It’s been a while since my last post. Often happens during the school year when my life gets real busy. Just a couple of updates.
Kevin Smyth Record Seller, esq., is a bit of a nightmare. For so many reasons. I started off selling a lot of records pretty quickly. That actually created a bit of a problem. I had to replace those babies, so I bought a couple of lots of records from sellers off of Offer Up. The first lot was a bit overpriced at $80 for 96 records. But some of the most desirable were in lousy condition. The second group was cheaper at $20 for about 80 records, mostly R and B and Hip Hop. In the meantime, not many records sold in October. One of Lorri’s buddies at the antique mall convinced her I should raise my prices. So I’ve done that, but it certainly hasn’t improved my sales. We’ll see. It all seems a bit more trouble than its worth.
The bulk purchases really burned me out on record binge buys. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying records, but the purchases are more focused on my collections. I’ve taken to acquiring records for a few artists. Most are pretty well known, but generally they aren’t part of the “Rock Canon” We all know them-The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin-the revered ones.
Instead, my collecting has focused on snagging albums by Robert Palmer, The Pretenders, and Blondie. I think of these as mini-collections because I don’t try to get everything, just the good albums, or just the albums that I want.
I’ve completed a couple of these mini-collections. The first of them is Little Feat. On the surface they seem like kind of a Southern boogie band a la The Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd. But they are actually quite different. Founding members Lowell George and Ray Estrada were veterans of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. All the bands musicians were technically excellent. With a sound developed as much from New Orleans as Muscle Shoals, Little Feat covered a range of genres from R & B, to country to rock and roll. I focused on their records from the period 1970-81. This roughly follows the career of the band including George’s influence and up to his death. I also picked up George’s solo record Thanks I’ll Eat it Here.
The arc of these nine albums (ten including George) is astounding. Their first record, eponymous-titled is quite different from the sound that would make them a fan favorite. More straight ahead rock and roll, it sold quite poorly. But their second record, Sailin’ Shoes set the standard for the band. With very tight and traditional song structure, many of the wonderful and witty tunes written by George, Little Feat recorded a parade of great records: Feats Don’t Fail me Now and the exquisite Dixie Chicken. But with 1975’s The Last Record Album the band staged a bit of a revolt, and Little Feat’s records began to feature more extended jamming. By 1979, George was gone and recording on his own.
My introduction to Little Feat was only about twenty years ago, and a CD of their epic live album, Waiting for Columbus. It is a wonderful record. But a listen to their earlier records draws a clear distinction between the earlier and later styles. Either are just great. Still have a couple of records from this collection to listen to, but I’m quite excited.
The other band I’ve finished for my mini-collection is Blue Oyster Cult. BOC is often called a proto-metal band. I’m not quite sure what makes them that except they featured three guitars before anybody else did, and they were really good at it. Were they loud? Sure. Did they portray a dark and sinister image? Absolutely. But their music is absolutely amazing. I’ve picked up nine of their records, from 1972’s Blue Oyster Cult to 1988’s Imaginos. I’ve listened to all of them and they are great.
BOC’s success begins with great song writing and traditional song structure. Fronted by guitarist Eric Bloom and lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, the musicianship is superb, the writing (by a number of folks including punk priestess Patti Smith and sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock) dark and threatening. The Cult rode that horse throughout their careers. They produced dozens of brilliant songs: “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails to Hell,” “Career of Evil,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Godzilla,” “I Love the Night,” “Burnin’ For You.” Hard and heavy but melodic and interesting sets this band aside from other metal and semi-metal bands.
I bought my first BOC record, Agents of Fortune, after hearing (Don’t Fear) The Reaper on the radio when I was a college junior in 1976. It was the hardest music I’d ever listened to, and it was a revelation. Today it’s still some of my very favorite stuff.