Good things come to those who wait. Longtime contributor STATHAM has returned to talk about shoppin’ for Black Crowes. He’s in italics, me in burgundy. (That makes him Snake Eyes while I remain the Crimson Guard.) Let’s boogie!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 260: Sho’ Nuff – The Return of Statham
I believe in being friendly to record store employees. A lot of people just treat them like any other retail clerk, but not me. Talk to them, find out common ground. They learn your interests, make recommendations… it’s a way better world than just treating them like a gas jockey. And there’s no reason why you can’t be nice to the people at the gas station, either, you know.
I started going to Mike’s shop sometime in 1995. And I left to go live in Montreal in 1999. In those four years I was in that shop a lot. I like music, and it was basically across the street from where I lived. My favourite was the Bargain Bin. Always a treasure or three in there. And Mike always seemed to be there. Rare was the trip in that he wasn’t on duty. I think he slept in the back room.
True to my practice, I talked to the guy, we discovered a lot of common ground. He was most fair on CDs I was trading in. He steered me to many great records (and laughed with [or at] me when I chose some stinkers). We never hung out outside the store, though there’s no reason why not. But over that time I got to know him as a stand-up guy.
In late 1998, The Black Crowes were gearing up for what was hyped to be a “comeback”; a “return to their classic sounds.” The fact that Chris Robinson had shaved off his cave-beard was supposed to indicate something to fans that fell off the wagon after 1994’s Amorica. Part of this calculated campaign including reissuing all four original Black Crowes studio albums, remastered, with bonus tracks and videos.
Statham kept me apprised of the latest Crowes happenings. He had his finger on the pulse, and during his regular visits he would update me. We discussed the band, the reissues, what we hoped for, and as always we disagreed over favourite albums. I’m an Amorica guy. He’s a Southern guy.
One day, Statham phoned me at the store with some exciting news.
Somewhere in 1998, my sister (who took my introduction of her to the Black Crowes and ran with it something fierce) told me the Crowes had announced a box set, called Sho’ Nuff. This was exciting for many reasons, mainly the extra tracks that were rare (at that point), two on each album, and the live EP to be included. We already owned the four albums in the box, and couldn’t care less about any remastering job done to them.
Also remember, this was in the days when the internet existed, but it was nowhere near what it is now. We certainly never ordered CDs online. It was pure brick and mortar for us. Seemed this set was (purportedly) some kind of exclusive release. We HAD to have it.
He’s right, the box set was an American exclusive — no Canadian release. However, the big HMV in Toronto was going to be importing a limited quantity. The live EP included within was from the Amorica tour which put it high on my priority list, and it was also exclusive to the box set. It is simply titled The Black Crowes Live.
I told Mike about the set, and how we were going to Toronto to get them ASAP. I’d called ahead to the HMV at 333 Yonge and they said they might still have a couple on hand. We panicked. “A couple?” Gah! We need to get these! Our course was set. I asked Mike, did he want us to bring one back for him? I don’t think his reply was precisely “hell yes!” but the level of enthusiasm was in that ballpark.
Even today I can recall the tingle of anticipation, the trip there taking too long. We got downtown, made the trek to the flagship HMV and… the staff didn’t know where the sets were. Computer said there should be some on-hand, they’d have to look… finally they were found in some corner, nowhere near anywhere that one would think (like, near the Crowes section, or in a Boxed Sets section. No, that would’ve been too easy). And there were enough for each of us (and not many more). Hooray!
Box sets procurred, we made the most of the rest of our day, and headed home. I brought Mike his copy on my next trip in to the store. He seemed pretty damn happy about it. I wouldn’t do something like that for everyone I meet, probably, but Mike was another story and it was a pleasure to help out. He’d helped me out with a lot, in the store. It was good to return the favour, in some small way.
I wouldn’t be lying if I said whenever I listen to that Black Crowes set, it always reminds me of all the great conversations with Statham. Some obscure memory always flashes back, be it a conversation or a long meandering email thread.
I still have the box set (of course), everything intact including the four stickers (one included in each studio CD) and the fragile blue jewel case for Three Snakes and One Charm. I’m not sure how I would have acquired (or even known about) Sho’ Nuff without Statham. Thanks man. I still owe you for this one! (Figuratively, I did pay him!)