Having run through the Electronic and Clearance racks, I then settled into the Rock section to see what delights awaited at full and mid-price points. It didn’t take long to see a most wanted ZTT fringe classic. The night before at Ron’s place, I had listened to his 2014 SACD of “Living In The Plastic Age” by The Buggles – my first exposure to the format. It sounded great but I can’t afford to go there. Besides, almost everything in a high-res audio format is relegated to [ugh] classic rock due to the demographics of the product niche. Only well-heeled middle agers can afford $50-60 per disc! Not much pull for your Friendly Neighborhood Monk. But I did really appreciate the three bonus tracks on the release, which I had not ever heard, not having much of a Buggles collection on vinyl. I made a mental note to track down the 2010 Japanese SHM [Super High Materials] edition of that title which has a brain-melting bounty of nine bonus tracks; a truly Monastic edition!
That wasn’t here, but they had the next best thing; the 2010 DLX RM of the second Buggles album, “Adventures In Modern Recording!” This had a plethora of ten bonus tracks; many of which were never before released. So mandatory! I remember the draught period after foolishly ditching my US LP of this title in The Great Vinyl Purge in the naïve belief that surely Trevor Horn’s ambitious proto-ZTT stepping stone would make the leap to silvery disc… only to wait eight years until the Japanese label Jimco finally issued the thing! The insult to injury was that i could not even find another LP of that title to listen to in the interim!
Another pick-it-up-and-buy-it-with-no-questions-asked title was the debut album by Rip Rig + Panic! How I’d waited 33 long years to hear this album and the fully packed DLX RM on Cherry Red was now in my sights. The thrilling blend of free jazz and post-punk/funk has some of the best song titles ever: “Those Eskimo Women Speak Frankly,” “Constant Drudgery Is Harmful To Soul, Spirit & Health,” “Billy Eckstein’s Shirt Collar.” Not to mention the single that had obsessed me after hearing it on college radio at the time of its release, “Bob Hope Takes Risks.” The latter was on here in both its 7″ and 12″ mix variations.
I next went looking for Ron to see how he was progressing. He had gone up to the second floor, where the DVDs were. I thought that I would not look, but then I remembered that I had a multi-standard rig to watch anything from anywhere in the world, so I thought I’d better take a quick look. The music titles in PAL were not especially moving. As for films, there is only one film to my knowledge that I would want to own on PAL only DVD: “Movie Movie” by Stanley Donen, and it was not here, but wait! What was that in the bins for $3.00 but a VCD of Japan’s great “Oil On Canvas!!” Sure, VCD was lo-res, but this was better than nothing. I had never had a copy of this officially, and it had been decades since I had even a multi-gen videotape copy to watch Mick Karn play those incredible fretless bass solos all the while scuttling like a crab on the Cartesian plane of the Hammersmith Odeon stage. I later found out that this was a Korean bootleg VCD; there had never been a release of this title officially in this format, but seeing how the “Very Best Of Japan” Japanese DVD that contained this performance briefly appeared in 2008 and had been in the three figures almost ever since, I thought I’d take what I could get!
I then thought that the vinyl seemed worth a shot, so I retreated downstairs and got my little mind blown. What awaited me in the bins was some of the best vinyl I’d seen since that fateful day in Maryland a dozen years earlier. The bins were almost ridiculously skewed towards exactly my tastes in a feast of desirable stock. The highlights were numerous. First and foremost was the 2013 Record Store Day 12″ by Simple Minds with the Mylo remix of “Promised You A Miracle” b/w the original version of “Broken Glass Park!” This was $14.99 and I had not been able to find a dealer in the US who was selling this title in over a year and a half. The postage alone from abroad would have been more than $14.99!
There were a pair of Scritti Politti 12″ers from my cobwebbed want list that I never thought I’d see anywhere. The second 12″ of “The Word Girl” with the “Scritti Turntable Mix” on the B-side and the 12″ of “She’s A Woman” with two mixes that were vinyl only! Speaking of Martyn Ware productions, I also grabbed the UK 2×12″ of Heaven 17’s “Contenders” since the tracks on disc 2 of that release I only had as featured on the – segued- “Endless” UK CD compilation. Here I had the discreet versions.
Finally, I picked up the Carnage UK 12″ of “Two Tribes” which I only had in the incorrect US version. One should have proper UK ZTT releases of every single from that label for its first five years of business. And finally, a rare bird from the want list was the 12″ of Annabel Lamb’s “Once Bitten!!” This is simply not the caliber of vinyl I am ever accustomed to seeing in anything but a costly package from the UK or Germany! I had a feeling that if I lived in Los Angeles, I might take [small] solace in the flow of amazing vinyl that flowed to this epicenter of the music industry over many decades and was even now, still trickling into this fine establishment.
- 801: Live – E’G – EGCD 26 – US – CD
- Harold Budd: Budd Box – All Saints Records – WASTBOX1 – US – 7xCD
- The Buggles: Adventures In Modern Recording DLX RM – ZTT/Salvo – SALVOCD036 – UK – CD
- Client: City – Toast Hawaii – TH007CD – UK – CD
- John Foxx + Louis Gordon: Shifting City DLX RM – Edsel – EDSD2070 – UK – 2xCD
- Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Two Tribes [carnage] – ZTT – XZTAS3 – UK – 12″
- Heaven 17: Contenders – Virgin – VSD 881-12 – UK – 2×12
- Japan: Oil On Canvas – bootleg – CDVD 2513 – HONG KONG – VCD
- Josef K: The Only Fun In Town/Sorry For Laughing – LTM – LTMCD2305 – UK – CD
- Annabel Lamb: Once Bitten – A+M – amsx 8310 – UK – 12″
- Propaganda: Wishful Thinking DLX RM – ZTT/Salvo – SALVOCD055 – UK – CD
- Rip Rig + Panic: God DLX RM – Cherry Red – CDMRED 572 UK – CD
- Scritti Politti/Shabba Ranks: She’s A Woman – Virgin – VST-1333 – UK – 12″
- Scritti Politti: The Word Girl – Virgin – VS747-13 – UK – 12″
- Simple Minds: Black + White 050505 – Sanctuary – SANCD390 – UK – CD
- Simple Minds: Promised You A Remix/Broken Glass Park – Virgin – SMRDS2 – UK – 12″
- Talk Talk: Asides Besides – EMI – 7243 8 54807 2 0 – UK – 2xCD
- Wrangler: LA Spark – MemeTune Studios – MEME14CD01 – UK – CD
With that, I queued to pay and thinned out the also rans. As it turned out, my haul cost pretty much exactly what I had left in my music budget for the trip. “All’s well that ends well,” as The Poet said. Having seen all three Amoebas in the order that I did, I have to say that for my tastes, each store was better than the previous one. I had visited them in what was probably the correct order. Amoeba Haight was not unlike the vibe of visiting a Tower Records store as I had in the 90s. Always an abundance of great stock to buy. Amoeba Berkeley was more esoteric in its stock. It was like a trip to Wuxtry Athens with plenty of “deep cuts” that spoke to me alone. Amoeba Hollywood was the cream on the top of this musical milkshake. Superb high-value CDs and some of the best vinyl I’d seen ever in a store; a near peak experience. The best I’d experienced since “Yesterday + Today” in Maryland, but the latter is still the one to beat. It was the only store I’ve ever shopped in that warped my normally unshakable circadian rhythm and actually distorted my experience of time. Amoeba Hollywood was approaching that level, but was probably closer to the vibe of Toronto’s Sam The Record Man in its multi-level space, crammed with excellent stock inside of a most visible architectural shell. The difference here was that I was no longer ignoring the vinyl. The Amoeba chain clearly deserve their status as music meccas on the West Coast, but there are comparable stores not two hours away from where I live. Manifest Discs in Charlotte exists within what was once a huge mega-grocery store and is packed to the gills with stock. I haven’t been there in a few years, but the time might be ripe to check it out the next time I’m in Charlotte.
– 30 –