The ever-continuing vinyl obsession marched on this week, giving this list a nice mix of old and new that's sure to be pleasing for both geezers and carpet biters alike. I picked up some great stuff that had been on my wishlist for some time...some eagerly anticipated releases, some curiosities that turned out to be fantastic, and as always, some missing pieces in the collections of my favorite bands. For ease of browsing, the new stuff comes first for those who lack patience to plod all the way through my musical musings and only care about what's new...it doesn't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it's new as long as it's new as long as it flashes and f#@%in' bleeps in forty f#@%in' different colors. (Special Coolness points awarded to first person who can identify that quote).
A.A. Bondy - When the Devil's Loose: Bondy's first album has been on heavy rotation since I got it over a year ago, and having heard some of the songs off this one during a concert last summer (and on his daytrotter sessions), I'd been waiting for this release for awhile. It didn't disappoint. Sure, it's the same brand of singer/songwriter folk as the last, but he captures the spirit of the pines and its lingering ghosts, both good and bad, like few others.
Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This: I first encountered this Australian brother/sister folk-pop duo with their Hollywood EP, which I really enjoyed. I had put this one on my wishlist to get a further look at what they could do. I'll be honest, I partially picked this one for the title and the Wizard of Oz nod in the cover art. The album is beautiful. Reminds me a more earnest Belle & Sebestian and I'm always a fan of albums that have alternating male and female vocals.
Psychic TV - A Pagan Day: This experimental rock project dates from 1984 and is the mind-child of Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle fame. I'm not a TG or P-Orridge fan, but this one I'd heard good things about. I didn't really know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised. I'd supposed it to be a kind of early industrial bore, but it's more on par with something like Television Personalities. Lo-Fi and listenable. There's melody and nothing grating about it. Definitely will get plenty of listens.
New Riders of the Purple Sage - Gypsy Cowboy: This band was recommended to me by my mom after we'd been talking about Gram Parsons. I picked this up on LP for $1 and that was steal. There's a definite Gram Parsons sound. This is a band of San Fran psychedelic musicians doing a California country record and it's great. "Death and Destruction" is an amazing tune.
Jim Croce - Life and Times: I've always been a Croce fan and will defend him against the haters with gusto. There's a sorrowful hope in his songs that no one else captures quite the same way. I often wonder why Cat Stevens gets more love when Jim had more to say. This is one of his must-have albums with some of his best tunes.
Neil Young - Journey Through the Past: How this album is so often panned is beyond me. Sure, this album is certainly not a place for Neil illiterates to start. It's one of the albums that can truly only be appreciated by devotee's and fans. I say that because the beauty that lies within this record is in the subtleties. The versions of "Ohio" and "Southern Man" are spiritual. An entire side of a record version of "Words" is haunting. I always thought this was just a piece for the collection, I had no idea what I was missing.
Country Joe and The Fish - I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die: I dug this record out at a vinyl shop and the old man who owns the store was so excited anyone picked it up, that when I went to pay for it, he gave it to me. "That's a wild album," he warned. "Freaked me out when it came out." That's what I was counting on when I picked it up. I've always enjoyed Country Joe on the few things I have of his, but this is him in all his glory. Hippy freak folk with layers of meaning and intensity.
Traffic - Traffic: Traffic is becoming one of those forgotten bands and it's a shame. Dave Mason is one of all time favorite guitarists and writer of sad songs. Steve Winwood is amazing in he pre-terrible '80s days. This is a solid album with some of their best songs like "40,000 Headman". If you're a fan of British blues rock of the late '60's, don't over look Traffic. Check out some of their records. (Also check out an even lesser known band called Groundhogs).
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick: I've been working my way through the Tull catalog ever since Aqualung lit the bulb inside my head some 8 years ago. There's some bands that once I get tuned into, I devour their catalog like a starving Jabberwocky...then there's bands that I take a slow path, stopping and savoring along the way. Tull is one of those, mostly because Aqualung and Stand Up are so perfect that I don't want to miss anything. I got Thick as a Brick last weekend, it's really the last of their good-period that I had yet to acquire. Now having listened to it, the only thing that comes to mind is WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR! This is prog perfection.
Janis Joplin - Pearl: There are certain artists that for some reason I dismiss without knowing terribly much about them. I just have no interest. Janis was always one of those. Mostly because I associated her with faux hippy girls in High School and then the likes of Joss Stone came along and I felt even more ugh towards Janis. Then about two weeks ago, I was watching the Monteray Pop Festival concert film of 1967 and was pretty blown away by Janis's performance. Talk about giving 110%, she didn't cheat anyone. And that voice...amazing. So, I thought this was a safe buy for $2 on vinyl. It was worth a listen anyway. And wow...it's a powerful blues rock record. It reminded me of Tapestry but spun through a world of seedier hurt. Beautiful.