The LP cover, drawn by TV's Kyle
We're gonna be on vinyl!!!
Chris here. I've been a record collector pretty much since I've been breathing. Unlike a lot of my friends in college who dumped all their vinyl because CDs ARE BETTER, THEY'RE PERFECT, THERE'S NO NOISE, THEY NEVER SKIP, THEY NEVER DEGRADE OR WEAR OUT! well, we know how THAT worked out.] Meanwhile, my vinyl collection has been refined and added to over the decades. Obscure 45s, foreign pressings, original issues, etc. I've also had my turntable repaired & upgraded my cartridge for a better listening experience, and boy howdy it does work!
So I figured, well that last I tried putting out vinyl it was quite the wrong time to do so - now it seems quite the right time to do so, there are more plants doing full-run pressings PLUS now there are plenty of old cutting lathes from the 40s thru the 60s being rescued from the anteeky stores and restored back into service for rootsy recording sessions. Not only that, there is a gentleman in Germany who has done the R&D to develop a semi-pro unit that delivers near-pro results without having to have 1000 LPs injection molded...and that is the unit on which VAUDEVILLE is going to be cut.
Hip before Hip was Hip
I guess one of the things about getting older is that one experiences things once, then when they come around later and others experience the same thing as 'hipsters', one can say they were there first (insert Nelson "Haa Haaa" here). Not as a pejorative or anything, it's just that there is a cross-section of us who never abandoned our vinyl records, there's a whole aesthetic and process and experience we just prefer I suppose.
The technology that enabled folks like us to get our music 'out there' more readily also limited the ways in which we could get that music out there. We didn't have to rent time in a professional recording studio anymore, but at the same time the processes to make a phonograph record and compact disc remained expensive. Bridging the DIY cassette underground of the 1980s and the MP3 revolution of the late-90s & 2000s there were other formats like DAT and MiniDisc, but nothing was quite ready to take over as a general distribution format.
Now with more and more affordable options both digital and physical, there are a ton of great opportunities out there for artists like us (to have our music sit on virtual shelves :-D That's where YOU come in!).
Give Em What They Want
I've had the title Vaudeville rolling around in my head (knocking things over) for about 20 years. Only since the LP has been completed has it dawned on me the significance of what we've done with it.
Vaudeville was the predecessor to the mid- to late-20th century TV variety show, the best example of which I would say was The Ed Sullivan Show. This program brought an hour of widely varied entertainment to the entire nation every Sunday night. All kinds of acts had a national platform, neither side of which exists anymore, the platform nor many of the types of acts offered such a national platform such as jugglers, comedy duos, opera singers, acrobats, etc.
In effect, Vaudeville died twice. Radio sucked the life out of live vaudeville in the early 1930s as performers could not sustain the bits and routines with which they could repeatedly entertain fresh audiences on the road from town to town. In one fell swoop on one radio appearance, millions of listeners could hear a bit of business, rendering a routine dated & useless. Thus an act that could survive and in fact become wealthy in live theatre could in fact collapse because audiences dwindled. There were, of course, exceptions, most notably Ed Wynn, Red Skelton and Abbott & Costello, who took "Who's On First" from the stage to radio to the big screen and were reportedly required contractually to perform it on radio once a month.
However, for indisputable mega-stars like Benny Fields & Blossom Seeley, radio stardom would not come. Their names are not well known today, despite the fact that they were as famous as Elvis, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, U2, Madonna, or Justin Bieber in their day.
Later, with the rise of the sitcom and the changes in entertainment such as the rise of the singer-songwriter, larger concert happenings by rock groups in stadiums & arenas, rises in appearance fees, groups doing more complex studio recordings etc, not to mention the cancellation of the Ed Sullivan Show and his death soon thereafter, it largely spelled the death of the variety show, or the second coming of Vaudeville. Pop acts would appear as musical guests on established programs such as Carol Burnett, or might have a summer replacement program, of course there was also the Sonny and Cher Show...
There was one final attempt to restore the old-style variety show with many diverse acts, much as it had tried the same exact thing, with the same exact title, on NBC Radio in 1950. In 1980 NBC attempted The Big Show, with multiple hosts, multiple guests, a huge set, huge audience, 90 minute or 2 hour running time - HUGE. I watched it because there were stars I wanted to see including Graham Chapman of Monty Python as a co-host, and The Two Ronnies as guest performers one week.
It lasted 2 months.
This album represents, even though I didn't realize it at the time, a return to those days of something for everyone. It's a lot of variety stylistically. We have pop ballads, straight ahead rock & roll, Norwegian black metal, 1915 cylinder pop, chiptune, whatever serves to get the gags across.
I communicated my thoughts on the whole 'vaudeville as a dead entertainment venue' thing to TV's Kyle over Mongolian barbeque after this year's Marscon Dementia up in Minneapolis, he made a suggestion right off the top of his head and I was like YES! YES! RIGHT! EXACTLY! and a few weeks later, the cover you see above appeared in my emailbox. Holy Cow.
After gathering all the data for the LP I confabbed with Devo Spice on the layout & how it should all go together, as well as how the label should look, I had some ideas but he surprised the hell out of me with his design, which I will add in a post after the LP is released - suffice to say that it is cool as hell. Very appropriate to the theme.
I'd like to once again thank everyone who participated in the pre-order and reserved a copy of the vinyl LP. To keep it "spayshul" there will not be a CD issue of this album, it will be available via download from Bandcamp, I am looking into download cards for cons & other direct transactions. But yes it's available on reserve at Power Salad Music Store, release date is May 1st so head over & reserve your mp3 album now, it'll come with a PDF booklet of pics and notes not included with the LP (looking to be equitable n stuff)...
Stay tuned as we wait for the LPs to be cut and shipped, we are hoping they arrive by the end of April so we can get them sent out to all our "kickstanders"!