Saturday, April 21, 2012

Record Store Day

In honor of Record Store Day, a passage from the best book ever written about a record store (High Fidelity, of course):

My shop is called Championship Vinyl. I sell punk, blues, soul, and R&B, a bit of ska, some indie stuff, some sixties pop - everything for the serious record collector, as the ironically old-fashioned writing in the window says. We're in a quiet street in Holloway, carefully placed to attract the bare minimum of window-shoppers; there's no reason to come here at all, unless you live here, and the people that live here don't seem terribly interested in my Stiff Little Fingers white label (twenty-five quid to you-I paid seventeen for it in 1986) or my mono copy of Blonde on Blonde.

I get by because of the people who make a special effort to shop here Saturdays-young men, always young men, with John Lennon specs and leather jackets and armfuls of square carrier bags-and because of the mail order: I advertise in the back of the glossy rock magazines, and get letters from young men, always young men, in Manchester and Glasgow and Ottowa, young men who seem to spend a disproportionate amount of their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and "ORIGINAL NOT RERELEASED" underlined Frank Zappa albums. They're as close to being mad as makes no difference…

The shop smells of stale smoke, damp, and plastic dustcovers, and it's narrow and dingy and dirty and overcrowded, partly because that's what I wanted - this is what record shops should look like, and only Phil Collins's fans bother with those that look as clean and wholesome as a suburban Habitat - and partly because I can't get it together to clean or redecorate it. There are browser racks on each side, and a couple more in the window, and CDs and cassettes on the walls in glass cases, and that's more or less the size of it; it's just about big enough, provided we don't get any customers, so most days it's just about big enough. The stockroom at the back is bigger than the shop part in the front, but we have no stock, really, just a few piles of secondhand records that nobody can be bothered to price up, so the stockroom is mostly for messing about in. I'm sick of the sight of the place, to be honest. Some days I'm afraid I'll go berserk, rip the Elvis Costello mobile clown from the ceiling, throw the "Country Artists (Male) A- K" rack out into the street, go off to work in a Virgin Megastore, and never come back.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The True Meaning of 420

Like most other holidays, this one has fallen victim to commercial exploitation by avaricious hucksters and nefarious capitalists. Thankfully, here’s an old huffington post article explaining the true meaning behind 420:

Remember, 420 is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mind-blowingly awesome weed, is to have the real spirit of 420

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Every now and then, he'd take that spaceman statue they give you when you win an award on MTV and smash up the mirrors with it."

Confused about Axl Rose's reaons for not showing up at the Hall of Fame on Saturday night? Perhaps this extended profile of Axl from 2006 will help. It was published in GQ, written by John Jeremiah Sullivan (who the nytimes recently called "a demonically talented" writer), and attempts to delve deep into Axl's psyche:

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hall of Bitterness

This weekend will mark the 27th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Reportedly there’s been some acrimony between Axl Rose and his former bandmates about their induction. But once again, as with everything Guns N' Roses does, the mighty Zep has been there before and done it better. Nothing can beat John Paul Jones’s sly “thank-you-for-remembering-my-phone-number” speech during Zeppelin's induction for turning the Hall of Fame into the Hall of Fuming Hatred (Jonesy was mad that he wasn't invited along to the lucrative Page/Plant tours of the 90's, about which he had previously said "at least they could've called me and told me about it."):

Monday, April 9, 2012

Best Day Jobs

To avoid any confusion up front: this post has nothing to do with how to maximize job satisfaction, change careers, or improve your life. In fact, this post will probably make your life worse. It’s about the best live versions of the Grateful Dead song “Day Job”. With it’s absence from the setlists of the Furthur shows that occurred over the weekend, it’s officially been 9,502 days since the boys last played Day Job...

Day Job was one of the most despised songs in the Grateful Dead cannon. It was vociferously condemned, never released on an official album, and according to the man who wrote the lyrics for the song (Robert Hunter), “was dropped from the Grateful Dead repertoire at the request of fans. Seriously.” Rumor has it that deadheads circulated a petition asking the band to stop. (Another rumor has it that Bob Weir loved the song). It's chorus advised deadheads to:

“Keep your day job/
Don’t give it away
Keep your day job/
Whatever they say…”

Here are my top 5 picks:

Number 5: August 28, 1982, Oregon County Fair Site, Veneta, Oregon - This is the first time the song was played. Imagine it: you are an old-time deadhead who crawled out of some deep Oregonian woodland for the show, enjoying a first set that ends with China Cat -> Rider, one of your favorite tunes of all time, wondering with baited breath during intermission what they are going to open the next set with… maybe Terrapin, maybe Shakedown, hell, for the occasion maybe they’d even unleash a surprise Dark Star… and then Ken Babs, longtime head, one of the original Merry Pranksters (a featured character in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test fer chrissakes), comes out and addresses the crowd in stentorian tones, stoking anticipation, announcing that “as the tides mount, and the people grow, and the voices are heard, and the sun goes does, the music will go on…”,  and then the band launches into this tune. Rumor has it the band was dropping acid for this show. Perhaps it was written backstage during the setbreak in a lysergic frenzy, planned as some sort of cosmic joke.

Number 4: September 24, 1983, Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, Watsonville, California - It’s been 267 days since the last Day Job… they last played it on 12/31/82 (on New Year’s Eve?! For crying out loud…), and you’ve been hoping that it was quietly dropped by the band. But at the end of the first set, right after Looks Like Rain (Christ, can’t a head catch a break?), they bring it back, they bring it back

Number 3: March 28, 1985, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York - The song has shifted to the encore slot. It bums you out the rest of the night. Here’s a video of the depressing incident:

Number 2: June 14, 1985, Greek Theater, University Of California, Berkeley, California -  You’re at the legendary run of shows at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley celebrating the 20th anniversary celebration of the Dead. You and the band have gone through a lot together. They encore with it. You quietly wonder what you’ve done with your life over the last 20 years.

Number 1 - April 4, 1986, Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT – Hallelujah, the last one! You wouldn’t know it at the time, of course, but it would be the last time they played it. It closed the first set and bummed everyone out for the entire intermission. If only you had already taken the 10,000 mics of acid which would later allow you to know the future. You could've spread the good news to the others…

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Phish vs the Dead: Red Beards

The first Furthur show of 2012 is tonight, and to celebrate, we bring you the latest edition of Phish vs. the Dead...

Criteria: Red(ish) Beards

The Dead: In 1974, after years of smooth-facedness (accompanied by questionable choices in coiffure), Phil Lesh  decided to go for full red(ish) beardosity:

He kept it for a few months, long enough to remain facially furry for the Grateful Dead movie, then shaved it off.


Phish: Trey Anastasio has had his crimson whiskers pretty much ever since anyone could remember (this page contains one of the few photos I could find of him without one -- about halfway down -- a pretty awesome pic of phish from 1985). Here's a fairly representative photo of his red beard-ness:


Analysis: For sheer longevity, Trey's beard should win, but there's a certain vigor to Phil's that lends it world-class woolliness. By the beard of Zeus, I declare Phil the winner!

This round: The Dead

Tally so far: Dead 3, Phish 1

Monday, April 2, 2012

"It was weird. But it was awesome."

Great article in the new york times yesterday exploring the recent trend of rock cruises. The author drops this bon mot, among others: "something about the transition of this music from darkened clubs and concert halls to bright Caribbean waters seemed surprising, like waking up one day to find the math club out on the football field and winning."