A List of Things We Lost is the rare vinyl blog of the sometimes corporeal, always ephemeral Unbreakable Records.

Nothing posted here will be found on a compact disc. Links are lingering somewhere at the end of each post; go find 'em!

No commercial endeavor is implied or supported by the posting of this music, it is for personal enjoyment and consumption only.

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Monday, October 1, 2012


          September 30, 2012

          Dear Jack,

          I've been with you for a while now, having been a fan from the first note of the first song of White Blood Cells back in 2001.  Even as you made music or musical choices that I didn't love, I always tried to come see you play when you were in New York.   More than once I've called you our generation's only living guitar god.

         Saturday's show at Radio City Music Hall was bullshit.

          I respect any musician's decisions about his or her music.  No one should place expectations on how long a musician should perform for.  But when every other set on your tour has been twice the length of this sold-out show of 5,000 people, paying an average ticket price of $61, you're getting paid to perform a service.  That's called WORK, brother - around $300,000 for a single night ain't bad (yes, I know you don't get it all).  Playing half a concert and then sprinting off the stage means you're shirking your duties.

           I'm a teacher; if I show up and half my class is off the wall, won't listen, or talks over me... I don't get to walk out of the room and go home.  I have to figure out how to make it WORK, to do the best job I can for my students; they're the people I'm working for.  That's what people do at WORK - they do their job.  

            You did your job lazily, poorly.  Bad sound is a disappointing fact of live music.  Bad will towards the people who put you where you are is a disappointing, weak character trait.       

          You're an inventive, DIY kinda guy.  If it was, in fact, a sound issue, then fix it. You get to choose your venues.  You get a soundcheck.  You get a sound guy for the stage monitors, and another one for the audience.  You don't like the sound?  Fix it.  Don't pay Radio City their exorbitant venue fee for a hall that sounds like shit.  But don't charge your fans for something that's not their fault.  Tell us, the ones who helped make it a sold-out show, that you're gonna power through, because that's what rock n' roll's about - persevering, & rocking the fuck out of whatever bad situation you find yourself in.

            For the record, I was trying to start cheers of "Come back, Jack!" even when I knew by the house lights, the roadies turning off amps, that it was futile.  But by that point, the confused and dispirited audience wasn't into it - they were just ready to boo you.  Standing around for thirty minutes like a bunch of hopeful assholes, wondering why we just gave up our Saturday nights - and a fair amount of money - to see someone who doesn't seem to care about how our evening ends... it didn't sit well with people. That's the way to lose a lot of fans. 
          Anyway, you just lost this one.

          Long live the good times,


Friday, September 28, 2012


A while back I stumbled upon this in a box of random buys - you know, the kind where you're thumbing & thumbing, thinking, over & over again, "Why did I buy this huge lot of crappy records?" until you pull out the one that has all these weird-ass Fluxus folks doing spoken word, recordings of semiotic theory lectures & out pieces like "Typewriter in D" and "How To Make Love To A Sound."  It's got William Borroughs and Buckminster Fuller. It's called Revolutions Per Minute (The Art Record) [Charing Hill 1982].  That sounds promising. There are gnomic, philologic-philosophic pangyrics scattered among post-punky musical selections & even some country.  So you think, "Hm... this isn't so crappy..." Then you see that it's signed by the producers, Jeff and Juanita Gordon; then you check up on it & you see it's worth a good couple-a Benjamins.

What, you mean you never have those kind of days?

This was about two years ago.  Then, just this summer, my good friend Christopher Z. Gordon (you might know him better as the manager of the fiery Randall, he of deep, unending animal observations) sent me a press release for a gallery show that his dad was curating.  It was based on the similarly-assembled Andy Warhol tribute titled 15 Minutes, which was released as an art-and-music multi-disc set last spring by Sony (and which, coincidentally, I reviewed briefly in conjunction with the opening).  That set was co-produced by Jeff Gordon, the same one (I assumed) who'd produced Revolutions Per Minute.

Wait - Chris Gordon... Jeff Gordon... I'd always known his dad was an artist.  But such a common last name that I never made the connection.  A few emails later, & it turns out I'd been drinking & smoking & playing punk rock with Jeff Gordon's son for the last decade.  Crazy, man, crazy.

Also turns out that Jeff doesn't have his own copy of R.P.M. and isn't so hip to turntables any more, but the request came through for a CD copy - one I was more than happy to oblige.  In so doing, I figured there was no reason not to help spread the brilliance & include it on the List.

True to form, there are indeed many revolutions - as well as devolutions, evolutions and convolutions - every minute on this behemoth of a collection.  Thanks to Jeff & Juanita Gordon for assembling 30 years ago, & to Chris for helping me get it together in the 21st Century to post!

Turn the beat around.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Free Life's self-titled debut [Epic JE-35392, 1978] is yet another platter from the land of how-we-like-'em: groovy & with pretty much no information available at all.  About all one can ascertain is that this, the band's only full-length offering, was produced by Phillip Bailey, just out of Earth, Wind and Fire and a few years before his solo career (which spawned possibly my favorite soul/pop hit of the '80s, his "Easy Lover" duet with Phil Collins).

Musically, Free Life drew from the same disco-funk well as EWF, but on the slightly lighter side.  Not consistently my cup of tea, but there are enough good moments and strong tracks to keep the listener's interest ("Dance Fantasy" was released in a couple of different versions and is a mildly sought-after 12").  Even with the backing of a known R&B quantity on one of the most major of major labels, the band did nothing after their debut (save for "Dance Fantasy" also being a split single with Billy Ocean's hit "Nights" in 1980).

But don't let their lack of success slow you down... live the Free Life!

Friday, June 22, 2012


It's always nice when a musician gets a second chance at practicing his or her art.  Often, these less commercially-inclined ventures are the ones that bring the artist more satisfaction than chasing after mammon's grail.  It looks like this might be the case with Patty Dee.

Until recently, every search I made for her came up blank, other than listings for her ultra-rare 7" 45 and 12" EP on Discogs.  I don't usually like to post things without background info, but in this case (as with one of the other posts coming up soon) I didn't have much choice; so I was happy to see upon looking again that Ms. Dee is still in the saddle, albeit in a much different way.

Her longer effort, Fade The Night Away [Aircut 002, 1979], has five songs that touch upon the darker side of minimal pop, with droney vocals and low-register synth melodies a trademark.  None of her collaborators seem to pop up much on Google searches; but the fact that Dee started her own label to release her own music, even in the heady DIY daze of the late 70s, is impressive.

That label, Aircut, only released these ultra-rare sides, & even so, they haven't really surfaced until recently.  Turns out that, presumably after a lack of success, Patty Dee folded Aircut, only to revive the label in the early aughts, to promote her continuing passion of playing the steel drum.  A quick glance at her current site (see link above) shows a devotion to Carribean music and the steel drum in particular, that Dee uses to engage and enhance her community.

Funny, the paths people travel.  Looking at the post-punk sneer she has on the cover, one would be hard pressed to envision Patty Dee in the role she has now. . . but here we are, after a bid to Fade The Night Away, in the equatorial light of a new day. . . .

Thursday, June 7, 2012


For those lovers of the (thankfully) bygone "freak folk" era of the early aughts, Accolade's self-titled debut [Capitol ST-597, 1970] is a small gem in the original genre.  The jazz-inflected, all-acoustic arrangements are mostly guitar forward, but supported by excellent bowed bass and wind instruments, though, surprisingly, precious few harmonies.

It's also a great example of how bizarre the rare vinyl market is, as you can find about 5 copies for sale online at most given times, yet at auction it routinely goes for $35, and is often set-listed for far higher.  For my money, it's not nearly enough like the Incredible String Band or Pentangle to warrant such erratic pricing, as most of the tunes are straight up folksy or bluesy light-rock numbers.  Also not sure why some people list it as having breakbeats - there's definitely some tight drumming in a funky mold, but a quick check on the essential Who Sampled shows that no one ever actually has used any of the record.  However, their superb cover of "Nature Boy" is on par with their label-mate Gandalf's freakier version, and makes the LP worth a listen, at the very least. . . although the inner Joycean in you will be severely disappointed that despite the amateur wordplay in the lyrics, the 12-minute "Ulysses" has nothing to do with Leopold Bloom's wanderlust but, rather the actual travels of Odysseus (guess a four syllable name was a little harder to chisel into the form and flow of the song). 

As a result, the mostly feel-good music comes off like the UK equivalent of the Lovin' Spoonful, while the excellent flute throughout puts me in mind of Jade Warrior, but less fuzzy and progressive.  Perhaps an even better comparison would be that Accolade was doing their across-the-pond version of American blues in the way that Danny Kalb & Stefan Grossman tackled British trad folk on their much underrated Crosscurrents.  

In any event, praise is definitely due to Accolade for having nestled comfortably in the weft of the flowing cambric of UK psych-folk's historical tapestry.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I'm not always one for the '80s-inspired, Joy-Division-poseur camp (cf. my feelings that Interpol is completely insufferable and borderline unlistenable), but this is a special, spectral record that deserves some wider attention. Although they'd been around the Los Angeles South Bay area since 1983 (releasing an impossible-to-find 12" 45 album with connections to SST), this self-titled disc from 1988 is Wog's sole artistic statement. A duo consisting of Aret Madilian, a Turkish-born Armenian who emigrated to L.A., and the dubiously-named Ari Excel, Wog were far more than wannabes. Influenced by '80s greats, they convert - and sometimes subvert - the idiom to great effect. Madilian is a multi-instrumentalist who created most of the multi-layered musical underpinnings, while Excel sang and played bass.

The cover broadcasts the enigmatic nature of the music, which exists in a hazy dusk of synthesizer arpeggios. Even so, Wog took their name from a Stranglers song, though the band had little in common with the rockier elements of their namesake providers. Instead, they lay down a darkwave minefield that explodes with creativity on every track.

Issued by what was seemingly their own private label, Claudestine Records, Wog [Claudestine 01] appears to be the label's only release, and a worthy entry into the missing-link minimal/darkwave canon.

Madilian currently lives in France and fronts the haunting, fragile Delavan. Meanwhile, nothing can be found regarding Excel, indicating that this was, in fact, a nom de musique - although the anagrammatically-named Air Excel is the Tanzanian national airline, inviting speculation that Madilian's partner was perhaps similarly repatriated...?

Go Wog. . .


Friday, February 24, 2012


Sunday blues? Dottie Clark gets you, baby. Her album for the Mainstream label, I'm Lost [56006, 1962], is as crackin' a debut as you're likely to find. Mainstream did a lot with vocalists early on before moving full force into heavy psych, breaking both Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Amboy Dukes. But despite a few flops here n' there, it's a label that often signals a worthy purchase, and many of their one-off artist releases are pretty sweet.

Clark was from Washington, D.C., and, with the exception of a stray 45, never made another record. Not much is known about her save for the sparse liner notes that give the basic pitches for why she's a rising star: "excellent voice, beautiful phrasing, and a tremendous amount of experience." Obviously written by someone at the label, since they're anonymous. Guess Mainstream couldn't spring for Nat Hentoff or Leonard Feather. Thing is, the liner notes aren't far off - sure, she's no Ella or Sarah or Dinah or whoever, but Dottie Clark's voice sticks with you. It contributes just as much to the feel of each song as the arrangements themselves. She's haunting, hurt, bluesy; brassy when she needs and vulnerable when she wants.

This has much to do with the arranging. Joe Cain, who's name isn't as well known as some others of his era, was an Italian-American trumpeter (b. Joseph Caiani) who became enamored of, and then a part of, the Latin jazz explosion of the 1950s. He worked with some of the early greats (Tito Puente, Vincentico Valdes, Charlie & Eddie Palmieri) as an arranger, and then moved to producing records for the fabled Tico label until it folded in 1975. Along the way, Cain asked Hugo Montenegro to be his mentor. Montenegro declined, but gave this advice: write for the singer-as-star, not the musicians he was conducting.

This dictum plays out perfectly on I'm Lost, on which Cain snagged several jazz heavyweights (Geurge Duvivier, Herbie Lovelle) and a handful of sessionmen who bridged the burgeoning jazz-to-rock gaps of the time (Vinny Bell, on guitar, invented the electric sitar which he played on the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine", and Lovelle had drummed for Bob Dylan on some Freewheelin' outtakes). The resulting sound is large, yet intimate, the six-piece band never overwhelming Clark, instead allowing her to take command of the song, whether it's a bubbling pop chart or a simmering torch song.

Most of the tunes are unfamiliar to me, though a little searching reveals that at least a few tunes are older - if not super famous - standards. Unfortunately, no writing credit is given, just publishing info on the vinyl's label. And, semantics aside, I'm Lost has the kind of mystery behind it we like here at A List: enough to get a foothold on, more than enough to get an earful of.


Well, it's been nigh on a year-and-a-half since I posted something. Why? Hmm... Let's just go with that old cliched chestnut, "Life got in the way."

But feeling newly-invigorated (& finally having some free time), I now return to posting lost gems - starting with this life-affirming volume of songs for swingin' Jews.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bet you didn't think they existed, just like Jewish sports heroes, Jewish astronauts, or Jewish country club members. In fact, the thirteen ditties on Jewish-American Songs For The Jet Set [Tikva T101, 1965] are mostly originals by the songwriting team of Moe Jaffe & Henry Tobias, and have a solid lounge pedigree. Tobias got his start as a Tin Pan Alley songwriter, providing music to his brother Charlie's lyrics. Although they never quite hit the sophisticated stride of other brother acts, the Tobias' sub-Gershwin-styled numbers did well, and their early hits were sung by Bing Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and even Lou Rawls. Among the most famous of the Tobias tunes are "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" and "If I Had My Life To Live Over". Although Tobias made his name in New York, he was originally from Worcester, Mass - but don't worry, as the son of a struggling tailor, he came by his Jewish bona fides naturally. His autobiography, "Music In My Heart, Borscht In My Blood" is out of print but you can still snag a copy if you try.

Moe Jaffe, similarly, emigrated to the NYC metropolitan area - from Vilnius, Lithuania. Jaffe put himself through college at UPenn's Wharton Business and then Law Schools (Jewish Ivy League students, too!), playing with his own combo. He eventually wrote the minor hit "Collegians", which schmaltz-meister extraordinaire Fred Waring made a huge hit. Jaffe continued on as a songwriter, crafting “If You Are But a Dream" with his old college partner Nat Bonx - "Dream" was picked up by Jimmy Dorsey, who introduced it into the early Sinatra canon, making it consistent number for Ol' Blue Eyes even in his later years. In 1948, Jaffe wrote the unforgettable "I'm My Own Grandma".

By the time Jaffe & Tobias collaborated on the music herein, which was also the premiere release for the short-lived Jewish music label Tikva, the former was subsisting on royalties from his publishing company's ownership of Tony Bennett's hit "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". They found a less memorable vocalist in Bernie Knee, who has about as much personality as an armchair. Musical accompaniment was by Irving Fields & his orchestra. Fields had an array of exploito-exotica "bongos" records in in the mid-20th century (Bagels & Bongos being my obvious favorite), and subsequently went on to write campaign songs for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Rudy Giuliani and even George Pataki. My dismay at this tangent aside, Fields' playing is pleasant enough, but gets repetitive - his right hand apparently never met a melodic minor trill it didn't like.

The messages of the songs, sprinkled here & there with Yiddish (despite the "All Vocals Sung In English" disclaimer on the front cover), are positive, community-building and, as with all great Jewish things, occasionally mildly self-effacing. The English-only "Dayenu" isn't a translation, but rather has new lyrics that benefit from a secular optimism; "Alef Beiz" is a counting-style song that also introduces listeners to the Hebrew alphabet; "Passover Time On The Range" indulges in the everlasting wish of Jews to join that one group they never really could - cowboys; and "Orthodox, Conservative or Reform" posits that love trumps all (as long as she's Jewish).

Best enjoyed while sipping a chocolate egg cream.

[The non-profit Idelsohn Society has put together a great CD comp of Tikva's material, available here, along with some other smart, quality releases. Generally, that means that I'd steer clear of posting what can be bought, but since a) this blog is also non-profit (or, really, reverse-profit), b) there are only two "Jet Set" songs on Idelsohn's comp and c) my vinyl copy is so beat that there's no way you wouldn't rather get this music nice & cleaned up if you could, I'm just posting the damn thing anyway.]