Critical Mass Chicago August 2006

Here is a video of the August 2006 Chicago Critical Mass Ride. Supposedly there were 2000 riders. I find that hard to believe.

It is supposed to rain tonight. It will be interesting to see the turnout.


Beogram RX2

Despite the name sounding like the latest fad in weight loss, I scored the Beogram RX2 pictured above at a recent estate sale. I will say that this was really an "estate" sale as I felt that I was on set for a British murder mystery production, as I meandered to the secluded address for the sale the other day.

This adventure included, hand drawn no parking signs (I was on foot), yelling/agitated domestic help, barking guard dogs and finely clipped bent grass. But back to our story...

The turntable was a great deal. The features of this piece are pretty incredible. There is a hidden button on the lower right of the unit marked "Play." Put the vinyl disc on the platter and press play. Guess what? The unit also pulls the tone arm off the vinyl when it hits the lock groove on the disk. Folks that saying playing vinyl is too labor intensive, should really check out an old B&O.

Most interesting about the unit is the spindle of the deck. There is a spring acutated large hole 45 spindle, which automatically sinks when a 12 inch (small spindle hole) vinyl LP disk is placed on the platter. It appears to also select the correct speed (45/33) at the same time. I have not started digging through the crates for some 45s to test the auto speed select, though.

Sonically the stylus and cartridge seem to rock as well. Tom Waits Foreign Affairs, moans quite effectively through. I have also listened to Coltrane, The Buzzcocks and Back From The Grave vol 4.

Like every good deal, there has to be a catch...

Since B&O seems to only make audio accessories and other fad related products, they are no longer in the turntable biz. The most excellent sounding MMC3 cartridge is no longer produced. Of course the secondary market has options- upgrade to a more high end new old stock (NOS) cartridge, or look for a rebuilt stylus. Everything sounds good for now, fortunately.

I will just keep my eye out for a replacement stylus in the meantime.


US Record Store CrateDigger Goal?

This is rediculous. He says that he has millions of records. "I bought a million records from New Orleans in 1991."

I don't deny it. Got any garage?


A Gasser from Labor Day

Just a little trip. Yeah, in a 66 Mustang to see gassers burn Hoosier tires and lift front ends off the ground. Paradise? Cheap beer helps, too.

The best $1 I have spent in a while

Mr. Jalopy has the single page pdf pictured above available for $1.00. The title is Mister Jalopy's Pocket Guide to Living and Dying with Modest Automobiles.

It has to be the most practical advice that I have seen in one compact place, when one may be considering joining the ranks of the old used car set.

Having a 40 year old muscle car has had its challenges. Getting stranded and confused has become a larger part of my life. I think that I need to take his advice and move over to the Pertronics electronic ignition. Spark is everything in an old V8.

I have noticed quite an improvement in my ride since I upgraded to an Interstate battery, and an electronic trickle charger. The car starts with the first turn of the starter now.

One area that that he doesn't into too much is tires. I was running some 80s looking bucket head tires on my Stang, and stopping/turning/unintentional burnouts was always a challenge. Now with some new BFGs, blackwalls of course to make it fit the car stylewise, I can turn and stop with nary an issue, burnouts are another issue.

Seriously this is a great read, entertaining and instructional. If I ever have kid, this will be required reading.
Order it here.

Reference (HiFi) System meltdown at CD HQ

Gentle readers may note that I recently upgraded to a 1962 Dynaco tube preamp for the reference system.

Over the last weekend, as I was listening, OK, cranking an LP, I think it was a $.10 Temptations Greatest Hits v.1 in "Stereo," a major hum appeared like a flying saucer over a Nebraska corn field. Not a 60 cycle hum, either. The hum was untenable in the phono stage, but was not as apparent in the extra selector position, into which I have my cd player plugged in.

So I did what anyone music freak would do, I listened to more JBs, via a CDR. Specifically "Funky Monorail." What a funk work out, but that is another story.

After 60 minutes or so of cone bending excitement, our friend, the saucer like hum appeared in the extra position. The Dynaco PAS-2 was now grounded.

Send in the Reinforcements

Being a junk hound and a garage sale addict, I recently came across the following:It is a 1973 CR-500 Yamaha Receiver. I am no fan of receivers, excepting late 60s Marantz models, but this one was in near mint condition, and it powered up when I plugged it into a wall outlet (the blue Marantz-esque lights glowed omniously when I switched the unit on).

I was able to bargain down to $9.00. Yes, that's right, $9.00. I got it home and plugged it in, and turned up some 1966 Guess Who sides. It jams.

So now that the Dyanaco needs some medical attention, I grabbed a cold one, the Yamaha, and my trusty back up loudspeakers- a pair of AR 2AXs from 1966.

The Reference system has undergone a severe change:
Notice the Biblical back lighting provided by my window on a sunny day. Also notice the Rath's Lard bucket/ cd rack. My frustrated dog is at the bottom.

Anyway, now I have the Rega 3 turn table and the AMC CD8 plugged into the Yamaha, which is now plugged into the ARs. I set the AMC 3050a integrated and the Monitor Audio Silver Series loudspeakers to the side.

For testing purposes, I got out my Mingus In Europe CD, and turned the receiver up to 5 and let her rip.

My, how the lows and mids came alive on that CD. The loudspeakers are phenomenal. Loud with enough low and mid on Mingus' bass to make screens move in my basement windows.

I couldn't stop listening to music...

The Dyna is in the hospital at Deltronics. That is another post in and of itself.

But the plan now, to to get some upgraded interconnect cables, and plug the Dyna PAS 2 into the main in input on the Yamaha, while I scrounge for a cooler vintage power amp. I know that will sound even better when I need to hear some loud 45s.

Anyone know where I can get an old McIntosh for cheap?


James Brown Genessee Theatre Waukegan IL 9.16.06

Wow, I can't say that The Godfather of Soul was totally coherent with his 90 minutes onstage at the Genessee, but when he shakes his thang, it is obvious that he still has something. I am really glad that I finally got a chance to see him, especially in the newly restored Gennessee Theatre. It is a classic joint that has both balconies and box seats. It is a real theatre, not your typical barn that puts on shows.

His best quote (that I could make out from his garbled, jive ramblings) was a command to the house lighting person. "Make the light blue, This is JAMES BROWN, not Jimi Hendrix!" I found that pretty entertaining and quite indicative of his commanding persona, according to stories that I have heard about working for him. (RIP Spider, may there be a permanent percussion jam out there for you.) Of course, somehow, some way, JB got his blue light with the disco ball turned on.

He started the set out with "Living in America" and ended with "Sex Machine." The band was alive, sounded pretty good, but it was interesting to note that everyone was at least 3o years younger than James excepting the familiar sounding MC.

"Machine" was a good 15 minute or so jam that abrupted ended with the house lights coming on. There was no attempt at an encore.

In the middle of the set, he did an interesting move with a large back up singer chick who came to spotlight to belt out 'Retha's "Respect." JB cut her off at the end and went into "It's a Man's World." All of the other hits were at least referenced with at least a few bars. One of the other more memorable tunes was the version of "Hot Pants" which was suitably hot.

There was quite a bit of men's room bitching about the length of the set. JB could have easily stretched it out by taking a breather and letting the band play, but he opted to stay onstage for the entire set, taking a breather by sitting at a small keyboard and banging out some chords.

There was a preponderance of hat-wearing pimp alikes at the concert. My favorite was the dude in his late '50s whom was pretty obviously packing under his white linen suit. He had a contrasting red shirt, red boots, red tie and pimp hat. He also opted for the Budweiser in the red aluminum bottle so he had everthing matching. He was smoking at the bar (this is now a non smoking building.) He was asked by the bartender to put out his smoke, to which he laughed and dimissively said that he knew that and that he was in a bar...

I then saw him drop a pill of some sort into someone else's beer glass. It was really hard to believe. He then got into a yelling match with some security guy, where he starting pointing and getting very mad. I thought the pistol was going to be drawn... Instead, he just put his butt into the beer glass, where he had put the pill mere moments before.

Taking the train was an adventure as was the local tavern, where they were so excited to see some fresh blood that they comped me a Modelo or two. The rap was deafening but was also inexplicably followed by Billy Joel's "Pressure." Weird could not even begin to explain the scene there with wheel chair bound alcoholics and over weight prostitutes.


James Brown really high

Brown... James Brown

In honor of the first annual Cratedigger James Brown Day.

Here he is, the hardest working man in show business, obviously under the influence of something. He is a very happy inebriated state.

I love it when he says he is "Out on Love," to the reporter's question as to whether he is out on bail due to domestic violence charges. (See the above post.)

Let's hope that he is a bit more with it tonite at the Genessee Theatre in scenic Waukegan, IL.

I hope that I can find some videos of the prime James Browns Funky People show from the early 70s at some point...

James Brown Day at Cratedigger HQ

I feel that almost everyone has seen JBs arrest pic and his mugshot from his domestic troubles a couple of years back, but I thought that I would post them again for Cratedigger James Brown Day.

Stay Free JB!


More 45s

Today, I headed north and scored some more garage winners.
There is a guy up north that always has the solution for a garage jones.

Here are the spoils of battle:

Buckinghams "Don't Want to Cry" USA Baby, yes, the killer. The best 45 on USA Records, the second best being The Cherry Slush. Just think, I saw a reconstituted (horrible) version of this band for the Glenview, Il Centennial. They now play a bland Chicago blue-eyed soul style replete with horns. Eons away in the musically perfect world of 1966, the fuzz and the break combined with the organ on "Cry" will make any garage fan want to break household items. Also these guys were known for a tv spot for the famous Mr. Norm. He was a famous Mopar Chicago car dealer back in the 60s that I am sure Iowahawk has written about. Check out the altered pic above. The Bucks also were the house band for Mr. Norm's dances and socials that he hosted for promotional purposes. Imagine Mopar freaks rocking to this single. The flip is "I'll Go Crazy" by James Brown. I have not gotten around to listening to that side yet.

Guess Who "Believe Me" Scepter Si, that Guess Who. I was exposed to this track on the mostest excellent Wyld Canada comp. (Please boycott the boots on ePay!)
Viva '66. Smoking loud and in your face. Dig the break here, too. Groove to a young Randy Bachman. F BTO!

Trolls "Everyday and Every night" ABC Calling this Chicago area single a killer might be a stretch but solid, along the lines of an inclusion on Coloured Sights and Sounds volume.

Rationals "Leavin' Here" Cameo This DJ copy is pretty hammered, probably VG in quality. Yes, this is the Holland Dozier Holland ditty popularized by the Who and made definitive by Ronnie Wood's Birds. The Rationals give the track a solid reading. Who couldn't dig the 3 chords here?


05 06 Mustang- nice ride...

You have to admit that for a modern car, The 05 and 06, and one presumes the 07 Mustang GT, is one hot piece of a$$...

Above is a show car called the 6T6 or something. I am not a fan of street rods or weak pro touring machines, but with a mild amount of bolt ons, one can easily obtain 300 rwhp with an 05/06 GT.



I've Heard of odd guitars...

Here are some custom Mosrites striped by Von Dutch. They were given to Incense and Peppermints players the Strawberry Alarm Clock (formerly Thee Sixpence, of much more interest to me, music-wise.) they played these axes in a film, which must have been Beyond The Valley of The Dolls (Ebert's claim to fame-- working with Russ Meyer!!!).

The guitars were returned and now they are on eBay.


Discussion on Physical Music

This article at City of Sound discusses how all relevance and relationships between sound, style and artistry are lost with the commodification of music through digital retailers such as Itunes music store.

The reduction (or elimination) of physical product associated with music is driving this change.

While the article is based on Jazz, I feel that it holds true for any sort of music. Without album art and correct discographical info, much relevance is lost. The article posits that at some point all info on Jazz may be held by a few archeologists. In the past, listeners could read the album jacket and learn about session date, relaease date, composition credits, session players, etc. Now with itunes, the info seems to focus on the reissue, not the original release date. This makes it hard for driven music fans to search out other releases due to connections they may learn about on record covers or liner notes.

I enjoy getting an old record from a record show, garage sale or wherever and reading about the details related to the music.

In the digital age, it is so much more about quantity of music and not quality of experience. I think I am the only person that I know that ditched his ipod. I felt that the negatives far outweighed the positives of the experience.

If I were a recording artist, I think that I would be mourning the faceless world that we are creating with mp3s and filesharing et al. Music has just become another piece of software.


Cratedigger Freakbeat Primer

My buddy over at Iowahawk, recently posted some cool video clips. The ran the gamut of frat/garage/pop, but did not really hit the freakbeat mark as advertised in his blog heading. I did some searching on YouTube and came up with some videos and sent them along.

The term freakbeat has fallen from favor as of late amongst the bearded, bespectacled record collecting set, but generally refers to the brief instance of British/UK/The Continental pop music where mod added feedback, more fuzz on the guitar breaks, but before Hendrix, The Cream et al went the hippie route.

This music is R&B/Blues based, but with a heavy layer of fuzz box finery added to the hip mini skirt/ squared heeled boot style. In a word, the HEIGHT of musical coolness.

Please find some YouTube based videos below:

The Smoke - My Friend Jack

The Smoke were a UK band that had this 67 #1 Deutschland hit, but the track was
banned in the UK. Could it have been, the line, "My Friend Jack eats sugarlumps?"

Notably they were managed by Chris Blackwell, the guy who formed Island Records and bored the world with the corrected version of reggae.

The Creation Live 1966

The Creation are arguably the posterchildren for the term freakbeak.
Watch Kenny Pickett (deceased, former Led Zep Roadie) in his mod finery belt
out I'm A Man. Check Eddie Phillips on the Es335(?) at 1:20 bust into a
break, where he pulls out the violin bow, most notably before M. Page.

Stay tuned for Makin' Time, @ 7:11 the bow comes out on the break, for
a full on shredding, and then accompaniment for the rest of the track.

Small Faces - Tin Soldier

For obvious reasons, I have included Tinsoldier by the Small Faces. Dig
the tuff guitar line into the mod stomping "take me like I am." But
until 1:30 where Austin TX' very own Ian McLagan busts the organ out,
the stomping of Kenney Jones gives Keith Moon a run for the freak beat
drumming honors. Was Mitch Mitchell taking notes? I also dig Steve
Marriott's axe, which appears to be a vintage sunburst encrusted