As word of the Starbucks in Lindale Mall closing as part of a larger store closing move by Starbucks to close 600 stores nationwide including six in Iowa to “weed out unprofitable locations” rumors at Lindale on Saturday were spreading that the location was giving away drinks. Sherry and I were going to visit our daughter RaeEllen at her last day at Kitchens and Koffee so we stopped at Starbucks to see what was going on. While they were giving away drinks– they were samples of chocolate banana smoothies with shots of espresso in them (yum!).
While we were there, I was surprised to see that Starbucks was having a “Summer DVD and CD Sale” where ALL CD’s and DVD’s were $7.95 — inluding the new Coldplay! The Starbucks retail price for CD’s is typically an inflated $12.95 or better. I guess this shouldn’t be much of a surprise after the announcement that Starbucks was going to dump or dramatically reduce the number of CD’s they are going to sell. So, I expect there is going to be a purging of inventory across the chain.
One of the downsides to Starbucks getting out of the music biz is the Starbucks Entertainment business that partnered with the Concord Music Group to create some not-shabby compilations of artists and notable record labels. I wrote about the great Prestige Jazz compilation last year. In the CD racks at the doomed Starbucks was a couple of other compilations including a Buddy Holly one and a John Coltrane one in addition to the Stax one I picked up. They had some new titles- including John Mellencamp’s recent one, too.
Coldplay – Viva La Vida (CD, Capitol 509992 16886 0 7, 2008) ($7.95) I thought that this was about the price I’d want to pay for this — new at used price. I like a couple of the songs I’d heard on this album including “Viva La Vida” which was used in the iPod commercial as well as the new single “Violet Hill” which Sherry likes as well. Tired of the comparisons to Radiohead, Coldplay switched its sights to U2 with the “sonic landscapes” from erstwhile-and-again U2 producer/collaborator Brian Eno. I really liked the overplayed Rush of Blood to the Head and was as confused as everyone else about the X&Y followup. This is a very strong release from the band and solidly positions them as alterna-rock for the softening Gen X crowd.
various artists – “Soulsville, U.S.A.” – Stax Classics 1965-1973 (CD, Starbucks Entertainment CDS-131, 2008) ($7.95) This was the one I was pretty excited about. I’m becoming more of a fan of the legendary Stax Records catalog as time goes. The scrappy label from Memphis that represented was the “dirty South” answer to the more “clean” Motown and Philly labels of the time. I started as a fan of label houseband Booker T. & the MG’s and slowly expanded to include artists that they recorded behind. Working with Concord gave Starbucks the licensing power as well as the extensive catalog knowledge required to put these excellent comps together. This release stayed away from the big hits from Stax that have been represented in about a million other comps. Instead of including “Soul Man” we get “Hold On I’m Comin'” from Sam & Dave. Instead of “Green Onions” from Booker T. & the MG’s we get “Soul Limbo” and their instrumental cover of “Groovin’.” Incidentally, “Soul Limbo” has the distinction of being the first release on the freed-from-Atlantic Stax. Sadly, this was the beginning of the end for the label. Instead of “I’ll Take You There” from the Staple Singers we get the sound-alike “If You’re Ready.” Every track on this comp is a winner and a good mix for about any occasion with Otis Redding, Albert King, Eddie Floyd and Mr. Hot Buttered Soul himself Isaac Hayes. Hayes weighs in with “Walk On By” which I only recently realized was sampled by Portishead for its biggest hit “Sour Times” from 1994’s Dummy with its repeated “Nobody loves me– it’s true.”
So, if I run into any other interesting comps while traveling I may pick them up at this price. I’m hoping some company like Half Price Books will pick them up for sale in their stores as cut-outs.