Tag Archive for 'game theory'

(Upcoming Release) Friends Gather to Finish Last Game Theory Album – Supercalifragile Out 8/24/17

At the time of his death in 2013, Scott Miller of seminal power pop bands Game Theory and The Loud Family was working on a new record. He was in varying degrees of completed on a bunch of songs– some songs had vocals and guitar, some of them had detailed notes. His wife Kristine reached out to Ken Stringfellow of The Posies to help coordinate finishing this record titled Supercalifragile based on conversations she had with Miller about the album (which, incidentally always included collaborations of singers and co-writers). In May of  2016, a Kickstarter was established to help fund the completion of the record. By July 4th it was 161% funded! At the time of the launch of the Kickstarter, they had already been recording for over a year, so the fundraising was primarily to wrap up some of the sessions, get mastering done and the rest of the process to get physical and digital product completed and distributed.

The list of contributors to Supercalifragile include former members of Game Theory (Jozef Becker, Nan Becker, Dave Gill, Shelley LaFreniere, Gil Ray, Donnette Thayer, and Suzi Ziegler) and notable guests including (of course) Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star), Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star), Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Nada Surf), Mitch Easter, Alison Faith Levy (The Loud Family), Anton Barbeau, Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven), Allen Clapp (The Orange Peels), John Moremen, Stephane Schuck, Chris Xefos, Dan Vallor (GT Reissue producer for Omnivore),  The inclusion of the former Game Theory members helps add continuity of this release to the Game Theory catalog, which has enjoyed renewed focus in the Omnivore Recordings reissues.

In a post to the Facebook group dedicated to Scott Miller, his wife has posted a lot of wonderful insight into how she and Stringfellow curated the release.

“This album is as close to what Scott would have created as is possible. I knew the artists he wanted to work with (he had even contacted a couple himself before he died as the artists confirmed this with me), and in a few cases which instruments he wanted them to play or which songs he wanted them to sing. Yes, he wanted guest vocalists and cowriters all over the record. Scott and I talked about his ideas and as he had worked with (and socialized and played tennis with) Ken Stringfellow, he proposed Ken help him organize and help produce this project. Scott spoke of having various artists bring their “arcs of influence” to the record. He said he would ultimately have veto power if anything got too out of hand (😉), but he was looking forward to having lots of great artists he admired and/or worked with to participate. (Scott even considered making track breaks mid-song when a new artist was introduced to the album. This was an idea we went with in the traditional sense by bringing on artists for entire songs. Not sure Scott would have brought this unusual idea to fruition or not.) So, in this case, with this record, completed without Scott’s final “veto,” no, we can’t possibly make the exact record Scott would have made. (And in fact, even Scott wouldn’t know what it would become until after working with everyone and it was done!) But with so much overwhelming respect for Scott’s work and in honor of his life, we all kept as much of it “Scott” as we could. All his ideas, all his lyrics, all his riffs, all his ideas for bridges and choruses…everything preserved and used as much as musically possible. In some ways, it might in fact be more “Scott” than the record Scott would have made. ❤️ And that’s why I think we all love it so much.”

In August of 2017 the finished product was shipped out to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter and early reviews and posts to the Facebook group have been glowing. Now that the Kickstarters have been shipped out the team is ready to make the release generally available. In an email sent to people who signed up from the website, the album will be available on Bandcamp (the link isn’t available yet) this week: August 24th in download, CD and vinyl.

Click Here to Order

Tidal featured the first song from the album, a duet with Aimee Mann called “No Love” and it is striking how Mann’s vocals compliment Miller’s.

Here is a video of a rough take of “I Still Dream of Getting Back to Paris” shot at Abbey Road Studios in London during the recording sessions with Anton Barbeau on vocals. Miller (credited as The Loud Family) and Barbeau put out a kind of split release in 2006 titled What If It Works?

As a long-time fan of Scott Miller’s work, I’m really looking forward to getting this release. Like many, Miller’s sudden and unexpected loss was painful; too early in a career arc that certainly would have generated more significant releases. Supercalifragile brings some closure with this release in that regard and should provide influence for future artists the way the Big Star catalog has.

Order CD, LP or digital at Bandcamp:

It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2014

Top 20

Looking back at 2014 and what I listened to, it seems I spent most of the year listening to bands from Iowa. Eight of the Top 20 Albums of 2014 for It’s Time to Play B-Sides are either living in Iowa or have roots here. Some of this is easily explained by the fact that my other music gig is writing reviews for Little Village Magazine, but I had the very good fortune of being a writer during a year with the most Iowa bands putting their best foot forward.

This list sees returns of It’s Time to Play B-Sides regular favorites– Hiss Golden Messenger, Ryan Adams, Pieta Brown and Tom Petty– each turning in what should in retrospect be career-defining releases, in my opinon.

Vinyl continued its march of popularity in 2014– out of this list, only three releases didn’t come out on vinyl. The Jack Lion JAC EP came out on cassette, though (representing the resurgence of that physical media), the Surf Zombies album– though the band has been working towards getting that one put out on vinyl. It’s a… THING! was tracked on tape and would be a natural release on black plastic disc and The Sapwoods album.

Here’s the list– not ranked.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh’s post-Court & Spark band Hiss Golden Messenger is back with their sixth or seventh release (depending on how you count self-released titles) and first release on their new label Merge Records. Lateness of Dancers continues the vibe and groove of their last two releases on Paradise of Bachelors but also provides a definitive declaration of purpose. With the association with Merge– a label as big as any independant can be– Taylor and Hirsh are not wasting their opportunity for bigger visibility. It seems like every blog/internet music magazine has declared Lateness of Dancers one of the great albums of 2014, plus the band has been doing some very aggressive promotion landing one of the remaining few musical guest spots on Letterman. 2015 should bring much more widespread touring for Hiss Golden Messenger, which I’m hoping will afford me the opportunity to see the band live.

Jerry David DiCicca – Understanding Land DiCicca is probably better known as the frontman for The Black Swans, which he disassembled after their– pardon the pun– swan song 2012 album Occasion For Song. Under his own name, the solo release for DiCicca continues the very loose country blues vibe he minted in The Black Swans. With some help from some friends including Will Oldham, Kelley Deal and Spooner Oldham DiCicca has made an impressive step away from his old identity as part of The Black Swans. Understanding Land seems to have missed the radar of a lot of places that would normally be championing the kind of quietly beautiful reflective song craft DiCicca has mastered. If you haven’t heard this record, go check it out. I’ll wait here until you get back.

The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes To be honest, I’m declaring this a favorite before I’ve had a chance to listen to this as much as the other albums on this list. At first, I was kind of put off by the very calculated concept of The New Basement Tapes: “Hey, we found these lyrics that Bob Dylan didn’t think were worth recording back in 1967 and he still doesn’t want to record them so let’s pull a band together!” The results are very good and the fact that these lyrics were written by Dylan almost 50 years ago doesn’t detract. Though, you probably could have put Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket together in a room without Dylan’s lyrics and would have still resulted in a fantastic album.

The Black Keys – Turn Blue Danger Mouse is paired up with The Black Keys for the third time since 2007’s Attack and Release (if you don’t include Blacroc, the hip hop side project), and we again find the duo recording songs slightly outside of their regular sound. The whole Turn Blue record is solid and really radio-friendly and stands up to repeated listens. At times I’m reminded of the latest Beck record (also produced by Danger Mouse), but more satisfyingly varied than Morning Phase.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream While this album has been around awhile, and the brilliant single “Red Eyes” has been all over the place, I didn’t listen to the whole album until this month. The album’s general sound seems to come from the mid-to-late 80’s with it’s synths and either electronic percussion or drums so processed it sounds like it. At times it sounds like outtakes from Lindsey Buckingham’s 80’s albums or the more reaching anthemic sounds of Rod Stewart from the same period. A really enjoyable album.

Stanton Moore – Conversations Stanton Moore is the drummer and one of the founding members of Galactic. This is Moore’s first album as a jazz-bop trio with pianist David Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton — a style that he has dabbled in live settings but never committed to tape previously. The results are really great and fits in with my regular diet of 50’s and 60’s Blue Note and Prestige sides.

Game Theory – Blaze of Glory (reissue) Normally I wouldn’t include a reissue in this list. But, I’ll make an exception for the reissue campaign that Omnivore is undertaking of the entire Game Theory catalog that is nothing short of a miracle if they can keep it up. Scott Miller, the leader of both Game Theory and The Loud Family passed away unexpectedly in 2013, breaking the hearts of his devoted followers (which includes yours truly). The now-defunct label Alias Records attempted a reissue campaign that underwent some modifications (even re-recorded parts) by Scott Miller who was publicly never satisfied with the original early recordings (of which 1982’s Blaze of Glory is included). Even though I’m a devout fan of anything Scott Miller worked on and consider myself a collector, I did not have Blaze of Glory in its original incarnation (aka the “trash bag” version since the original packaging was a white trashbag with a sticker on it). I had the few manipulated or re-recorded tracks he included in the final Enigma Records compilation Tinkers to Evers to Chance and the Distortion of Glory Alias compilation which also included the two 1983 EP’s Pointed Accounts of People You Know and Distortion. These were also lovingly reissued by Omnivore for Black Friday Record Store Day as colored 10″es.  This release of Blaze of Glory comes from the original master tapes, so unless you had the 1982 trash bag version of the album, you’ve never heard this mix before. The remaster sounds really great and sets the bar really high for the rest of the catalog to come. The album represents the very seeds of the future sound of the band. In some ways the album sounds very much a product of its time leaning heavily in the treble space (though this version brings some of the bass back) and incorporating buzzy synths and stuttering rhythms, but also not sounding like anything else at the time. Scott’s trademark turns of phrase and heartache are already established.

The digital download version includes 15 bonus tracks of demos, songs from the pre-GT band Alternative Learning, live tracks and some really early audio experiments from Scott. Having been a member of the Game Theory online community at large since the late 90’s, I’m very aware of the potential mountain of bonus material available for the rest of the releases coming down the line, so this campaign has few peers when it comes to the archives to draw from.

Teledrome – self-titled I stumbled upon the Canadian record label Mammoth Cave quite by accident as I was searching for an original pressing of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet’s Saavy Show Stoppers LP (“Having an Average Weekend” is the theme music to the 80’s and 90’s sketch comedy show Kids in the Hall) only to find that Mammoth Cave reissued it! Back in March the label sent out a link for a free download of Teledrome’s debut album (EP?) and I was hooked! Brooding android pop drawing from the dawn of synth pop sounding like Gary Numan or Ultravox. I’ve heard it compared to Ariel Pink as well. 10 track, 20 minutes. The vinyl is a 45 RPM 12″ and I’ll probably wear the shit out of it. Amazing record I can listen to over and over again.

Ryan Adams – self titled Lots has been written about the return of Ryan Adams– the short version is he’s addressed his health issues, gotten clean, opened his own recording studio, taken control of the business side of his art and is re-energized to work and has released an album that draws from his stated influences of 80’s rock. The album draws from the big guitar sounds of the 80’s and sounds a lot like an album that could have come out at that time– the lead single “Gimme Something Good” could just as easily have been on a Bryan Adams album (many have pointed out the similarities of the album art to Reckless). The whole album beginning to end is a fantastic listen and stands up to repeated listens and is a compliment to Love is Hell, in my opinion, which was one of the first albums I listened to from him. So far, there has only been one formal single from the record, and XM has been playing it in regular rotation. I could see a couple more singles making it in 2015. In the meantime, Ryan is also doing a limited edition monthly 7″ single release of outtakes and studio noodling that has turned out some really great tracks as well.

Springtime Carnivore – self titled I wrote about this release here. Greta Morgan of Gold Motel is back under her new solo moniker Springtime Carnivore. It’s everything I loved about Gold Motel– the sunny harmonies and melodies coupled with a darker wall-of-sound production. Be sure to catch some of the videos she’s put out in support of the record, too. Here’s the article I wrote for Play B-Sides about it.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye Petty decides to return back to a driving guitar sound and delivers the first #1 album of his career. In some regards this album is a reaction to his previous album Mojo. I really liked Mojo, but I think that his audience was turned off by the meandering bluesy sound of it. In my opinion Hypnotic Eye kind of uses Mojo and the Mudcrutch albums as a stylistic launching point. No one can argue with the incredible success Tom and the Heartbreakers have had over four decades. It’s incredible to think that he’s had hit singles in every decade of his career. I can’t think of any other band that has pulled that off for as long. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t had some albums that were, well, kind of lacking, and many of those were in this last decade. The Last DJ, Highway Companion and Echo were not great records. Though, I would put Hypnotic Eye up there with the amazing and underrated She’s The One Soundtrack and Wildflowers— the previous Rick Rubin produced albums from 1996 and 1994. Incidentally, both of these albums are getting reissues.

Greylag – self-titled Portland-based trio’s debut LP on Dead Oceans. Dead Oceans is the label for Califone these days, so that’s how I found out about Greylag. Their album sounds like a perfect melding of Jeff Buckley and Led Zeppelin III— which, now that I write it might seem redundant considering Jeff Buckley always sounded like he was influenced by Led Zeppelin III to me. Another album I can play on repeat and never tire of. I can’t wait to see what this band does going forward.

As I mentioned above, quite a few of my top list are either Iowa or Iowa-Related bands. I wrote reviews for Little Village for all of these albums, and I’ll include the link to that as well:

TWINS – Tomboys on Parade The sophomore release from TWINS finds the band tightening up what was already an impressive review of power pop influences. The word is out and they’re already touring nationally as ambassadors for the really exciting music scene that Iowa has recently. In my Little Village review of Tomboys on Parade I said the album has “sublimely polished nuggets of pop, washed in harmonies and falsettos, packed in backbeat and propelled by galloping guitars and sparkling arpeggios. The album is a damn fine slice of pop pie, and the vinyl version will spend a lot of time on my turntable.

The Sapwoods – Peaks and Valleys Another Cedar Falls band The Sapwoods steps up their game with their second album. In my LV review I said, “a timeless, straightforward and no-nonsense approach to songwriting. Guitar anthems go unapologetically for the melodic hook, carrying lyrics that focus on day-to-day concerns of the human condition.” The Sapwoods have a classic midwestern rock sound that is less like Cheap Trick and more like Wilco.

Kelly Pardekooper – Milk in Sunshine Kelly is the next generation of the Eastern Iowa Country Blues tradition– he says his influences are Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown and on his latest album Milk In Sunshine he incorporates both– Bo plays on the record and Kelly covers both a Ramsey and a Brown song on the vinyl version of the new album. The CD and digital download of the album includes all of the new songs that are Milk in Sunshine proper but also include a collection of “greatest hits”– songs that have been licensed for television. If you haven’t bought any of Kelly’s albums to date, you owe it to yourself to pick this release up. You can read my review of Milk in Sunshine here.

Pieta Brown – Paradise Outlaw Pieta Brown was invited to record at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Eau Claire, WI. The resulting album enhances the atmospheric aspects of her work– an organically beautiful record. Here is my review in Little Village of Paradise Outlaw.

Bedroom Shrine – No Déjà Vu I had the opportunity to hear part of Bedroom Shrine‘s debut album on the American Dust EP, and there isn’t a better way to describe this record than “dusty.” In my review in Little Village, I said, “a window obscuring its songs with a sooty lo-fi patina. At times, the fluttery tape hiss that drags in the middle of the albums’ tracks add to No Déjà Vu’s complex palette of tone and sound.”

Jack Lion – JAC EP Another record I can listen to any time– it’s a great immersive headphones record for me– jazzy trumpet, bass and drums fused with electronics. Kind of like if Miles Davis met up with Four Tet. The band admits that one of its influences is the Norwegian band Jaga Jazzist, with which it shares some similarities. Here is my review for Little Village for the JAC EP.

Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits – 2014 was the year where Lake Street Dive broke onto national awareness starting with an appearance on The Colbert Report and their update on classic R&B. The connection to Iowa is through LSD’s upright bass player Bridget Kearney, but really they are a Boston band. Here is my review of Bad Self Portraits.

Surf Zombies – It’s a… THING! Local guitar legend Brook Hoover released the fourth album from his instrumental surf band Surf Zombies and his 2nd album with members of The Wheelers and The Blendours helping out. As a long-time fan of instrumental and surf rock I look forward to new releases from Surf Zombies! Word on the street is that they’re about ready to release a new album in 2015! Here’s my review of It’s a… THING! for Little Village Magazine.

 

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.

B-Sides in the Bins #46: Cheapo Discs – Fridley, MN 1/31/09

The weekend I was in the Twin Cities for the Umphrey’s McGee concert at First Avenue, I had the opportunity to hit Cheapo Discs in Fridley, MN. While not as “hip” or “cool” a location as the Uptown locale, they have a surprisingly decent selection of CD’s and LP’s and would recommend it. I had a gift certificate for Cheapo from my birthday in October that was burning a hole in my pocket. I had started by perusing the CD’s there and had amassed a decent pile, but ended up putting it all away after I started flipping through the vinyl! I ended up paying a lot more per record than I usually do, but I found some really great pieces to add to the growing collection.

Smash Hits – Jimi Hendrix Experience (LP, Reprise Records MSK 2276, 1968) ($12.60) Labeled as “fine” condition. This was a later repressing of the record as it has a bar code on the back and the inner sleeve was mylar. Super minty condition! Brilliant collection even if it is generally accepted that Reprise was a bad custodian of Hendrix’s catalog. I remember borrowing a copy of this in 6th grade from Mr. Latham and taping it and playing it all the time. All the big hits are on here: “Purple Haze,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Hey Joe,” “Foxy Lady,” “All Along the Watchtower.” Interesting writeup about Smash Hits at Wikipedia.

Wake of the Flood – Grateful Dead (LP, Grateful Dead Records GD-01, 1973) ($8.50) Labeled as “good” condition. It is a notched copy with the bottom left cover cut off. There was a lot of Grateful Dead in the bins that day including Live From the Mars Hotel, but this was in the nicest shape. Wake of the Flood represented a lot of firsts for the band–  first release after their contract with Warner Brothers ended, first release on their own Grateful Dead Records, first studio release after 1970’s American Beauty and first after the death of Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan. Wake was recorded during what some fans consider to be the Dead’s most transcendent touring period and all of these songs had the benefit of being worked out for six months on the road before the band hit the studio. The band sounds better on this album than they did on others, maybe all the firsts that this album represents gave the band a feeling of starting fresh. “Stella Blue” is a classic piece of Garcia music that would stay in the Dead’s concert sets for the rest of their career.

Robbie Robertson – (self titled) (LP, Geffen GHS 24160, 1987) ($3.60)  This is a Columbia House pressing which I would normally avoid, but I hadn’t seen this in the bins before. I’ll upgrade if I see it in the future in a non-Columbia House pressing. Robertson’s debut release 11 years after the breakup of The Band! He chose to leave the rootsy country influences of The Band behind and focused instead on the U2-ish sounds of Daniel Lanois’s production. When this came out, I bought it because U2 and the Bo Deans were on it, it ended up being one of my favorite releases for at the end of 80’s. Listening to it now, the two tracks with U2 sound like U2 outtakes, really. Not that it is a bad thing, but it would be expected if you use them as your band like he did on “Testimony” and “Sweet Fire of Love.” In fact, the release does sound pretty dated, but still a favorite release for me next to Storyville– the 1991 follow up.

Gone to Earth- David Sylvian (2 LP, Virgin Records VDL1, 1986) ($6.30) I wouldn’t start listening to David Sylvian until his 1987 follow-up Secrets of the Beehive. I heard this album when it was included in the beautiful Weatherbox Sylvian boxed set. This was an ambitious release as a 2 LP, and that was probably why the subsequent CD release was only a single disc chopping out about half of the tracks. The first LP was vocal tracks and the second LP was instrumentals. The CD picked and chose from both records. In the Weatherbox, they restored the 2 CD’s. This release is notable as the first time Sylvian would collaborate with Robert Fripp from King Crimson. A typically lush and melancholy release– just the way I like my Sylvian. “Taking the Veil” is still one of my all-time favorite Sylvian tracks. Sherry and I had tickets to see David in Minneapolis a long time ago– ironically while he was living there– and he cancelled the show. I’ve been disappointed ever since. I want to see him perform live one day.

Real Nighttime – Game Theory (LP, Enigma Records 70722-1, 1985) ($4.20) Well, I don’t really know what to say about or where to start about this release. I should probably write a whole article about Scott Miller’s bands Game Theory and Loud Family. My fascination with things Scott Miller started with the epic Lolita Nation which I first heard played on KUNI (the song “One More for Saint Michael”) while I was in college. Real Nighttime is the final record by the original lineup of Game Theory that started in 1981. That said, it includes some of the most notated songs by that version of the group with “Here Comes Everybody,” “24,” Rayon Drive,” and “Curse of the Frontierland.” These songs would stay in the live sets of Game Theory until their breakup following Two Steps From the Middle Ages in 1988. Real Nighttime also marks the beginning of the production relationship with Mitch Easter. I have all of the Game Theory releases on CD, and have most of them on LP at this point.

Treat Her Right – (self titled) (LP, RCA 6884-1-R, 1988) ($3.97) Still sealed! Treat Her Right is notable as the precursor to Mark Sandman’s group Morphine. This album was the debut release on their signing with RCA. It is in fact a reissue of their self-released first album. It did pretty well on college radio, but their second release did not fair as well and they were dropped from RCA. While the band is a slightly different lineup than Morphine, the distinctive sound is similar. The standout tracks are “I Think She Likes Me,” “I Got A Gun,” and “Jesus Everyday.”

Cypress – Let’s Active (LP, I.R.S. SP70648, 1984) (3.60) Let’s Active was producer Mitch Easter’s band. The story goes that he did such a great job producing the early R.E.M. records that I.R.S. gave him a shot making his own records. The EP Afoot was released first in 1983 and did well enough that I.R.S. let him record three more records, Cypress in 1984, Big Plans for Everybody in 1986 and Every Dog Has His Day in 1988. His particular high-pitch vocal tone makes for an acquired taste, but Let’s Active is still one of my all-time favorite 80’s acts. It looks like the entire catalog is back in print on CD through Collector’s Choice with new liner notes and bonus tracks! It looks like I need to make some purchases! I love this whole album, perfect pop.

4 A.M – Full Fathom Five (LP, Link 019, 1988) ($3.60) You may have read my B-Sides in the Bins article recounting my trip to Bill’s Records in Dallas back in October 2007 (or maybe you didn’t!). Bill had a collection of still-sealed Link Records releases including most of the Full Fathom Five releases. Full Fathom Five was an Iowa City band back in the 80’s that I was a fan of– KUNI played their music frequently. When Head Candy was signed to Link as a result of a battle of the bands it seemed that Full Fathom Five made it there as well. I have 4 A.M. on cassette and it was a regular-rotation album for me when it came out. So, when I saw it in the bins I had to buy it. Brings back memories of college. Back when I thought– as many did– that Iowa City would become the next Athens, GA for a music scene. Recorded at Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls by Tom Tatman.

Doug – The Coolies (LP, DB Recs DB 88, 1988) ($3.99) Oh boy, more hits from my formitive college years! A still-sealed hole-punch cutout of the Rock Opera Doug by Georgia crazy band The Coolies. I had this on CD and cassette. Apparently I love this album, LOL. From Trouser Press,

“a trenchant “rock opera” about a skinhead who murders a transvestite short- order cook, gets rich by publishing his victim’s recipes, falls into paranoia and substance abuse and ends up in the gutter. The sad tale is related through ingenious knockoffs of the Who (“Cook Book”), John Lennon (“Poverty”), the Replacements (“Coke Light Ice”), rap (“Pussy Cook”) and metal (“The Last Supper”), and in a comic book — not included with the cassette or CD, alas — designed by Jack Logan, of Pete Buck Comics fame. A quantum leap from its predecessor’s one-dimensional silliness, Doug is a work of demented genius.”

I never got around to sending in for my free comic book, so now I have it. I never realized that Jack Logan was the artist for it! Very cool! Someone needs to reissue this album. “It’s a hot night, and I’m wound tight, and the crack pipe– is burning my hand!”

And last, but not least!

V-Notes – The Verandas (EP, Graphic Records NR 16382-1, unknown year) ($1.90) LOL. This one was the big find– Cedar Rapids college rock band The Verandas. Scored for a paltry $1.90. Unfortunately, this is not the album I know from them. They were on the Blue Band’s record label Hot Fudge for an album I think was called American Tradition. That is the name of a song on here. It was recorded at the infamous Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls by Tom Tatman. I had a cassette dub of their other album which had a great song called “Get Out of My Car (You Drive Like Shit)” that I’d like to find again. I haven’t put needle to vinyl on this one yet. I should see if I can put together a band history of this group– I don’t know much about them, but they were kind of notorious around here.

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