I get a lot of random records, tapes, and books in the mail, because publicists forget that outlets for which I used to work aren’t around anymore, or someone finds the address hidden on my website, or… whatever. This is a way to keep them from piling up uselessly in the corner of the office.
For those unaware, Record Store Day was pushed back from April, then again to June, and now it’s a series of “drops” taking place at the end of August, September, and October. This allows for greater social distancing for those who want to join in the annual celebration of independent record stores, while also letting those same stores see a monthly boost to their bottom line all the way through to the start of the holiday season.
For Analog Adventures, we’re going to spotlight a couple of labels we think have some intriguing releases, and up next is the excellent reissue label out of Portland, Jackpot Records. All of these releases are part of the first Record Store Day drop, which is this Saturday, August 29th.
The label has reissued the Wipers’ classic debut, Is This Real? a couple times — first in 2006, then again in 2014 — but this version is arguably the nicest. While not featuring the tip-on sleeve of the previous reissues, this comes on clear vinyl in a gold foil jacket, and includes a bonus 45 featuring the original 4-track sessions of “Mystery,” “Tragedy,” “Let’s Go Away,” and the title track.
The 45 comes in a sleeve that seems like it’s made out of a paper bag, which is a punk-as-fuck move I really appreciate. The 40th anniversary presentation is capped off by a Greg Sage-autographed show flier. It’s a pretty solid presentation of a record any self-respecting punk/rock ‘n’ roll/music fan should’ve owned a copy of long before now, but if you’ve held off buying a copy for whatever reason, here’s the way to do it. It’s limited to 2,000 copies, so get on it quick.
I mean, I’ve been listening to these songs for years, but I can’t get this record off my turntable to listen to any of the other things I have waiting. While the Wipers still sound something all their own, the way you can hear the future of Northwest music prefigured by a decade on Is This Real? is impressive, with “D-7” presaging everything that would come from the area in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
However, it’s tracks like “Is This Real?” and “Return of the Rat,” with their angular, surf-meets-punk riffs and pounding rhythms, that still grab me every single time I listen to this record. All of the extras are nice, but just having a copy of the Wipers’ debut is joy enough.
Ted Cassidy as Lurch on The Addams Family was not exactly known for his loquaciousness, but sure, let’s have him be the one to record a single. I do find it kind of weird that they chose to record a whole new song, rather than the grunt-and-harpsichord from the episode, “Lurch, The Teenage Idol,” but when you have Gary Paxton — he of the Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop” and Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash” — you go with what you got.
“The Lurch” is a pretty catchy little go-go number, and while it’s not as big and bold as something from the likes of Les and Larry Elgart, hearing Cassidy’s baritone alongside chipper young things is definitely something worth checking out. The flip, “Wesley,” is a mawkish, maudlin tune only too typical of celebrity cash-in records. It’s as if Cassidy hoped folks would discover his true talents on the B-side and take him as more than just a novelty act.
Nope. Leonard Nimoy tried it with “Cotton Candy” on the opposite side of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” but we’re still playing the hobbit song 50+ years later. Robert Mitchum’s the only celeb who managed to avoid the novelty hit trap, but that’s because his calypso record was awful and “The Ballad of Thunder Road” is so good, it made most folks forget about it a year or two later.
This is the first-ever repress of “The Lurch” to feature the original picture sleeve, so while it might seem that a 45 single for a novelty song from the ’60s might be okay with a pressing of 500 copies, this is going to get snatched up by fans of incredibly strange music in a heartbeat.
The last LP we’re looking at is Jackpot’s repress of exotica/lounge maestro Martin Denny’s 1969 LP, Exotic Moog. The first ever repress of this intriguing record comes on a marbled orange vinyl in a limited edition of 1,500, and is a very necessary addition to anyone who enjoys outsider music. While Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach is frequently looked at as far as introducing the Moog synthesizer to the greater public, there were a slew of recordings in the late ’60s and early ’70s which explored the electronic instrument’s ability to render otherworldly tones to popular music.
While Gil Trythall’s 1972 Switched On Nashville (Country Moog) is maybe my favorite example of just how far this sound could go, with absolutely bananas cuts like “Yakety Moog” taking music to another dimension, hearing Denny transform Les Baxter’s exotica touchstone, “Quiet Village” or John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme into ethereal compositions is really something else.
Your mileage may vary, of course, but it’s a really charming record. Sadly, there are no bonus liner notes or anything, but the reproduction sleeve does feature a nice write-up on the back cover explaining how we got this record in the first place 50+ years ago, so that’s something. Additionally, given how excellent the record sounds — it’s super vibrant and is loaded with analog warmth — fans of Martin Denny should be excited that this release of Exotic Moog is the first in a series of Denny reissues that Jackpot’s going to be doing, with Exotica, Hypnotique and Quiet Village coming on September 11.
You can read an interview I did with Jackpot’s Isaac Slusarenko for I Heart Noise, all about these releases and more, here.