Think back to two decades ago, and take a mental snapshot of yourself, lurching over your deck in “The Wee, Wee Hours”, mebbe clutching a mixed drink or cheap beer, possibly wearing an “Illegal Smile” – what’s the “gotta, gotta” spin?
Grokking mightily on a homespun redux disque of the 13th Floor Elevators box set, “Sign Of The 3 Eyed Men“, it occurs to me that a good proportion of my own gloriously giddy musical moments in time have involved various, doubtlessly murky vinyl represses (or even sonically wooly originals) by the Reverend Roky and his synapse-fried fellow travellers.
Yes, I’ve spent 20 years sub-consciously staggering towards an understanding of The 13th Floor Elevators, who have immeasurably enriched my life. And this meandering search for some kinda conceptual centre isn’t solely aural in nature – the combo of time, opportunity and considered reissue have solved that – but also to get a handle on their truly fascinating, ass-shakin’, brain-melting, heart-warming and soul-chilling collective self.
As was made abundantly clear by the triple-punch of the documentary flicks “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “Dirt Road To Psychedelia“, coupled with Paul Drummond’s mammoth (in every sense – excepting sloth but including extinction) tome, “Eye Mind“, the ‘Elevators shouldn’t even have existed, let alone made such astounding music, being a mix of childlike wunderkinder (Roky), Memphis-born middle class mathematician turned right-wing mystic (Tommy Hall), and a trio of redneck speed babies (Stacy Sutherland, Ronnie Leatherman and dear John Ike Walton). All of their synapses firing almost constantly on psychedelics.
History as written (by the winners) hasn’t been kind to the ‘Elevators. Lumped in with such approved ‘cults of weird’ as Brian, Syd and (the terminally – oops – hokey) Jim Morrison, but on a lower shelf, they’ve largely been considered the loose meat variant of musical totem/tokenism by rank and file media – the silent smirk behind the use of “seminal” has been veddy palpable.
In recent years, some music long-cherished by relatively few as a major work of human endeavour has been ‘allowed’ into the toppermost fruit basket of the critical canon, where yer Beatles, ‘Stones and Billy Joels hang out. F’rinstance, “Pet Sounds”, “Village Green”, “Odessey And Oracle”, “Forever Changes”, “No Other” and “Five Leaves Left” are now considered top drawer classics by folks far and wide, which is as it should be. The 13th Floor Elevators are as great, if not more wondrous than any of the above… honest.
I picked up a nice pile of old 45s at the local car boot sale today (splashing out whole £7!), a good chunk of which were pretty dusty and needed cleaning:
Lightning’s Girl – Nancy Sinatra (Reprise)
Cleo’s Mood – Jr Walker (Soul)
Pipeline – The Chantays (London)
Drag City – Jan & Dean (knackered, unfortunately!)
Brown Paper Sack – The Gentrys (MGM)
Smell Of Incense – Southwest F.O.B. (Hip)
Memo From Turner – Mick Jagger (Decca)
The Unforgettable Hank Williams EP (MGM)
The Unforgettable Hank Williams No. 3 EP (MGM)
Daddy Of ‘Em All EP – Ernest Tubb (Brunswick)
With the mucky state of most of said vinyl and the sun being out, I thought you may dig this scribble from a coupla years back, done-d for Lindsay ‘Big L’ Hutton’s marvy Next Big Thing blog:
“Stronger Than Dirt – Or, How To Clean Yer Dirty Rekkids With Good Old Soap & Water!”
Frustrated by that awesome 45 you ordered from the US of A, which turned out to be filthier than your bestest drinkin’ buddy’s sexual fantasies? Nabbed an outrageously kool disc at a charity/thrift store, but it’s got cat sick all over it? Lovingly deposited fingerprints and snot on yer fave blast from the past? Don’t wanna buy or can’t afford one o’them spiffy rekkid cleaning machines? Have no fear!
I’ve used the same simple rekkid cleaning method for years, often to rescue discs which are virtually unplayable (from accumulated storage dirt/grease, fingerprints, fluff in the grooves or just plain gobs of muck), and have had absolutely NO problems whatsoever, from a storage stability, cleaning medium residue or deteriorating sound quality POV.
Obviously, 45s are easier to clean with this method than LPs (which can be unwieldy!), but having compared the results between using this and a £1,000 record cleaning machine, I’d go for the sink everytime. The only things I’ve had probs with are UK red label Atlantic 45s, which stain your fingers a nasty shade of crimson. Obviously, this method won’t work if you’ve got long fingernails or veddy ruff paws…
You will need:
A new/non-gritty bar of good quality, perfume/conditioner-free pure vegetable soap
A small/forceful flow of cold water (i.e. a faucet or tap!)
A freshly laundered linen dishcloth/tea towel/glasscloth (must be pure linen, because of the lack of ‘nap’ on the surface of the towel)
A totally flat surface
1/2oz of gumption (nous will do, at a pinch)
- Clean your hands thoroughly, using the soap, paying close attention to the tips of the fingers.
- Lay the linen towel out on a handy flat & stable surface.
- Grab 45/LP with yer left paw, by the label/edge, and wet the first side under a reasonable flow from the cold faucet.
- Making sure that the surface of the vinyl is still wet/holding water, rub the fingers of your right hand across the soap, collecting enuff to make a small amount of ‘slip’ on yer digits, i.e. a visible amount of soap without lumps or smears.
- Lay your fingers flat across the width of the vinyl, and move them towards yourself (clockwise, following the grooves!), as you slowly rotate the vinyl anti-clockwise, making sure you clean the whole width of the record.
- Don’t let the record dry out with soap on it! Add a smidge more water / soap as required!
- After you’ve gone right around the record half a dozen times or so, paying particular attention to really mucky spots, turn the faucet on full and, holding the record at approx 45 degrees, angle it into the water stream, moving the vinyl up and down across the grooves, while turning it slowly anti-clockwise. Repeat for the second side, and then give both a another swoosh under the water, just to remove any dirt contamination from side one to two.
- Shake the record to revove any large droplets of water, and check for soap residue (there shouldn’t be any).
- Lay the record on the linen towel and, using the ends of your fingers spread on the label, turn gently clockwise. Repeat for the other side, then move the record to a dry part of the towel and repeat on both sides.
- When dry, wipe with your desired de-fluffing device/set your record brush up, then play!
PS I’ve since discovered that Ecover washing-up liquid works just as well…