Record Shopping With Bret

Met Bret after work for record shopping and some food. We hit the West Side Half Price Books. I had managed to save my Father’s Day HPB gift card until this night, and I was going to make this my last spree before the wedding. Self imposed hiatus on record buying until 2014. So this one had to do me for a while.

Luckily, I found some awesome gems.

This was the first time in years that Bret had record shopped. He still has records, and an amazing “actual” record player to play them on. I have perused his collection. Good stuff.

It’s amazing the stories that come to mind when you hold an album in your hand. Memories of where you were when you heard it, who it reminds you of or of a place. I have admitted several times that the nostalgia is as important as the music when shopping. This night I got some good stuff.

Bret was working the upper bins while I crouched on the floor and did the discount records until my legs were broken, then I joined him in the upper bins.

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Before we left, I had spent my gift card and a bit more, and got some absolute great stuff.

First off I glanced at the newly expanded tapes (yes tapes) and 45’s section. They had a “Grateful Dead – Working Man’s Dead” on cassette and I picked it up, but eventually put it down. I could make my own tape after all. Though it would be cool to have, even at just a buck I put it back. I did however, pick up this.

Eric Clapton – Slow Hand”     (8-track)

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This is Clapton. I know I don’t have an 8-track player, but maybe some day I will. This will be the first thing I play. It was in great shape and only $.99 can you really blame me?

“Wings – London Town”

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With the purchase of this one my Wings collection is almost complete. I only have their first one to get, which in all honesty, I have never seen before, even back in the day when I was frequenting the record stores and Wings was current. Weird, right?

“The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta”

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I love The Police. I have bought 2 in the last year, and old man that I am, I couldn’t remember if I had this one or not. I had to call home, direct Joey to the right hand record bin and have him pull all The Police albums and tell me what I had. “Synchronicity” and “Ghosts In The Machine”. Good. I bought this one, for the second time in my life. It’s awesome. The Police hit the airwaves and were in the first handful of records that I ever bought. “Synchronicity” was done to death by the radio and MTV and turned me off for a long time, but I can listen again and love it now it’s been so long. I was stoked to find this.

“Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasure Dome”

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Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bret flip past this one. “What was that?” I asked. When he flipped back to it I tried to be calm as I pulled it from the bin. Wow, did this one bring back memories. I had this back in the day and I remember sitting in my room reading the ridiculous quotes from the band members and looking at all the strange and weirdly sexual merchandise for sale on the inner sleeves while listening to the music which I had thought was going to all be like “Relax” and finding myself mesmerized by what I heard. Even the cover of Springsteen is good. This album hit me at just the right time and I went on to get the tape which I listened to as I walked to class on the UW Milwaukee campus. It was my soundtrack to campus walking. This is 80’s gold.

“Joe Cocker – Joe Cocker!”

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This one I have never heard, but have always been curious about. This was a discount album and I’ll give it a chance. It has “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”.

“Jackson Browne – For Everyman”

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I have never heard this one either, but I have all the other early Jackson Browne. This is his second album.

“Ratt – Invasion Of Your Privacy”

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OMG. This one is SO 80’s it’s scary. I had this on tape and loved loved loved it. “Round And Round” is not on this one, but they had hit their arena stride and MTV high by this point and this is full of classics. “You’re In Love” and “Lay It Down” are in the car screamers for me. I couldn’t believe this was cheap AND in great shape.

“Dazz Band – Greatest Hits”

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I know, you’re like “what??”… Dazz Band?

I have always been a funk fan. I never really owned any and only heard a few recognizable tracks at weddings and such. A few months ago however, I ran across my “Funkadelic – Maggot Brain” and listened. It put me in the mood for some more Funkadelic and maybe some Parliament. So I created an I Heart Radio station that would play Funkadelic and similar tracks. What followed was several weeks of nothing but funk. I wrote down the names of all the funk bands that I wanted to investigate. This was all over that list, so when I saw their greatest hits release… how could I not get it. “Let It Whip” is on here!

As a side note, check out the group Zapp. You’ll thank me later.

Then came 3 big ones, ones that have significant memories for me.

“Blondie – Eat To The Beat”

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Blondie was one of the first groups where I liked so much that I bought their old albums on sheer faith. I had bought “Parallel Lines” and it blew my mind. Then I bought “Plastic Letters” and even “Blondie” and loved that one too. So when “Eat To The Beat” came out, it was inconceivable not to get it. As it turns out, it is my favorite Blondie album of all time. This is just oozing with 80’s although it was from 1979. Mom and I were living with her friend Rose and her son Dave at the time (the one that turned me on to Rush’s 2112) and Dave and I were totally into Blondie. We were divided on this album though. He thought that Blondie was softening and selling out and moving away from their original sound. For me, the voice of Debbie Harry WAS their sound and she could sing nursery rhymes and it would work for me. As it turns out, whereas on the 3 previous records there were songs that were not my favorites, weaker if you will, the songs on “Eat To The Beat” were all fantastic.

The next album I never bought oddly enough, I guess there was too much else I needed to buy, but I did buy her solo album on cut-out cassette years later. The album was “Debby Harry – KooKoo” and some of it was good and some not. It was the last Blondie or Debby Harry I ever bought. This one will be saved for times when I can play it LOUD like I did when Dave and I were cranking it loud in our room after school before our mom’s got home.

We would rock paper scissor to see who would run upstairs and flip the record over.

“The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue”

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If hard pressed I would undoubtedly tell you that this is my favorite Stones album (despite the in my opinion wretched “All About You” track by Keith which reminded me of the opera songs they would play at the end of a movie or concert to disperse the crowd). Jeff sent me a taped copy of it with “Some Girls” on the B side and for a long time I thought there were one album. I listened to this non-stop one summer I spent with my father in Mishawaka. He was at work all day and I would listen to music and write and make tapes for Jeff and it was a time molded around this tape. I think that this album represents a sense of comfort for me. Each song (note exception aside) is great and a total sing-along for me. This is the perfect version of The Stones for me. I even like the slow songs. “Emotional Rescue” is my favorite cut.

“Frank Zappa – Apostrophe”

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Dave introduced me to Frank Zappa back in the days when we were sharing a room, the Blondie days mentioned above. He got “Joes Garage” from the library and he loved it. He even made a point to bring both of our moms into the room to listen to the most offensive track. They were not impressed. However, some of it I really liked. Eventually one of us picked up “Apostrophe” from the library and the songs “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Nanook Rubs It” became instant classics for us. This album was less crude and more listenable and I loved it. Now I was conflicted. I could dismiss Frank if all I had ever heard was “Joe’s Garage”, but now how could I?

I also got a cheap copy of “Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures” and liked that one too. It was my first purchased Zappa.

His stuff was funny, and there was blazing guitar going on as well.

At some point later I picked up a cut out copy of “Frank Zappa – Studio Tan”. As unluck would have it I played side 2 first and was hugely disappointed. I almost didn’t even listen to Side one. Then entire side of the album was one song. I was scared. Eventually I listened to side 1. Boom. I was blown away. Side 1 is the song “Greggery Peccary” the adventures of a nocturnal gregarious wild swine. Those who know the song will laugh at that. For the rest of you, it is a 20 minute carnival ride of a song that follows the adventures of a pig. The pig voice is cartoony and the production of the song is great. This is still by far my favorite Zappa song ever. Very few have ever heard it, even those that like Zappa.

I ended up getting “Frank Zappa – In New York” and “Frank Zappa – Tinsel Town Rebellion” in later years and of course “Frank Zappa – Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch” and “Frank Zappa – Hot Rats”. I even bought “Frank Zappa – Uncle Meat” on CD. Dalton provided a copy of the video of “Baby Snakes” for me at some point. It seemed that every couple years I would try another Zappa, looking to discover something I liked as much as Side 1 of “Studio Tan”.

Then upon meeting Kris B. at Erdman the Zappa explosion happened. Kris loved Zappa and had some CD’s I had never heard of before and it was a Zappa revival for me. I set upon finding every Zappa I could find. I now have 2 DVD’s full of MP3 Zappa albums. There is a lot of material to digest. What I discovered was that Zappa, though sometimes chaotic, was all about the arrangements. Some albums were an experiment, some straight ahead rock albums and some were more focused on arrangement than anything else. He loved arranging and as I grew to appreciate not just the music alone, the genius that is Zappa was revealed.

Interestingly, only a month or so ago I saw a YouTube clip on the gal that played the vibes for the song “St. Alfonso’s Pancake Breakfast” off of “Apostrophe”. She was in awe of how Zappa asked her to play the small piece that he had composed for an interlude between songs basically. He asked her to play it in an unorthodox way and the results were great. She demonstrates in the video and it occurred to me…

What other rock figures composer vibe solos for their songs?

Zappa may not be for everyone, but I think there are parts of this album “Apostrophe” that should not be missed by anyone.

This was the cherry on the cake of my record shopping this day!

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About auralretentive

Music Lover Music Snob Music Junkie
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