I’ve written many times about my record storage issues, and how it will ultimately squeeze the size of my collection. I’ve managed to relieve that concern, at least for the present time. My 900 LP upper limit has been pushed out closer to 1,400, and my collection passed the 940 mark.
But, what to include in that pile o’ music remains a question to me. Should I have the Rolling Stone top 500 albums? Should there be a list that guides my searching? Must it all be vintage, or are new re-pressings okay?
Ultimately, my collection must be about me. When I set out on this adventure a few years ago, the purpose was to acquire records I wanted to listen to. That’s still the plan, but as the whole grand lot gets bigger, getting around to everything is more difficult. I already have more albums than I ever imagined; what should guide the collection I’m building going forward? Here are a few of my new rules as my collection moves into its “maturing” stage.
- Avoid buying big lots of records. Think I made four purchases of 20 or more LP’s. None of them were really satisfactory. Some of the most desirable albums were in lousy condition. There’s always the question of what to do with the leftovers I don’t want, and I’ve bagged my record selling business. Just not enough time to do it right.
- There are 215 performers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Get at least one record for each of them. I think I currently have at least one for 115 inductees. That leaves me 100 to go. Picked up Carl Perkins’ Sun recordings last weekend.
- New records are okay. Depending on estate sales, garage sales, and Discogs can be an absolute crap shoot. Used record stores in the Puget Sound area are often quite high priced, while quality can be questionable. Quality re-pressings of classic vinyl are cost-controlled and you know what you’re getting. I picked up a copy of Eat A Peach by the Allman Brothers at Barnes and Noble during their Educator’s Sale. 25% off the $34.95 cover price, which made it cheaper than Amazon, and similar to a vintage copy of uncertain quality. Plus, there is some good new music out there available on vinyl. C’mon, you’re in or you’re out.
- Depth or breadth of artist representation has always been a problem for me. I started out with a few artists and tried to buy everything. Mistake. Now I try to get the “best” records. What constitutes “the best” may vary. I often consult allmusic.com’s considerable collection of reviews including guest reviews. That may mean I just buy one or two records for a particular artist, rather than five or six or more. I still, as a general rule, avoid anthologies if at all possible.
- Don’t give up on the $1 records. I don’t seek them out as much as I used to, but I still drop by my local Goodwill every now and again. This week I stopped by a thrift shop and grabbed five interesting records for a buck apiece-All American Boy (how did I not have this,) by Rick Derringer; Make it Big by Wham (wipe those dirty looks right off your face!); Swing by INXS (getting my 80’s covered,”; Kihntinued by the Greg Kihn Band, and Live at the Paradise Ballroom by the Graeme Edge Band. Fun additions, cheap. Inexpensive used records allow me to be adventurous and pick up albums I might never listen to.
What I’m listening to
The Shins-Oh Inverted World
Was traveling around North Tacoma when we heard an episode of A Prairie Home Companion, the new version post-Garrison Keillor. It was live from Seattle, and one of the musical guests was The Shins. I really enjoyed their music and decided to get one of their albums. I decided to start with their best reviewed record, which also was their first, Oh Inverted World from 2001 on Sub Pop. It is an absolute delight. Sort of indie/folkie. All songs very accessible and thought provoking with a fair amount of wit.
Oddly, my favorite songs are first and last. The album begins with “Caring is Creepy,” an ode to apathy.
This is way beyond my remote concern
Of being condescending
All these squawking birds won’t quit
Building nothing, laying bricks
The song is in what seems to be in a Shins style, relentlessly up-tempo, understated instrumentally, with the words tripping out in a stream over a riffle. Great stuff.
The record concludes with “The Past and Pending,” a meditation on the past and future of a love. It is, like so many songs on the record, a tuneful torrent of smart lyrics on the condition of love, underscored by a French horn. It is my favorite song on a filler-free album.
It is a remarkable record I’ve listened to repeatedly during my week on Whidbey Island getaway.
Kate Pierson-Guitars and Microphones
While The Shins are humble and wordy, Kate Pierson is loud, flamboyant and charismatic. Who is Pierson? She, together with bandmate Cindy Wilson were the female half of the B-52’s. The band hadn’t been in the studio since the modest success of 2008’s Funplex, so Pierson had material to share on her own.
Backed up and produced by Sia Furler, with Strokes lead guitarist Nick Valensi playing lead, Guitars and Microphones is what you’d expect from the ebullient redhead, now 66. if you are a B-52’s fan, you’re going to love this record. It’s loud and danceable from the first track, “Throw Down the Roses.” Perhaps the second song, “Mister Sister” has gotten the most attention. Though the song seems aimed at any audience not happy with the way they are judged by appearance alone, Pierson stepped into trouble when she promoted it as a “trans anthem.” It immediately brought her into the gunsights of some LGBTQ communities. Still it’s a solid song.
Guitars and Microphones is a good record. It’s a fun record, with Pierson making the kind of album we’d expect, and I don’t mean to suggest that’s bad. Rather, I’m hoping she still has another album or two left to share.
Record Store-The Business in Anacortes, WA.
My wife and I spent spring break week on Whidbey Island, about 40 miles northwest of Seattle. I persuaded Lorri which should go via the Deception Pass bridge, and duck into Anacortes for lunch. Anacortes is a fishing/whale watching/oil refining town, but it also has a record store. After lunch, I persuaded her I should make a little visit while she was buying out the local quilt shop.
The Business is not like the record stores I usually visit. It is almost entirely new records. Not just new pressings, I mean vinyl versions of current artists. Though I desperately wanted to give them my money, I had a difficult time finding artists I was familiar with. They do carry a lot of SubPop artists, so I was able to pick up a copy of Sleater-Kinney’s latest release, Live in Paris. Eventually I also ran across Jesca Hoop’s 2017 album Memories are Now. I heard an interesting interview with Hoop on NPR, and remember her first album Kismet released a decade ago. Thought I’d take a chance.
The Business is an interesting shop, but really fills a niche. You won’t find your Beatles, Stones or Bowie here. If you’re younger than, say, me, this could really fill the bill. I’d like to go back, but I can wait a while. The staff is friendly and helpful.
The Business is located at 216 Commercial Ave. in Anacortes, WA.