The Best LP Side Ones Ever

Spurred on by the realization that both David Bowie's commercial breakthrough Let's Dance and Queen's News of the World had solid, sturdy side ones on their vinyl releases, I then began the hunt for other great vinyl slabs with amazing side ones.

Of course, the idea is that this could only include albums from the (first) great rock vinyl heyday. I am sure that Wilco and others have turned in great side ones in the past decade, but only a select few of you have heard them on vinyl.

The secret to great albums, of course, has everything to do with genius and gripping songs, plus proper sequencing and editing. And you may remember a few years back, when I attempted to cut some of most popular double slabs down to one lean collection.

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side ones

20 Albums To Leave Your Children Plus Five To Grow On...

It started as a simple question: What albums would you leave your unborn children, if you knew you were on borrowed time and may not be around to show them the way. At first I asked for albums for sons, but then it grew broader, not out of needing to pacify the PC-thug in me, but to make sure everyone, regardless of gender, had a sort of Rosetta Stone of musical history in their hands.

You could leave them pristine vinyl versions of these, a collection of cassettes, or maybe just a diamond-covered flash drive, if are so inclined. As for me, I will also leave my unborn child my Rdio account. That's not a paid endorsement, that's just me being expedient.

To get some obvious picks out of the way, the entire Beatles catalog will come standard with being my child, like seat-belts in cars. As will George Strait's Strait Out Of The Box, and ZZ Top's catalog.

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No More "Wild Thing" For the Troggs

Lonesome, Onry and Mean was sad to learn via Chuck Prophet's Facebook page this morning that Reg Presley, lead singer of Sixties proto-punkers the Troggs, has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The Troggs are known primarily for their 1966 hit "Wild Thing." LOM was a sophomore in high school when the tune came blaring out of the speakers of the car radio and rocked our world. It seemed that within a week every rock station in the country was playing "Wild Thing" once an hour. It was literally everywhere.

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Etta James: A Closer Look Into One Of The Greatest Voices Ever Heard

Etta James, almost universally praised as one of the finest voices of our era, has passed away at 73. Ironically, Ms. James had been discovered and recorded by rhythm and blues pioneer Johnny Otis, who passed away only two days ago. Ms. James, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and has been honored numerous times by the Grammys and other halls of fame.

James grew up singing in church, where she formed her first all-girl doo-wop group. Otis signed her to record the "answer song" to a hit he had produced for Hank Ballard, "Work With Me, Annie." Otis changed the group's name to The Peaches and recorded James singing "Dance With Me, Henry." The song quickly raced to No. 1 on the Rhythm and Blues chart and was instrumental in securing the group an opening slot on a tour with Little Richard.

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Your Wallet's New Mortal Enemy: Heights Vinyl On White Oak

Photos By Craig Hlavaty
The scene was bustling at Heights Vinyl on Saturday, as Houston's newest record store opened it's doors with complementary beer, DJs and bands, and crates of great vinyl to sift through.

The store's location on White Oak, just yards from Fitzgerald's and all the new restaurants invading the area, will make it a go-to destination for the music lovers in the Heights area. Heights Vinyl is currently the only record store in the neighborhood.

On our inaugural trip we picked up two Leon Russell slabs, including his Hank Wilson's Back LP, a Hank Williams Jr. greatest hits - featuring stuff from before the mountain accident.

The best part of our hour at the shop was overhearing older vinyl collectors tell their wives and children about some of the albums in the crates. "I had that one but an old girlfriend got it in the break-up," or "We used to smoke grass and put this on. I think I sold it in a garage sale," were some of the things we overheard.

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Garage Sale Cowboy: Rod McKuen's The Sea

Today Rod McKuen, poet, composer, and sometime singer, turns 77 years old. Most people do not remember McKuen - at least nobody born after 1980 - but for one summer he was the strangest thing to come into Rocks Off's record collection, and remains one of our favorites.

It would have been the summer of 1998, and we got an allotment of garage sale records from our father one weekend. He picked up as much vinyl as he could get his hands on for a time, which did more to enrich our growing musical brain that he probably understands. The Doors, The Beatles, The Stones, and most every thing else that suburban families were parting with came into our hands.

Dude, we even got a copy of Public Image Ltd.'s Second Edition once.

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Vinyl Junkie Joins Houston's Indie Record-Store Ranks

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Photos by Neph Basedow
Considering the music junkies we are, Rocks Off couldn't wait to check out Houston's newest independent record store, the aptly titled Vinyl Junkie, which opened its doors November 1.

Located at 4202 E. Canal in Houston's East End, customers might need to circle the block once before spotting the unassuming, signless storefront. But don't judge this shop by its facade; once inside, customers are quick to realize that owner Titus Haag knows his craft.

The store has the vibe of a warehouse, offering the bare necessities to house its vinyl gems. Its walls have been artistically adorned courtesy of local street artists, including Eye Sore and Ack!.

Rows of neatly alphabetized vinyl and used 7"s span the store, emptying into the open makeshift stage area, where Haag hosts live shows. A quick scan of the merchandise and we discover Vinyl Junkie is home to bona fide rarities.

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A Guide To Record Store Day 2010 In Houston, Cage Dancing And All

Categories: Wax Museum

Vinyl fetishists, are you ready to be separated from your mortgage or rent money? Record Store Day is tomorrow, and indie record stores across the whole city will be sticking you up all day Saturday.

Rocks Off gets paid today, so you will more than likely see us browsing sweatily for the newly reissued Queens of the Stone Age EP or one of the Mastodon vinyl sides that are being debuted. (See a complete list of Record Store Day exclusive merch at Once we bust the hatch at any of these stores, our credit score gets the wind knocked out of it and our future wife and kids are pulled that much farther away from that dream house we always wanted.

Here's a quick rundown of what some of our favorite stores will be spitting at you tomorrow. Remember, a lot of these special editions are very limited and will go quick so it may behoove some of you to wake up a little early to do your shopping. All the stores will be opening by at least 10 a.m., by the way for those of you who dig on waking up at a decent hour.

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Listology: Dirty Honey DJ Brett Koshkin's Overseas Discoveries

For the past month, local soul DJ (and former Houston Press music listings editor) Brett Koshkin has been traveling the world in search of adventure and vinyl and he found plenty of both. Through India, Amsterdam, and France he scoured for records and experienced exotic things that most people can only dream of doing.

Tomorrow night he returns to his monthly Dirty Honey gig over at Boondocks with special guest DJ Ceeplus Bad Knives. It's an R&B dance party, reaching back to James Brown, Archie Bell and some obscure jams that leave us stunned. Check out his MySpace profile for some exclusive mixes. It's a great Sunday-morning starter set.

We talked to Koshkin this week about Indian road rage, Bollywood soundtracks, and the grant he received from Andy Warhol Foundation to document Houston's soul music past. It's a project you will be hearing more about from Rocks Off in the near future for sure. He also had the time to dish out some of his favorite vintage soul tracks to us.

Rocks Off: Tell me more about India. We followed you on Facebook the entire time, by the way.

Brett Koshkin: Well, the only thing I come even close to enjoying as much as music is traveling. If I've never been there, odds are I want to go there and experience other people's way of life, their food, their culture and naturally, buy all their records and bring them back home. India had been high on my list for years and knowing it's just not an easy trip to make, it took a while to find a good excuse and a way to pull it off but I finally managed it.

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Listology: Blues In Hi-Fi DJ Clint Broussard's Favorite R&B 45s

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Clint Broussard is a local boy who was born with the music of the Gulf Coast in his chromosomes. Broussard works as a bartender at Ginger Man, a clerk at Cactus Records and volunteer disc jockey with a great old-time R&B radio show on Rice University station KTRU. Rocks Off asked Broussard, an avid vinyl collector, to list his favorite 45 rpm records for us.

1. Willie Cobb, "You Don't Love Me/You're So Hard To Please" (Vee-Jay Records, No. 411): "Covered by so many people, including Junior Wells and The Allman Brothers. Recorded in 1960 for MOJO Records out of Memphis, a label owned by Rockabilly/SUN records artist Billy Lee Riley. 'You Don't Love Me' soon got leased on to Vee-Jay Records. The guitar tone here is unbelievable. Willie recorded a couple of albums years later, but this 45 alone is enough to drive a career."

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