to what will happen and what is currently happening.

50s cars ridding like the wind in Mexico. Sounds like quite the Neal Cassidy adventure...

Just read this and I will do the right thing and shut up.


Getting ready for a trip

I have been starting to get ready for an impending trip to the desert and to the high country for visit.

I went through the basement and started rounding up all of the supplies that I will require.

I will need to use the samsonite bag that I got as part of my purchase of the used Dahon folding bike off of craigslist.

I have been consulting various hiking books as well. It has been some time since I have been up in the high country. Methinks even Seth was somewhat jealous.

Time to start puttting together a list-- Northface bag, water bottles, pack pack...


Sandy West 1959-2006

Iowahawk published a most touching tribute to Sandy West, the former drummer from the Runaways.

He also posted a great video featuring the classic lineup of the Runaways (including a brunette Lita and a young Joan Jett-prior to her Germs production credit) doing "Cherry Bomb." There is another youtube video where Sandy's 80s band does a loud pubrock-styled "Wild Thing."

Sandy hit em hard.

Sandy will be remembered. RIP Sandy.


Score at the Estate Sale

So I learned some of the inner workings of the estate sale scene here in the Chicago suburbs.

First of all, read the listings carefully.

When the sale sounds worthy, get there a half hour earlier than you think you should (1.5 hours before the opening time.)

Get the entry ticket at that time.

So instead of getting in on the first 15 people, I was reduced to entering said sale in the second group. Fans of numerology will revel in the fact that my number was 23.

I did find out that the records were in the basement before entry, so at least I knew to head in that direction. Now some backstory. The site of the sale was a 1940s house that had been occupied by the original owners until the husband recently passed away. Everything was up for sale.

60 years of accumulation!

I went to the basement, and immediately my eyes rested on a matching Sherwood tube integrated stereo amp and tuner. As I reached for the white plastic early 60s gear, some old goat faced woman told me that she was buying it. I think the set went for $12! Faithful reader, I would say to keep your eyes on the ePay for that set.

Feeling defeated, I looked towards the 1000s of cataloged 78s and lps of easy listening and Bennny Goodman records.

Behind a pile of basement detrius, I found the lp case pictured above. It has no key for the brass lock, but other than being dusty, the wood paneled, vinyl covered box is in mint condition. Can you say $2? Two minutes of dusting and now it is filled with 60s lps. Yes.

The moral is pick the best sale and get there early with a big bag!


Hunnert Car Pileup 2006

My fave car of the 800 plus cars was definitely the original deuce roadster pictured above. It had some old timing tags from both Muroc and Rosetta from the late 1940s. The interior consisted of a series of stainless steel plates and a 39 top loader shifter. The seats looked like they were from a WWII bomber. It was a way sweet ride.

My other favorite car was the way cool 31 Willys roadster pictured below. I loved the original looking finish with the full fenders and hood. Something that I cant say I have seen up close and personal before.

The Big Car Show

Well, OK, I made it to the Big Car Show today as I have for every year of its existence, excepting last year when Johnny Law had some other ideas related to my personal hot rodding endeavors.

According to Iowahawk, the big show had 895 cars last year. So enough of that and on with the show...


Thorns "I Want You"

I became familiar with this most crushing track through the excellent Pass The Caviar comp from the GaragePunk site. This forum comp was compiled by Mark Taylor.

That said, the guitar tone is absolutely searing. The moaning vocals were effective in their plantiveness. "I walk the streets alone every night."

The fuzz starts at the beginning of this acetate from Philadelphia, probably from sometime in the mid to late 60s.

The guitar break busts a fuzz capped crescendo through my old tweeters. Strong, build into the back up vocal, "Ah Ah Ah Ah, Please come back to me!" The back up vox lend a haunting tone to the song, while the punk posture of the sneer "Come Back!" brings my ears back to earth.

The coda blasts into oblivian. All fans of 60s killers, take note.


Sloths Makin; Love

Clickin through some links led me to the helpful and informational Garage Hanover site.
Chas Kit has posted some very cool info and some streaming mp3 files as well. Check out his write up and listen to the Sloths' excellent version of "Makin' Love."

Rolling with the Swamp Rats

Since the Crate Digger reference system is back in action, it has been time to get back to the vaults. I did a bit of digging in one of the record rooms and came up with the Swamp Rats reissue from 2003.

The fidelity is quite speaker shattering as well as neighbor awakening. The chosen time to blast this cd was about 5:30 PM. It was somewat entertaining to see the neighbors go inside once the dbs hit a certain level. Cranking last year's Funhouse reissue, before this might have had something to do with it.

If you are not familiar with the Swamp Rats' version of "Louie Louie," now is the time to get acquainted. Really, The Rats evoke quite a pre Stooge and MC5 feeling with the heaviness of the 66 and 67 sides included on this collection. Anyone that can cover the Sparkles should also be held in high regard.

The bass is quite deep and filled the house with the low end. The treble and the screech should peel your paint as well. Pour yourself a lager and let er rip.


Music for one apartment and six drummers

A Norsk lite version of Einsruzende Neubauten?
Obviously minus the Blixa Bargeld X factor.
A bit on the long side.


The reference system is Back!

The Pas 2 Pre Amp is back in effect. The issues that I was having were related to the power supply which Mike Del Valle at DelTronics rectified.

All was well until, I put some garage tunes on this past Saturday. The unit failed to get power. Needless to say, my Saturday listening session was crushed.

Tonight after a couple of beers (Delerium Tremens and Triple Carmelite) at the HopLeaf, we paid another visit to Mike. He looked at the unit (not at me) and asked, "whatsamatter?"

To which I answered, "The unit is not getting any power."

Mike shuffled off and in 10 minutes came back and said, "You're all set. I replaced the power cord."

I am having a cup of tea and cranking the most excellent Noreaster 2 comp. All is well chez Cratedigger.