Saturday, April 20, 2013

Record Store Day 2013

Shortly before the doors open. Photo courtesy of their Facebook page.
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t just more than a bit excited about Record Store Day, even when there was not a whole lot of things I noticed on the pre-sale list for 2013’s offerings that I felt I “had” to have.

But succumbing to the rare and exclusive aspect of R.S.D. is the thing that makes you mark the date on the calendar-conveniently located on 4.20 this year and further reminding you of how awesome it was to go to the record store, find a title with a double-gatefold sleeve which immediately served as your pot tray when you got back up to your bedroom.

The real joy of R.S.D. is indulging in the experience of going to a retail store devoted entirely of physical items that hold the music of your life and treating that time with care and devotion. This shit is like the Rosetta Stone for some of us, so let the luddites have their day.

The rest of you can download the shit.

I speak with no hint of cynicism or snobbery when I tell you that there is nothing like the experience of placing down your hard-earned money and buying a record. Like the 4.20 coincidence hints at: this is drug dealing. I’m convinced that that burst of scent, which happens the first moment you pop the cellophane seal possesses narcotic qualities. To the point where I’ve often caught myself grabbing a few extra whiffs before the smell dissipates and you’re left with the task of translating the grooves to memory.

The allure of the rarities also creates an environment similar to the Black Friday early risers. My place of worship-the incomparable Record Collector-always sports a line outside its entrance before it opens on Record Store Day, and like clockwork, I try to time my arrival immediately after the initial rush subsides.

I lovingly call these folks “amateurs,” because they rush the joint, grab their shit and go. It’s like fucking a girl with no hint of foreplay, and it’s wrong. Ideally, you want to grab your shit and hang out to shop for stuff you had no intention of purchasing.

But even that idyllic scenario has its exceptions.

Some collectors become so enamored with the items that they’re purchasing that they simply can’t wait to get home to listen to them. I’ll make an exception for these folks because they’re obviously junkies. Mama always told me “Never trust a junky” so best to have them adhere to the old “in-out” for fear that they’ll grab that Avenged Sevenfold vinyl right out of your hands.

And, no shit, there were Avenged Sevenfold rarities abound on R.S.D. Apparently, people take them seriously now.

The other exception are those experienced shoppers who know that to hang around a record store only means trouble. Like I said, they are drug dealers, and before you know it, you’ve moved from buying a big bag of dope to jamming condoms full of heroin up your rectum and driving back to the border at Tijuana.

I’m getting to this point, because after circling the R.S.D. center racks in the back of the Record Collector and lifting what was left from my list, I found myself mindlessly lusting after things that I don’t need at all.

At one point, I was eyeballing a sealed vinyl reissue of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, drooling over its still sealed state for the simple reason that it would bring me closer to the experience of actually being excited about getting a new Iggy Pop record, circa 1977.

It’s crazy, I know. It’s almost like my ulterior motive was to later put Werner Herzog’s Stroszek on the Netflix queue and enjoy a nice quiet evening at home, fretting how my turntable won’t allow The Idiot to keep endlessly spinning like it did when they discovered Ian Curtis’ hanging corpse.

Before I was left to my own devices, I handed Record Collector owner Kirk Walther my handwritten list, immediately pointing out the title that possesses the biggest urgency, a picture-disc single of Gonn’s 4-song e.p. Est.1966.

Gonn are from my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, and 45 years ago, they released a single “Blackout Of Gretely.” It was recorded in a studio with one microphone, and the results were sufficient for the track to get included on the wonderful Nuggets reissue that Rhino put out years ago.

I’ve written about them before, but my interest in Gonn was renewed a bit this past New Year’s Eve when I noticed that the band had put together a 50th Anniversary package at a hotel near Keokuk. The package not only included overnight accommodations at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Fort Madison Iowa, but guests also received a pair of tickets to Gonn’s 50th Anniversary performance that evening (and into the new year!), complementary champagne and party favors, plus a free Gonn 7” single.

I really wanted to go, but who watches the kids overnight on New Year’s Eve while your miles away watching a bunch of 65 year old guys playing a bunch of garage rock?
Targets acquired!

“I think we still have this one” Walther offered while stepping in to the center rack of R.S.D. goodies. He pulled out the sole copy left, reaffirming the feeling I had that I was the only record buyer gunning for the exclusive R.S.D. picture-disc edition of “Blackout Of Gretely.”

“The original copy sells for over $1,000” Kirk offered as he handed me the object of my desire. “Brother, everything else I get today is gravy!” I replied, thanking him for making my Record Store Day a success.

Here’s my complete list in no-particular order of preference, just a guide of what to look out for, providing some semblance of order until I circled the store twice before I realized the futility of it all.

That Iggy Pop record will have to wait another day.

Totale’s Record Store Day List:

Tame ImpalaTame Impala e.p.
Sold out almost immediately, which I guess should signify that these guys are officially big shit in college towns.

Pink Floyd – “See Emily Play” 7” (mono version)
Why do I even bother with these? It’s these kinds of releases that have people waiting in line before the door even opens. I already have this version on cd anyway, so this was nothing more than nostalgic jive, anyway.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - ”Hey Joe” 7” (mono version)
See above. For some reason, I’ve had a real hair up my ass thinking that I need to get the UK mono version of Are You Experienced? for no other reason than the fact that it’s available on vinyl in a reissue, and because I never had that edition. Don’t argue with my logic.

Shearwater/Sharon Von Etten – “Stop Draggin My Heart Around” 7”
Acquired! Admittedly, the end results of this live track aren’t as good as I’d hoped. It’s a bit rough around the edges, which probably means that this was something else live in the flesh, while the recorded results only prove how good the Heartbreakers are. The flip, “A Wake For The Minotaur” is where it’s at, making this purchase worthwhile.

GonnEst 1966 7” (picture disc)
Acquired! The “Blackout of Gretely” b/w “Paint In My Heart” another cut from 1966, which. according to the picture disc notes on the flip side, is featured in some movie from last year called Joint Body. No idea. There are two additional songs per side that are, evidently, new tracks recorded last year from a record called Fully Loaded. While I would hesitate at recommending such a title, the new cuts did little to get me excited about a 21st Century Gonn while not so bad that I lifted the needle off the record early. Record 215 out of 1000!

TrashmenLive At The Whiskey A Go-Go St Paul, MN 1966 7”
Sold out. This one hurt a bit and I even circled a few extra times to see if I had accidently missed this garage rock nugget.

David Bowie – “Stars (Are Out Tonight)” 7”
Put it back in the bin. “Stars” was the A-side b/w “Where Are We Now.” Since I have both versions already on CD, vinyl and MP3, I couldn’t justify the expense of the 7” that offered nothing new in return. I later saw a guy about my age clutching the last copy that I had put back. Good for him.

Chet AtkinsBlack Jack 7” (e.p.)
Acquired! Probably the second most sought-after item on my list, so go me! A pretty penny too, at $15 I half expected a complementary Gretsch guitar for the purchase price. A 4-song set of unreleased Atkins tracks, including an alternate version of “Boo Boo Stick Beat,” that infectious music bumper you hear on N.P.R.’s All Things Considered. Released by Sundaze on an old RCA logo, this big-holed single has clear red vinyl and is packaged in nifty 50’s nostalgia. Not for sale.

Superchunk – “Void/Faith” 7”
Acquired! A friend of mine in northern Minnesota sent an urgent s.o.s. to be on the lookout for this one for him. A guy navigating the record bin with his infant reached for the same section where this find was sitting out in front at the same time as I did. We both withdrew our hands at the same time and I submissively asked “Did you want this one?” Thankfully, he did not, even when I clarified that I wasn’t speaking about the Shearwater/Sharon Van Etten single. This is Record Store Day, man! Be aggressive! Besides, how would I explain to my friend “Yeah, they had that Superchunk single you wanted, but I was a pussy and gave it up to a dude holding a baby.” Clear vinyl! Great song(s) (Fuck yeah, I played it)! I’m now planning to keep this one for myself. Fuck you, Jason! Record 186 out of 1000!

Orange JuiceTexas Fever (e.p.)
Sold out. The guy holding an infant got my hopes up when he told me that he saw this on the other side of the record bin. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I knew he was only trying to distract me from the section that contained the Superchunk single above. Besides, when I finally made it to the other side, it was not the title in question, but the last Orange Juice album before they split. I didn’t want that one.

Tegan & Sara – “Closer” 12”
Don’t give me no shit about my T/S fixation. This is one of a very select breed of artists that the entire family tolerates together. The little one likes to come down to the basement, the refuge of many a domesticated male, and ask me to play a record. I figured this one, featuring remixes of Tegan and Sara’s lead-off single to Heartthrob would get the little one dancing around the room with me. Well, there’s always Men Without Hats!
On the drive home. That's my badassed 4-Runner behind the tree. Jealous?
Reissued on 180-gram vinyl. But for $25?! Fuck that noise. I put this shit back because I know I can probably find an awesome original copy for tons cheaper. I know it’s probably not Aerosmith’s fault for the pricing, but it’s so easy to hate on them. Particularly for the past 30 years of shit they’ve done.

Black MilkSynth Or Soul
Acquired! A badassed instrumental effort from this Detroit hip-hop producer, emanating from luscious cream yellow vinyl. This will get plenty of late-night spins and insure the spirit of 4.20 gets additional dates on the calendar.
Various ArtistsRough Guide To Latin Psychedelia and Rough Guide To Psychedelic Brazil
Acquired! Both of them! No idea why I placed these two compilations on my R.S.D. list, having never heard any of the artists before or experience with the songs included on these well-appointed collection. I’ll let you know how it works out.

That’s what I had on my list, but as I said before, half of not coming across as just another “amateur” on Record Store Day is spending some extra time circulating through the titles that were there before, and after, the special marketing drive ends.

I make sure to sniff around the used cd collections too, which are proving more and more to be a goldmine of good finds as people begin dropping off their cumbersome collections and Seven Mary Three titles.

Which is why I nearly wet myself when I noticed a copy of The Headless Horsemen’s Can’t Help But Shake, a title that I have-no shit-been on the lookout for the last quarter century.

The Headless Horsemen were a garage rock revival band hailing from New York City in the mid-to-late 80’s. They dressed in retro suits, but their music would fool you into believing you were listening to an honest-to-God Nuggets-era band that came and flamed with the best of them, leaving their bones to be haggled over by garage band collectors.

There’s now another outfit from the N.Y.C. area that’s using the Headless Horsemen name, this time a duo made up of Conner O’Neil and Fareed Sajan, but they are not the badassed purveyors of fine garage rock that I speak of.

Can’t Help But Shake was originally released on the now-defunct Resonance record label and adorned in kitschy 60’s attire, this is the real deal and I’ve finally found it. I originally had a copy of it on a treble-heavy eq’d cassette that’s probably at the bottom of some lost moving box somewhere, when it needs to be back in heavy rotation again.

It will be now, thanks to some extra navigating around the Record Collector, and is yet another example of why I need to spend more time in record stores, besides the requisite annual expo.
Waiting for the obligatory post-game cheeseburger  @ Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon

If anything, and this was most certainly true for this year’s event, R.S.D. gives me an opportunity to devote at least one day to this lifelong obsession, obtaining a carte blanche morning by myself and my hobby without the interference of family or people who tag along. You know, the kind of people who hover behind you, signaling the hints that they’re ready to go while you’re keeping a running tally of the growing purchase price in your head.

Speaking of, I overheard Kirk and the other Record Collector staff members taking a look at the receipts after the first wave of purchases, comparing the tallies of some of the regulars who came in when the doors opened, dropping at least a car payment at the store before they left.

It sounded like a few regulars had even traveled to places like Chicago for Record Store Day, assuring that some titles would be available (the store-as is the case every year-sometimes gets overlooked on quantity and titles in general, losing them to higher volume stores in larger cities) to their greedy little hands at the stroke of midnight.

For me, my area record store (a half-hour commute away from my driveway) was enough, and the titles I did manage to grab were enough to warrant an obligatory spin of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” before the shrink-wrap was cut open with an X-Acto knife.

Before the first inhale of that sweet, vinyl smell.

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