RECORD STORE TALES
Music, Movies, and more
Mikeladano.com celebrates its second anniversary today! It started with Record Store Tales Part 1, and here we are at Part 275! (That’s one tale every 2.65 days for the numbers-oriented out there.) A huge THANK-YOU to everyone who’ve read my stuff; as David Lee Roth says, “It ain’t no fuckin’ good without an audience.” I also need to thank those friends that read this stuff years ago and told me to keep writing — they know who they are. And my family, but especially the lovely Mrs. LeBrain who lets me rock and roll all nite and part of every day. I love you sweety.
Enjoy this Record Store Tale!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 275: Catharsis
Sometimes when I hit these milestones, I like to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Two years ago when I began publishing the Record Store Tales I didn’t know if anyone would read it. I was pleased to find that enough people enjoyed reading these stories that it was worth continuing.
I knew when I started posting these that eventually, inevitably, somebody from the old record store would find them. I made the decision to write under my real name, not a pseudonym. I anticipated that while some of my old friends would be entertained by these stories, some would not. I took efforts to protect the identities of the characters in the story that are not portrayed in a positive light.
I did a “soft” launch of the site. That is, I began publishing the stories one chapter at a time, but I kept it to myself and a close circle of friends. The response was very positive and constructive. While some friends urged me to “keep it short”, one of the most popular earlier stories was one of the longest. Part 16: Traveling Man was the story of a long misadventure in Oakville Ontario, climaxed by an encounter with an unpleasant lawyer customer. One friend told me the story was “fucking hilarious” and that he anticipated from the start that the guy in the story was a lawyer. This feedback encouraged me to keep going for it. I was fired up.
Then once I had enough content up to give people something substantial to read, I did my “official” launch via Facebook, Twitter and email. It didn’t take long for the rain to hit my parade. As I anticipated some people from the store didn’t like my stories, but Spoogecakes was the only one to publicly voice her disgust, way back in Part 35.5. The funny thing about this was that I hadn’t planned on even mentioning Spoogecakes in my story, but then she went and wrote herself in. Oh well.
I never could have done a white-washed version of the Record Store Tales. I tried. Seven or eight years ago I tried something called “Record Store-ies” (lame title, I know). Some of the “Record Store-ies” got recycled into the old Klassic Kwotes, but it wasn’t the satisfying, cathartic experience that my soul had been craving. After the Spoogecakes shit-storm, I approached a mentor of mine about the situation. I asked him if I had been too negative in the past, if I should have toned it down. His response to me was something I have taken to heart ever since.
“If you compromise your art in order to please a small minority of people no matter how vocal, you will ultimately end up with a piece of art that you don’t like.”
That was great advice. My bottom line is always, “Do I like it?” I’ve tried to maintain a balance. There are stories about people with whom I conflicted, but there are also stories about things like me shitting my pants in the store. And I didn’t give myself an alias for these stories!
This isn’t just storytelling to me. This is catharsis. While I was experiencing everything I experienced in the record store, good or bad, I held tight to one thought. That thought was, “When this is all over, at least I will have a bunch of great stories to share. If I can entertain just a few people with these stories then it’s all been worth it.” Spoogecakes commented that there are “two sides to every story”.
That’s right. And this is mine.
THIN LIZZY – Thin Lizzy / New Day EP (2010 Decca, originally 1971)
Nothing against early Lizzy — I do like Vagabonds of the Western World. On this one, Lizzy’s first ever wax, they had not yet evolved into the dual guitar duelers that they were to become. A trio with Eric Bell, Brian Downey and Philip himself, the evolution of Lizzy is similar to that of Deep Purple. Both bands had to overcome three sleepy early albums with a prototypical lineup before they became the rock gods that they were destined to be.
Thin Lizzy includes a few good songs, my favourite being “Ray-Gun”. However, I must reiterate that this is a sleepy album. The component parts are all fine — great guitar work, great drumming, interesting riffs and lyrics scattered here and there. They never quite coalesce into memorable songs, except on spare occasions.
In fact, the bonus tracks on this CD version of Thin Lizzy are actually superior to the album itself! Their first single, “The Farmer” is better than most of the album tracks. The cool thing is that “The Farmer” was recorded when Lizzy were a quartet with Eric Wrixton on keyboards. Notably, “The Farmer’s” B-side, “I Need You”, is absent and I don’t know where else you’d find it. It’s not on Lizzy’s excellent Vagabonds, Kings, Warriors, Angels box set either (although “The Farmer” is). Bummer.
The New Day EP is here in its completion, containing some great songs. The mournful ballad “Dublin” and “New Day” are both great songs. Interesting is “Old Moon Madness”, a workout that sounds like Thin Lizzy meets Captain Beefheart without the growling vocals. “Things Ain’t Working Out Down At The Farm” is the final tune from the New Day EP, another decent track. What’s with Phil’s obsession with farmers? “Return of the Farmer’s Son” is another song title on the album itself….
The CD is closed by four remixes from the 1977 album The Continuing Saga of the Aging Orphans, where Gary Moore and Midge Ure overdubbed new guitar and keyboard parts to modernize the songs. These remixes are generally preferred by me to the original versions. I would love a proper reissue of The Continuing Saga of the Aging Orphans, as a handful of its tracks have yet to be issued on CD.
Not the greatest album. The bonus material is superior.
Eric Singer: The Hawk?
RECORD STORE TALES Part 274: The Hawks
Everybody hates aspects of their jobs. One that I…well, I didn’t hate it, but I disliked it…was buying used CDs off customers. For every one person that came in with a bag or box of treasure, were five assholes with shit. But there were many “types” of sellers. Some sample negative “seller types” that I could see on any given day included:
- The Crackhead
- The Pothead
- The Drunk
- The Grumpy Jazz Fan
- Brat Kids
- The Hawk
“What’s ‘The Hawk’” you ask? I’m glad you inquired. The Hawk was among the most annoying type of customer you could find. I’m going to re-create a sample interaction with a Hawk-type for you. I call them Hawks because they watched us like hawks. Sometimes they’d just sit there and watch silently, but the worst Hawks were the talkative ones.
Hawk: “Hey how’s it going. I got what you’re looking for.”
Me: “Oh yeah what do you have?”
Hawk: “Used CDs that’s what! Got a whole bunch for you in this box. So how does this work? $5 each?”
Me: “Well, what happens is I go through them, check them for scratches, and then I’ll figure out prices for each one. I base that on how many we have in stock, the condition of the CD, what it sells for, and so on. So if you’d like to take a look around, give me about 15-20 minutes to do that.”
Hawk: “No that’s OK, I’ll hang here for a bit.”
I’d start going through the discs, taking each one out, checking the playing surface. It’s sometimes a long process. You had to keep an eye on the packaging as well, so many people sold CDs with the wrong discs inside. If I bought one like that, I’d be responsible for my mistake monetarily. The talkative Hawks would question every single move.
Hawk: “What’s that pile? Is that for all country CDs?”
Me: “No…that’s the pile that’s in good shape.”
Hawk: “Then what are those piles?”
Me: “Those are ones I’m passing on.”
Hawk: “What for? Those are good CDs. There’s some old Boz Scaggs in there. He’s hard to find.”
Me: “Some of them are just a tad too scratched for me to take. But if you give me some time I’ll get myself organized here and then I can explain what I’ve done.”
Hawk: “Nah I like watching. Now that CD there, that’s a double.”
Me: “Yes, I know. I’ve seen this album a few times.”
Hawk: “And that one there? That’s an import. Guy at HMV charged me $30 for that thing, and it only has the one good song! You’re gonna give me at least $10 for it right?”
Me: “Well, I can tell you right now I can’t give you $10, but I haven’t priced any of these yet so I’m not quite there.”
Hawk: “That one’s good. You ever heard of this guy before?”
Me: “Pat Travers? Yes.”
Hawk: “Really? Where’s a young guy like you hear of Pat Travers?”
Me: “I’m 30.”
You guys think I’m making this up? Hell no! Maybe not all in one conversation, but these are all things that have been said to me by various Hawks over the years! Anyway at this point I could end up with a dozen piles of CDs in front of me.
Me: “OK, so what we have here are all CDs that have minor blemishes on them. I can take them but for a little less because we have to get them polished up. So from left to right I can give you $1 each, $2…”
Hawk: “$1 for these?”
Me: “Yes, the sticker price on those are fairly low…”
Hawk: “But I paid $20 for this at HMV!”
Me: “I know but that CD has dropped in price drastically since it came out. It’s a budget price disc now.”
Hawk: “Alright, alright, go on.”
Me: “$2 each, $3 each and $4 for those.”
Hawk: “But that’s a double.”
Me: “I know, but both discs are scuffed so I have to get both fixed, and it also sells for about the price of a single CD.”
Hawk: “Show me these scuffs you’re talking about.”
So I’d hand him a CD and point out the marks. Hawk would say, “That’ll just wipe off,” and then proceed to wipe the CD on his T-shirt and hand it back to me.
Me: “Yeah, that’s…that’s still scratched. Anyway, that’s those, you can certainly hang onto them if you want. As for these, these were all in excellent shape. For these I can go $2 each, $3 each…”
Hawk: “$3 for Pat Travers? Do you know how hard to get this is?”
Me: “OK, I’ll give you $4 on that one, but I can’t go any higher because it’s a budget CD these days. You can get it at HMV’s website brand new for about $11.”
Hawk: “I’m keeping my Pat Travers. My buddy offered me $10 for that one, he said it’s hard to get. I told him I was going to you first, because you guys say you offer the best prices in town.”
Me: “Yeah, sure, if he’s going to give you $10 for it, I would say go for it, that is a good deal for both of you.”
Hawk: “Gimme $10 for Travers and I’ll throw in this whole pile of CDs for free.”
Me: “But that’s the pile of CDs that I can’t take because they’re too scratched.”
Hawk: “So sell them at a buck a piece and you’re still making money.”
Me: “I’m sorry I can’t do that.”
Hawk: “Why not? Somebody will buy them. Just put the box out with a sticker that says $15 for the whole box and you’re gonna sell it.”
Me: “We don’t really sell stuff by the box…never mind, I just can’t take them, sorry about that.”
Hawk: “Alright. So what’s that come to? $100 and we’ll call it a deal.”
Me: “I can give you $80 cash or $90 store credit.”
Me: “You want the store credit?”
Hawk: “No, you give me $90 cash and we’ll call it done.”
Me: “I’ll give you $80 cash and that’s a good deal.”
Hawk: “$90 and I give you this box of CDs.”
Me: “I can’t take those.”
Hawk: “Jesus, what happened to negotiation? I’ll take the $80!”
The Hawks. Reason #87 that I disliked buying used goods off the public!
AEROSMITH – Devil’s Got A New Disguise – The Very Best of Aerosmith (2006 Sony BMG)
Aren’t contracts a bitch? Aerosmith thinks so too. Eager to complete their contract with Sony, but sidelined by Tom Hamilton’s throat cancer, the band chose to release yet another greatest hits album. This being their third since the release of their last original studio album, Just Push Play.
Devil’s Got A New Disguise is nice in one respect. It’s one of only a few compilations that covers the “old days”, the 80’s, and the 90’s. It also contains a number of single versions that aren’t on the studio albums. There have been so many Aero-collections, however, that I’ve lost track of where else you can get these single versions.
From the early days, only five songs are included, from three albums. It’s a shame that somebody thought this was a good idea. Where’s “Same Old Song and Dance”? Then the Run DMC hit collaboration “Walk This Way” is up, in its familiar single edit. The Geffen years follow, which were chock full of hit after hit after hit. I am so, so sick of the Geffen years from sheer overplay, although “Angel” is conspicuous by its absence. (It is on the UK version of Devil’s Got A New Disguise, which had five different songs.)
The rarities here include single edits and remixes. “What It Takes” (one of the songs I’m not sick of) is present in edited and remixed form, the same version you probably heard on the radio. “Crazy” and “Livin’ On the Edge” are also single edits, and a “pop mix” of “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” is included. Whoopee! I really don’t know if I had these already or not, to be honest. I have a lot of Aero-singles.
The bait to buy this is two new songs: “Sedona Sunrise”, and “Devil’s Got a New Disguise”. Both are actually songs that were written 15 years prior for Pump, and reworked several times, so you can’t even accuse Aerosmith of writing new songs. Since “Devil’s Got A New Disguise” (formerly known as “Susie Q”) failed to make Pump, Get A Grip, Nine Lives, Just Push Play, or any of the hits albums featuring two news songs previous to this one (Big Ones and O, Yeah!), then you know it can’t be very good. And it’s not. The modern production on it is shit. ”Sedona Sunrise”, a soft one, is a bit better.
For your money, a better Aerosmith compilation with the exact same span of coverage but with two CDs of music is O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits. It too had its own duo of new songs, more classics and double the playing time.