B-Sides in the Bins #54 – Half-Price Books, Bloomingdale, IL 3/13/11

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.”

B-Sides in the Bins #46: Cheapo Discs – Fridley, MN 1/31/09

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.

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