Archive for September, 2013

Five years Reatarded

Posted: September 27, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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JR

Ever since I heard the name Jay Reatard around 2006, I was always intrigued with what he might sound like. Though with a name like that, I wasn’t sure how I could ever take him seriously. It wasn’t until two years later when I finally heard him on the Matador Singles ’08 listening copy CD that Matador Records sent to our fledgling record store (then-Fargin’ Bargains, a joke name that somehow stuck for several years), that I had the answer.

Once through “See/Saw”, I still wasn’t sure what I heard. My ears had perked up but had little or no point of reference. This was clearly punk rock but it had a strange pop sensibility in how each track was arranged. There were multiple parts, hardly complex but miles away from a simple three chord progression. Jay’s voice sounded like it came from a deranged muppet out of Meet the Feebles. Once the CD was over, all I knew was that this guy was brilliant.

Since my vinyl resurgence was just beginning, I ordered both Reatard’s first two solo releases, Blood Visions and Singles 06-07, from In the Red Records though F’n B’s. They were really good but MS08 was a huge step forward. I became obsessed as I started to acquire releases from Jay’s various side projects, and there were many.

I bought CDs from the Reatards, Destruction Unit, Terror Visions, Final Solutions, and Nervous Patterns (out-of-print and used from Hamazon). After the Reatards, the rest were barely listenable, challenging on the kind side. The only vinyl I could get was the self-titled Lost Sounds album. Other than the incredible “I Sit I Watch I Wait”, there wasn’t that much to write home about, if you are inclined to write home about things. Does anyone even write letters anymore?

When he came out with Watch Me Fall in ’09, it was clear that he was taking another leap forward creatively. He was Beatle-esque in constructing his songs with moving pieces layered on top of each other in “Ain’t Gonna Save Me” and “Wounded”. The album soared and it was clear that Jay was only just scratching the surface of what he could accomplish musically. But in a universe that craves balance, the rug was pulled out from under us all.

I was super bummed when he passed away on January 13, 2010. He was a year younger than me and had amassed a discography of sixteen full-length albums and a colossal amount of singles. Someone so prolific getting snuffed out in an instant by his own demons. He talked in a documentary about recording as much as he could because he didn’t know how long he had on Earth.

This brings me to two of my very favorite pieces. Jay had started his own label, Shattered, and started releasing other artists through there as well as giving away free tracks of his. A year after his death, the folks that ran the label and website offered two special releases and an exclusive T-shirt to Shattered Club members, both limited to 500 copies. The first is the item shown at the top, the Live At Golden Plains LP. The second (shown below) is the more sentimental as it is a single of the last two songs he recorded, just two days prior to his death.

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“You Get No Love” is a decent track but the B-side, “I Am Growing” had the makings of another gem. It’s a simple demo with just vocals and guitar. Its ultimate shame and charm are the fact that it was recorded over another track and the original seeps through some. I have only played this once. It was one thing to hear it transferred to MP3 on my Zune (yes, I have a Zune). It’s another to actually lay the needle down. I like vinyl because listening to it is a more personal experience than the digital mediums. That’s the double-edged sword. It’s more difficult to actually put the needle to the record, play the music of someone so immensely gifted cut down in his prime, and remind yourself of your own wasted potential. A better adjusted person might take that as wake-up call to take control and ownership of their life. For someone like me, it’s just sad.

I talked about Nirvana in my last post. Why is listening to Jay Reatard sadder than that of Kurt Cobain? He died even younger and had achieved a much higher stratosphere of success. My only answer is that it’s all about proximity. I was only 15 when Cobain died, I was twice that when Jay died. So much more was in front of me then. I was also far more resilient, still full of hope. Also, owning the single feels like a responsibility. There are only 500 made available to the public and it’s the last output he will ever make. It feels like an invasion of his privacy, not unlike Kurt Cobain’s Journals. I have owned that as well but never read it. These are things I feel like I need to have but not to enjoy. I realize that may not make any sense but I never claimed to be relatable.

I do actually enjoy one thing I got from this set. In spite of ruining its value, I wear the T-shirt fairly regularly. Be it at the gym or the grocery store, I want people to be curious about the man and the artist. And that no matter how much time passes, I want everyone to know that I’m still Reatarded.

Put On Your Whigs and Practice Some Black Love

Posted: September 26, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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The_Afghan_Whigs_-_Black_LoveAt some point recently, Dave was having a conversation with me about writing for the blog (or other blogs in general, or in his case, his Examiner columns) and mixing up, changing up, the styles of writing. Tonight, I re-read some of my blog posts on here and I decided it’s time for me to mix it up a bit. I’m still going to get spacing wrong. I’m still going to dwell too much on the past (esp. involving my exes when it connects to the music I’m writing about). I’m still going to ramble on. However, in the spirit of change, I am not writing about an album that I had to chase high and low, nor that is related to any flames that burned out quickly. I am instead going to write about an album that I love for many reasons, and is one of my favorite possessions on the vinyl frontier.

Black Love came out in March of 1996. 1996 wasn’t a great year, as chronicled in previous posts. When in darkest places of one’s mind, often the most bleak torches burning are what keep some fires lit. This was most definitely the case with The Afghan Whigs’ fifth album Black Love. I already owned several Whigs CD’s and I had more than a case on that sexy, tortured lead singer, Mr. Greg Dulli. I saw the video for “Honky’s Ladder” on MTV’s 120 Minutes with Mat’Teo Pinhead one late night. Of course, I was drunk on the Southern Comfort and just feeling down, and I was thrilled to hear they were premiering it that night. I watched, I tapped my foot like an AARP member drunk on prune juice, I felt my little midget heart beating fast palpitations at the sight of the swivel-hipped Man In Black of my dreams. I was already digging the song through periodic playings on Pew 101, and now I had the visual to add to it. If you haven’t seen the video, Youtube it and prepare. It’s not sunshine, Klondike bars, kiddie wagons, and cheer. It’s closer to darkness, Hemlock, torture devices, and doom.  The album, as to be expected, isn’t much of a departure from the themes in that song.

Black Love is said to be inspired mostly by Dulli’s love of movie noir and true crime, and the frayed ends of those loose ties. This is an album that, in my opinion, doesn’t house a weak song on it.  I remember reading somewhere that Dulli was inspired by James Ellroy. That alone was enough to warrant I would have to own it on vinyl. The album itself, doomed as it was in alternative music Midwest nation, circa 1996, many were too busy checking out the twin bombs of Bush’s second album and a doozy of an album called Throwing Copper by a Pennsylvania band called Live, to enjoy the dark vision that the Whigs presented. I loved it. There was nothing that year that resonated more with my misery than that album. I was coming off the broken engagement, drinking way too much, smoking way too much, crying too much, and watching my depressed mom battle her mental demons to her eventual death, to NOT appreciate the stealth darkness that the Whigs had brought to me. I’ve listened to it more and more lately, as my mind is putting itself through some very hard questions, with answers that seemingly will fuck shit up, if they are to be addressed honestly. It’s not a beach blanket bingo album, no Afghan Whigs album is, and that’s why they are one of my favorite bands. This album, in particular, helped me through many rough nights. Despite the overall unhappy vibe that it carries, the Whigs somehow manage to transcend the general message and reach out to those listening to the album. If nothing else, i felt like someone understood what heartbreak was that year, and they letting you know that you weren’t going down alone- Greg Dulli and Co. were going down too. It sounds completely ridiculous, but I still can listen to it now and feel some small, hidden shards of hope in that framework somewhere.

Acquiring it on vinyl wasn’t anywhere as difficult as some of the other acquisitions on Hannibal Collector were. I simply went over to Beautiful Day in downtown LaGrange and the weird frizzy-haired owner dude told me he would order it for me. I didn’t get a deluxe edition, although I’m sure there is one out there somewhere, but I got it. I still have it, and I’m sure that the record is not in great shape, because I played the fuck out of it.  I encourage anyone who wants to hear a multi-faceted band with a healthy appreciation of soul, darkness, and sex to pick up this record. You won’t be sorry.

(What’s The Story), Morning Glory?

Posted: September 25, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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Oasis_-_(What's_The_Story)_Morning_Glory_album_coverYou know, almost every single post I have posted on Hannibal Collector has had a personal story or stories attached to them. This is no different. It has also come to my attention reading over the past number of posts I have blogged that I am going in order of the idiots I have had circling my orbit at one time or another. You’ve all kind of met Biceps for Jesus. I spent 3 years with him. You’ve all kind of met the Poor Man’s Scott Weiland. That was 2 1/2 years. Now you’re going to meet Jean-Luc (JL for short, for he is). I’m sure those of you who know me will connect these dots soon enough. I plead some form of immunity here, because I still talk to him and he’s a married man now, so I am not trying to start any fires in the wilderness of the past. Besides, I’m saving that for the memoir. You spend 10 years in love with someone and go three rounds with them before you realize that they do not love you as you have loved them, and cut your losses and move on. If you don’t, you will never let yourself free of those bonds, you will never meet the right person, and you will never be happy. We live once, we need to make the most of it, and not dwell in the past. So here I am, dwelling in the water closet of what was no doubt the biggest regret I ever had on the side of not working out.

I was going through one hell of a Brit phase from 1994’s release of Definitely Maybe. I remember Biceps wasn’t impressed by Oasis. I was impressed- by a lot of booze. I was hanging with Oak Park Mike and Janine and Biceps. I was drunk and hungover a lot. My favorite past-time was going to Oak Park at the latest of hours, drinking, eating pizza, smoking multiple cigarettes, and watching MTV, which at that time, actually still showed videos. Biceps came and went. Worthless Hick came and went. In 1999, I started at Crown Books and met what I perceived to be my destiny. JL had me from the world hello and the compliment on my black crushed velvet bell bottoms. I was still with PMSW, but 4 months later, he was gone. I told him it was over on Valentine’s Day and went to see Almost Famous with Maribeth and Jean-Luc. I came home euphoric, and no, not because of that lame ass movie. I walked into the kitchen of the old house and found my 16-year old dog had passed away. Do you believe in signs? I should have taken that as one, but alas, the blind do not see the writing on the wall, or in this case, the poor dead dog on the kitchen floor. The very next day, I went to work with him and he brought in Definitely Maybe, which I was already acquainted with, and (What’s the Story), Morning Glory? which I knew only because Pew 101 overplayed those two horrible songs, as well as The Stone Roses. I had brought Pulp’s Different Class and Blur’s Parklife, both of which he was not familiar with. It was quite the bonding experience. He immediately loved both Blur and Pulp, and I got into The Stone Roses(who I somehow had not heard) and Oasis in a scary way for the following 5-6 years. How I had not done so before this evening, I am not sure of, as the Gallaghers modeled the band after a fanatical worship of the Beatles, which I did and still do have, after many years. It was also odd ,that like Duran Duran, Oasis always seemed to have an album coming out when one of my relationships were going through a major landmark, like the dawning of a new day or the crash of a Goodyear blimp into the San Francisco bridge. You get the idea.

(What’s the Story), Morning Glory? was almost perfect start to finish. All you would have to do is smite the existence of Liam Gallagher’s weakest vocal performances on record- “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”. I would hear the beginning of both songs and go screaming down Lombard and Madison. Janine used to torture me at the Joliet Ave apartment in Lyons by taking off the new Desiree’ (Who? Exactly.) album and playing either of those songs instead. Years later, in that Crown Books in Western Springs, I silently endured the torture of those two songs to impress he with whom the dice of my destiny were lined up.  In doing that, I also concentrated greatly on the rest of the album.  Honestly, every time that I had heard it previously, there were numerous bottles of liquor involved, so I was sober, at work, and listening. And that’s how I grew to actually appreciate this album. It has my favorite Oasis song of all time, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. It has a lot of sonic power in “Roll With It”, “Hey Now!”, and “Some Might Say”. Deep thinking on “Cast No Shadow”. Just plain liking “Hello” and “She’s Electric”.  And now that it was connected to JL, it was a definite plus. Had to find it on vinyl. If I enjoyed it that much on the crappy boombox at Crown, I was going to dig it on vinyl.

The attempts to find this record was Jennie and my undertaking. We were in the middle of Nowhere (Indiana) and hunting down obscure record stores. Unfortunately, this was before Nicole, Kelly, Jeff, and my driving to Indianapolis while deathly ill because I would have just had her drive to Indianapolis. We went to Evansville (and if you haven’t been, don’t go. It’s the new ghetto), Jasper, Bedford, and Herrin.  In Evansville, there was a little shack called Joe’s West Side Records. (For the record, the west side of Evansville, not the best side.) We found it alright; a shitty copy of it, and the overall wearing cretin behind the counter was telling us it was a Japanese import. Jennie pointed out there was no Japanese writing on it anywhere, it looked like the US pressing of the CD, because, well, it WAS the US version of the album, but on vinyl.  He continued with his spiel. I think at one point I may have asked if it was from Japan, Indiana, and therefore that’s what made it a Japanese pressing. There was no way it was an import. The $35 price sticker attached to this album was likely the other thing that spurred on my questioning the authenticity of the item. The gatefold had water damage, as if Joe Bob Billy Corn on the Cob had forgotten to take his glass of Country Time off of it after using it for a coaster out in the yard. There was an unexplained orange blotch on the “O” in Oasis. Likely the pumpkin seeds that little Honey Boo Boo spit out when the parents weren’t looking. No way in hell was I buying this, but Jennie and I were both stunned that this fucker was trying to sell us this. We were definitely not the Indiana Elite, so he probably figured he’d sell it and have enough to go paint his house pink like John Cougar Mellencamp instructed him to.  He kept on with his spiel. We left the shack after making our outrage pretty clear. He went back to his spittoon and cleaning his rifle.

Our next stop was Karma Records in Bedford. First off, I connected it with “Karma Chameleon”Jennie went the non-Boy George route and connected it with “Instant Karma”. We both hoped it meant we would find the albums we sought. Jennie was on a hunt for Gary Numan’s The Pleasure Principle. I kept cracking jokes about Janet Jackson, which she did not appreciate. We went into this store, and found a lot of John Denver, Debby Boone, Gary Allan Coe, and other country & western oddities. Jen did find an album by Black Oak Arkansas, of Jim Dandy fame. She picked that up for Carol, but beyond that, karma was on the side of the locals, not the vocals.

Jasper Records & CD’s in Jasper was our next stop. They had a whole hell of a lot of clarinets, flutes, and banjos. Yes, banjos. They did have a small section and I was able to pick up Sixteen Stone by Bush on vinyl, but that was it there. Birdland Records was a music store for musical instruments and a comedy club also. Process that. Only in Indiana, folks.  Vincennes was next. I also think of Chad who worked at the Kokomo BAM when I’m in Vincennes, because that’s where he’s from. Record Cellar Audio was our next, and mercifully, last stop. Not only was Jen tired from driving, but she and I were tired from the endless corn fields, awkward encounters at gas stations when they didn’t understand our “Chicago accents” when we were asking for directions, and not being fruitful in our respective quests. This guy in Vincennes had a good selection, a clue, and better yet, a brain. Jen found a different promo Numan, so she was happy. I found the Japanese import of Duran Duran’s The Wedding Album for a pittance, and in great shape. I look up to ask him a question, and there, taped to the register, was (What’s The Story), Morning Glory? I asked him if he had an untape copy, and he had one left behind the counter. It was mine. It was $16.00, but I didn’t care at that point. When I got back and told JL, he told me I could have gone to Beautiful Day in Lagrange and they would’ve had it. Obviously, he had not done his homework. Before this trip through dead fly country, Jen and I had done our usual canvassing of the area, and no dice. It didn’t matter where I got it, because I finally had it. It was another adventure in collecting and it also helped me connect to someone who ultimately did change my life. Maybe not for the better or for the lifetime gig, but for many good memories. Oasis are still hard to listen to for me because of all of those shared memories, but I still appreciate the energy and talent that went into that band before it ended. I will always have some real good memories, and about 90% of them are revolving around vinyl.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Goodbye Loser

Posted: September 20, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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Elton_John_-_Goodbye_Yellow_Brick_RoadI’ve spoken, rather unfondly, of my jackass second ex. I made a very serious error in judgment that cost me 2 1/2 years I would love to get back, but hey, bitching about it won’t change it. There were some truly awful things: his alcoholism, the unemployment and subsequent financial dependence upon me for his excesses, his drug usage, the emotional abuse, the physical abuse, being spat upon, punched in the head, ashtrays thrown at you, his decision that despite doing jack shit normally that bathing was too much to do(which in turn resulted in the last year of that relationship being completely celibate), among other fun things. But I digress. There were some good things that he brought into my life. Seriously. I realize that starting this off with that sentence and then rolling into this, that people may think I am being sarcastic. No. He was responsible for my discovery of comics, anime, Steve Winwood, Pokemon, Greyhound bus trips cross country (no joke), Pinky & The Brain, Jerry Springer, The Electric Light Orchestra, and last but certainly not least- Elton John. But not the entire career. Namely, just the one album above, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

The first Christmas together was 1997, a year after my mom passed. My family was still a fucking mess. I was only 6 months into this at this point, so I still believed in love and all that other idealistic crap. Again, grief does weird things to people and their sensibilities. In some instances, such as this, it makes us stupid. I asked him over and over again what he wanted for Christmas. He requested the Steve Winwood box set, which I found. He also wanted me to find the album that had an Elton john song on it that he was obsessed with. That song was “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”I did some research and figured out that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the album. I ordered it through my friend Mike’s website, as well as the Winwood box set. He squealed like the little girl, pink-bra-hiding-hoarder that he was, and put Elton on first, since it was only one CD, and the Winwood was 3 CD’s. I had to pee like a motherfucker and wasn’t happy that the first song on the album was 11 minutes long.  I sat through it, but the moment it ended I ran like a crack addict chasing a lighter down the sidewalk. So I truly did not absorb it for the masterpiece that it is. I listened to the rest of it when I was done. I loved “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Grey Seal”, “I’ve Seen That Movie Too”, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, “Social Disease”, and “Harmony”I did NOT like Bennie and the Jets (sorry Felicia!) and despite its popularity for the Marilyn Monroe subject matter, I also did not dig Candle In The Wind. I ended up listening to that album with him repeatedly over the next couple of years of discontent, and I grew to love it. More than Tumbleweed Connection, which was my favorite album for years. I finally had enough of the farce I was living and ended it on V-Day, 2000. He made it easier by admitting that he was cheating on me with his best friend’s girlfriend. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and my love of it, stayed constant and I have always had a copy of it on CD. However, i never had a copy of it on vinyl. In 2003, I decided it was time to own it on vinyl. 

Oddly enough, I had a negotiation going with some asswipe on Ebay at the time, for the album. It was, supposedly, in perfect condition, all four records, the gatefold, and with the poster it came with! I was thrilled, but wait!  Ebay=E coli.  You remember the Boy George mug story? Yeah, I got banned around the same time, so I never got the deal through to the finish line with the asswipe I was negotiating with (Asswipe seems mean, but if you read the chauvinistic, badly spelled, and barely coherent sentences in the emails he sent me, you would not question the terminology). So it was off to “The River of Despair” (sorry, Layne, I have used your song in a context with true evil).  I ordered a copy and paid $13.74 for it, but it the records were cracked. All of them. The gatefold looked like someone had broken it over their knee, kind of like Michael Douglas did in the movie Falling Down.  I sent it back. It took almost two months to get my card credited. The seller was a world-class jag. The next seller on Amazon sent me a copy of it that was perfect- except it was missing one of the records! That one went back. I figured, maybe the third time was the charm. The last seller charged my card, and I never even got the vinyl. So “The River of Despair” lived up to its name in my repeated attempts to get this record from them. Nope.

I next combed the record stores near me. I had no luck. My fucking friends kept saying Amazon. Other friends of mine told me BAM.com. Just because I worked for them, didn’t mean I was giving them my business online. I probably should have done it, but I really did not want to go down that, well, yellow hick road.  I tried Medazz, but no luck. Orbit didn’t have it. Oddly enough, I found it through someone on DuranDuran.com! I was on the boards talking about classic rock with “Claricella” (her name was Clarice and she threw on a suffix of ella, as in “Electric Barbarella”, in case you were wondering) and she mentioned she had a copy of it, plus PayPal. PayPal is another blog post, probably on my weeks-dormant other blog site, of things I will never fucking understand. I told her about my horrible luck, and she had two copies. Her ex had left his there when he moved out, so she offered to sell it to me. I trusted this girl, and would you believe she didn’t dick me over? The vinyl album took weeks to get to me, but when it did, it was perfect. Even more eerie about this? Her ex’s name? Steven. I rest my case on the universe having a sense of humor.

Slaying the Cyklopx on the road to Nirvana

Posted: September 20, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Since Georgette just posted a foreign bootleg, I figured I’d serve up one of my own.

In 1991, when I first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, I remember thinking: “What is this shit?” Obviously, I was very stupid as a twelve year-old. As the months went by and the singles kept churning out, Nirvana grew on me. By the time “In Bloom” and its Ed Sullivan-esque video hit heavy rotation on the once mighty MTV, I was hooked. As it turned out, I still don’t care for “Teen Spirit” all that much but “Bloom”, “Come As You Are”, and “Lithium” are among my favorite songs of all time. The non-single, “Drain You”, may even eclipse all of those for my taste.

When Kurt Cobain killed himself, that was the first time I really had to deal with the death of something to meant something to me. I know it sounds cliché but it really did feel like some of those songs spoke for me in a way that I couldn’t, granted in a more surreal fashion. Mostly, it was the songs of In Utero that I related too. “Serve the Servants” echoed my own relationship with my father at a time when I wished I would have had him around. It was nice to know that this rock mega star felt the same way. “Milk It”, well, I just liked the guitar part to that and played along with my own guitar, trying to mimic to distorted, sludgy tone.

A few years later, my friend Joe was going through his closet and found the cassette of Anthrax’s State Of Euphoria and the import CD of Nirvana’s Hormoaning, a collection of b-sides and covers. I had already heard (and loved) the Vaselines re-dos of “Molly’s Lips” and “Son Of a Gun” as well as the cover of Devo’s “Turnaround” on the Incesticide compilation along with the incredible “Aneurysm”. I also owned the CD singles collection boxed set that contained, among others, the song “Curmudgeon”. But I had yet to hear “D-7”. I hadn’t even heard of Greg Sage or the Wipers. I still had so much to learn.

“D-7” pretty good but not nearly “Aneurysm” of “Molly” good. Even still, I wanted this badly to complete my collection. Joe wouldn’t sell it to me. I’m sure he would now if I asked. Come to think of it, had I even asked him then? Can’t remember. I found that it was out-of-print and, back then, that actually meant something. Now, pretty much anything is attainable if you’re willing to pay for it. That sounds a bit seedy, no? Sounds like the plot to a Bruce Willis sci-fi abortion.

Sometimes, when you want a particular piece, no matter what you collect, you have to bide your time. This isn’t always how to go about it but sometimes there is no other option. I never did get Hormoaning on CD but by 2011, I had moved on (or backwards) to vinyl. On April 16 of that year, my wait was over.

Record Store Day is a pretty great, and I think only, music collector’s holiday. When Hector and I had our online record store, we participated and we would usually sell out of all of the exclusive RSD items in a matter of hours and sometimes faster. We had the advantage of posting things at midnight on eBay whereas most brick and mortar stores wouldn’t open for eight more hours. I know, I generally stand against that type of thinking, but we weren’t price gouging. We sold for retail price, we just wanted a faster return on our investment. Besides, going to the stores can be a crapshoot. Not every store gets the same amount or selection. We didn’t have access to every label’s releases.

From what we did carry in our store, I procured the “Whirring” single by The Joy Formidable, Deerhunter’s “Memory Boy” single, The New Pornographers’ “Moves” 45, and the 7″ of Fucked Up’s Daytrotter Session. That piece was cool because they had a myriad of different covers, each with photos of actual indie record stores. I chose the one that had Denver’s Wax Trax Records on it. I even got Duran Duran’s “Girl Panic” vinyl single for Georgette. You’re welcome, G.

But as I said, we didn’t have everything. I still needed the reissue of the first Bad Brains release, the “Pay To Cum” 7″ (lot of quote marks there). For that, and the rest of my wishlist, I went back to Cyklopx in Forest Park. Fucking hell, I miss that place. In addition to BB, I snatched up OFF!’s Live At Generation Records 7″, Sennen’s Age Of Denial (only 250 in existence), and the Superchunk/Coliseum split where they each performed Misfits covers.

Keeping it to just Nirvana, I picked up the reissue of the Kill Rock Stars compilation featuring Nirvana’s “Beeswax” and tracks from Courtney Love, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, and the Melvins. But numero fucking uno on the wishlist was one of the 6000 brown marbled vinyl editions of Hormoaning. I’m a tad embarrassed to say that I sent $25 on those 6 songs. I could have used that toward the special edition  double LP version of Nevermind that ended up getting released toward the end of that year. Those songs, and a bunch more, would have been on it. That being said, I had already bought Nevermind on vinyl (with a damned Groupon!) at Val’s Halla in Oak Park. Val’s is a cool little store with a great history but a bit of a lackluster selection. Anyhow, Nevermind only set me back $10. Can’t beat that with a stick, and you’d better fucking not.

Culture Shock

Posted: September 17, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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A whole lot of good it would have done to post an image from Kissing To Be Clever, Culture Club’s debut album. It’s a pretty widely known and published image. This post is going to highlight my hunt for TWO different Culture Club vinyls that I was seeking. I had easily found Colour By Numbers on vinyl, in a bin at a garage sale in Justice, IL. I was with my mom and her friend Darlene, and I started screaming like a Republican on State Aid. Kissing to Be Clever drove me into weird and far-reaching locations in an attempt to locate it. Yes, I even went to the land of the end of time- Ohio. Mystery Boy, the rare B-side, was equally challenging in terms of hunting and obtaining. Even more fun? The fact that I hadn’t even heard the fucking song when I went gusto blusto trying to find it! The image above is the Japanese pressing of the single, backed with the easily forgettable and cloying instrumental known as Murder Rap Trap. Do yourself a favor, and don’t listen to it. Mystery Boy, yes. The B-side to that B-side? Pass. “Mystery Boy” was the song included on the Japanese pressing of Kissing To Be Clever, so the paths do entwine. 

Kissing To Be Clever haunted me for years. Namely because I kept buying the cassette, overplaying it, and weeping like a bereft Jedi when the cassette snapped. I’m not sure if it was because of the entire album, or if it was because I had to play “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” multiple times a day. The fact that this song tormented the hell out of my brother likely had more than a fair bit to do with that, but overall, Kissing To Be Clever was, and remains, a solid album from start to finish. Sure, I really do intently dislike “White Boys Can’t Control It”, but I can ignore not caring for one song if the other 8 are solid, and they are. I’ve already spoken of my deep and abiding love for The Boy. My obsession with “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” really drove my desire to own this album above and beyond my curiousity about the enigmatic Mr. O’Dowd and Co.  When I got the album on cassette for Christmas 1983 (best Christmas ever: I got KTBCColour, Prince’s 1999, and Bryan Adam’s Cuts Like A Knife on cassette. Still one of the best Christmases ever), I listened to it. Again and again and again. Colour By Numbers is solid start to finish also, but it was the newest hot thing…everyone, by this point, had moved on from the first album. I am a rabid fan and collector of debut records, and I think this, or Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, may have started that trend. I could not move on from that record. I am still obsessed with it now, although it sounds dated, with its poppy, emotionally wrung out melodies and the Boy’s blue eyed-soul. Sorry, I seem to have turned into a record reviewer for a moment there.

The first time I actively began looking for Kissing was in 1984. I scoured all the usual suspects, to no avail. I still question why it was so hard to find this album, when Culture Club were, at that point, doing a wildly successful world tour. Maybe it was Boy George’s Grammy Awards acceptance speech for Best New Artist that did it (“America, you know a great drag queen when you see one.”)? Maybe it was just “out of the public eye” because it was two years old. Unsure.  JR’s didn’t have it, Rose Records was just starting out, and they didn’t have it either. No one had it. I gave up on owning the vinyl for the time being. Flash forward 7 years to the entry of one Disco Chuck into my hemisphere. That dude dug records almost as much as I did. The record shows began, and I had no trouble locating Waking Up With The House On Fire, Culture Club’s subpar 1984 release, and I even found the hard to find and far better From Luxury To Heartache. That final album was the last gift from Biceps For Jesus before he had his mom ask for the engagement ring back. An appropriate title for an appropriate gift! Anyway, Disco Chuck was hugely responsible for my finding and procuring numerous Boy George/CC singles and vinyls, but even he had to call fatwa on this one. I gave up; if the combined forces of Disco C and Crisco G couldn’t locate it, it wasn’t meant to be mine. Flash forward to 2005. A Bibles A Zillion trip for District 10- we were off to the merry Republican wilderness of Dayton, Ohio. We were in a van that we rented and that Donna and Mary took turns driving. We had some free time when Books & Co wasn’t teaching us how to run a cafe that none of the Chicago market would ever see, and Donna and I found a record store. I hadn’t looked for the fucking album in years….for some reason, I did- and guess what? There it was. In perfect condition. In the middle of Dayton, Ohio. Again, it had to be Donna, because I found all kinds of awesome shit whenever she and I weren’t looking for stuff, and it happened again. I somehow managed to conceal it from my curious co-workers at the Books & Co, except for Donna, who loves Boy George and thought it was awesome.  But it was mine- at last! In Ohio. I still have it, in plastic. I did find a second copy that I bought at Beautiful Day Records in Lagrange, IL, right before it closed up shop, in 2010. I use that copy to play- the Dayton, Ohio, copy stays in the plastic. Because it’s symbolic of how hard it was to finally find it, and I didn’t want to muck it up. I love the album that much. 

The first awareness I had of Mystery Boy was reading about it being the song in a popular commercial for Suntory Whiskey, over in Japan. Then I promptly forgot about it, likely at the bottom of a bottle, ironically. Then my friend MIchael who owns Medazzaland Records in Seattle put up on his site that he had a rare VHS copy of a Boy George solo video compilation. Of course, since he was persona non grata in the US for many years due to that heroin problem, they never played his solo videos. I ordered it and at the end there were miscellaneous clips; including that Japanese commercial. It is brief, the snippet of the song, but I was intrigued. Especially hearing The Boy singing in Japanese. I wrote an email to Michael asking how hard it would be to obtain a vinyl single for that song, and the answer was not a resounding positive. I next tried Orbit Recordsan little place in Naperville that was good at getting their mitts on obscure vinyl and other items in the 90’s and most of the 2000’s (yes, it’s gone now). No dice. I tried the usual suspects, and came up empty. The owner of Beverly Records placed a special order for it for me, but after 3 months, they gave up as well. I let it go for awhile, but something about the unknown meant I became slightly unhinged in my attempts to obtain it. Finally, Heidi and I ended up going to the infamous Chicagoland Record Show at the Hillside Holiday Inn, and it was hiding. In the wrong place. Some idiot sphincter had shelved it with THE NKOTB. There it was, the Japanese pressing of it, backed with “Murder Rap Trap”They could have just marketed it with “Mystery Boy” and saved the ears of any poor soul who happened to hear the B-side. I paid a ridiculous amount of money, although it was well worth it to own that song. It’s only a little over 3 minutes, but it’s a truly catchy little ditty. Well worth the 14 years it took me to find it!

Bret Easton Ellis + Danzig > Less Than Zero

Posted: September 16, 2013 by The Social Retard in Books, Movies, Music
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lg_zero

Where to begin? This may be the most convoluted post yet. I guess we’ll start with Less Than Zero, the novel, initially. I believe I saw it when I was 17, at the height of my teenage angst. Who am I kidding? I’m twice that now and still very much full of teenage angst. I had just read the book Generation X by Douglas Coupland and had never been so devoid of hope ever. That book was such a downer. Naturally, my impulse was to go even further down the nihilistic rabbit hole, so where better to turn than the works of Bret Easton Ellis.

If you ever want to read a book full of characters with no redeemable qualities, see Less Than Zero, the introductory dissertation. This is hardly exclusive to <0, however. The Rules Of Attraction and Glamorama are similarly difficult to get through because you have no rooting interest in seeing the characters do anything but self-destruct and die. The main character of American Psycho is equally unsympathetic because he’s a serial killer but at least he’s strangely likable.

The movie, which I sat down to watch recently, shines a neon light on the characters making them less menacing and interesting without making them any more appealing. Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Julian, is more a tragic figure in the movie than just a consummate fuck up and scumbag, as he was portrayed in the novel. We’re somehow supposed to feel sorry for this guy . Maybe this has more to do with RD2’s on-screen presence than anything in the script. In a nutshell, this movie sucks…and hard.

There is something worth saving from the wreckage of <0: the soundtrack. Then up-and-coming producer Rick Rubin was charged with the music and he used the opportunity to put a spotlight on his and Russell Simmons’s still fairly new Def Jam Recordings. Label alumni included LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Slayer, and just signed Glenn Danzig. The rest of the album is mostly throwaway except for the now classic Bangles’ cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade Of Winter” and a track from Roy Orbison. I know. Which one of these is not like the other? Well, fast forward seven years from <0 when Rick Rubin produces American Recordings for Johnny Cash. That, and the subsequent volumes, resurrected the Man In Black’s career and brought it to new commercial heights. On that first album is a Danzig-penned track called “Thirteen”. The performance is legendary and one of the true highlights on that extraordinary album. It would appear something similar might have been in the cards with Orbison.

The Big O’s contribution to this soundtrack is also a Danzig composition called “Life Fades Away”. You can tell that Glenn wrote it for Orbison as it has an old timeyness that we hadn’t heard from his Misfits or Samhain work. Ol’ Roy sings the fuck out of it too, ending on as strong a note as he had ever belted. Who knows if this wouldn’t have led to a career revival on the level of Cash but the world would never know as Orbison passed away the following year. Danzig would also deliver a similar sounding track, “You and Me (Less Than Zero)”, his first as a solo artist. Credited with the Power & Fury Orchestra, (and as “Glen” on the label) Danzig proves that he can do powerful without sheer brutality. His singing is still in full throat and you can’t imagine him standing still in the studio while trying to record it. His delivery is every bit as intense as any of his prior work or since but there is no distortion.

The soundtrack includes flat out stupid covers by Aerosmith and Poison, a lackluster “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” from Slayer, the non-Anthrax edition of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”, and a decent track from Joan Jett. But after Orbison, Danzig, the Bangles, and even LL Cool J, the album is just not terribly good. However, the fact that the Orbison and Danzig tracks only appear on this soundtrack makes it essential to own.

I hunted mine down on Gemm.com on May 19, 2010 from a less than honest seller. He claimed in the listing that it was sealed but it certainly was not. The cover is pretty fucked up but, to be fair, the record itself is in excellent condition. I would have raised a bigger stink but it only cost $6.10. I would have gladly paid even more for a 7″ featuring Orbison on the A-side and Danzig as the B-side (or vice versa) if such a thing existed. You hearing me, Def Jam? I would still buy it. Make it.

As for Bret Easton Ellis, his last two novels have taken his previous works and turned them on their head, in a good way. He’s gone so fucking meta, it’s ridiculous. Lunar Park is vintage Ellis only with using himself as the main character. Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel to Less Than Zero, only it makes sure to tell you that <0 is a fictional account of the characters within. The movie, laughably so. This allowed him to bring back the Julian character. It is my favorite book of his. I never re-read novels but I recently re-read this one and it is so deliciously twisted. For even more meta-ness, Andrew McCarthy (star of <0, the film) reads the audio book of Bedrooms, which is narrated by the Clay character than McCarthy played 25 years prior. Fucked, right? Yes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On The Cover of The Rolling Stone

Posted: September 7, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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HAX8D00ZThe year was 1984.  February, 1984, to be exact. I had just turned 11. I was still in some case of trivial tug-of-war with my little Duranie heart- John or Simon? That continues to this day. However, my 11-year old heart went into overdrive when I spotted this in the magazine rack at Spring Forest (I think we were calling it Rudy’s at that point, but I may be mixing the deli of my young dreams up with another Willow Springs landmark that had my little chubby tummy humming with joy at the thought of delicious, unlimited meats and cheeses).

I honestly have no recollection how much Rolling Stone was at this point in its history; but likely, it was still too much for what I was getting as an allowance at that point. I remember crying like an overgrown pig denied his mayo, in the middle of the deli, and my mom beating my ass out of embarrassment.  I really was a spoiled brat when Duran Duran were involved in any way. I think the only other time I threw such a little sissypants tantrum was when I was begging for extra allowance so I could buy that purple Michael Jackson purse. I remember clutching the magazine and that overweight warthog Josette who worked the front counter giving me the old stinkeye (as if anyone in Willow Springs (besides me) would be weeping over this periodical). My mom said she would consider it. I did my academic best and got a shitload of A’s on papers and she caved. Remember, my mom was into Duran Duran as much as I, except for Nick Rhodes, who she said “looks like a woman”, among other unflattering comments.  I went back a week later, and it was SOLD OUT. The warthog informed me they wouldn’t be getting any other copies. The hunt began.

I tried Dominick’s, K-mart, Venture, Zayre, Jewel-Osco, and any other fucking place I could obtain magazines. No luck. It was sold out everywhere. Crazy thing is, turns out there must have been more Duranies than I had counted on. I was shit out of luck, and heartbroken. I didn’t collect magazines so much back then, as I did buy them so I could rip the posters out and change my walls up every week. As I have stated in previous blogs, my mom always enjoyed that. My brother, who shared my room and did NOT share my love of all things English New Wave music, did not. I also had to have the magazine, not only because the cover of the Rolling Stone was still a big deal back then, but because of the byline. THE FAB FIVE, a take off of the Beatles being called The Fab Four. On principle of being a gigantic Beatles fan and hoping Duran would be around and legendary in their own right for many years, I had to own this magazine. I wrote to the magazine begging for a copy of the magazine, and enclosed all the change I owned, to secure a copy. I got a letter weeks later with a check in my name, saying that at the current time no more copies were being printed. Denied again. And not only that, but what dumb fuck kid would send all her pennies and quarters into the office of the magazine, thinking they would send me a copy? Youthful ignorance. The fact that my mom helped me seal the manila envelope (while snickering, now that I recall) makes me think she was aiding and abetting this nonsense further.

Years go by, and in 1989, I attend some sort of record convention with Jennie. What do I find? A copy of the infamous magazine! I paid $14.00 for the magazine, as it was in pristine shape, in plastic, and I didn’t give two shits what I had to pay. My only other encounter with this magazine was when I borrowed Heidi’s library card and found a destroyed old copy at the Alsip Library. I did read it, I did caress the pages and blow kisses to the pictures, but it was not mine- I could only sit there and swoon for hours. I still had to have my own copy; my bloodlust never abated in pursuit of this.  I was not meant to quiver with joy over the copy I had just obtained for very long. I got the first copy in February, 1989, and it went into that little closed off room upstairs at the old house- it was all Duran. The room was ceiling to floor Duran, and when I wasn’t working at Phar-Mor or going to school, I was stuck in there spinning vinyl for the 100th time on the awesome retro record player/8 track stereo system my Aunt Colleen had gifted me with. On Christmas night in 1990, I had plugged my stereo in and heard what sounded like a small spark. I ignored it and went downstairs. Within minutes, the entire upstairs was on fire. It had sparked a bad outlet which set off electrical mayhem, and we got out and went to stay with Pothead Bob and his mom. The only things lost in that fire? Everything I owned..including the records, the CD’s, the posters, the painting and drawings that our friend Elena had done for me of the cover of Notorious, my grade school diplomas, all my pictures and keepsakes, everything. I was gutted. And so was my bedroom. Eventually we got the whole upstairs redone, but I was done. I moved back downstairs and let my brother and sister take the rooms up there when it was redone. I was, and remain to this day, heartbroken over losing all that irreplaceable shit. The stuff I could replace, I began to, in earnest.

Copy 2 of the magazine was obtained at Tower Records with Disco Chuck in 1992. This wasn’t meant to be long for my holding. My fucking dog ate it. I’m not kidding, unfortunately. There was nothing that Cuckoo wouldn’t wolf down, including the Rolling Stone. I came home from Caesar’s one day, and it was in tatters. She was a puppy, so I didn’t hold it against her because she was a sweetheart, and she looked cowed when I let out that wild midget grief howl that came out when I saw what was left. Copy 3 was years later, with Heidi, at the ARC record show. The dirty rotten record vendor who was trading with Jennie and years later broke into their house and stole priceless vinyl, had a whole bin of “collectible” magazines. Yes, there it was. Heidi was and remains my good luck charm with finding things. It wasn’t in fantastic shape, but nothing that jagoff sold, really was. I was at the point that I didn’t give a fuck if it looked like  he wiped his nose with it, as long as it was intact. It was, and his worthless ass was charging $20.00 for it. I really wanted to buy that Duran Duran laserdisc (Laugh. You should), but I put it away on the shelf to get the magazine. Heidi and I went back to the house and worshipped properly. I don’t think it was a “Duran altar” occasion, but it may have been. Old age gives and takes its memories with impudence.

I’m not a huge collector of magazines, but there are the oddities in my collection, that I went to hell and back to obtain. For the reasons above, it meant the world to me to have a copy of that magazine in my collection.  It’s not so I could sell it later, or brag to my other Duranies who haven’t been able to find a copy (there are a few who threaten me because I have it in my possession), or just to have something to write about. It’s a piece of who I am, and one of the few things in life that I still do enjoy, and there’s no price or time limit that you can put on something that really has a place in your heart.

This isn’t meant to last, hesitation is the better part of valor

Posted: September 1, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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NINAs I’ve talked about here before, I get tunnel vision when it comes to collecting. I know what I want and I become fixated on trying to get it. Today, I will talk about how patience can sometimes by prudent. I have been a fan of Nine Inch Nails for over twenty years, ever since I saw the video for “Wish” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. My obsession for the band only got more intense as time went on. I bought the Broken EP through the BMG music club and loved every second, especially “Last”. That song was kind of a prophetic explanation of my life as well as NIИ in its current form: “This isn’t meant to last/This is for right now”. Broken was my first experience with hidden tracks with 98 and 99 were amazing covers pf Adam Ant and PIG tracks. I went back and bought their debut, Pretty Hate Machine, which was a bit too techno for my taste.

In 1994, Trent Reznor and company released the magnum opus, The Downward Spiral. This was an instant 14-track unblemished classic. Not a single misstep in the bunch. “March Of the Pigs” presses on a nerve or something as the very listening of it taps into something primal inside me that brings about an aggressive reaction, the only song that really still makes me want to slam into other people. I had a hard time with “Heresy” because, at the time of first hearing it, I had not yet had my crisis of faith. Now, I gladly scream, “Your god is dead and no one cares”, usually entirely unprovoked. I no longer have any reservations listening to the album. Every note is a small part of a masterpiece. “The Becoming”, “I Do Not Want This”, and especially “Reptile” are just wonderful. I didn’t understand the lyrics to “Reptile” then but I loved the fact that Reznor had created a sound that could have come from Godzilla. I even managed to convince my mom to get Woodstock ’94 on pay-per-view so that I could see Nine Inch Nails live. I told her that old losers like Aerosmith were playing and I would tape it (yes, VHS was the only option then) for her. After that performance, everyone wanted their piece of the band. They weren’t my secret anymore. Not that they ever were, but I was the only one I knew that listened to them. “Closer” blew up and, all of a sudden, that’s all anyone wanted to hear. Foolish jackholes didn’t even realize the treasure trove of gems the band had. I ended up transferring the performance to an audio cassette and played it in my car, when I finally got my car (three years later).

I remember playing it in my car in 1999 when the blonde vulture wanted me to drive her to her ex’s place because he was waxing suicidal. I agreed to it but I played that tape the whole way there and back because I really didn’t want to talk about the situation. She tried to shut it off but I was having none of that. Little did I know that in a few months, she would leave me and I would be the one with the dark thoughts. I’m not proud of it but I took my pain out in criminal fashion. Weeks later, it was September 21 and the follow-up to TDS was finally being released. Through less than savory techniques, I went to a music store (that no longer exists) in Chicago Ridge Mall and “procured” it. It was like me at that point, The Fragile. It was a mere weeks earlier that she and I were listening to the CD single “The Day the World Went Away”/”Starfuckers, Inc.” on the stereo at her place. Now, I was nicking a business out of The Fragile, Tori Amos‘s Boys For Pele, Type O Negative‘s World Coming Down, Chris Cornell‘s solo debut, Euphoria Morning. I really love all of these albums, not just because of the music but at the time of my life that I needed to hear them. How I got them doesn’t matter (maybe to the company, it does).

It would be six more years until the next album and, this time, I got to see them live in support of it. With Teeth, is not up to par as everything that came before it but it was fine. However, The Downward Spiral was a prediction of sorts as everything has kind of gotten incrementally worse since then. Year Zero is nearly unlistenable to me, as nothing sticks out for me at all. The Slip has one good song, “1,000,000”, and the rest is just crap. Ghosts should not count as a NIИ album as it is entirely instrumental.

I currently have Pretty Hate Machine on remastered CD and vinyl, my original BMG Broken, the remastered deluxe of The Downward Spiral, the Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway soundtracks, the original pilfered The Fragile, the limited edition 2-disc live album And All That Could Have Been, With Teeth, Year Zero, Ghosts, and now I await the arrival of…

Hesitation Marks. I pre-ordered it on vinyl back on June, 7 after only hearing one song, the pretty okay “Came Back Haunted”. With shipping, the total was $36. I listened to the leak the other day and, before it even arrives this Tuesday, I know that it wasn’t worth it. For a more detailed reason as to why, you can check out my review over at Examiner. Maybe it’s not-very-goodness is karmic payback for my nefarious deeds in acquiring The Fragile, but I don’t believe in karma. I used to believe in Trent but, now, all I can do is wish.