Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stuffs 'n' such

1) Teague once asked at Stooge prac if I'd ever heard Sun City Girls -- not an unreasonable question, since they'd been around since '81. I hadn't; all I really knew was that they had a discography of absurdly gargantuan proportions, and were beloved of Thurston Moore and Byron Coley (I keep wanting to say England Dan and John Ford Coley), at whose behest (in the pages of Arthur) I'd given Sunburned Hand of the Man a whirl. Wha-wha.

Then, more recently, Valderas hit me with a digital copy of SCG's Torch of the Mystics album from 1990. On it, Richard Bishop's guitar is redolent of McGuinn's on "Eight Miles High" and Uncle Lou's on "All Tomorrow's Parties," but transplanted into a potently lysergic brew of unusually authentic-sounding Near Eastern and East Asian ethnic musics. Head-spinning stuff, enough to make Trout Mask Replica sound like Abbey Road. Makes me want to investigate further, but I'm going to have to wait to scratch that itch, as their stuff is muy expensive.

2) I was recently overwhelmed with vinyl envy, seeing the contents of local studio folks/Year of the Bear bandmates Robbie and Jennifer Rux's Bo Diddley collection on Facebook. The man whom the NYT referred to as "Mr. Diddley," who once used Ron Geida's Twin to play the Ridglea Theater, has undergone a resurgence of popularity since departing the corporeal plain in 2008, if the pricing on his vinyl catalog is any indication. Myself, I hadn't owned a Diddley album since 16 All-Time Greatest Hits, which I parted with the first time I sold my collection, before heading off for college when I was 17. His Chess box is digitally Amazon-available for under 20 bucks; I stumbled on a Euro double CD with 53 songs for six and change.

There's a lot more to Bo than the shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits beat that people associate with his name, and the Delta echoes of "I'm A Man" (although he recycled both innumerable times). Besides serving as a primary influence on the Pretty Things, Stones, Yardbirds, Velvets (Mo's thump and Uncle Lou's late fondness for amp tremolo) and Stooges, he was an early importer of Latin riddims into rockaroll, his experiments with amp effects and aleatoric soloing predicted Hendrix and Sonny Sharrock, and the street corner jive of tracks like his biggest hit "Say Man" prefigured Morris Day and Jerome Benton's shtick with the Time, not to mention hip-hop's braggadocio. This is R&B Out Dere enough to spin back-to-back with Sun Ra's The Singles.

3) I'm the world's shittiest record collector. As alluded to above, I've always been a cheapskate. I started out buying from cutout bins, and bought a ton of stuff out of the used bin at the store I worked at through high school. After I dropped out of college, I kept working in stores because it was easier than getting a "real job," but also to get promos and employee discounts. Whenever I've gotten strapped for coin, the record collection is the first thing to go.

During the early oh-ohs, when I was attempting to make a living as a freelance writer (a fool's errand) and was still on lots of promo lists from my previous life as an amateur internet scribe, there was a group of young men who worked at CD Warehouse on Hulen for whom my arrival in the store was like simultaneous visits from Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Camel girls. The collection I really miss, though, is the one my ex-wife donated to Goodwill in Shreveport "by accident" after movers broke my turntable. In recent years, with the kind indulgence of my current wife (who shares my opinion that music is food), I've been able to replace most of what I lost back then.

I'm not a completist fool; there are only a couple of artists whose entahr oeuvre I've gotta have on vinyl. In many cases, there are certain albums by favorite artists that I can't stand to listen to, thanks to either classic rock radio or my own earlier listening proclivities. A lot of times, there's a single album that encapsulates everything I like about an artist to the point where owning the rest of their stuff would be redundant.

Since I've gotten back into vinyl, I've noticed the prices creeping steadily up to the point where I can't afford to buy records on a regular basis anymore. When I want to hear something I don't have, the operative question has become, "What's the least expensive way for me to hear this?" -- which, these days, usually means CD or digital formats. I'm fortunate to have buds with similar tastes I can share stuff with, and since Youtube started allowing people to upload whole albums in video form, I "audition" a lot of stuff there. Neil Young might not approve, but it's where I am right now. Is this the future?


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