Archive for the 'In The Bins' Category

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B-Sides in the Bins #58 – Neal Casal Interview

Neal Casal is a musician who you discover when you start digging into his career, has a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-esque connection to other musicians. The fact is that Casal’s personal mantra is to live a life of creativity, and he achieves this in spades through his own extensive solo career with 11 albums dating back to 1994, sideman work in countless recording sessions and stints in other bands including high-profile runs in Ryan Adams‘ Cardinals and currently Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood (which has an album coming out this year) as well as a blossoming photography career.  Casal’s latest solo record Sweeten the Distance will be released on Royal Potato Family on April 10th. Neal was a generous interviewee, and I came away from the conversation very inspired about my own music collecting, performing and photography.

When I called Neal, he was in busy painting a bedroom. He had to turn down the music he was playing to hear me. After introducing myself, I opened by asking him about his ties to the resurgence of the “Laurel Canyon” scene that started around some jam sessions at Jonathan Wilson‘s house.

Yeah, I have a few of those connections for sure… Wilson is a friend of mine, yeah, we’ve played music a bunch, been around his studio and seen a lot. We’re all part of the same music scene really.

I played on Mark Olson’s solo record Many Colored Kite, I was asked to play bass on the Gary Louris solo record Vagabonds by Chris Robinson who produced it, but I couldn’t because I was in the Cardinals at the time and we were getting ready to go on a long tour for Easy Tiger. But, I also play some bass on the new Jayhawks record.

A great record– I’m so happy they are back together.

Yeah, I was a long-time Jayhawks fan– back in the early-90’s I used to see them play all the time. I loved them, they were a big band for me. So, I was really lucky to get to know those guys and to play with them a bit.

Let’s talk a little bit about your record collection, I assume you’re into vinyl?

I’m definitely into vinyl. I have a whole living room full of vinyl and I buy stuff all the time. I played in L.A. last night, actually, and there is a great record shop called Origami Vinyl and I bought the Michael Chapman Rainmaker reissue, which was his first album for the Harvest label in ‘69– amazing sort of skewed English folk with some Rock elements in it.

I listen to vinyl all day long, I buy vinyl all the time– I don’t even know where it begins and ends, you know?

Was vinyl a resurgence for you, or were you into it all along?

I started collecting vinyl well over 20 years ago and it just never stopped– it never died for me. I never let go of my collection or anything like that. It’s cool that vinyl is at an all-time high with all of the reissues and attention to detail– it’s amazing. And, now that I’m in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood the vinyl obsession goes even further. Chris is an avid music listener and he and I get along so well musically and in every town we play– we are in the record shops. So, last year touring around the country we were spending our paychecks on stacks of vinyl. It was great!

Did you end up shipping the records back or did you bring them on the bus?

Oh, they were on the bus! There was no where to even sleep in my bunk! It was just so full of records.

So, yeah, I’m listening to records all the time– in fact, I was listening to Captain Beefheart on the turntable and painting a room as you called.

Which Captain Beefheart record was it?

I was listening to a record called The Spotlight Kid. It isn’t exactly my favorite, but that was what I was listening to just now.

In your collecting do you tend to focus on any particular genre, or are you a completist in anything?

I’m not really a completist, although at the moment I’m trying to find every single Robbie Basho record there is. Robbie Basho was an acoustic guitar player in the John Fahey tradition or style who made records in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I’m currently obsessed with him and would like to get all of his records, actually.

I’m only just recently getting into John Fahey. I feel like I’m kind of late to the party.

John Fahey was amazing– he had his own record label called Takoma Records and Robbie  Basho was on Takoma for a while. He wasn’t like Fahey, but he was kind of in that vein. Completing my Robbie Basho collection is hard, though because some of them are really rare– they’re quite expensive now.

Some of the Fahey records are getting reissued, so maybe some of Basho’s stuff might get reissued, too.

Yeah, exactly. For a while I wanted to complete my Incredible String Band collection, which I finally did, which is cool. But, it isn’t really about being a completist as it is about finding cool stuff and discovering what new music you can, you know?

When CD’s came out in the 80’s I jumped on that bandwagon– so most of my collection until the last decade or so was made up of that– I have thousands of CD’s…

Oh, we we’re all on that one, you know– me too, believe me. My CD collection is now– I got rid of almost all of the cases, and I just put them all in books. So I still have most of my CD collection and I have stacks of CD books as well, so…

Yeah, I’ve always had a turntable and my vinyl, but during the CD years I’d only pick up vinyl when there was something I wanted that was only available on vinyl– like maybe a remix or something and it has only been in the last decade or so that I started getting back into vinyl, and really in the last three years I’ve tripled my collection of vinyl. Thankfully, the majority of people still don’t seem to think that vinyl is a going concern, so you can still find good deals on some pieces. It seems like I’m spending a lot of time replacing albums from the 90’s that I originally bought on CD.

Yeah, CD’s as a format you can just see is just not very timeless, you know what I mean? CD’s are not wearing well as we move down the years. That’s a problem– the artwork doesn’t last, it looks like shit, they look horrible in your house– they don’t display well. They sound weird, too– they skip and they get all fucked up. They’re still around, of course, but they are just not a timeless medium. It’s amazing to see that with vinyl, they got it right the first time.

I completely agree with what Neil Young has been saying about CD’s for many years— that the sound isn’t what it should be. So, for your own albums, how are you doing it? Tape to LP? Digital and then mastering to LP?

I recorded my last two records digitally, and that’s fine. I think that recording digitally isn’t particularly a problem if you do it right. I work with really great people who know what they’re doing with all of that stuff. But, I still like to work on tape as well. Recording digitally is a fact of life that I totally accept, and digitally recorded records can be mastered to vinyl beautifully.

Sweeten the Distance will be on vinyl, and the last Hazy Malaze record Connections is available on vinyl, too, right?

Yeah, actually all three Hazy Malaze records are available on vinyl. The first Hazy Malaze record was recorded on tape and mastered to vinyl– so that is a record that is completely analog which was really cool.

Speaking of Hazy Malaze, the two other members Dan Fadel and Jeff Hill are the rhythm section of the new record. They have played on my last three solo records records in addition to the three Hazy Malaze records which we all co-write together. Those two guys are  are such a huge part of my musical life. they’re a team and we’ve done so much musical work together.

Also, two of my albums from the 90’s are coming out on vinyl as well.

The reissues that Fargo did?

Yeah, and they did a really great job with those. But, I’m most excited with Sweeten the Distance. Thom Monahan, the guy who produced it was a big key to the sound. He is such a great producer and he works with so many people: Vetiver, Fruit Bats, and he did the Chris Robinson Brotherhood record we just finished, and he also co-produced that Gary Louris record Vagabonds with Chris Robinson. And, Thom also worked with Jonathan Wilson on his album Gentle Spirit. So, you can see how all of these roads cross with this circle of friends we have going on here.

Yeah, I first heard about Jonathan Wilson about the time I started getting into Dawes and heard about the get togethers he was having at his place in Laurel Canyon.

Yeah that was fun. That is where I met Jonathan and those guys– a really good scene. Jonathan was also really good friends with Jonathan Rice who is in Jenny and Johnny— have you heard their record?

Actually, no. I’m more familiar with Rice’s solo stuff.

Jonathan Rice has done two solo records, but his girlfriend is Jenny Lewis who was in Rilo Kiley and they are in Jenny and Johnny together. I used to play with Jonathan Rice many years ago– so this scene just kind of came together from people who knew each other. And, there is another guy name Farmer Dave Scher who is in Beachwood Sparks.

And, you toured with Beachwood Sparks, right?

Yeah, and they just make a new record with Thom Monahan that I play on as well. Crossing streams, you know.

There must be something in the water up there– it’s almost a corollary to the 70’s Laurel Canyon scene– Jackson Browne working with the Eagles, the Eagles working with Linda Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt working with Neil Young and James Taylor…

Yeah, it’s people around– all in the same place doing stuff– people with songs– and it’s a good idea to get together. I don’t think anyone really thought about it, but when you look back on it, you’re like, “wow, we really did a lot of stuff together.” No one set out saying, “we’re going to make a new Laurel Canyon scene.” That would have been incredibly pretentious. It just started to happen.

When you get ready to work on your solo stuff, do you find yourself maybe water-shedding with your records?

Well, actually, I try to get away from my records, actually. So that it’s not so much like I’m trying to cop another thing, you know? For me, the record collection is useful as a subliminal influence. In my off-time I’m listening to records constantly, and I’m just absorbing stuff. But, when it comes time to really write or really record– that’s when I put the records away. Try not to make any direct references. I used to do it when I was younger– bring a record to the studio when you’re making a record and you tell the producer, “I want the record to sound like this.” That’s just stupid, it never really works. To try to cop something directly is not a good idea– you just need to do your own thing– you have to look for your own voice. My 60’s and 70’s influences come across strongly in my music, I admit– but I don’t sit around with Thom Monahan playing Jackson Browne records trying to replicate them. The fabric of who I am as a musician comes from my record collection, but it is absorbed in a much different way– a much more subtle or internal way. That said, when I worked on the Chris Robinson Brotherhood album, we did have a turntable in the recording studio– in the live room– and everyone brought in records, but that was just so we could listen to records on break and have fun.

How long had you been working on the songs on Sweeten the Distance? I know that you had an album out in 2009…

I started working on songs right after Roots and Wings, which was my last album. Just over the last two or three years. I’m just always working on music.

Looking at your career, I’m impressed at how capably you jump between your own music and helping other people with theirs.

I love doing a bit of both– it keeps things fresh. I love working with other people and I bring a little that back to my own music. Sometimes working on my own stuff can get to be a little isolating, so I love to be a guitar player for other people or bring in some harmony vocals. I just want to be playing music all the time. I like it to be an open thing. It doesn’t have to be just my music– it can be someone else’s as long as it is really good! I have so many friends that it just makes sense to go play with them. There are no rules that I should just do my stuff– I just want to do– I just want to do stuff and I want to be involved.

You do seem pretty adaptable– when I compare the music of the Cardinals, for example, to your music I don’t think that they are necessarily very similar.

Well what the Cardinals did and what I do fall under the broad umbrella of American music. Playing with Ryan was an amazing experience. He is so unbelievably talented, and such an absolute great songwriter that I was influenced by him. Again, though, not so directly, but more like raising the bar in terms of quality of songwriting and song quality in general and the desire to be great. But, I didn’t come out of that experience sounding more like Ryan. Before I had joined him, I had already been making my own records and had my own style. Part of the reason he wanted me to join his band was because I had my own style.

I read a comment that you made about how your photographs are in essence the songs that you couldn’t or haven’t written yet. It’s an idea that really intrigues me as an amateur photographer and musician myself– the idea that two different art forms could be tied together.

It’s all part of one creative flow for me. Taking photographs is like what we talked about– it’s like playing with other people. Instead of just making my own songs, I play guitar with other people, and in addition to playing guitar with other people, I take photographs of those people. It’s the way to make life creative– a creative flow 24/7– all the time. You can’t play music constantly– so when I take a break from that, I pick up a camera. It’s interesting that my photographs end up looking like my music sounds. The same aesthetic that I have in one thing, I bring to another– and that’s very interesting to see. Like I might use space photographically the same way I do musically. You bring your personality into whatever you do, so things can kind of look and sound the same way. It’s not the medium– it’s YOU. In some of my music there is a kind of quiet aspect to things and I find myself doing that with a camera as well. I’m reaching for the same thing photographically as I am musically. I think that maybe my photographs are more diverse than my music, but there is a certain melancholy or introspection and that is a part of my personality that I’m working out and I do that with photographs as well. What is my psyche pushing me towards? That is one my my main revelations in my pursuit of photography.

My pursuit of photography started out as a way for me to document what I was doing– I  was on tour constantly and I was losing track of time– I was never ever home– nor did I want to be at home at that time. But, being on tour can be really tedious. Not boring– but you don’t have control over your day. So, I started taking photographs to pass the time, but also so I could remember where I’d been. When you are on tour that much, I noticed that it was difficult to keep everything straight. So, I started taking photographs to make being on the road more tolerable. Also, to bring more creativity to being on tour– otherwise you end up in hotel rooms and coffee shops all day, and I can’t handle that. Then, it became a passion when I realized that I had a knack for it. That is what photography has done for me– It has make my life so much bigger than just music. (chuckles) I’m just trying to have a rich experience here!

What is on your vinyl wish list?

Let me look at my phone… I always have a running list of stuff. There’s so much…

Steve Hillage – Fish Rising : Chris Robinson played me that record…
The Collins Sisters – Anthems in Eden
“The Wicker Man” Soundtrack
Dr. Strangely Strange Records
Any Roy Harper records I can find
Robert Nighthawk – Bricks in my Pillow
John Martyn – The Tumbler
Robin Williamson (from ISB) – Myrrh – Really rare, I don’t think I’ll ever see it.

 Neal, I really want to thank you for your time, this was a great conversation! I should let you get back to painting your room!

Actually, this is perfect timing– I was painting while we were talking and I’m now done!

Neal Casal’s new album Sweeten the Distance will be out on April 10th on compact disc, digital and glorious vinyl on Royal Potato Family Records. Click Here for the pre-order!


B-Sides in the Bins #57 – Record Collector, Iowa City 8-13-11 : An Explosion of 90’s Rock!

I made a quick run to Iowa City last week– mostly with the intention of picking up the August issue of Little Village Magazine so I could have a hard copy of the review I wrote for it (Rockygrass band Finnders & Youngberg’s new album FY5). While I was there, I stopped into the Record Collector to see if there was anything worth picking up. Of course, there was. One great aspect about the Record Collector is that they have a pretty extensive used vinyl section that has a lot of 90’s college rock in it! Like a lot of collectors, I seem to be spending a lot of collecting time rebuying things I bought back in high school and college– I’m building an R.E.M. collection for example, and finding obscure releases like Love Tractor. I came away with some really great nostalgia releases on this trip:

Angry Samoans – Yesterday Started Tomorrow (EP, PVC Records, PVC 6915, 1986)($20) I kind of spent a lot on this particular release. Anyone who hung out with me in high school got to hear this EP a lot. Back then, the only way I was exposed to most new music was through KUNI the closest public radio station (now part of Iowa Public Radio), and I would wait anxiously for Night Music to start. In fact, I used to tape it so that I could listen to it the next day in hopes of finding some new gems. One early find was the Angry Samoans through their great song “It’s Raining Today.” Though I didn’t know it at the time, The Angry Samoans were contemporaries of seminal LA punk bands like X, The Circle Jerks and Black Flag, which I became aware of through late-night showings of “Urgh! A Music War” and “The Decline of Western Civilization.” Though, Yesterday Started Tomorrow was a departure in sound for the band– choosing to embrace its love of 60’s garage rock. A great record that still holds up today.

Love Tractor – Themes From Venus (LP, DB Recs, DB92, 1988)($5.00) An obscure band– likely only known from people who lived in Georgia at the time or people who saw the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Out. A band I’m always keeping an eye out for. I’ve managed to pick up three LP’s of their vinyl career thus far. Themes From Venus was a return to their original label home DB Recs after a one-record stint at minor-major label Big Time Records which had distribution by BMG and RCA in the US with their album This Ain’t to Outerspace Ship and it’s single– a cover of  “Party Train” (almost the precursor to “Love Shack” by the B-52’s!) Love Tractor started as a band that only occasionally had vocals, but over time that changed. Maybe they learned how to sing and play their instruments? Here is “Venus” from Themes From Venus.

The dB’s – The Sound of Music (LP, IRS Records, IRS-42055, 1987)($7.00) I became familiar with The dB’s when they opened for R.E.M. on the Document tour in Davenport at Palmer Auditorium. Though The dB’s are known for the writing partnership of Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey– much in the tradition of Chris Bell and Alex Chilton of Big Star or Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze– The Sound of Music was post Stamey’s departure from the band. Holsapple tried to carry the mantle of The dB’s for two more albums before they gave it up. The album is a blend of jangly Byrdsian guitar power pop with country influence like a lot of bands at the time — we call it Americana I suppose these days, but back then it was just rock. I always loved “Never Say When.” These days both Stamey and Holsapple have solo careers and release the occasional album together.

Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (LP, MCA Records, MCA-6253, 1989)($7.00) Firstly, big props to Record Collector for pricing this record very reasonably. Recently, I was visiting one of my other favorite record shops and they were asking $40 for a copy of this record– not nearly in this nice of shape either! The justification by the kid behind the counter who did the pricing at that store was that there are copies of this on eBay going for $40. Sadly, they will probably get that price for it from someone who isn’t willing to do a bit of searching. As it is, I’ve seen nice copies on discogs.com for less than $20. Plus, it is just a matter of time before the big remastering project that is well underway for Petty’s catalog will eventually hit this record and create a completely new 180g version with bonus tracks. Anyway, what is there really to say about this record that hasn’t been said– HUGELY successful release from Petty during the period when Jeff Lynne of ELO had infiltrated a bunch of camps with his production: The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison. So, you end up with these guys all hanging out and working on each other’s records as well as collaborating on the Traveling Wilburys. If you see Petty in concert these days, he seems to do more songs from this album than almost any other in his catalog. All the big hits: “Running Down A Dream,” “Yer So Bad,” “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down.”

Ultra Vivid Scene – Joy 1967-1990 (LP, 4AD/Columbia C4 6227, 1990)($8.00) This was one of those “holy shit!” moments flipping through the bins. One of my very favorite albums coming from the astonishingly fertile 4AD camp in the early 90’s. The Pixies blasted the doors open and bands like UVS, The Cocteau Twins, The Breeders and Lush found themselves with major label deals in the US. UVS is pretty much the project of Kurt Ralske. He had three albums as UVS before moving on to other things. These days he seems focused on graphic arts. This album was the breakthrough for him and largely due to the single “Special One” which featured prominently Kim Deal from the Pixies, as did the video for it which got some MTV rotation. Kurt was a lucky, lucky man in 1990.

Stuff I put back: Camper Van Chadbourne, plus a reissue of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey on Takoma– apparently a recent reissue.

B-Sides in the Bins #56 – Mt. Vernon, IA 8/20/2011 – Art Blakey’s Drum Suite

Drum Suite - Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
My wife had a wedding makeup gig in Mt. Vernon on Saturday and since I didn’t have a lot going on I offered to come along and help her load in and out. I figured I’d check out the antique shops to see what books or vinyl they might have. Unfortunately, there used to be a really great record store in Mt. Vernon above one of the art stores. I guess the father of one of the owners of the store had a large record collection that they wanted to sell, so they ran a store for a while.

After helping Sherry, I parked the car and set out on foot to see what I could find. The former Mt. Vernon Middle School is now known as The First Street Community Center and this is where I found the one record I picked up. The school has been converted into a number of small shops and businesses– most of them antiques and gifts. On the second floor of the building I found a lone stack of  records in front of one of the shops. The stack was marked $2. So, I flipped through them not expecting to really find anything as the records were largely 60’s era ephemera like orchestra, some odd soundtracks and some foreign music titles. One I almost picked up was a University of Iowa title called The Songs of Iowa or something like that and had a selection of music from the various cultures– Mesquaki Indian music, Czechoslovakian, German, Dutch. But, just before I got to the bottom of the pile this familiar collection of African masks was staring me in the face.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Drum Suite (LP, Columbia CL 1002, 1957)($1.00) Wow! First, it is Mono and original Columbia Records “Six Eye” label, so it is an original pressing. The record was missing the inner paper sleeve, but the record itself was in pretty decent shape! It had some slightly incriminating scuffs, but I figured for a record over 50 years old, it wouldn’t be perfect, and the price was right. After a conversation with the nice lady who ran the little shop, and who attempted to just give the record to me, we arrived at $1.

When I got home, I gave the record a wipe with Gruv-Glide II (I highly recommend this stuff!) which did a fantastic job of cleaning out the groove of dust and debris and also provided an anti-static barrier. The record had a deep black sheen and it took some close looking to even see the original scuffs! The record played with very little noise.

Drum Suite is really two recordings. Side One is the three-part “Drum Suite” performed by The Art Blakey Percussion Ensemble which was made up of Specs Wright on percussion, Ray Bryant on piano, cellist/bassist Oscar Pettiford, Sabu Martinez on congas, and bassist Candido Camero. As is frequently commented about this release, it predates Afrobeat music by many years, and considered by many to be quite revolutionary at the time. Listening to it now, I notice how well the ensemble ties standard hard bop jazz with the world beats making it pretty listenable (“never descends into cacophony” was one review I read).

The second side of the record is a selection of songs by one of the many iterations of The Jazz Messengers. While enjoyable, is not in my opinion as strong as other Jazz Messenger releases like my personal favorite Mosaic.

When I heard the middle part of the Drum Suite “Cubano Chant” I found it to be familiar, so I looked into that track further. “Cubano Chant” was composed by the pianist Ray Bryant and included in his 1956 album on Epic Records The Ray Bryant Trio (Epic LN 3279)– which is sadly very out-of-print. The version on Drum Suite has some vocals (“Vamos a bailar la cha-cha-cha!”) where his version (and most other cover versions) doesn’t. Ray Bryant passed away in June at 79 years old. One of his noted contributions to the world of jazz is “Cubano Chant” which seems to be regarded as kind of a standard, considering how many people covered it. I found a pretty cool video of Steely Dan’s touring band from 2003 performing it as a warmup before a concert. I’m not exactly sure where I heard this before, but I guess it could be anywhere– but I’m pretty sure I heard it on “Dancing With the Stars” though I don’t know what season that would have been.

I managed to find a vinyl rip of Ray Bryant Trio (the Epic release, not the confusingly same-titled Prestige album from the same year– although some call that one Piano Piano Piano) on the internet which is pretty cool– but considering the apparent significance of “Cubano Chant” you’d think that they would have reissued this. It’s on my “wishlist”  to get on vinyl.

A bit of a side note: Ray Bryant recorded a single in 1960 called “The Madison Time” which was featured prominently in the first film version of Hairspray (not the John Travolta version, the Rikki Lake one). Here are the instructions for how you can dance “The Madison Time,” too!

B-Sides in the Bins #55 – Around Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Over the long weekend, I was hoping to get in on some of the sales that were going on– specifically Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, and the full-weekend 20% sale at Half-Price Books. While I didn’t actually get over to Guitar Center, I did hit HPB, but also managed to see David Lowery and Johnny Hickman tape a Java Blend session in Iowa City with my friend Erik, which also resulted in a great trip to The Record Collector. I also visited Moondog Music in Dubuque on Thursday and picked up some “missing titles” and hit a Half Price Books in Chicago on Saturday (whew!)

Record Collector, Iowa City:

Bob Mould – Workbook (LP, Virgin Records 91240-1, 1989)($8.00) HUGE SCORE! Found in the “Recent Arrivals” bin (much to Erik’s dismay). Promo-stamped and notched cut-out with a “When You PLAY IT, SAY IT!” sticker prominently on the front cover. The record is in overall good condition, but there was a very visible scuff on tracks 3 and 4 on side 2. It doesn’t affect the play a lot except for a slight tick. I heard this album being played at a party in college and went out and bought it the next day. The first time I ever heard Mould, incidentally. Though I was a fan of Minneapolis bands like Soul Asylum and The Replacement, I hadn’t dove into the Husker Du catalog. I started getting into their catalog posthumously after this album. This is still my favorite Mould record, though Black Sheets of Rain is a close second.  (Note to self: add Black Sheets of Rain to my vinyl wishlist).

Van Morrison – Moondance (LP, Warner Brothers 1835, 1970)($12.00) Also in the “Recent Arrivals” bin. Amazingly clean copy and early pressing! Well worth the slightly more expensive price. Not much to say about this release other than it is probably the most consistent record in Van the Man’s catalog. Nice mellow jams for early evening consumption of red wine.

I had also grabbed a collection of Talking Heads records which were on my wish list, however, when I got to the counter to check out I spotted a copy of Neil Young’s Zuma in the glass case for $20. Realizing that this is a tough one to find, I put the Talking Heads back…

Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Zuma (LP, Reprise Records MS 2242, 1975)($20) Brilliant record all the way through. Of the “bigger songs” in Neil’s career, this has “Cortez the Killer” on it. First album following the “Ditch Trilogy” of Time Fades Away, Tonight’s the Night and On The Beach. I guess it is a little crazy for me to pay $20 for a record that will allegedly come out on the next Neil Young Archives LP box (cue laughter from die hard Neil Young fans). Cover in good shape with some slight staining which is typical of the matte covers of this vintage. Includes lyric sheet.

Big Star – Radio City (LP, Stax/Concord Music Group ADS-1801, 2009)($13.00) New. Wasn’t planning to pick this up, but I entered into a conversation with Kirk about the $50 original pressing of Big Star’s #1 Record that has been on display for a while. I mentioned the reissues that had come out and he went back to the bins and came back with this. I’m a big fan of Big Star and had been planning to pick these up at some point. This is a reissue done by Concord Music Group which owns the licensing of the Stax and Ardent catalogs. Interestingly, aside from the very small “Licensed By Concord Music Group” at the bottom of the back of the jacket, you couldn’t tell easily that this was a reissue. Recorded and mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis and mastered by Larry Nix whom I worked with on the vinyl pressing of The Right Now’s 2010 album Carry Me Home. Nix told us stories about working with Big Star and how Chris Bell nearly destroyed the plates for the vinyl version of #1 Record! I’m thinking I need to get that #1 Record

Moondog Music, Dubuque, IA:

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (LP, Columbia PC 33453, 1975)($12.98) Hot stamped with “For Demonstration – Not For Sale” on the back cover. Sleeve in VG condition with some slight ringwear and the LP is VG condition– no scuffs or scratches, but seems to need a thorough cleaning as it has a some crackles. The recording sounds great other than that. BL 33453-3F 1T matrix information on both sides. Also came with original “Monosee Lake” postcard!

R.E.M. – Murmur (LP, IRS Records, SP 70014-1, 1983)($5.98) According to the internet, this is a later repress as the catalog number changed and it has a barcode on it. Vinyl just needed a quick brush with the anti-static brush and a wipe with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Cleaned up with no surface noise! Sounds great and reminds me why I loved them so much back then. R.E.M. has always been a band that changes its sound every few albums, and the Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning set of albums defined that Southern jangly sound that so many bands that followed emulated.

Greg Brown – Freak Flag (LP, Yep Roc YEP 2244, 2011) ($19.98) 180g vinyl! Cool that the man who lives analog would get his new album on new label Yep Roc pressed into virgin vinyl. Produced by Bo Ramsey and recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis after a lightning storm destroyed the original recordings done in Minneapolis! Read my review of Freak Flag in Little Village Magazine.

New Order – Movement (LP, Factory FACD 05, 1981)($12.98) Still sealed! Was in the bins there since 2004. Has the light blue cover indicative of the non-US Factory Records versions. Looks like a Canadian pressing I guess, but the matrix information looks like it is based on the original UK pressing. I need to look into this a bit more. Not my favorite New Order album, but still worth having in the collection.

Simple Minds – Sparkle in the Rain (LP, A&M Records SP-6-4981, 1984)($4.99) This is one of my favorite Simple Minds albums, second probably only to New Gold Dream. Sparkle in the Rain is considered Simple Minds’ breakthrough release in the US. Side A has a fantastic procession of songs– “Up on the Catwalk,” “Book of Brilliant Things,” “Speed Your Love to Me,” “Waterfront” and “East At Easter” most of which are on the excellent live album Live in the City of Light.

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam (LP, ABC Records ABCD-931, 1976)($5.98) This is an “upgrade” from a later MCA Pressing I had of this. Great record, though it doesn’t have the big hits on it. It also seems to embody the snideness of Steely Dan. Sometimes Steely Dan hates the subjects and characters in their songs, and never more than they seem to on The Royal Scam. Classic Dan songs on here, though. “Kid Charlemange,” “Don’t Take Me Alive,” “The Fez” and “Haitian Divorce.”

Half Price Books, Village Crossing, Niles, IL

Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (LP, Atco SD 2-704, 1970)($14.99) While Sherry was doing makeup for a wedding in Chicago, I busied myself with a trip to the closest Half Price Books. They had a lot of “essential” titles in the bins of varying quality and I nearly picked up a couple of Who titles, but ended up finding this really clean original pressing of the classic Derek & The Dominos album.

B-Sides in the Bins #54 – Half-Price Books, Bloomingdale, IL 3/13/11

Sherry and I were back in Chicago last weekend for her yearly America’s Beauty Show conference at McCormick Place. My goal was to spend some time working on some writing and possibly do some record shopping. We were also planning to see The Right Now open for L.A. R&B band Orgone at Schuba’s.

Because I was concentrating on some writing, I primarily stayed holed up in our hotel room in Oak Park, but I ventured out on Sunday morning after dropping Sherry off at the show. I had been meaning to hit the Half-Price Books up in Bloomingdale and the hotel was relatively close to there. As far as Half-Price Books stores are concerned, this one is a pretty well-stocked one. The vinyl section was very large and had a very good selection of titles. The rule of thumb for pricing vinyl at HPB in Cedar Rapids is to use the Goldmine Vinyl Pricing Guide and charge 50% of that. So, when Neil Young’s Harvest shows up in the guide for $10, you can count on it being $5 or $6.  In my opinion, the Bloomingdale prices seemed on average a little higher than I’d see in Cedar Rapids, but not oppressively so. I ended up getting some collection fillers– Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd which was cool. Those titles tend to be kind of rare in Cedar Rapids, so I want to snag them when I see them. I also got some odd college rock releases, too.

Led Zeppelin – Coda (LP, Swan Song/Atlantic 90051-1, 1982) ($9.98) Coda was the 9th and final LP from Led Zeppelin, post John “Bonzo” Bonham’s death. Assembled by Jimmy Page of studio and soundcheck outtakes recorded between 1970 and 1978. The album is largely dismissed by most as a non-essential Led Zeppelin release. At my house Coda was actually played quite a bit. We became fans of Led Zeppelin around the time I was a freshman in high school and bought all of the albums on cassette. My brother Steve is a drummer and was a big fan of Bonzo at the time. I think out of all of the tracks we played the drum instrumental “Bonzo’s Montreux” the most which we saw as the sequel to “Moby Dick” from Led Zeppelin II. In fact, the first big CD boxset of Led Zeppelin included a medley of both “Moby Dick” and “Bonzo’s Montreux.” The sleeve for this LP is a nice embossed 2-pocket gatefold. The LP fits in one pocket, but I don’t have anything in the second pocket– am I missing something?

Pink Floyd – The Wall (2 LP, Columbia 36183, 1979) ($14.98) This was a bit on the pricey side, but the sleeve was in excellent condition as was the vinyl. Essential for any Pink Floyd collection– I’m still building my vinyl collection so I’m keeping an eye out for these releases. My dad bought this on cassette when it came out and I didn’t really pay any attention to it aside from “Another Brick in the Wall (part 2)” which was a #1 single in 1979. It wasn’t until the summer between my 8th Grade and Freshman year of High School in 1983– almost four years after the album came out– that I would really embrace The Wall. My first girlfriend (more of a summer fling, I suppose), coincidentally with the last name of “Watters” wanted me to copy the tape for her. I wasn’t a fan, but she insisted that it was an amazing album.  Back in these days one would have to sit through the dub process– I had two individual cassette decks– not even the dubbing cassette deck that I have today. Press play on one and record on the other and wait. On this particular night I laid in bed with the headphones on listening to it as it copied. It was at that point that I understood what the fuss was about and it opened my eyes to the utter majesty of The Wall and at that point caused me to be a fan of Pink Floyd. Considering that I was pretty much raised on a steady diet of the Beatles, The Moody Blues and Fleetwood Mac, The Wall was revolutionary.  That Christmas I asked for Animals and Dark Side of the Moon for gifts. As was usually the case around the house, whenever I would start getting heavy into a particular band the rest of the family would follow suit and it seemed like we were listening to The Wall in the car all the time usually singing along with songs like “Mother” as disturbing as that seems in retrospect. Our family had planned on seeing one of  the rock laser shows at Five Flags as was the rage at the time, and they regularly did one for Dark Side of the Moon. In a last-minute decision we decided to buy a Betamax tape of The Wall Movie under the idea that it would cost about the same as the admission to the laser show was about the same price as the movie. I remember inviting the art teacher from my high school, Dave Eischeid over to watch it one afternoon. It was kind of a big deal at the time and people hadn’t really even seen the movie.

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (LP, Columbia QC 38243, 1983) ($9.98) While not generally regarded as their best effort with Waters, the copy was in such good shape I thought I should pick it up. Really, though, people probably didn’t play The Final Cut as much as any of their previous releases, so I suspect that most of the copies in the used bins are in good shape. The Final Cut was as much a reaction to the events surrounding The Wall as it was kind of a sequel to it. The only single from the album was “Not Now John” which seems to me also very related to “Young Lust” from The Wall. I had “Not Now John” on a mix tape I used to listen to a lot in my car in high school and it still stands as a great track in my opinion and the only one on the album to feature David Gilmour’s vocals, but he shares vocal duties with Waters.

Paul Simon – Graceland (LP, Warner Bros., 25447-1, 1986) ($4.98) Finally a copy of Graceland that was in really great shape! Lots of copies of Paul Simon’s brilliant return to the top of the music charts and winner of two GRAMMYS. Graceland was an early CD purchase for me– I got my first CD player in the early 90’s and it was part of the first ten or so CD’s I bought. I don’t have a lot to say about the album that hasn’t been covered. It’s one of the all-time great albums as far as I’m concerned.

Camper Van Beethoven – Telephone Free Landslide Victory (LP, Independent Project/Rough Trade IP016, 1985) ($7.98) WOW! Big find! I was really happy to find this one languishing in the bins! CVB’s debut record which would establish the band with it’s best-known song, “Take The Skinheads Bowling” (best known next to their cover of “Pictures of Matchstick Men” anyway). Wonderful blend of ska/Eastern Bloc instrumentals and relatively straightforward “college rock.” A very welcome addition to my collection indeed, and the beginning of my vinyl collection of CVB.

The dB’s – Like This (LP, Bearsville/Warner Bros. 25146-1, 1984)($9.98) Another great college rock find! I saw the dB’s open for R.E.M. during their Document tour on October 31st, 1987 in Davenport, IA. What little I remember about their performance includes a pretty great version of “Amplifier” which was on Like This and their previous album. Like This is a great album even though it is missing Chris Stamey. Produced by Chris Butler of the Waitresses and the dB’s. The LP credits and the deadwax show the LP was mastered at Sterling Sound by Greg Calbi.

Janet Jackson – Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (LP, A&M Records SP 3920, 1989)($2.98) While I never owned this on CD or cassette, it was a record I had a lot of respect for when it came out. The easiest way to create a funk masterpiece is to bring the Minneapolis sound– Jam & Lewis. Seven singles in the Top Five is a record that has yet to be topped. Great record and I’m happy to have this in my collection– especially in this condition. Slight ringwear on the sleeve, but the record itself is pristine.

Full Fathom Five – Smoke Screen EP (12″ Link Records 021, 1989)($2.98) A red vinyl pressing for the “Smoke Screen” single from the Iowa City band Full Fathom Five’s major label debut 4 A.M. on Link Records. I picked up the vinyl version of this at Cheapo’s in Minneapolis back in 2009. This HPB tried to get $9.98 for this back in June of 2009 according to the layered price stickers, and then dropped the price to $4.98 in October of 2010, and then dropped the price again in February of this year to $2.98. A pretty cool piece and a nice companion to my 4 A.M. vinyl. “Smokescreen” is on side 1 and side 2 has two non-album tracks, “What We are Missing” and “Take It To the Station.”

B-Sides in the Bins #53 – Rubber Soul Restoration

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Over Christmas I took on a project– the restoration of a Mono Beatles Rubber Soul.

A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law Sarah gave me a stack of LP’s that she picked up at a thrift store in the Twin Cities. The stack was a colorful collection of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s pop, tropicalia, hair metal and Phil Collins. I pulled out the records that I thought I’d want to keep and got ready to carry the lot of discards to Half-Price Books. Thankfully, I looked closer at the Firefall sleeve in the pile as it had The Beatles Rubber Soul on rainbow Capitol label in it! As happy as I was to find this treasure, I was saddened that it was missing its jacket. I found a paper sleeve and put it in a crate with other records that I don’t store with my main collection.

In December I was doing some work in the room where we have our furnace and storage and happened to notice the record. I picked it up and looked closer at it and realized that it was not just a 60’s Capitol Beatles release, but it was also a MONO!

The reason why the monaural release is desirable, is that it is generally accepted in the collector’s circles that the Capitol monaural versions of the Beatles catalog are superior to the stereo releases. To explain why, there is some history to cover.

The Beatles had kind of a shaky start in the US as far as record labels were concerned. They were signed to EMI/Parlophone in the UK and when EMI’s US counterpart Capitol was initially approached to release the Beatles albums, they declined– thinking that the US teenagers were more interested in the clean-cut portrait of The Beach Boys (on Capitol) than they would be with the shaggy snapshot of the Beatles. The center of the mess was a man named Dave Dexter, Jr. who is quite possibly the most controversial person in the history of the Beatles recorded output. Dexter’s job was managing EMI’s releases in the US for Capitol and was  the guy who was in charge of screening the releases, and ultimately made decisions about everything from cover art, to production and mastering to what tracks were included on a given release.

Incidently, Dexter was also the guy who made the decision that initially squashed releasing the Beatles on Capitol. This is why the first Beatles album released in the US was handled by a typically R&B label out of Chicago called Vee-Jay (which is a whole other story). Eventually, Capitol couldn’t ignore the force of the Beatles and signed them in November, 1963.

Capitol and Dexter felt that the way EMI was releasing the albums in the UK was not what their customers wanted and changed almost every packaging of Beatles material up until Sgt. Pepper’s when the Beatles renewed their contract and blocked this practice. Capitol changed track lists, generated new “greatest hits” collections and the most egregious aspect of all was the remixing of the music that George Martin and his engineers so masterfully recorded at Abbey Road. EMI/Parlophone would release singles and LP’s in the UK and then tapes would be shipped to the US for packaging and release by Capitol.

When the Beatles would finally make it to compact disc in 1987, it established that the standard for their catalog would be the UK EMI/Parlophone/Apple versions. Well, and stereo for those releases that were in stereo.

Rubber Soul ends up being the poster child for Capitol’s changes to the Beatles releases with a dramatically different track listing than the UK version in sequence and in content!

The “proper” UK version of Rubber Soul tracklisting (from Wikipedia):

No. Title Length
1. Drive My Car 2:25
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) 2:01
3. You Won’t See Me 3:18
4. Nowhere Man 2:40
5. Think for Yourself(George Harrison) 2:16
6. The Word 2:41
7. Michelle 2:40
Side two
No. Title Length
1. What Goes On(Lennon/McCartney/Starkey) 2:47
2. Girl 2:30
3. I’m Looking Through You 2:23
4. In My Life 2:24
5. Wait 2:12
6. If I Needed Someone(George Harrison) 2:20
7. Run for Your Life 2:18

So, this brings us to my copy of Rubber Soul, which as I stated, is a Capitol mono original pressing from 1965 (Catalog number T-2442).

Side one
No. Title Length
1. I’ve Just Seen a Face 2:07
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) 2:05
3. You Won’t See Me 3:22
4. Think for Yourself(George Harrison) 2:19
5. The Word 2:43
6. Michelle 2:42
Side two
No. Title Length
1. It’s Only Love 1:55
2. Girl 2:33
3. I’m Looking Through You 2:31
4. In My Life 2:27
5. Wait 2:16
6. Run for Your Life 2:18

You can see from these two track listings that the UK and US releases are substantially different! According to sources, the US release was deliberately resequenced to make Rubber Soul more of a “folk rock” album in hopes of cashing in on the emerging genre which included popular releases from bands like the Byrds and Dylan which were both having an effect on the Beatles new– and I think– more mature writing style. As a result, the more upbeat, and likely representative of the “Rubber Soul” moniker– songs were removed from the track listing and would be released on the following US-only compilation Yesterday… and Today. These songs “Drive My Car” and “Nowhere Man” which are considered notable songs in the Beatles canon, as well as “What Goes On” and “If I Needed Someone.” These songs were replaced with two songs removed from the UK version of Help! (the US version of Help! was also different in the US where it served more as a soundtrack to the movie and included score music)– “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “It’s Only Love.” The result drops the album to just under 30 minutes in total.

There is a debate that continues over whether the Capitol changes actually improve the album. One side of the argument is that it does. The replacement of the pumping piano kickoff of “Drive My Car” on the UK version with the acoustic guitar-driven immediacy of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” is a vote for a more balanced release. The counter-argument is that it varies too much from the UK release in favor of an album that seems to clumsily try to pander to the US market. For me, the differences are more of an interesting curiosity. My first exposure to Rubber Soul was with the 1987 CD releases, so my experience is a stereo UK version for all intents and purposes.
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After I stumbled across the lone sleeveless copy of Rubber Soul in my basement and realized what it was, I thought that it would be nice to find a cover for it. It was a gift, and it was in pretty good shape for a 44-year old record– some slight scuffing, but otherwise the vinyl had a really nice black luster to it. On play, it has some slight crackle, but the recording itself is loud enough to hide it.

It was as if the universe wanted this record to have a new jacket. The first search I made for a Capitol Rubber Soul jacket turned up ONE eBay auction from a seller in Arizona whose ID was “scampy”– it was for a mono, too! It was a Buy-it-Now for $39.95 plus $4 shipping. It was kind of expensive, but if the condition was good, then it would be worth it because the record plus the jacket would have a greater value than either alone. The seller and I exchanged a couple of messages and he pointed out that mono sleeves were rare and that this sleeve was in very good shape. I was sold, but I also wanted a period-correct inner paper sleeve.  On a whim, I asked him if he had a correct inner sleeve. He responded that he thought he did. He quickly responded that he had one!

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I found the correct one, it lists albums up through the #2355. It is in real nice shape except a small split at the bottom that is hardly noticeable, it also has the pitch to upgrade your old albums to the new stereo discs that was only put on the mono ones. I will include it at no charge.”

Wow! That was a lucky coincidence! He quickly shipped the package to me and I had it in my hands within the week– it was in amazing shape with very little ringwear. I was able to assemble the record, sleeve and jacket to a set that I was very happy with!
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It is noted in the Wiki article on Rubber Soul, that the sleeve colors in the US were a variation on the UK sleeves due to some color saturation differences, resulting in the title logo being more of a brown or gold than the UK orange logo. I like the color of the sleeve I got a lot– maybe more than an orange one.

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According to the Spitzer book on the Beatles on Capitol, the “5” in the lower right indicates that the record sleeve was printed by Modern Album in Terre Haute, IN.

Overall, this was a very satisfying project for me. Maybe the word “restoration” overstates the effort, but that is what is really is, I think. I have a small vinyl Beatles collection that was started for me by my aunts back in the early 80’s– on purple Capitol label but didn’t include Rubber Soul, so this sits proudly next to those releases, but a mono Yesterday… and Today I picked up on Black Friday last year.

B-Sides in the Bins #52 – Half-Price Books Cedar Rapids 1/22/11

I was out running a bunch of errands today and ended up at Half-Price Books. When I arrived I didn’t find anything in the used vinyl bins that I absolutely needed– they had a couple of new Donna’s LP’s which was interesting, but I’m not familiar with their music enough for me to jump in. I was just about out the door when Claire– the girl who is the most knowledgeable about the vinyl– happened to be bringing a pile of newly-priced records to the bins to put away. Thankfully I stayed! I found the King Crimson LP from the pile she brought over and the Queen LP– she brought some other interesting pieces, but most of them were in pretty ratty condition– the first Doors record (stereo), a 13, The Who’s Tommy on Decca, Katy Lied by Steely Dan. She said that she had a Dark Side of the Moon behind the counter she was going to put out and asked if I wanted to see it. I don’t really need another Dark Side, but I know enough people who need one that I always look.

I didn’t end up picking up the Dark Side of the Moon, but I ended up picking up some other really great pieces!

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (LP, Harvest/Capitol SKAO 382, 1970) ($7.00) According to the matrix information this is a second issue done in Jacksonville, IL. The vinyl is in really great shape, but the cover got wet– hence the cheaper price. This is an album that I’ve never listened to– I tend to favor Wish You Were Here, Animals and Dark Side of the Moon. The “Atom Heart Mother” Suite which takes up side one is listenable, but still emblematic of the psych snobbery that I was glad they moved away from. I really like side 2 though. “Fat Old Sun” is a great song. I may keep an eye out for a new cover for this one since the vinyl is so clean.

New York Dolls (LP, Mercury SRM.1.675, 1973)($10.00) The landmark first album from New York Dolls– produced by then-guitarist for The Nazz Todd Rundgren! After watching the documentary about the reunion of the New York Dolls in 2006 called New York Doll, I had a new interest in this seminal proto-punk/glam band. The vinyl is in really great shape although it has a slight warp. The cover is clean, but has a spit at the bottom. The inner sleeve is intact and features a pencil sketch of a girl bent at the waist in a skirt with her behind pointing at the viewer. The album is great! I’m really happy to have this in my collection. A note: Ryan Adams quotes the opening of “Looking For A Kiss” on “Beautiful Sorta”: “When I say L-U-V, you best believe me L-U-V.” Apparently the New York Dolls are quoting The Shangri-La’s, but I’m sure Adams is quoting the Dolls.

King Crimson – Red (LP, Atlantic SD 18110, 1974)($2.98) This is my absolutely favorite King Crimson album. My foray into King Crimson started with the 1980’s releases Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair and Discipline that featured Adrian Belew on guitars and vocals based on a co-worker’s advice. I started digging into the catalog of King Crimson, and the next albums would be Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. Red is the final release from the King Crimson lineup that would include Bill Bruford (from Yes) and John Wetton (from Asia). According to the Wiki article on the album, Red was released after the band was disbanded by leader Robert Fripp. The album ends up being a compilation of the band’s studio work as well as their live improvisational abilities. The title track and “One More Red Nightmare” are both really heavy tracks especially for 1973-1974 and are cited as influential by many musicians (surprisingly including Kurt Cobain). The track “Providence” is an edit of an extended live improvisation. The copy at HPB had a water-damaged cover that was separating, but the vinyl was in really good condition, so I picked it up. I think it sounds very good.

Queen – A Night At The Opera (LP, Elektra 7E-1053, 1975)($5.00) When the HPB lady put this out, I knew I had to buy this as it is an album that is very influential in my wife Sherry’s life. Rock music was not allowed at her strict Baptist household, so she would get her dose of Rock music from her best friend when she visited. Queen was the first rock music she was exposed to and continues to be a favorite of hers to this day. I was familiar with a few of the songs on Opera, but had never listened to the whole thing before. It’s a classic for good reason– a really balanced album with writing done by the whole band. My second vinyl LP from Queen and a good start to a collection.

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (LP, RCA AYL1-3738, 1967)($5.00) This is a “Best Buy Series” budget release of the album done sometime in the early 1980’s. The Best Buy Series are generally derided by most collectors and in almost every case RCA chose to make dramatic changes to the packaging and in some cases the track listings to achieve this budget line. In the case of this particular release, there is an ugly “Best Buy Series” logo on the cover art, but it is the normal track listing. Surrealistic Pillow was the Airplane’s second album, but their best known as it has three of their biggest hits on it: “Somebody To Love,” “White Rabbit,” and “Today.” Growing up, we had a cassette of The Worst of Jefferson Airplane the 1971 compilation that had four tracks from Surrealistic Pillow, so I was very familiar with this album as I listened to that a lot. Dave Donovan, who taught Spanish at my high school let me borrow his LP of Surrealistic Pillow as well as his copy of The Beatles White Album, which I thought was pretty cool at the time. There is a lot of debate about the various pressings of Surrealistic Pillow online, but from what I can tell almost every stereo pressing is considered to be thin-sounding, and I would judge this particular pressing the same. Interestingly, the matrix information on my pressing has “AYL1 3738 A 29” stamped on side A, and “AFL1 -3766B-2” scratched out and “AYL1 3738B” hand written on side 2. AFL1 3766 is the late 70’s (maybe 1978?) reissue catalog number. This correction on side 2 would indicate that the plates for this pressing were probably cut from the master tapes used for the late 70’s pressing. It doesn’t make it particularly notable, but provides an interesting view into how labels deal with cutting plates.

All-in-all a really good trip to Half Price Books! Since I spent over $25, they gave me an HPB calendar with the 5% coupons, and they used the first coupon on this order so I actually paid less than the prices listed above. On my way home I called my friend Andrew and told him about the Dark Side of the Moon I saw. He called and had them hold it– it was $7!

B-Sides in the Bins #51 – Chicago 11/19 & 20, 2010

I was in Chicago the weekend of 11/19 to see DJ Shadow with Pigeon John at Park West. My friend Erik came along. Before the show we hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound. We both walked out with some good finds. Here are mine:

The Moody Blues – Caught Live + 5 (2 LP, London Records, 2 PS 690/1, 1977)($2.99) Kind of a controversial album in the Moodies catalog in that it was released without the band’s permission. The “Live” part was a concert recorded in December, 1969 at The Royal Albert Hall during the To Our Childrens Childrens Children tour. The band felt that it wasn’t a good performance. In fact, the album wasn’t available on CD for a very long time (it finally came out officially on CD in 1997) and I had paid to have a CD made from a cassette in the early days before commonly-owned burners! The article on Wikipedia expresses the opinion that London/Decca released this as a way to drive interest in the band’s 1978 album Octave which marked the swansong for the the classic second lineup of Hayward, Lodge, Pinder, Thomas, & Edge. The “+5” part was five unreleased studio tracks. The five tracks were actually recorded in 1967 and 1968. The two tracks from 1967 were actually recorded before Days of Future Past. The deluxe release of Days includes all five of these tracks in addition to some demos. These five tracks were also included on the 1987 CD Prelude along with some other b-sides. I had been watching for a clean copy of this album for a while. Clean vinyl and a good cover although notched. The cover art was designed by infamous graphic arts house Hipgnosis, whose work with Pink Floyd you might be familiar.

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around (LP, Atco Records SD33-256, 1968)($7.99) Aside from some spine wear on the “unipak” sleeve, this record is in really great shape. The “unipak” sleeve is an interesting variation on the gatefold– the sleeve opens book-style like a gatefold, but the record pocket opens at the spine on the inside! Makes for a slightly difficult time re-sleeving the record, but interesting nonetheless. Last Time Around was the third and final release from Buffalo Springfield and was recorded after the band had effectively split up as a contract fulfillment. None of the tracks were recorded with the whole band present. All of that said, the album is still very good– not the consistent album that the 1966 self-titled release was, but still important if only for the Neil Young tracks, in my opinion. “I Am A Child” is still a great Young song.

New Order – Low-Life (LP, London/Factory R1 25289, 1985, 2009)($15.99) Still sealed in the used bin! This is the Rhino Records 180g reissue from 2009 of the classic third New Order album. Mastered by RTI. This is the first album from New Order I own on vinyl. I have a few 12″es, but never bought any full albums until this weekend. “The Perfect Kiss,” “Love Vigilantes,” and “Subculture” were the bigger songs from this release.

Dreams So Real – Rough Night in Jericho (LP, Arista Records AL-8555, 1988)($3.99) a radio station promo, apparently, based on the huge decal on the cover that has all of the press information. I bought this on CD when it came out based on the strength of the first single “Rough Night in Jericho” and the song they contributed to “Athens, GA Inside\Out” documentary, “Golden.” The album doesn’t sound like their Peter Buck-produced debut album or the song from the film– which had them sounding like a cross between R.E.M. and Echo and the Bunnymen. The producer of the album was bragging on the PR sticker that his goal was to have the album sound less like the regional sound of Athens, GA and more power pop. In fact, I think the album sounds a lot like The Outfield. The band had one more release on Arista before they were dropped from the label.

The Doors – 13 (LP, Elektra Records, EKS-74079, 1970)($5.99) In some respects this February 1970 compilation of The Doors has been on the back of my mind for a long time as one I wanted. This is the first Doors LP in my collection. 13 is the first of many compilations that would be released over the years by Electra of The Doors– arguably the cash cow of that catalog. It is an odd one in that it really isn’t much of a “Greatest Hits” for the band. It does include some of the bigger hit singles of the Doors– “Light My Fire,” “People Are Strange,” “Touch Me,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Roadhouse Blues”, but also includes some other album tracks that the casual listener might not be familiar with. My dad borrowed this album from my mom’s sisters and taped it to reel-to-reel and played it a lot when I was growing up. The result of the familiarity with this compilation is that I had always been disappointed that tracks like “Wild Child,” “Land Ho,” and “You’re Lost Little Girl” were never included in the subsequent “Greatest Hits” compilations, including the first real Greatest Hits in 1980 that everyone seemed to own. The other interesting detail about this album is that it was released  before the band’s last album, so it is incomplete from a hits perspective since it is missing “L.A. Woman,” “Love Her Madly,” and “Riders on the Storm.” Throwing this on the turntable will be a time warp for me.

The Call – Let the Day Begin (LP, MCA Records MCA-6303, 1989)($2.99) I picked this up for Sherry who is kind of a fan of The Call. She saw The Call in concert in the Twin Cities some time in the 80’s.  When I find any Call in my digging, I try to pick them up. Prior to meeting Sherry, my only real exposure to The Call was through it’s singles and one cassette I picked up a long time ago, Into the Woods from 1987. Sadly, the Call’s catalog has been very neglected from a reissue standpoint and pretty much the entire catalog is out-of-print at this point. This album has the big single “Let the Day Begin” (“Here’s to the babies in the brand new world, heres to the beauty of the stars…”). It will be interesting to hear the rest of the record. Sadly, lead singer Michael Been passed away in August this year while on tour with his son and his band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Don Dixon – Romeo at Julliard (LP, Enigma Records ST-73243-1, 1987)($0.99) This was really a pretty big find at a super deal at $0.99! Truth be told, this is likely the same copy that was in the bins back when I visited in March and they reduced the price since then. It’s been on my Amazon wish list on CD for a very long time, actually. I’m a fan of Dixon’s work whether it is as producer (R.E.M.‘s early albums, Game Theory, Let’s Active) or as musician and songwriter (“Praying Mantis the notable “big hit.”). I had been meaning to pick this up since 1989 or so, believe it or not. I bought the live CD Chi-Town Budget Show, which was a live show that WXRT put on that had his wife– a notable musician in her own right– Marti Jones on it. The live show included some songs from this album, the fantastic “Heart in a Box,” “Your Sister Told Me,” “February Inginue,” “Cat Out of the Bag,” “Borrowed Time.” It’s time to get re-acquainted to Don’s back catalog. He returned to recording in 2006 with The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room to critical praise. Don Dixon Fun Fact: Dixon wrote and performed (with Marti Jones and members of Let’s Active) the song “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” for the movie “Heathers.”

10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe (LP, Elektra E1-60738, 1987)(FREE) I got this from my friend Erik who had three copies of this. While I’ve owned 10,000 Maniacs on CD, I’ve never had any on LP. While In My Tribe is not the major label debut of 10,000 Maniacs, it is the album that first gained them national exposure and has the first big singles for the band– “Like the Weather” and “What’s The Matter Here.” It also has “Peace Train” which was also a single for the band, but Natalie Merchant had the song removed from subsequent CD releases after Cat Stevens  aka Yusuf Islam famously was interpreted to advocate the execution of Salmon Rushdie. This record also has Michael Stipe from R.E.M. on “A Campfire Song.”

I also picked up two of the DJ Shadow Handmade vinyl releases at the show that I’ll cover at a later time.

Ryan Adams News: Pax Am Records Site Update, Cardinals III/IV Details

This week the Ryan Adams fans of the world got some news that has been anticipated since the release of Orion earlier this year. The storefront for Ryan’s vanity record label PaxAm got a serious makeover in the form of some great vintage video arcade-themed navigation as well as a bunch of new places to keep track of the world of Ryan– a video page, a page for mp3 downloads— the first things up are some jams from the beginning of the Easy Tiger sessions, future spot for tour dates, a discography, and News. It’s cool and in the spirit of Ryan’s love of vintage arcade games.

The revamped store was kicked off with some leftover tour merchandise from the Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights and 29 era. Mostly teeshirts, but there was a neon rose watch available, too! There was a limited number of the “Oblivion” pink 7″es available as well. Currently on the site is the promised re-press of Orion that is not in the first pressing chrome gatefold sleeve and is probably not clear vinyl. They are promising some new merchandise to come as well!

The other big news is the next release from the archives– a 2 LP release of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals III/IV.  The sessions for Easy Tiger in 2007 produced something in the order of 60 tracks recorded over a marathon six months at the infamous Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Easy Tiger was the release that followed the 2005 trifecta of Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights and 29.

The reason this release is called III/IV is because it chronologically follows Cold Roses which can be considered I/II. On a Facebook post from 7/15, Ryan said,

“It’s a double and was originally going to be III as in the Cardinals third album. Then we made IV and then lots of things happened and Easy Tiger came out so it got shelved. In the spirit of honoring these albums as they were intended- when looking back on the sessions it was decided in the last few days of them by the band that we were going to release it as a double record. I believe the thinking was ( by the powers that be and by our friends ) that it was too early for another double LP after Cold Roses so we took two songs off of it and put it away for a future day.”

III/IV comes in a number of formats– CD, download and vinyl. You can see what should be the first pressing vinyl and if it is what Ryan initially said about the vinyl those are 180g red and blue transparent LP’s.  On a post to the Ryan Adams Archive boards on 6/12 Ryan said that he worked with Andy West on the art. Andy did the Cold Roses artwork. You can see a download card next to the big III/IV poster. Ryan said in the same post that there would be some extras with the “expanded version” and that they might be available with the download card.

Per the Pax Am site, the pre-order information will be coming soon. I’ll update this article as I get more information. Visit the Pax Am Records site and sign up with your e-mail address to be kept up to date, and they are conveniently providing an RSS feed, too!

Here is the tracklist for III/IV with links to content online where it exists.

Side A

Breakdown Into The Resolve (7/22/06 YouTube video of 7/22 Performance)
Dear Candy
Wasteland
Ultraviolet Light (originally part of the “Warren Peace” ryanadams.com songs.
Stop Playing With My Heart

Side B

Lovely And Blue (was up on ryanadams.com as “France” YouTube video)
Happy Birthday (demo version on YouTube)
Kisses Start Wars
The Crystal Skull
Users

Side C

No
Numbers
Gracie (demo was up on ryanadams.com as “Hello Gracie’)
Icebreaker
Sewers at the Bottom of the Wishing Well (up on ryanadams.com as part of Sad Dracula’s Fasterpiece album)

Side D

Typecast (10/15/06)
Star Wars
My Favorite Song
P.S.
Death And Rats
Kill The Lights

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER THE VINYL VERSION OF III/IV. It will ship on 12/14.

UPDATE: Amazon already has the III/IV 2 CD set on their site and it lists the release date as December 14th and lists the label as TVT/The Orchard. Ryan had mentioned that he was working on a distribution deal for this and other releases. Click on the first Amazon link below to listen to :30 second samples of the tracks. The second link is for the vinyl edition!

Click Here to visit the PaxAm Records website.

Click Here for the Ryan Adams Facebook page.

Death Ships – Maybe Arkansas EP Released – Upcoming Show at The Mill 9/17

Dan Maloney of Death Ships

Last February I reported about former Iowa City band Death Ships– a show at the Mill and a new EP that he was going to release on iTunes. Titled Maybe Arkansas, it was a 4-track EP of some really great guitar rock. I said that it was, “a flat-out charmer– hook-filled and standing out in my mind as a testament to the great music that comes from the Midwest. These guitar pop songs draw easy and complimentary comparisons to other Midwest greats like The Jayhawks, The Honeydogs and, yes, Wilco. Each of these songs stick in my head with earworm intensity.”

Over half-year later, I still feel this same way about the EP. Since Dan sent me the songs in order for me to review it, I was one of the fortunate few to get to hear it. Well, except for some tracks he gave to some blogs to post and all of the people to which I excitedly played it.

Last week the EP made it to iTunes and you can download it for $3.96 or Amazon for $3.56.  On a post frontman Dan Maloney made to his MySpace page, he announced the EP going to iTunes and also said that there will be a limited CD run of the EP. He also announced that they were going to start recording a new album next month.

Dan is bringing his Death Ships back to the Mill on Friday, September 17th opening for Ha Ha Tonka. In an e-mail to me this week, Dan said that they had a bunch of new jams he was excited to try out at this show.

I saw Ha Ha Tonka back in September of 2008 opening for Backyard Tire Fire and the then-Picador in Iowa City. They put on a really great show. You can see the pictures here. Since I saw Ha Ha Tonka, they have been signed to Bloodshot Records and released a new album in 2009 called Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South.

Also opening is Iowa City musician Brian Johannesen who performs as Grand Tetons.

Maybe Click to buy Maybe Arkansas by Death Ships on iTunes

Click Here to download “I Like It A Lot” from Maybe Arkansas.

Click Here for the Death Ships MySpace Page which has some of the tracks from Maybe Arkansas streaming.

Click Here for the Death Ships Daytrotter Session

Click Here for the Jay Bennett Daytrotter Session with Death Ships as his band

Click Here for the Splice interview with Dan Maloney from 2009 that has some unreleased tracks and a couple from the upcoming EP

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