Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yes, Virginia, there is a Star Wars Christmas Album!

In 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special premiered on CBS. The show was a very weird variety-type program, the style of which was wildly popular in the 70s. This show featured a storyline involving Chewbacca returning to his home planet to celebrate "Life Day." The special includes the entire cast of Star Wars, including the first ever introduction of Boba Fett. It also features a music video by Jefferson Starship and ends with Carrie Fisher singing the theme to Star Wars.  The special was broadcast once. Only once. And was never released on any form of home media due to the negative reaction the special received.

Two years later, RSO Records, in conjunction with LucasFilm, released Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album. That's right: in spite of all the negativity surrounding the Star Wars Holiday Special, they did it again.

The album was conceived by Meco Menardo, who famously made a Star Wars disco album in 1977 entitled Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk. Appearing on the album is Anthony Daniels as C3-PO, who narrates and even sings most of the songs.  The Christmas songs are all Star Wars related, including the awesomely weird, "What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Has a Comb)?"

The album opens with a great song called "Christmas in the Stars," with C3-PO lamenting the fact that Christmas always comes so early ever year and he is never ready, even though he tells R2-D2, "Yes, I have a list!"

The album also features a young Jon Bon Jovi, in his first professional recording. Back then he was simply known as "John Bongiovi."  He sings "R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas" with the Bridgewater Raritan High School West Advanced Choir:

Star Wars was released 38 years ago and has always been a prominent part of our pop culture, as is evidenced by the hype surrounding the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Today, the marketing surrounding the film is much more deliberate, managed and audience tested. The wonderful thing about Christmas in the Stars is that something like this would never have been released today. That alone makes this album truly special.  (For a truly interesting take on the making of the album, the Canadian Broadcasting Company did an oral history of the album last year. Listen here.)

Give the album a listen and revel in the kitsch and miscues.  It's okay to laugh and shake your head in disbelief. This is a relic from another time----a time when borderline racist jokes are okay on a Christmas album, such as when C3-PO chides R2-D2 for not knowing what "Japanese" is.  R2-D2 apparently does not know what indigestion is, either. Or Einstein, for that matter.  Give "Bells, Bells, Bells" a listen and be amazed.

*R2-D2 speak*
C3-PO: What is that? That my silly friend, is the sound of bells.
*R2-D2 speak*
C3-PO: What are bells?
I cannot believe the question
It’s like, “what is indigestion?”
Not that bells and indigestion are the same.

I cannot believe the query
That you ask, “what is Einstein’s theory?”
Compared to “what are bells?” seems almost tame.

*R2-D2 speak*
C3-PO:  What is indigestion? Who is Einstein?
Before you ask me, “Who is H.G. Wells?”
 I will help your education with a simple explanation of bells.

You can listen to the entire album below.  This year Christmas in the Stars will be featured on our annual Vinyl Christmas, now playing on Vinyl Voyage Radio through December 27.  

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Vinyl Christmas, 2015

Yes, it is that time of the year--time for the 4th annual Vinyl Christmas here at Vinyl Voyage Radio. We have some great Christmas memories ready to share with you. Tired of the same old songs being played on terrestrial radio?  Look no further: we have songs that have not been played on terrestrial radio. Ever.

The 4th annual Vinyl Christmas begins tomorrow, Tuesday December 21 at midnight and will go through December 26.

This is my favorite time of the year. These songs bring back many Christmas memories. My parents had a reel-to-reel tape deck, playing hours of this music recorded from their vinyl albums. Many of the albums being played on Vinyl Voyage are from their collection.

Here you will hear Burl Ives, Barbara Striesand, Living Voices, 101 Strings, Bing Crosby, Ferrante and Teicher and many, many more.  Browse the albums in our playlist below--you may find something you haven't heard in years! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

New Titles Added--December, 2015

As usual, we are constantly adding new music---all from vinyl---here on Vinyl Voyage Radio. I like to peruse thrift shops to uncover  vinyl gems from any genre. Over the last several weeks, we have been adding some great music here to Vinyl Voyage Radio.

Nothing like a little Carly Simon. The Best of Carly Simon, released in 1975, has all of her early hits, including "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be."

We also added some vintage albums from artists from the 1960s:

A couple of Elvis albums, too.

Plus, I spent a few days going through some vintage 45s as well. Got some great ones added. Zoom into the image below to see the 45s. Some of the 45s I inherited from my grandparents. You can still see the labels my grandfather placed on the records:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Out of Sight--The Canadian Version on AiV!

On the last episode of Adventures in Vinyl, we went back to 1975 for the K-Tel classic, Out of Sight. As usual, we listened to the American release. However, being a global corporation with many subsidiaries, K-Tel International often released different versions of the same album simultaneously in different territories. Out of Sight is no different. This month, we will be featuring the Canadian version of Out of Sight.

Although they look very similar, these two albums are very different. In fact, only 5 of the 20 songs on the Canadian version can be found on the U.S. release. In some cases, the artists are the same, but the song selection is different.

Overall, another solid release.  This album is heavy on some Canadian bands that don't often appear on U.S. releases. Such as the Stampeders:

and Tinker's Moon. There's no pictures of this band. They were session musicians and only released two singles.  On this album is also a Canadian band named Chilliwack:

In addition to the Canadian bands on this release, there's also an obscure British pop band called The Rubettes. Here's what these guys looked like: 

If that picture doesn't make you want to listen to this album, then there's something wrong with you.

In addition to those obscure artists, there's also Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, the Hollies and Elton John as well.

Adventures in Vinyl can be heard on Vinyl Voyage Radio at 12:30 pm central Saturday, 4:30 pm central on Sunday and 2:00 am on Wednesdays. Older episodes can be heard at 1 pm Tuesdays and 10:30 am Thursdays.

All episodes can be heard on Mixcloud as well. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Episode of Adventures in Vinyl--Out of Sight, 1975

This has been a long time coming. So much for my New Year's resolution to get a new episode of AiV up every month. But this is a special treat: back to back episodes featuring the same album. Well, not exactly the same.

K-Tel often released different versions of the same titled album in different territories. The album may have looked the same, but the contents were often very different. Case in Point: Out of Sight from 1975.

On this episode of Adventures in Vinyl, we will are spinning the American version of the album. Next month, we'll listen to the Canadian version. Back to back K-tel.
As usual, this episode features news, music and movies from 1975.

New episodes of Adventures in Vinyl stream at 12:30 pm, Saturday and 4:30 pm on Sunday and 2:00 am on Wednesday. Also, past episodes are heard on Vinyl Voyage on Tuesday at 1:00 pm, and Thursday at 10:00am.
You can also listen to these episodes anytime you want. All 33 episodes are archived at Mixcloud. The new episode is embedded below.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Morning Commute with the New MeTV-FM

I usually don't post about rival radio stations.  But, hey, I love music and you gotta give credit where credit is due.  To be honest, I don't much listen to terrestrial radio anymore. On my rather long commute, I usually listen to SiriusXM or my iPod.  However, there is a new radio station in town and it is awesome.

That radio station is MeTV-FM in Chicago (87.7).

This radio station is much like Vinyl Voyage Radio, actually.  Deep tracks.  Obscure and rarely heard hits from the 60s, 70s and early 80s.  Most terrestrial radio stations have limited playlists and often repeat the same songs ad nauseam.  I used to like Mumford and Sons---until I heard the same song every hour.  MeTV-FM is taking a different approach. Their playlist is huge and very deep. Songs that haven't played on the radio in decades are now getting airtime. And it is refreshing.

I decided to record my morning drive on April 6, 2015 to sample what MeTV-FM was offering that morning.  And they did not disappoint.  On the drive I listened to Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, John Denver and Christopher Cross, just to name a few.

Perhaps MeTV-FM is the first station in town to recognize that the competition is not other terrestrial radio stations, but internet radio--- mainly Pandora and Spotify. And they created their station to emulate the variety that internet stations offer.  And it is working.

So if you can't listen to Vinyl Voyage in the car (and you live in the Chicago area), give MeTV-FM a try.  You won't be disappointed.

From 6:30 to about 7:15, here are the songs played on MeTV-FM on April 6, 2014:

Supremes-"Come See About Me" 1964
Kenny Rankin-"Penny Lane" 1974
Smokey Robinson-"Cruisin'" 1979
John Travolta and Olivia Newton John-"You're the One That I Want"  1978
Bobby Vee-"Take Good Care of My Baby" 1961
Beau Brummels-"Laugh Laugh" 1965
Christopher Cross-"Sailing" 1979
Billy Joel-"Uptown Girl" 1983
John Denver-"Rocky Mountain High" 1975
Beatles-"You're Gonna Lose That Girl" 1965
Marvin Gaye-"Let's Get It On" 1973
Jackson Browne-"Doctor My Eyes" 1972
Cowsills-"Hair" 1969
JR. Walker and the All Stars-"What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" 1969

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Next on AiV---Our oldest K-Tel Album: "20 Power Hits" from 1971

This is the oldest K-tel album in our collection, 20 Power Hits, Volume 1.  This album has some great songs by Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, the Byrds, Santana and Blood, Sweat and Tears. (And many, many more, of course!)

This album dates to 1971.  Although there is no date on this album, there are some clues as to when it was released.  First of all, K-Tel International had been known by two names: K-Tel and Imperial Products.  Both company names appear on this album. Later in 1971, the company switched to the exclusive use of "K-Tel."

Next, there is a very old K-Tel logo on the album along with a K-Tel exclusive numbering system.  All K-Tel albums begin with a "TU."

Plus, there is a ad for the K-Tel record selector.  This product began being advertised on tv in 1972, but was being sold earlier.  The first album in the picture is Tom Jones' album, Tom, which was released in 1970:

This album also features some of the most heavily edited songs to appear on any K-Tel album.  There is one song on the album---"Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds---that has been whittled down to less than a minute.

The track listing for side A was printed in error, so a label had been applied to the back with the corrected track list.  However, they missed another mistake.  The first song on the second side is listed as "Smiling Faces," by Blood, Sweat and Tears.  The true name of the song is "Smiling Phases," a cover of an earlier tune by the band Traffic.  Oooops.

Despite all of this, 20 Power Hits is a solid K-Tel album.  At least 44 years old, this album has seen better days.  A major skip on the second side necessitated the use of some record sanding--which I normally don't do, by the way.  But that is an effective way to keep the needle from jumping.  Plus, this album has more than the usual noise, hiss and pops.  But that is what vinyl is all about.

So take a trip back to the late 60s and early 70s through the magic of K-Tel and Adventures in Vinyl.

New Adventures in Vinyl  episodes airs at (all times Central):

12:30 pm Saturday
4:00 pm Sunday
2:00 am Wednesday

Or, you can listen to the album right now:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Get Your K-Tel Fix Anytime

One of my first records ever was a K-Tel album entitled, "Music Power" from 1974.  It had songs by Brownsville Station, Dawn, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Barry White and the Grass Roots. Plus, many artists you probably have not heard, such as Stories, Lighthouse, Natural Four and the Raspberries.  Nonetheless, that album kicked off a decade of buying K-Tel albums.  Currently, I have over 50 albums in my collection and I constantly forage through resale shops and record stores looking for these gems.

One the reasons I started this station was to highlight these K-Tel albums---not only as relics of a by-gone era but also a celebration of a pop-cultural phenomenon that all of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s were a part.  Adventures in Vinyl was born.

The first episode of Adventures in Vinyl aired on this station in February of 2011. The concept was simple: I'll play an entire K-Tel album while placing the album in the year it was released with news, pop culture, movies and music.   We have aired over 30 episodes with many more to come.

Now, we are excited to announce that these episodes are available on-demand via Mixcloud.   Ever. Single. Episode.

Now, you don't have to wait for the episode to air, You can listen at any time. The current episode is loaded in the player.  If you want to see the other albums, click the "up next" and scroll through the list.


More Options to Listen to Vinyl Voyage Radio

We recently cut the cable cord.  That's right: goodbye Comcast!

Instead of cable, I installed a large antenna in our attic and we bought a Roku 3 streaming player. We've gone back to watching network TV (I get about 50 digital channels over-air) and stream our shows via Netflix and Hulu Plus. All for more than half of what cable costs.

The cool thing about Roku is that I can stream Vinyl Voyage.  This was great at Christmas as I was able to saturate the house with a vinyl Christmas.  And it was easy.

On the Roku player, you add "channels."  And Live365 has a channel for Roku.

In fact, it is now easier than ever to stream Vinyl Voyage Radio.  In addition to Roku,  Live365 is supported by the following devices:




There are many more option available.  Visit the Live365 site for a complete list of supported devices.

Not only that, but there are Live365 apps available for your smartphone.  With Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily listen in the car.