Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. I guess it’s because I tend to post about individual albums via other social media outlets like my Instagram which cross-posts to Twitter and Facebook. But, this week had a lot of new additions to the collection, so I thought I’d collect them for the blog.
I was in Dubuque yesterday helping with some wireless network issues at the family business so I thought I’d run over to one of my favorite record stores, Moondog Music. I had intended to pick up the new sophomore release from Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) collaboration band with members of Collections of Colonies of BeesVolcano Choir. Titled Repave, it’s a more cohesive release than their first album. Even though Vernon is the frontman in this band, it isn’t exactly Bon Iver part 2. More direct rock on this album and less vocoder falsetto vocals. I was also hoping that the vinyl version of Wise Up Ghost by Elvis Costello and The Roots would maybe be in the bins ahead of this Tuesday’s release.
Moondog had Repave for $19.99, but they didn’t have Wise Up Ghost on LP (they did have the CD). I had Volcano Choir in hand and was going to buy it until I started digging through the used and came up with a few surprises!
The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs (2 LP, Sire Records, 1987) ($19.98) WOW! On my wish list for YEARS. Really nice and clean copy of this album, which is probably my favorite Smiths album even though it’s technically a compilation of non-album singles. Initially, this was a US-only release used as a way to bring these tracks stateside. The UK had a couple of singles comps on Rough Trade– The World Won’t Listen and Hatful of Hollow— and Louder than Bombs was the vehicle to bring some of those tracks here. UK Smiths fans being what they are, they started importing this release to the UK, so Rough Trade ended up releasing this over there which solidified its position as a regular catalog release.
My friend Julie in college turned me on to both the Smiths and Depeche Mode letting me borrow The Queen Is Dead and Black Celebration— bands very different from my jangly guitar preferences at the time. I distinctly remember buying Louder Than Bombs and Def Leppard’s Hysteria on the same day on cassette. Odd to think that these albums are both from 1987!
The Smiths – Rank (LP, Sire Records, 1988) ($14.98) And, as soon as I get into the band, they break up… Bombs was released in March of 1987, the Smiths’ final studio album Strangeways Here We Come was released in September, 1987 and by that time the band had officially split up. I have the entire studio releases of the Smiths on cassette and CD plus Bombs on cassette and CD and Hatful of Hollow on CD (it was in a used bin otherwise I wouldn’t have picked this up as I consider it to be redundant). When Rank came out in September of 1988, I had pretty much moved on as far as paying attention to new releases and I didn’t think a live album was essential. I still haven’t listened to it, but will. The recording is a distillation from a BBC-1 live concert from 1986. The album was released as a contractural obligation. I decided to buy this because it is rare to find any Smiths in used bins around here and the new 180g Rhino reissues of the Smiths catalog are $35 which is pretty steep for my budget, so I’ll continue to keep an eye on the bins to complete my Smiths collection.
Gift of Gab – Escape 2 Mars (LP, Cornerstone Recording Arts Society/Quannum, 2009)($16.98) An unexpected find– the R&B and Hip-Hop selection at Moondog is usually very thin. I’ve been building my Quannum/Solesides vinyl collection lately– lots of gaps since I had really been focusing on CD’s up until five years ago. That said, I didn’t have this on CD either. Gift of Gab is more recognized as the MC for Blackalicious– his effort with producer Chief Xcel, but has had a run of solo work that is notable. We listen to 4th Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up quite a bit in the house, so I imagine that this release will be as good– I totally slept on this release so it will be good to get caught up.
Spoon – Transference (LP, Merge Records, 2010)($9.98) While I was digging through the used section I saw a whole bunch of nearly-new indie releases. Looked like they were opened and maybe played once? Some Sundazed releases, a few Sub Pop releases all for under $10. I didn’t find out what the story was on those, but I picked a couple of great ones including this one from Spoon. Transference wasn’t as good as Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but still pretty great. I remember listening to this a lot in the car in early Winter 2010. We had a major car breakdown that had Sherry and I commuting together in one car for a few weeks– she was getting her Professional Makeup training so I’d drop her off in the morning and pick her up at night.
Sebadoh – Bakesale (LP, Sub Pop Records, 1994/2011 Remaster)($7.98) Another of the mysterious “new” LP’s in the used bins at Moondog. A grey marbled vinyl release as part of the reissue campaign for the Sebadoh catalog. I loved this album when it came out– I listened to it repeatedly. In 1994, I was working in Dubuque at the time and I think living with my parents following a failed cohabitiation with a girlfriend. I was on the road installing computer systems in the Midwest and East, with a lot of road time, so my CD’s were constant companions. Brilliantly flawed but accessible album. At the time I definately thought that Sebadoh was a better band than Dinosaur Jr was (the band that Lou Barlow used to be in with J Macsis). I’m really happy to have this in my collection– I need to pick up the Harmacy reissue as well.
A really great haul from Moondog Music! While I was there they were playing the new album from Iggy Pop and the Stooges titled Ready to Die which sounded pretty good, may need to check that out.
In the mail this week:
Calexico – Ancienne Belgique Vol. 2 (2 LP, Our Soil, Our Strength, ) OSOS9, 2013)($20 + shipping) 2012 and 2013 has been a year of many releases from Calexico— the brilliant Algiers came out in September of 2011 which included a live album titled Spiritoso if you ordered the box set. This eventually came out as a numbered release for Record Store Day in April in the US. Soon after that the band put out a 2 LP live sequel to Ancienne Belgique (which got the vinyl treatment as part of the Road Atlas box set as well). Then they announced a Europe tour-only 5-track EP of covers titled Maybe on Monday. My copy of Ancienne Belgique Vol. 2 delivered this week. I had pre-ordered it in June (I think). They were supposed to have copies of this on tour, but they weren’t done in time for the Iowa City show. (I was out of town and missed that show anyway). Another really nice addition to my growing Calexico collection.
Arcade Fire (as The Reflecktors) – Reflektor 12″ (12″, Sono Vox/Merge Records, MRG484, 2013) ($8.99, free shipping) Merge put some copies of Arcade Fire’s mysterious “Reflektor” single in their online store. Released under the pseudonym The Reflektors, it was timed with the announcement of the album and single of the same name on September 9th at 9PM (9/9/9). Lots of speculation and rumor about the announcement leading up to the time and an accurate leak of the song the day before. The 45 RPM 12″ has the full version of the song and an instrumental version on the flipside. The song was produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and features guest vocals by none other than David Bowie. It’s a pretty decent song and apparently points to the direction of the new album due out October 29th as being, in the words of Win Butler as a “mashup of Studio 54 and Haitian Voodoo.” (S.I.C.)
I also received four of the Daytrotter split LP’s this week, including the amazing Gary Clark Jr. split with Son House, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. We’re up to 13 of 14 of the preorders shipped (still waiting on the Maine one which is #13) I got the PHOX one ordered and will order the Tegan and Sara one in the next couple of weeks.
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 ChapmanRainmaker 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 Faheywas 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 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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
“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!
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.
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.
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 ofThe Worst of Jefferson Airplanethe 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!
Last weekend Sherry attended America’s Beauty Show for the third year running and I got the opportunity to have some quality time with Chicago’s record stores. Friday night we went down to a bar called This Must Be The Place in Lemont, IL to see Chicago R&B phenom The Right Now. We got into town late, so we needed to scoot to try and get there in time to get something to eat. Thankfully the folks there were very accommodating and the food was excellent!
The show was a lot of fun– it was the first time I’d seen the band since they played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids in 2008 as Eli Jones. The band has come a long way in their stage show. Now the guys in the band all wear matching suits and Steph looked great in a sequined dress and heels. This was the first time the band had played This Must Be The Place and there was a pretty low turnout. Some of the dinner crowd stuck around through the first set but by the second set the audience was made up of Sherry and I and the employees of the bar. The band followed a setlist for the first set, but after the break they decided to loosen up a bit and played some older songs like “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” and “Disco Smooth” and a couple of newly-written songs.
I talked to the soundguy at the break a bit, and he said that the owner of the bar is trying to establish This Must Be The Place as a place for musicians to meet– sort of like The Green Mill or the Empty Bottle downtown. It is a lofty goal for sure as Lemont is about 45 minutes south of the Loop on I-55, and I think that getting the bands to come out of the Loop is a tough proposition. That said, the Metra runs down there so it isn’t an impossibility. It is a really nice venue with a great soundsystem and stage and the food and drinks are good. I’d come back if there was a good band there.
We got to hang out and talk to the band after the show– I was happy that Sherry got to meet them, and we talked a bit about the upcoming Iowa shows the weekend of 4/16 (Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids).
On Saturday, Sherry attended the first day of the conference at McCormick which started around Noon and I parked in the first floor lobby and worked on blog stuff. On Sunday she went to the second day of the conference and I decided I wanted to hit a Half-Price Books as I had the 50% Off One Item coupon. There are a few Half-Price Books in the Chicagoland area, but all of them are way out in the burbs. The closest one to McCormick Place was down in Countryside, IL off I-55 (pretty close to Lemont, really). So, I dropped Sherry off and hit I-55– it’s exit is right near McCormick Place.
The Countryside HPB has a pretty substantial collection of vinyl as it turns out– and a decent selection of obscure and Chicago-local bands. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of stuff I was looking for. They had a Japanese pressing of the Blind Faithalbum for $30 that I was really interested in. It had the alternate cover featuring the band instead of the topless underaged-girl photo. It had a pretty deep scratch on it otherwise I would have bought it with my 50% coupon. They had two copies of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out— both appeared to be original pressings and one of them was a very worn Mono. I almost bought the Mono, but the wear and the seam-split cover had me passing on it. Plus, I have a very mint Stereo Columbia 6-eye I cherish, so I don’t need another copy, really. They also had Marti Jones’s second album Match Game on LP. Match Game was produced by Marti’s husband Don “Praying Mantis” Dixon. I have this on cassette, and would have liked to have this on vinyl, but it was missing an inner sleeve and was pretty worn. Here’s what I picked up:
Men At Work – Business As Usual (LP, CBS Records, FC 37978, 1982)($0.50) This was clearance-priced, and has a VG cover and vinyl. Fairly quiet on the turntable after I cleaned it. I listened to this and Cargoa lot in junior high school. Three pretty big singles in “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under,” and “Be Good Johnny.” It was their appearance at the US Festival on “New Wave Day” that really helped establish the band and make them the MTV darlings. This album is strong all the way through– the singles are scattered throughout the record and serve as familiar landmarks through the rest of the songs. Men at Work were often considered a band that copied The Police– and quite a bit of this album with it’s bouncy ska rhythms and jazz influences certainly supports that idea. One of my favorite non-single tracks is “Helpless Automation” which recalls a new-wavy Devo. I included this song in a mixtape that I played all the time in High School. I need to get Cargo, next.
The Time – Ice Cream Castles (LP, Warner Bros. Records, 25109-1, 1984)($2.98) This is a title I don’t see very often (though, coincidentally would see again on Monday…). The story goes that Prince was trying to transition from the pop-funk sound that he established leading up to Controversyand apparently had a lot of music he still wanted to release in that vein. He puts his childhood friend Morris Day in front of a Minneapolis funk band called Flyte Time and creates The Time– on record, at least was mostly Prince and Day. By the time Ice Cream Castles is released in 1984, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam had been fired by Prince for missing a show and Morris Day quit to pursue an acting career propelled by his appearance in Purple Rain. Although the album cover shows the post-Lewis and Jam version of the band– which has a shockingly-young St. Paul Peterson on the cover. If his birthdate in October of 1964 is correct, St. Paul was 18 when he played in the Time. He wasn’t on the album, however and only apparently played two live gigs in the Twin Cities and he appears in the movie Purple Rain. After Morris Day leaves The Time, Prince gathers the remaining members and his then-girlfriend Susannah Melvoin and creates The Family. The Family are re-united as F Deluxe (Prince denies them the use of the name The Family– apparently still bitter about St. Paul leaving the group). Ice Cream Castles has what amounts to the biggest songs from The Time– “The Bird” and “Jungleland” which are both featured prominently in the Purple Rain movie. The production is credited to “The Starr Company” which is effectively Prince, who sometimes used the alias “Jamie Starr.” The original album inner sleeve is black plastic, interestingly.
My plan was to hit another Half Price Books and spend my 50% coupon, but the next closest one was another 35 miles away. I did a quick Google Maps search for nearby record stores and found one called The Record Dugout(6055 West 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60638-4317). The Record Dugout is technically in Chicago– although really far south in Chicago. It’s a moderately-sized store that specializes in vinyl LP’s dating up to the 80’s, comic books and sports cards. The day I was there, the guy who handles the vinyl part of the store was working. His name is Bob Miner and he hosts an acapella radio show on The University of Chicago radio station WHPK which airs on Sunday evenings and is called “From the Subway to the Streetcorner.” The store was literally packed with vinyl. There was one row of sorted Rock in record bins, another shorter row for Jazz and folk/country, another “discount bin” with $1-$2 records, and a meticulously-organized bin with 7″ records– the majority of which was R&B from the 50’s/60’s/70’s. Other areas included a “Wall of Shame” as Bob called it, which showcased the more expensive records– rare 7″es with sleeves, etc., a table which had unsorted piles of cheap records in varying degrees of shape– most of which had damaged sleeves, but had serviceable records in them, and two areas on the floor which had $1 and $2 records piled up.
I found most of the haul below in the sorted bins, but the ones for $1 and $2 I found by digging. Bob buys whole collections of records from people looking to get rid of them, so if he hasn’t gotten through them, the good stuff might not be in the bins. Everything seemed to have prices, however. It’s important to note that The Record Dugout only takes cash and the nearest ATMs charge fees, so bring cash. Also, if you buy a lot of stuff, Bob will work with you on price. I spent about three hours here, and probably could have spent more time. I’ll certainly come back!
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant(LP, IRS Records, IRS-5783, 1986) ($4.00) I might have paid a bit too much for this one. The sleeve was not split, but kind of rough on the corners and the paper sleeve was replaced with another sleeve. The record is pretty clean, and after I gave it a thorough wipe with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to get it cleaned, it sounds really good– the surface is a bit hazy, however. R.E.M. is tough to find in the bins, so I’ll pick these up when I find them. Lifes Rich Pageant was the follow-up to Fables of the Reconstruction, which was the album that pretty much changed my music listening. R.E.M. called this their “John Cougar Mellencamp album” because it was produced by Don Gehman at Mellencamp’s studio in Indiana. Classic R.E.M. sound on this one– “Begin the Begin,” “Hyena,” “Fall on Me,” “Superman,” “I Believe” are all strong tracks in the R.E.M. canon. The song “Just a Touch” was a song resurrected from the early days of the band and a number of bootleg recordings from the early 80’s have this song.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight(2 LP, Capitol Records, STBK-12182, 1981)($2.00) I found this one in one of the piles on the floor– hence its $2 price. Fabulously clean cover and LP’s! My dad bought this cassette when it was new and we used to listen to this a lot riding around in the car. A live album comprised of songs recorded in Detroit and Boston in 1980. All of his classic tracks are here– “Hollywood Nights,” “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “Night Moves,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Mainstreet,” “Fire Lake,” “Fire Down Below.” Probably the only album of Bob’s I would care to own, although I’d need Live Bullet to get “Turn the Page.”
Various – The Breakfast Club– The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(LP, A&M Records, SP 5045, 1985)($2.00) Another one from the floor. Cover is in good condition and the record looks decent, but there seems to be a lot of groove wear on this one– particularly on “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. This was a soundtrack that my brother Steve and I listened to a lot– in fact, I think the cassette was actually his. My band in high school with Steve used to cover “(Don’t You) Forget About Me.” Fantastic drum beat in that song, which is why it is so timeless. It’s a kind of well-known story that Simple Minds didn’t write the song– it was penned by Keith Forsey who also wrote “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for Irene Kara. After being turned down by Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds– it was encouraged by A&M that Simple Minds record the song. It becomes their biggest hit which help propel their career for a couple of albums. This soundtrack always struck me in how different it was to other John Hughes soundtracks in that while it had a huge single in “(Don’t You) Forget About Me,” it was really lacking in every other respect. I became familiar with the other songs by Wang Chung, E.G. Daily, Jesse Johnson, and Karla DeVito but aside from “Fire in the Twilight” from Wang Chung, which frankly sounds like an outtake from Points on the Curve, everything else seems like bargain-basement licensing– particularly if you compare it to the powerhouse soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, for example. The instrumentals by Forsey, while largely forgettable, work really well in the context of the movie.
In the 80’s it really seemed like you couldn’t have a soundtrack to a teen movie that didn’t include songs by E.G. Daily. She contributed her unique vocals to movies like Better off Dead — where she performs her two songs in the movie, Summer School, Thief of Hearts as well as The Breakfast Club. She’s a pretty talented lady, and is a regular for voiceovers. It is she who voices Tommy Pickles in Rugrats, for example.
Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (LP, Sire Records, 23883-1, 1983) ($2.00) Another one from the floor piles. The cover and inner sleeve are in tact, if a bit beat up. I have no Talking Heads on vinyl– well except for a bootleg called humorously enough Gimme Heads which has some studio outtakes and live tracks on it and a 12″ to “Blind.” After cleaning this one up, it plays pretty well, but I’ll be on the lookout for better copies. Last year’s Record Store Day had a Rhino reissue for 77— so I was hoping for some other reissues on vinyl. The Dugout also had True Stories on vinyl, but it was in pretty rough shape so I passed on it. Speaking In Tongues is pretty much the Talking Heads pinnacle release with the massive “Burning Down The House” single as well as secondary hits of “Girlfriend is Better,” and “Naive Melody.” Of course, these songs would show up in a bunch of movie soundtracks. I remember “Naive Melody” standing out in the soundtrack to Wall Street, and “Swamp” shows up in Risky Business. These tracks are featured prominently in the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sensewhich was directed by Jonathan Demme.
Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (LP, Warner Bros. Records, W1 23607, 1982)($3.00) Very clean vinyl– cover has a suspicious wear spot, like someone used water to take adhesive off the cover. Also a Columbia House pressing. Clearly I didn’t look very closely at this one. I don’t like to take Columbia House pressings normally due to the uncertain nature of what they used for masters. That said, it is very clean and plays well, and is one of the better copies of Mirage I’ve seen, even with those flaws. The Mac tries to come back from the Titanic expensive failure that was Tusk (still my favorite, however). I really like Mirage— the band comes back to the style and sound of Rumours. The album had six singles released worldwide, but the biggest singles were “Hold Me” and “Gypsy.” The album makes it to #1 on the US charts, so it is clear that their audience wanted another album, but in the canon of Fleetwood Mac, Mirage is not one that people remember.
My first Fleetwood Mac concert was for the Miragetour in 1982. My family saw them in Cedar Falls with Glenn Frey of the Eagles opening on his first solo tour. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac three more times since then– once during the very sad Time tour with Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett on guitars and vocals in Dubuque, once for The Dance tour and once for the Say You Will Tour.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live/1975-85(5 LP, Columbia Records 40558 LP, 1986)($15.00) This one was a cool find. I bought this new on cassette back in 1986– and still have it. I’ve seen it on CD over the years used, but never on LP. A great collection of Bruce live goodness from what most people would consider the high-point of his career. I think that they should do an official release of the legendary Winterland 1978 show. The version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” heard at Christmas time is from that show. This box set does, however, include the version of “Fire” from that show. The Winterland 1978 show had been bootlegged many times over the years– since it was aired live on the radio, lots of folks taped it. Wolfgang’s Vault helpfully has the show in their archives, but it is not one that is purchasable. Listen here.
The vinyl on this box is pretty much pristine, even if the box itself isn’t. One I’ll want to kick back and listen to with a glass of wine some night.
Booker T. & The MG’s – “Hip Hug-Her” b/w “Summertime”(7″ Stax 45-211, 1965)($4.00) I hadn’t really planned to pick up any 45’s, but they had a dedicated section just for Stax! So, I flipped through it and they had a few Booker T. & The MG’s singles. I picked this one because it was on the massively cool light blue Stax label. The record is in great shape for being 45 years old!
Wilson Pickett – “Funky Broadway” b/w “I’m Sorry About That” (7″, Atlantic Records, 45-2430, 1967)($3.00) This one is one of the singles I really dig from Wilson Pickett– on the red Atlantic label. Super-clean and in an Atlantic paper sleeve.
The Dangtrippers – “The Masquerade” b/w “Lover’s Again”(7″, Dog Gone Records, DOG 0005-7″, 1989)($3.50) Why is it that if I want to find rare Iowa bands in the bins I need to leave Iowa? The Dangtrippers were Doug Roberson of The Diplomats of Solid Sound’s 90’s band. I still remember seeing The Dangtrippers playing the Loras College gym when I went to school there. The band got signed to Dog Gone records which was the record label started by Jefferson Holt who was the manager for R.E.M. This is the single to the only album released for The Dangtrippers on Dog Gone before it went under (see below). “Lover’s Again” is a non-album b-side!
Prince and the Revolution – Around the World in a Day(LP, Paisley Park W1-25286, 1985)($3.00) A Columbia House pressing, but in superb shape! I’ve never seen this on LP before! I have this in this crazy longbox trifold CD I picked up at a Discount Records in the early 90’s in Chicago. The LP cover is sort of a trifold with a short flap that folds over. The cover art is a painted scene which has in it representations of each of the songs– a tambourine, a ladder, an American flag, a raspberry beret– the ones I found anyway… A pretty progressive album– lots of psychedelica and strangeness– Prince at his most experimental. “Pop Life” and “Raspberry Beret” were the big singles off this album, but I think that most people ignore this album. I liked it back when it came out, but admittedly haven’t listened to it much since the 80’s. Giving it a spin the other night, I’m struck by some of the songs. In fact, I like all of the album other than the track “Temptation.”
The next day I dropped Sherry off at the conference again and I headed up to Lincoln Square to hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound, which I had hit back in October of 2007. The store was pretty quiet when I got there. They changed the parking meters to be able to take credit cards, which is convenient, but still really expensive. I blew $3 to get a couple of hours of parking. Laurie’s has a new arrivals section for their CD’s and LP’s and has a section dedicated to new vinyl as well. Their vinyl prices are higher than places like the dugout, but comparable to places like HPB which is attempting to charge market prices for some.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine(2 LP, Virgin Records America, 7243 8 48151 1 0, 1999)($9.99) This was in the new arrivals section and appears to be a cutout of sorts as the barcode is crossed out. Probably a promo or a giveaway, but is in great shape. I hadn’t really paid much attention to Ben Harper until I saw him as part of that 3D concert movie “Larger Than Life” back in December. I was impressed enough to pick up Harper’s new record White Lies for Dark Times on vinyl. Burn to Shine is considered to be one of his good releases so I thought it might be a good gamble. I gave it a spin when I got home, and it’s a good one for the collection.
Bumps (2 LP, Stones Throw Records, STH2157, 2007)($12.99) This was a new purchase. Bumps is the side project of the Tortoise rhythm section of Bitney, McEntire & Herndon. This is a record of beats, essentially. This is a really cool 2 LP version that was price cut from $15.99 to $12.99. This is mostly as a completion for my Tortoise vinyl collection, I don’t see myself playing this often.
Cougar – Law (LP, Layered Music/Play It Again Sam, LR013, 2007/2008)($4.99) Although it isn’t really listed anywhere on the artwork and the LP itself only lists 4 tracks, this appears to be the full Lawalbum that was released in 2007 in the UK by Layered Music. Madison, WI band Cougar is classified as “emergency” music although I think they fit under the “post rock” area. Having your debut album mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise doesn’t hurt this classification either.
The Dangtrippers – Days Between Stations (LP, Dog Gone, DOG 0005, 1989)($2.99) Wow! Another Dangtrippers find? The cover is a bit trashed on this one, but I didn’t know that this was even available on LP! I see on eBay there are a couple of LPs– one for $14.99 and one for $19.99, so $2.99 is a good deal. The vinyl is very clean. As I stated above, The Dangtrippers were a band from Iowa City from the 80’s and early 90’s that got signed to Dog Gone Records. They had this album out on Dog Gone before the label went under. Their second album Transparent Blue Illusionwhich came out in 1991 was only available on the Australian label Zero Hour. The Dangtrippers had a 60’s jangly rock sound that owed a lot to bands like The dB’s. In fact, the song “Talk About Love” on Days Between Stations sounds a lot like The dB’s and it’s pretty much my favorite track on the album.
That song reminds me of a very bad trip to Florida in the early 90’s with my then-girlfriend to visit some friends of hers. The trip started out okay– it was Florida in late December and her friends had a gorgeous house with a pool and a Porsche 928 that was ours for the borrowing. We visited a mall that had a discount book store or something and I found Days Between Stations on CD there in the bins!
The trip took a turn for the worst as she started giving me the silent treatment and wouldn’t talk about why she was upset. So, I was stuck in Florida with someone who clearly didn’t want to be there with me. We had a painful trip to Disney World followed by a really uncomfortable New Year’s Eve get together. By the time we flew back to Chicago to drive back to Dubuque I had enough of this ridiculous situation where she wasn’t talking to me about why she was upset. So, she was rewarded with four hours of “Talk About Love” on repeat in full volume. The relationship didn’t last much longer– she didn’t like not being the center of attention with her friends and I apparently drew some attention from her. I still dig the frustrated energy of that song.
Click Here to hear “Talk About Love” from Days Between Stationsby The Dangtrippers.
Love Tractor – Around the Bend (LP, DB Recs, DB67, 1983)($4.99) This was another very cool find! Of course, this is where I’ll alienate some of the readers. I found out about Love Tractor due to the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Outabout the music scene in Athens leading up to 1987– R.E.M. is just getting to be a big deal in college rock– it was released before Document with “The One I Love” on it– so the movie happens at an opportune time. Included in the movie is Love Tractor who perform a live version of “Pretty” from Around the Bend. The album is largely instrumental with some sparse vocals. I had Around the Bend on a double-cassette which included their debut self-titled album and the follow-up Until the Cows Come Home. I find their unique style to be pretty similar to Athens contemporaries Pylon.
I actually owned the soundtrack for Athens, GA Inside/Outfor a long time before I ever saw the movie. The soundtrack included two acoustic tracks from R.E.M. “Swan Swan H” and a cover of the Everly Brothers song “All I Have To Do is Dream” so I had to get it. By the time the movie came out on VHS, I was very familiar with a lot of the songs in it, including “Pretty.”
Click Here to listen to “Pretty” from Around the Bend by Love Tractor.
I also bought a bag of 100 mylar LP bags for $20. I never seem to have enough of those. I could get these cheaper online from Bags Unlimited, but since I was thinking of it, I thought I’d buy them.
As I was walking back to my car I happened to catch someone out of the corner of my eye– it was Chris Corsale from The Right Now sitting in a window of a sandwich shop playing acoustic guitar and singing! He was suprised to see me as well! So, I moved my car to a side street– which is free and doesn’t require a permit after 11AM. Then I came back to the restaurant and ate lunch hanging out with him in between sets. It was pretty cool– Chris has a pretty wide selection of covers he does and made for good lunchtime entertainment. A great coincidence that sort of made for a good wrap-up of the weekend.
After lunch I made my way back to McCormick Place to pick Sherry up and head home.
Doug Roberson of the Diplomats of Solid Sound posted a Facebook event for a yard sale he was having. He was moving across town in Iowa City and decided, like many of us would, that he had some things he didn’t want to move so he decided to have a yard sale. Knowing that Doug is a record collector and having talked with him the night before when the band played Coctails and Company in Cedar Rapids about what he might have, I made the trip down.
It was a drizzly day which was sort of concerning, but I got down there around 1:30 and he had all of the records on his front porch. He was sitting on a lawn chair drinking a Budweiser and chatting with the other people hanging out looking at his stuff. Most of the people, as you might imagine were Iowa City scenesters– people in other bands in town, people who were fans of his bands. So, it was pretty cool.
He was selling a lot of vinyl– almost all of it duplicates he accumulated over the years in addition to some books, magazines, and some music gear like a couple of Farfisa organs used with his prior band The Bent Scepters and a couple of guitar amps. He also had a pretty substantial collection of 7-inch singles– a LOT of King Records releases of James Brown. I think someone could have bought most of a James Brown 7″ collection– if not all– right there!
I was hoping to pick up some rare pieces from Doug’s pretty extensive career and I wasn’t disappointed! I ended up picking up the following records for, I think $35. I good haul, for sure!
The Bent Scepters – “She Freak” b/w “The Curse” (7″, Prescription Records PRE001, 1993) This was a nice find. Doug’s band The Bent Scepters was formed out of the ashes of The Dangtrippers and Head Candy. The Bent Scepters’ certainly fulfilled Doug’s penchant for of 60’s Nuggets-style garage pop. The Scepters were closer in sound to the Dangtrippers than the layered distortion grunge delivered by Head Candy. Doug’s current band The Diplomats of Solid Sound started as kind of a side band of the Scepters. On Prescription Records which is Doug’s “vanity” label.
The Bent Scepters – “My Toyota” b/w The Delstars – “Lustron a Go-Go” (7″ split, Prescription Records PRE002, 1997) While I was flipping through the records, Doug found a box that had record pressing plates and a couple white-label 7″ test pressings for a split 7″ he put out with the Des Moines surfy band The Delstars. “My Toyota” comes from the Scepters second album Hellevator Music.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring the Diplomettes – “If You’re Wrong” b/w “If You’re Wrong (Lack of Afro rmx)” (7″, Record Kicks RK45 023, 2008) This one sort of took me by surprise because I didn’t know that there was a second 7″ from Record Kicks. The first single was “Plenty Nasty” backed by “Hurt Me So (Lack of Afro Remix).” I hadn’t heard about this release, but apparently the band has been carrying this 7″ in their merch box. The remix by Lack of Afro is pretty similar to the remix he did for “Hurt Me So”– it adds a clubby groove to it.
The Shy Strangers – Indian Name (LP, Pravda Records PR-2616, 1986) Doug had an unopened box of still-sealed copies of Doug’s pre-Dangtrippers band The Shy Strangers. This record is still in print and can be ordered from Pravda for $4.99! I haven’t dropped a needle on this one, yet. The Shy Strangers was Roberson, Jim Merrick on drums and Scott Stecklein on bass. Doug and Scott were in The Dangtrippers and The Bent Scepters together.
I was hoping for some rare Head Candy stuff, but according to Doug there really wasn’t much more than the CD. There was promotional purple 7″ for “At The Controls” / “Watching the Sun’s Trail” I need to pick up some time, but Doug didn’t have any of those. Here’s the other non-Doug stuff I picked up:
Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch (LP, Blue Note BLP-4163/84163, 1964) Sax player Eric Dolphy’s first and only release for Blue Note as a solo artist. The album was recorded by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder in February 1964. Soon after Dolphy moved to Paris and died in June 1964 from a diabetic coma. Out to Lunch is considered to be one of the essential free jazz records– considered by some to be on par with A Love Supreme. The label says “Blue Note – A Product of Liberty Records.” This release came soon after Blue Note and Liberty were purchased by Avnet in 1965. This also explains the “84163” catalog number. According to this label breakdown, my copy of Out To Lunch is a post-1968 repressing as my label art says “Blue Note Records – A Division of United Artists Records, Inc.” United Artists was a division of Transamerica which picked up Liberty and its associated imprints in 1968.
Lonnie Smith – Drives (LP, Blue Note Records BST 84351, 1970) This was a still-sealed reissue of Dr. Lonnie Smith’s funky, organ-fueled Blue Note release. The label shows the old 304 Park Ave. South address which I’m not sure would have been right. This would have been a UA release and I think they changed the labels to look like the Dolphy release above. I think this was a 90’s reissue done by EMI. Covers of “Spinning Wheel” by BS&T, the great “Twenty Five Miles” originally done by Edwin Starr, and “Seven Steps to Heaven” by Miles Davis.
Donald Byrd – The Cat Walk (LP, Blue Note Records BL-4075, 1961) This was also a still-sealed reissue of trumpet player Donald Byrd’s 1961 solo release with regular sidekick Pepper Adams. I wasn’t very familiar with Donald Byrd’s work other than a couple of compilation tracks– notably “Blackjack” which was included on the Blue Note Rare Grooves comp. An easy bop record.
Julian Cope – Saint Julian (LP, Island Records/ATCO 90571-1, 1987) This was a nice find- not a record I was actually looking for, but one for the memories. I wasn’t familiar with Cope’s first band The Teardrop Explodes when I heard “World Shut Your Mouth” all those years ago. I listened to this record a lot in ’87 and found a guy in college who was a fan as well and got me to dig a bit deeper into Cope’s catalog. I still find myself coming back to this record. These days Julian Cope has become a strange cultish figure and I’m not following him as much, but this record is pretty much the best of his releases in my opinion.
Richard & Linda Thompson – Hokey Pokey (LP, Carthage Records CGLP 4408, 1983) This is the 1983 reissue of the 1974 Island release of Hokey Pokey. According to this thread on the stevehoffman.tv boards Carthage Records and Hannibal Records were run by Joe Boyd who discovered Pink Floyd among other things. These reissues and sometime new releases were centered around UK Folk groups like Fairport Convention. It would be cool to pick up Shoot Out the Lights by Richard & Linda on vinyl. I have it on 24kt CD today. I wasn’t familiar with this album, but I picked it up because the record seemed in good shape and Richard & Linda are notable musicians. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.
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.