Another “little bit of everything” edition
Here’s to great teachers!
My son has photography as an elective this semester, and his class took a field trip downtown last week.
Remember when we’d get excited to see a teacher roll a TV in on a cart, and it was movie day? You knew you could just relax and kinda mail it in? This is the educator’s equivalent. There are 2–3 stops every school in this town makes, and regardless of what year you go, you usually come away being able to tell the same story- we went to the capital, we took some shots of the lake, etc. Only the clothes change.
Except that’s not what happened this time.
Sure, they touched all the usual bases, but somewhere along the way, she decided they should stop into one of the record stores downtown. This particular shop is small enough that you have to know how to sidle to navigate it, so 25 kids must’ve seemed like…a LOT.
But more than a few kids picked up some records, which was apparently the day’s highlight. My son grabbed a couple of hip-hop records I’d never touch, but I gotta say it was pretty cool to get a text asking if he could grab ’em.
My point in telling you all of this? Two things. First, sometimes even the most rudimentary experiences can wind up being novel.
Second, you never know what you’re gonna find in the crates. I guarantee my kid didn’t wake up that morning knowing he’d come home with two records, but that’s exactly what happened (and some really good pictures too). But that’s half the fun of going crate digging in the first place, right?
You might walk in with a list, but when another LP leaps into your arms? That makes it all worthwhile.
A few days prior, I’d gone on my own field trip to my usual store just a short distance away. I went 0-for-everything as far as my list went but came away with several other records I didn’t know I needed until they told me.
Yo La Tengo- Fade (OLE 944–1, 2013)
Lately, I’ve listened to more & more Yo La Tengo. It’s a deep discography, and few rabbit holes are more fun to jump down.
Part of the appeal is that their music requires attention. I mean, you can have it on in the background — especially a record like The Sounds of the Sounds of Science — but it’s best experienced intentionally. When one does so, the songs reveal something new every time.
I’ve been rotating through the trio of This Stupid World, Painful (my favorite), and Fade. Yo La Tengo can be alternately cool or confessional. Fade splits the difference. Opener “Ohm” is easily one of the poppiest songs they’ve ever created, and “Paddle Forward” feels vaguely unsettling.
Both are fantastic work.
Cleaners from Venus- Midnight Cleaners (reissue, CT-147, 2012)
If Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard has a spirit animal, it’s The Cleaners from Venus’ Martin Newell.
I’m convinced, and It’ll only take a track or two from each band for you to buy in as well.
This record is split between an “art side” and a “pop side.” The latter has some of the best infectious lo-fi sounds going.
I’d been looking for this for quite a while before happening on it in the wild. It’s a reissue, but I’m cool with it. That’s for the purists on Discogs & AllMusic to quibble about.
Delaney & Bonnie– Accept No Substitutes (EKS-74039, 1969)
It’s ironic that the first words we hear on this record are, “We’ve got to get ourselves together/take some time and talk it over/we’ve got to get ourselves together/try to understand each other.”
By most accounts, the entire session was a hot mess, with everyone at each other’s throats and no shortage of screaming at one another.
At some point, each musician took their turn storming out of the studio. Dr. John wrote the track “When The Battle Is Over” and came in to teach the band how to play it- he also was kicking heroin at the time and was in full detox mode, sweating and shivering as he forced his way through the track.
Despite all that, something magical happened. Having a backing band that included Leon Russell, Jim Keltner, and Rita Coolidge (among others) surely helped. This record perfectly blends white soul, blues, and a good dose of kicks rocks. It’s raw, and my copy is a little rough around the edges- just like the music itself.
It’s an easy album to get into despite what it took to get it made.
Note: Bonnie & Delaney’s daughter Bekka, was Fleetwood Mac’s singer on Behind The Mask & Time along with her partner guitarist Billy Burnette
George Symonette & his Goombay Sextette, S/T (BR 34, 1961)
I am still on my Caribbean music kick, which fits the bill nicely. We’ve entered the “false spring” stage of winter up here, where it alternates between temps flirting with the ’50s and slush. It’s bleak, and some sunny rhythms go a long way toward making that tolerable.
Sidebar: One of my favorite things about some of these older records is the completely unpretentious nature of the liner notes, or in this case, the back cover:
The Dean of Bahamian Entertainers, Genial George Symonette finds it more convenient to sit sideways while accompanying himself at the piano. He plays and sings because he enjoys doing so and his natural humor and joi de vivre sparkle in his performance.
While formerly catering only to night club patrons George Symonette has now responded to the demands of a wider audience and is a familiar part of the Bay Street scene during the lunch hour as well as in the evening.
He is frequently accompanied by Berkeley “Peanuts” Taylor on Bongos and drums and the two entertainers have appeared together on several television programs, notably Today and Tonight.
The label advertised it as “Strong VG,” and at $4.99, it was a strong bet that I’d like this. And I did.
Pretenders- S/T (SRK0 6083, 1979)
Probably the one record on this list every reader had but me. I don’t know why it took me so long to find a copy of this. There are a bazillion of ’em out there, but somehow I could never find just the right one. Poor condition, too much money; some reason or another always managed to get in the way. Until now.
And what a record! From opener “Precious” to closer “Mystery Achievement,” there isn’t a skip in the lot.
So how about you? Found any good records lately? Have any thoughts on the ones I picked up? Share your thoughts in the comments!