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Vinyl Valentines: 20 Ways to Play Your Heart Out on Feb. 14th and Beyond!

Posted by Kells, February 13, 2019 10:33pm | Post a Comment
 
What's better than a box of chocolates, a dozen long stem roses, and greeting card featuring an anthropomorphic phonograph declaring "for the record" that you're "in the groove, Valentine"? Records, baby, records! This Valentine's Day, whether you're looking for ways to clue-in your crush, let your lover know you love 'em, or simply blot out any and all the notions of the day, consider giving the gift of a vinyl valentine to your loved ones or, better yet, to yourself. Short on ideas on where to begin, and can't get your head past novelty heart-shaped singles or 2003's The Love Below ("Every day is the 14th!")? Dig these titles for a start, then follow your heart! And remember, if you can't find it in our web store, make a date of it and come in to see what calls to you and your honey from our selves IRL. Or give us a call—if we have it in stock, we can get it out to you, valentine, xoxo.


Eddie Holman - I Love You 

This is the record that first came to my mind when pondering potential vinyl valentines. Every song a love song, every bit of it sounding like it must have been an instant classic soul sensation when it arrived on the scene. From the swaying horn-laden arrangements tinged with groovy guitar filigree to Eddie "hit those notes" Holman's impressive vocal range grounded in gentlemanly sentiments, this is just the sort of record that lonely girls and starry-eyed teen dreamers the world 'round surely live for. With its timeless sound and lovesick delivery, it just might not get any better than this. Whether you're enjoying a night in with the one you love or kickin' it all on your lonesome this Valentine's Day, this'll do you. Turn the lights down low and spin, flip, repeat...



Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire de Melody Nelson

Cinematic and kinda dirty-sounding, this record lays down a slow-stroking, clothes-losing mooood almost as soon as it begins to simmer. Creeping in with sleazy bass notes, Gainsbourg's voice, low and secretive but with absolutely nothing to hide, speaks in French over the opening track describing a night drive in his vintage Rolls Royce, rhapsodizing it's "silver Venus on the radiator" at length until he nearly runs over a young natural redhead on her bike—the eponymous Melody (voiced by Jane Birkin). This dubious meet-cute kicks off a Lolita-inspired love affair/seduction concept chronicled in song, with Gainsbourg's poetic blurred lines intersecting iconically with composer Jean-Claude Vannier's sweeping choral and orchestral arrangements. Ooh la la!






Dolly Parton - Dolly: The Seeker – We Used To

Whenever in doubt, reach for Dolly. After all, she will always love you! While any number of Dolly's songs are capable of filling hearts with love, or wringing out the heartache as the case may be come Valentine's Day, this somewhat elusive 1975 collection of "Dolly's favorite love songs" she's written herself is worth searching for, and not just because it's partially titled The Seeker. Actually, the other song checked in the title is the track in my opinion because, not only is it a beaut of a bummer ballad, it also flaunts a melody that sounds almost exactly like Led Zeppelin's infamous "Stairway to Heaven" riff. While Dolly eventually cut a proper "Stairway" cover, and Robert Plant has since joked that the band wrote their 1971 epic for her, I hope them Zepp boys count themselves truly blessed by Dolly's loving embrace.
 



When in deeper in doubt and Dolly just won't do (not that I can imagine why), try the brothers Isley:
On Valentine's Day, or any damn day of the year, the Isley Brothers have got you covered (quite literally with the latter two suggestions here). Whether you go for their 1966 classic This Old Heart of Mine filled with many a love-themed oldies hit single, or their 1971 album Givin' It Back featuring covers of songs focused largely on love (like a ten-plus minute acoustic version of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and a bright n' groovy take on Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With"), or the ultimately optimized for Valentine's Day A-side of their 1983 slow-jammin' Between the Sheets, you really can't go wrong. It's all good!



Reiko Ike - You, Baby (Kokotsu no Sekai)

This 1971 album of burning torch songs from Japanese "Pink" film actress Reiko Ike is surely the most "adult" inclusion in this list. Ten seconds into the opening cut and the vibe is hot, the music is a steamy mix of lounge instrumentations rising and falling suggestively, and Ike's vocals, breathless and moaning, are nothing short of pornographic as she details with desperate sighs how severely she cannot help herself. By the time the horns and flute kick in she sounds like she's just about to climax, so, like, crank it up as loud as you want! Just about every song is soaked with copious cuíca timbres and layers of sexy vocals, from spoken word passages pocked with orgasmic grunts, to backing vocals do-do-doing a second melody beneath Ike singing about things like how wet everything is. This record pairs well with towels. 



Jackie Gleason Presents Music For Lovers Only

Fun fact: this little wonder, circa 1952, still holds the record for the longest stint on the Billboard Top Ten Charts, holding it down for 153 weeks! It also ushered in a whole new genre of "mood music"—instrumentals for "making whoopie" and such. Perhaps a more notable fun fact is that Jackie Gleason could not read or write music, and that all the original music included on this and all his other bestselling jazzy instrumental records were conceived as melodies in his head that were later transcribed into music? Hmm... Regardless of what he brought to the table, band, or orchestra, this record remains a charming and effective artifact of bygone romantic strategies, and Bobby Hackett's sublime trumpetry. 




Fabio - Fabio After Dark 

A rare gem of spoken word and smooth R&B grooves circa 1993, this prize bargain bin find features the one and only Fabio Lanzoni offering romantic advice (like sharing his "recipe for a perfect evening for two lovers") and singing(!) his own original slow jam "When Somebody Loves Somebody". Sure, you could just build your own playlist suggested by the other songs that flesh out this special blend (like Billy Ocean's "Suddenly", Kenny G's "Songbird" instrumental, and Barry White's "I Like You, You Like Me"), but then you wouldn't get the benefit of Fabio's encouragement where it counts. Keep your eyes peeled for this odd bauble when combing clearance bins and, if you're lucky, you too can revel in the potency of this obscurity while making love like Fabio! CD and tape only :(



Blondie - Heart of Glass 

Numero Group recently reissued this single as a six track exploration of the hit's history and genesis featuring distinct versions of the song and it's demos remastered from analogue tapes. Housed in a de rigeur 12" die-cut sleeve stylishly sporting a disco ball design, this is a chic alternative to the usual cherry red heart-shaped novelty singles freshly dusted for Valentine's Day sales. But what make it a vinyl valentine? Well: "Once I had a love and it was a gas/ Soon turned out had a heart of glass/ Seemed like the real thing only to find/ Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind. In between 'what I find is pleasing' and 'I'm feeling fine' Love is so confusing There's no peace of mind..."





Joe Tossini and Friends - Lady of Mine

I learned about this endearing slab of sincere musical expression when Jessica Pratt mentioned it's upcoming reissue in an IG story (p.s. she's got a crucial new record out that would make a fab vinyl valentine, and she's featured in a new What's In My Bag video if you're curious about what she's digging these days). Slated for a Valentine's 2019 release via Efficient Space, this 1989 self-made debut from Italian-American Joe Tossini is a charming lounge-synth oddity born of necessity when he took to songwriting as therapy to keep depression in check after weathering tragic life events. Recorded in an Atlantic City basement, the sparse drum machine and Casiotone arrangements provide ample space for Tossini (and friends) to make pure magic for the ages.


Palmer Rockey - Rockey's Style

Getting into Joe Tossini brought to mind another Italian-American outsider lounge lizard, Palmer Rockey, and the somewhat risky yet totally relevant vinyl valentine appeal of his "movie album" Rockey's Style. I say risky because Rockey's record has a darker vibe and overall stranger sound, but it too is mostly comprised of original and re-purposed love songs, or would-be love songs depending on your interpretation of curious tracks like the foreboding "Scarlet Warning 666", the quasi-exotica "Scarlet Moves". All "Scarlets" aside (yes, there are more), the mystery of this recording has been all but fully unraveled by Jonny Trunk with the Trunk records reissue a few years back, so get into these "feelings of love, yeah, feelings of love" babe. 



Sade - Love Deluxe

C'mon, it's Sade. What else do you need to know?

It's timeless, enduring, and so, so smooth.

Like the aural equivalent of a rejuvenating candle-lit bath or honey dissolving into tea. A long slow dance.

This is no ordinary love.

No ordinary love. 





Various Artists - Studio One Lovers

Soul Jazz reggae comps generally rule, and this bright pink collection of sweet, soulful reggae love songs is tops come Valentine's Day—it even kind of looks a little like a valentine. Featuring covers like The Mad Lads' take on Curtis Mayfield's "Ten To One" and Doreen Schaeffer's groovy version of Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone", as well as original tracks from heavy hitting reggae legends like Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, and Bob Marley and The Wailers, the charming harmonies and sultry melodies on parade here, from "Jamaica's finest label"—Studio One, is a veritable love fest of Lovers fit for a steamy night in. 




LovageNathaniel Merriweather Presents... Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By

A concept album that is part homage (the cover art is a riff on Serge Gainsbourg's second record), part hodgepodge genre satire (from spoken word/comedy and easy listening to lounge and library music), and all downtempo/trip hop experiment, Lovage is Dan the Automator, Mike Patton, and Jennifer Charles inviting you to taste the difference between your grandparent's dusty mood music collection and their sensual sound seduction à la 2001. Don't let mouldering mainstream reviews of joint this fool you; anyone criticizing these cheeky arrangements for being a collection of songs that are too similar given the levels of talent collaborating on the record should try making out to it. Stroking is the antidote...




Speaking of make out records...


The Cure
- Disintegration

Shout out to anyone who has ever put themselves through the loving trouble of making a mix tape for their crush back when the best way to convey how you truly felt inside was a two-sided sequence of self-selected love songs. The Cure has always been a reliable source for working through the awkward and precious teenage emotions of yore, and Disintegration in particular often pulled double duty as font for mix tape fodder and a practically perfect make out soundtrack for freaks and geeks of the X generation. The only other Gen Xer record that might rival Disintegration's make out sesh readiness is Portishead's 1994 debut Dummy, but don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! 




Grace Jones - Island Life

This compilation of Grace Jones hits spanning the first nine years of her career makes for a good gift anytime, even if the recipient already has a copy—it's just that essential and gift-able. What's more, it is valentine-versatile as well as it is suitable for both friends and lovers, even if the receiver has recently been unlucky in love or has zero clue as to how you really feel about them. With it's upbeat, disco rhythms and sizzling island vibes tempered by Jones' chic savoir faire, the tracks collected here are as ageless as Jones herself seems to be, and her infectiously energetic versions of songs like Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug" and Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" further stoke the love vibe terrifically whether your heart is in it or over it.






Pizzicato Five - [any record you can get your hands on]

I'm not recommending any specific title because I feel any of their records would generally make for a good valentine. Why? All their songs are about romance (from love at first sight to lost love), dating (from getting ready to go out to hoping your date shows up), self-love (from retail therapy to nightclubbing), and...Tokyo (even those tracks play like love songs to the the city). Over the course of about 20 years, peaking in the 1990s, Pizzicato Five have built a vast discography of cute, catchy pop tunes done up in a dizzying array of lounge-y mid-century samples framed by runway-ready Euro House grooves—who cares if all the lyrics are in Japanese? Get hip! Here's an uplifting song about a break-up titled "Triste" (that's French for "sad"). 



Ralfi Pagan - With Love

"You know how much I love you, don't you mami..."

Gotta wrap up this post with another sure thing, something as good as the record that kicked it off, a full album of sweet 'n slow panty-droppin' lowrider serenades from another "hit those notes"-calibre  crooner, Ralfi Pagan. Like Eddie Holman's I Love You, Pagan's 1971 album With Love gives love back to front, through and through. Beginning with a sensual cover of Bread's "Make It With You" followed by track after track of sultry Latin soul breaking out with a groovy wild hair here only to settle back into another sensitive love theme there, suggesting quite naturally this record is perhaps best explored via slow dance in good company.

Happy Valentine's, mis amores! 

Ten More Recommended Picks for Record Store Day 2017 (for folks who don't know what to get)!

Posted by Kells, April 18, 2017 09:11pm | Post a Comment
Ever felt lost at Amoeba or so overwhelmed by the selections that you forget what you're looking for? Or, worse yet, you don't even know what to get?
Generally speaking, it can be tough to stay focused at Amoeba, and on Record Store Day, what with the increased scope of releases both in terms of limited RSD offerings and other freshly stocked new arrivals, not to mention the scope of the crowd, the struggle can be all too real. Each year come Record Store Day we do our very best to provide everyone with personal copies of our comprehensive RSD product list as well as directions to where these items are stocked in the store, and we always try to accommodate all individual queries, quandaries, and quests with safety and fairness. Sometimes this is as simple as recommending something to someone who doesn't know what they want, but knows they definitely want something because it's what? Record Store Day! With that in mind, I've created a list of RSD product picks especially for those folks who don't know what they want, but surely want something.

For more Record Store Day recommendations, please see the links at the bottom of this post. Happy hunting everyone thank you for continued support!


Johnny Cash - The Johnny Cash Children's Album (LP)

Sounding sometimes like Johnny Cash doing his best impression of Jerry Reed doing a Burl Ives record, you just can't go wrong with this lighthearted ramble into Cash country whether you're buying it for yourself or as a gift—it's good, it's weird, and it's, you know, for kids! Originally released in 1975, this sweet li'l collection features songs like "Nasty Dan" (penned by Sesame Street writer Jeff Moss—do look up Cash's Sesame Street performance of this song to an unusually enthusiastic Oscar the Grouch who refers to The Man in Black as "Johnny Trash/my kinda guy") and “I Got a Boy (and His Name is John)” written about Cash’s only son, John, and performed as a tongue-in-cheek duet with his wife, June Carter Cash. Worth it for "The Dinosaur Song" alone.



Def Leppard - The Def Leppard E.P. (45 RPM 12")

Pour some sugar on yourself all you want, but holy smokes is this very first Def Lepp effort an eon away from the bankable high-gloss of their MTV-friendly Pyromania and Hysteria. Which is to say that, despite it sounding like an obviously homespun self-released recording, this debut EP effing rocks, hard and rough! Originally sold at Def Leppard's first shows in 1976 (printed, glued, and assembled by singer Joe Elliott and his mother—aww), this reissue of a riff-laden NWOBHM rarity is a faith-restoring record of the bad as hopeful young lads treading early currents of heavy metal, all beacons lit, all engines revving and ready to cruise 'n bruise 'n have some fun. No disrespect to "Rock of Ages", but this here is real rock for the ages.



Noise Addict - 10,000 Kids With Guitars (2LP)

Chicago-based label Numero Group never pushes crap on Record Store Day so even if you aren't familiar with the totally 90s sounds teenage Aussie alt-rockers Noise Addict, this is definitely a record worth sniffing out, especially as the other two Numero RSD exclusives (Southwest Side Story Vol. 19 and the White Zombie Gods on Voodoo Moon 7”) might disappear fast. With a record cover that doubles as working chalk board, this comp spans the band's charmed career, including their darling acoustic ode to Lemonheads' frontman Evan Dando, "I Wish I Was Him", their Thurston Moore produced demo, and choice cuts from their Young & Jaded EP and Meet the Real You LP reissued during the mid-90s on the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label. File under: cuute



The Cure - Greatest Hits Acoustic (2LP Picture Disc)

This was included in a previous Amoeblog post of RSD 2017 recommendations, but the part of me that still lives in 2001 (bless!) feels compelled to also include it here/push it again because, even if you're only remotely fond of The Cure, this record is a must have (even though it's a picture disc). Back in 2001, The Cure released one of those obligatory contract-fulfilling greatest hits compilations filled with kinda predictable tracks spanning their then 25-year history plus two new songs that were just kinda okay. However, wanting to provide something different/new for their fans, they re-recorded acoustic versions of their greatest hits and bundled it with first pressings of the Greatest Hits CD. Finally, a vinyl version of that splendid bonus disc! So good.



Dolly Parton - Puppy Love (7")

If you've ever wondered what simpler times sounded like for Dolly Parton, ponder no longer for this reissue of one of her earliest recordings (originally released in 1959—she was thirteen!) will enlighten you. Complete with packaging that is "as true to the original as we could make it", the upbeat A-side and comparatively tamer “Girl Left Alone" on the flip, a track written by Parton, her Aunt Dorothy Jo Owens, and her Uncle Bill Owens (who sound as if they may be backing up her vocals on the recording), makes this record interesting and downright adorable as it is. However, I can't help but wonder how these songs might sound slowed down to 33rpm.



Moondog
- Moondog (LP)

What is it, Jazz? Classical? Some kinda symphonic soundtrack? With spoken word? Yes, and maybe no, but surely there is no mistaking that Moondog's seminal 1969 self-titled album is one of those rare and thrilling cosmic oddities that must to be heard to be believed. If you haven't heard it, you probably don't own it, and that means that Amoeba, and the internet, has failed you. But no worries, Moondog's Moondog is getting a fresh pressing on white wax for Record Store Day this year (its first pressing in over a decade) making it a prime item to fill that Moondog-shaped void in your vinyl collection. Folks may be too hasty to declare this or that to be "everything" these days, but this record is pretty much it.




Various Artists - Sharon Signs To Cherry Red (LP)

"Darling, it's Cherry Red Records on the phone. They want you to go to London and record some songs while you're still feeling tortured and angst-ridden..." It could be argued that these two lines, spoken during a lull in the lead-off title track, are a neat summary of this compilation's many parts, but that would dismiss the multitude of reasons why this mix is exciting. Culled from a 2CD compilation of the same name showcasing "Independent Women 1979-1985" these creative and insightful female-led post-punk delights offer  varying glimpses into was happening outside the comparatively cheesy commercial pop of the time. That's not to say this mix is completely without its cheese, but it is guilt-free. 




Allen Toussaint
- The Allen Toussaint Collection (2LP)

This is the first ever vinyl release of a 1991 CD compilation of songs taken from the legendary New Orleans composer/piano guru's first four studio albums (From a Whisper to a Scream, Life, Love and Faith, Southern Nights, and Motion). I'm including this here because the first time Toussaint's music really reached me is when someone long ago played that CD comp at work and—blam!—I was completely rapt in that way that only music, and okay maybe also cute animals and inspirational landscapes, can instantly seize one's soul. Toussiant's compositions and performances themselves are like little landscapes of Soul, R&B, and Funk that maintain a distinctly New Orleansian tint, magical music that is as grounding as it is transportive.



Mungo Jerry
- In The Summertime (7")

This year's list of RSD exclusives is not short on 7-inch reissues of down 'n dirty ditties and other cruddy psychedelic garage door openers, but I predict that this one won't be flying off the shelves as fast as the others thus making it a prime target for late afternoon shoppers browsing the leftovers. I could be wrong though! Anyway, Summer is coming for half the planet soon (heck, in some places it feels like Spring barely got a day in) and "In The Summertime" is a pretty good song to have tucked in your arsenal of party 45s if you don't already have it. However, the B-side here, "Baby Jump", is where the real action's at, even if it boogies like it's wallowing in how bloozy-gross it is. Either way you play it, you got two bonafide horndog hits on your hands!



Colleen
- The Golden Morning Breaks (LP)
 
In an effort to end this list with the suggestion of a purely enchanting and ethereally beautiful album, this reissue of Colleen's long out of print and highly sought after second LP, originally released in 2005, is probably not an item you should sleep on if you're serious about getting your paws on it. But, again, I could be wrong! Pressed on gold vinyl (to further treasurise its tangibility?), The Golden Morning Breaks' melange of live instrumentation and experimental electronic interference, mixing courtly strings and music box chimes with atmospheric sweeps and intrusive bloops, marks a departure from sample-dependent sound of Colleen's debut effort. Altogether now a strangely nostalgic sound, but 2005 was good like that.

Looking for more Record Store Day recommendations? Check out this other list of RSD highlights, our RSD soundtrack picks, RSD Star Wars exclusives, Billyjam's overview of the Get On Down label's RSD exclusives, and come see about us this Saturday as we celebrate record Store Day at all three Amoeba locations! Best of luck to everyone and, again, thank you for continued support of local record stores everywhere!
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New "What's in My Bag?" Episode with M. Ward

Posted by Amoebite, July 5, 2016 06:46pm | Post a Comment

M. Ward Ameoba Music What's In My Bag?

Portland-based singer-songwriter M. Ward recently performed at Amoeba Hollywood and took a moment to do some record shopping for our "What's In My Bag?" series. California fans have another chance to see him in concert July 8th at the UC Theatre Taube Music Family Hall in Berkeley, July 10th at the Hollywood Bowl playing with Brian Wilson, and July 12 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach.

M. Ward More Rain Amoeba MusicM. Ward performs under his own name and is half of the duo She & Him. He began his musical career in 1999 with the release of his debut, Duet for Guitars #2. For his third album, 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent, he signed with Merge Records, kicking off a long-running partnership between the artist and the label. He followed this release with Transistor Radio and 2006's Post War, which featured appearances from Neko Case, Jim James, and Howe Gelb. Ward's next LP, Hold Time, was similarly star-filled, with performances from Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Lucinda Williams, Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa), and his partner in She & Him, Zooey Deschanel.

Continue reading...

Prolific Poet/Songwriter Rod McKeun Leaves Behind Large Body Of Work

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2015 07:34am | Post a Comment

In honor of Oakland, CA born American poet/spoken word artist/songwriter Rod McKuen, who died yesterday at age 81 following weeks of been treated for pneumonia, I go digging at Amoeba Music for a sampling of the world's best selling poet's body of work.  Ever prolific, especially from the late sixties up until the beginning of the 80's when he took an extended sabbatical, McKuen was once a ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable part of American popular culture.

As such the distinctively throaty sounding artist released an incredible number of albums (over 200 LPs of which many are still available at Amoeba - mostly in original vinyl format), wrote hundreds upon hundreds of poems, published dozens of books that would sell over sixty million copies (hence why he was the best selling poet ever), and a slew of songs that would be covered/interpreted by such high profile stars as Dolly Parton (they even collaborated in a music and poetry duo on the song "Feelings"), and Frank Sinatra ("Night," "If You Go Away" which was written with the Belgian composer Jacques Brel). In fact Ole Blue Eyes, who was a major fan of his work, even commissioned McKuen to pen content for A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen.

Continue reading...

Merry Christmas, Christmas Realness!

Posted by Kells, December 25, 2014 12:25pm | Post a Comment
Merry Christmas everyone! There's nothing like waking up on Christmas morning and getting all dolled up for the ultimate day of zenith-level holiday season revels! Here are a few of my favorite Christmas looks from some of my all time favorite famous people. 

Joan Rivers
' oversize sweater worn for the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (also starring Grace Jones, k.d. lang and Cher) is everything! Though our one and only Joan exited life's temporal stage this year, her spirit continues to entertain all us Earthbound couch potatoes. Check out those shoulder pads! It's like she's smuggling stollen in there!

Sometimes I think the Christmas Realness category as we know it was invented by, and for, Dolly Parton. With numerous Christmas specials, collaborations, albums and look after look of very merry material ensembles built on holiday cheer, Dolly has embodied the reason for the season time and time again throughout her career, her flirtationship with Mr. Kenny Rogers offering some of the best looks.

Christmas chalet realness...



Santa's workshop realness...




Christmas at the food court in the mall realness...


Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer realness...


Checking your sass in her Smokey Mountain Christmas special realness...

Dolly is the best, and I feel RuPaul would agree, though she has her very own Christmas realness to serve...
A fierce and fabulous holiday to all, and to all a very merry Rupaul's Christmas Ball -- if you can find it. That's the name of her hella rare 1993 holiday special starring Boy George, La Toya Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Nirvana, Elton John and many others. Be sure to check out Ms. Ru's holiday music too, henny. 
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