I’ve made my feelings about Record Store Day known, and I’m sticking to my guns . . . sort of. But sometimes interesting records do get re-pressed and then . . . my addiction kicks in.
The Music Machine . . . 1966 . . . “Talk, Talk” . . . Turn On. Remember them? Probably not. I was a kid, watching “Where the Action Is” one afternoon when these long-haired semi-musical guys appeared and grunted their only hit song. “Talk, Talk” was less than two minutes of snarling garage rock and proto-punk. I ran out and bought the single.
Wonder what happened to that 45. Gone, many decades gone, but I still love the song. When I started collecting vinyl again, I looked The Music Machine up on Discogs. One LP, Turn On, last pressed in 1993 on the Performance label. It’s an easy fifty bucks for a good copy. Well over a hundred for an original mono copy in quality condition. Sigh.
The day after RSD X I was poking through eBay just for grins to see what the new releases were doing. I’m happy with my Doors record. But as I’m laughing and gasping at the price some of the flippers are asking for their tunes, my eyes ran across the re-release of Turn On. 1500 copies, mono pressing, and the price starts at twenty bucks. I pulled it up on Discogs from a New York seller asking only $17 with very reasonable shipping. Done (though I had to explain it to my exasperated wife.)
It arrived Tuesday, and I was able to listen to it a couple of times. Yes, it’s everything I hoped it would be. Of the twelve songs five are covers, including perfectly competent versions of “Taxman” (one of my favorite Beatles songs,) “Cherry, Cherry,” “96 Tears,” and a stirring “See See Rider.”
But the real treats are the seven Sean Bonniwell compositions that make the record unique. Though none of the other songs have the fire of “Talk, Talk,” all share that song’s sense of alienation and the pressure to conform to a changing society’s social norms. Of the original songs, the most interesting were “Masculine Intuition” and “The People in Me.,” though the others were fine.
Bonniwell’s vocals always kept The Music Machine listenable. When they threw in a touch of Mark Landon’s psychedelic guitar work so much the better. But instrumentally, the record is dominated by Doug Rhodes’ work on the organ. Taken as whole Turn On is a solid listen with one brilliant, fiery song.
Journey and the Rock Hall.
HBO telecast the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction from a few weeks ago. Produced by Playtone, Tom Hanks’ production company, I’m always amazed at what a great job they do. I’m also amazed at all the endeavors that man has his fingers in.
The inductees for 2017 included The Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, Yes, Tupac Shakur, Journey and Pearl Jam. Each of the inductees has a stunning introduction by an admiring musician or group of musicians, and the opportunity to perform. If you haven’t seen an induction and are a fan of rock music, you should, because they’re emotional and very fun. Because some bands are inducted as a specific line-up from years ago, and haven’t played together in years, there are some tricky and awkward moments as they go on stage together to receive their honors, but their place in the band is taken by another.
Of note for 2017 was Yes. Yes now tours as two separate groups. They were eligible some years ago for induction, and the band members are well into their 70’s. Outstanding bass player Chris Squire passed away in 2015, and the subtext that the Hall waited too long was expressed by guitarist Steve Howe. Yet they performed “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” magnificently with Rush bassist, and Yes fan Geddy Lee filling in for Squire.
Tupac’s award was even trickier, because he’s been gone a long time. But Snoop Dogg presented and was superb. As a non-rap person, I learned lots I didn’t know, but most importantly had the opportunity to appreciate Tupac’s work in ways I didn’t before.
However, the moment that turned my head most was when Journey was introduced. Like many, I’ve kind of pooh-poohed Journey all these years. Formulaic, light-weight, uninteresting-I’ve heard it all before. Hell, I’ve said it all before. But, on reflection, they were good, really good. Neal Schon is a wonderful guitarist. Steve Perry had great vocals.
If power ballads were endemic after Journey left the scene, well at least Perry, as the progenitor of the power ballad, was also the master. “Lights,” “Who’s Cryin’ Now,” “Open Arms,” “Faithfully” are all great songs. Not only that, but now they’re in the Rock Hall. So you know what that means–Journey records must now live in my collection. So I’ve put 1978’s Infinity, 1979‘s Evolution, and 1981’s Escape on my wantlist.
At least they’ll be cheap.