Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thelonious Monster - Stormy Monday

So the internet is kind of a cool place, sometimes.  I know there's some truly stupid things on it, but music wise it's been one of the greatest things that's ever happened.  Unfortunately it's also one of the worst things that ever happened to music, but I'm going to dwell on the cool stuff.  Like the people I've met.  I don't really meet people here, but then again I'm writing about the records I own, and apparently no one gives a shit about that, but that's okay because I didn't figure I'd have some taste making cash cow here.  In fact, I'm always surprised to see that someone looked at my blog, let alone actually left a comment!  I've met most of the people at Stones message boards, and some of them I've met in person and it's seemed like we've known each other for years.  But there's more people that I actually never met in person.  There was a guy that lived in California named Jimmy Whitley that died earlier this year that I got along famously with.  We traded music, and did a lot of behind the scenes email conversations where we talked about everything but The Stones that was out there to listen to.  Jimmy had drug troubles, so I'm kind of glad I never really met him because that's a scene I don't want much to do with these days.  After a certain age I think you should have pretty much tried everything worth trying that you were going to try, and it's time to lay off the hard stuff and grow up a little.

Jimmy and I talked a lot about bands from our towns.  He was a musician.  He had a lot of talent, but I don't think he had a lot of drive.  He talked a good game and once in awhile he'd send me something he wrote and recorded and it was usually pretty good, but, I dunno.  He just didn't do anything with it.  The thing was, he loved almost all the same dumb things I do.  He liked Speed Racer.  He loved The Stones.  He knew that some music is just better than other music, and being a snob is okay.  He also knew that he lived in a vital local music scene, and it was his job as a fan to tell other people how great it was.  The dude had enthusiasm.  I love that.  One of the bands he was always enthused about was Thelonious Monster.  He emailed me about them all the time and couldn't believe I didn't know who they were.  He said he only had their releases on vinyl, and he'd rip them for me.  I told him not to do that, because I'd find those records here and I'd like them more.  I'm weird like that.  Sometimes if someone just gives me music I'll never get around to listening to it, then I'll hear it at their house, flip out over it and they'll tell me I've had it for two years on a cd they burned me (or long ago a cassette tape - I hate tape).

I think I found my copy of Stormy Weather at a record show, maybe just a couple of years ago.  Jimmy was still alive, but we didn't talk much anymore.  He messed up royally, pissed a bunch of cyber people off and I think he just felt I was one of them.  I emailed him now and then but eventually gave up.  But even though we hadn't talked in awhile, I knew I'd like Thelonious Monster, because Jimmy liked it.  I was right, too.  I think Stormy Weather is a terrific album.  There's a cover of a Tracy Chapman song, For My Lover that I just think is fantastic.  I had no idea she wrote songs I might like that much (I'm not a musician so I never see the full band treatment of a guitar and singer kind of songs potential).  It's just a great cover.  The songs are kind of a garage rock style, I suppose.

Man, I hate that term almost as much as power pop.  It's just Rock N' Roll.  Straight ahead, guitars, bass and drums with a singer.  A song like Real Kinda Hatred is just a little too big to be a garage rock song, and it's too small to be arena rock.  There's just so many great sounding guitars on this album, and singer Bob Forrest makes a good front man, if you ask me.  I don't know why these guys never got any airplay outside of LA (who knows how much they got there?).  These guys are just one of those bands that I get instantly, and everyone else seems fine living without them.  Isn't that weird?  How one person can just fall in love with a band that no one cares about?  I think it's kind of funny.  I used to be the one in my group of friends that almost always picked the music we were listening to (I even played Chicago and Hall and Oates for my friends because they liked them).  Thelonious Monster would have been the kind of band I'd have just tossed on between those two bands, and my friends would have loved them and maybe even bought their records.  But I don't carry that kind of weight anymore, that's for sure.  I think Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood suck left hind tit, so those friends think I essentially listen to some kind of screeching rock that sounds like someone amplified the feeling tin foil makes on your teeth.  I'm not saying I don't listen to some kind of abrasive stuff, but not around other people!

I have one friend who we went to dinner with awhile back and he was telling his wife how he liked to come by the house because he liked the music I play.  She asked what he had heard and I said I thought I had played Scruffy the Cat, Thelonious Monster and Lucero the last time he was over.  She didn't even give it a chance, and just said, "I don't think I'd like that kind of music."  He assured her she would, so we have to have them by for drinks and a few records, I think.  I know I really just rambled here, and if you made it this far, there really isn't much of a payoff.  I was just listening to a record and thinking about a friend, and this is just pretty much were it went.

My copy of Stormy Weather was cheap, I know that.  Easily less than five bucks, and when I pulled it out of the bin the dealer probably wished he had ten bucks on it, because I'd have paid it!  Mine's also nice and flat and pretty quiet.  Thanks for the recommendation, Jimmy!

David Bowie - The Man Who Sold the World

I think I’ve already mentioned how many people I knew in school that hated David Bowie because he was supposed to be this evil gay guy.  Now, I wasn’t some enlightened, way ahead of my time middle class white teenage boy.  I’m sure I was a complete asshole to people on more than one occasion.  Because I think empathy is something you learn, not something you just have.  When I had a tutor for math that was a teacher with a “roommate” is when I first figured out I knew someone that was really, actually gay.  I mentioned it to my parents (thinking I could get out of math tutoring) and I found out that my parents knew, didn’t care and had nothing but respect and admiration for the teacher that was my tutor.  In fact, the guy was on my dad’s bowling team.  So I was told at a pretty early age to get over myself.  So I think I did.  As I get older I think I get better at understanding other people’s problems.

Back then, I used to hang out at a friend’s almost every day.  I slept there as much as I slept at home, and we spent a lot of time listening to music.  One of the cool things was that his dad had a night job as a janitor in an office building.  Yeah, you’re thinking, “what’s so cool about that?”  Well, Capitol Records had an office there, that’s what!  My friend’s dad had a good memory and remembered a lot of artists I used to tell him I liked, and the dude came home with stacks of promo records and posters all the time.  I didn’t get to keep the records because it was my friend’s dad, after all.  I got several posters, and my friend and I put posters up over every square inch of his room.  We thought it looked really, really cool.

One of the records in my friend’s bin was David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World.  It was the one with the black and white cover.  This was probably one of the first Bowie albums I ever heard, and they played very little of it on the radio, even here in Cleveland.  They did play a little, mostly late at night.  WMMS took all the credit for breaking Bowie in the US (Rush, Springsteen outside of the Jersey Shore, Alex Harvey and Roxy Music were all claimed WMMS’ own, too).  I remember I really loved The Width of a Circle (still do) and I thought Black Country Rock and All the Madmen were fantastic as well.  The title track did get a little play on WMMS, and I know Nirvana laid claim to it (Kurt did a great job on it).  But I remember playing this album and some people just looking at me like I was goofy or something.  I never really thought this was such a weird record, but as I’m listening to it right now, I guess it kind of is.  After All is some strange stuff, but I think I really thought it was more mature than weird.  I don’t know if I agree with that assessment these days, but I really wanted to be older than I was when I was a kid, which is funny, because I don’t want to be older now, nor do I want to be younger.  I’m good with what I am and I just want to be happy.

And lemme tell ya, The Man Who Sold the World makes me very happy.  Running Gun Blues is super cool.  The Width of a Circle is still one of my favorite songs, and Saviour Machine is one of those songs that as I’ve gotten older I’ve really grown to appreciate.  I think Saviour Machine’s kind of cheesy keyboards could have wrecked everything, but they don’t.  They’re dated, yeah, but so is the whole album.  The Man Who Sold the World is definitely a product of its time, but that’s okay with me.  I don’t need everything to be timeless or even a step forward.  Just being good is good enough, ya know?

I mean, the sleaziness of She Shook Me Cold never really goes out of style, does it?  If it has for you, you should probably rethink your style, because this is some cool, heavy stuff.  Mick Ronson has such a great sound all over this record, and Bowie’s lyrics are both dumb and perfect.  I think that’s something Bowie does really well, dumb and perfect lyrics.  He gazed a gazely stare and strange fascinations fascinate me are inane things to say, but when Bowie sings them it’s okay.  Hey, it could be a lot worse!  I can also remember that when I actually got to hear The Supermen on the radio I’d be pretty excited.  I like the way the tension builds and fades in that song.  It’s like it’s stretchy music, and I can really get behind stretchy music.

The other thing about this record is that there’s multiple covers.  Not cover songs, but album covers.  The original has Bowie wearing a dress.  I guess in 1970 that was as bad as having an anatomically correct dog body on a Bowie drawing a few years later.  So they came out with the black and white cover, I think.  I’ve got another cover, like a comic or cartoon.  That one has been widely faked!  I was really worried after I bought one not too long ago because it was a good price and it’s a cool cover.  But I checked and mine’s the real deal (I guess the matrix numbers aren’t stamped on the fakes, and mine are stamped).  Sound wise, I could probably look for a more perfect record because mine’s been loved by me for a long time, but I think I’m good.  I’ve got the Rykodisc cd and the black and white and comic covers, so I probably have enough.  The Rykodisc is an excellent sounding cd, with some bonus tracks that don’t matter much.  Both of my records play with a little noise on them, but it’s not very noticeable.  I think for a record I dragged around to parties, the black and white cover one I have is pretty nice, actually!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Joe Walsh - So What

One day I was waiting on parts deliveries so I could do my job and I decided I'd take my lunch while I waited, and I went to a record store in Cuyahoga Falls I have a love/hate relationship with.  Actually it's a like/hate relationship because I think they carry way too many mainstream titles of the Classic Rock variety.  I had heard they were going out of business, which is bad.  I think what he needs is a smaller store and he'd be doing okay.  I don't know for sure, but his store is too big and probably costs a lot.  He's a nice guy, though.

So since he has this massive classic rock collection, that's just what you hear in that store.  It's pretty seldom I've heard anything I don't know like the back of my hand.  Frankly, I don't know how you sit there all day, everyday and listen to essentially the classic rock radio station, an entire cd at a time.  He does get some vinyl in there, and he can be flexible on his prices so it's always worth a lunch break to stop in.  One day I was flipping through the "new" used vinyl and he was playing a Joe Walsh best of cd.  Now, I'm from Cleveland, and I've got Joe's snaky solo's going through my veins like everyone else my age around here.  The guy was just cool, and I like him.  While I'm flipping through the records Welcome to the Club comes on and I just really, totally got into it.  I couldn't remember the last time I heard it.  Probably not since Betty Korvan was at WMMS!  What a great song, though.  While I was digging, I saw a really good looking copy of So What, and I grabbed it.  I may have bought a few other things, but when I get to the register to ring it up, another customer is hanging out, not buying anything and just bullshitting (fine by me, record stores are good for that), and he says, "He's got that Joe Walsh album on cd if you don't want to buy an old record."

WTF?  I just put four vinyl records on the counter, and never once even walked towards the cd's (because I've been burned there on something), and I only looked in the records.  I'm not a vinyl purist by any means, but these days I generally stick with vinyl.  So I said, "Yeah, but it's probably not three bucks, and it doesn't have this really cool embossed art and absolutely fantastic inner sleeve."  He looks at me like I don't understand, and says in what I perceive to be the most assholier than thou voice I've ever heard, "You can't listen to an album cover."

WTF?  I just kind of looked at him, hopefully full of pity and sympathy generally reserved for only the saddest cases of humanity I ever have to meet and I says, "You can just download cd's, and hang out at message boards on the internet and never have to go into a place they sell vinyl records, too."  I think he thought I was a dick, and he went and picked through cd's until I got rung out and left.  I don't know what choice words he had for me, but I bet the dude that owns the place appreciated me being there more that day than he did the other dude, seeing as how I moved some inventory for him.  Ya know, I never say anything to anyone in a store about what they're buying unless I like it.  Who needs some toolio pissing on their happy record store moment?  No one, that's who.

So What is like most Joe Walsh albums.  Which means that the good stuff is great, and the not so good stuff is not so good.  Overall I think So What is better than a lot of stuff from 1975 and it's just over half an hour, so it's not overwhelming.  Welcome to the Club is a real cool song that got very little airplay except at night around here.  The three best songs, Time Out, Turn to Stone and Help Me Through the Night make up side two of Joe's single live album, so people must have liked it.  They're great songs, and they hold up well almost forty years later.  I wish every album I bought could boast four really good songs, because then I don't mind the not so good ones that much.  At least he was trying to not just keep rewriting Rocky Mountain Way.

My copy is pretty good.  It's an earlier pressing since it still has the embossed cover, but I don't know if it's original.  It's nice and flat and it's not too noisy.  I can't see any reason to look for another one, but if I found a really great one, I might buy it.  You never know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Police - Synchronicity

One thing about being a music snob is that there are records and bands you're not supposed to like; but the nice thing about being the kind of snob I am, I don't give a shit about whether or not I'm supposed to like something or not.  So I end up able to enjoy an album by The Police that isn't Outlandos d'Amour.  In fact, when Synchronicity came out for half a summer in 1983 I thought it was their best album, and 1983 me really liked The Police so that was saying something.  One of the things I think I liked is that this is a really good sounding record, even though it has some dorky 1980's production on it.  If it didn't, I'd probably put an Audiophile Alert on this.  But I just let a little of the sound get under my skin, I guess.

In 1983 I had been at the printing press I used to work at  for over a year, and my oldest son was just about a year old when this came out.  That means I was making just over four dollars an hour and buying a record was a big deal, because that's not much money for raising a family on, in just about any era during my lifetime.  Minimum wage is just over eight bucks now, I think.  So if I had to raise a family at about 5% over minimum wage I probably wouldn't be able to afford any records.  That's bullshit.  Anyway, even though times were tight I did manage to get a few new records now and then, and this was one of them.

I think I took this to a friend's house and taped this.  He had moved into his own place, above his girlfriend's grandparent's old house.  We used to hang out there a lot, and he bought a JVC stereo on credit.  I went with him and tried to convince him that we could do a better system with components from other companies, but this came in a rack with a glass door (worthless if you ask me), and all the lights were the same color of green.  I didn't dislike it, but it didn't last very long and a few years later we were replacing things one component at a time.  I had spent the same amount of money on my system and that lasted into the next century!  He didn't know how to use his cassette deck, so I used to record things for him if he'd let me record what I wanted so I could listen to it on my little boombox in my crappy car.  I think this was one of the first albums we could both agree to actually liking.

This sucker was packed with the hits, too.  Man, I think you could make a case that this album is the sound of the first half of the 80's.  Every Breath You Take was huge.  I mean, I can't hardly imagine a bigger hit song.  Sure Fleetwood Mac's Rumours  had spawned hits like this a few years earlier, but this song was ubiquitous.  I heard it in the morning, I heard it late at night (I think that's when I still like to hear it - it's a good late night song).  It took me a long time to get really tired of it, too.  I swear the radio just started letting side two of this record play.  King of Pain was a giant smash, Wrapped Around Your Finger was a monster hit and Synchronicity II was a big hit, and much more of a rocker than the other songs.  I never figured out why they called it Synchronicity II, since Synchronicity I is really kind of a cool Prog Rock kind of song (which I always liked, much to my Punk Rock brother's chagrin).  Considering how many hits this had and how often I heard the album, I still played it quite a bit.

Nowadays it doesn't seem to get out much, but when it does I enjoy it, and it's not just a nostalgia thing.  It doesn't make me think of feeding pockets in a bindery, or working all three shifts in a week (plus overtime) and drinking the cheapest beer I could find (Busch, mainly - that stuff sucks but I like the looks of the old labels).  We used to hang out at a softball field and drink beers most nights I didn't have to work.  That's one of the things I liked about my wife, she was okay with grabbing a twelve pack and hanging out.  On Sundays we used to play softball.  It was fun.  My wife and I never played on the same team because that way one of us could watch the kid.  Things weren't easy, but things were good.  I still have some of the same friends, but there's a lot of them that have drifted away due to divorces or taking a job in another place to keep food on their family.  A couple of them have died or found Jesus, which doesn't seem much different to me.  It's funny how Synchronicity makes me think about that stuff for a minute, but mostly I just enjoy it and think about all the crap I've gotten over this through the years from my friends that are snobs.

Trust me, that crap is well deserved!  You won't hear me go off on how I hate some band with every fiber of my being here because I always grab one of my records to write these inane little essays and I don' t really have many records I don't like.  I have a few things that some other people have given me that I maybe don't love, but there's no Eagles records here.  I can take the heat from the snobs, because I think you have to be willing to do that if you're going to piss all over someone's snob parade (and I have).  I know a guy that tried to tell me that The Police were one of my "guilty pleasures." but I don't have musical guilty pleasures.  I don't care if someone thinks I've got good taste because I like The Pagans or Deer Tick, because one minute later I'll admit to an undying devotion to Bachman Turner Overdrive and Grand Funk.  My dad thought everything I listened to sounded the same and he could never understand just what it was that made me turn up my nose at one band, and buy every bootleg with every burp and fart of another band.  So I'm really not some ironic hipster when it comes to Synchronicity, and I'm not just nostalgic for it.  I just like it.

Did you ever notice the Allmusic review of this?  It pretty much says half the record is filler or crap, then give it 4 1/2 stars!  WTF?

My copy of this is still in decent shape and plays pretty quietly.  There's a little noise between tracks but it's inaudible when the music starts.  I could probably clean it next time I get a stack of records to clean, but if I forget it will still be okay.  I'm sure it's worth three bucks these days.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Yes - Fragile

When I think about how I used to listen to music when I was a kid, I think of Fragile a lot.  I bought it because I absolutely loved Roundabout.  I had a friend that I was with constantly and we both loved Yes, but I think we loved Roundabout first.  I liked it so much, I bought the album.  He liked it so much, he bought the album, too.  I think between us we had about ten albums, and that meant it pretty much didn't matter who's house we were at, at some point we were going to listen to Fragile.  Probably more than once.  So this was a record I was deeply familiar with, front to back, inside and out.

I don't think the younger generation of kids have records like that.  I think that since they all know where to download music for nothing, they have way too much music.  I know, I can hardly believe I said that.  How can anyone have too much music?  Well, they can't, really.  Eventually there will be things they feel a need to hear, even if they have a large library, but when you're discovering music and yourself, I think there should be an opportunity to really learn some records really well.  If I had 25,000 songs by the time I downloaded Fragile, I wouldn't have listened to it in nearly the same way I did then, and that would change the way I listen to it now.  It would probably change the way I listen to everything, and I already think I have the attention span of a preoccupied gnat.

I can remember certain things when I hear this, but today I'm really not trying to be nostalgic.  I'm thinking more like how I loved Roundabout, and  heard it on the radio all the time, and now I was able to hear it at home, too.  But there were eight other songs on Fragile, and I grew to love them all.  I don't think I ever would have heard South Side of the Sky unless it was played on some Yes special on the radio.  If I had just downloaded things and hit shuffle all the time, I'd have never gotten past the slightly abrasive opening of South Side of the Sky.  But since I was limited in my choices, I think time and listening helped get me past the abrasiveness, to where I could hear the cool guitars and remarkable drumming and eventually decide that my favorite song on the album was South Side of the Sky.  I honestly don't think people grow up listening that way anymore.  I've been told I'm pretty condescending sometimes when it comes to how other people decide to listen to music, but really, if you think all good music was made from 19xx to 19xx and there's nothing else worth hearing, then it's really not me being condescending when I say you should change the way you listen to open yourself up to discovering something new that you love that you maybe can't even be bothered to go look for.

It's weird that an album I have possibly heard more than any other recorded piece of music in my life, for forty years at this point, would make me think of how to find and enjoy something new.  But if I hadn't been limited in what was available to me, I wouldn't have listened to We Have Heaven, Five Per-Cent for Nothing or The Fish more than once or twice at most.  I'd have probably skipped out on Mood for a Day after just a listen or two.  I think that would be a tragedy.  Maybe not a major tragedy, but I wouldn't be the same person (though it's certainly open to interpretation if that's good or bad).  I still love the end of Mood for a Day and I can remember just taking the needle off the record then and going to bed, because that was good, I felt done with the day.

But a lot more often I'd play Heart of the Sunrise twice.  I love how it's so fast, and then so mellow, and then so fast.  God, my dad hated that song!  If he came in to talk to me about something he'd always say to turn it down, because it was too jarring.  Me, I still think it's cool as hell.  And all those songs that came before it, that I had to learn how to hear for what they were, are what helped me to find a way in to appreciate songs like Heart of the Sunrise and South Side of the Sky.  I remember thinking that lyrically this stuff was deep.  But that's because it didn't really make much sense and I didn't know that it would never make sense, because it was mostly just crazy lyrics that fit in with the crazy music.  I'd like to have a conversation back where I just wouldn't accept that the coolest thing about Yes wasn't the lyrics with someone older than me.  I must have been an insufferable little turd.  I still like straight light moving and removing sharpness of the color sunshine as a lyric, because it fits the song so well.  It sure as hell doesn't make any sense, though!

So Fragile is one of those things that because of my limited resources, actually helped me to appreciate that some things were going to take some time for me to understand.  That's one reason I so rarely "review" a new album.  I don't care to convince people that something is or isn't good.  I don't care what other people listen to so long as I can continue to listen to what I like (which is why I feel cheated by the radio).  I mean, I'm talking about my records, so I'd think most of my little essays would be towards the positive.  If they aren't, then trust me, that record is in the return for store credit pile!

My copy of this has two booklets in it, because I saved the one from the copy my GE record player killed.  I think this is a copy I repurchased in high school, and it's in good shape.  The cover looks like it has some weird rubbing, not ringwear, but it's in fine shape overall.  The inside is perfect, too bad it's pretty devoid of any cool Roger Dean art in there!  The record is nice and flat and pretty quiet, so it's enjoyable to listen to.  It's funny that we always thought Yes should sound pristine and that if you could you'd want it on the best system possible, but I don't think any Yes albums would ever get an audiophile excited.  They sound good, but they're never great.  I think that's okay with me, because Steve Howe's guitars always cut right through any business or murkiness, anyway.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme Back My Bullets

Boy, you wanna talk about bands I despisedLynyrd Skynyrd is very high up on that list, lemme tell ya.  I felt they stood for pretty much everything the douchenozzles that record under that moniker these days actually stand for.  That's that it's okay to be a bigoted, gun toting alcoholic that likes to get in fights and treat other people like shit.  I went through a lot of years thinking this, and making a "Ppppphhhhhtttt!!!!" noise whenever my buddy would bring them up.  I was proud to dislike Lynyrd Skynyrd.

These days, I've changed my stance on them.  Every few years I try to listen to things I don't like, like Led Zeppelin or The Eagles and see if I like them now, the way I started to like mushrooms and cheese.  People change, and I'm a person, and I hope I keep changing.  Not too much, but I hope I get better as I get older.  So to my buddy Hobie:  You were right.  I was wrong.  Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great American band.  Definitely one of the best of the 70's and they deserve all the good things said about them, and they deserve apologies from liberal assholes like me that just shut them out.  I mean, I still hate that confederate flag and everything it stands for.  It stands for evil so far as I'm concerned.  But I think Ronnie Van Zant was a probably a far better person than I imagined, and I wish I had seen it through my own shortcomings a long time ago.

So with that out of the way, I'm gonna talk about Gimme Back My Bullets before I talk about any other Skynyrd albums.  I remember when it came out a lot of kids were pretty excited.  Not me, but friends of mine were, and more importantly other friends of theirs were.  So I was at a guy's house one day shortly after this came out, and he had it.  We were upstairs in his bedroom/attic and it was kind of cool because we could smoke over there.  I thought this guy was a freaking redneck and a half.  To make my point he got a girl pregnant and moved into a trailer with her and the baby.  They both dropped out of school.  He was sixteen and she was fifteen.  Teenage me thought they were total losers, and over fifty me hopes they made it against long odds.  Over fifty me thinks teenage me was kind of an intolerant, judgmental dick.  I hope I'm better.

But I can remember hanging out in his mom's house before they moved into their trailer, and listening to this.  I think I complained between every song.  I think they played other stuff and I was happy later, but for some reason I really remember listening to Gimme Back My Bullets that afternoon.  And this afternoon while I'm listening to it, I'm thinking I genuinely like this album.  I think the lyrics are good.  I think the music is really good.  I think I missed out, and I think it's my fault that I missed out.

So even though I missed out on this, I eventually did catch on to these guys.  I really like the title track and All I Can Do Is Write About It.  I think the other songs are good, but not great.  Like the kinds of songs that don't seem to be any great shakes on their own, but as a group, they work really well.  They definitely have some better albums, and some day I'll get around to those, but I felt like doing this one first.  Maybe because I needed to just write down me saying that I let myself get in the way of enjoying something I should have been able to enjoy if I didn't have so many hangups.

Now, my record is nice.  It plays great, it's flat and it's quiet.  The cover is okay,  One corner has some wear but it hasn't split, so it's not too bad.  I buy a lot of used records like that.  If the record looks really nice but the cover was never in a plastic sleeve they can get a little roughed up, but if the record looks like no one ever played it, that's fine with me.  I'll buy it for a buck or two.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Rolling Stones - Past and Present

OK, so I've said repeatedly here that I'm a big Rolling Stones fan, but you could certainly make the point that I haven't shown much so far.  So I was looking through my records and I found this little bootleg gem that I haven't played in a long, long time.  Isn't that a great cover?  It's a really glossy cover and I didn't use a flash on my crappy phone camera and I still got a little spot from the light in the room.  So these guys actually spent some of their profits on artwork instead of just running off a bunch of xerox sheets on the copier at work.  I think I remember getting this, and I think I had a bunch of bootlegs by other bands, and I felt that if I wasn't going to dig deep into a band's official collection, I probably shouldn't collect their bootlegs.  I know that sounds weird, but that's the way I looked at it.  I figured The Stones weren't losing any money on me, because they didn't release enough material to keep me happy, but I knew I didn't need any Genesis or Doors bootlegs because I wasn't that interested in that stuff. So I took a bunch of records up to a record show that used to happen a few times a year in Richfield, and looked around for the guy with the most Stones bootlegs and opened my bag and said, "Hey, wanna trade?"

He started saying he didn't really do that and I'd have to have a certain kind of record for him to be interested in and I started pulling them out of the bag and he said, "Yeah. Yeah, I think we can work something out.  What are you looking for?"  I said "Stones.  That's it for for special interest records for me from now on."  Special Interest Records used to be a euphemism for bootlegs.  A lot of times it got you led into a back storeroom or office, or a box would be retrieved from under the racks.  It was fun back then.  Hunting bootlegs was a terrific hobby.

So anyway, this guy looks at my stuff and says, "Title for title?"  I said that since one was a three record set how about I get one extra so long as it's not a double?  He agreed and I took home a nice little selection of Stones records that day, and this is one of them.  I remember asking him if he knew anything about it because I had never seen it, and he said it was a European pressing, and he didn't know much about it.  Is it really European?  I don't know.  I think so because the cover art is so nice and in the early - mid 80's US bootleggers didn't usually put much effort into covers.  This guy had a nice selection and really liked my stuff so I think he might be right.  Plus, I never saw another one of these so maybe it really is European.

The songs ranged from As Time Goes By, which is the early demo of As Tears Go By up to Keith Richards doing a cover of Apartment No. 9 from 1981.  I hadn't heard these yet, and I was really excited to get my mitts on this one.  I just crossed my fingers and hoped to hell it wasn't a really nice cover with a bunch of hissy, horrid speed issue outtakes that sounded like they were recorded through a door with a tape deck with dying batteries so the speed could never be right.  I got lucky, though.  This is mostly pretty great, with a couple of dropouts and some tape hiss here and there, but hey, it's a bootleg and back then I was one of a very few that probably ever heard these songs.

I know everyone just downloads everything they want these days, and believe me, I get the idea of free bootlegs, but now that you get stuff like Van Morrison singing Brown Eyed Girl and some doofus lists it as The Stones, I just don't play with that stuff much anymore.  I've got pretty much everything I want, I think.  So I just live with that and concentrate on finding new music (even if it's old) to make me happy.

So Past and Present is a pretty good bootleg.  I don't think I'd say it's essential, because I never said any bootlegs were essential.  Sure a really great one is very cool to have, but if you've never heard the instrumental outtake Separately, which is on here and is a big reason I grabbed this, you're really not missing much.  It sounds like one of Mick Taylor's ultra mellow ideas, which could be okay, but he hadn't even thought up a killer solo for it, so it's kind of like musical Ambien.  The version of Highway Child is a little fast, but it's still such a great song.  I've always loved every second of that monster riffage, and this may have been one of the first records I had it on, but I'd have to check a little more.

I think the record is in really good shape.  I wonder what turntable I had then?  I'm guessing my B&O.  That was a nice table, but the proprietary cartridge that didn't have a replaceable stylus kind of let me just get rid of it, live a few years without a turntable and then get a Rega (of which the internet audiophiles say I bought one that can't hold speed and sounds like shit).  I really like the Rega.  I never had a full manual table, but I always liked the idea that if it didn't help make things sound better, then the expense of something like a light, a brake, a speed selector switch or auto anything left more money for a decent tonearm and motor.  I borrowed a strobe disk from a friend and we checked and my table is dead on at 33 1/3 and 45.  So apparently I got one that's all messed up, or the people on the internet that don't like Rega tables are busy justifying how a company that makes some of the best tonearms ever made is too stupid to make a pulley the right size.  I suppose that's what audio forums are all about.  I swear I saw a forum that had record reviews as a subject, and in order to submit reviews you had to tell them what kind of equipment you had.  As if buying expensive equipment makes you more qualified!  How about submitting your latest hearing test?

Anyway, I hope you like whatever you listen to music on.  My system isn't exactly a huge investment, and it's been done a little at a time, but I like the way it sounds.  Most other people come in and are really surprised at how my little stereo sounds.  I know a guy that keeps trying to get the same punch in his music that I get, but he keeps buying these funny (but cool looking) things to play music on.  I told him until he bought a stereo, he wasn't going to get what he was looking for.  I bet he's spent more than me on disappointing "systems" over the past few years.