beatles

#354: Packaging & Cellophane

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#354: Packaging & Cellophane

As I sit here finally ripping the cellophane off some of the discs I received for Christmas, a pile of discarded shrink wrap sits before me.  I find the plastic waste problematic, but I also recognize that in today’s consumer market, you have to present your product as “brand new” or “untouched by human hands” in some way.  So they seal up every CD and DVD, ensuring that nobody got their sticky hands on the playing surface of your disc.  As an added bonus the shrink wrap protects the CD or DVD case, meaning you and only you can scuff it up yourself.

IMG_20150102_094208Part of me hates waste.  The other part (the OCD part) really enjoys ripping the shrink wrap off a brand new CD and knowing that its appearance is perfect inside.  Only I can mark it up, now.  Same goes with toys, appliances, tools…we all want everything to be brand-spanking-new when we open them, when possible.  We want to be the ones to rip the protective plastic film off that new TV.  We want to be the ones who carefully remove our new laptops from the layers of packaging protecting them.

This seems to be especially important when giving gifts.  When you’re giving something to a loved one, you want everything about it to be perfect as possible, from the box to the product, right?  In cases like this, we tend to look at the layers of wasteful packaging as a necessary evil.  You probably recycle and re-use as much as possible, but we all throw a whole lot of packaging straight into the garbage bin whenever we open something new.

IMG_20150102_094112I’ll give you an example from the Record Store days, just how some people value packaging over waste when gift giving.  We used to offer a shrink wrap service.  I don’t remember what we charged.  If you wanted to buy a used CD and shrink wrap it in order to hide the fact that you were buying a used CD, we’d do it for 25 cents or 75 cents or something.  It might shock you how many times I heard variations of the question, “This is a gift.  Can you shrink wrap it for me?”

“Is there a way to put plastic on this so he doesn’t know it’s a used CD?”

“I don’t want her to know this is used.  Do you have a shrink wrapping machine or something like that?”

And so on and so forth.  There was a demand (clearly) so we offered it.

I found a better use for the shrink wrap machine.  When I happened upon a rare digipack version of a CD, or something with fragile packaging, I would reseal it, to protect it.  You’d be amazed how much you can wreck a CD case just from normal shelf wear.  If it’s something which has value in its packaging, then you want to prevent that.  I had (and later sold at a profit) a rare copy of The Black Crowes’ Amorica album.  This had the “x-rated” cover on a good condition digipack.  To prevent it from getting scuffed or damaged and losing value, I resealed it.   When I later got the Sho’ Nuff box set, I sold it for like $20.

IMG_20150102_093955You know those burgundy and yellow jewel cases that came with Kiss’ You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best CD?  Another prime candidate for resealing (though you will still have to be careful you don’t crack the plastic)!

Some of my co-workers were known to reseal their hands.  I do not know why.  I did not partake in that ritual.

My quandary can be summed up as this:  I like packaging to a certain degree.  I hate the waste aspect of it, and the environmental impact.  In my own life I try to reduce waste as much as possible.  But I can’t get around my preference to tear open the shrink wrap on a brand new virgin CD and be the first to touch it with bare hands.

What is the compromise?  I don’t know.

I don’t think there is a compromise.  I don’t think wasteful packaging is a sustainable practice.  I think, sooner or later, we all are going to have to get used to shedding layers of waste in our future.

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REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (2005 Japanese import)

Purchased this year at the Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale.

OZZY OSBOURNE – Under Cover (2005 Japanese CD/DVD set)

I want to know who thought this album was a good idea to release.  Sure, we know Ozzy will do pretty much anything.  He even appeared on a tribute album to Black Sabbath (Nativity In Black Vol. 2).  So why not have Ozzy cover a bunch of songs that, by and large, the world didn’t need him to cover?

“SHARON!”

I’ve never thought much of this album, and I think you can gather why on the first track “Rocky Mountain Way” (Joe Walsh).  Why did this song need to be redone, metalized, and howled upon by Ozzy Osbourne?  It’s awful.  The female backing vocals are totally out of place, the changes made to song are unnecessary, and the vocal is stale.  The only positive thing I will say is that Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) plays on Under Cover, and he’s the only thing redeeming it.  His slide and talk box solos on “Rocky Mountain Way” are swampy and great.

Whether Ozzy covers the Beatles (a pukey echo-drenched “In My Life) or Cream (“Sunshine of Your Love”) or the Stones (“Sympathy for the Devil”), nothing of value is added to the song.  It’s assembly line rock.  There are no innovations or interesting slants.  “Sunshine of Your Love” is altered to resemble Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” which doesn’t help matters at all.  Ozzy even does two solo John Lennon songs (“Woman” and “Working Class Hero”).  I get that Ozzy has a connection to the lyrics to “Working Class Hero” and is a huge fan of Lennon.  That doesn’t mean he should try doing his own version.  Most songs don’t benefit from being metalized.  I’ve even heard a good metalized cover of “21st Century Schizoid Man” better than Ozzy’s.

Best tune (only good tune):  “Fire” originally by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

OZZY UNDER COVER_0003Special guests: Leslie West plays some smokin’ axe on the cover of his own “Mississippi Queen”.  Ian Hunter joins Ozzy on “All the Young Dudes” but doesn’t do much other than shout along.  Others such as Gregg Bissonnette (David Lee Roth) and Joe Bonamassa are credited on the album, with no indication of what they did on which tracks.  Maybe Bissonnette was hired solely to play cowbell.  Who knows?

The final rip off to fans is that almost all of Under Cover was previously released on Ozzy’s Prince of Darkness box set earlier that year!  Many Ozzy fans such as myself picked that one up for its numerous long-sought rarities.    When Under Cover was released as its own album, four new recordings were added to make you buy it again: “Rocky Mountain Way”, “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Woman”, and “Go Now”. If you have Prince of Darkness, then you already own over 75% of Under Cover.

The Japanese bonus track was daughter Kelly Osbourne’s cover of Black Sabbath’s ballad “Changes”, with dear old dad singing with her, and lyrics adapted to suit.  If you were one of those (I hope not) who bought Kelly’s 2002 album Shut Up, then you already have this.  But like most Ozzy fans, I already have this song on the Prince of Darkness set.  This version also comes with a bonus  region 2 DVD: the music video for “In My Life” (whoop-de-do) and a long (about 45 minutes I think) feature called “Dinner with Ozzy and Friends”.  You might recognize a couple of these friends.  Road stories are shared, the funniest ones involving Ozzy being mistaken for Meat Loaf, and Lemmy for Willie Nelson.  And there’s the infamous story of Zakk Wylde and a cork.  Finally, the two sided DVD also has the entire album in “enhanced stereo”.

1/5 stars

GUEST REVIEW: The Beatles – Stereo Box Set LP version


THE BEATLES – Stereo Box Set (2009 LP version, Apple/EMI)

By: Lemon Kurri Klopek

I’m a sucker for a good boxed-set. I own several. A couple from The Beach Boys, and The Who, one from David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, heck, even The Monkees. When we’re talking The Beatles though, I have a number of them. The original bread box set of CDs, the Singles Collection, the E.P. Collection, the Anthologies, The Capitol sets, the Mono box and the Stereo box. Then of course the individual solo sets. The Lennon box, Onceuponatime, the Darkhorse Years, the list goes on. I have the special editions from each member’s solo catalogue. All Things Must Pass, Band On The Run, etcetera.  So when I saw the giant LP collection sitting there staring at me in the record store, it was no surprise when I found myself lugging it, double bagged out to the trunk of my car.

I must say it is an impressive set. All original UK releases plus Past Masters, all stereo versions, and all on 180 gram vinyl. These sets of vinyl are on the retail shelves for close to $350. I bought mine from a local establishment that was running a sale that weekend. I walked out having parted with 276 of my dollars. That’s tax included too. Not a bad deal considering there are 14 records (two of which are doubles.) That is less than $20 per record if you’re keeping track.

BEATLES

One small added bonus is, there is a foam cushion in the box that when removed makes room for the Yellow Submarine Songtrack and the #1s double record released years ago. Now I’m sure you could put other releases in there like, I don’t know, Love, or Yesterday and Today but I put in #1s and Yellow Sub. You put in whatever you like, it’s a free country… Anyway…

I figured the thing to do was to start at the beginning. So after unsheathing the box from its’ cellophane wrapping, (one of the best parts of buying a record and sadly something a generation will miss out on entirely) out came the beefy 180 gram stereo version of Please Please Me. I placed it on my Rega turntable and dropped the needle. In an instant it was the 11th of February 1963 and I was standing in EMI Studios on Abbey Road in London. Listening to what for all intents and purposes is a recording of The Beatles live set at the time. George Martin’s stereo mix of “I Saw Her Standing There” which was released a month after the original Mono mix, was filling my living room. The second release With The Beatles followed and then of course, A Hard Day’s Night. Stellar the lot.

5/5 stars

Contents:

Please Please Me (1963)
With The Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Help! (1965)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1966)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
The Beatles (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be (1970)
Past Masters (1962–1970)

Further reading:
THE BEATLES – In Mono (2009)

REVIEW: David Lee Roth – Diamond Dave (2003)

DIAMOND DAVE_0001DAVID LEE ROTH – Diamond Dave (2003 Magna Carta)

One can indeed judge a book by its cover. David Lee Roth is hands-on with every aspect of his product, be it a photo shoot, a recording session, or an interview. He must have known his Diamond Dave album was crap, so he made a terrible cover to match it. Check out the tan, that wig and them pants!  (Also notice:  furry walls!)

This album, following up another aborted Van Halen reunion and the surprisingly powerful album DLR Band, switches gears and shows Dave’s “multi-faceted side”. Sure, we all know Dave likes disco, jazz, blues, showtunes, and standards.  It’s Dave doing what he did very successfully on Crazy From the Heat, and trying to do so again.  To make an album of this stuff would be fine, but Diamond Dave lacks any sort of zap.  At all.  It’s just one “who cares” cover after another, a couple crappy originals, and a Van Halen tune.

Dave’s voice just doesn’t generate the heat it once did, and all of Diamond Dave suffers for it.  The way Van Halen did A Different Kind of Truth used a lot of production on Dave.  Here, Roth is a whimper, a wheeze, a breathless gasp at the greatness that once was. To listen to this album in one sitting is an exersize in stamina. I know because I’ve done it.

Positives:  Instrumental moments on the Steve Miller cover “Shoo Bop”.  The ace rhythm section of LoMenzo and Luzier are complimented by a guitarist named Brian Young who is shit-hot on this.  Then Dave goes all dance-y on it…ugh.  “She’s Looking Good” is old-school and well done.

The indigestible:  The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”.  Nobody needs to cover the Doors; Dave makes them sound like Smash Mouth.  Hendrix’ “If 6 Was 9” has too much of Dave’s boring talking voice, but not enough crooning.  His cover of the otherwise excellent Beatles number “Tomorrow Never Knows” (which he actually had the audicity to rename “That Beatles Tune”!?) sucks all the life and innovation out of a great song, as he wheezes to the finish line.    This is by far the worst song, even though he also covers “Let It All Hang Out”.

There is only one number here worth owning, which is his Las Vegas version of “Ice Cream Man”. He did this shortly after Your Filthy Little Mouth with Edgar Winter, Omar Hakim, Greg Phillinganes, and Nile Rodgers!  According to Dave’s autobiography Crazy From the Heat, this was recorded in a live in a video shoot.  The video was never released, but the audio was finally released.  It lives up to the hype if not the wait.

Decide what you are willing to pay for one or two songs, and buy accordingly.

1/5 stars

WTF Search Terms: Iron Meiden edition

WTF Search Terms X:  Iron Meiden edition

It’s time for THE TENTH installment of WTF!  Like the others, this is a collection of strange/humorous/whatever search terms that somehow led people to mikeladano.com.  If you missed the last one, “Top ten edition”, click here!

  • who was the hunchback on the vban halen pretty woman video (It was David Lee Roth himself)
  • joe elliott kissing phil collen (No.)
  • iron meiden son so seven son yu tube 
  • mike patton quiet riot (I have no idea what these two things have in common.)
  • gene simmons rib removal (No.  Everybody knows that was Marilyn Manson)  :)
  • helix vedio tatoed guy (Snake the Tattoo Man)
  • beatles fan that send themselves in a box (?)
  • eddie “fingers” ojeda who odd is he in 2013
  • what did yall think of the movie machete (I liked it, how about you?)
  • why did steve hire blaze bayley (This is a question all Maiden fans still struggle with.)

See you next time!

Part 208: Flashback 1995

RECORD STORE TALES Part 208:  Flashback 1995

November/December 1995 was freakin’ busy.  We sold a lot of discs that Christmas.  What we didn’t do was listen to a lot of discs!  No; our boss really, really liked Don Henley and TLC.  He played them ad-nauseum.  Like on repeat three times in a row.  I’m not kidding about that.  I distinctly remember the repeat.  Here are the Top Three Discs I Had to Listen to Until My Ears Bled, December 1995.

3. Boney M – Christmas Album

2. Don Henley – Actual Miles

1. TLC – CrazySexyCool

Trevor on the other hand was introducing me to Oasis and managed to get a few cool discs into rotation:

3. The Beatles – Anthology Vol. 1 (usually just disc 2)

2. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters 

1. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

We were also working with this new guy, Donnie, and we let him pick Dance Mix ’95 a few times.  Unfortunately, the Big Shiny Tunes series hadn’t begun yet.

I didn’t get to pick as many discs as the others — the boss didn’t like my picks.  When I did, I chose the new Def Leppard – Vault (Greatest Hits 1980-1995).

Looking back, there were also a few albums that I found utterly disappointing that season.  They included:

3. AC/DC – Ballbreaker

2. Lenny Kravitz – Circus

1. Savatage – Dead Winter Dead

All three were albums that I was solidly looking forward to, but largely disappointed me.  I never did buy Circus.  I own the other two, but only because I’m a completest (and I got AC/DC for $3).

Finally there were three albums that really got me through that season.  I had just been dumped by my first serious girlfriend and I was really angry about it.  Away from work (my boss didn’t want these ones played in the store) these three albums totally spoke to me that Christmas:

3. Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains

2. Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzmosis

1. Iron Maiden – The X Factor

Let me tell you something people:  I still fuckin’ hate TLC.  I’ll never go chasin’ waterfalls, ever again.

Next time on Record Store Tales…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale

My thoughts are with those in Boston tonight.
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Yesterday, T-Rev, Wes and I attended the  The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale.  T-Rev went specifically hoping to find Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces, on vinyl, with the original round cover in displayable condition.  He came home with that record for the price of $30.

I hit paydirt.  I came with $200 and I left with $0 (there was a $5 entrance fee).  I also left with seven (7!!!) Japanese import rock albums all with bonus tracks, five 12″ records, a 7″ single, and a rare book.  Today I’ll show you the CDs, which I am most excited about!  You can see the rest another day.

You can’t find Japanese imports anymore around here.  And many of these are long out of print.  I’ve been looking for the Pistols’ Filthy Lucre Live since 1996.  Blackmore’s Rainbow is one that I’d seen before.  The HMV store at Fairview Mall in Kitchener had one…in 1995.  Rob Vuckovich used to try to goad me into buying it, but I couldn’t pay the $50 price tag for just one bonus track.  $15 though?  With obi strip intact?  Hell yeah!

So here’s the list of Japanese imports and what I paid.  I believe most of these have to be half of retail.

HAREM SCAREM – Live at the Gods.  This is a Japanese exclusive live album.  I paid $20, sealed.
SEX PISTOLS – Filthy Lucre Live.  I’ve been waiting a long time.  I love this album.  Two bonus tracks:  “Buddies” (“Bodies”) and “No Fun”.
SCORPIONS – Face the Heat.  I paid $15, for 2 wimpy bonus tracks called “Kami O Shin Jiru” and “Daddy’s Girl”.  Both are ballads, but for $15, no bother!
IAN GILLAN – Gillan’s Inn.  This one was a bit more expensive:  $30, because it had the DVD (that won’t play in this region).  But it also has the bonus track “Eternity” that isn’t even on the Tour Edition.
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – Wiseblood.  I paid $20, has the bonus track “The Land of Free Disease”.
RAINBOW – Stranger In Us All.  Bonus track: “Emotional Crime”.  Paid $15.
WHITESNAKE – Good To Be Bad.  Paid $20, sealed.  Two bonus tracks:  “All For Love (Alt mix/Doug solo)” and “Summer Rain (Unzipped)”.

Part 154: Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

RECORD STORE TALES Part 154:  

Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

I used to have a lot of tapes.  So many, that T-Rev converted my closet doors to shelving, just to store my numerous cassettes!  It was quite a feat of engineering on his part.

IMG

If you’ve read the other three parts of this series on cassettes, then you’ve already seen some of the awesome artwork that T-Rev used to come up with for his tapes.  Doing those articles got me nostalgic, but very few of my own tapes remained.  A year or two before I met Mrs. LeBrain, I briefly dated this one girl who was getting into hair metal.  I had succeeded in replacing most of my tapes on CD (although still incomplete; I need a copy of Live Fast, Die Fast by Wolfsbane, and Phenomenon 1).  All my tapes were redundant, and I gave her boxes and boxes full of them.

God knows where those tapes are now.  I doubt she took them back home to Thunder Bay when it was all over, they probably ended up in a landfill.  No big loss really, the only shame of it is that, like T-Rev, I used to make a lot of my own custom artwork.

Mrs. LeBrain and I were visiting her mom yesterday, and I found some of my old Beatles tapes that I had made, at her place!  Her dad drove a delivery van with nothing but a tape deck inside.  He was more than happy to receive my old Beatles tapes, and he loved them.  And there they were, still at the house, complete with my computer generated J-cards.  Nothing elaborate, although I did paste the cover for Abbey Road onto that tape.

This inspired me to dig through some boxes here, and see if I had any of my own tapes left.  Surely there must be something here, with some of my own custom cover art!  There was just a handful left, stuff that I wouldn’t have parted with at the time, and lo and behold, there was my old artwork.  These sure brought back memories!

Back in the early record store days, cassette was my primary medium.  They were portable, you could leave them in the car and not worry about them getting banged up, so I recorded everything onto cassette.  It wasn’t until I had left the record store in 2006 that I got my first car with a CD deck.  Before then, I had one of those adapter kits to play a discman in the car, but it sounded shite.  I was glad to find the following treasures tucked away in a box!

SAM_1721

Ahh, Spinal Tap.  A Spinal Tap Reunion was recorded from a 1992 TV special.  Unavailable on DVD today, as far as I know.  That’s a shame.

SAM_1724

I bought Grande Rock by The Hellacopters on vinyl, to get that bonus track “Angel Dust”.  Or, more accurately, one of my record store compatriots got it for me at Orange Monkey Music in Waterloo.  I dutifully recorded it to cassette without making elaborate packaging, but I did put some effort into the cassette spine.

SAM_1722

You Fat Bastards by Faith No More was the full show that was released on CD in truncated form on the Live at the Brixton Academy CD.  This was from a VHS release.

Guns N’ Roses did a couple cool TV specials.  I recorded Live at the Ritz off T-Rev, who stuck on some demos for bonus tracks.  The cover was made by adapting an old Appetite For Destruction J-card.  I think this turned out pretty cool.  Invade Paris! was a TV special from 1992.

These two Maiden tapes were from VHS releases.  It’s a shame that Raising Hell was never released on a CD.  Here’s hoping the band will put that out on a future box set.  It was Bruce’s “final” show.  I just edited out the crap sections with “magician” Simon Drake.   Maiden England is also taken from VHS, but this is the full show.  The CD release omitted two songs:  “Can I Play With Madness”, and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.  My cassette didn’t!  I thought my J-card for Maiden England turned out pretty cool, using an old Seventh Son cover as its basis.

Unfortunately, this is all that remains of my old cassette art.  I did some much more elaborate things, which Thunder Bay Girl probably tossed out.  One was for Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead.  When I recorded that one to cassette, I actually painted the gargoyle onto a J-card.  Wish I kept that one.  Rush’s Test For Echo may have been the most elaborate one I’ve done.  Using some old cardboard and a full-page ad for the album, I created my own digipack for that cassette.  It would be nice to still have.  Ahh well.

It seems funny, in today’s age of mp3 files and players, that a format as crappy as cassette was anyone’s main format.  But there you go.  Before I could play CD’s in the car, they were the best way to bring music with me.  I’ve always believed a music collection was for showing off as much as listening to, plus I enjoyed making the artwork.  I’m glad some still survives today!

Part 128: VIDEO BLOG – Mike & Aaron Go To Toronto! (now with Store Report Card!)

Join Mike and Aaron as they hunt for rare albums!

REPORT CARD

Sonic Boom, 782 Bathurst St – 5/5 stars

BMV, 471 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars (Mike) 4/5 stars (Aaron)

Rotate This, 801 Queen St. W – 3/5 stars  (no rating from Aaron)

Pauper’s Pub,  539 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars

Paradise Bound, 270 August Ave – 4/5 stars * note I got the name wrong in the video

Moonbean, 30 Saint Andrew Street – 5/5 stars

Sonic Boom Kensington, 201 Augusta Ave – 4.5/5 stars

HMV, 333 Yonge Street – 1.5/5 stars

Sunrise, 220 Yonge Street, 1.5/5 stars (no rating from Aaron)

 

See what Aaron bought by clicking here!

FINAL NOTE:  I procured a the Japanese import from eBay a week later, October 27, for $41, free shipping.

Part 122: Death of an Icon

RECORD STORE TALES PART 122:  Death of an Icon

Because our internet access was blocked from the most useful sites, while at work you often had no idea what was happening in the outside world.  Sometimes your only clue was what customers were requesting.

For example, here’s a typical day of phone calls, when something really big has happened.

PHONE CALL #1:
“Do you have any George Harrison?”

PHONE CALL #2: 
“Do you guys have any Beatles or George Harrison solo?”

PHONE CALL #3: 
“Hi, I was wondering, do you have anything in stock by George Harrison?”

Us being primarily a used CD store, we would usually be cleaned out of that artist by the fourth call or so.

PHONE CALL #4:
“Hey, do you have George Harrison?”

At this point my curiousity would be peaked.

“Actually I just sold out about 10 minutes ago.  I’ve had so many requests for George and the Beatles today.  Has something happened?” I queried.

“Yeah, he died.  They just announced it on TV today.”

“Oh no!” I responded.  “The cancer got him?”

“Yeah,” came the answer.

That was a grim, depressing day.  The world had not lost a Beatle in over 20 years.  But November 29, 2001, we lost my favourite Beatle, George.  Unfortunately that’s how I found out about most music deaths, by an abnormal amount of requests for that artist.  Those were rarely fun days.  We dutifully hung some George posters in our back room, and mourned the death of an icon.

Mrs. Lebrain’s favourite George song