Mail From Jedi Master Lebrain
subtitle: The AAAA Welcomes New Residents!
Ages ago, and because he is super-amazing, Mike said he was gonna hook me up with the Blue Rodeo live album, Just Like A Vacation. Wahoo! I sure do like me some Blue Rodeo, but I never owned the live album. Go figure, I’ve never seen them live either (oversiiiiight!).
Anyway, it took a little while, but it came to pass that I had something to send to him, too (you’ll hear that story shortly, I’m sure), so we mailed to each other on the same day. The Canada Post race was on! I won that race, but only by one day, and only because the central mail depot is nearMike‘s house, so of course it was easier to get things to him quickly. The rutted wagon trail to my town means it takes a bit longer for the mail delivery to reach us… not to mention the constant threat of highway robbery by bandits hiding in the woods… Ha. Still, it was only the very next day after Mike got his thing that I got… well, it was more than the Blue Rodeo set. A LOT MORE.
I came home yesterday morning to this:
That does not look like a box that contains a single CD case of a Blue Rodeo concert, to me…
Did I miss a memo that said Christmas was being moved to May, this year? First, Geoff sent me awesomeness. And now Mike has overloaded my senses with more greatness?! The words ‘above and beyond,’ as regards recent events and this box (which named me Jedi Master Aaron) simply cannot do this justice. Check this out:
Let’s have a look at the contents, shall we…
1) Two CDs (well, technically 3):
a) Blue Rodeo – Just Like A Vacation (2CD). The reason for the mailing! That band always hits me just right. I cannot wait to dig into all of the goodness sure to be contained within this set! THANKS HEAPS, MIKE!
b) Alice Cooper – A Fistful Of Alice. It looks to be a Hits set (and will therefore be double awesome because 1) Alice, and 2) Alice’s Hits!). Excellent!! “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
2) Two copied cassettes:
a) Samson – Head First / Shock Tactics. This is gonna be brilliant. I’ve never heard any Samson (I don’t think so, anyway). It even has a typed j-card with fancy fonts on the titles. Bring on the Bruce Bruce!
b) Hellacopters – Grande Rock. I’ve heard individual songs from these guys, here and there, but never owned an album. This’ll be great!!
3) Two books:
a) Robert Hilburn – Johnny Cash: The Life. How awesome is this? Oh my goodness. A pull-quote on the cover from Rolling Stone declares it “The ultimate Johnny Cash biography.” This is going to the top of the reading pile!
b) Brian Southall – The Beatles In 100 Objects: The Story Of The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band Through The Items They Used, Created And Inspired. Whoa. I didn’t even know this book existed. A quick flip through it reveals guitars, post cards, gig posters, a car… This is gonna be a huge, enlightening read! What a splendid idea for a book.
This is just incredible. Seriously. I am flabbergasted. The generosity that has been raining down on the KMA’s Ontario offices lately has been astounding. Mike. Mike Mike Mike. Thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!
March Break Thrift Shop Scores
Every once in a while, I prowl our local thrift shop.* Every time I post an album and say “hey, I bought this for $2!” this is where I’ve found it. It’s also worth noting, before we go much further, that I have come across many wonderful things there that I’ve left behind. Why? Quality of the item. So many times I’ve found great things, like a CD I really want, and everything is in great shape except the CD is all scratchy because some people are animals and treat their CDs like an animal would. I will only buy from there when the whole item is in perfect shape. Collection integrity!
Now, I haven’t been keeping stats on success rates, but it’s more often that I don’t find anything at all that I’d want. However, every once in a while, I find some cool things. A good recent example is that Peter Gabriel album I posted about, the one all sung in German. The cool finds make it worth all the times I don’t find anything.
On a recent foray, I did find some cool things, in a few formats. Thought I’d tell you about it:
DVD: rage against the machine – Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium ($2.99)
This is cool because it documents (what was, at the time) their last gig. Of course, they reunited in 2007 but at the time, when everyone thought this was going to be the end, emotions were gonna be high. Can’t wait to watch it.
BOOK: C.R. Avery – 38 Bar Blues** ($1.99)
Cool collection of poetry from this one-of-a-kind artist. I read snippets here and there and I can’t wait to dig further into it!
CASSETTES***: Beatles – The Beatles Ballads: 20 Original Tracks/ 20 Greatest Hits ($0.99 each)
I looked these up on Discogs, and in the NM or M condition of my copies, they’re worth enough to hang onto them. Very cool!
CD: The Story Of THEM featuring Van Morrison: The Anthology 1964-1966 (2CD) ($1.99)
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this! I sure do love me some Van Morrison, and his early years have been a hole in my collection thus far. But this set, my goodness! CD1 is 26 tracks, CD2 is 24. I went from not having much Them in my collection to having 50 tracks of awesome sauce, all in one fell swoop!
When we got home, I looked this up on Amazon, and I was shocked to see these prices: Used from $81.69, new at $120.95! Of course, I went on Discogs and there are two copies (one used, one new) for under $40, but still. I paid $2 for the whole 2CD set! SCORE!
And there you go.
I was quite happy with my little finds, and for $8.95 total, I think I got some pretty great scores. I’ll keep trolling the bins, never know what will turn up next…
* For those of you in Canada, yep, it’s our local Value Village.
** Yes, this breaks my TBR20 rules of not buying more books, but I couldn’t leave this one, at $2.
*** Yeah yeah, I know, I know, tapes. I’ve never stopped playing them. They work fine for me. 🙂
We interrupt our regularly scheduled Rush series to bring you this breaking news update:
My lovely wife took today off from work, giving us a lovely long weekend. Of course, we had some administrative stuff to do downtown (who doesn’t love going to the bank and the post office?) but then we were free to our own devices after that.
On our way back to the car, we passed the back of our local branch of the Salvation Army store, where people drop off their donations. Ah, I see you’re already guessing where this is going…
Yes, a guy was there with a trailer full of stuff, piling it all onto the pavement. At the front of the pile, two boxes of vinyls. Of course, I had to dig through them. Initially, my fears were confirmed – a lot of crap I had no desire to hear. There were a few Bread, Earth Wind & Fire records, some Elton John and Eagles (though as I dug through, he said ‘Eagles! Those shouldn’t be in there!’ and took them back). But most of it wasn’t for me.
There were, however, a few musts. And how much did he want for them? Nothing. I said “Seriously, Dude, let me give you money for these.” He wouldn’t hear of it. Wouldn’t even let me buy him a coffee. He was just happy they were going to a good home. I KNOW!
Folks, here is my TOTALLY FREE score from today:
Most of the vinyls are pristine and all inserts are intact, though Record 1 of the White Album looks like it has a few really light surface scratches – they shouldn’t affect playback. Honestly, these look like they were hardly ever played, if at all. Sadly, the packaging for the Red collection (1962-1966) has some water damage to the front cover, which has caused the two halves to get stuck together. I tried gently prying them apart but they’re fairly well glued, so I won’t pull them anymore. The records themselves, though, are perfect. And who cares? They were FREE!
I’m most intrigued by that collection of Love Songs with the yellow vinyls. They look neat! A quick search of Discogs (using the catalog #) shows a copy like mine to be $35-$40, but they’re worth more than that to me. They’re just neat (and the vinyls are in perfect shape).
So. Am I thrilled? HELLS YES. I still feel bad that the guy wouldn’t take anything for them. I really did try to pay him for them. Heck, I didn’t even catch his name. But he seemed cool with it, so I guess it’s alright.
A chance encounter, some random guy, and some really awesome records.
It was a very, very good day.
Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker – The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story
Yes, I am starting 2014 off with two book reviews in a row. The library has been good to me.
This is a fascinating book. The artwork is stunning, and the story is one that, the introduction states, many people don’t really know about. For such a short time as he had on this planet, Brian Epstein did one helluva lot with his adult life. He was manager of the Beatles from the get-go (really responsible for their huge rise, in conjunction with their talent, of course). He was manager for other acts as well, and continued to run the family record store business during most of the crazy years. He also, personally, endured hardship in the face of England’s attitudes (and laws) towards homosexuality. This is an infectious read that sweeps the reader grandly along, but it wasn’t until my mind had had time to process it all (after I was done reading), that the full weight of what he accomplished, and in the face of so much, really sank in as a complete picture. Two thumbs up.
At long last, here’s another batch of favourites. I will get to yours soon, I swear!
16 MIKE: Black Sabbath – Born Again
Directly From Mike: “Favourite record — I always give the same answer. Black Sabbath – Born Again. Considered by some to be one of their worst, due to the horrible production and the addition of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple on vocals. Me being a Gillan fan, and this being the first Sabbath album I ever heard (didn’t even know Ozzy was in the band back then), this has a warm place in my black, black heart.”
I’ve posted Mike’s response exactly, because after all, what else can I say to add to that? I played this record and to me, without Ozzy, the band is sub-Sabbath. Still brilliant, just less. I listen to Sabbath fairly regularly, but I must admit I’ve never even give this one any thought. Way to go, Mike! Your years spent working in a record shop are showing!
17 MATT: Nirvana – Nevermind
It was inevitable that someone would pick this record. Yes, it was seminal, yes it changed the way the world made rock music for a decade, yes Cobain was a tortured genius (even if, as radiohead said “you do it to yourself, and that’s what really hurts”). What really freaked me out about Matt choosing this one was that he said he was in public school when he first heard it. Man, that makes me feel old. Who did we have in public school, Bon Jovi? Gowan? Glass Tiger, ferchrissakes? What a difference.
I almost didn’t even need to play this record again. Just looking at the track listing on the back of the CD case instantly brought every track fully into my head, but I played it anyway and I loved it for all the reasons I did way back when. It’s loud, it’s angry, it’s messy, it’s slightly out of control (in a very controlled, calculated kind of way, but still). I still contend that Bleach is better, but this is the slick, monumental crest of that wave of grunge, and the world is indelibly altered because of it.
18 JIM: Bachman Turner Overdrive – Four Wheel Drive
What fun! This is pure, balls-out 70’s guitar rawk. Even better, it’s Canadian! We all know this band’s biggest songs, but it was a real pleasure to hear a record that was mostly album tracks that weren’t massive hits. It’s proof that this band had a lot backing up the songs we’ve all heard, and boy do they ever. This record weighs a ton in solid riffs and leads.
I had a bit of a hard time not injecting the words to You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet into the song Hey You (they do sound the same, in certain ways), but that’s OK. It’s all good. I really liked this record. Classic stuff.
19 PHILLIP: Beatles – The Beatles (White Album)
I asked Phillip what his favourite was and he didn’t even hesitate – he said this record. I have to agree, this one is pretty fucking sweet. I like the later Beatles a whole lot more than I like the early Beatles. Call it blasphemy, but that whole early, smarmy tripe thing didn’t sit nearly as well with me as did the band that gave us The Ballad Of John And Yoko. Excellent musicians, just not always the greatest song choices in their formative years. I say that as a Stones fan, you realize.
An excellent choice, Phil. Of all the Beatles albums, I agree, this one is stunning from start to finish. Most bands would give their left nut (and half of their right) to make even one track as good (or weird) as any of these.
20 MARSHA: Tragically Hip – Road Apples
I love the Hip. LOVE! And so does Marsha, apparently. Although she claims to be a HUGE fan and wasn’t even aware of the existence of their box set. Oh well. Such is the love that this band has garnered in this country. It asks no questions. It just rocks out to their tunes, and goes to see them in concert no matter what pot-hole they play in next.
Lots of people find the Hip repetitive and/or boring and/or annoying, and I even know a couple of people (an ex-girlfriend of mine included) who can’t stand Gord Downie’s voice like they can’t stand nails on a chalkboard. But I say it sucks to be them. That’s ‘Little Bones.’ I mean really, get with the program!
This is straight-on great rock/poetry as only the Hip can offer it up, and “we’re all richer for having heard them this evening.” (for those non-Hip fans out there, that’s a quote from the live record, so please try to keep up). Road Apples is one fan-freaking-tastic song after another until it ends far too soon. Just imagine, this happened before (before!) Fully Completely. They are truly unstoppable!
Here’s the next batch of your favourites!
05 IRWIN: Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy
Irwin is the biggest Bob Dylan fan I know (and I know several). His response came back to the Favourites query immediately, with Oh Mercy. I trust he’s heard most of the Dylan catalogue by now and, of them all, this is the one for him.
I’ve already reviewed this record in these pages, and it is indeed a brilliant collection from a peerless artist. It is another of Dylan’s generous efforts to wake us up, to shake us out of our complacency and do something about the world and our lives. Dylan knows his role perfectly well. Do you?
06 SHENA: Belle And Sebastian – Tigermilk
Our great friend Shena from the mighty Mint Records chimed in with Belle and Sebastian as her favourite, and I was so glad she did. I remember loving this album the first time I heard it, and it sent me running to find everything else they’d recorded, but to be honest I haven’t played it in so long, which is a real shame… however, here was the perfect opportunity to strap back in!
Few bands can offer up a debut album this infectious, this excellent, this delicious. Every note is perfectly placed, every song is delivered with a clever wink and a knowing smile, and their playful, clear sound reigns supreme. Thank you, Shena, for reminding me that this gem of an album belongs in my playlist!
07 MY MOM: Carole King – Tapestry
My Mom selected this as her favourite record, which surprised me a bit, at first. I would have lost money by betting on sure shots like the Beatles or Elvis.
Well, I played this record and my childhood came flooding back. I knew every song, and it’s because that beat up copy of this record got a lot of play. It’s probably still somewhere in the house we grew up in. Funny how you can associate songs and albums with people and places. Mom had the jukebox full of 45s, hence my sure bets that lost, but this LP was always present too.
And what did I think of it now? Well, my memory didn’t do it much justice. There’s more here than I remembered, smarter songs and power unremembered. Yes, a lot of these songs get played as background music in malls now, and that’s pretty sad. There’s plenty more to it than that. Way to go, Mom.
08 MY DAD: Beatles – Hey Jude
My Dad knows what he likes when it comes to music, but not always the names of the artists or albums. That kind of information doesn’t interest him at all. After seeing Forrest Gump, he said, “There was music?” And so on.
This song and artist, however (of course), he knows. It’s his favourite song of all time. It was on my Mom’s jukebox all those years, and the one he liked to hear best. Of course, when we were kids we liked it well enough, but it just went on and on (and it really does, especially at the end). “Great song in need of editing. Apply within.” And it is a great song, with an interesting history that you should look up on Wikipedia, some time (especially the bit about Lennon swearing during it).
I couldn’t find an album this came from (although it’s long enough to be it’s own album, haha). If you know more than me, I’ll happily be enlightened by your comments. Looks to me like this was only ever on a 45. But we’ll let Dad away with it for this project, because he really, really likes this song.
09 MY SISTER: Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion
I am totally not surprised that my sister chose this as her favourite record. She’s one of the biggest Crowes fans I know, has been for years. There was a time when I loved the Black Crowes, especially this one and its predecessor. As they progressed, I sort of lost interest in them. They had great songs after that, in my opinion, but they never topped this (sophomore) album.
Every song here is a gem. At many points, the record really rocks with their Stones-inspired bluesy swagger, and then at other times it can be so gentle it hurts. There’s the obvious hits, and hidden masterpieces worthy of every playlist. It’s messily perfect, in every way.
10 RUTH: Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite For Destruction
Some of the responses to this query have surprised me a bit, like this one from Ruth. Not that I’m faulting her for making this choice – this is a fantastic record. But sometimes you think you generally know someone and then they come up with something that doesn’t quite fit what you’d have guessed. This, may I say for the record, rules. I love that things are unpredictable.
Appetite has already been reviewed in these pages, and I stand by what I said. It’s a sweet blast of sweaty rock that is as much raw punk as it is 80’s hair metal. And, even more so, it is all about Slash. That Les Paul guitar dominates this record.