B-Sides in the Bins #57 – Record Collector, Iowa City 8-13-11 : An Explosion of 90’s Rock!

I made a quick run to Iowa City last week– mostly with the intention of picking up the August issue of Little Village Magazine so I could have a hard copy of the review I wrote for it (Rockygrass band Finnders & Youngberg’s new album FY5). While I was there, I stopped into the Record Collector to see if there was anything worth picking up. Of course, there was. One great aspect about the Record Collector is that they have a pretty extensive used vinyl section that has a lot of 90’s college rock in it! Like a lot of collectors, I seem to be spending a lot of collecting time rebuying things I bought back in high school and college– I’m building an R.E.M. collection for example, and finding obscure releases like Love Tractor. I came away with some really great nostalgia releases on this trip:

Angry Samoans – Yesterday Started Tomorrow (EP, PVC Records, PVC 6915, 1986)($20) I kind of spent a lot on this particular release. Anyone who hung out with me in high school got to hear this EP a lot. Back then, the only way I was exposed to most new music was through KUNI the closest public radio station (now part of Iowa Public Radio), and I would wait anxiously for Night Music to start. In fact, I used to tape it so that I could listen to it the next day in hopes of finding some new gems. One early find was the Angry Samoans through their great song “It’s Raining Today.” Though I didn’t know it at the time, The Angry Samoans were contemporaries of seminal LA punk bands like X, The Circle Jerks and Black Flag, which I became aware of through late-night showings of “Urgh! A Music War” and “The Decline of Western Civilization.” Though, Yesterday Started Tomorrow was a departure in sound for the band– choosing to embrace its love of 60’s garage rock. A great record that still holds up today.

Love Tractor – Themes From Venus (LP, DB Recs, DB92, 1988)($5.00) An obscure band– likely only known from people who lived in Georgia at the time or people who saw the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Out. A band I’m always keeping an eye out for. I’ve managed to pick up three LP’s of their vinyl career thus far. Themes From Venus was a return to their original label home DB Recs after a one-record stint at minor-major label Big Time Records which had distribution by BMG and RCA in the US with their album This Ain’t to Outerspace Ship and it’s single– a cover of  “Party Train” (almost the precursor to “Love Shack” by the B-52’s!) Love Tractor started as a band that only occasionally had vocals, but over time that changed. Maybe they learned how to sing and play their instruments? Here is “Venus” from Themes From Venus.

The dB’s – The Sound of Music (LP, IRS Records, IRS-42055, 1987)($7.00) I became familiar with The dB’s when they opened for R.E.M. on the Document tour in Davenport at Palmer Auditorium. Though The dB’s are known for the writing partnership of Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey– much in the tradition of Chris Bell and Alex Chilton of Big Star or Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze– The Sound of Music was post Stamey’s departure from the band. Holsapple tried to carry the mantle of The dB’s for two more albums before they gave it up. The album is a blend of jangly Byrdsian guitar power pop with country influence like a lot of bands at the time — we call it Americana I suppose these days, but back then it was just rock. I always loved “Never Say When.” These days both Stamey and Holsapple have solo careers and release the occasional album together.

Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (LP, MCA Records, MCA-6253, 1989)($7.00) Firstly, big props to Record Collector for pricing this record very reasonably. Recently, I was visiting one of my other favorite record shops and they were asking $40 for a copy of this record– not nearly in this nice of shape either! The justification by the kid behind the counter who did the pricing at that store was that there are copies of this on eBay going for $40. Sadly, they will probably get that price for it from someone who isn’t willing to do a bit of searching. As it is, I’ve seen nice copies on discogs.com for less than $20. Plus, it is just a matter of time before the big remastering project that is well underway for Petty’s catalog will eventually hit this record and create a completely new 180g version with bonus tracks. Anyway, what is there really to say about this record that hasn’t been said– HUGELY successful release from Petty during the period when Jeff Lynne of ELO had infiltrated a bunch of camps with his production: The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison. So, you end up with these guys all hanging out and working on each other’s records as well as collaborating on the Traveling Wilburys. If you see Petty in concert these days, he seems to do more songs from this album than almost any other in his catalog. All the big hits: “Running Down A Dream,” “Yer So Bad,” “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down.”

Ultra Vivid Scene – Joy 1967-1990 (LP, 4AD/Columbia C4 6227, 1990)($8.00) This was one of those “holy shit!” moments flipping through the bins. One of my very favorite albums coming from the astonishingly fertile 4AD camp in the early 90’s. The Pixies blasted the doors open and bands like UVS, The Cocteau Twins, The Breeders and Lush found themselves with major label deals in the US. UVS is pretty much the project of Kurt Ralske. He had three albums as UVS before moving on to other things. These days he seems focused on graphic arts. This album was the breakthrough for him and largely due to the single “Special One” which featured prominently Kim Deal from the Pixies, as did the video for it which got some MTV rotation. Kurt was a lucky, lucky man in 1990.

Stuff I put back: Camper Van Chadbourne, plus a reissue of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey on Takoma– apparently a recent reissue.

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.

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