Friday, September 8, 2017

Nirvana on Vinyl, 1988-1994

On September 9, 1992 – 25 years ago this month -- Nirvana appeared on the MTV Music Awards to reluctantly perform “Lithium,” and the performance ended with Krist Novoselic tossing his bass in the air.  And then it landed on his head.  I play bass.  Not pleasant.
In celebration(?) of that, here’s a Nirvana vinyl discography from 1988 (their first release) through the spring of 1994 (Kurt Cobain’s death).  This is the most efficient (though not least expensive) way to find all of Nirvana’s music on vinyl from their brief time together.  So this list is not a guide to outtakes, bootlegs, reissues, foreign pressings, etc.  It’s just the most expedient way to get everything on original US and UK vinyl.  I have also included notes on what to buy if you just want everything on those new, easy-to-use CDs.




1988:
* “Love Buzz” / “Big Cheese” single
Includes picture sleeve.  This was the first entry in the Sub Pop Singles Club. A-side begins with a short sound montage that is unavailable elsewhere; the song without the montage is on the “Bleach” LP.  The B-side was added to pressings of “Bleach” starting in 1992.
On CD: On the “Bleach” LP, but without the montage intro.

Here's how to spot a LEGITIMATE copy...
-They have a fold-over sleeve (i.e. it’s a 7” by 14” piece of cardboard that is folded in the middle, so it opens like a book; the disk goes in between the folds)
-The text on the back can be seen read. Some copies have the names of Alice Wheeler and Suzanne Sasic too dark to read, or they've been traced over.
-The vinyl is black
-The labels are black with white print
-The matrix information is hand-written as follows:

Side A:
SP-23-A Why Don't You Trade Those Guitars For Shovels? L-31540

Side B:
SP-23-B L-31540X

Counterfeits often come close, but have errors in the matrices such as the print being too large (3mm on fakes; 2mm on legit copies). Some copies omit the question mark on the shovels quote, or add quotation marks, or even get the exact order (as listed above) wrong. Other copies dispense with the dashes, or have the information stamped instead of handwritten.
Legitimate copies also have "Kdisc" (the name of the pressing plant) stamped into the groove.

* “Spank Thru”
On the LP “Sub Pop 200” (also released as a boxed set of three 12” singles).
On CD: “Sub Pop 200.”

1989:
* “Bleach” LP
First studio album; 11 tracks. Original pressings (1,000 copies) on white vinyl; some copies came with a poster.  Second pressing (2,000 copies) on black vinyl; most of these copies came with a poster.  A few of the first- and second-pressing copies include a press kit as well.  Later pressings are on different colors, and pressings starting in 1992 added the songs “Big Cheese” and “Downer.”

* “Blew” EP
British EP, includes tracks that are also on “Bleach” or “Incesticide,” except the version of “Been a Son,” which is only available here and on 2002’s “Greatest Hits.”
On CD: All tracks on “Bleach” or “Incesticide,” except the version of “Been a Son,” which is only available here and on 2002’s “Greatest Hits.”

1990:
* “Do You Love Me?”
From the KISS tribute album, “Hard to Believe: A KISS Covers Compilation” (C/Z Records).
On CD: ““Hard to Believe”; "18 Original Hits Performed By 18 Unoriginal Artists" (PolyGram PMP 011, 2/21/95)

* “Sliver” single
On the U.S. 7” version only, the A-side is followed by a phone call from Sub Pop’s Jon Poneman to a very sleepy Krist Novoselic.  On the UK 12”, they add a live version of “About a Girl” from the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon, recorded February 9, 1990.
On CD: On the UK CD single, there is a fourth track, a live version of “Spank Thru” from the Pine Street show. “Sliver” and “Dive” are both on “Incesticide”; the entire Pine Street Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Bleach,” but has been remixed.  The original mixes are on the 1990 UK CD single.

1991:
* “Molly’s Lips”
Split single (with The Fluid) on Sub Pop with a live version of “Molly’s Lips” from the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon, recorded February 9, 1990.
On CD: The entire Pine Street Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Bleach,” but has been remixed.

* “Here She Comes Now”
Split single (with the Melvins) on colored vinyl from the Velvet Underground tribute album, “Heaven and Hell Vol. 1” (Communion Records).
On CD: WTLO.

* “Nevermind” LP
Original U.S. pressings are on black vinyl with a black label, and include a custom innersleeve.

1992:
* “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single
The UK 12" picture disk (first in a series of four) adds unique versions of “Even In His Youth” and “Aneurysm” (which is different from the one on “Incesticide”).
On CD: “Even In His Youth” is on the deluxe reissue of “Nevermind,” and “Aneurysm” is on WTLO.

* “Hormoaning” EP
Japan/Australia EP released February 5, 1992 to promote the band’s upcoming tour.  Contains six tracks, five of which are available on “Incesticide” or on singles listed on this page.  One song -- "D-7" – is from an October 21, 1990 John Peel/BBC session and is only available on vinyl here, or on the 2011 RSD reissue of the “Lithium” single (DGC DGCTP 9).  This EP was also reissued for RSD 2013.
On CD: All tracks are on “Incesticide” or the reissue of “Nevermind.”

* “Come As You Are” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds live versions of “Endless, Nameless” and “School” (recorded on Halloween, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle).  The US 7” (no picture sleeve) instead has a version of “Drain You” from the same show.
On CD: The entire Paramount Theatre show is on the deluxe edition of “Nevermind,” and may have been remixed.  The original mixes are on the 1992 UK CD single.

* “Lithium” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds a live version of “Been a Son” (recorded at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle on Halloween, 1991) and the studio cut, “Curmudgeon.” 
A fourth track is added to the UK CD (“D-7”) from a John Peel/BBC session.  That cut is only on three pieces of vinyl: the 1992 “Hormoaning” EP, the 2011 Record Store Day reissue of this single (which includes all four cuts on a 10”, DGC DGCTP 9), or the 2013 RSD reissue of “Hormoaning.”
On CD: “Curmudgeon” and “D-7” are on WTLO; “Been a Son” is part of the entire Paramount Theatre show on the deluxe edition of “Nevermind,” and may have been remixed.  The original mix is on this 1992 CD single.

* “In Bloom” single
The UK 12" picture disk adds live versions of “Sliver” (recorded at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle on Halloween, 1991) and “Polly” (recorded at the O’Brien Pavilion, Del Mar, California, December 28, 1991).  “Sliver” is sometimes mistakenly listed as being from the Del Mar show.
On CD: Both tracks are on the reissue of “Nevermind,” where “Sliver” may have been remixed.  The entire Del Mar show was recorded by Westwood One for radio broadcast.  CDs – and possibly reel to reel tapes -- of the show were sent to radio stations.

* “Incesticide” LP
Compilation album released December 14, 1992. Original pressings are on blue vinyl and include a custom innersleeve.

1993:
* “Oh, the Guilt” single
Split 7” single (with The Jesus Lizard) on Touch and Go Records.  British copies (pressed in France) are on blue vinyl with silver labels; jackets have a UPC barcode that is clearly grafted onto the original artwork.  American pressings have a better-integrated UPC code, are on black vinyl with black labels.
On CD: Remixed for WTLO.

* “Return of the Rat”
From a boxed set of four 45s titled, “Eight Songs For Greg Sage and the Wipers” (Tim Kerr Records)
On CD: Original mix on "Fourteen Songs For Greg Sage and the Wipers" (Tim Kerr Records TK 917010 TRIB2, 1993); remixed for WTLO.

* “Heart-Shaped Box” single
UK 7” copies have a non-album B-side, “Marigold.”  American 12” promo copies have the non-album B-side “Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip” (which was only on non-US CD copies of “In Utero” in 1993).
On CD: Both tracks are on WTLO and the reissue of “In Utero.”

* “In Utero” LP
Studio album released September 21, 1993. Original pressings are on clear, blue-tinted vinyl and include a custom innersleeve.  The front cover has a small legend at the bottom reading “Special Limited Edition Disc.” Later or non-American pressings have a UPC barcode on the back that looks grafted onto the original artwork; original American pressings have a better-integrated UPC code.

* “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”
From the various artists compilation, “The Beavis and Butthead Experience” (Geffen).
On CD: “The Beavis and Butthead Experience” (Geffen); remix is on WTLO.

* “All Apologies” single
The UK 12" and 7” vinyl issues add the song “M.V.”
On CD: The original mix is on the CD single from 1993. “M.V.” has been remixed for the reissue of “In Utero.”

1994:
* “Pennyroyal Tea”/”I Hate Myself and Want to Die” single
Slated for release in April, 1994, but shelved after the death of Kurt Cobain.  A-side was a remix of the “In Utero” track; the B-side would have been the same mix as on the “Beavis & Butthead” compilation.  For many years, a batch of supposedly legitimate UK copies of this 45 (with picture sleeve) circulated with collectors, but they are most likely fakes.  This single was finally issued for RSD 2014, with the original, album mix of the A-side and a remix of the B-side.
On CD: The reissue of “In Utero” contains both mixes of “Pennyroyal Tea” and the remix of “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”  The original mix of “I Hate…” is only on “The Beavis & Butthead Experience.”

* “Pay to Play”
Demo version of “Stay Away” with different lyrics, released only on UK vinyl on the compilation album “Geffen Rarities, Vol. 1” (Geffen/MCA GFL-19247, September 21, 1994).
On CD: WTLO; “DGC Rarities, Vol. 1” (DGC/Geffen/MCA DGCD-24704, July 5, 1994)

CD only releases
* “Sappy”
No original vinyl release; first vinyl issue was on “No Alternative” for Record Store Day 2013.
On CD: WTLO; "No Alternative," (Arista/BMG 07822-18737-2, 1993).

* “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (Le Summum, Grenoble, France, February 18, 1994)
No vinyl release.
On CD: “Home Alive-The Art of Self-Defense,” (Epic E2K67486, 1996); this is on the double CD edition only; a later single-disc version does not include the Nirvana track.

* “Rape Me” (“Saturday Night Live,” September 25, 1993)
No vinyl release.
On CD: “SNL The Musical Performances Vol. 2,” (Dreamworks 0044-50206-2, 1999)

* “Spank Thru” (1985 “Fecal Matter” demo); “Sappy” (1990 studio take); “Come As You Are” (1991 boombox version)
No vinyl release.
On CD: Only available on “Sliver: The Best of the Box” (2005), a sampler from WTLO that contains these three exclusive tracks.


So what does this mean to the CD buyer who wants all the music, and isn’t going to track down dozens of 20-30-year-old pieces of vinyl?  You need to buy the following…
Deluxe editions of “Bleach,” “Nevermind,” “In Utero” and “MTV Unplugged in New York”
“Incesticide” (1992)
“Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!” (video, 1994)
“From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah” (1996)
“With the Lights Out” (boxed set, 2004)
“Live at Reading” England 1992 (video, 2009)
“Live at the Paramount” Seattle 1991 (video, 2011)
“Live and Loud” Seattle 1993 (video, 2013)

And then to complete the official discography, find…
-intro to “Love Buzz”
-“Spank Thru” (“Sub Pop 200")
-“Do You Love Me?” (“Hard to Believe: A KISS Covers Compilation”)
-“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (live, 1994; “Home Alive-The Art of Self-Defense")
-“Rape Me” (live 1993; “SNL The Musical Performances Vol. 2")
-“Spank Thru” (1985 “Fecal Matter” demo); “Sappy” (1990 studio take); “Come As You Are” (1991 boombox version), from the 2005 CD “Sliver: The Best of the Box”
-“Been a Son” and “You Know You’re Right” (Greatest Hits, 2002)


Other curios:
An interesting, CD-only promo radio show featuring interviews with the band and previously released music.

* Nirvana recorded four BBC sessions: three for John Peel (10/26/89, 10/21/90, 9/3/91) and one for “Mark Goodier’s Evening Session” (11/9/91).  The 1990 and ’91 sessions are collected on WTLO, “Incesticide” and the reissue of “Nevermind.”  The 1989 John Peel session has never been officially released anywhere, but a very nice 7” bootleg EP (somewhat alluding to the design motif from “Blew”) is easily (and cheaply!) available.  The session featured versions of “Love Buzz,” “About A Girl,” “Polly,” and “Spank Thru.”

* In 2004, a radio series titled “Nightly Nirvana” began circulating to radio stations.  CDs of that show contain a great deal of unreleased material.

* The bootleg series “Outcesticide” has done an outstanding job of cataloging rare and unreleased Nirvana.


For a reference to every song Nirvana has ever released, click here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Best of Glen Campbell

I posted this on Facebook when Glen Campbell died, but figured I would wait to print it here...

I only have one Glen Campbell album, "The Best of Glen Campbell," from 1976 (pictured above).  This was from an era when Capitol Records was running a campaign titled "The Greatest Music Ever Sold," with lots of compilations aimed at the holiday market.  This LP hit #11, and even though Glen could have probably filled three LPs with hits at that point -- and even though a lot of the other Capitol compilations were double albums -- they pared it down to his biggest hits on the POP -- not country -- charts for one disk.  So you don't have to listen to "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife," "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)," "True Grit," "Burning Bridges," "Manhattan, Kansas," "Bonaparte's Retreat," "Don't Pull Your Love," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" or "Sunflower."  Or any of his '70s countrypolitan tunes (blech).  You also don't get the mellow theme to the Clint Eastwood film "Any Which Way You Can," which came out later (1980).
(For a good survey of his earlier country-only hits, check out 1971's "Greatest Hits," which has minimal overlap with "Best of.")
Another weird aspect of the 1976 album is that  the cover photo (complete with 1970s Dad hair) was apparently taken by Kenny Rogers?
I like this "Best of" not only because it's wall-to-wall enjoyable, but it doesn't substitute live versions for any of the hits (as later compilations seem to).  Beware of the CD of this album; it has a very different track list, but the same cover.
One Glen Campbell cut that never appears on any of his albums is 1965's "Guess I'm Dumb," a Beach Boys tune that Brian Wilson produced for Glen as he left the touring version of the Beach Boys and headed out on a solo career.
As a bonus... now here's a video I must have watched a thousand times when I was little: Glen Campbell from the Smothers Brothers' 20th Anniversary, joined at one point by the great John Hartford.  Within that medley, there's an excerpt of their 1968 appearance, which is available here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Goodbye, cassette tapes! And VHS, 8-track, Minidisc, DV, Beta...

Around 2000 or 2001, a lot of TV stations started trying to go tapeless. They planned to rely on hard drives for playback and storage of shows, using tape only for ENG (electronic news gathering), which would immediately be digitized and edited for air. But the technology wasn't totally reliable yet. When 9/11 hit, a lot of stations found that out the hard way. Another decade passed before stations were able to really go tapeless, especially since they had to go HD anyway.
Until that point, I was something of a tape hoarder: cassettes, VHS, Hi8, U-Matic, Betacam AND Betamax, 8-track, microcassette, DV, DVCPro, reel tapes... Not only would I try to record my family, I had to tape community events and whatnot for work. I often copied rare TV and radio shows when I could find them.
"You have a Beta tape with an episode of ALF, including the original commercials? I'll send you a blank!"
"You've got a Peter Laughner private-press bootleg? I want it!"
And this was on top of my audio tapes, a collection that had grown since I was old enough to operate my portable Panasonic RQ-2107 cassette recorder. So in addition to store-bought cassettes, 8-tracks and reels, I had blanks with my various garage bands, rare concerts, mix tapes and all sorts of other weird stuff. There's a whole tape of me and my friend fake interviewing eachother in 8th grade under the pretense that he's a British journalist. Another tape is the birth of my younger brother. Playing all these back required me to keep a museum of machines on hand, from Teac 4-track reel decks to a Sony dual-record cassette with Dolby S to a NOS Panasonic car 8-track deck, which I always thought would look cool installed in a new car.
Around 2008, I realized... I'm not the library!  And a lot of this stuff was starting to be posted online.
So I began liquidating my equipment, while also digitizing the tapes. Say what you will about analog purity: I would much rather have the tape of my morning announcements from high school -- recorded with a handheld Toshiba recording Walkman, from a speaker in the ceiling of Mrs. Bernacek's room -- as a 40mb WAV file, instead of on a Richard Simmons Deal-A-Meal cassette with the record-safety tabs covered over. The quality difference does not faze me.
As I've tossed equipment and sent old tapes to either Goodwill or to collectors, my basement has slowly emptied out. My tape collection was likely not as extensive as some people, but it took up probably three large file cabinets, and the equipment was just a big, fat fire hazard.
Finally, last spring, I got a Sony DV/DVCPro  playback deck. Even though these tapes are digital, and the deck had FireWire out, modern computers can't handle that. So I went S-Video into my laptop, while also using a Teac stereo reel deck (on its last legs) to digitize reels into a Marantz flash recorder.

So what did I learn during this multi-year odyssey?
1) Magnetic media sounds magical, but is a pain to store.
2) Cassettes need to be played more than once every 20 years
3) I should have waited to sell all of my Nintendo stuff
4) Garrard turntables are satan
5) Minidiscs were unnecessary
6) Hi8/8mm/Digital8 recorders have the slowest fast-wind on planet Earth
7) There's nothing classic about old VCRs

More importantly, what did I see and hear?
1) A tape of my band from 8th grade playing, and we ROCKED
2) Another garage tape -- recorded with two microphones -- where I say "goodnight left microphone," and "goodnight right microphone" at the end.
3) My son and daughter introducing something called "the big, big shooooooow"
4) My brother asking me to play my "Yellow Submarine" record, and he keeps trying to sing "You all live in a Yellow Submarine" to bother me
5) Me interviewing people at the ice-cream shop in town, right after it opened
6) A tape of me at age 1, greeting my Dad after work, who asks my Mom if she had lunch.  She replies, "I haven't had a candy bar, I haven't had pizza, I haven't had ANYthing," as if those were the only acceptable options for lunch.

Anyhow, you see from the pic at the top of this post, I'm done digitizing!!!! That's the last box of tapes I had, all digitized and bulked and ready to go to the great tape room in the sky.

As for equipment, the Teac reel is going with them. I've sold the Sony DV deck and all my VCRs.  I have a nice Sony cassette machine and a couple of nice portable Walkman recorders to sell. And I'm keeping a nice Otari MX-5050 4-track reel, a Teac half-track reel and a Technics RS-T80R double cassette deck... just in case. Because there were about two dozen cassettes and reels I simply couldn't dump. That's the second pic in this post: a small box of recordings that were really, really good and sound amazing. No point in digitizing them if I still have nice playback machines and perhaps, years from now, I'll mixdown everything properly -- all-analog -- and have it pressed up onto vinyl.
I also saved a half-dozen tapes of family importance: that audio tape of my brother's birth, a brief interview with my Dad on the day he came to America in 1967, a video of my daughter as a newborn. Perhaps in a hundred years, they'll be able to take a magnetic tape and extract the atmosphere and reconstruct someone in person who existed on that tape. Sound crazy?  Well just imagine telling someone in 1917 that, someday, they could see and hear a person in a other country in real-time.  Mind-blowing!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Norm Macdonald Live with Sarah Silverman and David Letterman

Norm's "new season" has dropped with David Letterman!  It's really an apparent continuation of season 3, which began with two episodes last September and then went on hiatus.  Anyhow, I decided to write up my reviews of the show so far.

Season 1
-26 March 2013 Super Dave Osborne -- classic; Bob Einstein is a comedy machine
-2 April 2013 Tom Green -- low-key and Green seems sad, but is quite engaging
-9 April 2013 Fred Stoller -- good stories; hilarious reactions to Adam Eget
-16 April 2013 Russell Brand -- can't watch him
-23 April 2013 Billy Bob Thornton -- Norma transforms a weird and uncomfortable guest into someone watchable
-30 April 2013 Larry King -- another classic; far more entertaining than I would have guessed
-7 May 2013 Kevin Nealon -- cool SNL stories; always a good guest
-14 May 2013 Simon Helberg -- haven't seen it
-21 May 2013 Nick Swardson -- filthy and great but seems a little too in awe of Norm; watch for his Mr. Furley imitation alone
-27 May 2013 Andy Dick -- another pleasant surprise; much less annoying than I would have predicted
-11 June 2013 Gilbert Gottfried -- hilarious, but we need less callbacks! The show's only an hour!

Season 2
This season was uniformly entertaining...
-12 May 2014 Ray Romano
-21 May 2014 Adam Sandler
-26 May 2014 David Spade
-2 June 2014 Carl Reiner
-9 June 2014 Fred Willard
-16 June 2014 Todd Glass -- more comments about how Norm spent the whole time messing with him; NO! Norm messes with everyone
-30 June 2014 Bob Saget
-7 July 2014 David Koechner -- some commenters feel that Norm was apathetic toward David Koechner, or that Koechner misunderstood Norm's jokes, but I disagree.  He was entertaining
-14 July 2014 Roseanne Barr -- surprisingly low-key; very entertaining; best death stare at Adam Eget since Super Dave
-21 July 2014 Marc Maron
-28 July 2014 Martin Mull -- good chat about his stand-up
-7 August 2014  Jack Carter -- I believe this was his last appearance

Season 3
-15 September 2016 Stephen Merchant -- Norm starts by imitating William F. Buckley, which is appropriate since this ends up feeling more like a UK v US political roundtable (at one point, Merchant even asks why Norm isn't asking for cool showbiz stories, like when Adam Sandler was the guest)
-26 September 2016 Bill Hader -- cool showbiz stories, but Hader seems really low-energy
-25 July 2017 David Letterman -- classic


Upcoming guests?
Sarah Silverman (see pic) and Caitlyn Jenner have apparently already been taped, and Norm seems to confirm, in this interview, that Mike Tyson and Jim Carrey are being taped soon.  (UPDATE: Jerry Seinfeld airs next week).
Other upcoming guests listed on Wikipedia include Dana Carvey, Judd Apatow, Margaret Cho, Jerry Mathers, Bobby Lee, Conan O'Brien, Bruce Vilanch, Artie Lange and Jon Hein.  Norm also mentioned in the above article that he's been trying to get O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Elvis Played His Final Concerts 40 Years Ago in Cincinnati and Indianapolis

Elvis Presley began his final run of concerts 40 years ago today, June 25, in Cincinnati.
More than 17,000 people jammed into Riverfront Coliseum – now called U.S Bank Arena – for what would turn out to be Elvis’ second-to-last concert.  Presley arrived late, telling the crowd it was due to dental problems.
The show came at the end of almost two months of constant touring, and the King of Rock and Roll’s performance was described as “loose and light-hearted” by the Cincinnati Enquirer --  a far cry from some of Presley’s other 1977 shows.
After Cincinnati, Elvis flew to Indianapolis and played what would be his final show on June 26, 1977 before about 17,000 people at Market Square Arena.
Before the show, cameras at the airport captured the last known footage of Presley, accepting a gold record.  The film would be used in the posthumous TV special, “Elvis In Concert,” that fall.  The program – like many of Presley’s final shows -- was noted for the singer’s unhealthy appearance and inconsistent performance, and has never been shown again.  (The concert footage in the special was actually shot in Omaha on June 19 and Rapid City, South Dakota, on June 21.)
A few weeks before his death, Elvis’ “Moody Blue” LP was released on translucent blue vinyl.  Although much of Elvis’ 1970s product consisted of cheaply slapped-together compilations of old cuts built around hit singles, “Moody Blue” was somewhat consistent: six cuts from sessions at Graceland in October, 1976, and three from live shows in April, 1977.  A studio session meant to fill out this LP was scheduled for January, 1977, but canceled, which is why RCA recorded the live tracks; they also rounded out the LP with a live cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Let Me Be There” that had already been released in 1974.
The content is pretty good: “Moody Blue” is a light touch of disco that somehow topped the country charts and also hit #31 on the pop charts.  “Way Down” is a chugging rocker with eerily prescient lyrics.  It also hit #1 country and #31 pop, but then shot back up to #18 pop after Elvis died.  In England, it became Elvis’ first #1 since 1970’s “The Wonder of You.”  It also contains what is recognized by the “Guinness Book” as the lowest note ever recorded by a human voice (J.D. Sumner’s double-low-C).  Another stand-out cut is a live cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “If You Love Me (Let Me Know).”  Even Elvis’ take on “Little Darlin’” outshines Rogers & Clark.
The album itself hit #1 country and #3 pop.
Copies of “Moody Blue” (like many later Elvis works) seem to be budget bin staples; I routinely find sealed copies of this album for under a dollar, likely because it sold so much better than his other albums of that era.
The first half-million blue vinyl copies sold out in early August, 1977, and RCA switched to standard black vinyl.  When Elvis died on August 16, the company immediately went back to blue vinyl, thus making the black vinyl copies very rare.  Note that Canadian black vinyl copies, and later black vinyl reissues from the 1980s and beyond are not rare.
What of the arenas?  Riverfront Coliseum would be the site where, in 1979, 11 fans were trampled to death before a concert by The Who.  Its name was changed to “The Crown” in 1997, “Firstar Center” in 1999 and “U.S. Bank Arena” in 2002.
Market Square Arena’s main tenant for most of its life was the Indiana Pacers.  The arena closed the day after the team played its final game there in 1999, before moving to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  The next season (1999-2000), they made their only (to date) NBA Finals appearance, eventually losing to the Lakers in six.  David Letterman spent much of the spring and summer of 2000 cheering on the team during his program, while also wistfully recalling their ABA days with Darnell Hillman and Bob Netolicky.
Five weeks after playing Indianapolis, Elvis’ former bodyguards released a tell-all book (“Elvis: What Happened?”) detailing his drug use.  Two weeks after that, on August 16, he died of a heart attack.  He had been scheduled to leave that evening for another tour.

And now, for no reason, is a discussion of Andy Kaufman's take on Elvis, just months before the final shows.

Here's video from Elvis' final shows.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

SNL and Harry Potter

One of SNL's most famous episodes in recent years -- May 1, 2004, with Lindsay Lohan -- includes not only the Debbie Downer/DisneyWorld sketch, but also this take on Harry Potter. Less well-known is a second sketch: a few years later, when Daniel Radcliffe hosted, they mocked a grown-up Potter returning to Hogwarts. #snl4kidz

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Interesting celebrity commercials with John Cleese, Dustin Hoffman and Alan Alda

Here's some more classic celebrity commercials. They are not as bad as most of the ones I've posted here.

First up, Sir John Gielgud for Paul Masson wine, and its immortal cathphrase.

Bruno Sammartino, Bobby Riggs, Phil Esposito, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas and Walt Frazier all pretend like they love to hang out at Bally's Atlantic City. The weird audio edit at the end is far more annoying than what they intended (humor?).

A post-MASH Alan Alda tries to sell Atari computers (just before Commodore's Jack Tramiel took over the company from Warner Bros. and initiated a race-to-the-bottom price war that only further exacerbated the Video Game Crash). And a pre-MASH Mike Farrell sells Schmidt's Big Mouth Beer. Both of these are likely already addressed in this post.

One of many commercials for Memorex tape featuring the great Ella Fitzgerald. Chuck Mangione is also in the ad with her, and from the way they describe things, could this be for the short-lived and elusive Type III audio tape?! This (and the next ad) are taken from the April 14, 1979 broadcast of SNL with host Milton Berle (a train wreck).

The Commodores sell Schlitz beer; it's catchy and goofy. Schlitz is the same company that would make The Bull malt liquor a few years later.

Here's Dustin Hoffman showing some pretty good physical comedy/comedic timing chops while showing off the Volkswagen Type 3. For some non-Dustin Hoffman, non-Type 3 VW commercials (all about the Beetle/Bug aka Type 1) check out this blog post.

John Cleese for American Express.

And finally, Tim Conway for Lays potato chips