Last week I was out of town and incommunicado. The blog languished as a result, but it was worth it since my wife and I were meeting Charles [of Chas’ Crusty Old Wave fame] and his wife, Heather in Nashville, TN for a sporadic visit. Since they live in Victoria, B.C. and we live 3000 miles away, we can’t assume we’ll see too much of each other, but nevertheless, we’ve managed two visits with each other in the last three years. Not too shabby.
Of course when you’re in Music City, U.S.A., it pays to do some research. Heck, I do it for any city I find myself visiting, but my minimal research suggested that there were several record stores worth the time to visit. Some of them even sold music other than country! We earmarked a few hours on Saturday and visited several, and here’s my report card on the firstest with the mostest.
This store was deceptively staid looking from the outside, but once you stepped in your senses were inflamed by thousands of records and CDs. I figured anyone who cribbed the logotype of Creem Magazine wouldn’t bother to have a lame store and experience proved me right. As we entered, the in-store system was playing the remaster of “Exile On Main Street.” My wife remarked at how good it sounded and I concurred. Hey – any time a record store isn’t playing ugly noise* designed to drive me out in the streets, it’s a good thing!
I did a quick recon and being overwhelmed by the amount of CDs in the store, I quickly moved into the vinyl zone. The 7″ singles looked enticing. A quick scan revealed that it was more than just deliberately ugly indie 7″ vinyl for slacker hipsters from the last 20 years, yes! Don’t get me started on how the humble 7″ single went from something that desperately wanted to be genuinely popular to a deliberately “ironic” sign of “indie cred!” There were 16 boxes of well organized 7″ material that ran the gamut from the 70s to the current day. A run through all 16 boxes revealed a lot of 7″ers to love! I can’t remember how long it’s been since I bought so many of the format in one place.
And they were priced to love, as well! I was happy to get obscure Brit gems from Ian Hunter’s “England Rocks,” which became the more familiar “Cleveland Rocks” a couple of years later, to the first Dave Stewart [not the Eurythmic – the other Dave Stewart] solo single where the former Hatfield & The North keyboardist covered “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” [with Colin Blunstone singing] on the famous Stiff Records label. Records you don’t see every day.
My major score this day was a set of four Martha & The Muffins 7″ singles! I really like this band but almost never find their vinyl rarities. A handful have trickled into the collection over the last 20 years. Not today! Three commercial singles and a promo only EP later and I’ve just crossed the tipping point to that long-mused-over Martha & The Muffins rarity compilation.
The live EP came with the first UK pressing of album number two, “Trance & Dance.” I can’t remember seeing a copy of this ever before but I was aware of it at least. Scuttlebutt has it that many of these A-sides differ from the album tracks in take or mix so these puppies aren’t just for picture sleeve only, but at these prices [$1.99 per] they could well be in any case.
My wife hit the used CD bins and found several classic rock and Laurie Anderson CDs not already in the crowded room where our music lives. Charles kept busy in the used CD bin as well. Hey, I’d be lying if I said we don’t always look there first! My wife and I usually double-team; she’ll start at one end and I’ll take the other and we move on when we meet up. After I hit the 12″ vinyl I was ready to move on to the full price CDs. The in-store changed by that time to Genesis’ “Selling England By The Pound,” an album I’ve managed to miss in my 46 years that included some Genesis listening back in the late 70s. Damn, Steve Hackett sounded hot on this one. Yes, I know. My prog roots are showing.
Besides the 150 albums on the handy want list, printed in 6 point type and folded down to the size of a business card in my wallet, I was looking for brand, spanking new two disc remasters of Propaganda’s “A Secret Wish” and their former singer Claudia Brücken’s “Love: And A Million Other Things” but these proved to be sadly not available. I had some better luck while perusing the Roxy Music section. I found the [relatively] new solo album by Roxy Epoxy & The Rebound, “Band Aids On Bullet Holes.” My love for her former band, The Epoxies, is such that I always bought them at full price [i.e. new] whenever I saw their recordings. If you love music that sounds as if it had been released in 1979, albeit 30 years later, you would too! Her solo album didn’t disappoint!
My friend Ron Kane is strongly into the Japanese “kami” remaster sleeve phenomenon, and I noticed some nice stock in this [expensive] format. They’re cute, but sadly don’t fit on my custom CD racks, designed years ago for jewel boxes. There was nothing Japanese here that I needed to get. My wife handed me an amazing DVD by Isabelle Antena, “Transmissions” which I didn’t even know existed! That’s always nice! Especially since she doesn’t like NWOBJP much at all [but knows that I do]. Love overcomes even taste in music, it’s true.
Eventually, it was time to sort through the pulls and figure out what was necessary and what returned to the bins. I thought the better of a pair of It’s Immaterial UK 7″ers, since I’d need the 12″ versions anyway. Charles checked out ahead of me as I was getting some pix of the store at this point.
As I was checking out, the in-store switched from Genesis to some primo electropop. I asked the counter man what was playing and he said it was La Düsseldorf, the post-Neü band formed by former Kraftwerk drummer Klaus Dinger. Holy jeez, this stuff was fantastic! I’d heard the name but never had the pleasure, and quite a pleasure it was. If I hadn’t already spent so much I would have bought the CD right then and there. As it was, I’m now tinged with regret at not having done that. As we pulled out of the Grimey’s parking lot, it was with the sense of having performed a job well done. I intended for us to go there first since it had the most potential, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Our New Wave tour of Nashville’s music stores continues tomorrow, with part II.
* disclaimer – There’s certainly some irritating music [esp. early Cabaret Voltaire – whom I love] in my collection, but you try concentrate enough to sort through a record store’s stock while a really annoying† album, say by noise-rock group Melt Banana is playing. Or god forbid, ogre musicˆ is on the system. I dare you.
† What I consider really annoying… and my collection has always embraced more abrasive music than most of my friends.
ˆ “Ogre Music” – Anything sung by a dude who may [or may not] be using a distortion pedal on his vocals. There’s a lot of this crap out there and we hear way too much of it. So named after Nivek Ogre [not his real name] of Skinny Puppy who was an early progenitor of the “style.”
$1.99? Good prices on 7″ singles! Does this store have a website??
In L.A. or S.F., it’s easy to find any / all XTC little album cover CD’s used for $10 or less each. It’s a fun hobby!
You & I must talk Martha & The Muffins sometime – I saw ’em live, have videos and loads of singles – many of which were never 12″ singles – some of which are not on CD, either.
Actually, I paid $1.00/ea. for some of the other 7″ action I didn’t comment on! Midge Ure’s “No Regrets” UK 7″ was $1.00. And they had a record I’d never seen before: Roxy Music’s “Jealous Guy” US Atco 7″ stock copy w/PS! For a buck!! Heck, I’ve never seen any US release of that. And the Ian Hunter was a single buck as well. The Grimey’s website is a hotlink on the first instance of their name, as is my developed style. It doesn’t look like they have a web store but if there’s something you’re looking for you can contact them, I’m sure.
Yeah, Martha & The Muffins only had 12″ singles while on RCA, from what it looks like. It bugs me that I never got the 12″ of their magnificent “Black Stations/White Stations.” Lots of M&M’s singles aren’t on CD what with alternate takes and remixes of the A-sides.