Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recent Acquisitions: January 26, 2014

It's been a while since I've posted recent acquisitions. The report from the field is the continuing change of the record-buying demographic. The kids have us middle-aged guys out-numbered, at least in the Bay Area record shops. What is most encouraging among the kids there are an equal number of gals as guys buying records. Among my own age group, it's probably 98 percent guys. So, what are the kids buying? Of course, current bands, who are releasing albums on vinyl as a matter of course. But the kids are also raiding the classic rock bins. On my last trip to Amoeba, the Pink Floyd bin was empty! I had never seen it empty before. The Led Zeppelin section was almost empty as well. Common albums by classic rock bands that sold for $5 five or ten years ago are now fetching $15-20. Fortunately, rocky is stocked up on his classic rock LPs, and in search of more exotic fare.

Here's rocky's haul from the past couple weeks:

Mark Murphy, Stolen Moments (Muse, $2). Mark Murphy is the coolest jazz singer most non-jazz listeners have never heard of. That's because he's a true bop jazz singer, with all the characteristics of jazz artists that turn off the general public. He's no Frank Sinatra or Diana Krall. That's a shame, because more people should listen to Mark Murphy. He really lifts me up. This album recorded in the 1978 is among his best, as good as his classic albums from the 60s. For the title track, Murphy wrote lyrics to the jazz standard composed by Oliver Nelson.

Beck, Odelay (ORG, 4-LP deluxe limited edition, $10). This was released by an audiophile label a few years ago. I almost bought it last year when it was on sale for $50, but decided not to since I had two copies of the original pressing. I wasn't sure getting the bonus tracks was worth half a Benjamin. Well, I was kicking myself when it went out of print and the set was selling for $150 on ebay. Finding this near mint copy for $10 was a true act of divine intervention on the part of the vinyl gods. Had I know how good the bonus tracks sounded, I wouldn't have hesitated buying it for $50.

Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors (RCA original pressing, $5). This is about the hardest hitting album I've listened to in a while. Dolly sings about growing up poor, a mother cheating on her daughter, a woman in a twisted, abusive relationship, and other tales from the white ghetto. What a great album from a deceptively tough singer!

The Slits, Cut (Antilles original US pressing, $28). An album by an all-female band called the Slits with a cover featuring the band members topless with torsos covered in mud. It's got to be great, right? Yup.

The Feelies, Crazy Rhythms (Stiff Records original pressing, $28). I missed the boat on this classic album when it came out. One of the pop-rock best albums ever!

The Zombies, Odessey and Oracle (Date Records original US pressing, $29). I've always wanted to own an original pressing of this classic psychedelic album, but never came across a decent copy for less than $100. Can you say score? Score. Again. Score. I feel whole now.

Arcade Fire, Reflektor (Merge Records, $21). This album sounded promising--brainiac band releases dance-oriented album. I was thinking classic Talking Heads. It might be great album. But I can't fucking tell. The production and sound quality suck so much it makes me want to hurl.

Drake, Take Care (Cash Money Records, $17). The first LP is great with Drake mixing the usual rap braggadocio with actual tenderness that makes the whole more real. The second LP of this 2-LP album is rather pedestrian. Arcade Fire needs to take a lesson from Drake on how to put out good-sounding vinyl.

The Swans, The Seer (Young God Records, $25). I can't remember the last album that bore deep beneath me and stirred all sorts of primal emotions. It makes me want to strip off my clothes, cover my torso in mud and howl at the moon. It's music for the end of the world.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Dionne Warwick Experience

I can't seem to get enough of the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David these days. The most prolific and one of the best interpreters of Bacharach-David songs is Dionne Warwick. I had a 2-lp record of Dionne Warwick singing Bacharach-David songs called Go With Love. It's a compilation album released by Columbia House for members of its record club. My copy played like, as vinyl listeners call it, Rice Krispies (i.e., "snap, crackle, and pop!"). I also had a lot of Warwick's proper albums released by the Scepter label in the 60s, each of which contained a handful of Bacharach-David songs. But the Scepter albums were poorly pressed on noisy vinyl and the sound quality was equally poor. So I was on the hunt for another compilation album of Warwick singing Bacharach. I thought I found it in the 2-LP The Dionne Warwick Story, her smiling face on the cover looking up at me from the dollar bin got me all excited. It had a great song list. But when I took it home and played it, it turned out to be a live album. Yuck. I wanted the studio versions.

Well, when you look hard enough, sometimes you find what you're looking for. Today I hit pay dirt when I came across another copy of Go With Love. That's not so unusual. What was amazing was the copy I found was still sealed. It was an album from probably the 70s that was, for all intents and purposes, brand new. It plays beautifully on quiet vinyl and with better sound quality than the Scepter albums. It's the best three dollars I've spent this year. That's my Dionne Warwick Experience. (Side note: I think The Dionne Warwick Experience would be a great name for a punk band. Okay, maybe not.)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Golden Eagle Sunrise

Any hobby that gets you up at the crack of dawn is a good hobby. Because you see things around dawn that you don't see at any other time of day. The reason I woke so early on a Sunday morning was to get to the Newark record swap. To get there I take a scenic drive through the Niles Canyon, an other worldly spit of nature connecting the Amador-Livermore Valley with the San Francisco Bay. As I made my through the winding road, I spotted what appeared to be a large animal standing in the middle of the road, literally standing in between the two yellow lines dividing the travel lanes. When I got closer, I could see it wasn't a single animal, but a large bird standing atop an animal carcass. I slowed down and passed the dark honey-colored bird. I recognized it as a Golden Eagle. I knew because of the hours I spent as a young boy studying the pictures of eagles in the World Book Encyclopedia. In real life, the eagle was much larger that I ever imagined as a young boy. The eagle never took flight even as I got within five feet of it. It just calmly watched me pass by. That's how animals at the top of the food chain react.

That's what I remember from my trip to the record swap last month. I don't remember the records I picked up. I just have that picture of the majestic, grand eagle. Oh, I also remember thinking at the record swap that only short, old Asian men seem to collect classical albums. None over 5'-3" in height, which is about how tall the Golden Eagle stood atop the carcass.