Sep 212013
Traveling through time and space...the orange singles box!

Traveling through time and space…the orange singles box!

I don’t know about you, but as righteous a practice as I know it is, I’ve never been obsessive about flipping a 45 over and checking out the B-side. Part of it may be my Darwinian leanings. Why should I get too worked up about “sloppy seconds?” Part of it may be because I like to act cool and later be surprised. Eventually I will get around to checking out the B-side, even it it takes me 40-some years, as was the case this past week.

While completing the digital transfer of the plastic orange singles box I’ve dragged through time and space, I decided to burn a lot of the B-sides as well as the better-loved sides. In some cases, I aborted the burn in mid-song. The B-side to “The Hustle,” for instance, was the lowest form of disco-era clock punching ever put to tape. “The A-side is going to buy us some swimming pools,” I imagined Van McCoy saying to his session players, “the B-side can skim for bugs and leaves!” I forget the name of the B-side. It was so bad it wasn’t even funny.

There are singles I’ve bought by favorite artists in their prime that I couldn’t wait to flip over: Elvis Costello & the Attractions‘ singles from my teenage years, for instance, always delivered the goods. The flipside of Dave Edmunds‘ version of “Girls Talk,” the Graham Parker-penned “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” is another one I couldn’t wait to hear—for good reason, as it turned out.

Then there are singles I’ve bought specifically for the hit song on the A-side, often by a 1-hit wonder or an artist whose deep cutz I have learned to put no stock in. Take Elton John. Long ago I realized that anything that’s not worthy of appearing on his Greatest Hits albums has not been worth my time. I’ve bought a couple of full Elton John albums over the years, and the album cuts never stick with me. The last thing I need to do is check out the B-side to “Someone Saved My My Life Tonight,” which come to think of it must have slipped from my orange singles box into another space in the cabinet in which I’ve loaded 45s, cassettes, DAT tapes, and other oddities.

What I’ve learned while burning singles over the past couple of weeks is that it is wise to B-ware the B-side. In some cases, I discovered or was reminded of a relative gem. In others, I thanked my lucky stars that I escaped childhood relatively untraumatized from ever having heard the lesser side.

RTH Saturday Night Shut-In 115

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RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 115: B-ware! by Mr Moderator on Mixcloud

May 222013

Something’s been bugging me the last 24 hours—well, a number of things have been bugging me, but one in particular that’s worth sharing here in the Halls of Rock. Before I share, let me note that the ire I’m about to express toward an old friend and key musical mentor is not to be expressed without tremendous respect and acute self-awareness of my own tendency to do exactly what my friend did to get under my skin.

Yesterday, this friend—a should-be Townsman who has resisted all efforts at recruitment into our daily bull sessions since Day 1 of our original listserv origins—tipped me off on my Facebook page, in case I wasn’t aware of them, of videos of Big Dipper at JC Dobbs, an old-time Philadelphia club where my music friends and I (most of whom, this particular friend excluded, patrol these halls on a regular basis) saw the band every time they came through town. I was long aware of these videos, which I didn’t bother to throw back in his face, rock-snob style, as your slightly younger, less-gentle Moderator was wont to do. Kinder, wiser Moderator that I am I merely thanked him; confirmed that our extended crew was in the crowd the night this video was shot, as was always the case among the 40 people in Philadelphia who could be counted on to come out and see Big Dipper; and asked him if he’d heard the band’s latest album, which I mentioned was “very good” and very much in the vein of Heavens-era Dipper.

My friend’s response, in the sort of rock-snob tone that’s too well known to my own voice?

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