Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"C" is for Crate Digging: Sesame Street Records 101

Old School as Ever...  The Original Sesame Street Cast

Related to Elements: DJ, Crate Digging, Sampling,

I like records of any genre almost indiscriminately.  Yet, even as an avid crate digger, I never thought I'd end up carefully hoarding and cherishing my Sesame Street Records collection. 

Cover of Original Cast Sesame Street Book & Record

It all started with this first one, the Original Cast Sesame Street Book & Record from the year 1970.  My wife had a bunch of old records from her childhood that I pillaged.  This beat up copy was at the back of the crate.  As you would expect with most kids records, it was basically destroyed, marked up with crayon, pages were ripped out of it, it was a mess, but for that reason I dropped a needle on it years ago, hoping to find a few scratch samples to play with no guilt of damaging a record.  To my surprise it was really funky.  Way beyond funky in fact.  This original Sesame Street Theme I noticed was even better then the one I can remember as a kid.  So I patiently scanned through the rest of the scratchy record hoping that there was even more funky goodness just itching to be scratched.  Sure enough, it was loaded with all kinds of potential DJ battle sounds and random sample-worthy snippets.  So I put it in my scratch tools crate and really, that should have been the end of the story.

A page from the Original Cast book reveals that their color blind art department was underpaid.  Oscar is orange.

Fast forward about 5 years...  Along comes an unbeatable proposal from my super sister in law.  At the time she was working for Sesame Street Live! and was responsible for helping choose music for the show.  Digging through her company's vaults for song ideas she stumbled upon a large stack of original Sesame Street records her company acquired years ago.  They sat and gathered dust for years since the company didn't even have a working turntable any longer.  While the records had great show material on them she had no way to listen to them.

That's where I came in.  She knew I had turntables and recording software set up and ready to go, and she also knew my weakness for collecting wax.  The deal: I get to keep all the records after I recorded them all and burnt them all to CD for her.  Lucky for me her company had no desire or use for the records themselves, just the music on them.  I gladly came to the rescue and added these records to my personal crates.  Keep in mind, what really is great about this, is that these kids records were never touched by kids!  They are all in excellent condition because they are practically unplayed!

Sesame Street 2 Original Cast.  They are back!  I still miss Mister Hooper!

Sesame Street: Concert On Stage - Live!

What Time Is It On Sesame Street?  Oh look, the clock still has both of it's hands on it!  MONEY!

Gatefold collage artwork inside What Time is It On Sesame Street?     

Sesame Street Sing Along!  The honkers!!! 

Bert & Ernie Sing-Along

The Best of Ernie. This one is great!
Sesame Street Everybody's Record.  Just in case you forgot where your arm is.  Ernie's antics never get old.
Sesame Street Aren't You Glad You're You?  Why, yes I am, thank you!
Sesame Street Monsters!  Don't worry, they are nice monsters, not scary monsters.  Scary dopeness!
Sesame Street: The Count Counts.  One of my favorites, loaded with number scratchables!
Sesame Street Happy Birthday!
Sesame Country.  I thought I would not like this one, but its one of the best!

After I recorded all the music to CD for her, they were mine!  But now I had a new problem on my hands.  I was still missing some classics.  I can't just settle for a partial collection of Sesame Street records, I didn't even have "C" is for Cookie for God's sake!  So naturally, I've been diligently scouring the Internet, and slowly but surely I have been filling in the gaps as I find them.

Here are the latest editions to my collection...

Susan Sings Songs From Sesame Street  Ahh, the lovely Susan and her soulful vocal chords.

Sesame Street Just the Two of Us (Double Album)   
Just the Two of us includes the quintessential Cookie Monster - "C" is for Cookie album and Grover Sings!

Just the Two of Us Gatefold.  While you are listening, help cookie monster find the magic cookie!
The Village Soul Choir Sesame Street Theme  The most soulful Sesame Street version I have ever heard. 

and finally yesterday, this arrived...

Cookie Monster and the Girls - "C" is for Cookie (Ninja Tune Records)
That is my grail!  Not only does it have the legendary Larry Levan's first ever disco mix on it, it also has an unstoppable DJ Food edit of the Pinball Number Song by the Pointer Sisters.  I have been wanting that song on record since I was a kid, and now finally, I got it!  DJ Food edits this down to the meat and potatoes without detracting from the original in any way.  He made it mix friendly, and I am forever thankful.   LISTEN TO A SNIPET of it at Official Periodic Forum. 

Yeah, I know, I'm still missing countless important Sesame Street joints.  On the top of my list is the obscure and elusive Roosevelt Franklin records.

Long story short, this collection serves two valuable purposes.  It not only brings back fond childhood memories, it also has become my yet-to-be-used Hip Hop sample pallet.  There will be a Sesame Street themed album or mix coming out of my studio at some point.  I can't wait to put this innocent throw-back vibe in ya ears.  Stay tuned, I'll drop an update here once it's materialized. 

See also: Sesame Street Discography
 As always, comments, and recommendations are absolutely welcome here, add on!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Death of a Forum: DJForums.com is Dead

Related to Elements: DJ, HH Forum 

I'm gonna go out on a sturdy limb and just put the final nail in this coffin.  DJForums.com, the once massive online DJ community, is dead.  While not solely a Hip Hop Forum, DJForums.com had a Hip Hop section with a close-knit group of contributors, an expansive database of information on equipment, production gear and DJ tools, and all kinds of DJ tips, tricks and techniques on file.  

Using the Internet Archive's search engine, Wayback Machine (one great way to see dead website content) you can clearly see this place was really jumping.

click to zoom

It was a slow painful death, almost like watching an Alzheimer victim pop in and out of reality.  The website would go completely down, for weeks at a time, starting late in 2010, and gradually it would go down more often each passing month throughout this entire year.  At this point DJForums has been MIA, completely out of commission since around October 14 2011, the longest stretch yet.  Prior to that it must have been down sporadically 9 or 10 times, sometimes days, sometimes weeks at a time, and when it came back you would never know. 

When it did come back, one thing was for sure, you better not ask where it went or why it went down or you would get snapped at for the inquiry.  A concerned member started a thread in the General Forum there inquiring why the forum kept failing to keep it's host running, and if there was anything he could do to help out.  BAD IDEA.  One of the forum moderators representing DJForums said on that thread that it was a "problem with the hosting".  He quickly added, "If you think it's about money, Go F__K yourself!"    So, the users who straggled back on to the site after weeks of downtime basically had to pretend that it never happened.  Ad space at the tops of each forum disappeared as apparently the buyers of that space had enough of the downtime, and pulled out of the deal leaving an almost omniscient "Website Not Found" white space in it's place.  Spam on the forum started to run rampant as the mods seemed to almost give up on cleaning it up.  Users who prepaid for the VIP forum (A special section of the forum users actually pay money to visit) were S.O.L.  Even Google started to take notice as their once overpowering search engine presence started to drop off the face of the Internet.

Luckily all these DJForums users are not dead, they are still alive.  Unless they stopped DJing, they still need a place to go to discuss music, techniques and the like.  

INSERT PLUG (BUT KEEP IT SUBTLE HERE.)  "Oh look, a brand new Hip Hop forum, and it looks like they could use some active members!"   Official Periodic Forum

Seriously, OPF is nothing like DJF, nor do we want to be anything like it, but we are equally passionate about music, production, remixes and ESPECIALLY Hip Hop, so if you feel a void from this untimely death, we would love to help fill it.  Please Join and build with us.  END PLUG

DJForums was one of many forums I visited devoted to the art of DJing and in particular I appreciated the Hip Hop section.  Like other forums, it was a collaboration of it's users and therefore a truly unique perspective on DJing and Hip Hop that couldn't be found on any other forum.  I'm not saying it was better then any other forums, on the contrary, sometimes it was blistering with newbies asking the same cliche questions about DJ names, or how to do the triple-backwards-bicep-click-flare, or "Hey, watch me practice my chirps and tell me what I'm doing wrong" videos.  But besides all that, there were some real heads that held it down, and frankly brought their distinct and diverse perspective of Hip Hop and\or DJing to the masses.  For those reasons, I will miss DJForums.  RIP DJ Forums!

DISCLAIMER:  I could be wrong, I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.  BUT, if  DJForums decides to pull a zombie forum maneuver and come back from the dead again, I hope they figured out their so-called hosting problem for the sake of maintaining some dignity.  Hosting is dirt cheap, and not hard to find, so frankly I don't believe or accept the excuse. 

ATTN: DJ Forums Ex-Users... Please add on, comments are absolutely welcome!   Also, if you have any additional insider information about this or updates, please comment on this post.

SEE ALSO:  Here's what Official Periodic Forums members had to say about the downtime of DJForums.  PLEASE NOTE: One must be a logged in member to read the General Forum, but it's not required to be logged in for the Crate Digging Hip Hop, Crate Digging Non Hip Hop, Mixtape Submission, or Producer Forums at Official Periodic Forums.