GETTING MORE TALE #862: Strictly Commercial & Adventures in OCD
When I was working at the Record Store, I was even pickier about the condition of my CDs than I am today. Everything had to be pristine, including the case. No scratches on the disc, and few to none on the jewel box. I’d wanted some Frank Zappa for a while, but was never satisfied with the condition of those unique light green Rykodisc cases. As trade-ins, they were always scratched, cracked or completely broken. You never saw the obi strip on the top intact in a used copy. Tired of waiting for one that met my exacting standards, I decided to buy it new.
It was fall in the late 90s, and I had the house to myself that weekend. Everybody else was at the cottage. This was during a time when I’d rather be home than at the lake. I preferred to stay in town, hang out with T-Rev, hit the malls, watch some movies and listen to some music. Not just new music, but new bands for my collection. Along with Frank, I decided that I needed to add Journey to my collection that weekend. It was going to be a great couple days off.
I’d already heard plenty of Zappa in-store and from buddy Tom up in Waterloo. He was getting into Läther, a recent Zappa triple CD set designed to replicate a four record box set that Zappa originally envisioned back in 1977 but was forced to release scattershot instead. Specifically I remember Tom hyping over “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary”, a 21 minute track about a pig. I absolutely needed an artist like Frank Zappa in my collection if that’s the kind of thing he was about. How could the girls resist me if I put a song like that on the stereo?
I knew HMV at Fairview mall would have Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa in stock. They always did. T-Rev didn’t understand why I had to do this. “I have a copy here right now,” he told me on the phone. “There’s nothing wrong with it. It plays fine, it’s in great shape.”
“But it doesn’t have the green case or that little obi strip that goes on top,” I countered.
“I guarantee that you cannot listen to a green case,” said T-Rev simply. He was right.
But I was determined; there was nothing he could do to talk me out of the much more expensive new copy. So that day I plunked down my $21.99 plus tax and bought my first Zappa. With green case, unscuffed, and obi strip intact.
Trevor was right that I couldn’t listen to that green Ryko case, but there was also a certain satisfaction in seeing such a pristine one in my collection. I made sure to protect it by carefully cutting the cellophane in such a way that I could slide the case in and out. Although the cellophane has ripped a little in the two decades plus since then, it still protects the pristine green Ryko case beneath.
Although I do have a couple more green Rykodisc cases in my Zappa collection today, Strictly Commercial (review tomorrow) is the only one I insisted on buying new. Having one was enough. I was content to have less-than-perfect Zappas for Hot Rats and Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch. You have to be practical about such things after all!