Top Ten Finds At The 2010 WFMU Record Fair
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I’ve been back in my stuffy, overheated apartment for a few days now, and I’ve been catching up on a lot of record listening. I find it’s best to listen to records when I’m alone because no one can hear the soft, pleasurable moans I emit when the sound of my Rega stylus retracing the grooves of some sweet, sweet vinyl records floods my ears. I think somewhere in my father’s house there exists a drawing (done by the Harvey Pekar of his generation, Z) of me masturbating furiously to (presumably) my record collection. Maybe Z could simply no longer internalize that mental image of me pumping my engorged, throbbing member, all dripping sweat and biting my lip. Whatever the case may be, here I am, pouring over the records I purchased during my recent trip home. It’s been a few weeks since the conclusion of the 2010 WFMU Record Fair, but this is my first chance to actually hear (and judge!) the fruits of my weekend-long vinyl-buying binge. So…what am I digging? What am I happy with? Read on, reader!
Top Ten Finds At The 2010 WFMU Record Fair
Honorable Mention: Various Artists – London Is A Place For Me (Honest Jon’s) – Considering I first learned about this calypso record via WFMU, so it was only fitting that I purchased it via WFMU too. “Before there was reggae, the official soundtrack of black Britain was calypso. Not just records coming from “back home” into newly-arrived immigrant communities, but a genuine London/Port of Spain hybrid with some of the Caribbean’s greatest entertainers composing songs about Lyon’s Corner Houses, riding on the Underground, nosey landladies and — of course — the British weather.”
10. Various Artists – I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Mississippi Records) – If my simple description of traditional and immigrant music from America made between 1927 and 1948 doesn’t pique your interest, or if you simply don’t want to listen to what I have to say, maybe this blurb written by J. Spaceman (Spiritualized, Spacemen 3) will help you out: “This is probably my favorite record that Mississippi has put out. It reminds me of when I used to hang out in LA with Richie Lee from Acetone. We used to listen to Hui o Hana, which is beautiful Hawaiian music that sounds like birds, with voices that sing notes that sound like they could go on forever. This record is immigrant music recorded in America that’s barely, if at all, touched or infected by American music. It opens with Marika Papagika’s Greek masterpiece “Zmirneikos Balos” (she was a singer who “died of disappointment” in New York in 1943). It also has a beautiful sad song by the Blue Sky Boys called “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone” and a bunch of Hawaiian and French recordings. My copy has the track listing printed in the wrong order and someone’s gone in with that ballpoint again and scratched out the numbers and rewritten them.” The copy I scored at WFMU is the first pressing with the paste-over cover (Smithsonian Folkways style). It was $10. Sweet. [Listen to Sexteto Bolona – “Te Prohibido El Cabaret”]
09. La Justicia – Salsa Con Nostalgia (Ebirac) – This was one of those lost-then-found dead-stock LPs that were uncovered by the amazing folks at Numero Group. This record consistently sold for a few hundred records until that day, and now the label is selling a select number of original copies for $30 a piece. If you don’t know about Ebirac, it was the de facto label for the Chicago Puerto Rican musicians in the ’70s. If there was salsa, merengue, or ranchero music to be made in the windy city, Ebirac was the label to release it. A few months ago I pulled the trigger on the “Box Of Boricua” set of a dozen 45s. I had no idea what I was doing, but it sounded cool and I’m very happy with what I discovered. When I saw Numero Group was set up at the record fair, I asked about the Ebirac records. They were all available, for $30 a piece. Someone recommended La Justicia, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.
08. Coachwhips – Get Yer Body Nexta Mine (Show & Tell Recordings) – Once Ian introduced me to Coachwhips oh so many years ago, I began trying to complete their discography. The “live” record was cheap, and easy to find. Bangers vs. Fuckers was a little harder to track down, and the group’s first album took about five years to find. But there it was, for $8 at the WFMU table near the front entrance of the Metropolitan Pavilion. By the way, I should point out that Ian’s cool phase ended right when he graduated law school. His years in Rhode Island introduced him — and by extension me — to a ton of great music, and he drank and drugged like a champ. Would I know about Mindflayer, Arab On Radar, White Mice, and the amazing Armageddon Shop if it weren’t for Ian? No. Ever since law school ended it’s been downhill for him. All I know of Ian now is that he works all the time and he pukes every time we go out drinking.
07. Jeremy Storch – From A Naked Window (RCA) – This was highly recommended by my friend Andy Z., who all but cornered me and shoved this in my face while chanting, “You must own this. You must own this.” I don’t know much about the guy. Another blog states that he was a member of garage rockers the Vagrants. This isn’t anything remotely like a garage record, though. This is more of a moody, folk psych record. The general tone is dour. Storch’s voice is a bit strained, vibrato-heavy and nasal, but it fits. It actually sounds a bit like the Todd record. Or, at least what Todd would have sounded liked if he were ten years older, and had a bunch of failed relationships and defunct bands under his belt. Andy, you know me too well. I’m a fan. [Listen to “Playground”]
06. John Terlazzo – Honor Among Thieves (Beggar Recordings) – This album has been featured as one of my “Treasures From The Collector’s Slum,” but I found a really nice, clean copy for $10 on the second day of the fair. The album was recorded in 1983 while Terlazzo was living in York, PA. It’s got a very heavy Leonard Cohen influence. Most would probably classify it as “loner” folk, but it has some electric guitar solos, which don’t really scream “folk.” Much like his perceived idol Leonard Cohen, the lyrics are fantastic. Also like LC, the spooky female harmonies highlight several tracks on the album. [Listen to “Seven Stars Over Sicily”]
05. Perigeo – Genalogia (RCA Italy) – With my newfound keen sense of Italian progressive rock, I anxiously awaited this year’s record fair. In the past three months I’ve run into more Italian prog than I’ve seen or heard in all my life. My expectations were a little high. There really was no reason for me to think that dealers would be peddling copies of records by Dedalus, Campo Di Marte or Jumbo. The high-end prog-rock was truly lacking this year. On Sunday morning, a new dealer set up with a decent selection, and from his already picked-over assortment of LPs I found a copy of one of the more sought after Perigeo records. That would be the extent of me achieving my dream of purchasing some good Italian records at the fair. Oh well, there’s always next year…
04. Bob Desper – New Sounds (Discourage) – There was little chance of my finding an original copy of this “downer” folk gem (and one of my personal “holy grails”) at the fair, so I settled for a new copy of the album with the bonus 7″. This is another “Collector’s Slum” album I’ve shared in the past. This is a truly dark, moving record. A blind singer-songwriter from the pacific northwest, Desper accurately reflects the downcast environment that surrounds him. His mastery of the human condition allows him to dissect and display the darkest aspects of one’s mind. This isn’t depression like Bill Clint captured, or loneliness like William C. Beeley captured. New Sounds is different. It is crestfallen. Bob is not just upset that he is quite literally in the dark, he is disappointed in the rest of us for misunderstanding what is truly important in our lives. On top of that, his songs are simply gorgeous. I will never stop championing this record! [Listen to “Darkness Is Like A Shadow”]
03. Hammerhead – Into The Vortex (Amphetamine Reptile) – Someone once wrote about this record, “If Hammerhead’s debut (Ethereal Killer) was to alternative rock what Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer was to independent film — a harrow glimpse into the cold, hard heart of darkness — Into The Vortex is more like Quentin Tarantino’s equally violent, but more sophisticated Reservoir Dogs…vocals have become a bigger part of the equation and the pace isn’t quite so unrelenting. The song “All This Is Yours” has come to define the now-Minneapolis-based trio with lines like, “I wash my hands of this dirty world / It makes whores out of pretty girls” … Other tracks explore the roots of violence, while “Zesta” is nihilism boiled down to its purest essence.” You can imagine how excited I was to find this one in perfect condition. As an added bonus, someone stuffed an old promo poster into the sleeve advertising one of Hammerhead’s upcoming gigs at CBGB’s. Sweet! [Listen To “All This Is Yours”]
02. Arab On Radar – Rough Day At The Orifice (Locust) – I knew it was getting a bit hard to find these records, but I had no idea that this one had suddenly become collectible, demanding $50 or more on the open market (read: eBay). The same person I purchased the Mississippi Records compilation from had this for sale, so I snatched it up for $20. It is, of course, the original pressing with the beautifully silkscreened cover and insert. As far as musical content, I still prefer Yahweh Or The Highway, but you can guarantee I’m going to annoy some neighbors whenever I blast this.
01. Wicked Witch – Chaos (EM Records) – Fuck yes. Described by EM as “Obscure evil psycho machine-funk from ’80s Washington DC psychedelic madness!” Discovered by my friend Steve during a routine trip to Aquarius Records. Passed on to me one night at his apartment in Oakland. I fell in love and began my quest for the record. It very, very quickly went out-of-print after being issued, so I had to rely on finding it secondhand. My search turned up nothing for an entire year. The — as Aqarius describes it — “damaged…lysergic…one-man outsider take on the druggiest moments from early ’70s Miles Davis and especially Funkadelic” had eluded me. Until last week. Found it. $15. Sold. Best deal of the weekend as far as I’m concerned.
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