B-Sides in the Bins #55 – Around Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Over the long weekend, I was hoping to get in on some of the sales that were going on– specifically Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, and the full-weekend 20% sale at Half-Price Books. While I didn’t actually get over to Guitar Center, I did hit HPB, but also managed to see David Lowery and Johnny Hickman tape a Java Blend session in Iowa City with my friend Erik, which also resulted in a great trip to The Record Collector. I also visited Moondog Music in Dubuque on Thursday and picked up some “missing titles” and hit a Half Price Books in Chicago on Saturday (whew!)

Record Collector, Iowa City:

Bob Mould – Workbook (LP, Virgin Records 91240-1, 1989)($8.00) HUGE SCORE! Found in the “Recent Arrivals” bin (much to Erik’s dismay). Promo-stamped and notched cut-out with a “When You PLAY IT, SAY IT!” sticker prominently on the front cover. The record is in overall good condition, but there was a very visible scuff on tracks 3 and 4 on side 2. It doesn’t affect the play a lot except for a slight tick. I heard this album being played at a party in college and went out and bought it the next day. The first time I ever heard Mould, incidentally. Though I was a fan of Minneapolis bands like Soul Asylum and The Replacement, I hadn’t dove into the Husker Du catalog. I started getting into their catalog posthumously after this album. This is still my favorite Mould record, though Black Sheets of Rain is a close second.  (Note to self: add Black Sheets of Rain to my vinyl wishlist).

Van Morrison – Moondance (LP, Warner Brothers 1835, 1970)($12.00) Also in the “Recent Arrivals” bin. Amazingly clean copy and early pressing! Well worth the slightly more expensive price. Not much to say about this release other than it is probably the most consistent record in Van the Man’s catalog. Nice mellow jams for early evening consumption of red wine.

I had also grabbed a collection of Talking Heads records which were on my wish list, however, when I got to the counter to check out I spotted a copy of Neil Young’s Zuma in the glass case for $20. Realizing that this is a tough one to find, I put the Talking Heads back…

Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Zuma (LP, Reprise Records MS 2242, 1975)($20) Brilliant record all the way through. Of the “bigger songs” in Neil’s career, this has “Cortez the Killer” on it. First album following the “Ditch Trilogy” of Time Fades Away, Tonight’s the Night and On The Beach. I guess it is a little crazy for me to pay $20 for a record that will allegedly come out on the next Neil Young Archives LP box (cue laughter from die hard Neil Young fans). Cover in good shape with some slight staining which is typical of the matte covers of this vintage. Includes lyric sheet.

Big Star – Radio City (LP, Stax/Concord Music Group ADS-1801, 2009)($13.00) New. Wasn’t planning to pick this up, but I entered into a conversation with Kirk about the $50 original pressing of Big Star’s #1 Record that has been on display for a while. I mentioned the reissues that had come out and he went back to the bins and came back with this. I’m a big fan of Big Star and had been planning to pick these up at some point. This is a reissue done by Concord Music Group which owns the licensing of the Stax and Ardent catalogs. Interestingly, aside from the very small “Licensed By Concord Music Group” at the bottom of the back of the jacket, you couldn’t tell easily that this was a reissue. Recorded and mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis and mastered by Larry Nix whom I worked with on the vinyl pressing of The Right Now’s 2010 album Carry Me Home. Nix told us stories about working with Big Star and how Chris Bell nearly destroyed the plates for the vinyl version of #1 Record! I’m thinking I need to get that #1 Record

Moondog Music, Dubuque, IA:

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (LP, Columbia PC 33453, 1975)($12.98) Hot stamped with “For Demonstration – Not For Sale” on the back cover. Sleeve in VG condition with some slight ringwear and the LP is VG condition– no scuffs or scratches, but seems to need a thorough cleaning as it has a some crackles. The recording sounds great other than that. BL 33453-3F 1T matrix information on both sides. Also came with original “Monosee Lake” postcard!

R.E.M. – Murmur (LP, IRS Records, SP 70014-1, 1983)($5.98) According to the internet, this is a later repress as the catalog number changed and it has a barcode on it. Vinyl just needed a quick brush with the anti-static brush and a wipe with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Cleaned up with no surface noise! Sounds great and reminds me why I loved them so much back then. R.E.M. has always been a band that changes its sound every few albums, and the Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning set of albums defined that Southern jangly sound that so many bands that followed emulated.

Greg Brown – Freak Flag (LP, Yep Roc YEP 2244, 2011) ($19.98) 180g vinyl! Cool that the man who lives analog would get his new album on new label Yep Roc pressed into virgin vinyl. Produced by Bo Ramsey and recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis after a lightning storm destroyed the original recordings done in Minneapolis! Read my review of Freak Flag in Little Village Magazine.

New Order – Movement (LP, Factory FACD 05, 1981)($12.98) Still sealed! Was in the bins there since 2004. Has the light blue cover indicative of the non-US Factory Records versions. Looks like a Canadian pressing I guess, but the matrix information looks like it is based on the original UK pressing. I need to look into this a bit more. Not my favorite New Order album, but still worth having in the collection.

Simple Minds – Sparkle in the Rain (LP, A&M Records SP-6-4981, 1984)($4.99) This is one of my favorite Simple Minds albums, second probably only to New Gold Dream. Sparkle in the Rain is considered Simple Minds’ breakthrough release in the US. Side A has a fantastic procession of songs– “Up on the Catwalk,” “Book of Brilliant Things,” “Speed Your Love to Me,” “Waterfront” and “East At Easter” most of which are on the excellent live album Live in the City of Light.

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam (LP, ABC Records ABCD-931, 1976)($5.98) This is an “upgrade” from a later MCA Pressing I had of this. Great record, though it doesn’t have the big hits on it. It also seems to embody the snideness of Steely Dan. Sometimes Steely Dan hates the subjects and characters in their songs, and never more than they seem to on The Royal Scam. Classic Dan songs on here, though. “Kid Charlemange,” “Don’t Take Me Alive,” “The Fez” and “Haitian Divorce.”

Half Price Books, Village Crossing, Niles, IL

Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (LP, Atco SD 2-704, 1970)($14.99) While Sherry was doing makeup for a wedding in Chicago, I busied myself with a trip to the closest Half Price Books. They had a lot of “essential” titles in the bins of varying quality and I nearly picked up a couple of Who titles, but ended up finding this really clean original pressing of the classic Derek & The Dominos album.

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 #52 – Half-Price Books Cedar Rapids 1/22/11

I was out running a bunch of errands today and ended up at Half-Price Books. When I arrived I didn’t find anything in the used vinyl bins that I absolutely needed– they had a couple of new Donna’s LP’s which was interesting, but I’m not familiar with their music enough for me to jump in. I was just about out the door when Claire– the girl who is the most knowledgeable about the vinyl– happened to be bringing a pile of newly-priced records to the bins to put away. Thankfully I stayed! I found the King Crimson LP from the pile she brought over and the Queen LP– she brought some other interesting pieces, but most of them were in pretty ratty condition– the first Doors record (stereo), a 13, The Who’s Tommy on Decca, Katy Lied by Steely Dan. She said that she had a Dark Side of the Moon behind the counter she was going to put out and asked if I wanted to see it. I don’t really need another Dark Side, but I know enough people who need one that I always look.

I didn’t end up picking up the Dark Side of the Moon, but I ended up picking up some other really great pieces!

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (LP, Harvest/Capitol SKAO 382, 1970) ($7.00) According to the matrix information this is a second issue done in Jacksonville, IL. The vinyl is in really great shape, but the cover got wet– hence the cheaper price. This is an album that I’ve never listened to– I tend to favor Wish You Were Here, Animals and Dark Side of the Moon. The “Atom Heart Mother” Suite which takes up side one is listenable, but still emblematic of the psych snobbery that I was glad they moved away from. I really like side 2 though. “Fat Old Sun” is a great song. I may keep an eye out for a new cover for this one since the vinyl is so clean.

New York Dolls (LP, Mercury SRM.1.675, 1973)($10.00) The landmark first album from New York Dolls– produced by then-guitarist for The Nazz Todd Rundgren! After watching the documentary about the reunion of the New York Dolls in 2006 called New York Doll, I had a new interest in this seminal proto-punk/glam band. The vinyl is in really great shape although it has a slight warp. The cover is clean, but has a spit at the bottom. The inner sleeve is intact and features a pencil sketch of a girl bent at the waist in a skirt with her behind pointing at the viewer. The album is great! I’m really happy to have this in my collection. A note: Ryan Adams quotes the opening of “Looking For A Kiss” on “Beautiful Sorta”: “When I say L-U-V, you best believe me L-U-V.” Apparently the New York Dolls are quoting The Shangri-La’s, but I’m sure Adams is quoting the Dolls.

King Crimson – Red (LP, Atlantic SD 18110, 1974)($2.98) This is my absolutely favorite King Crimson album. My foray into King Crimson started with the 1980’s releases Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair and Discipline that featured Adrian Belew on guitars and vocals based on a co-worker’s advice. I started digging into the catalog of King Crimson, and the next albums would be Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. Red is the final release from the King Crimson lineup that would include Bill Bruford (from Yes) and John Wetton (from Asia). According to the Wiki article on the album, Red was released after the band was disbanded by leader Robert Fripp. The album ends up being a compilation of the band’s studio work as well as their live improvisational abilities. The title track and “One More Red Nightmare” are both really heavy tracks especially for 1973-1974 and are cited as influential by many musicians (surprisingly including Kurt Cobain). The track “Providence” is an edit of an extended live improvisation. The copy at HPB had a water-damaged cover that was separating, but the vinyl was in really good condition, so I picked it up. I think it sounds very good.

Queen – A Night At The Opera (LP, Elektra 7E-1053, 1975)($5.00) When the HPB lady put this out, I knew I had to buy this as it is an album that is very influential in my wife Sherry’s life. Rock music was not allowed at her strict Baptist household, so she would get her dose of Rock music from her best friend when she visited. Queen was the first rock music she was exposed to and continues to be a favorite of hers to this day. I was familiar with a few of the songs on Opera, but had never listened to the whole thing before. It’s a classic for good reason– a really balanced album with writing done by the whole band. My second vinyl LP from Queen and a good start to a collection.

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (LP, RCA AYL1-3738, 1967)($5.00) This is a “Best Buy Series” budget release of the album done sometime in the early 1980’s. The Best Buy Series are generally derided by most collectors and in almost every case RCA chose to make dramatic changes to the packaging and in some cases the track listings to achieve this budget line. In the case of this particular release, there is an ugly “Best Buy Series” logo on the cover art, but it is the normal track listing. Surrealistic Pillow was the Airplane’s second album, but their best known as it has three of their biggest hits on it: “Somebody To Love,” “White Rabbit,” and “Today.” Growing up, we had a cassette of The Worst of Jefferson Airplane the 1971 compilation that had four tracks from Surrealistic Pillow, so I was very familiar with this album as I listened to that a lot. Dave Donovan, who taught Spanish at my high school let me borrow his LP of Surrealistic Pillow as well as his copy of The Beatles White Album, which I thought was pretty cool at the time. There is a lot of debate about the various pressings of Surrealistic Pillow online, but from what I can tell almost every stereo pressing is considered to be thin-sounding, and I would judge this particular pressing the same. Interestingly, the matrix information on my pressing has “AYL1 3738 A 29” stamped on side A, and “AFL1 -3766B-2” scratched out and “AYL1 3738B” hand written on side 2. AFL1 3766 is the late 70’s (maybe 1978?) reissue catalog number. This correction on side 2 would indicate that the plates for this pressing were probably cut from the master tapes used for the late 70’s pressing. It doesn’t make it particularly notable, but provides an interesting view into how labels deal with cutting plates.

All-in-all a really good trip to Half Price Books! Since I spent over $25, they gave me an HPB calendar with the 5% coupons, and they used the first coupon on this order so I actually paid less than the prices listed above. On my way home I called my friend Andrew and told him about the Dark Side of the Moon I saw. He called and had them hold it– it was $7!

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