Amoeblog

(In which we consider The Ravens.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 2, 2011 01:37pm | Post a Comment

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Last Saturday marked the end of my nearly eight years of employment at Amoeba Music Hollywood.

Okay – right away I can hear your breathing start to quicken and your heart-rate speed, so let me say right off that I will still be contributing to the Amoeblog. I struck a deal with management that, in exchange for writing my thoroughly researched and factually accurate lies and nonsense as I have been, I will be permitted access to the Amoeba Music break-room for all the free coffee I can drink from the hours of 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm, every Tuesday. Jealous?!?

A lot of people have been asking me what I’ll be doing now that I’ll no longer be working retail. My answer is simple.

Anyway, I want to share some of the sounds that have been weakening my knees for a while now; specifically, harmonizing vocal groups. (To be clear, I’m going to focus on more “popular vocal” groups of yesteryear – doo wop delights like The Flamingos and modern… err… marvels such as Color Me Badd will not be included.)

To start, let’s listen to one of my favorite harmonizing vocal groups of all time, The Ravens.

The Ravens
The Ravens
(...well, actually, it's just a picture of them on your computer)

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(In which we celebrate the birth of Tiny Tim.)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 13, 2011 09:05am | Post a Comment
tiny tim

This week would have seen the birthday of beloved (and truly alternative) musician Tiny Tim, who passed away in 1996 from an acute case of death.

He matters to me because I cannot think of him without feeling a lovely little warmth in my normally cold, cold heart.

Recently, the (coincidentally-named) Amoebite posted a swell interview regarding Tiny Tim, but I wanted to tackle this subject, too – particularly because I am less burdened with fact and honesty and can therefore flesh out what may be as-yet-unknown facets of the artist’s life and career.

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Tiny Tim, before puberty ruined everything

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Khaury on April 12, 1932, in a town just south of Duchess County called New York City (not to be confused with the song "New York City" by Hanoi Rocks). Many historical records list his parents as being people, though this is speculation, and any actual witnesses have long since not been asked.

Young Herbert was given the nickname “Tiny Tim” by locals in his neighborhood because of his habit of walking around on crutches, munching Christmas puddings and asking God to "bless them, every one." (Other nicknames were bestowed as well, such as “that cripple kid who smells like stew” or “faggot,” but none of these stuck.)

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Cruise to Mexico: Part 7

Posted by Job O Brother, December 6, 2010 11:37am | Post a Comment
mexico

Day 5 (Part 2)

Thursday. September 16, 2010

PUERTO VALLARTA



As the boyfriend, his father, Fred, the sweltering heat and I walked home along the quaint, plank-board sidewalks along the coast of Puerto Vallarta, I was all the time keeping a look-out for a keen thank you gift for Smithy, who’s house-sitting for us had caused her such difficulty after the devious plotting of the demon spawn we call “our kitties.”

You’d think that a tourist trap like Puerto Vallarta would be ideal shopping, but I couldn’t imagine Smithy exactly swooning over a miniature beaded palm tree statue or a Hard Rock Café tank-top.

Then, at last, I saw just the sort of boutique that catered to the refined taste of my dear,lady friend: a tequila specialty shop. Hypnotized by the variety of tans, camels, and caramel colors that shone through the many-angled bottles, I floated in and got real thirsty. The vendor – who’s name I never got, so I’ll call Graggenhauserfrauschembaur – practically materialized from out of my shadow, eager to exchange some of his wares for the far-less delicious bills I kept in my wallet.

“This,” I thought to myself, “Is gonna be a great relationship.”

It was. At Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s insistence we sat at a tiny portable bar and were lined up shots after shots of tequila tasters. It was like being a college freshman girl at her first date rape. Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s salesmanship was bar-none; how brilliant to get your customers drunk! And the tequila was, truly, lekker. My personal favorites were a coconut-crème tequila and a tamarind liqueur that made me wanna be an alcoholic again for the first time. I purchased some booze for Smithy, and some for myself. I bid Graggenhauserfrauschembaur a bittersweet farewell, and he scolded the boyfriend and I for coming from Los Angeles and not being able to speak Spanish.

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Privilege

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2008 11:06pm | Post a Comment


I’ve often said coincidence does not exist, but I'll save that diatribe for another time. However, a couple of days ago, and for the first time, not one but two Paul Jones 45’s -- he’s the former lead singer for the 1960’s British invasion band Manfred Mann -- wandered into Amoeba from separate collections. Both of these singles are from the same soundtrack, Privilege, a film released in 1967 starring Paul Jones, who was making his big screen acting debut. Now, two days later, I find out that for the first time ever, Privilege will be released on DVD today. Coincidence or plot? I just don't know. Well, anyway...

The film was directed by Peter Watkins, whose highly controversial anti-nuclear drama The War Game won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (and was soon to be banned in Great Britain). Watkins once again doesn’t stray far from controversy in Privilege. Taking place in a totalitarian English State of the near future, specifically 1970, the dark comic vision of Privilege criticizes the media and its media manipulation, corporate culture and its corporate manipulation. It portrays a time where most everything seems to bounce off the absurd and neurotic teen pop-dom dominating the age and the happily tranquilized population is content with fluffy distractions. The main character, Steven Shorter, played by Paul Jones, is a rock god. His popularity and career have been meticulously engineered by a vast music corporation, reaching dizzying Beatlesque heights. But all this begins to crack when an artist, played by the original supermodel Jean Shrimpton, is hired to paint Steven Shorter’s portrait, and finds an unstable, empty shell of a man, lost in a lonely world, a puppet trapped by the demands of a music business out of control, and a simple singer victimized by all the excess, process, and success. Of course, the artist tries to rescue and prop up Steven Shorter before he becomes yet another statistic in the eternally doomed scenario of recyclable pop stars. But as can only happen in real life and/or rock melodramas, fortunes take a Machiavellian twist when rebellion is only a pop song away. Now that’s entertainment!

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Passing Strange

Posted by Whitmore, July 11, 2008 10:34am | Post a Comment


First the bad news: Passing Strange, the critically acclaimed Broadway Show about a young musician’s journey through sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, will close on July 20th in New York at the Belasco Theater. But the good news is that director Spike Lee plans on making a film version of the musical.

Written by native Angeleno and local musician Stew --who has played in such bands as Gutbucket, The Lullabies and most notably The Negro Problem-- and longtime musical collaborator Heidi Rodewald, formerly of Wednesday Week and also TNP, Passing Strange was originally work-shopped at the Sundance Institute in Utah and the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley before becoming an off-Broadway sensation last year. Passing Strange opened in February on Broadway to rave reviews and received seven Tony Award nominations, winning the prize for Best Book for its co-creator and star, Stew.

Overall, the musical will have played 165 performances and 20 previews by the time it closes at the Belasco Theater. Live stage footage will be shot on July 19 at both the matinee and evening performances, so all you west-coasters still have time to buy a plane ticket and reserve a couple of seats.


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