Kids get fascinated by the weirdest things. Don’t tell me you don’t have some souvenir to remind you of some random thing that just consumed your attention, something that Adult You just has to shrug and ask, “WTF??”
In 2019, my mom found a portion of a long-missing vinyl collection, and one of the records in that stash was the soundtrack to a television show called :20 Minute Workout.
:20 Minute Workout is exactly what the title says — a 20-minute exercise show with 10 minutes of commercials to fill out the full half-hour slot. My mom did the workouts, and we watched while she did them. At some point, we watched the show just to watch the show, workout or no.
My sci-fi geekery cottoned onto the THX-1138-style set — a featureless white set that looked like a spare room in Princess Leia’s shuttle. The workout instructors wore color-coordinated leotards, complete with the requisite 80s leg warmers. The wireless mic set worn by the lead instructor looked like a communication device used to keep contact with a mothership.
The synth-heavy music did little to dispel the futurism of the show. Disco was in its last throes, but new wave made everything sound mechanical and chic. So as the workout instructor ran through the aerobics routine, the music eventually grabbed my attention.
The show’s success meant more opportunities to monetize, and eventually ads began running during breaks hawking the soundtrack to the show.
This album was not something you could stick in your cart at the store. You had to send a check or money order to the address on the television screen and wait for it in the mail. Someone had to pester the parents to put that level of effort to get it, and that duty was gleefully mine.
The show was such a hit, the instructors actually went on tour. I know — I dragged the family down to Ala Moana Center to get an autograph.
I came to my senses eventually, and once I started junior high, I stashed the record album with my dad’s records so as not to remind myself of what a weirdo I was. I eventually forgot the show or that the record even existed.
Then my mom texted me a photo of the cover when she found the stash. Hell, yeah, I had to get that album in my possession.
I wish I could say the music album transcends its source, and that I could find deeper musical meaning of which I wasn’t aware as a pre-pre-teen. But no — this music was designed for the gymnasium, and it serves its purpose well.
But man, do I enjoy the memories this album conjures, awkward though they may be.
I read about Big Pig when I was a teen-ager, but none of the record stores in Honolulu would carry Bonk. So when I spotted the album at the thrift shop, I picked it up. Singer Sherine Abeyratne is the big draw here, but a band with up to 5 drummers makes quite a sound. The album was released in 1988, so expect a lot of post-new wave.
Control Machete, Artillería Pesada, Presenta …
When rock en Español started getting traction in the US at the start of the 2000s, the genre was nearly pigeon-holed by rap-rock groups fashionable at the time. I drove to Dallas on a whim to catch the first Watcha Tour, and the evening was dominated by hip-hop and electric guitars. By the time Control Machete took the stage, I was getting worn.
So it’s my bad to have dropped the ball on this album.
Cocco’s music let in a lot more sunshine after the birth of her son, but on this album and its predecessor, some of the storminess from her early work is creeping back in.
Test Pattern, “This Is My Street”
I so want the entire Test Pattern concert to be released on a physical audio medium. Yeah, I have the Documtary Now Blu Ray.
Antoine Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vol. 3 (Ivan Ilić)
There are 57 variations on this 86-minute album. At various points, that theme keeps pounding at you. And yet, I feel compelled to take in all 86 minutes. Reicha really interrogates this theme, as does Ilić.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tinderbox
I’m an opportunistic Siouxsie fan — if I can find their albums for cheap, I’ll pick them up. I’m fond of Superstition, even if I recognize it’s probably not their best. But Tinderbox has so far convinced me why Siouxsie has a loyal following.
Soundtrack, The Crow
Rhino reissued this soundtrack on colored vinyl back in October 2020, and it sold out immediately. I was curious why, so I grabbed one of many copies on CD at the thrift shop. I understand — it’s a pretty good mixed tape of the predominate music of the mid ’90s.
Maxi Priest, Bonafide
I am old enough now not to care if you judge me for totally loving “Close to You”, but the rest of the album is actually quite enjoyable. I found myself digging it even though I’m clearly not the target market for it.