I really wasn’t expecting to do any shopping today. Due to my daughter’s car needing to be dropped off at Tires Plus for a strange banging noise and my wife wanting to do some clothes shopping at Lindale I found myself with some time so I hit CDWarehouse.
I walked in and immediately spotted the spine of the new Low CD Drums and Guns in a stack of used CD’s on the counter. While I hadn’t planned to pick this album up, I couldn’t pass on a new release! I verified that it was for sale and asked to have it put aside and started over to the $1 CD’s and made my way through the LP crates and then through the CD’s.
Before I checked out I spent some time talking to John Fisher who owns the store. A great guy to talk to and is pretty passionate about music and music retail. We talked a lot about sales on the Internet versus the brick-and-mortar retail. He is well aware of what his competition is. He is located next to a Best Buy and his prices will typically compete with Best Buy on new releases. He can also place special orders, which Best Buy has no interest in doing. His perspective on his very low vinyl prices is that he needs to compete with eBay on the “non-collector” vinyl. He is also competing with HalfPrice Books who gets their inventory fortified by their other locations. I have to say that I was surprised about the turnover he had in his vinyl so it will continue to be a stop for me. John is also brokering his inventory through Djangos Music which is pretty smart. He said that he has moved a lot of inventory that he wouldn’t normally move just due to the limited audience in Cedar Rapids for the more obscure items. Times are really tough for the independent music seller so it is good to see someone still willing to figure out how to stay viable! Stop by there if you get a chance.
Drums and Guns – Low (CD Sub Pop SPCD 736, 2007) ($7.99) This CD came out this Tuesday. Evidently the previous owner didn’t appreciate the new direction Low is taking on their eighth album and second for Sub Pop. Low has been around for quite a long time in Indie terms with their first release in 1994. Low is known for their slow tempo style sometimes called “Slowcore” and this album is continuing this style albeit with more distortion on the guitars and more sound effects. This album leaked on the Internet early in January and I had those mp3’s. At the time I thought that what was leaked must have been a demo due to the really strange mixing of the vocals mostly in the right channel but this CD has that, too. I need to spend more time with it, but I think it is a grower. I should get the rest of the Low catalog.
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (2 CD Warner Bros, R2 73882, 2004) ($9.99) Another great find today! This one has been on my Amazon and lala.com want lists for a while. This is a BMG pressing of the CD, which I would normally pass over but it is in Mint condition. This is probably the sixth copy of Rumours I have owned on CD in my life. When I got my first CD player back in the late 80’s Rumours was one of the first CD’s I purchased. (other titles bought that first day were Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits, Hot Rocks 1964-1971 by The Rolling Stones, and Graceland by Paul Simon). I’ve lost three copies to other people– ex-girlfriends mostly. When I was around nine or ten I got a stereo from my parents with an 9-track and had a mix of Rumours and the self-titled prior release that Dad made for the car that I listened to constantly. Dad had an 8-track recorder and used to dub copies of the 8-tracks he bought. This album has been with me my whole life it seems and around for important events. When my wife and I got married in 2000 our invitations had lyrics from the beautiful Christine McVie-penned “Songbird” and Sherry and I had our first dance as a couple at our reception to it. This release has the appended “Silver Springs” that was originally the b-side to “Go Your Own Way.” The controversy surrounding this song has been documented in other places, but this song was another song about the breakup of Buckingham and Nicks. It was pulled from the Rumours tracklist because it was too long and the band preferred “I Don’t Want To Know.” This song resurfaced for the out-of-print The Chain boxset. If I remember right, Mick Fleetwood really pushed for this song to be included in the boxset at Stevie’s initial hesitance. The song was brought back as a single for the reunion album The Dance. The popularity of this song influenced its inclusion in the DVD-A release of Rumours in 2002, and then for this 2004 release. Sonically, I don’t think that this release is much of an improvement over the other pressings of this album on CD. The second disc of bonus tracks and demos serves mostly as an interesting view into the creation of this album and not really something you’d spend a lot of time listening to.
In The Sun – Archer Prewitt (CD Carrot Top SAKI 015, 1997) ($7.99) Another surprise find for me. I’ve had this one on my want list for a long time. This was the missing CD in my Prewitt collection. Archer Prewitt, for those of you who aren’t familiar is a core member of The Sea and Cake. Prewitt’s music is similar to The Sea and Cake, but differs from Sam Prekop’s solo works. Sam has a whispery vocal approach and tends towards a jazzy feel. Prewitt sounds like early breezy Seventies pop. I hadn’t heard any of the tracks off this album before today, but fits right in with his other albums. The Sea and Cake feels more like a Prekop vehicle and Prewitt takes a backseat in that band in my opinion, but he seems very comfortable in his role in the center stage on his own songs.
Afoot – Let’s Active (Vinyl EP I.R.S. SP70505, 1983) ($1.99) Let’s Active was the band fronted by 80’s college rock uber-producer Mitch Easter who I’ve mentioned on here before. According to Mitch, Afoot was an experiment of sorts. I.R.S. let Mitch record and release a record of his own after the success of the first two R.E.M. albums he produced with Don Dixon. This EP had a hit in “Every Word Means No” and even had a video on MTV. This will sit comfortably with my Game Theory vinyl. Mixed by Scott Litt who would later produce six of the best R.E.M. albums from Document through New Adventures in Hi-Fi.
90125 – Yes (LP ATCO 90125-1, 1983) ($1.99) It’s interesting to note that this album was released the same year as Afoot. They seem years apart. Sadly this album hasn’t aged as well as Afoot, however. All of those really nasty “orchestra hit” synthesizer patches and compressed and gated drums peg this album squarely as an early 80’s pop album. Still, this is one of my favorites. Probably the only album in history that is named after its catalog number. I had purchased this album on cassette in 1983 or 1984 largely due to the singles that this record spawned and the videos that were shown on USA’s “Night Flight” and WTBS’s “Night Tracks” shows (no MTV in Bellevue, IA back then!). This album follows the critically-panned Drama album that had the Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes on vocals and keyboards. Drama was the only Yes album without the distinctive vocals of Anderson. Horn and Downes left after the Drama tour. Chris Squire and Alan white formed another band with guitarist Travor Rabin called Cinema which eventually Jon Anderson joined which allowed them to honestly call the band Yes. Most of the pop-geared single tracks were penned by Rabin and most of the vision of the record comes from him. Production was handled by Trevor Horn, who by this time had produced some significant albums on the ZTT label including Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Art of Noise and lent a similar big sound to 90125.
Freedom – Neil Young (LP Reprise 25899-1, 1989) ($1.99) This LP has a cover that has a large patch where the printing has torn off, but the front looks good and the vinyl is good. Freedom marks the triumphant return-to-form for Neil on Reprise after his “lost” period on Geffen. Freedom started life as another album titled Times Square which was to be a louder album in a more Crazy Horse vein. Apparently the label didn’t hear a single so Neil went back to the drawing board and selected the best tracks from the Times Square sessions and added three new songs including the smash “Rockin’ In The Free World” in electric and acoustic versions the way Rust Never Sleeps had “Hey Hey, My My” and “My My, Hey Hey.” Many consider Freedom to be a complimentary release to Rust. A number of the tracks pulled from Times Square ended up on a Japanese/Australian EP called Eldorado. I got a copy of Eldorado from a Japanese student who brought one back with him after a break. I consider Freedom to be one of Neil’s finest moments on record.
Aerocalexico – Calexico (CD Our Soil Our Strength, 2001) ($9.99 + $2.50 Shipping) I got this as a Buy-It-Now this week. I’m very happy about this one as it is the last of the Calexico tour-only CD’s I needed. This one is probably one of the best of the series. I think it is great that Calexico pulls these collections together and makes them available to the fans. Some standout/notable tracks are “Pretty White Horses,” the Christmas track “Gift X-Change” and the instrumental track to “Humana” which was the “collaboration” with Goldfrapp on the “Human” remix from Felt Mountain Revamped album. This is still available from the Calexico site for $16
Things I didn’t buy: Franz Ferdinand’s debut CD in special packaging and included a bonus disc, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome on LP. They were playing a CD by Dressy Bessy that was pretty interesting– it was their 2002 release Sound Go Round. I’d heard mention of them but wasn’t familiar with them. Worth checking out I think. You can hear tracks at their Myspace page.