Friday, May 6, 2016

April Record Shopping at Amoeba in Hollywood, Part Two.

Amoeba is essentially a time warp. I have been in no other record store in the past 15 years that is so busy, has so many employees working, and is filled with so many people who seriously give a shit about physical media. I was in the VHS section upstairs and a guy looked in my basket and said that I got a sweet deal on the $1.99 Jane's Addiction "Classic Girl" CD single I was picking up. I told him I used to have it in high school but lost it somewhere along the line; he said he still had his from the same time. And then I told him how I liked the single because it has the "LA Medley" on it, which is one of my favorite tracks of theirs. And then we went our separate ways. And it was pleasant. And then I bought some VHS tapes.
Here's the other stuff I bought:

Daz Dillinger - Retaliation, Revenge, and Get Back (1998)

I've had my eye out for this one for like a decade. My friend lent me his 2-LP copy right after it came out and I got hooked on "Oh No," which is one of the greatest West Coast rap songs ever. He eventually retrieved it and though I've had a digital copy, I'd been wanting the wax back. Just watched a copy go for $28 on eBay. I got this one for 10.

True Love - I'm Bustin' Out (1988)

Wasn't gonna pay more than three bucks for this, and I didn't have to. My man's gonna love you up real good, girl. There is also a song on this LP called "You're So Fat."

Salt N' Pepa - "He's Gamin' On Ya" 12" (1991)

Back of this is just the Juice soundtrack cover but with no lettering. It's pretty sweet.

Kid Sensation - "Skin 2 Skin" 12" (1991)

Girl, Kid Sensation's gonna love you up, too, but it's gonna be a whole lot less romantic. Seattle's own, struggling to find his lane in the early 90's. Still decently dope.

The W.I.S.E. Guyz - eF yoU eN Kay E (1989)

Sealed. I had never heard of these dudes and the music's not quite as serious as that cover. Very '89. This video is ill.

Future Flash and King M.C./The Future M.C.'s - "State of Shock Rapp"/"Erotic Rapp" 12" (1984)

I grabbed this just to hear how blatant the Price bite is, and boy, is it just rap karaoke, but hey: it was 1984 and everybody was still getting this all together. The "State of Shock Rapp" is the same deal: straight cover of the original with rappin'. I knew the Future M.C.s sounded familiar to me, and it turns out I have one of their other records. It features a cover of "Take Me With U." Safe to say they found their niche.

Queen Latifah - All Hail the Queen (1989)

I've never heard this record aside from maybe the few singles. Queen Latifah can rap, man. And she's repping the original Flavor Unit on this one. She's a STRONG woman.

Oaktown's 3-5-7 - Fully Loaded (1991)

This was the second and final full-length from Sweet LD and Terrible T, and it's dipped in 1991. In their defense, they were proteges of Hammer, so it wasn't like they weren't blatantly going for mainstream success. I bought the 12" single for "Turn it Up," the lead single from this album, at some point in the last year or two. No telling how many high school dance routines have been performed to that one.

That was it for records. Here are the cassettes I picked up:

Some interesting stuff. I always thought "emotion lotion" was a Mr. Show joke, but apparently it is also an album by a band called Top. Or maybe it's both. I dunno. That Master Charge tape is crazy low-fi lean rap from Dallas and it is flat-out amazing. I can find no trace of it online. I think that King Missile promo tape might have the original title that contained "coming" before its removal before wide release. Also, this tape, in particular, is notable:
I bought this cassette for two reasons: First, the combo of that cover and the promise of a song called "Black Leather Maniac." Second, because I noticed Deen Castronovo played drums on it. He recently got let go as the drummer for Journey after a long time, but before that he played with a ton of people, like Bad English, and before that he grew up in Oregon and played in a Portland metal band called Wild Dogs. I passively collect local Portland music on vinyl, and I've got the first two Wild Dogs albums.

Turns out Dr. Mastermind is none other than Matt McCourt, the lead singer of Wild Dogs, and this was his project following the dissolution of that band. And I found it on cassette in Los Angeles. It's these cosmic connections we make, by brethren.

And yes: "Black Leather Maniac" is sweet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Record Shopping at Amoeba in Hollywood, Part One.

It's an annual tradition. I made it back to the best record store in the world, and as always, I went in not knowing what I'd find, and left happy. The 7" section hasn't been too kind to me these past couple trips. Used to be able to walk with armfuls of Sympathy/Sub Pop singles; now the boxes just seem to get emptier and emptier every year. It's weird. But it ain't like I have trouble finding other stuff.

I got to Amoeba around 4 on Wednesday night, went over to the rap section, and there was Kyle Mooney from SNL flipping through the hip-hop. I wasn't going to say anything but then he came right over to where I was standing so I told him I liked his work. And, you know, we ended up chatting for a few minutes. No big deal. It's not like I don't see celebs on the regs when I'm making the fucking scene down there, you know? Seriously: not a big deal. He told me to "have a good night, man," and I said the same, and it just wasn't a huge thing. Just two guys, buying some records, exchanging some pleasantries. Pretty standard sitch for me, if I'm being honest. Totally not a deal at all, let alone a big one. He mentioned he was in town working on "a project." And I was just like "Oh, cool, nice," because it was, you know? Nice of him to feel like he could tell me that. I don't know. Maybe the whole thing's not even worth mentioning.

I got a bunch of rap records, but I got some 7"s, too. Here's those:

Tomahawk - "M.E.A.T." 7" (2014)

I used to be such an easy mark for any of Mike Patton's side projects but at some point I ceased keeping up. So, when I find a sealed Tomahawk single for two bucks from a few years back, I use that opportunity to get back on the horse, if only briefly.

Oswald Five-O - "A Love Supreme" 7" (1991)

The Eugene band's first 7", I believe. Red heart on the cover appears to be hand-colored. 33⅓ 7". You can almost smell the dank basement.

REO Speedealer - "Double Clutchin' Finger Fuckin'" 7" (1997)

Hey, why not. Original name before they got sued, maaaaaan!

764-HERO - "High School Poetry" 7" (1996)

Man, these are a great couple o' songs. Dude just feeling the shit out of some feelings. Record says "PLAY AT 45RPM" on both sides and both sides are 33⅓. Fucking wasting my time.

Tribe 8 - Roadkill Cafe 7" (1995)

I picked up my first Tribe 8 7" at Amoeba two years ago, but they're a band I've been familiar with since the 90's. Strangely topical: the A-side here, "Wrong Bathroom," is about a girl being told to use the men's room because she looks like a guy. Side B guessed it: a live cover of "Radar Love."

And that was it for 7"s. As usual, I went nuts in the 12" rap section.

Big Scoob - "Champagne On the Block" 12" (Promo) (1996)

Scoob Lover my brother! I already have the standard version of this; this is the white-label promo.

Big Daddy Kane - "Mr. Pitiful" 12" (Promo) (1990)

Speaking of Scoob. I'm just buying any and all BDK records at this point. Promo single. Album version on both sides.

Alliance - We Could Get Used to This (1988)

Rap from '88 that I wasn't familiar with. Dudes on the cover straight livin' large. Positive K catching some writing credits on this thing. Sampling Prince on the title track. Shit really WAS better "back in the day."

Dana Dane - Dana Dane With Fame (1987)

About time I found this. Dana Dane was one of the first rappers I ever listened to and somehow I have never come across a decent copy of this one vinyl. This one's got a cut corner on the bottom right but the rest of it is gold so I'm solid. Now go watch the dope vid for "Nightmares."

Cookie Crew - Born This Way (1989)

I'd seen this album before, but I'd definitely never heard it. Bought it because 1989 is the year but damn if this thing ain't wild on some UK dance-track fast-rap. I'm feeling the flow. And doing the knowledge.

MC Chill - MC Chill (1986)

I bought a sealed copy of this record that might have been my most expensive purchase. It wasn't really that much, but enough that I thought twice. But I couldn't resist that cover. Dude sounds very Run-DMC and that's about what I figured.

Roxanne Shanté - Bad Sister (1989)

I thought I had some other Shanté records, but I guess I don't. This one came out in '89 on Cold Chillin' and was produced and mixed my Marley Marl. So you know I'm down. Is she the strongest rapper? No, no she is not.

Everlast - "Never Missin' A Beat" 12" (1989)

I'm such a sad loser for buying this. Doesn't even have any remixes on it.

Next up: I buy more rap records from the late 80's!

Friday, February 5, 2016

January Record Shopping in Arizona, Part Five.

Our last stop was another Zia in Tempe, I think near the ASU campus. It was getting late but we ended up being there for a while, not leaving until after 10:30. You gotta put in the work, people. Here's what I got:

Annie Lennox & Al Green - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" 7" (1988)

In the Scrooged sleeve! Had to buy it for that.

The DiMartinos - The DiMartinos (1974)

Private-press LP out of St. Paul, Minnesota, that I assumed was gonna be super down with Jesus, but it's actually a pop record that's all covers - seems like they were a gigging band that provided entertainment at events and whatnot. My copy is signed by all four members on the back. I love paying two dollars for records like this.

8Ball & MJG - Ridin High (2007)

2xLP, sealed, and it was 8 bucks. My first 8Ball & MJG full-length on vinyl, I think. Killer Mike is on this one.

This album - specifically the lead-off track, "Relax and Take Notes" - brings up something I've been thinking about for a while. On the sleeve, it says "Relax and Take Notes featuring Notorious B.I.G. and Project Pat." If you listen to the song, BIG is just sampled for the hook, which is taken from a verse I know (literally the only BIG lyrics I know) in "Dead Wrong" with him and Eminem. So, first off, it's not what you'd traditionally consider a rap "feature" at all, because the dude's been dead for a decade by the time this thing dropped. Also, "featuring" an artist of this caliber would imply - to me, at least - he'd be rapping a verse, though I think that line's gotten blurrier over the years and there's an argument to be made there. But, to me, there's also an implication that his contribution would be something new, or at least rare enough that not a lot of people had heard it. If not, why would I care about it? This is taken from his posthumous album, which sold 2 million copies. I just think it's a little misleading and maybe even a little cheap. And I doubt it's even the rappers themselves who do it. I know there's other examples of this. Anyway.

Bobby Gosh - Love Ballet (1982)

That cover is really something. The lead track on this is an amazing anthem that should have soundtracked a steamy love scene in a movie. Maybe it was. At 1:35 I'm pretty sure he says "Touching softly as we feel clothing disappear" which is incredible.

Digital Underground - Future Rhythm (1996)

This has been the elusive DU album I've never owned in any capacity. Not even sure I've heard any of it before. This is the official US vinyl release - plain black sleeve with a track-listing sticker. Actually the sticker's on the shrink. This thing was sealed, sucka.

Kra-Zee White Boy - Down & Dirty (1990)

This is, against all odds, worse and more offensive than I thought it might be.

Neil Michael Hagerty - Plays That Good Old Rock and Roll (2002)

At 12 bucks, this was one of my more expensive purchases, and the last thing I picked up on the trip. Dude from Royal Trux. My wife is gonna love this record!

I bought some tapes while we were there, and I had been picking up other ones during our trip. Here's all of 'em:

Yeah, I'm getting into W.A.S.P. It's about time. And that Fudge Tunnel tape was a legit score. Alright. Now I gotta find room for this stuff.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

January Record Shopping in Arizona, Part Four.

Next we headed to Asylum Records in Mesa, which was a metal-head's paradise, with KISS memorabilia everywhere and all kinds of other rock-related ephemera. They also had a super sweet cassette section in the front:
And at reasonable prices! (Except for this special bin inside where they were trying to sell cassette copies of Check Your Head for $20. They're currently going for about $5 on Discogs and eBay. Dick move. There were a bunch of overpriced tapes in there - stuff I would have paid $5 for because that is what they are worth. Bummer.)
They also had a small wall of bootleg cassettes with handwritten labels, which I've always assumed were basically garbage in the age of the internet. I could download these for free and make my own shitty cassette labels instead of paying $15.
I felt like a lot of the records there were overpriced, which was frustrating because they have a huge selection of vinyl and some really cool shit. The records were just consistently 5 or 10 bucks more than they should be. But, my brother helped me comb through the sizable 12" section, which was much more forgiving with the ol' price tags, and I scooped some stuff.

Salt-n-Pepa - "Tramp" 12" (1987)

So the original version of "Tramp" was released on S&P's 1986 LP Hot, Cool, & Vicious. This 12" remix was released a year-ish later, with the original, 4:09 version of "Push It" (which I can't find anywhere on the internet) on the flip. The 7" version of this 12" features a remix of "Push It," and that's the version that would end up being a hit, getting its own single (which I bought in 1987 on 7"- no big deal) and leading off their next record, 1988's A Salt with a Deadly Pepa. So that's how that works.

Bell Biv Devoe - "Do Me!" 12" (1990)

I keep some records in the front room of our house that I play when I'm doing dishes. This will be one of those. More than ready for the 9-minute "Mentality Hip Hop" mix. Man I was so down for BBD the year they came out and so embarrassed I ever listened to them the year after that. Glad we can get back on track.

D.ST - Crazy Cuts (1983)

I bought one of this guy's other records a while back. He's the dude who scratched on "Rockit" and was a DJ pioneer all-around. Mostly known now as Grand Mixer DXT. Old school clap bap.

ET (Eddie Towns) - "Beat Friends" 12" (1985)

Bought this strictly based on the cover and I have no regrets.

Jimmy Z - "Funky Flute (featuring Dr. Dre)" 12" (1991)

Man, I have to straight-up cop to not knowing this video existed. (Make sure to stick around till the end for Eazy.) Dre's looking like he's fulfilling some contractual obligations on that one. This is the promo 12" - on the Ruthless label, mind you - for that lead single from his full album that actually came out. Shit is nuts. A-side on this is a 9-minute club mix.

Arabian Prince - "She's Got a Big Posse" 12" (1989)

Really not that great of a 12" now that I'm looking at it. Two album versions, a radio edit, and "bonus beats" that is just two minutes of four-bar loops. Good-looking cover, though.

Bobby Jimmy & The Critters - "N.Y./L.A. Rappers" 12" (1988)

Speaking of Arabian Prince, he was one of The Critters before he joined and left NWA. This is the sole BJ&TC release on Ruthless, and this thing says it's produced by Dr. Dre, and he does show up briefly on one track (the dirty one). Bobby Jimmy was a comedy rapper, sort of an 80's hip-hop Weird Al. The A-side here finds him biting beats and styles from Public Enemy, EPMD, Ice-T, and even Eazy-E. You wild for this one, Bobby Jimmy.

Oaktown's 3•5•7 - "Turn it Up" 12" (1991)

One of the final releases from these lovely ladies. Only bonus track is a dub, but I'll take it. This jam just reeks of 1991.

Michel'le - "Keep Watchin'" 12" (1989)

Two remixes on here, as well as a bonus track (that Dre raps on and Jimmy Z plays flute on), all produced by Dr. Dre in 1989. Club bangers on the dance tip. You can hear him saying shit in the background. It's dope. And yeah: that's a watch on her ankle.

Urban Dance Squad - "Deeper Shade of Soul" 12" (1990)

One of what I'm sure are endless variations of this single. This one has a hype sticker on the black sleeve that says "A Deeper Shade of Squad" and some other stuff. Three mixes, one of which is the "single version." Oooh, you spoil me! I love UDS, btw. I feel like some people think they're a dated remnant of the 90's or something. These guys could do it. How dare you.

Tairrie B - "Swingin' Wit T" 12" (1990)

Very excited to find this. Corners are clipped on both sides on the bottom (?) so this might be an interim copy, but it'll do for now. Only one non-album track - a remix that's sufficiently dope. This is on Comptown Records, like the rest of Tairrie B's early output, and her early stuff is about the only thing the label actually put out. Short lived, sucka.

Def Jef - "Black to the Future" 12" (1990)

I keep looking out for Def Jef's first album, and it just ain't happening. I think I have one of his other 12"s, but that might be it. The remix on this is solid, but it's the almost-nine-minute lyrical clinic Jef puts on on "Phunky Az Phuck" that seals the deal. Very 1990. Jef's got some knowledge to drop, y'all.

Next up: we go one more place and eventually realize it's 10:30 at night and we're two hours from home.