RECORD STORE DAY 2014 @ CRS!

Record Store Day is coming up real quick! Got yr plans together yet? This is shaping up to be the biggest RSD yet. Here’s what we’re doing:
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DIGGIN’ IN THE CRATES #30 – Starz “Violation”

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I worked on a loading dock a few years ago, unloading the freight trailers in a retail outlet during the evening.  We didn’t have much for entertainment save for an old janky boombox with a barely functioning CD player; one of the guys was able to get his copy of Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” to play a few times through around the time of its release.  I once played a mix CD with some Dirtbombs and Captain Beefheart, much to the chagrin of the most difficult fella on the dock, who would rather we switch it back to the radio station that had been playing Autograph’s “Turn Up The Radio.”

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The majority of the time, the CD player wouldn’t read the disc, and we would have to all agree on a radio station.  9 times out of 10, this was a classic rock station, a local one. We didn’t even have the benefit of satellite radio, which will vary up their playlists with some guest hosts and deep cuts.  This was the type of station that, if you were to listen regularly for a couple months with no prior classic rock exposure, you would soon know their entire rotation.  One of the guys about lost his marbles when the station played Pink Floyd’s “Dogs of War”: “You never hear this one on the radio!”

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It was during this time period that I began to explore the albums of the finer classic rock artists that I was regularly exposed to via my occupation.  Specifically, the artists that don’t get quite as many universal accolades, bands your friends in high school probably didn’t name-drop to sound cool, such as Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult, all of whom have a plethora of amazing material that never gets airplay, even retroactively, making listening to a station that only focuses on a few cuts by such high caliber artists excruciatingly frustrating. There were only three songs you were going to hear from BOC on the loading dock: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Godzilla” and “Burnin’ For You.”

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When we began diggin’ in the crates this winter and spring, a new subgenre of classic rock deep cuts emerged: the no-hit wonders, where every track is a deep cut, making it all the more impossible for all but the most enthusiastic and predatory of classic rock fans to ever hear.  Often, these artists and songs sound as though they could slip into a set on a classic rock station undetected; these recordings are from that era and, in many cases, produced by the same people cranking out the big names.  This brings us to Starz “Violation” LP from 1977.

Starz formed from the ashes of the AM pop/rock group Looking Glass, known for their hit song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”.   After a few name and personnel changes, they settled on Starz and got the attention of KISS manager Bill Aucoin, who started working with them in 1975 and secured them a recording contract with Capital Records.  Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas worked on their first two records, the second one, “Violation” being considered their finest moment by most die-hard Starz cultists.  The “Violation” selection above, “Cherry Baby,” as well as the song below, “Sing It, Shout Out,” prove that Starz, with their infectious blend of hard riffs and hot licks, sugary melodies and tight harmonies, could play alongside the best classic rock radio staples from artists like Boston, KISS or Aerosmith, yet failed to make any substantial commercial impact in their time.

Following this record, the group pursued a more power pop sound akin to Cheap Trick. This LP, the self-produced “Attention Shoppers!” proved commercially unsuccessful and fractured the group between Starz members that desired to return to hard rock and those that wished to further pursue the power pop direction, leading to the departure of key members and ultimately the demise of Starz.  Less than a decade later, 80s glam metal bands such as Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Poison secured Starz hard rock cult legacy by frequently citing the band as an influence, leading to new recordings, reunion tours and retrospective releases in the 1990s to the present.

Here is one more sample selection from “Violation” that demonstrates their diversity and more understated side:

I would recommend this album if you’re a fan of classic rock and would like to hear something different performed and recorded in that style.  These guys do it as good if not better than the bulk of groups regularly featured on radio stations geared toward that format.

- Peter

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BARGAIN BIN SALE!

We know everyone is pinching pennies for Record Store Day. We understand!

From Now Until Saturday – BUY 1 BARGAIN BIN RECORD, GET 1 FREE!!

This even includes the 10 boxes of Bargain Overstock sitting under the bins. Pretty much anything without a plastic sleeve is fair game! You could dig all day and never break the bank!

Also, if yr looking to raise some funds as well, consider trading in records for store credit! We’re paying top dollar right now for good quality used vinyl. Grab a few things you don’t listen to anymore and we’ll hook you up with a Credit Certificate for the big day!

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DIGGIN’ IN THE CRATES #29 – Leon Redbone

It’s been too long since my last Dig post. Time to fix that! I’ve been finding some real sweet stuff lately. Check the method and come get yr own dig on:

Leon Redbone

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Played through every album of his I could find the other day and was not disappointed by any of it! With the weather starting to mellow out, this was the perfect companion. The kind of music that makes ya want to sit on the front porch, drink iced tea and enjoy being alive.

I was completely unfamiliar with Leon’s music a few days ago. This is a prime example of incredible music hidden in plain view. I’ve seen his albums come through the shop countless times. Often copies have sat on the shelf for ages. Passed over by many an unsuspecting crate digger. Judging from the album art, it’s hard to blame them.

41PHE0GS6JL redbone_doubleF 1760031This is not exactly the kind of imagery that pulls people in and demands a closer look. It doesn’t even begin to do justice to the music contained within. As we are all learning though, this is the recipe for a prime dig. Listen to the records everyone thinks will be terrible. You’ll be surprised at how much gold is found!

My first listening experience with Mr. Redbone was with his second album “Double Time” from 1977. Was instantly in love with it! He’s got this cool raspy voice that can be simultaneously harsh and tender. Plenty of Tom Waits comparisons come to mind. His songs are inspired by a long forgotten era. He specializes in early 20th Century Ragtime, Jazz, Blues, Folk and Tin Pan Alley classics. Some are reinterpreted covers and others are inspired originals. The recording quality is perfect too. Even on the later 80s albums I played, he doesn’t get too slick with the production. Just a smokey, raw sound that fits the music to a tee. Most of his work has a unique whimsical sense of humor. Nothing corny, but just enough to add to that light summertime feel. Underneath it all, Leon is a deceptively talented instrumentalist. Wikipedia lists him as playing Guitar, Banjo, Piano, Harmonica and Throat Tromnet.
Some other music comparisons that come to mind include Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Leo Kottke and Doc Watson.

Leon’s most famous song is probably his version of Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin”. Here’s a great live version:

A little research revealed that Leon has developed a devoted cult following over the years and has purposely shrouded himself with an air of mystery. He always appears in his trademark Panama hat, dark sunglasses and old time suit. He has apparently given very little information about his early life or musical beginnings. Live, he often claims to be much older than would be possible and that he authored works from way before his time. What is known is that he was discovered in Canada by Bob Dylan in the early 70s. Bob was so impressed by Leon’s music that he mentioned him in a Rolling Stone interview and got the magazine to do a feature before Leon even had a record contract. Thanks in part to this hype, his first record came out in 1975. Since then, he has recorded well over a dozen albums, toured the world and appeared on many talk shows. His most famous brush with the silver screen was on the modern classic “Elf”. He is the voice of Leon The Snowman (who is also modeled after him) and sings duet with Zooey Deschanel during the closing credits.

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It’s official. I am now a Leon Redbone fan! Will be keeping an eye out for his albums from now on. As always, the ones at Corner are fair game for any of you fine customers out there. I try to keep the gems in stock for y’all as often as possible. From what I’ve heard, Leon doesn’t have a bad album. So grab any that you find and enjoy!

- Sean

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DIGGIN’ IN THE CRATES #28 – Poco “Legend”

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This is one of those artists and albums that I keep seeing in our bins that I know absolutely nothing about, so it’s a natural pick for a Diggin’ In The Crates edition.  The only description I had read of Poco was “country rock,” so I had to do a double take to make sure I had the right record on the turntable when the first track kicked in and was steeped in a funk groove.  No, not the wrong LP, the label says this IS Poco’s Legend, and the song is “Boomerang,” I guess that sounds like a funky boogie track title.  Maybe the year this album was recorded, 1978, is suspect in this stylistic deviation.

The second track, “Spellbound,” is a more mellow affair, though still a far cry from country rock.  It sounds like late-70s AM soft rock, albeit incredibly well done.  Some of the production values and instrumentation keep reminding me of that song “Beautiful Boy” from John Lennon’s final album, Double Fantasy.

Continuing on into the LP, which at initial listen could sound incredibly corny to your average music aficionado (who often cringe at such smooth production values),  the songs remain consistently strong, with solid arrangements, diverse instrumentation, and airtight harmonies.  This would be the perfect LP to play out the windows while you kick it on your porch or patio as the weather returns to a tolerable temperature.  That said, “Love Comes Love Goes,” which closes out side 1, is pretty dang hokey.  However, “Little Darlin’” is cool as a cucumber.

Poco had released over a dozen LPs before “Legend,” dating back to the late 60s after the demise of Buffalo Springfield, the Poco founders’ former band.  Those releases are said to contain the country rock sound that is noticeably absent on this record.  The closing title track is the most rock oriented song, and wouldn’t be out of place on classic rock stations.  I am going to have to investigate if their earlier LPs contain sounds more along these lines.  Very promising.  Overall, this is still an enjoyable late 70s pop album with very few cringe-worthy moments.

An interesting side note regarding this LP is that the cover was designed by Phil Hartman. Yes, THE Phil Hartman, the late comedian that was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, NewsRadio, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and voiced Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on The Simpsons.  Phil’s brother, John, worked as a manager for Poco and several other acts, including America and Crosby, Stills & Nash, the latter for which he designed their logo.  Phil would do graphic design for his brothers’ clients while trying to make it as a comedian.

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So that’s it for this installment of Diggin’ In The Crates.  We hope you enjoyed the tunes and tidbits of trivia.  This particular LP is recommended if you like Crosby, Stills & Nash, America, Dr. Hook and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

- Peter

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Diggin’ in the Crates #27

ImageLook what I found! This 1985 debut release by Beat Rodeo! For the most part, this is solid country rock with guitars kickin’ out that big, fat Nashville Sound. It gets a bit “rockier”, at times, but fans of country Rock/ Alt Country will feel “right at home” here. Diggin’ in the Crates, Baby! That’s what we do…

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DIGGIN’ IN THE CRATES #26 – George Gerdes “Son of Obituary”

George Gerdes has spent the last 30 years playing bit parts on television series, including X-Files, NYPD Blue, ER and Walker, Texas Ranger, as well as taking on small roles in film in recent years, such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Hidalgo and Amistad.

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Prior to all of this, George cut a couple records in the early 1970s that went largely unnoticed in the United States while making a slightly bigger splash in England.  Released on United Artists, Gerdes first album, “Obituary,” was unveiled via a live performance in England by the man himself right before a screening of UA’s most recent picture, Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels”.  The album received enough critical praise and overall “buzz” to justify UA funding a follow-up release.

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Gerdes, working with producer Nick Venet (The Beach Boys, Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke, Linda Ronstadt, Karen Dalton, The Walker Brothers, Lou Rawls), requested that the instrumental personnel for his sophomore release be none other than the session musicians from Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”.  The times afforded this luxury to be so, and in summer of 1972, Gerdes found himself in Nashville recording “Son of Obituary” with legendary Area Code 615 session players such as Charlie McCoy, Henry Strzelecki, and Kenny Buttrey.

The result was a record quite ahead of its time, a brand of country rock/pop that veers a bit more toward eccentric than early country rock musicians like Gram Parsons and Michael Nesmith.

Here are a couple choice cuts for your listening experience:

This is an LP I found nestled in our stock, neglected and anonymous, beckoning to be rediscovered by another generation.  There will plenty more where that came from, each with a unique story behind it.  This album is recommended if you like Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Michael Nesmith, Nilsson or Don McLean.

-Peter

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