Monday, April 26, 2010

I Go Record Shopping at Amoeba Music in L.A.

Sometimes everything just lines up perfectly.

Through some web post (or maybe a tweet) having to do with Music Millennium, I got linked to a recent Paste article that listed the 17 Coolest Record Stores in America. Music Millennium was on the list, somewhere in the middle. At the top was Amoeba Music in L.A. Now, I've been to the Amoeba in San Francisco a few times, and it was always an incredible experience. So I didn't doubt that the L.A. location was just as good, but probably bigger and with way more stuff.

As I was reading the article, I couldn't help but remember that I was going to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks for work. The idea of hitting Amoeba while I was there instantly crossed my mind, but since I have no idea where anything is down there (specifically the record store and the hotel where the conference was that I'd be attending), and because the city is so goddamned big, I figured there was no chance that it would work out. But I decided to give it a look-see. I Google Mapped the shit out of the hotel and Amoeba, and was elated to find out that they were only a mile apart. I later got my itinerary for my trip, and found that I was staying in a hotel right next to the other hotel. Boom. I was going to make it happen.

I got into L.A. on a Wednesday night (this was last week), and didn't make it back to my hotel until almost 11. I had Friday dinner plans with some friends who live down there and I was leaving right after the conference ended on Saturday, so Thursday was going to have to be the night. After I finished up at the conference that night, I asked the front-desk girl to call me a cab, and I headed to Amoeba around 6. After a ten-dollar cab ride and a quick Baja Fresh stop for a burrito, I strolled into Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd. and immediately had to conceal my boner.

I didn't do a great job of taking photos of the inside, so this will have to do. (Here's a better one that's not mine.) The place, my friends, is huge. Everything is meticulously organized, there is solid signage hanging from the ceilings to let you know where to go to find what you're looking for, and they just have an insane amount of music. Apparently they have a huge DVD section upstairs, too, but I didn't even make it up there. I was looking for vinyl, and I also had to consider that I had to carry this shit back with me on the plane. Still, it didn't stop me from going a little bit nuts, walking out - almost four hours after I got there - with two bags of records.

Here's what will be a lengthy breakdown of what I got, starting with 12"s:

Sir Mix-A-Lot - "I Got Game" 12": I'm really getting into these Swass/Seminar-era Mix-A-Lot singles. They're always cheap, and most of 'em feature unreleased tracks. This one has a song called "Flow Show" that I definitely hadn't heard before.

Sir Mix-A-Lot - "Beepers" 12": This one has a song called "Players" on it. Never heard it before. And the sleeve is awesome.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Scars From Falling Down: Sealed, blue vinyl, ten bucks. Wanted to replace my CD copy, and I did so supremely. And the cover is different from the CD version, which is also awesome.

50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct: Was waiting to find this for under ten bucks. I did.

Eminem - Relapse: Same deal with this one.

Eminem - The Eminem Show: This record has somehow become a little bit tough to find on vinyl. I wanted to replace my CD copy, so I snatched it up. They didn't have it priced like it was rare, and that helped.

The Afros - Kickin' Afrolistics: I had convinced myself that this record was extremely rare, because I've been half-assedly looking for it for years and never found it. I finally did, and I was excited. Then I got it home and realized the record is slightly warped. (They had it taped shut in the store so I couldn't look at it.) I didn't pay a whole lot for it, so it's not the end of the world, but I'm a little annoyed. Then I looked at the completed listings on eBay, and realized it's not as in demand as I thought. Meh.

My record collection is constantly lacking many things, but one thing I've always been short on - especially in comparison to my collection of 12"s - is 7" records. My Supersuckers collection of 45s is second to none (somewhere around 50), but as far as my general stash goes, it's pretty small. Amoeba has an incredible amount of 7"s, and they're all organized by decade/genre, not to mention the huge bins of bargain records. After hitting the 12" sections, I spent a bunch of time flipping through the 7"s, and came out with more little records than I've ever bought in one trip, easily. Here's the long-ass list:

BOAT - "Topps": I bought this one based solely on the cover, which is something I rarely do these days. But it felt right, and the music ended up being pretty damn sweet. The hand-numbered 7" also came with a stick of gum. Nice touch.

Mudhoney - "Night of the Hunted": From that weird period when Mudhoney were releasing CDs on a major, but releasing the vinyl on their own Super Electro label. Signed by three members of the band and in sweet shape.

Mudhoney - "Into Your Shtik": Another Super Electro release. Both the b-sides from these two 7"s ("Brand New Face" and "You Give Me the Creeps" would end up on the March to Fuzz comp.

Best Kissers in the World - "Sweet Pea": I was specifically looking for this record, because it was the only Best Kissers 7" that I didn't own. Spent a long time going through all the 7"s, looking in spots where it might be, with no luck. As I was about to walk away, I decided to flip through one of the bargain bins that was on a bottom shelf. This one was four records back in the first row I tried, and it was a buck. Sometimes you can just will things to happen.

Frank Black - "Hang on to Your Ego": Already have this 12", but for two bucks, I couldn't resist. Mint condition. The record still had those little cardboard flecks on it.

Unwound - "Negated"/"Said Serial": After years of my brother pushing them on me, I'm really bulking up my Unwound collection in a big way. Amoeba had a bunch of nicely priced singles from them.

Unwound - "You Bite My Tongue": White cover with the typewriter etching on the back of the vinyl. Think this might be the second pressing.

Unwound - "Corpse Pose": In great shape, and I had already picked up two other ones, so what the hey.

Unwound - "Kandy Korn Rituals": They just kept coming.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Tragedy Ecstasy Doom and So On: Gatefold double-7" EP from the Scars from Falling Down era. A tad bit beat up, but who cares.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - "Arizona Garbage Truck": Yellow vinyl and the b-side is "Voodoo Chile." I'll take it.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - "Venus in Furs"/"European Son": I have yet to listen to this, but I'm intrigued by Steel Pole doing Velvet Underground classics.

Built to Spill/Marine Research - "By the Way"/"Sick and Wrong": Split 7" that I see sometimes and decided I should probably just buy it.

Sprinkler - "Peerless": It's a shame that I can buy this band's singles for a dollar, but it doesn't mean I won't do it.

Tumor Circus - "Swine Flu": Steel Pole Bath Tub, Jello Biafra, one dollar. I'm in.

J Church - "Ivy League College": I know very little about this band, but my brother always liked 'em, and this was cheap.

J Church - She Said She Wouldn't Sacrifice: Three-song 7" with its own title. Listened to this one last night and liked it quite a bit.

Rein Sanction - "Creel": Sub Pop, 1991, fifty cents. Not sure I really like it.

How's that for a long blog post? I'm set to get back to regular posting, because I've basically taken a month off. Get ready for it.


Biff Pocaroba said...

I so wish that we could have enjoyed that record store together. I'm jealous.

That's awesome that your "Scars From Falling Down" LP is on blue vinyl. Mine is on clear yellow. The one on discogs is green. I wonder how many variations there are for chrissakes. Nice score on the 45s. The "Tragedy Ecstasy..." 2x45 has a different version of "Home Is A Rope" (I am pretty sure) and some non-album stuff. The Velvet Underground covers 45 is somewhat rough (shocking, I know). I'm jealous of that "Arizona Garbage Truck" 45. Mine is the picture disc version but I always wanted to get the other one too (found it once when I was broke and couldn't buy it. Thanks horrible world). If you ever want to get nerdy about SPBT I'm your man.

Speaking of nerdy, nice work on the Unwound 45s. All the songs on the "You Bite My Tongue" 45 are taken from the self-titled album (the 45 was released a few years before the album). The lyrics etched in on side B are is a pretty sweet move. "Kandy Korn Rituals" and "Against" are also from the self-titled album but "Hating In D" is exclusive to the 45. The version of "Corpse Pose" on the 45 is different than the album version and is pretty sweet. "Everything Is Weird" is also 45 only. The "Negated" 45 is one of my favorite records they ever did. All 3 songs are exclusive to the 45 and the thing rips. "Said Serial" is one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs. It is noisy perfection. The instrumental "Census" rocks the same bass line as the later "Repetition" instrumental "Sensible." So there's that.

I am so pissed at you for finding that "Ivy League College" 45 by J Church. It was that song that I heard on a compilation that made me get into the band. The b-side, "The Band You Love To Hate," is one of their best tunes. Its about the singer's experience touring with Beck. Also the "Sacrifice" 45 is one of their first releases so I am shocked you found that. Is it worth anything? It should be.

Whose signature is missing from the Mudhoney 45? I have always been curious to hear what Rein Sanction sounds like. I remember always seeing their stuff in record bins back in the day and never having any interest in it. Not surprised that its crummy.

I love 45s. Glad to hear your beefing up the collection.

Wockenfuss said...

I got both of those J Church 45s for a dollar each. You can have 'em if you want 'em. I like the tunes, but you'd probably appreciate them more than I ever will.

Seriously: we should plan a trip down there with the express purpose of going to this store. We could kill two days there easy. The 7" section alone would take 6 hours to really go through. Now we just need to save up like two grand apiece.

Pretty sure it's Steve Turner who's missing from the Mudhoney single. "Dan Peters" is clearly legible, and both of the other ones seem to begin with M's, so that would make sense. But the signatures are scribbly.

Lots of Steel Pole Bath Tub and Unwound for me right now. It's getting noisy.