Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Record Shopping in Atlanta.

I found myself back in Atlanta last week, at pretty much the exact same time I was there last year. I was in town for the same annual event, so I guess that's not really worth mentioning. Worth mentioning: there was one small difference. Last time I was in town for three days; this time I was there for barely two. I got to my hotel at about 9PM on Wednesday and was scheduled to leave around 4 on Friday (after working the whole day), so Thursday night was my only shot at getting in some record shopping.

I worked until 5 that day - sat through a conference, actually - and after informing my co-workers that I would not be attending the private Blues Traveler show that was part of the event's complimentary evening activities (seriously), I got in a cab and asked the driver to take me to Little Five Points. Traffic was a heaping pile of ass, so I didn't get there until after six, at which point I realized I was starving and had to urinate. Not a solid combo for vinyl flippery.

So, I got some food, drained ween, felt much better, and made my way to Wax n' Facts, which may officially be one of my favorite record stores on the planet. It's small, semi-organized, and the prices are extremely fair. I scored some cool shit there last time, and this trip was no different. If I had had more time in there, it could have been dangerous. As it was, they closed at 8, and I stayed there until 7:56, still not having gone through a fraction of the stuff that I would have liked to have checked out. But that's what happens.

I got a bunch of random, $1 7"s, and I'll start by telling you about those.

Pork - Squeal 7" (1993)

I looked at the back of this one, saw that it was all-girl trio, that it was on K Records, and that it came out in '93. Seemed like it'd be worth a dollar. And it is. The tracks here are "Wicked Ways" and "Things to Do," and they're both solid songs, in that mid-90's, lo-fi K way. This is either their first or second recording, and it looks like they ended up putting out a full-length a few years later. I probably won't rock this on repeat, but I'll be keeping it, for sure.

The Hardship Post - "Slick Talking Jack" 7" (1994)

You know, I'm not sure I had ever even heard these guys, save possibly a few tracks via mixtapes my brother made me years ago. But I knew the name, and when you put that together with the Sub Pop label and the year 1994, it seemed like a decent risk to take. Turns out "Slick Talking Jack" is a great song, and the B-side, "If I...," though a little more sensitive, ain't bad either. Seems like these dudes have a bit of a Sebadoh thing going on, and you know I'm down.

Champ! - "Passing Car" 7" (1997)

From the little info that I could find on the internet about this band, I surmised that this was a side project of the guy who played bass in The Grifters, who I know nothing about. '97's a little late in the Sub Pop game for me, and though this single is by no means shitty, it is a little Archers of Loaf Lite for my tastes. But I love the name and the cover's pretty sweet, so that's why I bought it in the first place, and that's why I'm keeping it.

Hot Toasters - "Fish and Doctor" 7" (1994)

This is a particularly odd one. I saw four Japanese names, the year 1994, and the Drag City label on the back, and I guess that's all it took. Clocking in at almost 13 minutes, they pack a lot of weird-ass jams into this thing, and they do it in the 33 on one side, 45 on the other style, which I always appreciate. It's tough to describe the sound, but it basically sounds like teenage Japanese kids trying to approximate early Mr. Bungle. So, yeah: it's all over the place.

Fidelity Jones - "Venus on Lovely" 7" (1990)

This is a Dischord band, and I knew of them because they've appeared on a few comps from the label, most notably the 20 Years of Dischord mini-box set, which includes the B-side to this single, "Destructor." Like a lot of early Dischord bands, they formed out of some other short-lived groups, and ended up being short-lived themselves. These two tracks are not what I expected: they're more straight-ahead rock than I anticipated. A nice surprise, actually.

Stumpy Joe - "Love Plumbin'" 7" (1991)

This one was a real gamble (the band name and title were dead giveaways), and it will reside in my collection as a mere oddity. So why did I buy it? It was a dollar, like all the other ones listed here, but it also is on the PopLlama label, which I recognized, and lists a Seattle PO box on the back. Yep, I'm that easy. "Love Plumbin'" is tongue-in-cheek grunge blues, but the B-side, "I Want Some Bud" is like King Missle, but without the structure and with lyrics that are all about how much they love reefer. Spotty.

Joybang! - "Perfect Day" 7" (1993)

This thing says "Mixed by Kramer" on the back, and I was hoping that meant the dude from Bongwater, but I'm fairly certain it's not him. But, again: a dollar. And you know what, these songs are actually pretty good. Kind of a thick power-pop thing with Sloan-y vocals. The title track would've made a mean mixtape track for me back in the 90's. As it is, I may still include it on something. I can't find much info online about this group, but I think they were a local Atlanta outfit. Here they are playing live a long time ago.

Lutefisk - "Aerosol" 7" (1995)

Speaking of songs that would have been sweet on a mixtape two decades ago, the A-side of this single is fantastic. This single's on the Bong Load label, and that's really all it took for me to give it a shot. "Aerosol" is scratchy pop, but the B-side, "Return to the Journey..." is Beck-level noise coupled with morphed voices talking about the Planet of the Apes movies. It's surreal. Oh, and it also has one of those endless droning runout grooves, which is always fun. You can check this thing out here if you so desire. And you should.

Men at Work - "Maria" 7" (1985)

This was 50 cents, and it includes the rare instrumental version of "Snakes and Ladders"! Ah, I enjoy the awkward, late-era Men at Work stuff.

OK: On to the LPs.

Salt-n-Pepa - A Salt with a Deadly Pepa (1988)

This was one of the first rap cassettes I ever bought for myself, and though I don't remember what exactly compelled me to do so, I do remember listening to it quite a bit for a while. After I discovered N.W.A. this seemed like a joke, but I gotta say: when it comes to ladies rapping in the 80's, this record is right up there as one of the best. I've never had a plan to buy this, but this thing was five bucks and is in perfect shape, so I went with it.

Chubb Rock - Chubb Rock featuring Hitman Howie Tee (1988)

More dope shit from '88. I'm not huge on Chubb Rock, and I've always been a little ashamed of that. So, here's Step One in the right direction. This is his first full-length, and not only is the cover stellar, but it also features two unlisted bonus tracks, one at the end of each side. This record is the perfect example of an LP that's just mixed in with all the other stuff at Wax n' Facts: no big deal. It's in great shape and was priced to move. I moved it.

Suplex Slam - The New Heavyweight Champions of the World (1993)

This band is called Suplex Slam and there's a track on here called "Politics of Wrestling." So there was no chance I wasn't going to get this. I randomly came across it as I was speed-flipping through a bin on my way to the register, so yes: it's cosmic. Meanwhile, I can't find a lick of info about this band online, and the big promo sticker across the front makes me wonder if this thing ever even came out. The music's pretty good: they sound like a less coherent Mono Men.

Ghostface Killah - The Pretty Toney Album (2004)

I finally found this on vinyl. I hadn't been looking really hard (meaning I hadn't been scouring eBay), but I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to getting all of Ghost's albums on wax, so it was soon going to become a priority. I thought this one might be elusive, but boom: there it was. A promo copy (whatever) in decent shape, with the original insert inside. And in the LP format, you can really see what a grainy, thrown-together cover that is! Hey, remember when he was just "Ghostface" on this one? That was stupid.

Ghostface Killah - More Fish (2006)

I think I'm down to Ghostdini and Apollo Kids to complete my Ghost-on-vinyl collection, and I'm almost positive Apollo Kids never actually got released on LP, so now it's just a matter of forcing myself to pony up 15 bucks for the Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City debacle, which I'm not looking forward to. But, it'll be easy to find. More Fish isn't crazy rare, but I've never seen it used, so I was excited to see it. They also had a used copy of Fishscale. Seriously: this store is awesome.

Digital Underground - This is an EP Release (1991)

More proof that this store is awesome: they had TWO copies of this. Crazy. The one I got is in sweet shape, and will look fantastic saddled up to Sex Packets on my shelf. This is a weird little group of songs which I'm assuming they were pressured to release to capitalize on the success of "The Humpty Dance." Not sure if it worked, though "Same Song" remains sweet. And this may be the first album cover that 2Pac ever appeared on. In crude drawing form.

Naughty by Nature - "Clap Yo Hands" 12" (1995)

Price a Naughty by Nature reasonably, and I will buy the shit out of it if I don't have it already. This is Poverty's Paradise-era, so it's when they were starting to try a little too hard, but there's a solid Kay Gee Remix of the title track on here that I'm enjoying quite a bit.

Run-D.M.C. - "I'm Not Going Out Like That" 12" (1988)

I don't think I'd ever come across this 12" before, and again, they had two copies of this thing. I didn't notice the cutout notch on mine until I got it home, but I'm not going to sweat that too hard. Some Run-D.M.C. 12"s are sorely lacking, but this one is pretty nice: It's got the album versions of the title track and "How'd Ya Do it Dee" (shouldn't that be "How'd Ya Do it D?"?), as well as a House Mix and a Miami Mix of "I'm Not Going Out Like That." Weird remixes. Booty bass.

I scooted out of Wax 'n Facts right as they were closing at 8, and headed over to Criminal Records, which I knew was open till 9. I'm sure I talked about this last year, but Criminal Records is a combo music/comics shop, so it's full of all sorts of records, CDs, books, comics, action figures, and other nerd gear. When I was there, there was a group of nerds in a circle in the back having some sort of comic-book book club. They were talking about DragonCon and shit. Most impressive: it was 50/50 male/female. Nice work, guys.

Anyway, I didn't find a ton of stuff there. They specialize more in new vinyl, and while I have a use for that, that's the kind of stuff I can get at home. I was looking for used treasures. I found few. But here's what I did get:

Sandy Duncan's Eye - Don't Look Here, the Joke is in Your Hand 7" (1993)

I always wanted to hear what this band sounded like, as they have one of the most ridiculous names in Sub Pop history. When I saw that the A-side of this single was called "Long Flat Pussy," I couldn't resist. Turns out they're mad noisy and somewhat Steel Pole Bath Tub-y. I'm good with that. I think the cover is supposed to be a parody of Elle magazine or something. It's mostly just confusing.

Big Daddy Kane and Percee P - Big Daddy Kane and Percee P vs. Connie Price and the Keystones 12" (2007)

I haven't quite figured out what the deal is with this thing, but it's Kane and I didn't have it (I hadn't ever even seen it before) so it was coming home with me. It's a promo-only 12" put out by Scion (yes, the car company) and it features a track from BDK ("Give a Demonstration - Part 2") and Percee P ("International Hustler"), as well as the instrumental and a cappella versions of each. And I think they rap over a live band. This might be semi-rare...?

Okkervil River - The Stand Ins (2008)

I rarely ever listen to Okkervil River anymore, but for some reason I keep finding sweet copies of their albums on the cheap, and for some reason I keep buying them. This one was sealed for six bucks, and it's the followup to the one album of theirs I really liked, so we'll see how it goes. I may have to wait till I'm alone and depressed. Shouldn't be long!

The Afghan Whigs - "Turn on the Water" 12" (1992)

I bought Congregation around the time it came out, tried really hard to like it, and could just never get it to click. But, this was one of the songs that I really did like from that record, and at this point it wouldn't be a record-shopping trip if I didn't pick up an import, early-90's Sub Pop 12", and I didn't want to break my streak. This is currently the only music by The Afghan Whigs that I own. It may remain that way for a while.

RTX - JJ Got Live RaTX (2008)

I finally got the RTX record with the cover where Jennifer Herrema's holding the Ultimate Warrior Wrestling Buddy! No idea what's up with that. But this was the only RTX LP that I didn't have, so I was happy to find it sealed and discounted. And I'd actually never heard it until I digitized the LP. It's a bumpy ride. Can't wait to get to know it better.

And that's it. Here's a picture of the front of Criminal Records as I left and a lightning storm started.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Record Shopping at Amoeba Hollywood, Part Three.

I think I've mentioned it in previous posts where I won't shut up about how much I love Amoeba, but the top floor of the place houses one of the most awesome DVD/VHS/LaserDisc stores I've ever been to in my life. I usually go up there just to poke around a bit, but I can't let myself get too wrapped up, because space in my suitcase is precious, and if I start snatching up dollar VHS tapes (which I'm always tempted to do), I run the risk of ballooning my carry-on to the point of being denied travel, and though that would be a hilarious story in retrospect, if I had to watch a TSA agent toss a Greatest Sports Plays of 1984 tape into the trash, I might break down and get arrested, airport style, and that just sounds like a hassle.

Here are some of the other records I bought at Amoeba:

Ghostface Killah - Bulletproof Wallets (2001)

It's about damn time I found this on vinyl. This was another one, like the GZA record, that was just filed in with his other stuff, is in great shape, and ran me a ten-spot. Unlike the GZA LP, I have this on CD, and as always, it's nice to score a replacement. This isn't my favorite GK release, but it's always better than I remember it being, and it features some of his best cover art since Ironman. That robe, the skully: he's really making it happen. While Rae looks like a mouth-breather as usual. The Chef does not photograph well.

Everlast - Forever Everlasting (1990)

Back before the internet, artists had a much easier time sweeping their ill-fated early efforts under the rug. (Prince Rakeem and The Genius know what I'm talking about.) I was huge into House of Pain in '92-'93, and I only knew of Everlast as the dude from that group. Around that time I found this tape and realized that he had started out as a member of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate. I was floored. I was also shocked at how terrible and un-HoP it was. Still, I loved having it to show to people. It's since been reissued (after Everlast's post-HoP solo success - ugh) and isn't rare or anything, but this is an original copy in great shape, which is a bit of a score. I will never listen to this, but when I found it for six bucks, I couldn't say no.

Paris - Guerrilla Funk (1994)

Because I am a huge nerd, I now keep a spreadsheet on my iPhone that lists all my vinyl, because on a few occasions I've come home with records I already have, and that's good for no one, except maybe the record stores and my brother, who ends up with stuff that I have doubles of. Anyway, I could have sworn I already had this, but I checked my list, and I did not. So this time, my little system helped me along in the opposite way. This isn't my favorite Paris record, but I would have been pissed if I would have come home and realized I didn't have it. Still in the shrink and I think it was like eight bucks. Boom.

The Afros - "Kickin' Afrolistics" 12" (1990)

I still don't fully understand who The Afros are. I know DJ Hurricane and Jam Master Jay had something to do with it, and I think maybe King Tee. They only put out one record, which I have a shitty copy of, and a few singles, this being one of 'em. Amoeba had a couple copies of their other single there, but they were both pretty jacked-up, so I didn't get that one. I'll come across it again. This is a solid 90's rap 12": it doesn't feature the original version of the song, which I always like, and it has a remix of both the title track and "Feel It," another song from the album. It also has and "edit" of the main remix and an instrumental version, which don't do much for me. That's how it goes.

Big Daddy Kane - "Groove with It" 12" (1991)

This is a Prince of Darkness-era BDK promo that includes the album version of "Groove with It," and an instrumental version of the album version. It'll look good on the shelf.

Princess Superstar - "Do it Like a Robot" 12" (2000)

Based on the cover alone, I wasn't going to pass this up for three bucks. This is a good 12": It's got the album version, an a cappella, and a crazy DJ Hell (not that I know who that is) remix called "Hell Rocks the Equalizer Remix"that is a wall of distorted noise and banging bass drums that, as techno-fied as it is, is actually pretty badass.

Oaktown's 3•5•7 - Wild & Loose (1989)

1989 was the greatest year for hip-hop ever. There were so many different styles taking form, and so many groups that were about to get left in the dust. Oaktown's 3•5•7 is a weird case: they were down with MC Hammer, which was a great thing at the time, they could dance, they were good-looking from a distance, and they weren't flat-out shitty rappers. But I guarantee that anyone who listened to this record a year after it came out thought it sounded as dated as JJ Fad. Still, I enjoy this record for some odd reason. Maybe it's because their work on "We're All in the Same Gang" still comes off strong. I already had this on CD, btw.

Northern State - "Better Already" 12" (2007)

This was when Northern State was signed to the Ipecac label, but this single was released on Kanine, and it looks like it came out before their Can I Keep this Pen? LP, which remains sorely underrated. I had never seen this single before, and like a lot of the other stuff I got, I think it was two bucks. It's got two album cuts: the title track and "Away, Away," and a "Hired Goons PVC Remix" (awesome title) of the A-side, and a dub remix of the B-side. I like it.

Tairrie B - "Murder She Wrote" 12" (1990)

I really stocked up on the lady rap this time around, didn't I? I remain infatuated with the mere existence of Tairrie B and her tacit association with NWA and Eazy-E, and though I find her music to be supremely ridiculous, I can't turn away. This single skips the album version in favor of three remixes, one of which is almost six minutes long. A bold move that makes me respect this crazy lady even more.

The Mothers of Invention - Trick or Treat (1969?)

As much as I enjoy picking up a ton of records that don't cost much, I usually allow myself one semi-major purchase, and this time around it was this LP. It's a bootleg, but they went to the trouble of making it look like an official release (right down to the Bizarre labels on the vinyl), and I gotta say: this is a quality boot. The cover is done really well, the sound quality is incredible (considering its unofficial-ness and the year of the recordings), and the whole package is just really nice. The songs are a weird collection of odds and ends that, for the most part, have since turned up on official FZ releases, but the versions here in some cases are unedited, which is sweet. I had never seen this before, and I am crazy excited about this one. Detailed info on the track listing here if you're interested.

Princess Superstar - Last of the Great 20th Century Composers (2000)

Even more lady rap! I've had this on CD for quite a while, but have never come across the vinyl, so this was a nice score. It's in good shape, has the original inserts, and the vinyl looks clean. I will treasure it.

And that's it! I'm heading back to Atlanta again this year, so look forward to more tales from the road soon. Dirty dirty steez.