Saturdays can be great: RSD 10 and The Zombies

Colin Blunstone 2

Colin Blunstone and bassist Jim Rodford fire up the crowd for the first half The Zombies performance April 22 at the Showbox at the Market. 

As a working dude, I really look forward to the weekends.  The last six weeks were so busy with so many demands on my evening time I valued every minute of weekend down time.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of weekend down time.  Yes, I did have spring break off a couple of weeks ago.  It was deliberately restful and quiet.

So after another week of late nights as the JagWire staff got an issue of the paper off to the printer, I was really looking forward to this weekend and some down time.

But wait!  As often happens, there was plenty planned.  We had some birthdays to celebrate on Saturday, but the family festivities coincided with a couple of fun activities.  Saturday was the tenth annual Record Store Day, as well as a long-planned Zombies concert in Seattle.

First, Record Store Day.  Usually I avoid the vinyl version of Black Friday.  This is the list of records available to retailers for the event yesterday.  It’s lengthy, but that doesn’t mean your local record store will have any of those that interest you.  They are of very limited production, and some seem to be directed at very specific geographic regions.  The album that interested me most was The Meters box, but I knew there was virtually no possibility of getting a copy because only 510 copies were produced and it was aimed a specific region–likely the New Orleans area where The Meters are worshiped like gods.

No, Record Store Day is often mostly about standing in line to be disappointed when I.  find the five or six records I’m interested in are all sold out or hideously expensive. Record shops tend to be small, with tight quarters and the entire process of purchasing is difficult.  I do think the local shops profit from the extra traffic, but the big winners are the designer labels that offer albums twice a year to addicts and collectors who can’t stand being left out.

Boogie Records, my local record shop, a fairly small enterprise struggling to get started, hosted its second annual Record Store Day.  In connection with the festive nature of the day, they brought in bands to play all day in the parking lot.  They had extra help in the shop and at the coffee bar.  They truly did their best to make the RSD experience more than just about hawking spendy niche records, and I commend them for their efforts.  Note: In an effort of transparency, I am a regular customer at Boogie Records and consider the owners friends of the family.

Doors Live at the matrix

I did my part.  I arrived about an hour before opening, got my number 6, and dutifully took my place in line.  I did get one record on my list–The Doors Live at the Matrix.  I believe the Matrix was Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin’s club in San Francisco, the band was recorded live in 1967.  The LP is essentially a live version of the their first, excellent album, The Doors. It’s great.  Everything you’d expect, “Light My Fire”, “Back Door Man,” Twentieth century Fox,” “The End,” are all there.  Vocalist Jim Morrison is in fine style and seems quite sober.  I was able to get number 763 of 10,000 pressings.

Though I was deprived of my longed for copy of The Cars Live at the Agora, I did make myself feel a little better by snagging a couple more records from Boogie’s growing and increasingly well organized stash of used records.

I’d been thinking before heading down to the shop, wouldn’t it be nice to pick up a copy of Devo’s excellent Freedom of Choice, and lo there was one.  Best known for the song and accompanying video “Whip It,”  the 1980 album is just a great record. I also had my eye on a very nice 1968 re-pressing of The Genius of Ray Charles.  Recorded in 1959, it features Charles playing with elements Duke Ellington’s and Count Basie’s jazz bands on side A.  Charles is remarkable and the musicianship is superb.  Side B was recorded in Seattle, and arranged by a young Quincy Jones, again with jazz accompaniment and strings. And while none of this sounds like “Hit the Road Jack,” or “Georgia on My Mind,” I was really surprised at how good Charles sounded, and his ability to crossover between genres.  A great acquisition.

The Zombies 

My badly light-washed photo of Rod Argent on the left and Colin Blunstone on the right.  Though there was much more to the band than just these two, they certainly captured the audience’s attention. 

As great as Record Store Day and seeing the family was, Saturday night was our long awaited night to see the Zombies at The Showbox in Seattle. I have one of those life-long connections to the British Invasion band.  in 1968 I was a Seattle Times paperboy.  One of the super popular songs I always heard on the radio was “Time of the Season.” It is so different from many popular songs of the time, with its big Rod Argent organ lead, and Colin Blunstone’s breathy vocals. To this day, the song probably lands in my top 20 songs.

Last night was not my first experience with the band.  In 2006 The Zombies traveled with Little Steven’s Underground Garage tour.  They played El Corazon in Seattle to about 100 concert goers.  I got to stand about eight feet from Blunstone.  I went with son Patrick and his then-wife Michelle, and it was one of the most wonderful concert experiences of my life.  Blunstone was very good, and the energetic younger-than-his-years Argent was superb.

But that 2006 performance saw a band that was still finding itself, much as the audience was re-discovering what a great band The Zombies were. They seemed to lack polish and the confidence that came with playing together over an extended period of time.  The original band member only lasted for a few years, and now it was nearly fifty years later.

In the years since 2006, the Zombies became much more popular.  Their 50th anniversary tour to commemorate The Odessey and the Oracle, widely recognized as a minor masterpiece, drew crowds wherever they went.

At our annual Christmas gathering in December, we saw the Zombies were making a return to Seattle in April, so Patrick, Rachel, my brother-in-law Paul and I bought tickets that minute.  We cashed them in on Saturday night. The band that appeared at the Showbox at the Market on Saturday, was a much more experienced, very polished outfit compared to the band I saw ten years ago.  The stage set-up offered two drumkits as well as two mellotron and keyboard sets.  Weird, but would all be clarified later.

The set was divided into two halves.  The first set featured well known Zombie songs, such as “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “I Love.”  At first notice, two things were evident.  First, this is very much Argent’s band.  The banter between songs was all Argent.  Inevitably the band went on to play Argent’s one big solo hit from the 70’s, “Hold Your Head Up.”  Decent energetic song, well-played, but it did go on for an excruciating ten minutes. The second big observation is that Blunstone’s voice is, if anything, stronger than it was when I last saw him. Pretty amazing for a guy who is now 72 years old. With Tom Toomey on guitar and Jim Rodford on bass, and Steve Rodford drumming, it was a very enjoyable set.

When the band emerged twenty or so minutes later it was straight on to Odessey and the Oracle.  The band changed as original bassist Chris White stepped in for Jim Rodford, and original drummer, Hugh Grundy joined Steve Rodford at the kit. A second keyboardist joined the band–but his name escapes me, and my sources aren’t helping much.

While the first half the show seemed well-paced and relaxed, with enough banter to be informative and interesting, the Odessey half felt needlessly rushed.  From “Care of Cell” to “Time of The Season,” all 12 songs were over and done with in forty minutes and it was on to the encore.  Don’t get me wrong, all were well performed by a very professional, very polished group of musicians who knew their stuff.  It just felt like they had a taxi outside with the meter running.

A great show, thoroughly enjoyable.  I count myself fortunate to have seen this band more than once.

 

The collector’s dilemma 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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

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.

The King is dead. Long live rock

Chuck_Berry_1957

If you’d asked me in high school, in the early 70’s how much I liked Chuck Berry’s music, I might have asked who the hell Chuck Berry was. Maybe not.  I may have known Johnny B. Goode.  Maybe not. But the 50’s revival in popular culture through films like American Graffiti and the TV show Happy Days, didn’t let us forget for long.  Chuck Berry, he was the guy with that Number 1 hit “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1972.  So yeah, I might have known who he was, but I certainly didn’t know how important he was.

I know there are legions of Elvis fans out there, those who still worship the ground he walked on, who make their pilgrimages to Graceland.  There is an industry built on Elvis impersonators. We’ve been sold the mythology of Elvis bringing gospel, country and rhythm and blues together and molding them into something called rock and roll, and somehow managing to sell it to a white mainstream popular culture.

I’m sorry, but I think that’s hooey.  Elvis, ultimately, was simply a salesman. He had the hips, but Berry had the licks.  Elvis depended on great guitar pickers like Scotty Moore and James Burton to carry the show, but Chuck wrote ’em, played ’em and sang ’em all by his lonesome.

If we all dragged out our collections of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks and Hollies records, we’d be listening to guys influenced by two important artists–Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers.  You have to be able to play the licks, and sing close harmonies.  Yes there are plenty of other influences in there too, including Elvis, Little Richard and Bo Diddley, but foremost was Berry.  Listen to With the Beatles; it’s riddled with Berry riffs.  Keith Richard didn’t become Keith Richards until he mastered Chuck Berry.  Dave Davies? Same.  The British Invasion may have been British, but it floated to America on Riffs by Chuck.

I was fortunate to see Chuck Berry in 1980.  He played Bumbershoot in 1980 and 1981.  Famously he unplugged Steve Fossen, bassist for Heart, from his amp in ’81.  I didn’t see that show. No it was a more low-key affair, with Chuck playing the Arena.  It was a free show. But the highlight for me was taking my baby son, hauling him around in a backpack to see the master at work. That’s right, Patrick Galactic’s first concert was with a brown-eyed handsome man.

It was a great performance in front of a small crowd, and I’ve never forgotten.

Yes, I do have some Chuck Berry in my record collection. I have a re-pressing of his first record, After School Session.  It includes “School Days,” “Havana Moon” and the ground-breaking “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man.” It was a song a bit ahead of its time on race issues. I also have a couple of live albums from the ’60’s.  Live at the Fillmore Auditoriuum from 1967 is pretty much a blues album, and mostly misses his big hits. The really interesting aspect of this record is he is backed up by a very new to the Bay Area Steve Miller Band. Finally, I have a re-issue of 1978’s Live in Concert.  It was originally issued as a 2 X LP set of his 1969 concert in Toronto.  Unfortunately, my 1982 budget pressing only has half the songs. I’ll need to fix that.

It’s sad to see Chuck pass away on the wind.  Even in his 80’s, it’s said, he would make his way to the clubs in St. Louis and take his turn at Blueberry Hill. He was not taken from us suddenly, and Berry lived a long life.  But it’s hard not to think the ranks of rock and roll are little thinner today, and that the party in rock and roll heaven is a little more fun.

Blue Oyster Cult in concert, v 3.0

 

BOC

From left, Eric Bloom, Richie Castellanos, Buck Dharma, and Kazim Sultan drenched in white light at the Emerald Queen Casino.  Saturday marked my third time seeing Blue Oyster Cult.

Saturday my three friends from school and I trundled off to the Emerald Queen Casino to see Blue Oyster Cult.  BOC comes to Tacoma each year and regularly plays to a full house of mostly overage, overweight, balding fans, and/or their consorts.  I occasionally wonder if some will survive the night.

This is my third time seeing BOC, and I’ve written about each of the concerts. Version 3.0 was delightful and different from the previous two iterations.  Both of the prior events were focused on making sure songs were played.  This show was more about showing off Buck Dharma’s chops with lengthy improvisational jams.  It was a nice departure, demonstrating the lead guitarist’s considerable chops.

Buck seems so at ease up on stage, like he was born with a magical gift that he is sharing out to audience as simple as pouring water in a cup and passing it around.  There is no pain-induced grimace on his face, nothing to suggest this is difficult stuff at all.  No matter how long or fast, or challenging the passage, Buck looks like he could just as easily be sitting in a rocking chair with his guitar or his dog in his lap, passing the tunes or the satisfied smiles on his dog’s lap to the assembled multitude. He makes it look so simple.

The show started a little late because so many folks were slow getting from the parking lot, through the crowded casino and into the event center.  More about this later.  But that didn’t prevent the band from playing a full set and a solid six song encore.  The total running time for the show was well over two hours.

As earlier stated, this show was a little different.  Less emphasis on songs, but the favorites were definitely played. “The Reaper,” “Me-262,” “Dominance and Submission,” “The Golden Age of Leather,” “Godzilla,””Hot Rails to Hell” and “Cities Aflame With Rock and Roll” are the most obvious well known BOC songs that were featured.  The boys also trotted out “I Love the Night,” which is a brilliant song from Spectres.  It’s one of the very few BOC ballads, but lyrically and musically is matchless.

If the show had any flaws it was the fact that it very much seemed the Buck Dharma show. Less of the spotlight on Bloom, who runs the show. We’d come to really enjoy guitarist Richie Castellano and his opportunity to solo.  Castellano came out of music school to join the band, but don’t let his training fool you; he can really tear it up. The rhythm section of drummer Jules Radino and bassist Kazim Sultan keep things rumbling along.  But they all seemed to fade a bit into the woodwork.

Seeing shows at the Emerald Queen is problematic. We sat in the middle of the hall.  Everyone sits at the same level, so seeing the stage is challenging.  On nights with a full house, you’re likely trying to see through someone’s noggin. Saturday’s show seemed particularly noxious.  Lots of late customers, and then the idiots sitting in front of us were constantly shifting seats, contributing to my feeling of motion sickness.  As in, “If you people can’t sit still I’m gonna puke!” All I can say is I’ve seen three different BOC shows at the EQC, and in certain respects my level of enjoyment was impacted as much by what I had to put up with from those sitting around me as the show itself. Not sure there will be a number four, but I love the band’s music enough that I wouldn’t rule it out.

Great finds and good-byes

It’s been a while since my last post.  The words might not be coming out regularly, but the parade of vinyl into my den has not stopped. I’ve picked a few records I’d like to share observations about, and then step outside my addiction with a farewell.

Had some luck a few weeks ago at my local Goodwill.  Those come few and far between for me.  No I didn’t find a butcher block Beatles cover, but there were some nice titles in good condition for a buck each.

scott-mckenzie

One record I had on my wantlist was The Voice of Scott McKenzie.  Believe it or not, this is the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love. We’ve lost a lot of sounds from that magical summer in San Francisco.  Jerry Garcia, long gone, Paul Kantner died last year in the great meatgrinder of 2016. Janis dead. Hendrix gone. But McKenzie is still alive.  Who?  McKenzie was a kind of folkyish singer whose only big hit was the anthemic “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair.)” He is only credited with two albums.  I actually found Voice to be pretty enjoyable.  He has a pretty good mid-range voice and sings some pretty good songs. Four are penned by John Phillips of Mamas and Papas fame, he does a nice cover of “Reason to Believe” by Tim Hardin, as well as a John Sebastian’s  “It’s Not Time Now.”  His warm voice suits the folk-rock material quite well.  I need to listen to it again.

the-drifters

A second record in my Goodwill pickup was an anthology, The Drifters Golden Hits from 1968.  Normally I stay away from anthologies, but I hadn’t really listened to the Drifters before, and kind of had them pegged as just another doo wop band.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. This record simply oozes great songs: “Under the Boardwalk,” “On Broadway,” “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and “Up on the Roof” to name just a few. Great songs by great songwriters by a band that included Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King.  Even the peripheral songs were really good.  Their LP’s are from the late 50’s and early 60’s, so not easy gets, but it makes me thinks I should be trying harder with Sam Cooke, The Coasters and The Platters.

jolene

Let’s talk Dolly Parton.  I’ve admired her early solo music for some time.  For all her goofy big boobs, wigs and make-up gig, none of that changes the fact that she is a fine songwriter and singer. In the early 70’s, after she escaped the clutches of Porter Wagoner, she did some excellent work.  My favorite Parton song is “Jolene” from the album of the same name from 1974.  I set about to acquire a used copy, but it was just spendy and hard to come by, so I went for the 2015 repressing by Music on Vinyl.  A single listen convinced me I made the right choice. In addition to the title track, it also includes Parton’s fine version (shit, it’s her song) of I Will Always Love You.  Though the rest of the songs didn’t stand out for me-because I’ve only listened to them once-they were all as delightful mix of up-tempo songs and ballads featuring Parton’s voice out in front.  A great record and not limited to country music fans only. “Jolene” was recorded by a plethora of other artists including most recently by Parton herself with the  a capella group Pentatonix.  Good stuff.

stuart_mclean_cropped

Finally, let me close with a sad farewell to Stuart McLean, the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s radio broadcast of The Vinyl Cafe.  I’m a long time listener of National Public Radio, and McLean hosted this engaging hour of storytelling and music Sunday afternoons on the Seattle NPR affiliate, KUOW.  For those who believe The Vinyl Cafe was no more than a north of the border copy of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, that simply was not so.  McLean’s hour was really devoted to telling stories.  From his opening monologue, that was really devoted to the city hosting his radio show from Halifax, to Fredericton, to Vancouver to his own stories of Marley and Dave and the improbable but frequently hilarious situations they’d find themselves in, to stories shared by the show’s listeners, The Vinyl Cafe was about sharing tales.  Nothing too heavy, nothing too intellectual, but smart and literate, something everyone could relate to. Yes, there was music, often very good music from the week’s location on the tour.  But the show was never about that. The tunes were just a moment’s interlude so the stories could continue.  But at the center of it all was McLean, with his knack for great timing, deference to his audience, and bottomless reservoir of good humor.

Stuart McLean died a week ago, Wednesday February 15th, after a two year fight against melanoma. He was only 68. It is difficult to see how the show carries on without him, the storyteller-in-chief.  It’s just another reminder that the world turns, things change, and there is terribly little time for sorrow.

Anthologies-good or bad?

When I leaped back into my vinyl-acquiring obsession almost exactly two years ago, I made myself a promise: buy no greatest hits collections.  Some dribbled into my hands as I found ’em dirt cheap at Goodwill or acquired some in big el cheapo collection. However,my belief was and remains that a mature listener does not require an artificially edited version of a performer’s work in order to gain an appreciation of their worth.  At least at this point in my life, I’ve avoided best of  . . . collections like the plague.

My belief is that a full length LP offers context for what an artist was doing at the time. i believe I can spare the 40 minutes it takes to listen to both sides of an album, try to get an idea of what an artist was thinking when it was released without resorting to what the label slapped together, imagining what they thought buyers wanted to hear.

elton-johns-greatest-hits

If there was ever an example of a bad anthology, this is it. 

Let’s say, for example you wanted to listen to Elton John.  Would you really buy a copy of 1974’s Elton John’s Greatest Hits, thinking this was a definitive collection of his songs? First, it only has ten songs.  That’s terrible. It takes the listener all the way through Caribou, but has four songs from Good-Bye Yellow Brick Road. No songs from Empty Sky, Tumbleweed Connection, or Madman Across the Water. No “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” from Honky Chateau.  No “Harmony,” “Grey Seal,” or “Seen That Movie Too” from Yellow Brick Road. Just a ten song skeleton from five years and nine albums worth of prolific recording.  This case is pretty egregious, but I’m sure you get what I’m saying.

Ordered Gene Pitney.  Am considering the other because the records I want are spendy and/or hard to get.  Temptations record is the only one with the great “Ball of Confusion” on it. 

That said, I’m beginning to soften my view toward anthologies a bit.  There are lots of artists I’d like to have albums for, but are hard to get or really more than I can afford to spend. Sam and Dave, Martha and the Vandellas.  Usually before I commit to adding an artist to my collection, I do some research to determine which are the best LP’s, all someone else’s views, of course, to add, because with few exceptions I can’t have everything. While I continue to look for the records I want from the artists I want, I may resort to anthologies to fill in for the “hard to find.” Sigh. I recently ordered the 1984 Rhino anthology for Gene Pitney.

There are a two more types of anthologies I’ve always been open to.  Record companies often assembled collections by their house musicians to encourage buyers.  One of my favorites is a collection of Northwest bands published by Jerden Records.  I also have a multi-LP anthology by Motown. They provide snapshots to entire genres of music.  I also have a few of the Oldies But Goodies series.  These also fell into my lap during a big cheapie mass buy, but they are also kind of nostalgic.  I remember seeing these in the store when I was a kid.

The last anthology is kind of unique, and these really like, are the live albums promoting a cause.  The most famous might be George Harrison’s Concert for Banladesh. But the three record set also included Ravi Shankar, Leon Russell and Bob Dylan.  During the late 70’s and 80’s these became quite the done thing.  Pete Townsend and the Who were very involved in organizing The Concert for Kampuchea. The No Nukes album from 1979 featured a range of artists from The Doobie Brothers to Bonnie Raitt to Bruce Springsteen. Unfortunately the Live Aid and Farm Aid benefits don’t appear on vinyl.

So anthologies, good or bad?  Let’s just say I’ve moderated a bit, even on the greatest hits packages, but generally to be avoided.  But other forms of anthologies can definitely be worthwhile.

2017 firsts

First New Listen: Grand Funk Railroad Closer to Home

clsoer-to-home

I picked up this album as an inexpensive save the shipping throw-in on a November Discogs order.  I have six Grand Funk Railroad records.  Some I’ve listened to and some I haven’t.  I have varying reactions to their records.

Generally I like the solid rock roots of their music.  Whether it is “We’re an American Band” or “I’m your Captain,” Grand Funk is true to their blues based no-nonsense rock and roll, but more melodic than Black Sabbath or the other heavy sounding bands massing on the fringes of 1970 rock.

Unfortunately, it’s what they say that causes me consternation.  There is a callous indifference to the dignity of women that put their music out of time and place.  Though this is ’70’s music, I felt my breath suck in rapidly as Mark Farner dismissed the role of his “woman” serving him, and compared her to a dog. Really. Maybe it’s just my 21st century sensibilities

Closer to Home is a solid record.  Grand Funk’s third album has the best production values of its early work, including strings and some accoustic songs. The shining moment may be “I’m Your Captain,” an interesting nine minute opus that is eminently listenable and hummable.

This record was a great way to start the year.

First Purchases

I had been able to hold off my symptoms of addiction for a week, but when my wife invited me out to a couple of estate sales this weekend, I couldn’t restrain myself. No I couldn’t find anything worthwhile at the sales, but I did convince her it was okay to stop by High Voltage in Tacoma for a looksee.

I had some albums in mind.  I am completely sold on a couple of albums by Sam and Dave, and a couple of albums by The Guess Who, but sadly I struck out on both.  Knowing I had little time, with my fingers on my phone and my Discogs wantlist, I was able to pick up a copy of English Settlement by XTC, El Dorado by Electric Light Orchestra, and a decent copy of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy out of the bargain bin.

english-settlement

In November I put out a Facebook request to my friends asking what albums might be integral to their music collection.  English Settlement and Skylarking by XTC were a couple of those records.  I confess to having no knowledge of their music, but I’m anxious to give it a try.

el-dorado

Electric Light Orchestra goes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.  I confess to not being a huge fan, but at my son Patrick’s urging I’m going to give El Dorado a try.  It’s highly rated on Allmusic.com, my only reservation being that it is a thematic record.  We’ll see.  It’s supposed to be ELO’s first great record, and is their first effort combining rock and orchestra.

captain-fantastic

The last album is probably Elton John’s last great hurrah. I used to dismiss anything Elton John after Yellow Brick Road, but I’ve taken a different perspective after multiple listens to Caribou. This record also closes out my Elton John collection-certainly not all his LP’s, but all those I want. I’m excited to give this a listen to see what I get.

hold-on-im-coming

This morning I ordered a very nice and reasonably priced copy of a 2012 Stax re-pressing of Sam and Dave’s Hold on I’m Coming from a  Discogs seller. Sam and Dave were such great performers on the Stax label, and I’m super-excited to have it in my collection.  The title track is a wonderful song and the whole album gets great reviews.  This was one of my must-gets for 2017, so obtaining a buyer-friendly copy is good, $12 plus reasonable shipping is great.

Hope you’re finding some great music to listen to in the new year.  My hope is not just that I keep adding to my collection, but that I find new artists and genres to appreciate.  Thanks for following along