Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hump Day Is For Humps


I run a vinyl group on Facebook. When I started the group in 2015, it was one of the only groups of its kind. Since then, selling product on Facebook has become the norm, and there are at last count, close to three dozen vinyl groups that I can see with just a few simple clicks of research. In reality, there are probably thousands.

My group had over 1,000 members, but I saw membership drop down to 800 or so. There are a few possible reasons. One reason I imagined was, I don't allow other members to sell their product in my group. But I think the big reason was, I don't take bullshit. A lot falls under the bullshit umbrella.


•Selling crappy, thrift shop vinyl
(There were too many other group offering up the Alan Parsons and Eddie Rabbitt catalogues, and I didn't want to see anyone trying to get $10 for records that could be found for $1 just about anywhere, with all due respect to both Alan and Eddie and their fans. It's not about the music. Mind you, I didn't care what people sold in their own groups. This is not a criticism. It's just what I wanted for my group.

•Price gauging
(Every record I put up for sale was the same price or most of the time, less than its equivalent online. I didn't want to see anyone pricing a $15 Prince record at $40, just to cash in on his death. That's just one example.

•Showing off
(If it's not for sale, don't show it me. I'm happy that you found your rare Jane's Addiction picture disc. I really am. But you must gloat somewhere else. Plus, I've seen too many photos of rare psych records, or hard to find grunge albums from 1991, posted in groups with the tag, "Today's thrift store finds." Nice try, but more than likely, bullshit. My thrift store has John Gary records, not all three Nirvana records. I admit to posting photos of recently acquired collections, to show off a bit myself, but most everything shown, ends up for sale.

Finally, the thing the irked me most-

•Unhelpful commentary
(Three years and 1,000 members, and I can tell you exactly the number of people who purchased regularly. If you were not one of those people, but chose to criticize someone's purchase, or offer up some pointless review after the record had already sold, or offered me $3 for a record that I was selling for $4, you immediately ended up on my shit list. If you can find all of the records I have for sale in your local record store for less money, by all means, go grab them and support that mom and pop. You don't need mail order.

I eventually shut down my group, which was called AM/PM Records and opened up a new, private group called "Records For Sale." Currently, it has 60 members, all personally invited by yours truly.

Things have been going wonderfully, and because I truly like all the people in the group, the rules have changed. Members can sell. Members can discuss whatever they like.

But two things happened yesterday.

If you are still with me at this point, thank you, loyal readers.

I had removed myself from Facebook early yesterday morning. I needed a breather, after having a frustrating and stroke-inducing discussion with a raving gun lunatic. Members of the group noticed this, and within minutes someone wrote, "I've heard about stuff like this. I hope we get the records we paid for!" Three years of loyalty and excellent service, not to mention hundreds of free bonus records, and the FIRST thought about my absence was, "THIEF!"

And this--

Todd Rundgren and Utopia have reunited for a spring tour, and of course, most of the members know how I feel about Todd. One member was kind enough to post a link to the news, with the tag, "For Sal." It was a thoughtful move, even though I had already procured my ticket. But seconds later, the commentary began. "I...just...don't...get...TODD!" "Yeah, I try. I just can't." Blah blah blah. And thanks again.

What is this need to shit on people? Before social media, if you didn't like a guy, you just didn't hang out with him. If he liked Jimmy Page more than Tony Iommi, you pushed each other in the schoolyard, and then walked home together. There wasn't this need to voluntarily offer up bile with every keystroke, to criticize without provocation.

If I offer up a subject, Teenage Fanclub for example, my goal, whether you believe me or not, isn't to trash the band and all its fans. I know I should like TF, and I don't, so by throwing this out for discussion, I hope people will lead me in the right direction and steer me into the songs I should be listening to. I didn't say, "I just don't get TF" so someone could say, "Yeah, and I hate Todd Rundgren."

I know I am mixing things up a bit, but it really and truly eats at my stomach lining. There are many blogs I visit, that more often than not, post music I hate, but I just keep my fucking trap shut. I don't see the need to snark on someone's parade. And yes, I am King Snark, but if Dave Matthews wants to have it out with me, then let him. I don't feel any need at all to shit on my friends because I don't like what they like. I haven't felt that way since I was 17. But mostly, if no one asked you how you feel about Todd Rundgren, try to find something more useful with your time than to offer that up on a page run by a Rundgren fan.

As for Facebook, one friend offered this:

"Think of it as a tool. You can either build something or destroy something, depending on how you use it."

It has become very apparent, no one is interested in building anything.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker, & The Blues

People who don't like the blues tend to complain that it all sounds the same. I've heard the same said about Van Morrison. Hell, I've said it about Van Morrison. There are clumps of records, spread out over various eras of Morrison's career, that feel interchangeable. Yet there is always something, like his version of the oft-covered "St. James Infirmary," found on his disappointing Blue Note release, "What's Wrong With This Picture?."

I thought I never needed to hear another version of "Infirmary," and then Van turns in a bone chilling performance. When Van is good, he is transcendent. And the same can be said about the blues.

"Too Long In Exile," Van's 1993 effort, is as important to my listening as both "Astral Weeks" and "Moondance." I am sure personal circumstances add to the charm of this record, as I had just opened my shop and just about any new release was exciting. But also, there was a great story told to us by someone in Van's camp about the version of "Gloria" on this record. Recorded as a duet with John Lee Hooker, Van instructed John Lee on a number of takes, to just "vamp," a call and response, so to speak. And so it began:

Gonna shout it all night
John Lee:
A soul sender
Gonna shout it everyday
John Lee:
Real, real, real love, now now
Shout it now, shout it now
John Lee:
Love, love, love, real, real, real
What's her name?
John Lee:

The version of "Gloria" has become my personal favorite, not only because it truly packs a wallop, but that story feels truer than ever when you hear John Lee spell out her name, a number of different ways.


This is the real thing.

"Too Long In Exile," also features Georgie Fame, Van's more than occasional side man, and a legend in his own right.

And, it features the song I posted up top, "I'll Take Care Of You," a perfect example of what Van can do with the blues to elevate it higher than just "sounding the same." The way he delivers the line,"Yeah, having no doubts in my mind, just exactly what I'm gonna do," which takes place between 2:22-2:28, is worth the price of admission.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Weekend Mix/This Is Radio Clash

About "Sandanista!", Robert Christgau wrote in the Village Voice, "If this is their worst-which it is, I think-they must be, er, the world's greatest rock and roll band."

After indicating I'd make a mix, I wiki'd "Sandanista", only to discover that CBS had already made a single disc out of it for radio stations and promotion, and when I returned found that Jeff beat me to it, too.
Both versions would make a good single LP, but I felt it really wanted to be a great double.

According to Joe strummer, the decision to release a triple-LP was their way of mocking CBS for resisting release of "London Calling" as a double album, then issuing Bruce Springsteen's "The River" less than a year later.

I was a Clash fan from the beginning, having fallen hard for their (US) debut.
I absolutely loathed Sandy Pearlman's production of "Give'Em Enough Rope", and didn't think much of the songs either, except for that Mott The Hoople homage, "Julie's In The Drug Squad".

But for the cover, I wasn't crazy about "London Calling" either, as Mick Jones seemed to have unfortunately discovered guitar pedals. Although the songs held up when I saw them play the Hollywood Palladium.

What really got me was the string of terrific singles released in the UK during 1978-9, "Jail Guitar Doors", "1-2 Crush On You", "White Man In Hammersmith", and "Capitol Radio" to name a few. KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer played them back to back on his show, and the cassette I made of the broadcast was long my favorite Clash album (I still have it somewhere).

When "Sandanista!" dropped I was broke, and living in West LA.
A generous co-worker at my shitty 9 to 5, lent me his copy.
I quickly filled 90 minutes of tape with the highlights, skipping over boring balladry and obvious filler. I've still never heard more than 30 seconds of "Something About England", "Broadway", "Rebel Waltz", "If Music Could Talk", and "Shepherds Delight", and really just about anything not on this weekend mix.

The 80 minutes assembled here are pretty similar to that 90 minute cassette.

In a way "Sandanista!" is perfect as it is, and exactly what the group intended, a big sprawling mess.
When I make a mix of the overly familiar, I look for ways to make it fresh somehow, so I landed on making a different album entirely, using outtakes and other material.
I approached it as if hired as producer to straighten out the mess, or like Todd on "Skylarking".
In other words, WWTD?

The sessions were book-ended by two great singles that deserved to be on a proper album, rather than a compilation of odds and ends. "Bankrobber" was recorded first in the sessions that became "Sandanista!", and quickly released on the stop-gap "Black Market" ep.
"This Is Radio Clash" was recorded just after the album was mastered and released as a single, one of their best, and I thought rated as a titular kick-off.
"Stop The World" is a better song than many that made the cut.
I messed with the running order as much as I could.

The biggest liberty I took was replacing a song I don't like, "Hitsville UK", with "Torchlight", another featuring Ellen Foley, from her album "Spirit Of St Louis". Written by Strummer-Jones, played by The Clash in the same studio, with the same crew, during the same period, arranged similarly, produced by Mick Jones, and engineered by Bill Price with the same sound as "Sandanista!".
It's the only song on her album that Mick shares the lead, and I think it fits better musically and lyrically than "Hitsville".

I bought "Sandanista!"on cd in the '90's, at NYCD, of course, but I haven't really listened to it in decades.
There aren't any great bands without a great drummer, and "Tops" certainly fits the bill.
His playing on the album is consistently supple, inventive, and stylish. He really got them there.
The bands inclusiveness and heart is refreshing in today's social climate.
I've been gobsmacked this week by it's relevancy to today's political climate.
"The Leader" hits awfully close to home, while the litany of "The Magnificent Seven" has only got worse.
We need The Clash now more than ever.



This Is Radio Clash

This Is Radio Clash, too

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Eric Clapton: 1964-1970

After watching Lili Zanuck's Showtime documentary, "Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars," the one thing that struck me more than anything was Clapton's output from 1964-1970 versus his output from 1971-2017. This isn't really a new discussion, as the same type of talk has taken place regarding many artists, including Elton John, Rod Stewart and Neil Young, for starters. But what fascinates me more about Clapton is that, during those seven years, he was part of what are arguably some of the most important records in music and none of them are his proper.

He can be heard on two Yardbirds records, John Mayall's Blues Breakers, three Cream records, not to mention various live recordings, Blind Faith, and of course, Derek & The Dominoes. He began as a side man and peaked as a featured player. And though he had the most success, including his only Grammys, as a leader, the music released in the 45 years after "Layla," that is actually worthy of comparison to his first 7 years, would arguably not fill up a two-record set.

There have been moments of live genius. The guitar solo from a NYC performance of "I Shot The Sheriff" in 2004, remains one of the most intense live moments I have ever witnessed. His "Crossroads" benefit concerts always produced a few YouTube-able moments. But when we talk about his best solo records, his debut from 1970, or  what? "Slowhand?" "Journeyman?" "Unplugged?" What is really there but 40 minutes of playing it safe?

45 years is a long stretch of time to not even come close to why you are called "God."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Feelin Single-Seeing Double

Someone on Facebook referred to Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything?" as a masterpiece. My first thought was, "Right on!" But then I started thinking how I almost never listen to all four sides, which of course, reminded me of my post from a few weeks ago, where I condensed "The White Album" down to two sides, which of course, made me want to listen to "Abbey Road," which made me think, "Here comes the sun, my ass! The weather has been horrible for the last three days," so I thought, "I can't wait for summer," so I threw on "Pet Sounds," which made me miss Carl Wilson, so I listened to Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blues," because I don't like Carl's solo albums.

Welcome to my world.


How many double albums are really worth the weight of all four sides?

I always start "Blonde On Blonde" with "Pledging My Time" and never ever play "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands." But even without "Rainy Day Woman" and "Sad Eyed Lady," "Blonde On Blonde" still clocks in at 59 minutes, so bad example. I mean, two more brilliant outtakes from that era, and it could have been an essential triple album, that's how good "Blonde On Blonde" is.

The Clash "Sandinista" has been discussed on these pages before. I have made every effort to listen to all six sides, but it always ends up feeling like the wedding scene in "The Deer Hunter." I would love to see this epic, triple LP, edited down to one brilliant record. Any takers?

I am pretty sure "All Things Must Pass" could make an all time greatest list without half of its contents. Even tossing the third, unplayed "Apple Jam" LP, there are still a few too many songs I don't need to hear.

Like, "The Rhite Album" from a few posts back, I thought it would be a fun exercise to create stronger single LPs from classic double LPs. I know many argue that it's all about context, but the truth is, if the first two singles off of "The White Album" were "Bungalow Bill" and "Piggies," no one would be shouting from the rooftops, "I love the new Beatles singles!"

Here are my single LP takes of both "Something/Anything?" and "All Things Must Pass." If you've got a double you wish was a single, send it over with your new track list.

And, of course, when you are finished here, please take a look at the new post on "Definitive Vinyl," where I discuss both "Truth" and "Beck-Ola" from the Jeff Beck Group, and whether or not a record should be called "deluxe" just because the vinyl is green.

Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything?"

Side One
I Saw The Light
It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
Wolfman Jack
Sweeter Memories
Saving Grace

Side Two
Black Maria
Couldn't I Just Tell You
Dust In The Wind
Torch Song
Hello It's Me

George Harrison-All Things Must Pass

Side One
Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp
Beware Of Darkness
Isn't It A Pity (Version 1)

Side Two
What Is Life
Apple Scruffs
My Sweet Lord
Awaiting On You All
All Things Must Pass

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Check It Out

New post over at Definitive Vinyl, where we get to the bottom of the Jeff Beck Group's late 60's classics.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Songs Of The Week, 2018: 2/3-2/9

Bus Stop- Tin Machine
Sunday Blues- Marshall Crenshaw
Waves- Marjorie Fair
Not The One To Ask- Tommy Hoehn & Van Duren
No Ending- Stacey Lane
About You- Paul McCartney
The Seventh Seal- Scott Walker