On the precise 30th (!) anniversary of the ‘Mats breakthrough Let It Be, a reminder of what a buck could get you in the used record store bins (specifically Magnolia Thunderpussy) back in the late 80s.The Bolan cover is arguably better than the original, the Hank, much less so.
There. I said it.
Growing up in the States, The (US version of the) Clash was the second Clash Lp I got (having been released after Give ‘Em Enough Rope in America), and what a different animal from its UK counterpart it is. In fact, I was all prepared to write that the US version was (against the run of play) superior but, having bought the CBS release today at the Mersham Boot Fair (on the way home from Great Chart!) for £1 and listened to it tonight, I’m not so sure.
For the record, so to speak, the American re-jig contains the single versions of “Clash City Rockers”, “Complete Control”, “White Man In Hammersmith Palais”, “I Fought The Law”, “Jail Guitar Doors” and “White Riot” while excising “Deny”, “Cheat” and “48 Hours”.Okay, if we can’t decide on the better edition of the Lp called The Clash, can we at least choose between the single (more staccato and sound effect-laden, à la Joe Gibbs) and Lp takes of “White Riot”? Hmmm…no–simply too close to call.
I’d previously only owned the single version (on 7″ [above], on the US album and Clash On Broadway box set), so while I was vaguely aware of the second version, the album cut was a rough ‘n’ ready pleasant surprise. ________________________________________
If someone can think of a wider aesthetic differential between two albums in a single year than this one and Enigmatic Ocean, I’d like to hear it.
(Amherst, Massachusetts) — “It happens once, you think, ‘Bad Luck’ and move on; twice and it’s like, ‘What, is there a sign on my forehead?’; but three times, man, I think we must be cursed.” So says Pixies frontman Black Francis on the band’s seemingly never-ending stream of girl bassists beginning with Kim Deal, followed by Kim Shattuck, who was in turn followed by Paz Lenchantin.
“Each time we’ve formed or re-formed, all the guy bass players are, like, busy or something, so we pretty much get stuck with girls,” he explained.
“At least it’s not that important of an instrument,” the singer laughed. “I mean, imagine if it was a girl drummer or guitarist!”Editor’s Note: This was, oddly, part of the same batch of soul and jazz singles I got the weekend before last. Also among that group was a dozen or so Beatles and solo Beatles singles with cool home-made sleeves; I wasn’t really tempted, since I have them, but it was fun to see.
(London, England) — Compact discs by the Welsh band Lostprophets have been inexplicably inundating UK charity shops in their tens of thousands over the past month, with albums and CD singles issued by the popular hard rock group literally clogging the racks at thrift stores across Great Britain for some unknown, perhaps ultimately unknowable, reasons.
Yesterday, one regional charity director expressed concern about “the very real possibility that, at this rate, all 3.5 million albums and several hundred thousand singles sold by [the band] world-wide will soon find their way into non-profit retail outlets selling second-hand goods.”
Under normal circumstances, charity shops, used to 40 year-old tat by the likes of Jim Reeves, Eddie Arnold and Johnny Mathis or mucky early 70s Top Of the Pops and MFP compilations would welcome such a boon of major label, edgy, modern music, but many have actually begun refusing to handle any more Lostprophets discs. “I would ask all those planning to get shot of their Start Something or Thefakesoundofprogress CDs to reconsider,” announced Demelza House’s Kent regional manager Kelvin Sinclair at a hastily arranged press conference yesterday. Standing next to a 1m x 6m x 1m stack of donated “Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)” CD singles to illustrate his point, Sinclair reminded people, “You obviously used to like the multiple Kerrang and NME award-winning band; at this time, I would urge you to hold on to your Lostprophets CDs and you might find you come around to them again.”
“I can’t explain it,” said Edna Dunn, a volunteer at the Edinburgh branch of Oxfam. “It’s as if, somehow, everyone got a Lostprophets CD for Christmas they already had and decided to donate it.”
“Or maybe it’s because they recently broke up,” she wondered aloud.
Another volunteer, Mary O’Brien from York’s Save the Children charity, pointed not just to the sheer volume of product from the “South Wales Scene” proponents but the extremely poor condition of the items when they arrive: “Many of [the discs] have been severely marked up or had their covers vandalised in fairly shocking fashion with swear words and the lead singer’s eyes scratched out–it’s almost as if it’s been done deliberately.”
However odd this seemingly organised charity shop deluge may seem, it is not entirely unprecedented. “I haven’t seen such an influx of a single artist’s music since 1998,” remarked Bristol Age Concern clerk Margery Smitts, “when all them Gary Glitter Lps came flooding in.”RIP Ronnie Biggs.
(Columbus, Ohio) — After nearly a decade of mourning, Darren Wiggins has be able to come to terms with the death of his affection for Hüsker Dü. With the new-found sense of closure meaning that “a great burden has shifted from [his] soul” and allowed the 44-year-old video editor “to move on with [his] life”, Wiggins says he will no longer be listening to the half-formed, ostensibly pop, rants of the Minneapolis punk band.
“I’ve tried over the years, but the fact is there’s simply no spark left between me and Hüsker Dü.”
The cessation of emotional ties was bittersweet for Wiggins, who remembered with fondness the day his college chum Samuel Wenther gave him Zen Arcade for a birthday present during his sophomore year at Otterbein. “It was a sweet gesture, much appreciated,” recalled Wiggins. “But seriously, when was the last time I listened to Zen Arcade?”
“Or talked to Sammy, for that matter,” he added.
And so, with many, many better conceived and executed albums to choose from, the Columbus father of three no longer feels the compunction to cling hopefully, desperately to the remnants of his youth. “There’s so much ‘grown-up’ music out there to explore,” the beaming local man told reporters. “It really feels like I’ve finally left my young adulthood behind me.”
Wiggins cited the “same-yness of the performances and arrangements” and “the flatness of Spot’s drum production” as particular reason for his mid-life dismissal of what was once one of his favourite bands. “Both the overall ‘roar’ and Grant Hart’s drum sound are distinctive, no doubt about it,” Wiggins explained. “But over the course of an album, let alone seven, it becomes a bit much.”
“Obviously, I will be hanging on to my Hüskers records,” Wiggins added. “You know, in case I come back around to them.”
Editor’s note: I found this and Candy Apple Grey at a chaz in Truro last year, doubling my Hüskers collection at a stroke. I still listen to them when the mood hits.
(Columbus, Ohio) — According to patrons of the Clintonville Ace of Cups club, music fan and OSU undergrad Gary Snyden manages to shoehorn English music group The Specials into every freakin’ conversation in which he engages.
“It isn’t just conversations about Coventry or music, let alone the late 70s UK ska revival,” revealed acquaintance Steve Bishop. “We could literally be talking about anything: the weather, the Columbus Crew, voting booth controversies, student loans, any freakin’ thing, and Gary would steer things toward the Specials.”
Friends were quick to note that they like the multi-racial act as much as anyone, but enough is enough and could we please give the freakin’ Specials references a break.
“My favorite recent Specials-related conversational contrivance, was when Gary went from the Oscar Pistorious trial to South Africa to Nelson Mandela to, you guessed it, Special AKA’s ‘Free Nelson Mandela’,” recalled co-worker Jane Spencer. “That particular leap took less than two freakin’ minutes to achieve.”
Of course, debates centered around popular music are easiest for Snydon to shepherd Specials way: Ska, Elvis Costello, Andy Williams, new wave, Chrissie Hynde, No Doubt, the Go-Gos are but seven of the now hundreds of music-related topics that friends have learned to give a wide freakin’ berth.
Other recent tortuous gambits include comparing the black and white checkerboard vinyl flooring in a friend’s toilet to the 2 Tone Records logo and noting the similarities between the names of Neville Staple and that of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when his history lecturer had been discussing the latter’s appeasement to Adolf Hitler prior to World War freakin’ II.
“Inevitably, any mention of the phrases ‘rat race’ or ‘stereotype’ sets Gary off singing,” reported Bishop.
Within the first minute of his discourse with Thrifty Vinyl outside the Ace of Cups, lifelong Columbus resident Snyden was able to allude to the Specials when a passing man’s smile revealed two missing front teeth: “Hmm, just like Jerry Dammers,” he freakin’ commented.
(Heaven) — “There’s no Heavenly host of Angels singing praises in My name, that’s for damn sure,” a relaxed and smiling God revealed exclusively to Thrifty Vinyl today when asked about the music on Heaven’s stereo. “Basically, wherever My head’s at is what gets played. Right now, it’s mostly funk, soul and jazz, but, you know, I always seem come back to the Beatles.”
The King of Kings went on to say that He’d been through many musical phases over the years, including Bossa Nova, Old Time Folk, Reggae, Krautrock, not to mention a decade-late flirtation with Golden Age Hip Hop. Though even for such an open-minded and eclectic collector, there are some types of music the Lord won’t abide, arguing, for instance, that He “couldn’t get [His] head around Opera” and that modern Musicals are “just way too contrived for My tastes.”
Of His listening habits, the One True God explained, “I like to immerse Myself in certain genres, like reggae, or particular groups, like the Byrds, and, especially, individual albums. One time, I played Infidels by Bob Dylan once a night for like a year. Boy did that ever get on [Archangel] Michael’s tits!”
“Same for the Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Lps on Columbia. I had both volumes on two sides of a TDK SA-90 and I used to play one side of it every night when I went to bed. The next night, I’d just flip the tape over and listen to the other side and so on. For a year, I shit you not.” While the Lord allows archangels, angels, cherubim and seraphim to make requests, He tends to play what He wants to play. “I am a bit of a stereo Nazi that way,” the Creator joked.
One un-named Angel told us, “He gets on these kicks and plays nothing but, I don’t know, The Magical World of the Strands all day, which is fine if you like it, but I prefer classical music and that never gets a look in, except sometimes on Sunday mornings if He plays Radio 3.”
“The worst was His Dubstep stage,” claimed another Angel, also speaking anonymously. “This was like in 2005 or whatever and I mean absolutely no-else in Heaven was into it and He was like, ‘Ah, you’ll come around.’ I think maybe some of the younger angels did, but really, who wants to hear Kode9 and Spaceape’s ‘Backward’ at lunch time everyday for month, because that’s exactly what He did.”
However, most of Heaven’s other occupants we spoke with were happy to let the Lord of Lords “play selecta” saying He’s generally considerate about the volume and late nights and will usually back off if one of the Angels has a headache or something.
God said with high-end re-issue labels like Numero, Light In the Attic and Jazzman unearthing rare and previously unheard music, there’s never been a better time to be a popular music consumer. “Of course, not all of it’s great, I mean, sometimes stuff’s unreleased for a reason, you know. But, as a result [of re-issues], I’ve heard loads of obscure-ass shit that people never even knew about back in the day.”
Our Heavenly Father claims to own over 3,000 Lps, 2,000 CDs and at least as many 7″ singles, “not counting a few hundred bespoke cassettes–designs on the spines and everything!” And since adding a Spotify facility to His stereo, the Almighty can stream anything that comes into His mind. “Talk about omnipotent!” He laughed.
Yet, when it comes to the music delivery system, God is still unapologetically Old School: “Even though, yes, it’s all about the music, I still prefer hard copy. It keeps the listening experience fully engaging which I think gets lost when the music is transmitted digitally.”
At this point, the interview began to wind down and the all-powerful deity started to reminisce. “I was well into punk around the turn of the 80s,” He recalled. “I still have all My punk singles, which I pull out every so often, though the only thing I listen to with any regularity from that era is the Clash. I’ve got a wicked ‘London Calling” twelve with the full-length ‘Armagideon Time’ on the back that sounds as good as it did then.”
Before we leave, I had to ask, would there be anything on the celestial playlist to surprise Thrifty Vinyl readers? “AC/DC Back In Black,” shot back the Alpha and Omega quickly. “Straight up, I love that record. I know, ‘Hell’s Bells’ and ‘Highway To Hell’ and all that, but it just kicks so much ass.”
MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN STILL TRYING TO DINE OUT ON FACT SHE ATTENDED PIXIES CONCERT
(Columbus, Ohio) – In a bid to impress her younger and hipper work colleagues at a Columbus office supply company New Year’s Eve party, Erika Jenkins, 47, announced that she attended a Pixies concert at the Newport Music Hall over 20 years ago “on the Doolittle tour, when they were in their prime.” This represents the tenth time the Perry’s Paper manager has attempted this particular conversational gambit in the intervening decades. However, it was seen to have little effect on those present who were either too young to remember the Boston band or dismissive of indie guitar music.
“Oh yeah,” recalled Marcus Lincoln, 26, a web designer at Perry’s, “[Erika] mentioned that she used to go to gigs a lot. I think she said she saw Primus once, maybe.”
“It was kind of cute/kind of sad the way she was trying and failing to connect with the younger people in the IT department,” he said. “Maybe if she said she’d seen Dr. Dre around that time I might have been a bit more wowed.”
“No, wait, it was the Pixies,” Lincoln added. “That’s it.”
Nodding her head and smirking to indicate a deluded kind of cultural superiority, Jenkins also revealed that Pixies lead singer Black Francis subsequently asked her for “a little bump” or, failing that, where he “could score some blow” at a New Bomb Turks gig the two coincidentally attended at Stache’s just after the Pixies show. “It was pretty cool,” she claimed to the nonplussed throng of twenty-somethings.
Next day, Carole Marcy, 22, a part-time OSU student temping at Perry’s tweeted, “Lst nite party Perys mgr so showin off about drg buddies/hippies in a band or Whtevs! If I didnt need to totaly suck up to get more hours, I no way would hve bin lissenin.”
Jenkins later followed her colleagues to a dance club where there were able to ditch her.
Editor’s note: I blow hot and cold on Pixies, but couldn’t resist the vinyl for £1 at Red Cross this afternoon.
Not that I’m a huge fan, but I like the way 4AD achieved a dynamic consistency in their cover artwork; in other words, the designs are all quite different from each other yet manage to be readily identifiable, à la Atlantic and Blue Note in the 50s/60s. These days it seems like only re-issue labels like Blood & Fire or Numero Group or boutique ones (e.g. Tempa’s actual record label) bother with such strong aesthetic coherence. Certainly can’t think of any mainstream ones.
When I first moved to Columbus, Ohio in the late 1980s, Scrawl were my favorite local band. They were also the favorite local band of people living in my house, so I never needed to buy the trio’s Lps when originally released. But when I moved out, I had to get my own copy. I telephoned Magnolia Thunderpussy to reserve the then recently released 1989 CD two-fer re-issue. It took me less than 15 mins. to cycle down High Street from my house on W. Blake Ave. to the store, by which time, some douchebag had finagled my copy claiming, when asked, that, oh yeah, he was the one who called to ask them to hold one behind the counter. For some reason, maybe because I was simply too crestfallen and bitter, it was some time before I managed to pick it up.
Fast forward a couple of years to when I was writing for the Ohio State University student newspaper, The Lantern. I was writing an interview feature on observational comedienne Reno, who was in town for a while workshopping her new act. We hit it off and exchanged CDs, she lent me PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me while I loaned her my hard-won Scrawl compilation. Shortly, I returned the Harvey (which I didn’t really care for) and waited for my disc. And waited. And waited.
Fifteen years later I was still waiting. In the intervening time, I’d move to England and, having periodically mourned the loss, finally decided enough was enough. It was easy enough to locate Reno on the interweb; I e-mailed, first lightly asking after her health, then reminded her of the situation and, for the lols as much as anything, requested the return of my CD, if she was finished listening to it. I even described the spine to help her locate the disc in her collection. To my pleasant surprize, she still had it and sent it forthwith with a kindly note attached. I think she was a/bemused at my tenacity and hope she got some material out of the episode.
I am playing the disc to gee me up for gettin’ down tonight.
Great time had by all last night, Scrawl were as powerful as ever I’ve seen them, the first time being in 1987! It was, however, a surreal experience watching all these very drunk indie kids and indie old people (99% white, 75% male) appreciating ironically giant purple octopus installations, arcade gambling and walls painted with signs that said Fun Times; ah, the kitsch charms of a Pontins holiday park. It was as if some architect with way too much time on her hands set out to design a venue to be appreciated ironically by very drunk indie kids and indie old people; and yet the contrivances were genuine, the detail true to life.
Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t tripping on anything stronger than Guinness.
My band opened a show for Pere Ubu in Chicago on April 8, 1994. We heard on the drive from Columbus that Kurt Cobain was dead and we dedicated the show to him. A futile gesture, perhaps, but it felt like a good thing to do.
We also had the privilege of covering a latter-period Ubu single, “Kathleen”, for an all-Ohio double cd tribute album called Ubu Dance Party.
Datapanik was also the name of an indie/punk label run by friends from Columbus.
This compilation ep of some of the band’s early singles came from the Etchinghill Bootfair and cost me a pound. Good prog/proto-new wave, a missing link of sorts.