Saturday, November 27, 2010

base consumerism

I'll confess, for all my transcendental affectations, I'm still a creature of American consumer-culture. Ergo, I do occasionally derive overmuch pleasure and sense of accomplishment from just buying stuff. Sigh. Maybe I'll get in right in my next incarnation!

The place I indulge in this most exultantly is Positively Records in Levittown, PA. This is about a 15 ride away. It's tucked in a seedy little strip mall, and one that runs down a side street off New Falls Road. So as non-prime or hip a spot as you could imagine. But this place is heaven! Kind of beat up, rough around the edges and a tiny bit grimey. CDs and DVDs stacked and packed as tight as possible. The front counter is 6inches deep in DVD - so the counter surface is all DVD case spines. CD's are arrayed in a couple rows of bins and then a couple shelves about the bins and 3-4 rows BENEATH the bins. The selection is great if kinda erratic. If you're looking for any of the dozens of albums Fairport Convention have released since the 60's they're ALL here -- sometimes in pirated editions of things that are out of print. If you're looking for obscure death metal, garage rock, that's all here. No dance music, small reggae and hip hop sections. BIG used section (lotta current extreme metal in here as well loads of U2, etc.) But my favorite section is the cheapie bins - $2.99 titles. ANd there's a HUGE section and it does my corrupted heart much good just to go digging thru this. It's a wonderful opportunity to muse over the rise and fall of careers in the mad mad world of "pop" music and even of au courant underground music -- you'll find just about every Britney Spears record in here, NSync, etc. as well as stuff like Collective Soul, Hootie And the Blowfish, Semisonic and such. AND THEN...
*Screeching Weasel "Emo" - only given this a cursory listen so far but it's tuneful, noisey, spirited and I warrant every bit of rockin' fun as what's being written about in Alternative Press this month -- only these guys are 20 years or so older than what media pays attention to.
*Ashley Hutchings "The Guv'nor" Volumes 1 & 4 - of course this guy was a founding member of Fairport Convention and jumped ship when they got too rock and formed Steeleye Span and has kept leaving and forming bands on a regular basis; this series anthologizes work from throughout his career.
I grabbed these to hear his work with the Albion Band as that discography is a bit too daunting to want to tackle head on. I figured that the Fairport tracks I'd have -- but in fact as soon as "Some Sweet Day" kicked in it was noticeably NOT the version I already had on the Fairports BBC box - so I grabbed my other albums and - damn! - these are all previously unreleased recordings! So worth the price of the admission right there. Then I note that the Etchingham Steam Packet (his band with Shirley Collins) track is another unreleased gem. The bulk of the other cuts are all pretty prime whether they're unreleased or not. Clearly this guy is an auteur of the most puissant sort and galvanizes whoever falls into his clutches.
*J. Henry Burnett "The B-52 Band" - haven't cracked this yet but J. Henry's better known these days as T-Bone. This recording is from '72
*Godflesh "Pure" - I had something by these guys back in the day but dismissed 'em as Swans wannabees and occasionally do regret dumping the stuff that came into my paws when Earrache Records was being distributed by Columbia Records for a few years. Listening to the first few tracks -- I'll need more time. Big thumping beat, noisy guitars. Seems fine enough, but...
*Jesu "Silver" EP - more recent work by Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. Most folks have pegged that as ponderously slow, monumentally heavy slunge -- more Swans wannabee-ism? But this knocked me out. It's much more like shoegazery but with an admittedly HUGE, megalithic bass underpinning. Up top - there's a thick porridge of multiple guitars, keyboards and restrained vocals all doing their best to have THEIR melodic content be heard above the rest of the din. And no one wins that battle! Making the resultant stew all the more intoxicating.
*Ministry "Anomositisomina" - I know that conventional wisdom is that Al lost it after the album with the indecipherable title that starts with "NWO" but lemme tell ya my brothers -- t'ain't so. The brother's kept making distinctive, ass-kicking records subsequently -- the last few lovely in their bold-faced frontal attacks on George Bush Jr. And if the shock of innovation has worn off over the years...well, time to grow up and get over needing that as an essential part of your listening experience. Music's just music and context, expectation, career trajectory are just bullshit metrics made up by folks who don't have ears so they can say SOMETHING that makes 'em seem niscient without having to listen too close or too long.
GETTING TIRED so here's just a list
*Sinead O'Connor "The Lion & The Cobra" -- the introduction of weirdie war-whooping to pop vocabulary, or perhaps the reintroduction after Kate Bush backed out her careering and decided to make art at her own pace.
* Rolling Stones "Voodoo Lounge" - this is one I've owned and dumped. So the secret is -- EVERY Stones album that followed "Goat's Head Soup" has been touted as a "return" to a more ballsy, basic, rockin' Stones. Which seems strange. That implies that the preceding album, in turn was NOT ballsy, etc. So how can each be a return to something that they all seem to be embraced as? The answer is -- they're all pretty solid, ballsy, basic, rockin' -- it's just that NONE of them engender that initial shock of discovery that Stones albums had up to "Exile On Mainstreet" Largely because the generation that came of age with the Stones just grew out of that phase where this band crystalized their hopes, fears and sense of solidifying self.
*Al Anderson "Pay Before You Pump" - solo album from NRBQ's lead guitarist of yore. As you'd expect, great peppy, tuneful, rockin' songs -- but vocals are serviceable in a strained, shaggy dog kinda way.

*Joanna Newsom "Have One On Me" - just curious. I loved her debut (which bespoke her inspiration by she-who's-name-cannot-be-spoken-by-hipsters -- MELANIE), Vs. just seemed this is a triple CD for $20. what the hey.
PS now that I've listened - can't say there's anything here you can't find on a Kate Bush album. Nothing wrong with that. If you need a faux Kate Bush album.
*Metallica "Live At Grimeys" - 2008 live performance they're only selling through indie record stores. $9.99 (and I'm sure bigger indies sell it cheaper). Canny move by canny band/mgt. team. This is from one live show so they only had to pay for recording stuff for one show -- and being as this record store's in Nashville ya figger it wasn't an effort to find reasonable studio rentals. The booklet lists the albums that the studio versions appeared on -- so it's a nice retail sampler. They got the front page of Billboard Magazine without it being an advertisement. Probably boosting their street cred. And let's face it -- there's still a good million hardcore Metallica fans who's buy anything they put out. So chances are their net will be quite respectable as well.
PS this sounds fine. If you like Metallica you'll like this. I don't know that I'd trade it for "Binge And Purge" tho.

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