Tag Archives: Wings

Downstairs at Prange’s

Imagine seeing a photo of something you thought existed only in memory. As you try to process it, the whole thing takes your breath away. Then you get catch your breath and settle down to scrutinizing the tiniest details of the photo.

So it is with this photo, posted earlier this month by the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center to its Facebook page. It carried this four-word caption: “Record department. H.C. Prange.”

When I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone went down by Prange’s. It was the biggest department store in that city of 50,000 along Lake Michigan.

The record department was in the basement. You went down the main escalator and there it was, over to your right as you stepped off, a dazzling world of colorful and thrilling LPs spread out before you. 45s? Sure, but those you could get at the neighborhood dime store. Prange’s was the place where you came to ponder the mighty LP.

This photo is from 1969 or later. In the row going up diagonally from the lower left corner are the Beatles’ “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour” and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar,” the latter released as an import in 1969. I’d love to see this photo at higher resolution so I could try to ID some of the other records.

I never bought a lot of LPs at Prange’s — all I had was paper route money, and not much of it — but what I did buy were among the first albums I ever owned. I still have them all.

— I gave Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” LP to my friend Mike for his 13th birthday. It came out in July 1970. His birthday was in October. Truth be told, I’d wanted it for myself. Instead, I got Creedence’s “Green River,” which by then was a year old. It all worked out.

Neil Diamond’s “Tap Root Manuscript,” released in November 1970. I also was 13 and had been listening to AM Top 40 radio almost non-stop all that year.

— Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” soundtrack, released in July 1971.

Wings’ “Wild Life,” released in December 1971.

Then there’s this.

When I was 13, I was tempted by, perhaps even obsessed with, Janis Joplin’s “Pearl.” It had been released in January 1971, midway through my eighth-grade year. I liked the music. Mostly, though, I thought her pose on the cover was kind of hot — and, yes, I already had some sense of someone being a hot mess — and I really didn’t want to try to explain that to my parents.

So I never bought “Pearl” at Prange’s. Truth be told, it’s only been in the last 10 years that I finally bought “Pearl.” I’ve since bought three or four copies, always looking for a cover in a bit nicer condition than the one before.

Maybe I’ll even frame it someday. It tells quite a story about a young record digger, even if only he recognizes it.

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Filed under November 2018, Sounds

Our evening with Paul McCartney

McCartney 071620

It’s been almost two weeks since we saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and I’m still trying to make sense of everything we saw and heard. It was almost surreal.

Buying seats on the field pretty much exhausted our concert budget for the entire year. But it was well worth what we spent. You just don’t get to see one of the Beatles up close every day.

So, a few memories from a staggeringly hot, muggy night at the ballpark:

— “Paperback Writer,” six songs into the show, was the first to give me the chills. McCartney was playing the same Epiphone Casino guitar that he used when the Beatles recorded the song in 1966.

— Really enjoyed hearing “Another Day,” a solo single from  1971, for the first time in a long time. We must have had the 45 when we were kids, because I immediately thought of the flip side, a blistering screamer named “Oh Woman, Oh Why.”

— One of our son’s friends plays “Blackbird,” so I took a close look when McCartney played it. I reported back to Liam that McCartney duct tapes the cord to the side of his guitar, just like everyone else.

— “Back in the U.S.S.R.” opened, of course, with the sound of a jet landing PLAYED AT THE VOLUME OF A JET LANDING and thundered on from there.

— I’ve never been a big fan of “Live and Let Die,” but when you shoot fireworks from the stage and from outside the stadium and ignite more and bigger flash pots than KISS ever used, I’ll buy in.

— As McCartney played the opening chords of certain songs, you’d also hear this: “GACK!” “AAUGH!” “MMPH!” Those sounds accompanied the momentary freakout that came as people recognized those songs.

Yet for all the spectacle on stage, you just had to turn your back to it from time to time and soak in the rest of it. You’re standing in left field in Miller Park, looking up at a sight that only the ballplayers see. There are 40,000 people surrounding you. Multicolored lasers are dancing on the steel framework of the roof, which is open on this hot summer night. It was, of course, a three-hour singalong.

It also was a night on which just when you thought McCartney would go one way, he’d go another. That took me back to one of the first LPs I ever bought. There, following the elegant “Dear Friend” and hidden at the end of Side 2 of Wings’ debut record, was this little surprise, a crunchy 45-second instrumental.

wingswildlifelp2

“Mumbo Link,” Wings, from “Wild Life,” 1971. It’s out of print.

Anyone else hear a little “Get Back” or “Helter Skelter” in there?

The set list from Milwaukee on July 16, 2013:

“Eight Days a Week,” “Junior’s Farm,” “All My Loving,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady,” “Paperback Writer,” “My Valentine,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Another Day,” “And I Love Her,” “Blackbird,” “Here Today,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Lady Madonna,” “All Together Now,” “Lovely Rita,” “Mrs. Vandebilt,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!,” “Something,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude.”

First encore: “Day Tripper,” “Hi, Hi, Hi” and “Get Back.”

Second encore: “Yesterday,” “Helter Skelter” and “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under July 2013, Sounds