January 30, 2016

20,000 Vinyl LPs 49: Chris Isaak ~ Silvertone Dancin'

 cover photo by Rick Lopez
photo of album cover by Styrous®

Here's another cycle coming full circle for me. In 1989, I wrote music reviews for Face It Magazine. In May of that year, I wrote about a performance by Chris Isaak held at a tiny bar in Oakland. The magazine died and the bar closed decades ago but I remember the concert vividly. Even though the bar was tiny it was almost empty. In spite of that, Isaak gave a performance with a vitality and excitement that would have done justice to a concert in a jammed-packed stadium. This as well as his music impressed me profoundly.     

Isaak has come a long way since 1989. Today he is performing for the Superbowl 50 in Justin Herman Plaza here in San Francisco, California. The concert will be broadcast on CBS at 7 PM tonight and I, as well as millions around the world, will watch it. That's quite a circle for him and for me.       

photo by Doug Kanter

His debut album, Silvertone, has been my favorite of all the many albums he has produced. I have two favorite songs on this album.   

At the top is, Dancin'; which is exactly what the rhythm makes you want to do. You can't help but move to it. His voice swoops and soars through the tune. 

Next would be, Western Stars, which was covered by the sensational k. d. Lang. What a fantastic song this is; it has the flavor of a traditional, old-timey, 40's cowboy Western song but modern in every way. It is slow, smooth and mellow but it packs a wallop. Isaak's voice is dreamy with vocal flights accompanied by the smooth slide-guitar work of James Calvin Wilsey.      

Both Voodoo, with it's eerie, ghostly sound, and Funeral in the Rain, with it's nostalgic message, are pretty good songs as well (links below to songs on YouTube). 

 back cover photos by Michael Zagaris
photo of album cover back by Styrous®

Christopher Joseph "Chris" Isaak was born on June 26, 1956, in Stockton, California. His father's family is Catholic Black Sea German from North Dakota. Isaak's mother is Italian American, from Genoa (a beautiful ethnic blend).  

He was Student Body President in his senior year, class valedictorian and head of the all-male cheer squad. That's a very nicely rounded-out profile!  

record sleeve front
sleeve photo by Marek Majewski
photo record sleeve by Styrous®

Silvertone was not a great success when it was released in 1985; I have no idea why. However, The track Dancin' was the first music video featured on MTV. Two other tracks from the album, Gone Ridin' and Livin' for Your Lover, were featured in the David Lynch cult classic Blue Velvet. Go figure!   

record sleeve back
photo by Styrous®

Isaak has appeared in numerous films, playing cameo roles. He starred, with Keanu Reeves and Bridget Fonda in the 1993 Bernardo Bertolucci-directed Little Buddha, and played a major role in David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). Other motion pictures include Married to the Mob (1988), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), That Thing You Do! (1996), A Dirty Shame (2004), and The Informers (2008).

He guest-starred on the "The One After the Superbowl, Part One", the Super Bowl XXX edition of the television sitcom Friends (talk about Life imitating Art!) He was also in the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, as astronaut Ed White, the first American astronaut to leave the confines of his spacecraft, who later died in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire whose anniversary was a few days ago.  

side one: record label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

At some point many years ago I heard he was romantically linked to a beautiful and prominent San Francisco socialite (shades of It Was a Very Good Year).     

side two: record label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Track listing

All songs written by Chris Isaak.

Side 1: 
  1. "Dancin'" – 3:44
  2. "Talk to Me" – 3:04
  3. "Livin' for Your Lover" – 2:56
  4. "Back on Your Side" – 3:14
  5. "Voodoo" – 2:44
  6. "Funeral in the Rain" – 3:18
  7. "The Lonely Ones" – 3:12
 Side 2: 
  1. "Unhappiness" – 3:10
  2. "Tears" – 2:44
  3. "Gone Ridin'" – 2:36
  4. "Pretty Girls Don't Cry" – 2:24
  5. "Western Stars" – 3:12
  6. "Another Idea" – 2:53 (U.S. edition only)



  • Produced by Erik Jacobsen
  • Engineered by Tom Mallon, Mark Needham, Lee Herschberg, Dave Carlson & Pat Craig
  • Mastered by Greg Fulginiti at Artisan Sound Recorders

Label: Warner Bros. Records ‎– 1-25156
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1985
Genre: Rock
Style: Rock & Roll, Rockabilly

Chris Isaak links on the Net: 
Chris Isaak website         

Chris Isaak songs on YouTube:               
Western Stars           
Funeral in the Rain            

It Was a Very Good Year           

I'll keep on Dancin'

Styrous® ~ Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 26, 2016

1,000,001 CDs 6: Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In the late '90's, I would go downtown from one of the Mission Street BART stations. In the cavernous underground entrance, street musicians would perform. This is where I first encountered Thoth. Each encounter was an amazing experience; he would sing, play the violin and with bells around his ankles, dance; all at the same time. Not only that but he sang in a language he created, the language of the Festad, a mythical people and land in his "Solopera", a one-man opera. And he sang all the roles including the female ones. His magnificent voice ranges from a deep baritone to a brilliant countertenor. It was a mind blower, to be sure. 

I saw him perform many times and on one occasion I bought this CD album, Tone Poems of the Festad; it was just as amazing to listen to it as it was to watch him perform. I subsequently bought many of his other albums but the first one I bought, The Herma (see link below), is my favorite.

There is a review on Amazon of this CD by that does it far better justice than I can. I have included excerpts from his review but if you would like to see the complete one, there is a link to it below.    

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD cover photo by Jennifer Leigh Sauer
graphic design by Than Wilson
photo by Styrous®

 Review of Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad by :   
An amazing musician, an amazing, performer, an amazing dancer, an amazing street artist who performs in the tunnel in Central Park in New York! His music is a pure creation of his mixed roots and origins. His father was a Jewish doctor and his mother a Barbudan musician and dancer. That mixture of two ethnic origins, two cultures, two worlds in one man is fascinating.  
He is all rhythm and he is all pitch and he is all tempo and he is all music. He is absolutely able to jump from his normal tenor voice to the falsetto voice of his infancy that he has kept intact in spite of the growing and maturing that kills that voice in a man. You will not understand the language because S.K. THOTH seems to have invented it from the various languages he used to listen to, hear and learn and he still knows. What he is trying to do is to build a full and different world only with music and a voice and that he can do, he knows how to do. His violin can compete with the best Bohemian or Yiddish violins on any skyscraper roof in any big metropolis-like universal global city. 

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD back
graphic design by Than Wilson
photo by Styrous®

The reverberation of some notes, the sobbing of some others, the two voices of one artist who is both man and woman, lover and lover, beloved and beloved, merge without disappearing, without being overflowed into the very sad and nostalgic musical landscape.  

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

about Thoth

Thoth was born Stephen Kaufman in New York City around 1956. His father was a Russian Jew, and his mother was from Barbados. His mother was the first African-American timpani player for the New York City Opera, and Thoth was exposed to classical music at a young age. His mother's connections allowed him access to education from professional musicians, among them Harry Glickman, longtime violinist with the NBC Orchestra. Kaufman holds a degree in comparative literature from San Francisco State University

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

In 1987, he began busking under the name S.K. Thoth. In 1991, he formed a band called “THOTH” with Michael Chiaravelotti. After the band dissolved in 1998, Thoth began performing solo and created an original epic opera, THE HERMA: The Life and Land of Nular-in based on a mythical land called the Festad which he has been writing about since a child (see link below). 

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

In 1999, Thoth moved to NYC where he continued writing and performing the opera at the Bethesda Terrace Arcade, a place he dubbed the Angel Tunnel. He claims that “THE HERMA” is the first new opera of the millennium having been created and recorded from 1999-2002. In 2001, director Sarah Kernochan made a documentary short about his life called  “THOTH” which won the 2002 Academy Award.  

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

Track listing:

All songs by S.K. Thoth

1 - Nular-In's Walkabout Theme, Pt. 1 - 3:24
2 - Irmael - 3:10
3 - Soltar Dance - 2:48
4 - Garden of Denizili - 1:58
5 - Gulek Waltz - 3:00
6 - The Love Between Yetol-Ma & Deni-Sa - 13:59
7 - The March Up the Telar Isthmus - 3:46
8 - Climbing Mt. Irma - 4:00
9 - Black Irish III: Solo Redux (Interlude) - 2:39
10 - The Dream of Qaru-Va - 2:26
11 - Fire Dance - 2:49
12 - Farewell to the Land of Ma - 1:20    
13 - The Death of Qaru-Va - 2:37    
14 - Burnt Offering of Sacred Herbs - 2:51
15 - The Festad - 4:10    
16 - Nular-In's Walkabout Theme, Pt. 2 - 5:33

Release Date June 18, 2007

Thoth on the Net: 
Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One             
Thoth in Barcelona ~ Déjà vu all over again               

Thoth website         
Thoth performing from The Festad on YouTube   
Thoth Wandrly Magazine interview
LA Times article   
Metroactive article     
Newsreview article        

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, January 26, 2016 

January 20, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII ~ The Force Awakens in 3D (or am I cross-eyed yet?)


Star Wars tickets
photo by Styrous®

Tonight I saw the latest installation in the Star Wars film series, Episode VII ~ The Force Awakens. It was an interesting experience for me on many levels that had nothing and everything to do with the actual film. The version I saw was in 3D. Special glasses were provided to experience the 3D effects. 

3D glasses
Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
photo by Styrous®

I love 3D movies! I have since I saw the release of the first color stereoscopic feature, Bwana Devil, produced, written and directed by Arch Oboler. It starred, Robert Stack, Barbara Britton, Nigel Bruce, Ramsay Hill, Paul McVey and Hope Miller. The score was written by Gordon Jenkins who wrote the Broadway-style musical vignette, Manhattan Tower, and Seven Dreams; both were early concept albums. Bwana Devil was released on November 30, 1952.    
Bwana Devil movie poster, 1952

The advertising tagline for the film was:
"A LION in your lap! A LOVER in your arms!" 
How could anyone pass THAT up? I remember having a spear thrust at me from the screen and dodging to avoid it. I also remember I was cross-eyed when I left the theater and had a headache for hours afterward.       

Hollis Alpert of The Saturday Review wrote on March 14, 1953 . . .     
"It is the worst movie in my rather faltering memory, and my hangover from it was so painful that I immediately went to see a two-dimensional movie for relief. Part of the hangover was undoubtedly induced by the photography process itself. To get all the wondrous effects of the stereoscopic motion picture one has to wear a pair of polaroid glasses, made—so far as I could determine—from tinted cellophane and cardboard. These keep slipping off, hanging from one ear, or sliding down the nose, all the while setting up extraneous tickling sensations. And once you have them adjusted and begin looking at the movie, you find that the tinted cellophane (or whatever it is) darkens the color of the screen, so that everything seems to be happening in late afternoon on a cloudy day. The people seem to have two faces, one receding behind the other; the screen becomes unaccountably small, as though one is peering in at a scene through a window. Everything keeps getting out of proportion. Nigel Bruce will either loom up before you or look like a puppet. Sometimes there is depth and sometimes there isn't. One thing is certain: it was all horribly unreal." 
There is a famous photograph by Life magazine photographer J. R. Eyerman who took a series of photos of the audience wearing 3D glasses at the premiere of the movie. Notice all the men are wearing neckties; people got dressed up to go to the movies in those days.      

audience at the premiere of Bwana Devil
November 30, 1952 
Life magazine cover photo 
photo by J. R. Eyerman

Well, the 3D movie has come a very long way; Star Wars: Episode VII has brilliant color and the 3D effect is very, well, effective.       

I love things that knock my socks off. What did that for me in this film was the droid BB-8! When I first heard Rey use the name, I heard it as DV8 and thought, "What were they thinking????" But that little critter appealed to me on levels I've never experienced with any live actor. It was intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and artistically a total turn on. To say nothing of the cuddle quotient

Star Wars
Episode VII ~ The Force Awakens

The design of it is totally revolutionary because of a locomotion process I've never seen before; or at least that I never heard of. The art devoted to it was just superb. The sight of a rolling ball with a head that constantly remained in the appropriate position was a truly wonderful mind-blower! So my kudos to those who designed it.   

And I wasn't cross-eyed when I left the theater.

Styrous® ~ Wednesday, January 20, 2016



January 18, 2016

45 RPMs 9: Depeche Mode ~ Master & Servant

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, cover detail sleeve design by 
Town & Country Planning UK
detail photo by Styrous®

~ ~ ~

I've started the Vinyl series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. Inquire for information here.   

~ ~ ~

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, cover sleeve design by 
Town & Country Planning UK
photo by Styrous®

Master and Servant is the second album cover that utilized BD/SM inspired graphics for the new wave, Synthpop group, Depeche Mode. The first one was for the hit single, Just Can't Get Enough (link below) from their 1981 debut album, Speak and Spell.   

According to Wikipedia, the overtly sexual, BDSM-themed lyrics of Master and Servant, complete with synthesized whip-and-chain sound effects, reportedly meant that the song was banned by many radio stations in the United States (although the song reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart anyway, albeit only at number 87 and for only a three-week chart stay). To be honest, I never found the lyrics to be all that.

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, back cover sleeve design by 
Town & Country Planning UK
photo by Styrous®

The lyrics are typically innocuous verses set to the beat of a new wave, synthpop, disco dance song; the beat is good for dancing but the words certainly do not incite lust in me.  

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees

We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

It's a lot like life
This play between the sheets
With you on top and me underneath
Forget all about equality

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant

It's a lot like life
And that's what's appealing
If you despise that throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Domination's the name of the game
In bed or in life
They're both just the same
Except in one you're fulfilled
At the end of the day

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant

Let's play master and servant
Come on master and servant

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, back cover detail 
sleeve design by 
Town & Country Planning UK
detail photo by Styrous®

Master and Servant is the eleventh UK single (released on 20 August 1984) by Depeche Mode and the second single from the Some Great Reward album. Despite the controversy surrounding the song, it reached number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, peaked at number 49 in the American dance chart and number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100.       

The album cover was designed by T&CP Associates (Town & Country Planning UK). The design and art direction studio, mainly associated with Mute releases was originally called Town & Country Planning Design, the studio was renamed T&CP Associates (often credited as T+CP Assoc. on releases) in 1989 when it was bought by Stylorouge.    

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, side 1
photo by Styrous®

Depeche Mode  is a new wave band formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The original line-up was Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, vocals, chief songwriter after 1981), Andy Fletcher (keyboards), and Vince Clarke (keyboards, chief songwriter from 1980 until 1981). Depeche Mode released their debut record in 1981      

Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher were born in England; Gahan on May 9, 1962, in London, Gore, on July 23, 1961, in Dagenham, Essex, and Fletcher on July 8, 1961, Nottingham.    

Gahan is credited with the name "Depeche Mode" after seeing the phrase as a title of a French fashion magazine, which later considered taking them to court, but thought it would be good publicity for the magazine to let the band have the name. When explaining the choice for the name, Dépêche mode (from French dépêche that means here "dispatch" (from Old French despesche/despeche) or "news report", and mode that means "fashion"), Gore said, "It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that." But, in French, the real and only meaning of the magazine's name (and hence the band's) is "Fashion News" or "Fashion Update".   

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, side 1 label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In turn, Depeche Mode has been recognised as making a significant impact on the development of various popular music genres, leading to many artists citing them as an inspiration, including: the Pet Shop Boys, Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Brandon Flowers, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Televizor, the Crystal Method, God Lives Underwater, Mad at the World, Raymond Herrera of Fear Factory, Funeral for a Friend, La Roux, Gotye, Rammstein, Magne Furuholmen of a-ha, Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan and Chvrches. Depeche Mode have been cited as a major influence on Detroit techno, indie rock and industrial metal.        

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, side 2
photo by Styrous®

One of the most influential musical groups over the past three decades, Depeche Mode has released a total of 13 studio albums, ten compilation albums, six live albums, eight box sets, 13 video albums, 70 music videos and 53 singles. The band has sold over 100 million records and has played to in excess of 30 million people, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. The band has had forty-eight songs in the UK Singles Chart, one US and two UK number one albums. The band's album Songs of Faith and Devotion hit No. 1 in the UK and USA simultaneously, making them one of only eleven UK acts to do so, the others being the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Phil Collins, Radiohead, Coldplay, Susan Boyle and Adele. In addition, all of their studio albums have reached the UK Top 10 and their albums have spent over 210 weeks on the UK Charts.             

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
12", 45 RPM single, side 2 label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Depeche Mode has had fifty songs in the UK Singles Chart and thirteen top 10 albums in the UK charts, two of which debuted at No. 1. Depeche Mode has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Q magazine calls Depeche Mode "the most popular electronic band the world has ever known" and included the band in the list of the "50 Bands That Changed the World!". Depeche Mode also ranks number 98 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time".     

Depeche Mode ~ Master and Servant
plastic sleeve protector
12", 45 RPM single
photo by Styrous®

Depeche Mode ‎– Master And Servant (Slavery Whip Mix)

A Master And Servant (Slavery Whip Mix)
B1 (Set Me Free) Remotivate Me (Release Mix)
B2 Master And Servant (Voxless)

  • Dave Gahan – lead vocals (1980–present)
  • Martin Gore – keyboards, backing and lead vocals, guitars (1980–present)
  • Andy Fletcher – keyboards, backing vocals, bass guitar (1980–present)

Companies, etc.



Recorded at Music Works, London.
Mixed at Hansa Mischraum, Berlin.
All songs published by Grabbing Hands/Sonet
℗ + © 1984 Mute Records
Vinyl etching - side B has the word "um" repeated nine times in a pyramid pattern.

Version #1: this release
Version #2: repress with barcode.

Semi-glossy cover.
Generic die-cut inner sleeve with rounded corners.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Side A Runout Groove Etching): 12 . BONG 6 A₁ ⁽ᶻ⁾ YOU DON'T DO THAT DO YOU Rc
  • Matrix / Runout (Side B Runout Groove Etching): 12 · BONG 6 B₁ ⁽ᶻ⁾ UMUMUMᵁᴹᵁᴹᵁᴹUMUMUM Rc

Net links:      
Depeche Mode website                
Depeche Mode ~ Just Can't Get Enough            
Master and Servant on YouTube          

Styrous® ~ Monday, January 18, 2016