Tag Archives: The Vinyl Review

The Vinyl Review: ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’

One of the 45s I recently picked up at a used record shop included a unique stamp from the past on it.

I found a copy of a single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — my first piece of vinyl by that band. The hit is “Don’t Come Around Here No More” from the album “Southern Accents.”

It was originally sold at Ames for $1.43. After more than a decade, its value depreciated by about 43 cents.

The Ames price tag is relatively unharmed on the otherwise roughed-up jacket. It looks like someone set their drink on it at one point during the last decade.

The music is unharmed, and that’s what really matters most. I’ve never heard of the B-side track, “Trailers.” It’s the standard Petty song.

The journey for this piece of plastic — which included a stop on an Ames shelf — is, for the time being, complete.

(Here’s another forgotten retailer from the region: Hills, which at one time was where the toys were.)


The Vinyl Review: Thanksgiving tunes?


I tried to find an album in my record collection for this week that has something to do with Thanksgiving. 

I came up empty. 

As the jack-o’-lanterns were quickly replaced with Christmas decorations, the passing over of one of America’s staple holidays is nearly complete. More people are marking Nov. 24 on their calendars for shopping deals rather than for thoughtful reflection. The marketers have bridged the gap between candy sales and gift deals.
That’s not to say that the holiday is completely forgotten. Most homes will have a warm kitchen as the fixings are being prepared. Yes, it is still a bad time to be a turkey. 

But Thanksgiving has always seemed to live in the shadow of the New Year. Giving thanks for what has been is seldom as appealing as looking with hopeful eyes to what may come. 

There are no ballads about Thanksgiving in my vinyl stash. Bing Crosby never crooned about it — as far as I know — though I found reference to a Crosby/Carol Richards album about the holiday online. 

Maybe by next year I will find it for review. 

(If you, too, come up empty, here’s a song that will work for Thanksgiving: “Count Your Blessings” by Bing Crosby.)


The Vinyl Review: The Kinks


Many of you probably remember when the Kinks were making new music. 

I don’t. I wasn’t born until decades later. 

But I remember riding in vehicles when I was younger with friends and relatives who are my parents age, noticing that they would turn up the oldies station on the radio when “You Really Got Me” or “All Day and All of the Night” was played. 

The Kinks are one of those bands from the 1960s that had a few hits that will seemingly endure in popular culture forever. They are certainly not on the same level as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, but they have achieved what many bands fail to accomplish — immortality. 

The British band from the 1960s is active in the digital age. They have a website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, the latter of which seems to be a prerequisite for access to today’s popular culture. 

I randomly pulled my lone piece by the group from my vinyl stash the other day — a 45 with “All Day” on it. 

This song won’t soon be forgotten. 

(Warning: Listening to the Kinks is in no way permission to be “kinky.” Cheeky behaviour, however, will be tolerated, especially across the pond.)


The Vinyl Review: Jogging trouble


Portable record player technology likely won’t be pioneered. So vinyl enthusiasts like myself, who wish they could listen to their favorite albums while jogging, are likely out of luck. 

A smartphone and Pandora will have to suffice. 

Recently I gave up headphones. They never stay in, and the ones that do hurt most of the time. 

My Droid phone has great speakers, so I am now one of those annoying people running around town with their personal music blaring. 

Most people don’t notice or care. Many of them have ear buds in, lost in their own world of music.
So until records can be taken on the road, the digital play will have to get me through my jogs. 

(Disclaimer: @DARickKazmerCE is not a paid spokesman for Droid or Pandora, though competitive offers will be considered.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘Blanket Fort Radio’


They have the name, the look — and the medium.
The Crew of the Half Moon will be playing in a venue near you soon. With shows slated for Meyersdale, Boswell and Windber this month, you should put them on your schedule. 

The Crew chose to release their album, “Blanket Fort Radio,” on vinyl, with a digital download available with each purchase. It’s the first newly minted piece of plastic that I have listened to. 

The music is right up my alley. Katie Rhodes reminds me of Joplin and Morissette. Singer/guitarist Dan Oatman can drive home a line with the best of them. Claire Horvath puts down drumming that ebbs and flows with each song. It’s a not-too-strong, not-too-soft complementary style of play many bands miss on.  

There’s enough strong drum play and guitar riffs to satisfy the grunge rock crowd. Some songs feel like they belong on a record by The Wallflowers or maybe Dispatch. It’s a great combination. 

Everything about the album indicates we are dealing with a creative group here. The music, album graphics and song titles are not run-of-the-mill. 

Quality resonates from this album when you pick it up. And if you have one selection, go with “Cemetery Cops.”

(This record was made in a plant in Cleveland: It’s been a pretty good year for that city, despite the world series finish.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘March Into 1984’



George Orwell had dark predictions for this year. Apple’s iconic Super Bowl commercial aired — and I was born.

As that anniversary nears, I thought it would be a good time to celebrate the middle of the 1980s with a collection of marching band music captured on vinyl. “March into 1984” is a Columbia Pictures product featuring four sides of horns, woodwinds and drums. 

Not a typical listen for this review, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. It’s a good record to listen to if you want to feel like you are at a high school or college football game. 

The record, like myself, is in near pristine condition. Prime examples of products from 1984. 

(Unsolicited advice: If you’re going to party, do so like it’s 1899.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’


The music you listen to is the soundtrack of your life, somebody might have said once. 

It sounds good. 

Particularly bad weeks call for a special brand of music. I recommend Alice Cooper, specifically “Welcome to my Nightmare.” 

It will neatly put your melancholy in song form — and hopefully help it pass more smoothly. 

People suffering from only slight sadness may slip into deeper forms of misery after listening to Cooper, so be sure your temperament is in a proper state. The bottom line is that Cooper is the perfect background music for any Halloween party, haunted house and other seasonal pastimes. 

Vincent Price even offers the introductory monologue on my album’s version of “The Black Widow.” 

(If you are in a good mood: Any 1980s hair band should provide the vibes you are looking for.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘If It Makes You Happy’


Have you ever known someone who does something they purport to love, but seem miserable while doing it? 

Sports fans (I among them) are notorious for this type of behavior. We spend the entire week waiting for a football game, only to loathe the entire 60 minutes if the the team plays poorly. And some people are addicted to their jobs, but seem terribly bothered by the labor. 

Perhaps misery, or a certain type of it, is necessary for existence. But I won’t get too philosophical here. 

A Sheryl Crow song asks this question perfectly: “If it makes you happy/Then why the hell are you so sad?”

On Monday night someone tweeted, “if you are looking for something more depressing to watch than the debate, turn the Pirates game on.” 

While the Cubs were soundly beating the Buccos, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were going at it in their first presidential debate. A record number of people likely tuned in. 

(Unsolicited advice on life: Enjoy the moment for what it is.)


The Vinyl Review: Ray and Hal


Imagine yourself on Route 219 headed to Somerset, or maybe on the way to Meyersdale. The windows are down, the sunroof is open and you have Ray Stevens and Hal Winters blaring on the radio.

Many readers have at this point likely asked themselves, Who?

The “Folk, World and Country” genre album was pulled from that endless stash of borrowed vinyl that has produced an equal amount of gems and duds.
Ray and Hal land in the former category. The songs are not long, and many are recognizable, including “Bossa Nova Bonnie.”

The record I have is from the 1960s, yet it is in pristine condition. The background vocals and guitar work sound flawless.

Producers of that generation gave more attention to a certain simple detail that gets lost in digital effects and voice alterations today.

I recommend Ray and Hal when you are looking for a change of pace.

(Other area country roads on which to appreciate Ray and Hal: Hogback, Jimtown and Skunk Hollow.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘Bad beat’ remedy


I don’t know if it lives up to the definition of a “bad beat.”

But I was beat, and I consider it bad. @BruceJSiwy and I squared off in the office’s friendly fantasy football league in Week 1. I had quarterback Drew Brees, running back DeAngelo Williams and other players who led me to a high score.

Siwy, unfortunately, had the Vikings defense, which had a big game. His team’s finishing move was San Francisco’s running back Carlos Hyde, who outperformed my running back, Los Angeles’ Todd Gurley. My demise came in the final quarter of the final game of the opening weekend.

I have full confidence I will bounce back next week.

So what’s this have to do with vinyl? The perfect remedy to a bad beat is a good spin. Find your favorite 45 and put it under the needle, should your fantasy football team fail you. The Police served the role this week. I am hoping I don’t need them next Monday.

(What makes the bad beat worse? @BruceJSiwy autodrafted.)


The Vinyl Review: ‘With a Voice of Singing’


This one is somewhere between haunting and uplifting.

“With a Voice of Singing” is a recording of the Ministers’ Male Chorus of the United Methodist Church. It was recorded during the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference long ago.

When I say “haunting” I don’t mean in the ghosts and goblins sense.

“Amazing Grace” and “Ride the Chariot” draw heavy emotions. I can best describe some of the music as haunting.

This is the sort of record that long goes unnoticed at the local thrift store. It’s good to bring the voices back to life after decades of silence.

It’s definitely an album made best by vinyl.

(An unabashed plug: If you are a high school football fan, be sure to check out the Daily American’s new “Friday Night Kickoff Blog” in the “Hot Topics” section of www.dailyamerican.com. It features weekly analysis, facts and picks by your humble record reviewer.)