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.