Mad Mag’s Multi-Groove Flexi-disc

Remember the Las Vegas Roulette record* with the “multi-groove” in which the tonearm stylus randomly selects (at least, in theory) one of 38 separate grooves – one for each slot on the roulette wheel – so as to allow partygoers the ability to play roulette from the comfort of home?   That’s right, you, too, can be the croupier.  Spoiler alert:  House always wins.  [*Link to original piece]

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP-jrIn 1980, Mad Magazine pulled off an even more ambitious vinyl feat:  a “multiple-grooveflexi-disc!

45Cat’s 23skidoo rightly emphasizes:

“A random groove record.  A different ending (usually) is heard each time the record is played.  Very rare for a flexi-disc to have this feature.”

“It’s a Super Spectacular Day” [all 8 endings]    Frank Jacobs & Norm Blagman    1980

45Cat lists Mad Magazine flexi-discs from 19611981

I am grateful to have had a neighbor growing up who allowed me to borrow freely from his 1960s collection of Mad Magazines — the best educational supplement a kid could ask for.

Mad Mag-sing along-a+Mad Mag-sing along-b+

Check out the hyper-minimalist animation video that Casey Killingsworth created for the 1980 disco update of Mad’s 1961 belch-rock hit, “It’s a Gas!”

The “Rock Revolution” as seen through the lens of Mad Magazine:  1965-1968

Mad Mag-guitar-a+Mad Mag-beatles 68-a

In 2011, someone forked over $100 for a vintage copy of Mad’s debut (and only) LP.

     Beatles                            vs.                         Stones, man

Mad Mag-ringo+Mad Mag-jagger+mag

Beatles vs. Stones:  1-0

On February 7, 2014 Mad Magazine posted the following announcement:

“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America!  And in order to thoroughly commemorate, celebrate, salute and pay tribute to this historic event, we present the only time that all four Beatles appeared on our cover [September, 1968 cover above with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi] — which is still one more MAD cover than the Rolling Stones ever had!”

Mad Magazine’s DON MARTIN gets in on the act

Mad Mag-beatles 65+

Management requires I insert a plug for Zero to 180‘s Facebook page – like it or else!

Brian Jonestown: Anti-Google

Once upon a time, kids – this might be hard to believe – the world’s second most valuable brand had the following naive-and-somewhat-puerile corporate ethos:  “Don’t be evil.”   Honest.  This private firm then went public and promptly went back on its word in the course of doing business with more repressive regimes around the world and responding to shareholder pressure to maximize return on investment.  Tax Justice Blog reveals all:

“In 2012 alone, Google dodged an estimated $2 billion in income taxes by shifting an estimated $9.5 billion to offshore tax havens.”

Google, no doubt, has better uses for this money and is in no way planning to keep all the money for itself.  Most fascinatingly, when you Google (ironic?) the phrase “don’t be evil,” the search results show the Wikipedia summary blurb for “Don’t be evil” in the present tense (i.e., “…is the corporate motto”), but when you click on the Wikipedia entry itself, the statement suddenly becomes past tense:   was.

Too Late!  already evilGoogle = Evil [Tax Justice Blog]

Fortunately, Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre have never felt pressured by any do-gooder mandate — if anything, quite the opposite.  The guiding principle from the band’s inception has been clear and unfaltering:  “Keep music evil.”  Would you be surprised to learn that the Brian Jonestown Massacre has its own Super PAC – The Committee to Keep Music Evil?

        Evil, yes.                                               Shoegazers, too?

Keep Music Evil-aKeep Music Evil-b

Despite the overt Stones and Beatles references, Brian Jonestown Massacre represents a generational shift in modern rock where Velvet Underground-style drone – not blues – is the lingua franca for many of the up-and-coming beat groups here in the new century.  Anton and the band would make explicit this musical approach in the title of their first long-player Methodrone, issued by the very visionary Greg Shaw (who left us much too early at the age of 55) on his Bomp! label.   Newcombe wrote and engineered “That Girl Suicide” along with the fourteen other tracks on this album – although the comments below would strongly seem to suggest some inter-band grumbling:

“That Girl Suicide”     Brian Jonestown Massacre     1995

Newcombe himself would attach the following comments to the above YouTube clip :

“I picked out a matching guitar and bass for an ex-girlfriend Diana… matching because she wanted to learn.  We were sitting in her bedroom, and I said play this “the bass riff” and I did the rest, then tricked the group bit by bit at the next practice.  Everyone still thinks they wrote it.  Whatever.  Go listen to all their records of all the great songs they wrote and get back to me.  I could actually care less.  I’m too busy writing new songs.”

Oh, and one more thing:

“Let me add – the actual session is live at the compound with the group – one take… that’s why the vocals are not so hot… we were all in the main room… and everyone did a good job.  Including Brian Glaze.  Travis Thrillkel was good in these days with me on the psycho bits and Jeff was great at rhythm, we both had this country old school Chet Atkins thing in our blood that would pop up sometimes … with all the other junk.”

“That Girl Suicide” would never enjoy the experience of being singled out for 45 release, although the song was deemed important enough for inclusion on Caroline artist showcase, I Hear Ya!  Fall 1995 – Caroline Distribution CD Sampler #11.  “That Girl Suicide” was also part of the running order for that same year’s Spacegirl and Other Favorites release on Candy Floss.

 Not sure how I feel about thisBrian Jonestown Massacre-a

Lip Magazine identifies “That Girl Suicide” as one of “10 Brian Jonestown Songs You Need to Hear” and has this to say about it:

“An early track from their debut, Spacegirl and other Favorites, that revolves around a repetitive guitar riff and off-kilter vocals.  ‘That Girl Suicide’ showcases some of the band’s early shoegazing influences.  Featured in the movie DiG! and a long-time fan favourite.”

A huge tip of the hat to Joel Gion for demonstrating through deed that being “just” the tambourine player need not be the musical equivalent of being relegated to right field.  I remember coming away from a particularly inspired 9:30 Club performance convinced that Gion had just about stolen the show.  In 2014, Gion would tap into his own creative spirit by putting out his first solo effort, Apple Bonkers, with instrumental support from BJM members past and present – Matt Hollywood, Jeffrey Davies, Daniel Allaire, and Miranda Lee Richards – along with Pete Holmstrom of The Dandy Warhols, Ryan Van Kriedt (The Asteroid #4/Dead Skeletons) & JasonPluckyAnchondo (The Warlocks/Spindrift).

Of course, that was then – Anton’s music has evolved considerably, as one would expect.  The Guardian checked in with Newcombe, who relocated to Europe in 2007 and now lives in Berlin – link to this 2014 interview.  Wait – The Guardian checked back in a year later.

Wake up, DC!  The Brian Jonestown Massacre return to the 9:30 Club May 5th this year!

35 years of righteous food & quality sound 930 Club-cake

Zero to 180 is particularly obsessed with 2003 B-side (!) “Nailing Honey to the Bee”  — and, fancy that:  Julian Cope and I are equally fascinated with this limited-edition 7″ (although I am befuddled by Cope’s description of “Bee” as an “electronic instrumental”?) — with a multi-groove B-side “practical joke” that “plays 2 different songs on the B-side depending where you place the needle on the intro groove!

Debt of gratitude to Bill Hanke, who is blessed with an uncanny set of musical antennae  and who first insisted that I check out Brian Jonestown Massacre when they played DC’s Black Cat in the late 1990s (Backstage, of course) with The Greenhornes as warm-up act.

Bill Hanke:  true sports rockerBill Hanke

Jack White’s Ultra Vinyl of the Future

With this month’s “ultra vinyl” release of Jack White‘s latest solo work, Lazaretto, it would appear that my Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette multi-track LP has, indeed, met its match.  White seems to be aiming for the fences on this special project, as Lazaretto goes to extraordinary lengths to maximize those aspects of the vinyl experience that are unique to that specific audio playback format — check out these special effects available on LP only:

•  2 vinyl-only hidden tracks beneath the center labels:
·  1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, the other 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record.

•  Dual-groove technology:  Plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where the needle is dropped — meets for the body of the song.

•  Side A plays from the outside in.

•  Matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an unplayed 78 RPM record.

•  Both sides end with locked grooves.

•  Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record.

•  LP utilizes some mixes different from those used on CD/digital versions.

•  Absolutely zero compression used during recording, mixing & mastering.

“This is my proudest moment with Third Man Records, this object,”  White said of the LP to Conan O’Brien during an appearance on Conan on June 11, reported Billboard.

Jack White & ConanJack White & Jimmy Fallon

Billboard’s June 18th piece goes on to state that Lazaretto, which debuted at #1, set a vinyl sales record:

“Rocker Jack White claims his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as Lazaretto bows in the top slot with 138,000 sold in the week ending June 15, according to NielsenSoundScan.  The effort follows his solo debut, Blunderbuss, which also opened atop the list and sold 138,000 in its first frame. (It sold a handful of copies less, actually, but when rounded to the nearest thousand, both figures become 138,000).

Lazaretto – released on White’s Third Man Records label through Columbia Records – also sets the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

The vinyl LP sold 40,000 copies — easily enough to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Vinyl Albums chart. (The vinyl edition of the album has many unusual bonus features that clearly intrigued consumers.)   It beats the debut of Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy,” which sold 34,000 vinyl LPs in its first week, back in 1994. (Notably, “Vitalogy” was issued on vinyl first, two weeks before its release on CD and cassette.)”

“Lazaretto”     Jack White     2014

Album mastered by the esteemed Bob Ludwigtechnical notes courtesy of Discogs:

The record was pressed in the U.S. and distributed worldwide. So some copies might have different hype stickers on shrink wrap (from the country of distribution).”Ultra LP” release featuring several special features:

  • Tracks A6 and B7 are locked grooves featuring elements from their respective previous tracks. “High Ball Stepper” doesn’t end with a faded-out distortion as in the digital versions, it is locked instead.
  • Tracks A7 and B8 are hidden tracks pressed on their sides’ labels, and play at 78 RPM and 45 RPM respectively, thus making the LP a three speed record.
  • Side A’s groove is inverted and plays from the inside out.
  • “Just One Drink” consists of two different intros, each in its own groove, with both connecting at the body of the song. BA1 is acoustic, BB1 is electric.
  • Side B has a matte finish, giving the appearance of an un-played 78 RPM record.
  • Vinyl is pressed in flat-edged format.
  • Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record.
  • Tracks B3 and B4 are swapped in comparison to the digital editions, and B2 features a slightly longer intro.
  • The vinyl was mastered entirely from analog sources with no additional compression used.

Tracks A1 to A5 and BA1/BB1 to B6 are listed continuously from 1 to 11 and play at 33 ⅓ RPM. Track A7 is an uncredited reworking of ‘Pusherman’ – originally by Curtis Mayfield.
Durations unlisted, approximates obtained by digitizing the vinyl audio.

Jacket features Soft Touch aqueous coating. Record comes in die-cut black paper poly sleeve. Also included are an insert with lyrics and credits, and a digital download card for the album in MP3 format, which also shows info about the hologram.

Some copies have the same label on both sides of record.

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette: Multi-Track LP

The most “futuristic” piece of vinyl in my record collection, by far, would have to be the Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette multi-groove LP.  To fully appreciate the specialness of this disc, I must first bring up that classic Trivial Pursuit question:

Q:  How many grooves are on one side of a standard LP?

A:  Wait for it ………………………………… exactly one.

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP

However, unlike every other record in my LP collection, Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette has 38 grooves:  one for each of the numbered pockets on the roulette wheel!  Each groove leads the listener to a 30-second “live” recording of a roulette wheel spin (for example, 13 in the red) that a tonearm stylus — when placed at the edge of the record — could theoretically select at random and play.  Thus, you are the croupier, and your home becomes “the house” when you use this multi-groove LP version to play the French casino game with family and friends (though possibly in defiance of state and/or federal law).

In actual practice, however, I found that certain grooves on my copy played much more frequently than others.  Consequently, just for a challenge, I attempted to make individual recordings for each of the 38 grooves and then copy the 38 “clean” recordings onto a single CD for playback on a compact disc player with built-in capability for random song selection.  Unfortunately, three of the grooves never came into contact with my turntable style despite many dozens of attempts.  Thus, in order to complete my disc, I had to fabricate three of the recordings with the help of a microphone and my Yamaha REX 50 effects unit – here are two of them:

Roulette Spin #1
Roulette Spin #2

This album was produced in 1974 by Multi-Track Sound Enterprises of Glendale, California -includes fold-out paper roulette board.

Roulette Board

These notes from Discogs tell a more complete picture:

Front and back have photos of various Vegas casinos with a map on the back of the jacket.

Side A has instructions on how to play this “Multi Track” Roulette game on the album. They also give a History of Roulette lesson and pitch a vacation to “Fabulous Las Vegas” but…

Turn the record over to get the full effect of the album.  The center label has no words, just the image of a Roulette wheel that “Spins” on your turntable.

The record comes with an insert of a fold-out paper roulette table so you can place your bets.