From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Ken Nordine, ‘How Are Things In Your Town?’


You’re familiar with Ken Nordine. You might know you are, but you are.

For decades Nordine provided the deep, resonant voice of authority so often heard in movie trailers and commercials like this freakout Levi’s spot:

I first learned about Nordine in the mid-’90s when his 1967 album Colors: A Sensuous Listening Experience got a long overdue reissue on compact disc. That album, a collection of nine short poems that originally were meant to be voice overs for a paint company’s commercials, is a must have for any fan of esoteric records.

In fact, all 14 of Nordine’s studio albums deserve a place in your stacks, but at 25-50 bucks each that might be a bit more of an investment in word jazz than you want to make. And even if you do want to collect the complete Nordine, his early stuff was published in pretty small numbers, and collectors hang onto them so they don’t pop up in the wild too often. Of course you can find them online, but where’s the fun in that?

That’s where this 1971 compilation comes in. How Are Things In Your Town brings together 22 tracks from four of five of the albums Nordine did for Dot during the 1957-60 period. It’s a great sampler of pre-Colors Nordine and, it remains available for a reasonable price. And not only do you get 22 cuts, but you get that twisted album cover and a kickass gatefold photo of the man himself. Come on!

Expect to pay about around 20 bucks for a good copy of How Are Things In Your Town, but if you’re game for compact discs and just want to experience Nordine’s unique word jazz, you can pick up a new 4 CD box set of Ken Nordine classics for under twenty bones. Either way you go, happy hunting.


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