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Showing posts from January, 2013

Track This: Camper Van Beethoven's "Too High for the Love-In"

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La Costa Perdida, the first Camper Van Beethoven album in nine years isn't quite as ambitious as 2004's stellar, yet under appreciated concept album, New Roman Times. More of a continuation of later Cracker albums; its lengthy tracks call to mind the sprawling Greenland or the California-centric Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey. "Too High for the Love-in" is a lengthy and weighty bridge between the last days of CVB and latter day Cracker. It's becoming harder to tell the songs apart. Most could as easily have fit on a Cracker album, despite their more exotic instrumentation. Evident proof that the band can still write a catchy hook., the song's eastern-tinged intro is reminiscent of early albums. Female vocals ba ba beneath a catchy guitar line before David Lowery's cracked and knowing vocals come in, singing "I was too high for the love-in./ I woke in my car at the drive in./ And there was a bird in my kitchen when I got home." Once the bi…

On Winter, Snow, and Cold

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When I was younger, I used to love snow. I would go skiing regularly, barely feeling the cold. I would push myself over hills competing in an imaginary race. If my dad was with me, I would try to beat him even though he could ski much faster. I spent hours training on the kiddie hills trying to master the wishbone technique for climbing difficult hills. I soon realized that the faster I could go, the easier it would be to climb the next hill.  The snowy pine trees and flitting chickadees were a welcoming sight five miles down the ski trail after a difficult run. Although I get envious when I see an older skate skier zoom by and leave me in the lurch. My younger body cannot compete with these octogenarians who ski daily, their arms and legs purely muscled. I still feel like a skinny kid, although I am much bigger, older, and out of shape.

I would ski more if there was more snow. Each year we get less and less, the trails are practically bare here. Muddy ruts -- they resemble dirt bike o…

Record Collecting Miscellanies: Velvet Underground Ampex Snapcase Cassettes

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A few years ago while skimming the thrift store bins, I stumbled across several Ampex snapcase cassettes from the Sixties. I had never seen anything like them aside from a Joan Baez cassette, One Day at a Time, with a similar slipcase, also manufactured by Ampex. Even after a bit of internet research, I have not found much information on them, except that they seem to be prime finds. I found two Velvet Underground cassettes and a Vanilla Fudge. Each is well-worn in a black case with a pasted on cover.
Of course, the Velvet Underground cassettes were more interesting, but none of them plays very well, so they are only useful as audio artifacts. Each was manufactured by Ampex in Elk Grove Village, IL. and belonged to J.R. Kregenow, who wrote on them for easy identification. The cover art is not very clear or and the titles are listed below as there is no back cover. The Vanilla Fudge cassette, Near the Beginning, only contains four tracks including a cover of Jr. Walker's "Shotg…