Monday, July 29, 2013

One Sided Records; an Ode to the Humble Radio Spot.

Before the internet, before youtube, before DVD and Blu Ray's hell even before VHS, movies had it tough. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but hear me out. If you were a movie released  in the 60s or 70s or even the  80s you either lived or died by word of mouth. Sure you had TV and you had Posters and Newspapers but movies  back then didn't have megamillion dollar marketing campaigns, no viral videos, no Redband trailers, no teaser campaigns. And if you were a horror movie forget about it. You played at a handful of theatres then the drive in and that was that. Hopefully the kids weren't making out too much or too high to remember if you were any good or not. Hopefully they told their friends.

Yet even though the budgets are bigger,  the way movies are marketed hasn't changed. Studios have always gone for the Bait and Switch / Smash and Grab marketing model they've always used. They saturate the market with hype until nobody can resist  but slap down their cash and see what the hype is about. Then the movie doesn't live up to the hype and so the audience is disappointed. Rinse and repeat. Back in the day they  just used different tools to achieve it.

One of those tools was the Radio Spot. A glorious little piece of movie magic which if you look hard enough  you can still find hiding in  the crates if you know where to look. (By crates I mean the internet and the place to look  is eBay)

The Radio Spot was a 45 or sometimes a 12" record (and sometimes a reel to reel tape)  given to radio station DJs which often had movie trailers on  them. Some were ads for Coca Cola, or General Motors. Some were even of Frank Zappa and the Beach Boys encouraging people to vote but most were designed to get your movie out there. Comprising of 3 tracks (or spots) one usually lasting for 60 seconds and then another two of 30 seconds they were little audio trailers  played between songs or after news segments to promote films of the day.

And get this, most of them were one sided! One sided! How cool is that? Also these records were never kept for very long. The movie finished and the radio spot was likely thrown in the bin. This of course makes them very rare and highly sort after collectibles. As always the older the movie or the more bankable the franchise the prices for these items can and do go through the roof.

Case in point.....

That's a very expensive 3 minutes and 34 seconds.

Another great things  about them (especially when it comes to the Horror/Exploitation genre) is they were so over the top. Like I mentioned before about Hollywood's "Buy-My-Snake-Oil" tactics when it comes to film marketing, horror films were the prime example. You had to draw people in. Your target market had to feel as if they couldn't miss out on it before  they left the cinema to tell their friends to  give it a miss. If your picture promised  "Boobs, Blood or  Beasts" (or in most cases all three) you exploited peoples curiosity just as much as the supposed "dignity" of the  actors or actresses on screen. In that way it is suffice to say the Exploitation genre has always been a  two way street. But here's what I mean. This is a Radio Spot for Ted V Mikels' schlock disasterpiece  "The Astro-Zombies". Listen and tell me if it isn't trying to reach into your psych, grab hold of your id and just strangle it....

Watch it and you die a thousand deaths! Brilliant! or this one for American International's Frogs!

Or this one which I think is definitely a cut above the others because it doesn't try too hard. It knows its going to  scare the crap out of you but what more would you expect from this classic gem?

Brilliant right? IN fact the other one is so good we might as well go for a twofer.........

Thanks to the internet they have mostly been recorded and put up on youtube and other file sharing sites. When I DJ'd the closing party of "The Stranger With My Face"  Horror Film Festival here in Hobart, I interspersed the selected soundtracks  with lots of cool radio spots. I have a very cocktail lounge/listening club vibe to my DJing (film scores don't lend themselves to "Wave Your Hands In the Air"  type antics) so they fit the atmospherics perfectly.

I just love these things to death, And I love how they all have to have the Ratings Certificate at the end. This one's a classic! Tons of reverb the classic line "Violently Raw Brutally Frank it had to be made that way!!" and the message at the end "The R Rating will be strictly enforced"

These are just tremendous gems, and if I were able to afford the exhorbitant prices on eBay I would snap them up all the time. They're just  fabulous pieces of ephemera and an art form which sadly has gone the way of the Dodo.  Outmoded and made extinct by the steady march of media technology. Anyway I hope you enjoyed my little history lesson/ excursion. If you see any around your local record shop I'll pay you top dollar for them. Within reason.

Luke Pencilneck

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Cool is Still Just Cool Enough (An Interview wth Etsy seller Just Cool Records)

Collecting is cool and in the age of the internet it's even cooler. For one it puts you in touch with other collectors. People you otherwise would've never been able to meet years ago you can now say hi to with the click of  a mouse. Also it can put you in touch with other people who might have records you want, or want records you have. Or maybe both and you just want to groove on the records you share.

Lisa  Sumner is a rare example because she is all three. She's into Soundtracks, Metal and Punk/Post Punk and 80s gear and under the moniker of Just Cool Records she also a seller. She runs her own shop on Etsy (JustCoolRecords - natch!) and boy does she sell some good stuff.

Very cool right? Beat Street, The Story of Return of the  Jedi, Pac-Man Fever, Conan, Tolkien reading Lord of the Rings and it doesn't stop there. She even sells cool record cases and even rare cassettes!!! Remember those??

Wind on Lead Pencil Optional

She also has recently listed some amazing  Sci Fi & Horror holy grails which she has been selling  on commision for a close friend whose fallen on hard times. I'm not sure what those hard times entail  but  by the look of these items they were not easy to just cough up. You can also tell she wants to make sure they go to good homes just as much as he does.

So naturally I thought she was the perfect pick for our next interview here at Pencil Neck Record Geek
so I got on the inter-blower and sent her some questions and here are her awesome answers.


How old are you and where are you located?

Well I’m gonna have to go with the adage that it’s not polite to ask a lady her age, but suffice it to say I’m older than you. ; )

I am located in the Pacific Northwest, in Washington State.

How long have you been running your etsy shop?

My shop will have its 4th anniversary in October. My, how time flies...

Where do you get your records from?

Anywhere, and everywhere I can. Garage sales, estate sales, local record shops, online, trades with friends and strangers...

You sell some amazing stuff. How do you decide what to keep and what to sell?

Haha! Well, thank you so much for saying so. Sometimes it is indeed difficult to decide whether to keep or sell particular records because my inventory is dangerously close to my personal collection. That being said, I have a hard time keeping records that are extremely rare/desirable/expensive, because invariably I’m behind on the bills, and I love having as many cool records as I can in my shop.

How big is your collection and do you collect from any specific genre (i.e. soundtracks) or do you collect other kinds?

Surprisingly, my collection is not as large as one would think, roughly only 600 records. My collection is very specific, and I don’t like anything extraneous clouding it up. Aside from soundtracks, I collect most any Halloween and/or Horror related records, old school Punk/Post Punk, New Wave, Pop and Rock. Cool children’s records, 1960’s French Pop, torch singers, 1950’s & 1960’s crooners and rock-n-roll. A little disco, buttrock, hard rock and heavy metal. Basically nothing past 1990, with only a few exceptions (White Stripes and a few others).

Here’s a shot of most of my collection. The records facing front represent the records/genres in each cubby behind it. 

How long have you been collecting?

Well that’s a two-part answer. I of course grew up in a time where it was pretty much records and cassettes only, so I started buying my own records at a fairly young age. Then, as it does, life got in the way of my collecting, and after many moves and the rise of the almighty CD, I stopped collecting for about 20 years. But I picked it up again roughly 5 years ago, and will never again let life get in the way of my passion for vinyl.

Do you collect for love or money or both?

Definitely both. The more record hunting I do, the more hooked I get. And there’s nothing like the feeling of finding a rare record for someone who has been searching for it for 20 years.

What's your most favourite record?

Oh good lord, I couldn’t possibly answer with just I’ll give you my top three in Soundtracks: (in no particular order)

1. Return of the Living Dead Soundtrack

2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre II Soundtrack 

3. StarStruck Soundtrack (Australian film 1983)

Although my recently acquired Maniac Soundtrack (2013) is fast becoming a favorite, I can’t stop playing it!

What's the most valuable record you own?

Ooh that’s an easy one, The Monster Club Soundtrack. Ridiculously rare and worth a few hundred dollars. Priceless to me, it’ll go to my grave.

What's your holy grail? What record(s) have you been looking everywhere for but still elude you?

Hmm...that’s tough because I have recently gotten the two most desirable records that I have been wanting for a long, long time; The Cramps Big Beat From Badsville and the Nosferatu soundtrack--the German pressing with this particular cover.

What was the first record you bought?   Do you still have it?

Haha! It was Adam and the Ants Antmusic EP from 1979. And yes, I’m pleased to say it was one of the very few records that survived my many moves and poor decisions.

What draws you to collecting Soundtracks? Was there one clear record/film/soundtrack  that started you off?

I have always been an avid movie fan, from the time I was a small child. But music has always been my first love so I suppose it was just a natural progression to get into soundtracks. But what got me into selling them and more specifically specializing in them was the Legend soundtrack (Tangerine Dream version 1985). It was the perfect niche market for me to get into because of my love and knowledge of movies, and an excellent building block for my growing business.

I started selling media 10 years ago and by total accident I found that there were many soundtracks (on CD) that were out of print and worth a ton of money. That also fueled my desire to expand my knowledge of soundtracks and discover which were desirable and highly collectible. Now, I always pay attention to a film’s soundtrack, especially if there is a vinyl release of it.

So there you go friends or fans. Another cool chat with someone at the very hub of the vinyl revival. Make sure you check out the Just Cool Records Blog and Etsy Store and she has just let it out that you can grab her great stuff at Discogs as well. Drop by, check out her wax, hop onto her blog and maybe if you're keen help her help out her friend and buy some great Horror LPs.

Til Next time peeps 

Luke Pencilneck 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh He's Been in Something Before: The Top 6 Character Actors of All Time (One From The Vault)

 So Here's one from the Vault. This is a post I put up on my old blog. I was very proud of it and since the other blog has gone to seed I thought I would bring it over here to the Pencil Neck Record Geek side.

Being a fan of cinema (and in particular B-Grade trash cinema)  I wrote this post about my favourite character actors. If I ever get to recreate the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band I would include all 6 of these guys in my pantheon of the greats standing behind me. So here goes, for your reading pleasure enjoy.......

I was watching a movie the other day in the lab and one of those actors appeared on the screen. You know the ones, you get that tickle in the back of your memory and you think "Oh. Its that guy, who was in that thing, he's always playing that type of character, who is he again?"

You know, a character actor. So i got myself on the inter-tubes and thought that I would make a short post about some of the ones that really stick in my memory.

So here I present to you

The Top Six Character Actors of All Time (1972 - present)

6. Earl Boen
So do you need someone to play  a Lab Partner? A Scientist? Or a psychologist? Which one do you need? Or Earl here-could even play all 3. Forever immortalized as well-meaning but shifty Psych-Ward-Head-Honcho Dr. Peter Silberman in all three Terminator movies, Earl is your goto guy if you want someone, in a position of power, whose level of competence, you just,... somehow,... can't trust.

A mainstay on the screen and off Earl now makes quite a decent living doing voice overs for video games, including Call of Duty, Baldur's Gate and most infamously as narrator in World of Warcraft.
5. Al Leong

You need Bad Ass Asian? We have Bad Ass Asian!! Introducing Al Leong, That guy from Die Hard, you know the one, the Bad Ass Asian one. Stuck behind the confection stand at Nakatomi Plaza.

Recently appearing in episodes of 24 and Deadwood, Al most certainly owes kudos to his role as Uli in the 1988 action classic for putting his face on the Whose-that?-

Al has had a long career appearing in some serious box office muscle over the past 26 years, in films such as Godziilla, Lethal Weapon and Escape From LA, but for me he will always be remembered as Genghis Khan in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

4. Vincent Schiavelli

Those eyes!! That hair! But more to the point and forevermore,.... those eyes!! Vincent Schiavelli (10.11.1946-26.12.2005) is probably one of the most recognisable faces in film. With 152 appearances on the big and small screen, Vincent had (and continues to have) an ever growing fanbase amongst character actor loyalists and film enthusiasts everywhere. Born with a visage that could strike pity as well as unsettling "not-quite-rightness" in equal measure, Vincent had the "Gentle Lunatic" market single-handedly sewn up since an early break landed him a role in 1975's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Having appeared in
eeeeevvvveeerrryyything, (I'm convinced his face will appear miraculously in a piece of toast any day now), to most people he will be remembered as the Subway Spirit in the movie Ghost.

3. James Hong

This guy is freakin' awesome!!! Why? I hear you ask? One answer. He plays Lo Pan in
Big Trouble in Little China. But to boil it down to just one role is to overlook a career spanning a whopping 335 TV, Movie and Video Game appearances since 1955's Soldier of Fortune and culminating in an up to the minute appearance in the recently released re-(tard)make The Day the Earth Stood Still. An even stronger contender for appearing in nearly eeevvvvveerryything (as far as miracle-toast goes, he will share the other side with Vincent Schiavelli), James Hong consistently apperas in the "251 memory bank" when either playing the corporate businessman or 2000 year old evil genius. For shits and giggle; s we highly recommend you get some sagely advice by asking Lo Pan the answers to your serious problems at Ask Lopan . When asked "If i should get out of bed tomorrow?" he replies; Act on your first impulse. Then rip the heart from your foes chest, eat it, then immediately excrete it from your bowels and shove it down their throat.

2. Danny Trejo

When it comes to picking knife-wielding assassins for your B-Grade movie pic, the list begins with Danny Trejo and goes down from there. With a moustache gently laid across like filigree upon his acne-scarred face, Danny Trejo has one of the more fascinating "plucked from obscurity" stories found in the pages of Hollywood Lore. IMDB lists his short biography as thus,..

A child drug addict and criminal, Danny Trejo was in and out of jail for 11 years. While serving time in San Quentin, he won the lightweight and welterweight boxing titles. Imprisoned for armed robbery and drug offenses, he successfully completed a 12-step rehabilitation program that changed his life. While speaking at a Cocaine Anonymous meeting in 1985, Trejo met a young man who later called him for support. Trejo went to meet him at what turned out to be the set of Runaway Train (1985). Trejo was immediately offered a role as a convict extra, probably because of his tough tattooed appearance. Also on the set was a screenwriter who did time with Trejo in San Quentin. Remembering Trejo's boxing skills, the screenwriter offered him $350 per day to train the actors for a boxing match. Director Andrei Konchalovsky saw Trejo training Eric Roberts and immediately offered him a featured role as Roberts' opponent in the film.

Apart from that, Trejo has one of the sexiest, dare i say it "Prison Chic", tattoos ever to grace the silver screen, his trademark Sombrero Lady

1. Dick Miller

Coming in at number one is Dick Miller. If I ever walk into a bar, a garage, a construction site or garbage dump and i see Dick Miller there, i will shit pure joy into your hat.

The man has been sticking his mug into roles as the "shit-kicking everyman" for over 54 years, always serving you a drink or, filling up your car while simultaneously offering sage advice to youngsters and travellers about strange happenings and unseen forces, which may or may not guide their souls into peril.

If in the 3rd act you need to know just what happened on that fateful night at the Jones Mansion on top of the Town Hill over 4o years ago, Dick Miller
is the guy to show up and tell you.

So there you go, thanks so much for indulging me, this blog post has been a labour of love. Enjoy...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spin the Blackest Circle (Interview with DJ Fishead)

As you guys may or may not know one of the coolest record labels in existence is Death Waltz Recording Company. They release Soundtracks. Like..... Incredibly good soundtracks. Horror soundtracks. And as you all know there ain't nothing cooler than that.

So, just recently Death Waltz opened an internet forum for other mad Soundtrack obsessives to rap madly about the things they love and its turning into quite a hub of activity and discussion. It's called Spin The Blackest Circle. Some  peeps upload photos of their collections, some discuss the finer points of Morricone or John Carpenter stuff and more just hop on with a quick pic of the platter they're spinning at that very moment. You know,  some hipsters instagram their food, others take pics of what's in their ears. Most of time, we're all relieved, to see that it's  just music.

So I've been meeting other cool collector's, some who are just starting out and some who've been doing it a lot longer than me and some who have collected things I never even knew existed. Like did you know  there was a promo 7" put out for the VHS release of David Lynch's Blue Velvet?

or that the cover to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

was in fact a clever rip off of another popular teenage movie soundtrack?.

So while I've been chatting with these other freaks I put out a shout out to see if anyone wanted to be interviewed and one lone figure stood up from the darkness.... DJ Fishead.

Hailing from Canada DJ Fishead was more than happy to help out. He's an avid collector and was more than happy to talk about his collection. So read on......

How big is your collection and do you collect from any specific genre (i.e. soundtracks) or do you collect other kinds?

My collection is probably in the range of about 10,000 records... and soundtracks only make up a small portion of that - maybe three hundred or so. 

 How long have you been collecting?

I started records in the early 80's... and sometime around '87 my tastes changed and a year later I purged pretty much everything in my collection. I was only fifteen, so I only had about 25 records by that point, but eventually I replaced most of them and came to realize that purges were something that I'd come to regret. So I'd mark the summer of '88 as the spawning ground for my collection.

 Do you collect for love or money or both?
I've been working at various levels of the music industry for twenty years. I've worked in stores, and I'm currently working in sales for a Canadian music distributor... but I've never really learned anything about selling records. I enjoy buying records, and I enjoy the feeling I get from connecting other people with records they're looking for. I've been known to go into shops and hear strangers discussing records and just pull it out of the stacks and hand it to them.  I suppose I'm good at selling music, but I'm terrible about attaching a price to things, and consequently I've done a terrible job anytime I've downsized. I guess I'm more concerned about getting things into good homes than getting a financial return.

What's your most favourite record?

That's a tough question, but it may very well be the Faust EP by Abelcain. He's a friend of mine, and it's a relatively obscure electronic record that features a rhythmic reworking of themes from Aguirre: Der Zorn Gottes.  The title track is loaded with samples from Jan ┼ávankmajer's Faust. More importantly it's the record that made me go out and dig up a VHS copy of Aguirre, and conversations with Marty also helped fuel my interest in Jodorowsky and a lot of  other esoteric films.
A later record of his that's also pretty incredible is Pantheon of Fiends, which is a tribute to some of his favorite movie monsters.

 What's the most valuable record you own?
I've accumulated a lot of crazy test pressings and weirdness over the years, but the most valuable might be the original RCA press of the Black Devil Disco Club 6-track EP.  A lot of folks consider it to be the most sought after record from the italo disco era.  I got it for an offensively low price, partly due to already having the re-issues on Rephlex and not making a big deal of finding it.  There are a few other records in my collection, like the Lost Highway soundtrack, that seem to be fetching a lot - and there are records that are pretty much impossible to place a value on:  test-pressings in hand-made sleeves and even pre-release copies of records that never even ended up being released. 

 What's your holy grail? What record(s) have you been looking everywhere for but still elude you?
I don't think my want-list is all that crazy, actually.  I've been really fortunate to have found most a lot of what I'm looking for.  I suppose it would be nice to have a copy of the Natural Born Killers soundtrack on LP (I saw one for sale at a shop in Vancouver in 2001, and passed on it - thinking it was over-priced at $50)... but there's a handful of singles that would be nice to find.  There's a Claudine Longet 7" where she does a cover of the lullaby from Rosemary's Baby on the flipside.

What was the first record you bought?   DO you still have it?
First record was Iron Maiden's Maiden Japan EP.  I was nine at the time.  It was part of that late 80's purge.  I've replaced it - and have tracked down Japanese pressings of all their early albums.

What draws you to collecting Soundtracks? Was there one clear record/film/soundtrack  that started you off?
I'm not sure whether it was Apocalypse Now! or Eraserhead... but certainly one of those two records.  I remember being struck by the dialogue samples and, being a DJ, started really digging through the soundtrack bins for other soundtracks that included passages from the film.  Just today I picked up a record called Joe Speaks, which is loaded up with Peter Boyle's rants from the film Joe (1970).  There's some really insane bits on there... things like that keep me going, but I'm also embarking on a Masters degree in film studies - with the idea to doing my thesis on music placement within films.  So I guess there's some academic relevance... or maybe I'm just trying to justify my collection.  It's a fine line.

Friday, July 5, 2013

S.P.A.T. Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania

The other day I went to visit the Sound Preservation Society of Tasmania or as its colloquially known SPAT.

Wow!! What a freaking amazing place!! What an amazing awesome place. Tucked away in the old Bellerive  post office in Bellerive (Tasmania Australia to all you overseas peeps) it is the most awesome little secret. A total goggle-eyed slice of retro-tech-porn. If you love old gramophones, old radios, old turntables, old wax cylinders then you'll find something to love in every square foot of the place.

In 1985 SPAT  was formed and through a combination of  donated  equipment and the aquiring  of private collections had,  by February  of 1986,  collected over hundreds of old radios and sound equipment. It now boasts a collection of some of the oldest and rarest pieces of vintage audio  and over 70,000 records  (12"s and 45's). Thats right..... OVER  70,000 LPs and 45's!!

The Amazing Sound Library
Usually kept under lock and key,  on this particular day we were granted access to this amazing treasure trove of LPs and Edison Cylinders and 7" singles
Nicolas Dewey -SPAT's social media maverick and fellow vinyl geek-o-naut on the day.

Some of the best finds in the archive. All 4  KISS-The Solo Albums  Not the most rarest find but always impressive to see a full set

also the rarer Best of the Solo Albums
For the most part it has been run by a devoted group of senior citizens but has recently had a boost of young enthusiasm as Hobart's young freaks and geeks have discovered its hidden cache of vintage marvels. With the help of young DJ  Nicolas Dewey and Sebrina Brennan, SPAT president Lindsay McCarthy was able to set up a facebook page and the growth of the page has exceeded over 100 "likes"  in its first month. Check it out here.

Beautiful Edison Cylinder Player
Studer Reel To Reel
Portable Vinyl Cutter

Rondex Vinyl Cutter
His Master's Voice Gramophones

Broadcast turntable donated from the ABC. Note the second tone arm fitted with "Dust Bug" which cleans the groove before it passes under the stylus

It is truly a wondrous place and is always in need of donations. They are hoping to apply for Heritage Listing and a grant to move to a much bigger premises (what they have on site is only a fraction of what is in President Lindsay's shed at his home.)

They have a website here with more information about how to contact and how to donate. If you're from the mainland or visiting from overseas The Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania is a must see for lovers of Vintage Technology and Retro sounds. I can't recommend it enough.