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vinyl finds

Music

The Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle

The Cramps Psychedelic Jungle

Artist: The Cramps
Album: Psychedelic Jungle
Cost: $24.99 CDN
Found: Hits & Misses, 799 Queen St West, Toronto, ON, CANADA. (NOW CLOSED)

There will never be anyone quite like Lux Interior.

The singer and founding member of the most excellent garage punk band the Cramps, died in 2009 from a heart condition.

I remember being pretty floored reading the news, floods of posts streaming by on Facebook. Such an outpouring, and such an incredible loss.

Years ago I saw the Cramps play at the London Astoria. The show was sold out, the venue absolutely packed with Cramps fans of all sorts, and the temperature soaring. I wasn’t wearing the most practical of outfits for a sweltering gig and was absolutely melting throughout the show. I can only imagine how Lux Interior and Poison Ivy were fairing on stage under the bright lights (and clad in PVC no less).

I was absolutely enamoured throughout the gig by Poison Ivy, watching her play with an effortless cool and rocking that guitar atop the tiniest of stiletto heel boots, swaying with the beat. The chemistry between Lux and Ivy onstage was electric.

Psychedelic Jungle Green VinylPsychedelic Jungle was the first Cramps record I ever picked up.  We stumbled across this on one of our weekend wanders around Toronto at Hits & Misses which specialized in Punk and Metal vinyl. Very sad to report that Hits & Misses is now shut, and sorely missed as it was a go to if you were after vinyl from those genres. Continue Reading

Music

The Damned – Anything

The Damned Anything LP

Artist: the Damned
Album: Anything
Cost: £10.00 GBP
Found: Casbah Records, 320 – 322 Creek Road, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom

Oh The Damned! I used to see Captain Sensible all the time wandering around town when I lived in Brighton, he was an institution in the city with his trademark hats. To see him strolling around the North Lanes after brunch was always a good omen for the weekend ahead. I never took the opportunity to see The Damned play live though when I lived in the UK, and to this day regret it immensely. 40th anniversary tour maybe?

Inner Sleeve & Back Detail - Anything LP - The DamnedI got into The Damned pretty late in the game. I’d always liked their earlier more punk songs like Neat, Neat, Neat and New Rose. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started listening to all their albums in full and as a result am now a massive fan of both their early and later work.

When I really began to start amassing records, I had trouble keeping track of my collection (ridiculous I know) and wound up buying duplicates of the same album.

Anything by The Damned was one of those albums, and I had three copies of it at one point, only once being a duplicate purchase by mistake.

The Damned - Anything - Gatefold PopupThe final (and hopefully the last) time I bought the album was due to music geekery and the lure of alternative album artwork.

While out in Greenwich, South East London with my friends Natalie and Joe, we popped into a favourite shop of ours which is always a danger to the pocket-book for all three of us. Casbah Records in Greenwich is a sweet record store conjoined with a vintage clothing shop. So while Natalie was looking at vintage frocks, Joe at vinyl and myself dashing in between the two stores, Joe found of copy of Anything, passing it over to me knowing I was a Damned fan.

Dave Vanian in 3D! Anything Popup DetailAnd so, the third copy of Anything was procured not only because it was a version with a gatefold but a pop up gatefold. 3D Dave Vanian action! Love, love, love it!

I’ve since sold the other two copies and am very thankful for discovering Discogs where you can organize your vinyl collection online.

There are also loads of great iPhone apps to connect with your Discogs account so you can check easily on the go your collection or want list. I currently use Crate Digger on my phone and highly recommend that app for the vinyl fiend on the go.

Music

Chris Isaak – Heart Shaped World

Vinyl Finds - Chris Isaak Heart Shaped World

Artist: Chris Isaak
Album: Heart Shaped World
Cost: $10.00 USD
Found: Gimme Gimme Records, 325 E 5th St, New York City, NY, USA.

“Women like three things: Men in kilts, Southern Comfort, and Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game‘.”- Flight of the Conchords

This is fact. Period. Don’t start shaking your head, don’t deny it. Don’t fight it. CHRIS ISAAK. For reals. Yes, I don’t care what anyone says, or the number of coworkers making fun of me on the bus (for the record it was 5), I love Chris Isaak. And I LOVE this album. I massively regret missing him play last fall at Massey Hall in Toronto.

Chris IsaakThere’s something about Chris Isaak’s voice that absolutely melts me and makes me stop whatever I’m doing. I don’t know why or where this stems from, it’s just an immutable fact.

Continue Reading

Music

Depeche Mode – Playing the Angel

Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel Vinyl

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album: Playing the Angel
Cost: $23.99 CDN
Found: HMV, 333 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, CANADA.

Depeche Mode are back on top form with yesterdays release of Delta Machine (check out a concert webcast from “Live on Letterman” of the new album here).

One of my favourite Depeche Mode albums is actually a much later one in the DM canon and also one a lot of DM fans would disagree with me on, but I argue that Playing the Angel is a solid album.

Playing the Angel LP sleeve detailReleased in 2005 it did meet with positive reviews and decent sales. I really got into the album during what seemed like a never ending winter in Eastern Europe. If ever there was a locale suited to listening to Depeche Mode in, I think Bratislava, Slovakia was made for it.

Bratislava reminds me very much of some Canadian cities in some regards, specifically with the life of the city during the winter months contrasted with how once Spring hits everyone and everything comes alive again. I was on an Erasmus placement at VŠMU – the Academy of Performing Arts Bratislava for several months, which started in the dead of winter.

The city seemed almost abandoned in those long, dark winter months and I spent a lot of my time in coffee shops reading, writing and on my lap top taking advantage of the cafes wi-fi. It was during those hours whiled away drinking some of the best mint tea I’ve ever had, that I listened to Playing the Angel ad nauseum.

Playing the Angel GatefoldIt would seem I wasn’t the only one, everywhere I went it felt like the album was following be it billboard ads plastered throughout the city, constant radio play, Depeche Mode nights, and of course the lead up to the massive stadium show in Bratislava. I wound up having several chances to see Depeche Mode during their tour in support of Playing the Angel and missed them each and every time in what seemed like a comedy of errors. When they were in London I was in Bratislava, when they were in Bratislava I was back in London, when they were in Vienna I was…well you get the point.

I did however manage to go to a Slovak Depeche Mode night, which turned out to be nothing like I had expected. My experience in the past with Depeche Mode club nights have usually been very small venues, normally of the alternative, 80’s, goth variety with people doing their best plucking-cobwebs-out-of-thin-air dancing. This was not to be the case in Bratislava however.

Depeche ModeAfter several snowbound weeks with the same routine of school, cafe, pub, then home, cabin fever was starting to set in for me. I came across flyers in one of the cafes for the Depeche Mode night and tried to convince my other UK classmates to go. No one was biting with the exception of my friend Joe who was pretty game for anything.

The night came and off we trotted to the club. When we got there I had to check twice as to whether it was the right place. The venue was huge. There was a lineup going around the block of people waiting to get in. And not an alternative/80s/goth type in sight either.

Once inside we saw the club was equally impressive with two floors with massive wall to wall screens with different projections of film footage from Depeche Mode concerts and music videos being played. The projections acted as a visual backdrop to the DJ who played literally nothing but Depeche Mode all night long.

Playing the Angel Inner Record SleevesIt was interesting to see just how mainstream Depeche Mode are out of the normal circles I ran in back in the UK and North America. The club was almost entirely men that night, many dressed in white trousers, slicked back hair, and a variety of expensive smelling colognes wafted through the space. Joe and I danced into the wee hours with lovely smelling Eastern European men in what was a a very welcoming and calm space.

When it was all over, everyone dispersed and as we walked away from the club I remember looking back in wonderment at the venue, which from the outside resembled an enormous, industrial, concrete cube.

Playing the Angel saw me through a long and often lonely winter. I’m really loving Delta Machine and can’t wait to actually see Depeche Mode play live finally when they come to Toronto later this year.

I like to think that somewhere, in Eastern Europe another Depeche Mode night to the same scale is being prepared. White trousers pressed and hung in anticipation, cologne and hair gel on a dressing table waiting for the right time to be used again.

Music

Smashing Pumpkins – Adore

Smashing Pumpkins - Adore

Artist: Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Adore
Cost: $19.99 CDN
Found: HMV, 333 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, CANADA.

The first few chords of Siva on mixtape sent to me from an older penpal when I was 11 (we wrote honest to goodness letters and sent mixtapes back and forth!), had me hooked immediately on the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Smashing Pumpkins, or rather Billy Corgan, tends to incite pretty strong reactions from people. But frankly, I don’t care and am unapologetically a fan of Billy Corgan’s work (Zwan however we won’t talk about though).

The Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness Tour in 1997 is my all time favourite gig. Hands down. It was a mix of everything from right time, right place – and simply an amazing performance and incredible visual show to accompany the music. 16 years later I’m still emotionally connected to that moment and the beauty of it. It probably also doesn’t hurt that this was my early formative years of getting into music as well.

The show capped off a very surreal day for me too. I was in High School and we had a day off, and as typical for bored kids from the Suburbs, we were killing time hanging around the downtown core before the concert.

Smashing Pumpkins - Adore Gatefold VinylI used to always take linear notes with me when I went to small all ages shows to get signed, and despite the Smashing Pumpkins concert being at the once called Corel Centre in Ottawa (a massive arena) I had my Siamese Dream CD cover with me that day.

What happened next still beggars belief.

We were walking down the main drag on Rideau, and my friend Hilary pointed down the street and asked if that wasn’t Billy Corgan walking towards us.

Now, I was always the gullible one in our group, and Hilary would often prank me. Including somehow managing to get me to butter my salad in the belief that this was a fine “Yorkshire tradition” and that I was missing out on a part of my Northern heritage. Yes Buttered salad, and ya, I know, I know. Suffice to say, I don’t advise buttering your salad.

Smashing Pumpkins - Adore Vinyl Back DetailFor once in my life, I was wary of Hilary, thinking this was a pretty uncreative joke after the whole “Yorkshire Butter Salad Incident of ’96”.

Very quickly though, I realized it wasn’t a joke.

Walking down the street towards us was none other than Billy Corgan. All 6 ft 3″ of him. I was absolutely speechless as my friends pushed me forwards towards him, all I could manage to do was fumble in my pocket for my linear notes, and ask him shyly if he would mind signing them. I remember reaching up, waayyyyy up (little Friendly Giant reference for the non Canadian’s reading) and just held out my CD cover for him, all saucer eyes.

He kindly signed it and my concert ticket as well. As people on the street got wind that Billy Corgan was out and about in broad daylight and started to come over and crowd him, he quickly made his excuses and swept away with a tide of teenagers following him as he tried to disappear into the city.

Smashing Pumpkins Adore Gatefold DetailIt happened so fast. I often wonder and go over in my head sometimes what I could have done or said instead of being that wide eyed, black haired girl in my Docs and thrifted dress so quiet for once in my life in front of someone I respected (and still do) so much artistically.

And really, I don’t know if there is anything I could have articulated in such a brief and fleeting moment. The enormity of telling someone, a stranger no less, who despite this fact feels like a close friend because of the nature of art as a shared experience. Just how in the world do you even begin to put into words how much their work means to you, in an instant. How do you express that?

After all these years, I still don’t have the perfect words for what I would and could have said in that moment.

They say never meet your heros, but I don’t know if I totally agree with that. Meet them, but realize you don’t own them because of their celebrity, and that they too are human and flawed as well as brilliant for all the reasons you think they are.

Adore Front LPAdore, has one of my favourite SP tunes on it, being “Blank Page“. Beautiful, and haunting.

I found Adore on the off chance in the Vinyl section of HMV a few years ago. The album has since been discontinued on vinyl, but what with the recent reissues of Pumpkins albums on vinyl (I’m loving the MCIS remastered reissue!) it should only be a matter of time till Adore is given the reissue treatment as well.

Till then, I’m quite happy with my copy of the album and the memory of that surreal, incredible day as a teenager years ago.

Music

Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications

Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications

Artist: Jarvis Cocker
Album: Further Complications
Cost: $17.99 USD
Found: online at Insound

I fancy the pants off of Jarvis Cocker.

There, I said it.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so if this Facebook Page is any indication. At the very least (as of today’s count) 694 other people also think that Jarvis Cocker is sexy. Fact.

Further Complications Album ArtworkI was first introduced to Jarvis Cocker’s music, back in the Pulp heyday, the video for Common People really sealed the deal for me. Study sculpture at Saint Martin’s College? Sure! Well maybe not…but I did some Theatre Costuming courses there, that counts right?

And with such a rich and sultry voice, wrapped in a maroon jacket with skinny tie, plus those killer dance moves? How could one resist? “Different Class” played on heavy rotation for me when I was 16 years old. Not the most conventional pin-up for a teenager, but then again I wasn’t exactly that either.

Jarvis Cocker performing at the Fillmore in San FranciscoDespite being a long time fan of  Jarvis Cocker I’ve never seen Pulp play live, but did manage to catch Cocker at the Fillmore in San Francisco during his solo 2009 tour. It was my last night in California after an epic vacation with Diana (who had sadly departed back to DC a day earlier). Suffice to say, the gig was hands down one of the best live shows I’ve ever gone to. My own little date night out in SF. Absolutely perfect.

Further Complications Vinyl ArtworkFurther Complications” is the second solo effort by Cocker, following his album “Jarvis“. Both albums are stellar, though I personally prefer “Jarvis” if I had to pick my favourite of the two. It’s quite hard to find  “Jarvis” on vinyl, as it was a limited release.

Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications GatefoldThe artwork and overall look for “Further Complications” is simple yet stunning, following suit with a music video that utilizes the same esthetic as the album artwork. A classic typewriter font and stark white background is contrasted with Cocker in his best sexy-come-hither-history/art-lecturer ensemble. Phwoar!

And if you can’t get enough of Jarvis Cocker’s dulcet tones, be sure to check out his radio shows on the BBC. In Wireless Nights  listeners are taken “on a nocturnal journey around stories of night people.“, and Sunday Service is Cocker’s weekly afternoon music show on BBC Radio 6.

Music

David Bowie – Low

David Bowie - Low

Artist: David Bowie
Album: Low [Original British Import, First Pressing]
Cost: $39.99 USD
Found: Bleecker Street Records, 239 Bleecker Street, New York City, NY, USA.

I woke up to news this morning of a new David Bowie single, the first in 10 years.

I still remember the first time I heard Bowie as a child. Admittedly my introduction to David Bowie was not strictly speaking in the capacity of a musician, but as you might guess in his role as Jareth, the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

David Bowie in LabyrinthWatching Labyrinth over and over again on VHS, I always thought that if I had the same choice to make as Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) in the film, my little Brother would already be a Goblin. (Don’t worry, I’m not a complete jerk! I know for a fact my Brother would totally love to be a Goblin.)

It wasn’t until I was a little bit older and more interested in music that I came across a Bowie cassette in my Dad’s music collection. My parents were never super interested in music but had some solid mainstays of course such as the Beatles, the Who, Blondie etc.

The one David Bowie album my Dad had was not what you’d expect of one with a limited music collection. No Best Of Bowie, no Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, but rather a copy of the 1977 release Low.

I’d already sworn my heart to Jareth (as well as Atreyu and Batman – hey a girl’s gotta keep her options open!) so was instantly drawn to the bright, enigmatic cover featuring a profile shot of Bowie against a vibrant orange Mars-esque sky.

David Bowie Low VinylSongs from Low had been intended for the soundtrack of Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth which starred Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton (literally the Man who fell to Earth). Unused for the score however they became Low, even using a film still from the movie as the cover album art.

I love Low in its entirety, the first side of the album tends to be the more radio friendly bit full of shorter, punchier songs and the second half mostly long instrumental tracks which Brian Eno assists on.

I hadn’t come across Low on vinyl ever in my travels, so when I saw the record up on the wall at Bleecker Street Records when I was last in New York City, it was an easy purchase. I have now crossed one of my “vinyl grails” off my list.

And if you haven’t seen The Man Who Fell To Earth, I highly recommend it. It’s a beautifully dark, surreal film which as Mark Kermode recommends, I did see in cinema, and simply put it was brilliant.

Music

Ida – Tales of the Brave

Ida - Tales of the Brave LP

Artist: Ida
Album: Tales of the Brave
Cost: $18.99 USD
Found: Bleecker Street Records, 239 Bleecker Street, New York City, NY, USA.

Sometimes random browsing through endless crates of records yields the best results.

While I was in NYC a few weeks ago for the Blogcademy, I found myself at night with a few hours to cram in some brief shopping between the intensive classes each day. Three things I really wanted to try and do while in city were:

  1. Check out the heralded All Saints
  2. Visit Strawberry Fields
  3. Try and hit up a few Record Stores

Despite fighting the tail end of a wicked flu I was happily able to cross all three things off my list.

My record shopping haul was fantastic, even more so given I’d only budgeted $100 to spend on vinyl.

Any record fiend will know exactly how difficult it is to stick to a budget like this when in New York. I managed somehow and came away with some fantastic finds (although I did have to do the record in each hand humming and hawing over which to put back dance at several points).

Ida - Tales of the Brave LP Artwork
The most exciting record I found this trip was also the biggest surprise given I didn’t even know it had been reissued on vinyl. That LP was “Tales of the Brave” by Ida.

It was one of those moments flipping through crates where I stopped dead in my tracks after passing the album. Slowly looking around the store to see if anyone there realized what I had just found. Look back to the record, jaw drop, lift slowly from the crate, hold in hand, stare. And finally breathe again.

Ya, I know, I need to get out more.

Ida Tales of the Brave vinyl gatefold
Browsing through general crates can be pretty aimless but there have been several times in the past I’ve stumbled onto something awesome which would have been missed otherwise. Part of the thrill in searching through record shops is finding those hidden, and unexpected gems. When I was younger and used to thrift for my wardrobe, I’d experience this then too, stumbling over a beautiful, (and forgotten) vintage velvet coat for $5.00 was the best thing in the world.

As much as I’m a huge supporter and fan of online shopping, nothing can beat that tangible, physical experience in a record store or thrift shop and the excitement of finding something you prize.

So a little background on this album and I –

Growing up in the suburbs of Ottawa was boring. My saving grace as a teenager was music and theatre. The summer going into grade 9 I’d started hanging out with an older group of kids I met when rehearsing for a play. They were an amazing group to be hanging around and introduced me to the city’s blossoming All Ages music scene. The early 90’s was a great time to be interested in music with so many independent venues opening up, super cheap gigs, and loads of small alternative bands touring and playing All Ages Shows.

One of the first shows I went to was on a hot Summer day in August,  incredibly humid and sticky. The show was held at a tiny, tiny venue called 5 Arlington, which I remember as a gutted out house that was home to a punk collective that would regularly organize shows and events in the space.

And Ida weren’t even the headliners that day, but a band called Tsunami I think, and another band called Girl Afraid were also on the bill.

I have memories of half finished purple popsicles littering the hot asphalt behind 5 Arlington, sitting on the pavement between sets. When Ida started to play, everyone crammed into that hot little house, the room lit only by the natural daylight streaming in, everyone listening in rapt attention as Ida played their hearts out.

To this day, that concert easily remains as one of my all time favourite shows. It was just one of those perfect, beautiful moments that can be too rare in life.

Ida Tales of the Brave Record Detail
I snapped up one of the Ida CDs brought with them as merch, and for the next year listened to it obsessively in only the way a 14 year old can. It was part of the soundtrack to an incredible year of my life.

To come across that album again well over 15 years later, on my own in a record shop in Greenwich Village was super happymaking to say the least. A little private present from the cosmos.

I held it tightly as I went to cash out, still looking around to see if anyone else had clocked what I had just found. Of course they hadn’t, but that didn’t matter.

A flood of memories in an instant. And as if it were possible, I think it sounds even better on vinyl, but of course I’m biased in my love for the medium.