Thursday, July 23, 2015

New adventures in hi-fi

A visit to my stepdaughter's townhouse greeted me with the surprise that she and her boyfriend had "inherited" a circa 1960 Voice of Music hi-fi record player, manufactured back in the days when people didn't consume their music on the go, unless it was on the car radio.
Some of its functionality has diminished. The other speaker isn't working. And I've either forgotten how to activate the platter drop, or it's not working either.
The young people -- who smartly knew to use a nickel as an anti-skip device -- were impressed how much I was able to improve the sound simply by tweaking the speaker balance, bass and treble. They were also wowed that it was possible to stack 10 records, or more, on the spindle for hours of hands-free party DJ entertainment (which sadly, I was unable to successfully demonstrate). I think the smell the vacuum tubes make when they heat up makes them nervous.
"They're not used to having to do that," my wife explained, reminding me how children of the '90s interface with their music.
Selections we listened to included some latter day vinyl by Phantogram and the first interesting (but not quite classic) album that Pink Floyd ever made, 1971's "Meddle."

And you're welcome for the Pandora's Box of rabbit hole links.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Between downpours on a stormy Monday, my wife and I are doing some landscape maintenance in front of the house, when down our street zooms these kids on their bikes. One randomly shouts out: "Does anybody here know who Black Sabbath is?"
This led to a very unexpected revisit to my junior high headbanger days. Turns out the two boys were middle school students, and shocked me that they knew who Metal Church was ... and that the late Ronnie James Dio once sang for Sabbath ... and that Ozzy Osbourne's recordings with them are the better ones.
I always got a kick out how Ozzy (Randy Rhoads, actually) quotes the truly scary guitar riff from the now 45-year-old song "Black Sabbath" in this song from his storied solo career.

"Do you know Metallica?," one asked. Well it's funny you should mention that, son ... I remember when they first came out (I ended up saying the same thing at the mention of The Red Hot Chili Peppers).
James Hetfield signs my Lollapalooza 1996 backstage pass in Charles Town, W. Va.
 The conversation leaped from Motley Crue and Iron Maiden to a newer group called The Skull, and Slipknot and Pantera, neither of which I've ever been able to get into. Heavy metal has become significantly angrier and much, much, much less fun than it was in the '80s. For example, how about this proto rap-metal nugget, sampling Sam Kinsion, Beastie Boys and Metallica's "Master of Puppets?"
"Do you like Guns 'N' Roses?"
Sorry, never liked them. However, I'd listen to Slash and Duff jam in Velvet Revolver (who will probably never record together again because Scott Weiland is turning into as big of an idiot as Axl Rose) till the cows come home. But thanks to browsing the playlists of Dee Snider's House of Hair radio show, I did find this worthy cover by the late Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot.

And with that, please crank up this playlist: