Sometimes I don’t know…

Today I went to the last resting place of vinyl, it was a bizarre Goodwill warehouse filled with large piles of stuff. Hidden in the corner being ignored by the diggers for gold in the bins and piles was a section for vinyl. All the discarded vinyl from who knows where. None of it was sorted and it was a literal pile. It almost made me tear up at the thought that at one point these had been well loved possessions. All for 50c a piece how can you go wrong. The funny thing is there was less Mangione and Streisand in this vinyl landfill.

As I rooted around feeling like a grave robber I found a Todd Rundgren album.todd The live album Back To The Bars from 1978. I almost passed it by, Rundgren is an unknown quantity, he is either accessible or too far out there. Like Zappa he has a catalog that is not easily defined and therefore is a little scary to just plunge and a live album at that.

In the past I have owned two Rundgren albums. A Wizard a True Star and Initiation and a couple of Utopia albums one of which was a weird Beatles pastiche. Now I only own one but I think I will be getting more.

I have a very good friend who idolizes both Zappa and Rundgren. It is easy to see why, they are both highly unpredictable and incredibly varied and versatile in their music. When listening to Rundgren he almost has a physical reaction to it jerking around as if every note being played is having an impact on his body.

Rundgren at times sounds like Prince before Prince was really around and then he messes with your head like Zappa. He has a truly amazing voice that moves between genres in the midst of songs from soulful to folk to blues shouter. Then he hits you with a pop hook that could drag you to the dance floor all of the time amidst this intense almost progressive rock sound that is filled with melody and fun and pop sensibility. It is strange to think he is not bigger on some level.

To the album. It has Daryl Hall and John Oates on it, Stevie Nicks takes the time to warble along and it even has Spencer Davies turning up.

Set the controls…

So the week is over and there always seems to be 20 minutes in the day that is unaccounted for that requires me to visit the Goodwill store to see what vinyl is lying around. This week saw a particularly intriguing haul.this week

It seems like someone was cleaning out their teenage memories. The rack was a plethora of eighties heavy metal from Accept to Saxon and Molly Hatchet. It was really difficult to not take them all as i browsed but the available cash was a limitation as well as the sight of a 49 year old man strolling out of the store with a Saxon album under his arm.

I did however succumb to the Rainbow albums. I have always had a soft spot for Ronnie James Dio and Ritchie Blackmore, they were constants on the tour circuit during my formative years. I also snapped up the Rush album, it was considerably cheaper than the Ticket I bought for the show the other week.

I have always enjoyed Jean Michele Jarre and they sound superb,

Then I saw it Joe Jackson’s Body and Soul. When I was a young adult and should have known better this was the album that sophisticated young ladies used to calm down those of us who had spent too long in the bar bellowing Pogues lyrics. It was the epitome of cool and not something that would find it’s way onto my turntable. I always felt I should own it, it looked so cool on other peoples shelves. It almost preached to you that the person who’s room you were in new what good music was, they had actually listened to Coltrane and Miles and were on a casual acquaintance with the works of Nina Simone. I snatched it up and now I am afraid to play it in case my memory of the meaning of that album will spoil the music.

The two real gems are Floyd’s Ummagumma and the Kate and Anna Mcgarrigle album. Ummagumma because for years it was the only live Floyd album and I like Grantchester Meadows and The Narrow Way, the rest I have refused to ever listen to again but it’s a Floyd album and had to be saved. The vinyl by the way on this is absolutely silent although the sleeve looks like it was used as a doorstop.

Kate and Anna Mcgarrigle are just wonderful and it is a perfect album helped by Joe Boyd;s production which I am convinced consists of drinking coffee and letting musicians do the work.

So there you have it my week of wading through the thrift store grime. From metal to folk via psychedelia the blues and pop music. I have become more aware of the state of the vinyl and less concerned about the state of the cover it seems.

I can’t do that round here…

Another day another stop at the Goodwill to kill time and away I come with this weeks haul so far. The odd thing about shopping for records this way is that you pretty much take what you find. Sometimes it’s a risk on something you have never heard and other times it is like finding an old friend. This last day was odder than usual, I don’t normally listen to reggae but I could not resist the Toots and the Maytals Best Of, if only for their slightly twisted version of John Denver’s country roads and who doesn’t like a song called Monkey Man. It was also brand new and still in the shrink wrap so why not.

Burgers by Hot Tuna has always been a favorite and it would be a sin to leave a George Harrison album on the shelf.ahaul

The real find though was Nils Lofgren Cry Tough, I have never listened to Nils solo albums. Cry Tough however has proven to be a really great Rock ‘n’ Roll album with a stunning version of For Your Love mixing rock and some reggae moments. I had never really paid attention to how good a guitarist he really is.

Then there is the shame of the Electric Light Orchestra, but it looked so tempting and I have never heard anything by Savoy Brown so why not.

I did resist the Eagles and was bummed to find the Creedence albums scratched beyond hope in a strange Big Lebowski irony overload. This is the downside of the thrift store rummage, you have to really consider if something will be playable once you get it home.

So new things to listen to. A moment of pop indulgence and it is only Wednesday.

The biggest problem is that we have just moved and the rooms are so empty that they echo considerably so listening is a challenge especially if you attempt any reasonable rock out volume.

Prices like that make a grown man holler…

I love the Goodwill store near my house, For some reason every week they have this incredible stack of vinyl, yes you have to wade through more Christmas albums than you want to see but you also get gems. The albums are all by the window so with the eye of the obsessed I can tell if there has been an increase in volume as I drive by and then you end up with this,goodwill this weeks haul from Goodwill, That glared out one is the Icicle Works first album which is as I  would say of it’s time, all pomp and sincerity.

Ever since my teen years I have haunted the used record store more than the new albums. Now it is in search of the opportunity to replace something missing instead of the new. The search is fun although at times I will admit to feeling a little sad as I check vinyl and consider the state of the sleeve. I also am aware of the look on my wife’s face as I walk in with my stack and proceed to clean albums and replace inner sleeves and decide where they will go.

Yes it is exciting to get a clean copy of Surrealistic Pillow to replace the beaten up one I currently have, and it is fun to find a good copy of the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl or the Nightfly but a Queen album or Supertramp can’t be turned down. I almost drew the line at Bad Company but you never know it could be better than I remember.

Vinyl tends to become an obsession it seems. Next I will be frequenting rummage sales and estate sales,

What does it matter to ya???

On we go with the mammoth task of listening to Wings Over America. Being from Liverpool you seem to be expected to have committed the entire Beatles colleague to memory by age 4, living in the USA you are expected to personally know at least one Beatle. I have a huge affection for my home town band, like my insane commitment to the team in red from home and a grudging respect for the blue team. albert dockThe site of a Liver bird brings tears to my eyes and I swell with pride when I arrive in the city of my formative years. I have a working knowledge of the Beatles catalog, I can hum or sing along to the majority of their songs, I have listened to Revolution #9 more than once and will get into arguments about which is the best album, it vacillates between Rubber Soul and Revolver if you are interested, and will take the Beatles side in the annual drunken who is better the Beach Boys or Beatles debate. My parents saw the band at the Cavern on more than one occasion and my dad will happily spin tall tales of his association with the members and to this day I could not tell you what is or is not true, which may be the essence of the tall tale.

How this affection for the small band from home manifests itself recently is when I come across a Wings, McCartney, Ringo, Lennon, Harrison or other derivative in a thrift store I knee jerk buy. I cannot imagine the wingsalbums being left there, it seems sacrilegious almost. They need to be safe. They might get lonely if left, this also seems a problem for my son because we have collectively three copies of Band on the Run, one of which is unplayable. This is why I am listening to Wings Over America right now. The cover is beat but the vinyl seems pristine, no cracks, pops, clicks or skips and very quiet. I was unable to just walk away and leave it on the shelf, I really tried, I walked away, I tried self talk about spending too much on vinyl, I reminded myself that $3 was too much for the album in that shape, I distracted myself with other albums, I did everything I could and still walked out with the album in the end. It is pointless I am resigned to this behavior now.

This is not a phenomenon only kept for the Beatles we have the same issue with Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Crosby and Nash. It is unreasonable and several unplayable versions are on the wall in my office because of this.

I have never been a big fan of the Beatles solo output. It is often pleasant but has something missing for me. The magic of those four arguing about the record maybe or laughing and having  fun or competing, who knows but they have never really reached the heights they did as a band. With the possible exception of All Things Must Pass and Band on the Run maybe.

Wings Over America is a fine live album. It has all the hits to that point, a few nice prior band selections, some interesting covers and overdubs to avoid the inevitable out of tune live singing that always happens. It is a marathon, six sides and maybe the original idea of a double album of edits may have been the better choice. It is fun to listen to and a good representation of the band at the time I am sure.  Like all of my other experiences with a member of the Fab Four without the others it can be fun in the moment but ultimately unsatisfying. I find myself singing along and enjoying the album but once it is over all I have is the knowledge that I had a great time but don’t really remember what was so great.