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This video features “The Look of Love (Part 1)”. Part 3 from Side B of this single is a very slight variation on this theme. The USA Dub Remix on Side B is totally weird. Enjoy.

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Click here to download the MP3 conversion from the 12″

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A The Look Of Love (USA Remix – Dub Version) 7:37
B The Look Of Love (Part 3 – Dance Version) 4:17

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I’d sworn off Ska for the rest of my life…until I listened to this record.

Flashback to 2002

The memory of when Ska went on my permanent shit list is still very vivid. During college a friend had invited me to a Reel Big Fish concert at Bogart’s. I told him I’d have to think about it because of one major factor: Bogart’s is easily one of the worst venues of past, present or future. Its bouncers are usually current or former members of a lame straight edge “gang” named, laughably, Courage Crew. The members are composed of nerdy dudes who found themselves bullied incessantly throughout high school and, as a result of their endless wedgies, joined a “gang” after graduating or dropping out to feel tough.

I use the term gang with quotations because the terms team, organization or club can’t be used to describe a bunch of dudes who roll 20 deep and pick fights with a single guy because he and one of their slut girlfriends used to neck behind Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken in Covington. And they aren’t into cooking meth, trickin’ hoes, doing anything illegally profitable, so the unquotationed term gang really isn’t appropriate either. Until I find a good descriptor for their douchey little group the quotations will have to do.

ANYWAY, I didn’t want to see Reel Big Fish in the first place and especially didn’t want to get hassled by oily sXe dudes at the shit stain that is 2621 Short Vine. However, the the tickets were free, it was my friend’s birthday and he’s a pretty swell guy so I sucked it up and boarded the Oi Oi Express.

Big mistake. Throughout Junior High and High School I’d surfed the Ska tsunami that engulfed teenage America in the mid 90s. I was listening to it all: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Operation Ivy, The Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Aquabats, Hepcat, and whatever bands were on the endless Ska compilations I bought at Best Buy. However, I never attended a single Ska concert because my Mormon parents prohibited any social activities within Cincinnati city limits, or as the Mormon bishop called it, Strumpetville. If I’d seen the terrible spectacle of live Ska at an early age I would have ceased and desisted wasting my parent’s money on Ska box sets much, much earlier.

Ok, I’ve never admitted this, even to my therapist, so I’m going to come right out and say it. I had to endure 2 hours of unadulterated and unyielding skanking at that Reel Big Fish Concert. It was much like the following video, except it was scrawny white dudes instead of Hispanic folks. And it was really dark and damp. And I was crying.

Round and round they went. And round. And round. And after a while the spinning rude boys, paired with the nauseating trumpet which spewed from Bogart’s shitty PA, made a brother wanna hurl. So, in knee-jerk fashion, I ran outside to avoid soiling the dance floor. Once outside I unleashed my vomitous fury upon the adjacent storefront of the long-abandoned Jupiter And Beyond Arcade. It was at this moment I swore, much as I did with Goldschläger after a particularly debauched Halloween, that I would never ingest Ska again so long as I lived.

Fast forward to Present Day

Last week I was down at Mole’s Record Exchange in Clifton perusing their small but sweet collection of used vinyl. I happened upon The English Beat’s Special Beat Service and remembered I was quite fond of one of their songs, “Save It For Later”. Sure enough it was on this album, so I picked it up and brought it home for a listen.

What the rest of the disc contained was a delightfully British form of early Ska. They even use an accordion…and it makes so much sense it hurts. It also includes a song from the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off soundtrack. The part you’re most likely to recognize starts at 2:16.

Last week I would have said that under no circumstances would I be listening to Ska in 2011 (with the exception of Hepcat, because Hepcat owns). But this album is telling me that 2011 is brimming with of all sorts of pleasant surprises. So, stay tuned with an open mind for tons of great music to come at Rebuilt Tranny’s Rat Rod Record Exchange.

>>>Click here to download Special Beat Service at 320 kbps

Tracklist

A1 I Confess 4:33
A2 Jeanette 2:48
A3 Sorry 2:33
A4 Sole Salvation 3:07
A5 Spar Wid Me 4:32
A6 Rotating Head 3:26
B1 Save It For Later 3:36
B2 She’s Going 2:11
B3 Pato And Roger A Go Talk 3:20
B4 Sugar & Stress 2:57
B5 End Of The Party 3:33
B6 Ackee 1 2 3 3:13

Update 1/4/11: Gerry Rafferty died today at the age of 63. He passed on peacefully at home with family. Thanks for the music, Gerry.

If you’re not familiar with Gerry Rafferty or with his song “Baker Street” you should first take a look-see at this video.

Please, allow your saxophone-induced erection to subside before reading the remainder of this post.

While researching this album I came across a couple of interesting pieces of information about Gerry Rafferty. First, Rafferty just recently suffered liver failure due to acute alcoholism and is in critical condition. Amazingly this isn’t the first time he’s suffered liver failure from overindulgence. Additionally, alcoholism has driven Rafferty to a life of seclusion; and perhaps made him a fan of George Thorogood. There have even been reports of him completely disappearing from time to time. All of this leads one to believe that, despite becoming a popular musician and selling over 5.5 million copies of City To City, Rafferty’s a lonely, depressed soul. Evidence of this is found in the lyrics of “Baker Street”.

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head, and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day
You drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold,
Its got so many people but its got no soul
And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything

Baker Street, London, England

You used to say that it was so easy

But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now

Second, some people credit the sexophone solo in “Baker Street” with inciting the stampede of screaming reeds that ran rampant throughout 80′s pop. Music critic and historian Richard Ingham termed Rafferty’s sax influence the “Baker Street Phenomenon” in The Cambridge Companion To The Saxophone. Below is an excerpt from the book:

The year 1978 saw the appearance of what can only be described as the Baker Street phenomenon. An attractive but seemingly innocuous rock ballad, a hit for singer/composer Gerry Rafferty, was decorated by a handful of notes turned into an eight-bar phrase at the beginning and between verses.

No one really knows why, but following the success (and consequent air-play) of this number, it seemed that every self-respecting band had to include a saxophone.

Soon after that an enormous percentage of TV advertisements had a sultry tenor or wailing alto taking prominence, and in the mid 1980s the saxophone became the most popular instrument for youngsters starting out. Rafael Ravenscroft, the player in question, can thus be said to have initiated the biggest boom in saxophone sales since the craze of the 1920s.

This [testifies] to the power of the mass media, as well as the music itself, and follows in a direct line Acker Bilk, whose Stranger on the Shore was responsible for a generation of clarinet players, and later James Galway with Annie’s Song, similarly providing flute players.

It seemed that Baker Street legitimised (sic) the saxophone in mainstream pop, instead of being an extra instrument on loan from jazz. Almost the best part of this whole story is the fact, like many inventions, it appeared quite by chance.

The band were recording the number, and Rafael Ravenscroft was booked to do a session on soprano (heard briefly in the introduction). Having completed this, they were still waiting for the guitarist to arrive, who was due to record the now famous opening phrases. Time passed and Ravenscroft mentioned that he had an alto in the car if that would do as a substitute for the guitar. It was found to be satisfactory.

It’s hard to imagine the 80s without all the gratuitous sax. Hard, but somewhat cathartic. Here’s a good list of the best of the worst saxual songs from the cocaine decade.

Finally, Gerry Rafferty is a total hipster.

Beard…check. Big glasses…check. Forlorn stare into nothingness…check. Systems check complete: Hipster is a go.

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>>>Click here to download City To City at 320 KBPS

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Tracklist

1 The Ark 5:40
Electric Guitar – Jerry Donahue
Fiddle, Mandolin – Graham*
Vocals [Intro] – Bashwhackers, The
2 Baker Street 6:08
Lead Guitar [Lead Electric] – Hugh*
Rhythm Guitar [Rhythm Electric] – Nigel Jenkins
Saxophone – Raphael Ravenscroft
Synthesizer [Moog] – Tommy*
3 Right Down The Line 4:28
4 City To City 5:03
Acoustic Guitar [Acoustic] – Gerry*
Backing Vocals – Gary Taylor (4) , John McBurnie , Rab Noakes , Roger Brown (3) , Vivian McAuliff*
Fiddle – Graham*
Harmonica – Paul Jones
Tambourine – Hugh Murphy
5 Stealin’ Time 5:57
Acoustic Guitar [Acoustics] – Gerry* , Micky Moody
Grand Piano, Synthesizer [Moggs] – Tommy*
Steel Guitar – Brian Cole*
Synthesizer [String Machine] – Graham*
6 Mattie’s Rag 3:29
Accordion – Woody*
Resonator Guitar [Dobro] – Brian*
Synthesizer [String Machine], Fiddle, Arranged By [Brass Section Arranged By] – Graham*
7 Whatever’s Written In Your Heart 6:36
Backing Vocals – Joanna Carlin
8 Home And Dry 4:56
Lead Guitar – Nigel*
9 Island 5:14
Accordion – Willy Ray
Drums – Glen Le Fleur*
Saxophone [Sax] – Raphael*
10 Waiting For The Day 5:45
Bass – Gary Taylor (4)
Drums – Henry Spinnetti*
Electric Guitar [Electric Rhythm] – Andy Fairweather-Low
Electric Piano, Organ, Arranged By [Bass Arrangements] – Tommy Eyre
Fiddle – Graham Preskett
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar – Hugh Burns
Percussion – Glen Le Fleur*
Piano, Vocals – Gerry Rafferty

There isn’t much I know about King Of Woolworths. There isn’t even a Wikipedia entry for the group. The little I’ve found out about project has been through sites run by fans around the globe. I only know that I LOVE this album.

It was only by a chance that I ever even heard about them in the first place. During the summer of 2002 the radio station WOXY, in Oxford, OH at the time, starting playing this curious little track called “To The Devil A Donut.” It started off in slow rotation but eventually made it into heavy play for a few solid months. I’m not sure the DJs even knew much about it…they just liked it so they put it on the radio.

It’s a pretty creepy track with bits from an old horror movie entitled “To The Devil A Daughter”. On the face there are very obvious reasons why it’s got a case of the creep. It uses snippets of dialogue about baptizing a baby in the blood of her dead mother, bringing that babe up in seclusion as the devil,  and then pumping her full of morphine. You know, the usual.

But it’s not really what’s on the face that makes it creep hypnotique, verging on a dream. With every song on this album I envision myself lying on the ground, staring face up at a different situation. The beat, the strange use of strange 70′s British synth, and the vaporous ambient cloud swallows you up and spits you out on another locale at each track’s start

With “To The Devil A Daughter” I envision myself sprawled out in a cold cellar of an ancient English country manor. It’s so old, in fact, that the floor is composed of soft, damp earth instead of hard cement. The walls are large stone without caulk. The ceiling is comprised of old oak beams, covered in spider webs. The room is lit by the soft but terrifying flicker of torch light. Hooded shadows work their way in and out of the ominous glow, always threatening but never pouncing. The suspense is terrible but just as it comes to a climax the track changes and I’m transported elsewhere.

In “Theydon” I’m lying on the beach somewhere on the coast of the North Sea. I don’t know how I got there and I don’t know why I’m wet and I don’t know why I’m wearing a blue and white fleece because I don’t ever wear fleece but I don’t care. I don’t care because beautiful music floats over my drenched body and connects me with the little pebbles covering my jeans. I say hello to the passing gulls. The sun rises and I worry temporarily that it will melt my bones, but the fear quickly passes and I’m at peace. Everything’s OK.

The album takes turns tossing you psychologically from dark to light, harm to safety. It’s like a continually operating wooden rollercoaster in an abandoned park that you keep riding over and over and over. You always think it’s gonna jump the tracks and fling you into a bloody underbrush demise. But it doesn’t, it keeps on round and round in a beautiful and terrifying loop.

I think Mr. King Of Woolworths himself, Jon Brooks, puts it best: “Everything’s fine, but there is something not quite right about it.”

>>>Click here to download Ming Star

Tracklist

1 Kentish Town 5:33
2 Bakerloo (Main Titles) 6:19
3 Where Fleas Hide 1:58
4 Stalker Song 4:44
5 Colcannon 5:14
6 To The Devil A Donut 6:02
7 Kite Hill 5:30
8 The Watchmaker’s Hands 7:11
9 Theydon 6:49
10 Bakerloo (End Credits) 4:40

This is the album that made me think I wanted to visit the UK. Well, not this actual 12″, but the LP that this 12 was derived from. I bought this 12″ a few years after I bought the original in high school. Sue me…joke’s on you, I’m broke.

For a split second it seems like a good idea, vising the Cream Isle. After all, Britannia rules the waves! Wait, can they really do that? Is their science so far ahead of ours? We can’t even clean oil, albeit millions upon trillions of gallons of oil, from our waves. Yet somehow they are able to force the foaming sea to bring millions of Britons breakfast in bed each and every morning.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rules the waves!

There really aren’t any perks to visiting England. It’s not like you can hang out for a week on one of their fabulous beaches. You can’t visit their quaint little alpine lodges. You can’t witness the splendor of untainted fauna roaming virgin countrysides. You can’t do none of that because none of that exists!

And do you know why? It’s because the United Kingdom is just a bigger version of New Jersey. There are a lot of weird-looking white people living there with no other place to go. So, in protest of their shitty luck, they’ve been forming unholy missionary positions for the past millenium and producing terribly ugly babies. And those babies have been killing off any wildlife, African Swallows included, they could get within their single-barrel shotgun sights. England, Wales and Scotland aren’t the shallow end of the gene pool…they are the trash compactor.

Instead of white trash they have “chavs”.

But somehow this little island of misfit boy toys never fails to produce a steady stream of musical savants. And you know what, it kind of gives me the creeps. It’s not like these guys are being fostered in a culturally rich environment. The Beatles were from Liverpool, for Christ’s sake.

With less than 900,000 “Liverpudlians” within the greater city limits, Liverpool is less populous than Cincinnati. The only thing that ever came out of Cincinnati was 27th President of the United States William Howard Taft. He was a president so terrible that Teddy Roosevelt came out of political retirement to form a new political party in an attempt to knock Taft, Roosevelt’s former Vice President, out of office.

Nice pants, asshole.

So how, oh how, is it that this land mass crawling with cheeky monkeys keeps birthing killer bands? After listening to the song “Gomez In A Bucket (A Seaside Town Made Of Ice Cream, Slowly Melting)” I think I’ve found an answer both simple and mysterious. That, of course, is the little known existence of an unbelievably potent strain of Indian hash called “Symphalamajamjam”.

Everyone thinks that Gandhi was the reason India gained independence from the British. Non-violence my ass. No, it was because all of the Maharajas running the Indian drug trade got together and said enough was enough; those British bastards had hampered their sweet cheeba trade for long enough. So, in a bid to rid their dominion of the buzzkill wankers, the head Maharaja met secretly with GeorgeVI to let him in on a little secret.

This guy loved the doobage.

Boss Maharaja sais, “Look Georgey Boy, I don’t like you and you don’t like me,” he says. “You been floppin’ your stinky pikey feet all over my sweet subcontinental turf for too long. I want you gone and gone quick but I’m gonna make it real sweet for you, see?”

Boss Maharaja leaned in real close to George VI. It looked as if he would kiss George on the brow, but he resisted.

“This here Symphalamajamjam is gonna make all your people real good at the gee-tar. One toke and they will be just as good as the Beatles, maybe better.”

“Why in the bloody hell would I want my subjects acting like insects, blub blub blub,” said a moistening Charles.

“That’s not important, my man, that’s not important,” said Boss Maharaja. “What isimportant is that you take this little brick of sticky wicky home along with these seeds. Every street and alley in London will be like a god damn Gilbert and Sullivan convention. You dig?”

“No, but your turban is very convincing.”

And that’s how Gomez came to produce this 12″ in 1999.

Click here to download We Haven’t Turned Around and all the fixins’.

Tracklist

A1 We Haven’t Turned Around 6:30
A2 Flight 3:30
A3 Rosemary 4:51
B1 We Haven’t Turned Around (X-Ray Version) 3:16
B2 Gomez In A Bucket (A Seaside Town Made Of Ice Cream, Slowly Melting) 10:02
B3 Emergency Surgery 2:18

There are now over 100 albums on Rebuilt Tranny’s Rat Rod Record Exchange. Instead of celebrating I’m going to hand over a sad album to the internet community. I’ve lost so many hours uploading the Rainbow Goblins Story, countless Daft Punk records, cacophonous machinery, and too – many – remixes.

I could have spent all of that LP-twirling doing something worthwhile: watching Red Dwarf episodes on Netflix.

British Sci-Fi: The only reason to live?

But before I digress, let’s get back to the actual subject of this post for just a second. Nick Drake, English folk rock extraordinaire, also felt like he was in a life filled with waste. Despite albums filled with tonally rich yum-yums, he continually failed to sell more than a few thousand albums for each release.

No one really knows why he couldn’t push units. Some say it was because he hated performing. Others say it’s because he avoided interviews at all costs. And then there are those who point to the fact that he was never, EVER captured on video.

But I know the real truth.

Nick hugged the electric cactus by overdosing on antidepressants 14 years before Red Dwarf even hit the air. He never got to see the pinnacle of British television. He never got to see how cats would evolve 3 million years in the future (they turn into humans with sharp canines, James Brown dance moves, and impeccable taste in Nudie-style suites.) He only had Dr. Who…and his suicide-enducing scarf.

Seriously, kill me now.

So, I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about my lot. I do feel fortunate I had the opportunity to see that episode where Lister became impregnated by the female-alternate-universe-version of himself. That was bloody hilarious!

Maybe if Nick had witnessed the comedic gold presented in the following clip we’d still have him with us today.

I’m just be glad I’m still kickin’, my record player is still spinnin’, and I haven’t fried my new hard drive during the hours of conducting the vinyl-to-MP3 train. All aboard. Or something.

I hope to bring another 100 albums online in the next year and then 100 more after that.

This album is a reminder that you should always be thankful for what you have and remember, there are always lots more juicy tunes just a click away.

>>Click to download Bryter Layter

Tracklist

A1 Introduction 1:33
A2 Hazey Jane II 3:41
A3 At The Chime Of A City Clock 4:42
A4 One Of These Things First 4:46
A5 Hazey Jane I 4:24
B1 Bryter Layter 3:16
B2 Fly 2:56
B3 Poor Boy 6:30
B4 Northern Sky 3:42
B5 Sunday