Sunday, April 1, 2012

Guest Post: March Record Shopping in San Diego.

(Ed. note: Here's another great guest post from my brother Pocaroba. I've been in a record-buying freeze as of late [mercifully to be broken up in a few weeks by another trip to the Hollywood Amoeba], so I'm glad he's filling in to pick up the slack. Enjoy!)

I'm on Spring Break, so what better way to kick it off than by driving 7 hours over to San Diego to go visit my new niece? The Saturday drive was lovely and we spent Sunday on the beach. It was at the beach that it dawned on me that I had absolutely nothing to do on Monday. My brother-in-law was going to work and my wife and sister were planning to stare at the baby for 12 hours. What is a lonely nerd to do? So I Yelped San Diego record stores and within hours I had planned a full-on record shopping excursion. Let's see how I did, shall we?
My first stop was M-Theory Music. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I walked in the place. It reminded me of the Jackpot on Hawthorne as far as size and selection but I could quickly tell that, unlike Jackpot, M-Theory had priced their LPs to move. It was about half LPs and half CDs with a small 45 selection thrown in. There were also numerous dollar boxes all over the store. The store was mainly indie rock but made space for all genres.

It was at this store more than any other that I wished that Mr. Stallion Alert himself was with me. They had ample amounts of Royal Trux and a really nice Zappa section. Perhaps he also would not have let me left without remembering to buy the Supersuckers "Junk" 45 I set aside. I can't believe I forgot it. The place was empty, only being interrupted by a shopper here and there in the 2 hours I spent there. My favorite overheard exchange is when some lady described a musician as "hardcore blues" to the dude behind the counter. Didn't know that blues had gone hardcore. I am a notoriously slow starter when it comes to an all-day shopping extravaganza, always saving for a possible late score, but I told myself to go for broke early. As a result, I spent the most time and money here. And it was well worth it.

Fastbacks/Meices - "Rat Race"/"He's Waiting" 7" (1995)

According to the internet, this 45 was given out with Gearhead magazine. So was I excited to find it in a half-off bin? Absolutely. The weird thing with this is that The Meices cover a Sonics song and The Fastbacks cover not one, but three UK Subs songs. I am curious to hear their poppy take on 3 anarchist punk songs. The cover art folds out to show the 2 bands playing Monopoly. What any of this has to do with Gearhead magazine is beyond me.

Oppressed Logic - "P.C. Full Of Shit" 7" (1995)

I have a song of these guys' on a compilation that I have been listening to for years and, honestly, curiosity got the best of me on this one. I paid a little more than I would have liked for it but it's hard to argue with song titles such as "Compressed Dogshit" and "My Life's A Fucking Mess." It certainly is.

Kicking Giant - "She's Real" 7" (1994)

My heart jumped a bit when I found this one. This song is one of my favorites of all-time and I have never been able to track down the original 45. The awesome part is that the 45 version is a completely different recording than the album version. In fact, idiots on the internet claim the 45 version is superior. I'll be the judge of that. The B-side contains another early recording of an album song and a third song that seems to be exclusive. All the original inserts are here and the record itself is VG+. As a bonus it's an IPU series 45. Those never look bad in the ol' crate.

godheadSilo - "Thee Friendship Village E.P." 7" (1993)

If you don't enjoy godheadSilo then I can't help you. I already have these songs from the Elephantitus Of The Night CD but still wanted to get both 45s for nerd purposes. I found the "Elephantitus" 45 on an earlier Stallion excursion so was even more excited to find this one, especially for as cheap as I got it. The record and sleeve are in pristine condition so that doesn't hurt either.

The Fuckers - "Block Party" 7" (1992)

One of my favorite 45s ever. Already have it but this one is on green vinyl and the price was right. Had to make it happen.

Mudhoney/Gas Huffer - "You Stupid Asshole"/"Knife Manual" 7" (1992)

When I was a young man, my older brother, Mr. Stallion Alert himself, bought this 45. I spent countless afternoons secretly staring at it and admiring the awesome artwork. It always cracked me up that Dan Peters was a black ninja but was so Seattle that he was still rocking a beanie. Lukin gets honorable mention for wearing sunglasses. I have always wanted my own copy and paid a pretty decent price for this one. This is when record shopping out of your home market pays off. In the NW, this Mudhoney 45 would fetch a hefty sum. In San Diego it's 6 bucks while a No Knife 45 that I recently bought in the NW for 1 buck was priced at 10. Location location location. Oh, and this is one of my favorite Mudhoney songs ever, regardless of the fact that it's a cover.

Lordz Of Brooklyn - "Saturday Night Fever" 12" (1995)

I am a huge Lordz Of Brooklyn fan. Well, only of their earlier rap material. I don't get down for their recent foray into Whitey Ford-esque crap rock. That being said, I was super stoked to find a 12" single of theirs, especially for their first single. I paid a slightly high price for this but would have regretted it if I didn't. The copy I got seems to be the original, pre-release promo, which makes it even cooler. The cover is black with a Ventrue logo on both sides. The bottom left corner (odd placement) has a sticker that tells you it's a Lordz Of Brooklyn single. It has album versions of "Saturday Night Fever" and "Tales From The Rails" but also has a remix of "Saturday Night Fever." That was part of the reason I paid the price for this record. I hope the remix is an actual remix and not just an edit. Still, this will look nice on my shelf next to my copy of "All In The Family" and the "Freddie Foxxx" 12". I gets down like that.

Belle And Sebastian - The Life Pursuit CD (2006)

Yeah, I still buy CDs if the price is right. Speaking of prices, dealing with Belle And Sebastian on vinyl is not something that my pocketbook is willing to do. Happy to find this cheap. And if they couldn't get more precious they went ahead and named a song "For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea." How precious.

At this point I would like to clarify that, while Mr. Stallion Alert does not always include his dollar bin purchases, I make no such distinctions. So the following were plucked from the ample dollar boxes on the floor, condition be damned!

Big Country - The Crossing (1983)

I recently purchased the extended reissue of this on eMusic but was more than happy to buy the LP. The cover is a bit beat up but the packaging on this is kind of fancy. The blue has a canvas texture to it while the silver seems to be pressed into it. Pretty fancy packaging for a band's first LP in 1983. In case you're wondering, this isn't a bad album. Unfortunately, nothing here really comes close to "In A Big Country" but that song is so incredible that coming close to it again would be pretty difficult. What you get is a pretty solid album with some songs being catchier than others.

Big Country - "Wonderland" 12" (1984)

So the aforementioned Crossing extended album I purchased online includes their follow up EP Wonderland. Cool, except that EP has 4 songs but this has 3, the only song the 2 having in common being "Wonderland." So this weird 12" single doesn't have the 3 other songs I have but includes an extended mix of "Wonderland" and a completely new-to-me song called "Giant." Color me excited.

Big Country - Steeltown (1984)

Steeltown is Big Country's follow up to their huge debut and I'm dying to find out if it is an awkward sophomore record. How could it not be? The condition of the vinyl and sleeve are both quite nice, by the by.

The Jacksons - Destiny (1978)

I love The Jacksons' Victory album with a passion yet have never heard any of their other material from roughly the same era. The album cover and sweet gatefold really sealed the deal on this one. The cover and vinyl are both in pretty rough shape but hopefully this will help settle my curiosity. Who's ready to "Blame It On The Boogie?" Apparently I am.

Rodney Dangerfield - "Rappin' Rodney" 12" (1983)

I can't really say much about this one. Apparently this is a full stand-up record with the "Rappin" Rodney" song tacked on at the end of side A. I wonder if he talks about getting a lack of respect?

New Birth - Behold The Mighty Army (1977)

I'm sure this is some funky R&B-style disco but I would be lying if I said I bought it for any other reason than the incredible cover art. I mean, look at that thing. Genius.

After saying goodbye to M-Theory I headed over to the Hillcrest neighborhood (according to the huge Hillcrest sign) to Record City. When I got in there I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. It reminded me a lot of House Of Records in Tacoma, just smaller but with a little bit more variety. The owner was a really friendly guy and I have to say that out of all the record store music I had to endure that day, his selection of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" was by far the best. I also enjoyed that the sales counter was inexplicably covered in not-for-sale horror movie statues. Awesome, yet odd call.

Mark Arm - "The Freewheelin' Mark Arm" 7" (1990)

This was literally the first thing I came across as I entered and I could not have been happier. It was only 4 bucks and the vinyl is of the light green marble variety. I have always wanted to own this and honestly had kind of given up on it. You find the weirdest things in the weirdest places.

Butthole Surfers - Widowermaker! 10" (1989)

This cassette is most likely the first "alternative" piece of music that I ever bought with my own money. I bought it in 1991 when I was in the 6th grade on the strength of the band name and the fact that it was cheap (since it was an EP). That being said, I was really happy to find this 10" priced so low and in pretty sweet shape. It is curious that the tracklisting is in a different order from the cassette and that the songs are titled differently. "Helicopter" is last, not first, "The Bong Song" is "Bon Song" and "The Colored FBI Guy" is inexplicably rechristened "1401." Whatever, this record will look awesome on my shelf.

A Flock Of Seagulls - "Talking" 12" (1983)

This 12" has been dogging me for years now and here it was for a reasonable price. From what I can tell this was their first release of new music after their first album. While the song "Talking" would eventually be tacked on to their follow-up album, it is not presented as such here (you know, there is no mention of being from an album or anything like that). The cool part is that this song rips, there is a remix and it also includes the hard-to-find, never before heard by me song, "Factory Music." Even cooler as I stare at the label is the realization that "Factory Music" has a copyright date of 1981, predating any of their album material. Dude I am soooooo stoked.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Unlistenable (2002)

Speaking of stoked, one can't imagine how surprised I was to find this in a sale bin in this place. While it was mostly classic rock they did have a couple of boxes of "indie rock" but it was all pretty pricey. So imagine my glee when I found this in a sale box for an extremely fair price. I don't know why I never got around to buying this CD when it came out but it is still expensive today so I finally just "borrowed" it from the internet. Now I can feel good about owning a proper copy (and not to mention every SPBT release on vinyl). The story here is that the album was recorded and rejected in 1996 (hence the "unlistenable"), released on CD in 2002 and finally released on vinyl in 2010. This comes in a really quality sleeve with a sweet newspaper print poster. It's like 1996 all over again.
There was also a really nice selection of dollar CDs so I went ahead and picked up a few.

Helmet - Betty CD (1994)

This is one of those albums that I wanted at the time and it just kept getting pushed down the list of releases to buy to the point where I have somehow never got around to it in 18 years. I have been listening to "Strap It On" a lot recently so I felt like it was time to get my Betty on.

The Fire Theft - The Fire Theft CD (2003)

How I don't already own this I'll never know. This is the original line-up of Sunny Day Real Estate just without second guitarist Daniel Hoerner. The funny thing is that I came super close to buying it for 6 bucks at M-Theory but thank goodness I held out and scored it for a buck.

Let the record show that Record City also has a nice selection of cheaply priced DVDs and I picked up season 3 of Seinfeld and a pristine copy of George Romero's "Diary Of The Dead."

After bidding adieu to Record City I went back to my car, plugged in the iPod, started the engine and plotted my next stop. Imagine my surprise when my phone showed that it was literally around the corner. So I turned off my car, unplugged the iPod and headed over to Thirsty Moon Records. When I got there I was taken aback by just how small it was. It looks like someone chopped a small house in half and then put a record room in the living room. It is that small. I'm pretty sure I looked at the entire selection (half LPs, half CDs, mostly all punk and garage rock) in 30 minutes. It was here that I found my big-ticket item.

Thirty Ought Six - "Talon" 7" (1995)

I'm pretty sure that these are just album versions but it's nice to have regardless. Also, for a dollar, one can't really complain. If you've never listened to Thirty Ought Six then you are clearly not from the NW and probably wouldn't like them now anyways. But they are a pretty outstanding band that don't really sound like anybody else. I always preferred their first album to the one that these songs are off but you can't really go wrong with either.

The Reactionaries - 1979 (1979)

So I had already found the above 45 and was just about to check out when I came across this. It was literally the last record in the store for me to look at. I couldn't believe what I was holding. I am a huge Minutemen fan. Huge enough to know that they had a band before the Minutemen called The Reactionaries that was the three Minutemen with a singer named Martin. I had known that they had recorded a practice session in George Hurley's shed in 1979 (through band lore and the fact that one song is on a Minutemen comp) but had never heard anything of the band's except for that one song. And here, in my hands, was a beautiful LP of all 10 songs.

This was released in 2010 and I'm kind of ashamed that I didn't know about it sooner. So I immediately dropped the 15 bucks (that's big ticket for me) and went to the car to inspect it. Side A has the entirety of the practice tape, 10 songs recorded in a shed on a tape recorder in 1979. It could be spotty but whatever. Side B has current musicians from San Pedro (the Minutemen's hometown) covering the same 10 songs. Kind of a nifty idea. At least they just didn't leave side B blank. The part I am most impressed by, aside from the fact that this exists as a beautiful LP, is that they got Watt to come up with the 33 year old lyrics. Dude has got a memory. This, along with the Kicking Giant and Mark Arm 45s, is the crown jewel of my trip.
After I leave Thirsty Moon, I go back to the car and do the same song and dance with the iPod and my phone and, not even kidding here, find out that yet again my next destination is around the corner. At least I didn't have to park a bunch of times. This was the only disappointment of my trip. When I had searched for record stores, I was shocked to see that there was an actual Taang! record store. Taang! is a pretty solid, long standing punk label and I immediately circled this place as a definite stop. I'm kind of bummed I did.

As soon as I entered I had a bad feeling. The place was long and skinny and had a pretty good amount of vinyl, mostly punk. However, the prices could not have been less punk. For example, I found 3 Cheesecake "COQ" 45s, all priced at 8 bucks. Really? Have fun with those. Most of the LPs were in the 15-20 dollar range. Somebody has been looking at the eBay asking prices a bit too much. I considered buying some sale Poison Idea CDs for 5 bucks but was just kind of bummed on the whole thing and left. In retrospect, I wish I would have bought something there but at the time everything seemed so overpriced that I just bailed. If I would have gone there first I probably would have bought some stuff but after my sweet luck that I was having all day I decided to move along. So sorry Taang! Records. Hi-Voltage called, they want their prices back (hiyoooo!).
The last place on my list was actually 10 minutes away so I finally got into my car and headed off. Did I mention that the next place was a thrift store called Thrift Trader? No? Well I just did.

Thrift Trader is actually a genius idea. It is a huge thrift store that only sells clothes, LPs, 45s, CDs, DVDs, books and old VHS. Mr. Stallion Alert himself would have been in heaven. The VHS were all a buck but, get this, everything else in the store is 5.99 or 4 for 20, mix and match style. The amount of LPs they had was overwhelming. I am talking about hours and hours worth of flipping to be had there. The hard thing is that they are loosely organized in cardboard boxes so you would really have to have some hours set aside to find some good stuff. Also, it is a thrift store so the condition of the LPs was all over the map.

I was kind of tired (and had only found one DVD out of the huge selection) so I decided to go for the two tables of special 2 dollar records, thus not going for the 4 for 20 deal. I found a couple of things but next time I'm in San Diego I am heading to this place early in the morning to comb through the non-budget LPs. Also, since I was tired I forgot to take a special picture. The DVD I picked up was An Evening With Kevin Smith, in case you were wondering.

Dolly Parton - Here You Come Again (1977)

I don't know if I have ever shared this with the internet world before but I am an unabashed, non-ironic Dolly Parton fan. I'm not a big country guy but nobody does it better than old school Dolly. I always look for Dolly LPs when I'm out and about and a while ago decided to just go for it and start up a pre-"9 To 5" Parton collection. This was the first salvo. This is one of Dolly's first pop crossover records where she doesn't write all of her own stuff but it is still a solid album. The title track is super catchy, "Cowgirl And The Dandy" is a funny tune and "Me And Little Andy" is probably the single most depressing song ever written. The actual vinyl is not NM but the cover is in pretty good shape and it has nice gatefold to sweeten the pot.

Gary Lewis & The Playboys - You Don't Have To Paint Me A Picture (1967)

Speaking of random people that I am collecting, add another Gary Lewis record to the mix. This is Gary's 5th album in 3 years and seems to boast his usual mix of originals and hit songs of the time. Have I mentioned before that Gary plays the drums and sings? That makes me love him ten times more. Honestly, I shouldn't have bought this LP. Both the vinyl and cover are in ass shape but I was just so surprised to find it in the the 2 dollar bin. I'll probably upgrade this at some point. Looking forward to Gary's take on "Wild Thing."

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream & Other Delights (1965)

I bought this strictly on the fact that the cover is so famous and it was 2 bucks. Still, for 2 bucks, both the cover and vinyl are in pretty good shape for such a famous record.

There it is. San Diego in all its glory.

No comments: