RSD 2019: The Struggle Continues

I had every intention of getting in line early for Record Store Day, but a last-minute invitation to a dim sum luncheon in Palo Alto changed my plans. The combination of a long day on public transit and erratic coffee consumption left me ill-equipped to face Streetlight’s bins when I arrived in Santa Cruz that afternoon. Two DJs (including a store employee/fellow Sloan fan I recognized) were spinning some groovy vintage Spanish-language soul tunes. (I assumed the cover of Joe Tex’s “Show Me” was by Luis Moreno, but his version I found on YouTube sounds different. Hmm.) What was left at 4 o’clock, you ask? I didn’t see Lone Justice’s Live at the Palomino, but with a CD release on tap I wasn’t worried. My head was turned by Badfinger’s So Fine: The Warner Bros. Rarities, which I debated for a while. The price tag deterred me, but I was more worried about duplicating things I already had. (It’s a dilemma I face often as a Big Star fan. For years I believed they made a mere handful of recordings, but now I see new albums of unreleased mixes every few months. They weren’t together that long, how many more undiscovered tapes can there be? I’m not being snarky, I really want to know.) I put it back, but Pete Ham and company still call to me this morning. Did anyone out there succumb yesterday?  Please tell me if I need to nab a copy after all…

RSD 2018: Cured at last…or am I?

My morning was occupied by Santa Cruz’s March For Science (yes, one week after everyone else’s took place, don’t ask me why) and lunch, respectively.  So, I didn’t arrive at this year’s Record Store Day festivities until noon. I expected to beat the morning rush, but I was #135 in line…while #88 was being served. After flipping through a few racks, I thought about leaving for a while. As if Streetlight Records could read my mind (recalling the Teenage Fanclub incident of RSD 2016), the store blared Rockin’ Horse’s “Biggest Gossip In Town,” the first in a lengthy string of personally beloved power-pop songs. (Why yes, I was the one singing along like a dork in the middle of the store.) I virtually doff my cap to the fellow spinning records at Streetlight this afternoon. I know you longtime followers of my annual Record Store Day saga are in suspense: did I finally have sales resistance for once?

Unlike previous years, I had no Holy Grail RSD release in mind this time. Most usual auto-buys (Redd Kross, Chris Bell) were re-releases of things I already have. I confess to feeling rather cheapskaty and more risk-averse this year, since I’d spent my Streetlight store credit slips on the (completely necessary and worthwhile) new Sloan album two weeks ago. The shelves were rather picked over, too. Nevertheless, I hesitated mightily over the Nazz’s Fungo Bat Acetates double-album set. I turned the record over in my hands a few times, reminded myself of an expensive week ahead, and put it back, feeling pretty self-satisfied.

A couple of hours later, I sit writing this in the Santa Cruz Public Library. Todd Rundgren and company still call to me. I have the sinking feeling that, before the day is out, I will be standing in line again, hoping to claim Fungo Bat Acetates as my own.

I’ll keep you posted…

Song In My Head #78: “Walk With A Winner” by Gene McDaniels

A few days ago, I was shopping at San Jose’s Streetlight Records and heard this song playing. “Is this Scott Walker?” I asked the manager. She started to laugh hysterically, since someone had asked her that very question five minutes earlier. “It’s Gene McDaniels,” she revealed. (Turns out we weren’t that far off, in a way. Apparently the Walker Brothers released a version of Burt Bacharach’s “Another Tear Falls” in 1966, four years after McDaniels sang it in Richard Lester’s film It’s Trad, Dad!) She noted that she was playing the Gene McDaniels album in order to figure out where to shelve it. I can understand her dilemma, since the late singer-songwriter’s career encompassed jazz, protest songs, soul, psych, and pop. (For what it’s worth, the store put on Veruca Salt’s first album after the McDaniels record finished, and the segue worked really well.) “Walk With A Winner” was first released in 1965, and has turned up on several compilations since…

RSD 2017: Still Trying To Get Out

I had a prior engagement in the morning, so I didn’t get to Streetlight’s Record Store Day festivities until noon. I thought about getting the Cheap Trick release, but couldn’t remember if those alternate mixes were already on  the Sex, America, Cheap Trick  boxed set. My head was turned by the Television Personalities re-release, but the lack of extras had me feeling frugal. So, I opted for the RSD Filthy Friends 7-inch single (featuring Corin Tucker, Scott McCaughey, and Krist Novoselic, among other members of the Pacific Northwest rock elite). “I’m tapering off at last,” I thought smugly (though I reserve the right to reconsider those records someday if they’re still on the racks).

Then I impulse-bought New Pornographers and Blondie singles on the way out. Sigh. Baby steps, right?

RSD 2016: Every Time I Try To Get Out (Part 2)

Some of you may recall last year’s post detailing my complex relationship with Record Store Day. This year, I decided to arrive somewhat later than usual (okay, 10:30 a.m.) to see if the line was less DMV-ish that way. (It was, but I also missed a lot of the usual free swag as a result. Go ahead and tell me about it.) I had two items in mind when I entered the store. One was gone, and the other was pretty much a repackaging only. I was about to walk out of Record Store Day empty-handed for the first time ever. Equally proud and chastened, I decided there’d be no harm to flip through the rest of the releases.

Then I saw one lone copy of the Cherry Red re-release of NME’s C86 compilation (two discs, gatefold sleeve). Not what I came to get (mainly because I didn’t realize it was coming out for RSD), not exactly cheap, but tempting nonetheless. I started to debate…

Teenage Fanclub‘s “Metal Baby” started blasting through the Streetlight Records speakers *the very second* I started to put the album back. The store followed up with The La’s a few minutes later.

I bought the record, and learned one of two things.

Either I was destined to have that C86 reissue, or I’m much more susceptible to subliminal advertising than I thought.

Song In My Head #12: “Chewingum Rock” by Nicky Bulldog

Here is a prime example of the “junk shop glam” genre, so called because the obscure singles could be found in thrift store bins after the songs stiffed on the charts. Maybe that happens to shoppers in glam-happy places such as the United Kingdom, but here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. we’re forced to resort to import compilations for a pricier fix. Happily, it’s still possible to hit pay dirt. I found Killed By Glam: 14 Euro Glam Rock Gems at the Santa Cruz Streetlight Records location a few years ago. (This MoonBoot Records release is often nicknamed Killed By Glam 2  because the first volume featured UK bands only, though the cover and liner notes reveal nothing about that. It’s very confusing.) Aside from a few early clinkers, this compilation captured my heart fairly quickly. I was tempted to include Blue Vamp’s tongue-twisty French shuffle “Jolly Dolly” instead, but in the end I had to go with Nicky Bulldog’s mighty “Chewingum Rock.” Originally released on the Genoa-based Grog label, the song combines honking saxophone, frantic handclaps, and winning harmonies to create a long-lost classic. Plus, I can’t resist any production that evokes the Wall of Sound compressed through a tinny speaker. Enjoy!