Radio Moscow, Brain Cycles (Alive Records, limited edition purple vinyl, new, $14). Bought at the Deep Blues Festival after seeing the band live. The vinyl is among the loveliest I've seen, a marbly lilac. The music is black and blue. The guitarist really knows how to--what's the term--shred.
Kenny Burrell, Blue Moods (Prestige, silver and black label, stereo, 2nd pressing, $10). Burrell backed by the rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan, Doug Watkins, and a young Elvin Jones. The real surprise here is the baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, who I had never heard of before. He swings and plays with feeling on this thoroughly enjoyable set.
The Smiths, "Girlfriend in a Coma" b/w "Work Is a Four-Letter Word" & "I Keep My Hidden" (Rough Trade, 12-inch single, UK pressing, $10). The Smiths at their morbidly funniest--Morrissey singing about his girlfriend in a coma over the cheery, chiming guitar of Johnny Marr. The sound quality is leagues better than the version on the 2-LP singles compilation released in the US, Louder Than Bombs, which is mastered way too bright.
Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls (Epic, DMM pressing, $2). There's lovely harmony singing, including guest vocals by Michael Stipe and Luka Bloom, thoughtful lyrics, and fine guitar playing, but I can't listen to the Indigo Girls for long stretches. It's like spending time with overly earnest people. You might admire them, find them interesting to a point, but then you want to walk away and talk to someone like Morrissey or Louis Prima.
Alice Coltrane and Carlos Santana, Illuminations (CBS, UK pressing, $10). "Alice and Carlos, meet the Indigo Girls. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go press my trousers."
When In Rome, When In Rome (Virgin, $1). 80s synth pop at its finest. Not sure if their inclusion on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack was supposed to be ironic. Rocky though is on the level.
God Help The Girl, "Come Monday Night" b/w "Howard Jones Is My Mozart" (Rough Trade, 7-inch single, UK pressing, new, $6). The b-side provides the answer for those of you wondering if there are any modern day Mozarts. Wouldn't it be cool if they used "Come Monday Night" as the theme for Monday Night Football and John Madden was replaced in the booth by Anthony Lane? That would be worth watching.
Nat 'King' Cole, Penthouse Serenade (Capitol, turquoise label, $5). Rocky's vinyl economics lesson #2: The original price sticker from The Emporium is still on the back cover. It originally cost $3.98. Capitol stopped using the turquoise label in 1958-59, when it went to a black label with a rainbow colorband around the rim. So let's say the album cost $3.98 in 1959. That would be $29.50 in today's dollars. Records have never been cheaper than they are now. The music on this album is sophisticated, obviously for folks who could afford buying it back in the day.
Captain Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica (Straight/Reprise, 2nd pressing, 2-LP, $13). The cover and the music creep me out. Maybe I'm not taking enough drugs.
The Velvet Underground, Live at Max's Kansas City (Cotillion, blue label, $5).
Donovan, Mellow Yellow (Epic, yellow label, mono pressing, $5.50). I've been looking for a mono pressing of this album for a while. Most copies are re-processed stereo, which everyone knows is bad for you.
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, Together Again (Improvisation, $5). If this album is half as good as its predecessor, I'll be a happy man.
Bill Evans with Jeremy Steig, What's New? (Verve, $8). Jeremy Steig is a jazz flutist. Whenever I think jazz flute now, I picture the scene of Will Ferrell playing jazz flute in Anchorman. Unfortunate.