The national awareness of Athens, Georgia as a vibrant art and music scene in the 80’s was largely accomplished due to a plucky, quirky and loose 1986 documentary film by director Tony Gayton titled “Athens, GA: Inside/Out” and its associated soundtrack on I.R.S. Records, which at the time was R.E.M.’s label.
In many ways, the film happened at the right time: R.E.M.’s Document, their last and biggest album on I.R.S. Records would come out in Fall of 1987 and blow up with “The One I Love.” Fans like me who were hungry for everything related to R.E.M. ran out to pick up the VHS tape of the film and the soundtrack to hear and see the two R.E.M. tracks performed in the Seney-Stovall Chapel: acoustic versions of “Swan Swan H” from Lifes Rich Pageant and a cover of an Everly Brothers classic re-titled “(All I Have To Do Is) Dream.”
A side note: the legend of R.E.M. includes the fact that they lived in an abandoned church and their first concert was in this same church. Until today, I assumed that the performance in the film was in that church, but they really lived in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which was demolished in 1990 by developers. The steeple still stands today as a landmark to R.E.M.
As someone growing up in a very small midwestern town in the 1980’s, I had very limited access to underground non-Top 40 music. I didn’t even have MTV! So, the soundtrack and filmed performances in “Athens, Ga : Inside/Out” were eye-opening experiences! In many ways this soundtrack defined the music I would follow for many years. As a compilation, the songs and bands are all over the map: soon-to-be radio darlings R.E.M., twitchy frenetic post punk of Pylon (who recently got their much-deserved recognition in a boxset I covered here.), the instrumental workings of Love Tractor (the use of “Fun To Be Happy” as the opening music was brilliant and set the tone for the film), moody guitar rock of “Dreams So Real” (whose major label debut Rough Night in Jericho disappointingly made them sound like The BoDeans and not like the moody and beautiful “Golden”), The B-52’s were included in the film, but not the soundtrack, the hardcore punk of Bar-B-Q Killers, the hyper retro two-piece rockabilly of The Flat Duo Jets (who are obvious influences on The White Stripes). The thoughts of these bands playing bars and stages in Athens was breathtaking, and my friends and I all wanted to make a trip there. (It’s still on my bucket list of places to visit)
Out of all of those bands on the soundtrack, the ones that really stood out for me (and are favorites to this day) were Pylon, Love Tractor and Squalls. Squalls had two songs on the soundtrack, their big hit (such as it was) “Na Nanana” and “Elephant Radio.” Both of these songs were on their debut self-released EP from 1984, and by 1986, when this film came out, they were regarded as one of the bands who deserved to make it to the national spotlight. The Squalls mix of epic harmonies and melodies combined with smart and sometimes progressive rhythms to me makes them a shoo in for a band that could follow in the footsteps of bands like Talking Heads and Adrian Belew.
The Squalls were signed to R.E.M. manager Jefferson Holt‘s label Dog Gone Records, and released two albums there before the band hung it up in 1989.
On August 19th, the band is releasing a compilation of live recordings made over five dates made at the legendary Athens, GA bar The 40-Watt Club between 1983 and 1985 (predating the performances in the film). These performances were recorded by 40-Watt soundman T. Patton Biddle. Titled Live from the 40 Watt, the songs span the EP and the two albums and are a great representation of the band’s body of work. Here is the tracklist, with my notes of performance date and what album the songs come from. I’ve also provided links to the tracks that have been released for streaming.
Bride Of Frankenstein (8/2/1985) from No Time and “Crickets” 7″
The striking thing about this compilation is how much unreleased music is included! I exchanged messages with Bob Hay, the principle songwriter in Squalls whether this release was indicative of the live sets from this pre-Dog Gone era of the band, or whether he was attempting to get these unreleased songs released formally. He said:
It’s kind of both. On “LIVE” I wanted to include every song that was released on vinyl before 1986. (8 songs – the EP and the single.) and also rescue from the sands of time a bunch of songs that were staples of our live shows in those days and a few that we played only a few times but are too good to be forgotten. We were primarily a live dance band and played live for almost three years before we set foot in a studio.
Facebook chat 7/10/22
The idea of a band packing bars playing all original songs seems foreign, if not kind of quaint these days. Bob sent me a scan of the show calendar for The 40-Watt Club from February, 1986: the month that they filmed the performances for Athens, GA: Inside/Out. I commented about the incredible lineup of bands that were playing that month– (not to mention all of the bands who were in the film)– Alex Chilton played a Thursday night show, The Georgia Satellites and the Del Fuegos (who would share a tour with Tom Petty the next year), Giant Sand, and Jason and the Scorchers played a three night stand. Bob replied, “I tell you, it was something during that time.”
In addition to capturing a wildly creative time for Squalls, Live from the 40-Watt also is a reminder that Athens was (and still is) a very special place where bands were drawn to be more free creatively and where audiences were excited to hear new music. The recordings show a band wide-eyed and excited to bring their art to the world.
Live From The 40-Watt will be released on August, 19th, 2020 and will be available on beautiful 2 LP blue vinyl, CD or digital. Click here to order from Strolling Bones records site, or you can order it from Bandcamp.
For the uninitiated, Pylon was a band from Athens, GA that started in the late 70’s by some art school students at the University of Georgia. For context in the larger history of Athens bands, they’re post-B-52’s and contemporaries of R.E.M. Their distinctively angular and beat-heavy sound would be described as post-punk and follows a path blazed by New York City bands like Talking Heads and Television.
The first phase of their career started in 1978 and after two albums on the now-defunct label DB Recs Gyrate and Chomp and enjoying some well-deserved exposure supporting bands like R.E.M. U2 and Mission of Burma on tours, they split up in late 1983.
Pylon would have just been a footnote in the history of the Athens music scene if it hadn’t been for the 1987 documentary “Athens, GA Inside/Out” which turned leagues of R.E.M. fans like myself on to the band. R.E.M. also recorded a cover of the Pylon song “Crazy” and released it as a b-side to “Driver 8” and it was the first track on Dead Letter Office, a collection of outtakes and b-sides. Peter Buck said in the liner notes, “I remember hearing their version on the radio the day that Chronic Town came out and being suddenly depressed by how much better it was than our record.”
The jittery energy of the live version of “Stop It!” with the militant growled vocals by Vanessa Hey was like nothing I’d ever heard before and even though it was the R.E.M. songs that drew me to the film and soundtrack, it was the Pylon track that ended up being my favorite part of that soundtrack. (Honestly, I always kind of felt like R.E.M. sort of phoned in their contribution with that Everly Brothers cover…)
Pylon reunited and in 1989 released a compilation called Hits which had notable tracks from the two albums as well as some tracks from singles. In 1990 they released another studio album Chain.on Sky Records. They went on tour with R.E.M. and then split up again in 1991. The band reunited for shows sporadically over the years that followed until they finally broke up for good after guitarist Randy Bewley passed away in 2009. Vanessa Briscoe Hay fronts a Pylon tribute band “Pylon Reenactment Society” along with members of other area bands and have even recorded a couple new songs.
In 2007 DFA Records, owned by Tim Goldsworthy of UNKLE and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem reissued Chomp and Gyrate on CD with bonus tracks . Titled Gyrate Plus and Chomp More, they went immediately out-of-print and the CD’s are now super-expensive in the secondary market. So, clearly there is demand for this catalog to be reissued again.
For Black Friday Record Store Day in 2019, New West Records sort of tipped their hand in the matter by reissuing Pylon’s debut single “Cool”/”Dub.” I reached out to the label about whether they were going to reissue the albums and at the time they confirmed it, but weren’t going to announce anything for a few months. Then COVID happened which messed up record manufacturing, so I’m guessing that’s why the announcement happened much later for the albums and the box set.
The box set comes in two versions, black vinyl and a limited-to-500 colored vinyl version. Four 140g LP’s include new remasters of Gyrate and Chomp, an LP of Extras which include singles, b-sides and other rarities, and Razz Tape, which is a recording of the band which pre-dates their 1979 debut single recorded in their practice space by Chris Razz. 47 tracks total with 18 of them unreleased.
Since they aren’t also reissuing the 1989 compilation Hits which also included some non-album tracks and there were extra tracks on the DFA releases, how do the tracks compare and what are we missing with the box set?
We’ve seen “Cool,” “Dub,” “Crazy” single mix and the “Danger!!” remix from the !! import EP on Hits and the DFA reissues as I indicate below. We have two completely new songs “Untitled” and “3×3” plus a couple of new mixes of “Danger III” and “Spiders.” Not to mention all of the new versions and tracks on the Chris Razz tape.
Notably missing are some tracks included on the DFA reissues. “Crazy (Original Version)” on the Chomp More reissue seems to also be referred to as the single version. “Yo-Yo (Pylon Mix)” or “Male version” (it has slowed-down versions of the vocals) and “Gyrate (Pylon Mix) are two versions that were recorded during the tracks that were recorded at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In, but the versions that were used on the album came from the sessions at Channel One. We’re also missing the 6-minute version of “Beep” that is called “Four Minutes.”
Interestingly, “Functionality” was listed on the Gyrate Plus reissue as a “Studio Demo.” But the liner notes say it was recorded in 1979 in their practice space in Athens, GA, so that is from the Razz tape.
Here are all the tracks for the boxset and the breakdown of where the Extras have been released before:
Feast On My Heart 03:35
Weather Radio 02:16
The Human Body 03:11
Read A Book 02:02
Driving School 03:53
Working Is No Problem 03:29
Stop It 03:06
Italian Movie Theme 02:01
No Clocks 02:57
Untitled – New track
Cool – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
Dub – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
Recent Title – from Hits
Danger!! (Danger Remix) – from !! EP also Gyrate Plus
Crazy (Single Mix) – from “Crazy” single and Hits and probably Chomp More.
Reptiles (Channel One Version) – New version
No Clocks (Channel One Version) – New version
Spider (Alternative Mix) – New version
3 x 3 (Live) 02:19 – New track
Danger III (Live) – New track
Razz Tape LP – all new tracks except “Functionality”
The Human Body 03:08
Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 1)
Read A Book (Instrumental)
Working Is No Problem
Functionality – from Gyrate Plus
Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 2)
Feast On My Heart (Working Version)
Pre-order the box set from New West Records HERE or at their Bandcamp site (where you can stream some of the tracks).
The month of January was named after the Roman goddess Janus who had two faces. Like the goddess, January is the month of the year when we both look back on the previous year that is over as well as ahead to the year coming up. I just posted my favorite releases for 2011— here is a list of releases that I’m looking forward to in 2012.
The Right Now – sophomore release (April 21st) – The Chicago R&B group The Right Now has had a pretty great run since their first album Carry Me Home came out in 2010 (which I was the Executive Producer on). They’ve played some pretty great headlining shows as well as opening for many of the bigger R&B acts touring. They flew out to L.A. in 2011 to work with Sergio Rios of Orgone at his studio for their 2nd album. Most of songs for this album have had their fair share of live workout and it shows– as someone who has seen the band a lot over the last year, the new songs have already become standards. The album will be released on Record Store Day.
Jeff Parker – Bright Light In Winter (February 2012) – The guitar-slinger for post rock fountainhead Tortoise is releasing his third solo album on Chicago Blues/Jazz label Delmark. Jeff Parker’s first solo record Like Coping was released on Delmark, with his second solo record The Relatives on Thrill Jockey. Credited as the Jeff Parker Trio, the album will feature Chris Lopes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.
BTW: Don’t get me wrong– I’m a Thrill Jockey fanboy of the first order, but when was the last Jazz release from Thrill Jockey? (It was Chicago Underground Duo…) Thank goodness for Delmark, or we wouldn’t get these crucial releases from Chicago’s Jazz scene!
Garbage – title TBD (March or April 2012) – I reported on this previously. The new fifth album from Garbage is apparently in the can and mastered. There have been reports of an extensive tour in 2012 as well.
Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires (January 10) – After developing a big crush on the Tired Pony record, I was waiting expectantly for this album as it was produced by Jacknife Lee who also produced R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now, and with all of the ties to R.E.M.– Pete Buck was in Tired Pony, Michael Stipe helped Gary Lightbody get through some writer’s block– I was hoping for something great. The first song from Fallen Empires was “Called Out in the Dark” which has an unstoppable beat and build to it. I think that the promise of Tired Pony delivers on Fallen Empires.
Poliça – Give You The Ghost(February 14) – Technically, this album is already out as it is available as digital download from iTunes and Amazon. But, the debut album from GAYNGS lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s (formerly Channy Moon Casselle) new band Poliça will be officially released on CD and vinyl on producer Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product on Valentine’s Day 2012, complete with sold-out shows at First Avenue. If you are a fan of the vocoder-laiden production of GAYNGS and Bon Iver (Mike Noyce from Bon Iver helps out on vocals on a couple of tracks, too), then you’ll love this album as much as I do! The lineup of two drummers, bass, vocals and keyboards gives the band a very unique sound, but also pretty reminiscent of 90’s trip hop from bands like Morcheeba, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.
The Pines – Dark So Gold– (January 31) – The third album from The Pines on Red House Records find principal members Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt living in two different cities. This doesn’t prevent them from turning out their best collaboration, yet. I caught three of their shows back in May and their stop at CSPS in September and got to hear songs destined for Dark So Gold, so I was already looking forward to hearing the studio versions of “Cry Cry Crow” and “If By Morning.” Produced again by Benson’s dad, Bo Ramsey. The Pines are kicking off a tour at the beginning of February in support of the new album and will be making stops at CSPS again as well as The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynestown– (August?) –Jacob Jones is someone my wife and I met in Nashville during an overnight stop on a Monday night with Brendan of The Right Now. We were on a marathon road trip getting the mastering done and dropped off for the vinyl version of Carry Me Home. Brendan insisted we needed to hit this local-yokel bar called the 5 Spot where they have this over-the-top dance party on Monday nights. This dance party called “Keep on Movin'” is hosted by Jacob Jones and his label partner Reno Bo and consists of mostly 50’s and 60’s country, R&B, garage rock and blues– typically spun on a turntable (though sometimes from a MacBook). The drinks are cheap, the folks are friendly and the floor is packed. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most memorable events we’ve been to, and certainly one of the high-points of the trip.
In addition to purveying this party, Jacob is also a singer/songwriter with a couple of pretty great Americana records under his belt. I introduced blogger Amber Valentine to his music and she wrote this really great review of his last release, which is a free download. When I was pinging folks for releases I reached out to Jacob and he told me about his 2012 release, Good Timin’ in Waynestown which is inspired by the 5 Spot Monday nights! “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” is about the good times. plain and simple,” Jacob told me in a recent conversation, “The songs are for dancing. drop the needle and get to work. The songs are filled with huge sounds of New Orleans and Nashville, Memphis and Mussel Sholes. They are about the finer things in this world like love and having good friends, that’s it, plain and simple.” Indeed, based on the couple of rough mixes he sent, this album has a big sound somewhere between Ray Charles, Chris Isaak, and Lyle Lovett. This release is going to come out on vinyl, too, so that is really exciting! A sure bet for my best of 2012.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound – TBD – I don’t have any details about the third release of Iowa City-Chicago-Austin band The Diplomats of Solid Sound with the Diplomettes other than it was recorded in Iowa City in 2011 and that they played some of the new songs at their gigs leading up to and on New Year’s Eve. I loved their last two albums, so there should be no reason to believe I won’t love this one, too!
Camper Van Beethoven – TBD – News of this release– their follow-up to 2004’s New Roman Times— was delivered with a run of tour dates starting this week. No other details other than this run of winter dates will include some of the songs from the forthcoming record.
Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD – As if releasing the amazing 1-2 punch of Bad Debt and Poor Moon over the last two years wasn’t enough, M.C. Taylor is planning to come back in 2012 with another album! As part of one of the Poor Moon pre-order bundle he included a bonus digital EP called Lord I Love The Rain that included outtakes and demos, but also had early versions of tracks that will be on the next album. Though we’ll see if this is the next album or maybe another project he hinted at in a recent conversation!
The Horses Ha -TBD – In a recent conversation with Janet Beveridge Bean she told me that James Elkington and she were done recording the follow-up to the debut Horses Ha release The Cathmawr Yards which came out in 2009. I absolutely loved the jazzy folk harmonies from The Horses Ha. You can read my review of The Cathmawr Yardshere. Watch my site for updates as I get them!
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.
Last weekend Sherry attended America’s Beauty Show for the third year running and I got the opportunity to have some quality time with Chicago’s record stores. Friday night we went down to a bar called This Must Be The Place in Lemont, IL to see Chicago R&B phenom The Right Now. We got into town late, so we needed to scoot to try and get there in time to get something to eat. Thankfully the folks there were very accommodating and the food was excellent!
The show was a lot of fun– it was the first time I’d seen the band since they played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids in 2008 as Eli Jones. The band has come a long way in their stage show. Now the guys in the band all wear matching suits and Steph looked great in a sequined dress and heels. This was the first time the band had played This Must Be The Place and there was a pretty low turnout. Some of the dinner crowd stuck around through the first set but by the second set the audience was made up of Sherry and I and the employees of the bar. The band followed a setlist for the first set, but after the break they decided to loosen up a bit and played some older songs like “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” and “Disco Smooth” and a couple of newly-written songs.
I talked to the soundguy at the break a bit, and he said that the owner of the bar is trying to establish This Must Be The Place as a place for musicians to meet– sort of like The Green Mill or the Empty Bottle downtown. It is a lofty goal for sure as Lemont is about 45 minutes south of the Loop on I-55, and I think that getting the bands to come out of the Loop is a tough proposition. That said, the Metra runs down there so it isn’t an impossibility. It is a really nice venue with a great soundsystem and stage and the food and drinks are good. I’d come back if there was a good band there.
We got to hang out and talk to the band after the show– I was happy that Sherry got to meet them, and we talked a bit about the upcoming Iowa shows the weekend of 4/16 (Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids).
On Saturday, Sherry attended the first day of the conference at McCormick which started around Noon and I parked in the first floor lobby and worked on blog stuff. On Sunday she went to the second day of the conference and I decided I wanted to hit a Half-Price Books as I had the 50% Off One Item coupon. There are a few Half-Price Books in the Chicagoland area, but all of them are way out in the burbs. The closest one to McCormick Place was down in Countryside, IL off I-55 (pretty close to Lemont, really). So, I dropped Sherry off and hit I-55– it’s exit is right near McCormick Place.
The Countryside HPB has a pretty substantial collection of vinyl as it turns out– and a decent selection of obscure and Chicago-local bands. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of stuff I was looking for. They had a Japanese pressing of the Blind Faithalbum for $30 that I was really interested in. It had the alternate cover featuring the band instead of the topless underaged-girl photo. It had a pretty deep scratch on it otherwise I would have bought it with my 50% coupon. They had two copies of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out— both appeared to be original pressings and one of them was a very worn Mono. I almost bought the Mono, but the wear and the seam-split cover had me passing on it. Plus, I have a very mint Stereo Columbia 6-eye I cherish, so I don’t need another copy, really. They also had Marti Jones’s second album Match Game on LP. Match Game was produced by Marti’s husband Don “Praying Mantis” Dixon. I have this on cassette, and would have liked to have this on vinyl, but it was missing an inner sleeve and was pretty worn. Here’s what I picked up:
Men At Work – Business As Usual (LP, CBS Records, FC 37978, 1982)($0.50) This was clearance-priced, and has a VG cover and vinyl. Fairly quiet on the turntable after I cleaned it. I listened to this and Cargoa lot in junior high school. Three pretty big singles in “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under,” and “Be Good Johnny.” It was their appearance at the US Festival on “New Wave Day” that really helped establish the band and make them the MTV darlings. This album is strong all the way through– the singles are scattered throughout the record and serve as familiar landmarks through the rest of the songs. Men at Work were often considered a band that copied The Police– and quite a bit of this album with it’s bouncy ska rhythms and jazz influences certainly supports that idea. One of my favorite non-single tracks is “Helpless Automation” which recalls a new-wavy Devo. I included this song in a mixtape that I played all the time in High School. I need to get Cargo, next.
The Time – Ice Cream Castles (LP, Warner Bros. Records, 25109-1, 1984)($2.98) This is a title I don’t see very often (though, coincidentally would see again on Monday…). The story goes that Prince was trying to transition from the pop-funk sound that he established leading up to Controversyand apparently had a lot of music he still wanted to release in that vein. He puts his childhood friend Morris Day in front of a Minneapolis funk band called Flyte Time and creates The Time– on record, at least was mostly Prince and Day. By the time Ice Cream Castles is released in 1984, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam had been fired by Prince for missing a show and Morris Day quit to pursue an acting career propelled by his appearance in Purple Rain. Although the album cover shows the post-Lewis and Jam version of the band– which has a shockingly-young St. Paul Peterson on the cover. If his birthdate in October of 1964 is correct, St. Paul was 18 when he played in the Time. He wasn’t on the album, however and only apparently played two live gigs in the Twin Cities and he appears in the movie Purple Rain. After Morris Day leaves The Time, Prince gathers the remaining members and his then-girlfriend Susannah Melvoin and creates The Family. The Family are re-united as F Deluxe (Prince denies them the use of the name The Family– apparently still bitter about St. Paul leaving the group). Ice Cream Castles has what amounts to the biggest songs from The Time– “The Bird” and “Jungleland” which are both featured prominently in the Purple Rain movie. The production is credited to “The Starr Company” which is effectively Prince, who sometimes used the alias “Jamie Starr.” The original album inner sleeve is black plastic, interestingly.
My plan was to hit another Half Price Books and spend my 50% coupon, but the next closest one was another 35 miles away. I did a quick Google Maps search for nearby record stores and found one called The Record Dugout(6055 West 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60638-4317). The Record Dugout is technically in Chicago– although really far south in Chicago. It’s a moderately-sized store that specializes in vinyl LP’s dating up to the 80’s, comic books and sports cards. The day I was there, the guy who handles the vinyl part of the store was working. His name is Bob Miner and he hosts an acapella radio show on The University of Chicago radio station WHPK which airs on Sunday evenings and is called “From the Subway to the Streetcorner.” The store was literally packed with vinyl. There was one row of sorted Rock in record bins, another shorter row for Jazz and folk/country, another “discount bin” with $1-$2 records, and a meticulously-organized bin with 7″ records– the majority of which was R&B from the 50’s/60’s/70’s. Other areas included a “Wall of Shame” as Bob called it, which showcased the more expensive records– rare 7″es with sleeves, etc., a table which had unsorted piles of cheap records in varying degrees of shape– most of which had damaged sleeves, but had serviceable records in them, and two areas on the floor which had $1 and $2 records piled up.
I found most of the haul below in the sorted bins, but the ones for $1 and $2 I found by digging. Bob buys whole collections of records from people looking to get rid of them, so if he hasn’t gotten through them, the good stuff might not be in the bins. Everything seemed to have prices, however. It’s important to note that The Record Dugout only takes cash and the nearest ATMs charge fees, so bring cash. Also, if you buy a lot of stuff, Bob will work with you on price. I spent about three hours here, and probably could have spent more time. I’ll certainly come back!
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant(LP, IRS Records, IRS-5783, 1986) ($4.00) I might have paid a bit too much for this one. The sleeve was not split, but kind of rough on the corners and the paper sleeve was replaced with another sleeve. The record is pretty clean, and after I gave it a thorough wipe with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to get it cleaned, it sounds really good– the surface is a bit hazy, however. R.E.M. is tough to find in the bins, so I’ll pick these up when I find them. Lifes Rich Pageant was the follow-up to Fables of the Reconstruction, which was the album that pretty much changed my music listening. R.E.M. called this their “John Cougar Mellencamp album” because it was produced by Don Gehman at Mellencamp’s studio in Indiana. Classic R.E.M. sound on this one– “Begin the Begin,” “Hyena,” “Fall on Me,” “Superman,” “I Believe” are all strong tracks in the R.E.M. canon. The song “Just a Touch” was a song resurrected from the early days of the band and a number of bootleg recordings from the early 80’s have this song.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight(2 LP, Capitol Records, STBK-12182, 1981)($2.00) I found this one in one of the piles on the floor– hence its $2 price. Fabulously clean cover and LP’s! My dad bought this cassette when it was new and we used to listen to this a lot riding around in the car. A live album comprised of songs recorded in Detroit and Boston in 1980. All of his classic tracks are here– “Hollywood Nights,” “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “Night Moves,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Mainstreet,” “Fire Lake,” “Fire Down Below.” Probably the only album of Bob’s I would care to own, although I’d need Live Bullet to get “Turn the Page.”
Various – The Breakfast Club– The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(LP, A&M Records, SP 5045, 1985)($2.00) Another one from the floor. Cover is in good condition and the record looks decent, but there seems to be a lot of groove wear on this one– particularly on “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. This was a soundtrack that my brother Steve and I listened to a lot– in fact, I think the cassette was actually his. My band in high school with Steve used to cover “(Don’t You) Forget About Me.” Fantastic drum beat in that song, which is why it is so timeless. It’s a kind of well-known story that Simple Minds didn’t write the song– it was penned by Keith Forsey who also wrote “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for Irene Kara. After being turned down by Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds– it was encouraged by A&M that Simple Minds record the song. It becomes their biggest hit which help propel their career for a couple of albums. This soundtrack always struck me in how different it was to other John Hughes soundtracks in that while it had a huge single in “(Don’t You) Forget About Me,” it was really lacking in every other respect. I became familiar with the other songs by Wang Chung, E.G. Daily, Jesse Johnson, and Karla DeVito but aside from “Fire in the Twilight” from Wang Chung, which frankly sounds like an outtake from Points on the Curve, everything else seems like bargain-basement licensing– particularly if you compare it to the powerhouse soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, for example. The instrumentals by Forsey, while largely forgettable, work really well in the context of the movie.
In the 80’s it really seemed like you couldn’t have a soundtrack to a teen movie that didn’t include songs by E.G. Daily. She contributed her unique vocals to movies like Better off Dead — where she performs her two songs in the movie, Summer School, Thief of Hearts as well as The Breakfast Club. She’s a pretty talented lady, and is a regular for voiceovers. It is she who voices Tommy Pickles in Rugrats, for example.
Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (LP, Sire Records, 23883-1, 1983) ($2.00) Another one from the floor piles. The cover and inner sleeve are in tact, if a bit beat up. I have no Talking Heads on vinyl– well except for a bootleg called humorously enough Gimme Heads which has some studio outtakes and live tracks on it and a 12″ to “Blind.” After cleaning this one up, it plays pretty well, but I’ll be on the lookout for better copies. Last year’s Record Store Day had a Rhino reissue for 77— so I was hoping for some other reissues on vinyl. The Dugout also had True Stories on vinyl, but it was in pretty rough shape so I passed on it. Speaking In Tongues is pretty much the Talking Heads pinnacle release with the massive “Burning Down The House” single as well as secondary hits of “Girlfriend is Better,” and “Naive Melody.” Of course, these songs would show up in a bunch of movie soundtracks. I remember “Naive Melody” standing out in the soundtrack to Wall Street, and “Swamp” shows up in Risky Business. These tracks are featured prominently in the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sensewhich was directed by Jonathan Demme.
Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (LP, Warner Bros. Records, W1 23607, 1982)($3.00) Very clean vinyl– cover has a suspicious wear spot, like someone used water to take adhesive off the cover. Also a Columbia House pressing. Clearly I didn’t look very closely at this one. I don’t like to take Columbia House pressings normally due to the uncertain nature of what they used for masters. That said, it is very clean and plays well, and is one of the better copies of Mirage I’ve seen, even with those flaws. The Mac tries to come back from the Titanic expensive failure that was Tusk (still my favorite, however). I really like Mirage— the band comes back to the style and sound of Rumours. The album had six singles released worldwide, but the biggest singles were “Hold Me” and “Gypsy.” The album makes it to #1 on the US charts, so it is clear that their audience wanted another album, but in the canon of Fleetwood Mac, Mirage is not one that people remember.
My first Fleetwood Mac concert was for the Miragetour in 1982. My family saw them in Cedar Falls with Glenn Frey of the Eagles opening on his first solo tour. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac three more times since then– once during the very sad Time tour with Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett on guitars and vocals in Dubuque, once for The Dance tour and once for the Say You Will Tour.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live/1975-85(5 LP, Columbia Records 40558 LP, 1986)($15.00) This one was a cool find. I bought this new on cassette back in 1986– and still have it. I’ve seen it on CD over the years used, but never on LP. A great collection of Bruce live goodness from what most people would consider the high-point of his career. I think that they should do an official release of the legendary Winterland 1978 show. The version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” heard at Christmas time is from that show. This box set does, however, include the version of “Fire” from that show. The Winterland 1978 show had been bootlegged many times over the years– since it was aired live on the radio, lots of folks taped it. Wolfgang’s Vault helpfully has the show in their archives, but it is not one that is purchasable. Listen here.
The vinyl on this box is pretty much pristine, even if the box itself isn’t. One I’ll want to kick back and listen to with a glass of wine some night.
Booker T. & The MG’s – “Hip Hug-Her” b/w “Summertime”(7″ Stax 45-211, 1965)($4.00) I hadn’t really planned to pick up any 45’s, but they had a dedicated section just for Stax! So, I flipped through it and they had a few Booker T. & The MG’s singles. I picked this one because it was on the massively cool light blue Stax label. The record is in great shape for being 45 years old!
Wilson Pickett – “Funky Broadway” b/w “I’m Sorry About That” (7″, Atlantic Records, 45-2430, 1967)($3.00) This one is one of the singles I really dig from Wilson Pickett– on the red Atlantic label. Super-clean and in an Atlantic paper sleeve.
The Dangtrippers – “The Masquerade” b/w “Lover’s Again”(7″, Dog Gone Records, DOG 0005-7″, 1989)($3.50) Why is it that if I want to find rare Iowa bands in the bins I need to leave Iowa? The Dangtrippers were Doug Roberson of The Diplomats of Solid Sound’s 90’s band. I still remember seeing The Dangtrippers playing the Loras College gym when I went to school there. The band got signed to Dog Gone records which was the record label started by Jefferson Holt who was the manager for R.E.M. This is the single to the only album released for The Dangtrippers on Dog Gone before it went under (see below). “Lover’s Again” is a non-album b-side!
Prince and the Revolution – Around the World in a Day(LP, Paisley Park W1-25286, 1985)($3.00) A Columbia House pressing, but in superb shape! I’ve never seen this on LP before! I have this in this crazy longbox trifold CD I picked up at a Discount Records in the early 90’s in Chicago. The LP cover is sort of a trifold with a short flap that folds over. The cover art is a painted scene which has in it representations of each of the songs– a tambourine, a ladder, an American flag, a raspberry beret– the ones I found anyway… A pretty progressive album– lots of psychedelica and strangeness– Prince at his most experimental. “Pop Life” and “Raspberry Beret” were the big singles off this album, but I think that most people ignore this album. I liked it back when it came out, but admittedly haven’t listened to it much since the 80’s. Giving it a spin the other night, I’m struck by some of the songs. In fact, I like all of the album other than the track “Temptation.”
The next day I dropped Sherry off at the conference again and I headed up to Lincoln Square to hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound, which I had hit back in October of 2007. The store was pretty quiet when I got there. They changed the parking meters to be able to take credit cards, which is convenient, but still really expensive. I blew $3 to get a couple of hours of parking. Laurie’s has a new arrivals section for their CD’s and LP’s and has a section dedicated to new vinyl as well. Their vinyl prices are higher than places like the dugout, but comparable to places like HPB which is attempting to charge market prices for some.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine(2 LP, Virgin Records America, 7243 8 48151 1 0, 1999)($9.99) This was in the new arrivals section and appears to be a cutout of sorts as the barcode is crossed out. Probably a promo or a giveaway, but is in great shape. I hadn’t really paid much attention to Ben Harper until I saw him as part of that 3D concert movie “Larger Than Life” back in December. I was impressed enough to pick up Harper’s new record White Lies for Dark Times on vinyl. Burn to Shine is considered to be one of his good releases so I thought it might be a good gamble. I gave it a spin when I got home, and it’s a good one for the collection.
Bumps (2 LP, Stones Throw Records, STH2157, 2007)($12.99) This was a new purchase. Bumps is the side project of the Tortoise rhythm section of Bitney, McEntire & Herndon. This is a record of beats, essentially. This is a really cool 2 LP version that was price cut from $15.99 to $12.99. This is mostly as a completion for my Tortoise vinyl collection, I don’t see myself playing this often.
Cougar – Law (LP, Layered Music/Play It Again Sam, LR013, 2007/2008)($4.99) Although it isn’t really listed anywhere on the artwork and the LP itself only lists 4 tracks, this appears to be the full Lawalbum that was released in 2007 in the UK by Layered Music. Madison, WI band Cougar is classified as “emergency” music although I think they fit under the “post rock” area. Having your debut album mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise doesn’t hurt this classification either.
The Dangtrippers – Days Between Stations (LP, Dog Gone, DOG 0005, 1989)($2.99) Wow! Another Dangtrippers find? The cover is a bit trashed on this one, but I didn’t know that this was even available on LP! I see on eBay there are a couple of LPs– one for $14.99 and one for $19.99, so $2.99 is a good deal. The vinyl is very clean. As I stated above, The Dangtrippers were a band from Iowa City from the 80’s and early 90’s that got signed to Dog Gone Records. They had this album out on Dog Gone before the label went under. Their second album Transparent Blue Illusionwhich came out in 1991 was only available on the Australian label Zero Hour. The Dangtrippers had a 60’s jangly rock sound that owed a lot to bands like The dB’s. In fact, the song “Talk About Love” on Days Between Stations sounds a lot like The dB’s and it’s pretty much my favorite track on the album.
That song reminds me of a very bad trip to Florida in the early 90’s with my then-girlfriend to visit some friends of hers. The trip started out okay– it was Florida in late December and her friends had a gorgeous house with a pool and a Porsche 928 that was ours for the borrowing. We visited a mall that had a discount book store or something and I found Days Between Stations on CD there in the bins!
The trip took a turn for the worst as she started giving me the silent treatment and wouldn’t talk about why she was upset. So, I was stuck in Florida with someone who clearly didn’t want to be there with me. We had a painful trip to Disney World followed by a really uncomfortable New Year’s Eve get together. By the time we flew back to Chicago to drive back to Dubuque I had enough of this ridiculous situation where she wasn’t talking to me about why she was upset. So, she was rewarded with four hours of “Talk About Love” on repeat in full volume. The relationship didn’t last much longer– she didn’t like not being the center of attention with her friends and I apparently drew some attention from her. I still dig the frustrated energy of that song.
Click Here to hear “Talk About Love” from Days Between Stationsby The Dangtrippers.
Love Tractor – Around the Bend (LP, DB Recs, DB67, 1983)($4.99) This was another very cool find! Of course, this is where I’ll alienate some of the readers. I found out about Love Tractor due to the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Outabout the music scene in Athens leading up to 1987– R.E.M. is just getting to be a big deal in college rock– it was released before Document with “The One I Love” on it– so the movie happens at an opportune time. Included in the movie is Love Tractor who perform a live version of “Pretty” from Around the Bend. The album is largely instrumental with some sparse vocals. I had Around the Bend on a double-cassette which included their debut self-titled album and the follow-up Until the Cows Come Home. I find their unique style to be pretty similar to Athens contemporaries Pylon.
I actually owned the soundtrack for Athens, GA Inside/Outfor a long time before I ever saw the movie. The soundtrack included two acoustic tracks from R.E.M. “Swan Swan H” and a cover of the Everly Brothers song “All I Have To Do is Dream” so I had to get it. By the time the movie came out on VHS, I was very familiar with a lot of the songs in it, including “Pretty.”
Click Here to listen to “Pretty” from Around the Bend by Love Tractor.
I also bought a bag of 100 mylar LP bags for $20. I never seem to have enough of those. I could get these cheaper online from Bags Unlimited, but since I was thinking of it, I thought I’d buy them.
As I was walking back to my car I happened to catch someone out of the corner of my eye– it was Chris Corsale from The Right Now sitting in a window of a sandwich shop playing acoustic guitar and singing! He was suprised to see me as well! So, I moved my car to a side street– which is free and doesn’t require a permit after 11AM. Then I came back to the restaurant and ate lunch hanging out with him in between sets. It was pretty cool– Chris has a pretty wide selection of covers he does and made for good lunchtime entertainment. A great coincidence that sort of made for a good wrap-up of the weekend.
After lunch I made my way back to McCormick Place to pick Sherry up and head home.