8-track Tape Cartridge Nostalgia at Amoeba with NPR/KCRW'S Tom Schnabel

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 4, 2012 06:57pm | Post a Comment

 "....Yet Another Reason Why  amoeba Rules."

Our pal Tom Schnabel, NPR and KCRW-FM icon and music wizard, posted a  cool remembrance of his day with 8 track cartridges. Remember those? They were cartridges with 1/4-inch tape inside that was divided up into 4 stereo programs (8 tracks) and were looped to play continuously inside of a small plastic...well, cartridge. I had one in my Chevy after the 4-track craze and before the cassette boom. I loved it when a song would fade out mid-chorus and start up again on the next track!
Ahhh...where's my dictaphone?
Check out his post here!! And, Tom's website is right here!!

Divine Discs of the Electronic Continuum

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 13, 2012 02:28pm | Post a Comment

I am a searcher, never quite satisfied with music and sounds that already exist. There are many like myself out there. I am consistently persuing electronics-based records like these herein that testify to the pioneering spirit of those musicians, composers and scientists in search of the newest “musical “sounds available via technology of all levels of sophistication. Throughout history the primitive object or idea will lead the way to a monumentally sophisticated one, and visa-versa, as long as one is paying attention. Take thefuzzbox for example. That thing lead a revolution of little boxes that one plugs one’s instrument into to get big, wild (and conversely subtle) effects on said instrument ranging from fuzzy distortion to multiple octave voices to…God knows what now, huge racks of processing gear for a single riff.  At the same time in another part of the culture, guys and gals in long white lab coats were fiddling with room-sized computers to get a single tone that was not produced by a musical instrument, but alas, hallehlujah, a machine did it! And other folks were stringing audio tape across rooms and cutting inches of tape recordings to compose new recordings (Musique Concrete) to make other recordings to manipulate and, well, you get it.

The sense of experimentation and the ability to manifest those ideas has never left the true creative artist. There are sonic “searchers” among us that will never be satisfied with what already exists in the known sound worlds, and it is this motivation that fuels records like these. The daring ones, without concern of peer’s criticisms or naysayer’s pessimism, have forged ahead with whatever tools available to take these ideas and run with…no, FLY with them to the edges of reality.

Fortunately, labels like Creel Pone, EM, Wergo, DGG, edition RZ, Sub Rosa and many others have lovingly reissued some of these treasured  discs and simultaneously introduced new audiences to these sounds and accompanying legend. These LPs below are all original issues that Amoeba has miraculously acquired over the past 6 months and I present these as a sort of holy offering by clicking these titles and being taken to for purchasing. Truly, these are sacred documents.

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A King's Ransom From Queens

Posted by Rick Frystak, July 9, 2012 03:04pm | Post a Comment
Virtuous vinyl votaries rejoice! Amoeba Music has just acquired a very choice collection of records from the Queens, NY area to resell in our Hollywood store and on, a collection that is quite exhilarating to a record guy like myself, and very different from collections I've seen on the West coast or any coast. Beginning on July 21 at 10:30am, Amoeba will offer the first of these records for sale to the public at the Hollywood store, and right now some of them are online at

Eddie, the previous owner of the records, was a true record collector, but not in the sense of the must-own or traditional market-driven collectible pieces and sought-after titles. Instead he was a curator of alluring oddities, deviating from the mainstream and submersing himself in what he himself liked to listen to, always with the highest of ideals, a paradigm of good taste. He was able to keep his records in a condition that was exactly as he had bought them, and mantained the collection as if they were never played. Many of the records happen to be still sealed, as new!

Folks here in California will be awed by the breadth of the material and its integrity, consisting of mostly non-rock 'n roll genres, not-oft traded on this massive scale. Vocals, soundtracks, thousands of 20th-century classical and jazz titles, latin music and all locales of international artists are represented here, as well as folk, blues and spoken word. Rarely seen lounge sounds and easy listening cheesecake covers, great Amercan songwriters sitting right beside obscure new age and electronic music. Over 30,000 discs of very small and large labels, private pressings, boutique pressings and artist editions await inspection by Amoeba loyalists on the day these go on sale. As these discs were collected and maintained in the New York area, West Coast LP collectors will delight in perusing these platters just-in to Hollywood from 2,800 miles away!

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This Moment's Glory With ECM Records

Posted by Rick Frystak, March 4, 2012 05:56pm | Post a Comment
ECM Records has always been one of my favorite labels, peerlessly rich in variety and deeply honest with it's mission and intent of quality. I remember my first ECM LP was an unplayed white-label promo copy of Terje Rypdal's What Comes After, which really set me up to fall in love and get on board with the vision of Manfred Eicher, the label's owner and director. The sound on that record, with it's reverberant, creamy echo and crystal clear, dissonant music and the impression it made on me shall never be forgotten (and I can revisit it at will). Was this Jazz music? Rock? Classical? I didn't care at all to label it, only to consume as much as possible of this new sound, and start down the path to discovery of each title I could find in my town and towns around Los Angeles.

Of course, I didn't love everything that the label released, but I always listened with very open ears. Just the cover art direction alone still fascinates me and is the subject of multiple design books. Manfred has also become the preeminant Classical music producer since I've been a listener, not an easy coup, resulting in a perfect fit with his sound and the composer's vision. It still applies that ECM is a creative energy second to none with no cliches, no boundries, and no borders as to what can be done within it's domain, Year after year, which totals over 40 now, the ECM label has been there for me, re-igniting my passion for music, and with a quality like no other.

Here, fellow travellers, are some of my favorties of this moment's newest CD releases form this wonderful treasure. Click on the titles to see if they are available for purchase at

And what's your favorite ECM release?


Boris Yoffe
Song of Songs
ECM 2174

Mr. Yoffe writes impressive volumes of music and this record unveils his lovely genius in the form of exquisitely floating, pensive and dissonant sound for string quartet and 4 voices. Integrating many short pieces assembled to form substantial moods and direction, Yoffe is, to my ears, a major “new” composer of interest. Hovering harmonic heaven in an audioworld somewhere stylistically between Takemitsu and Gesualdo.

Enrico Rava Quintet

ECM 2218

Italian trumpeter Rava triumphs once again with this set of gorgeous, bubbling Euro-jazz spirit. Haunting yet accessible. Nostalgic yet cutting-edge melodic storytelling with jabbing, sensuous improvisation. Pianist Giovanni Guidi astounds with his sensitive, harmonic chops. Unique rhythm-section affects equal innovations of the very memorable sort. Mr. Rava never ceases to impress as he continues to write his own legend.  5 stars.

 Gurdjieff Folk Intruments Ensemble
Music of Georges I.Gurdgieff
ECM 2236
Fascinating and sonically splendid collection of late 19th century spiritual music performed by this wonderful 15-member group.  Ethnic potpourri ascending to heights imagined by the composer, with ouds, duduks, santur, tar, saz etc. The flowing continuity of all this with the simplicity of Gurdieff’s composition is entrancing.  Pass the kif.

 Stefano Battlaglia Trio
The River of Anyder

ECM 2011

Stefano delivers a modal style, like a mini-raga, on his piano as this trio pushes and pulls around him to create a glorious coming-together of emotions. The nuance and attention to each sound give this music a unique, spellbinding style. Interplay between the trio fuses the sound into one entity. 5-star sound.

 Ricardo Villalobos/Max Loderbauer
ECM 2-CD 2011/12

An amazing record. The guys took titles in the ECM catalog, and cut them up and sliced and diced them into new pieces of their own with only said ECM catalog as their sound sources. Small dramas play out with mystery and intelligence. What's that sound? And that? One of the best ambient/concrete/ electronica records I've ever laid ears on. The bar has been reset.

 Keith Jarrett
ECM 2-CD 2198/99

Keith's in love, and he calls his sigificant other each night before he steps on stage. It shows, as this is one of his best solo piano records he's ever played. ECM rushed it out so we could dig it and I do very, very much. Supreme chops, style, world wisdom, jass knowledge, all in a dramatic improvisation. Breathtaking. Go here.

Private Pressings Go Public

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 31, 2012 02:05pm | Post a Comment
Anyone who wants to can make an LP record! Yes, anybody, and it’s always been like that. Why can’t the world hear your creativity? Break out of those bedroom studios and living rooms and lounges and let the people know of your greatness! Why work all your life on your axe and never be heard by the masses? Who needs to wait for a major label to sign you to a rip-off contact? Call ACME Records and they’ll make a short-run pressing for you if you have the dough.  

Vanity pressings and small labels have always floated just under the surface of the platters you’d see in Billboard. My friends made some back in those days. Faces filled of hope, fame and just plain good-old personal righteousness. Words like “Real People”, “Outsider”, “Loner Folk”, “Xain Psych”, and “Steakhouse pressing” are just some of the many tags tossed about now about this history. And they’re filled with samples galore if you dig that sort of thing. Who doesn’t need a 5-second turnaround out of a live version of “Raindrops Are Fallin’ On My Head”?

These are not the Holy-Grail garage records. These aren’t the $1000 regional soul records. Just “real people" doing hard work and craft, and they're all available on Amoeba’s site to the first-come! Just click the title and see if they’re still there.  

Steve Jolliffe

Journeys Out Of The Body
Nada Pulse Records U.K. 1983

The label’s logo is “Music For The Interior Life”.  Song titles like “Second Reality” and “Middle Dream State” describe the saga of this issue, co-produced by THE Jade Warrior. Calm but serious spatial, meditative, melodic improvising, usually in one key, with sitar effects, field recordings and electronic twitters. Steve very creatively plays a cache of instruments including the flutes, soprano sax, piano, synthesizer and samplers, and does a cosmic chanting style to further deepen the mystery of the lovely moods. Additional guitar and guitar synth players bubble above and below the “action” on this trippy droning jewel. The LP comes with a one-sheet insert describing Steve’s out-of-body and other-reality experiences. Steve’s still going strong as his web site reveals.

Original Soundtrack

Love Minus One
Margabi Music 1971

“Romantic” drama about an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent illegal Mexican abortion (uh…the “Minus One”part) between an innocent assault victim and a divorced man who hates the ex who’s taken him to the cleaners. This soundtrack composed by Denny Vaughn combines all the “edginess” of an Emmanuelle score,  with the compositional chops of a Franz Liszt ….lots of sweet, heartfelt strings.  They said, “Hey!  We ‘got a soundtrack record here!”.  A couple of groovers with harpsichord and electric bass later, some Paul Williams influence and an overall vibe of a late-afternoon ABC movie, and you know what I’m talking about. Very 1971. I hope there was a happy ending.

Ford & Angel

You Can’t Have Everything!
Montagne Records 1977

Featuring the twin-trumpet and vocals (but…gee…they forgot to credit the vocals on the sleeve) onslaught of Andy Angel and Frankie Ford (definitely not “Sea Cruise” F.F.), this schmear of cocktail lounge jazz ‘n pop lays it on heavy. With a tight mix by an un-credited engineer (who probably didn’t insist his name be on it), these cats can really sing and play and they hit all the heavies, like “Gonna Fly Now”, a heavy instro of “Cameleon” and “Feelings” along with seven other belters. Palm Springs watering holes don’t book acts of this caliber, so you have this LP to savor the vibe in your own home for a lifetime. Oh, and it’s signed!

Buddy Fry
Does It His Way
Mark Custom Records 1970

Hands down the swingin’est and grooviest steakhouse private press of its ilk.  Fry squawks his way through all the greats like “Who Am I”, “Dock Of The Bay”, ”My Way”, quite possibly the definitive version of “Both Sides Now”, and other icons of bottle boutiques around the globe.  Ably backed by some nice organ, drums, guitar and piano from his band called The Individuals, Buddy kills it on this live date from Speelmon’s Steakhouse in Iowa (pronounced SHPEEL-mon’s) with his mobile intonation, Irish-wake vibrato and deft knowledge of the lyrical spirit unto which these tomes have been resurrected. There’s even a drum break with clapping on “Ob-La-Di” egged on by Buddy. Nick The Lounge Singer worships at the feet of Buddy Fry, and the cover says it all: “No one else sings like Buddy Fry”.  I consider it an honor that half of my surname is “Fry”. Sealed copy!

Herb Pilhofer


Sound 80 Digital 1979

Here’s my digital offering for this session…my old keyboard player’s teacher, Herb Pilhofer.  Abstract expressionist cover gatefolds open into a tight-as-a-crab’s-ass jazz funk session for the Aja set. Brassy, reedy charts (Dick Oatts) and strings support the Minimoog groovestate and Gadd-ish compressed snare of the quite chipper-looking Pilhofer’s sound, with always-hip first-call sessionist soloing and all the chops.  Don’t forget that these hip jazz cats hearts, and they’re a couple soul-jerking ballads here with Herb tickling the Bosendorfer 88’s and that impressive string writing, but it’s mostly plugged in avocado funk not from L.A., but from a Minneapolis Label, pre-Rykodisc 3M 32 track digital studio with wood walls and stuff. Clean (it’s digital) and warm (it’s still digital) recording that makes the instruments right in your face. Wait, is that a phased panflute? Who knows. Who cares! Hell, I want this one for myself!
“If I weren’t a musician, I’d be a painter, a photographer, an architect...ideally all of them”.-Herb Pilhofer

Bob Chance

It’s Broken

Morrhythm Records 1980

Bubbly synthesizers and chunky guitar color the hobbling disco beat Bob’s story of “The Van Man”, a hip dude with a tricked out van that preys on cute girls. “...lookout!” Then he warbles about girls making fun of him every time he turns around. Or get into the groove of “It’s Broken”,  a 9-and-a- half minute  dance track that I’m sure had the studio rocking, with it’s floating Arp Solina, mis-mixed drums and tenuous bass line. Then, Bob’s waaay ahead of the World Beat crowd with the taped-juingle-sounds erotic funk minor chord freakfest stoned on Shirley Temples. Soft psych syrup shapes the uber- special seriousness in Bob’s super Masonic Lodge date-night boogie extravaganza. Privately pressed to sell off the keyboard stand. A sought-after winner all around!
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