Last weekend Sherry, Rae and I went to Minneapolis so they could participate in an in absentia baby shower. Sherry’s aunt was throwing a baby shower for her daughter who lives in the Phoenix area and couldn’t be in Minnesota for it. So, all of the relatives in the Twin Cities got together with the requsite baby shower gifts, games, and food. Everyone shows the gifts and at the end they are boxed up and shipped. A neat idea that Sherry’s mom did for Sherry’s aunt a long time ago.
At any rate it meant that Sherry’s uncle and I were effectively kicked out of the house for four hours. The plan on this very rainy day was to hit Cheapo’s on Snelling in St. Paul and, if there was time left, hit the Cheapo’s on Lake in Uptown. Both of these locations have vinyl stores attached to them.
The trip to Snelling was a bust. I hit the vinyl location hoping to find some Tortoise. They had the In The Fishtank release from Tortoise and the Ex and The Brave and the Bold collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy. I flipped through the New Arrivals and saw some interesting stuff like Journey Through the Past from Neil Young which is a soundtrack to an evidently strange movie Neil produced in 1974 under his nom de film Bernard Shakey. I contemplated picking this up, but it was kind of pricey for what I thought the quality was. In retrospect I should have picked it up since it hasn’t been released on CD. Looking at the tracklist, though, it might only be notable for the 16+ minute studio version of “Words.” The trip to the CD store was disappointing. It appears that the New Arrivals section has dwindled to two tables. I quickly flipped through the week of arrivals and found nothing of note except for Money Mark’s new one. Sherry’s uncle picked up a Temptations Greatest Hits comp.
The stop at Lake was much better. I visited the vinyl store which is called Vinyltopia. Boy, is it ever! This store is the basement of the CD store and is probably the same square feet. I knew right away that I better not spend too much time down there– I’m sure I could blow an entire day flipping through those bins. I hit the Tortoise section with no luck and flipped through the New Arrivals, but nothing jumped out at me, so I made my way upstairs.
Neon Bible – Arcade Fire (CD Merge MRG285, 2007) ($9.98) There just seems to be so much talk about this album I thought I’d give it a closer listen. I didn’t like Funeral that much, so I kind of wrote this band off. So… I think the album is pretty good. It improves with multiple listens, but does anyone else hear E-Street Era Bruce Springsteen in this?? I don’t think it is just the glockenspiel. I think it is the pumping percussion and the soaring choruses. Especially “Keep the Car Running.” “Every night my dream’s the same. Same old city with a different name. Men are coming to take me away. I don’t know why but, I know I can’t stay.” That could have been penned by Bruce. I guess in the pop canon there are worse artists to emulate. Well, except for that last Killer’s album.
Return to Cookie Mountain – TV on the Radio (CD Touch and Go/Interscope B0007466-02, 2006) ($8.95) Man, “Wolf Like Me” is just one of those great songs. Best song about lycanthropy— ever! My wife loves that song as well. I thought it was time to add this one to the collection. This version of Cookie Mountain has three bonus tracks: “Snakes and Martyrs,” a remix of “Hours” by El-P, and “Things You Can Do.” We’re howling forever…
In Search of the Lost Chord – The Moody Blues (CD Deram 42284 4768-2, 1968/1997) ($5.95) This CD completes my collection of the essential first seven Moody Blues albums from the second and more notable version of the band. From the period of 1967 to 1972 the Moody Blues released an astounding seven albums with two albums coming out in 1969. The Lost Chord is the second of these albums and includes the singles “Voices in the Sky” and the concert favorite “Ride My See-Saw.” The Moody Blues defines my childhood as my family and especially my dad were big fans and most family excusions included cassettes from the Moody Blues. This is the 1997 “Digitally Remastered” version of the album. I read online that Justin Hayward is finishing up re-releasing the first seven albums on SACD with bonus material. I’ll be looking into these to see if they are worth picking up.
The next four CD’s were a happy find for me. The “missing” pre-Geffen Reprise-era Neil Young albums. These have been out-of-print for many years mostly due to Neil’s tendency for perfection but likely also due to his crotchety nature. Since the first discussions of the Decades III/Archives releases in the mid- to late-Nineties the fans had been asking for these albums to be re-released. Neil said in an interview that he had been holding off on releasing these because to date he hated the mastering that had been done to his catalog for CD and that the vinyl versions of his albums sounded superior to them. Apparently with the advent of HDCD Neil is satisfied with the sound of CDs. Still to be released are the soundtrack to “Journey Through the Past,” and Time Fades Away. In the case of Time Fades Away, there was an HDCD release set up and sent out as promos, but the release never materialized.
On the Beach – Neil Young (CD Reprise 48497-2, 1974/2003) ($5.95) In my opinion, this is the best of the four re-releases. On The Beach is part of what is known in the fan circles as “The Ditch Trilogy” which includes Tonight’s The Night and Time Fades Away. Following the huge success of “Heart of Gold” from Harvest, Neil felt it was necessary to move from the middle of the road to the ditch– per the liner notes in Decade. The resulting block of three albums are all similar in their darkness in themes. A friend of mine from Dubuque who was a huge Neil fan made me a cassette of On The Beach and American Stars ‘n Bars that I took with me to Louisiana during a computer installation. The loaner car I drove had a cassette deck in it and I listened to that tape non-stop during my treks between New Orleans and Houma where the two locations of the installation were. “Walk On”, “See the Sky About to Rain,” and “On the Beach” are my standout favorites.
American Stars ‘n Bars – Neil Young (CD Reprise 48496-2, 1977/2003) ($5.95) Another good release from what tends to be considered very unbalanced releases. Neil in a more country mode. Stars n’ Bars and Hawks & Doves benefit from having tracks pulled from the aborted Homegrown and Chrome Dreams albums. Notable tracks include “Like A Hurricane,” “Will to Love,” and “Homegrown.” Beautiful backing vocals from Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson. Emmylou Harris sings on “Star of Bethlehem.” Amazing pedal steel by Ben Keith. The cover art was done by buddy Dean Stockwell.
Hawks & Doves – Neil Young (CD Reprise 48499-2, 1980/2003) ($5.95) Another folkie-country release. This album is also a collection of tracks recorded at different times dating back to 1974. Standout tracks “Little Wing,” “The Old Homestead,” and “Captain Kennedy.”
Re-ac-tor – Neil Young (CD Reprise 48498-2, 1981/2003) ($5.95) The last of the Reprise releases before Neil jumps to buddy David Geffen’s label for eight years. That move to Geffen ended with a lawsuit accusing Neil of not sounding enough like himself. Admittedly, the Geffen catalog has Neil experimenting in different styles. Neil brings the Horse back for the first time since I guess Zuma. This is probably the weakest of the re-releases. Although it sounds like Crazy Horse, it doesn’t have any of the substance that previous efforts showed. Standout tracks are “Shots” and “Southern Pacific.”
Live at Amoeba Music – TV on the Radio (CD Touch & Go/Interscope B0008324-32, 2007) ($5.98 + shipping) I didn’t get this from Cheapo’s. I got this from Amoeba online. This is a limited-edition 4-track CD of TVotR’s in-store appearance from September last year. A good addition to my collection. As frantic as the band sounds on their album, they have even more energy live. Tracks: “Blues From Down Here,” “Wolf Like Me,” “Province,” “Wash The Day.”
Stuff I put back: Old Ways – Neil Young– I think I might be able to pick this up later, World Without Tears– Lucinda Williams, Por Vida – A tribute to Alejandro Escovedo.