Monday, March 22, 2010

1. Emmylou, meet Sewer

Obsessive-compulsive record collecting is a pursuit that first appears in ones teens. Inspired by the music filling your head, you begin to compliment it with vast amounts of pointless knowledge gleaned from the credits of your favourite records. "Noddy Oldsmobile (Bass, 6). "Jesus", you think - "Who is this guy??? Is everything else he does this good???" Sometime later in ones 20's this private study consolidates into record collecting gold, when, rifling through the sale section of your local store you discover Noddy's solo album - for just a dollar! As you walk to the counter your heartbeat quickens. You hope you don't get mugged. Certainly you won't by the ignoramus behind the counter - how could he have let this one through?! Sometime later, in your 30's you unpack your stuff after moving house and find Noddy's record. At this point you realise you never even listened to it.

Hence this blog.

Last week I realised I have dozens of unheard records. Noise. Country. Alt/Indie. 60s/70s. Jazz. Comedy/Novelty. I decided to have a clean out. But first, I have to listen to everything. After all, I can hardly take this stuff down to my local record store if it skips, right? But more importantly, what if there's gold lurking in here!? I mean real gold, not fools gold like Noddy, or ... er, Dewey Martin.

Genre: Folk-rock
Place of Purchase: Sale Bin, Real Groove, Dunedin, $1
Why I bought this: This guy used to play drums in Buffalo Springfield

One can only imagine what this poor guy had to put up with in BS, what with Stephen Stills telling fairy stories about serving in Vietnam, Bruce Palmer dreaming of a 16/7 prog symphony and Neil Young obsessively re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. As this album starts with a drum roll perhaps it's not unfair to see this LP as an act of revenge by someone relegated to the much maligned status of 'the drummer'. Sadly, it doesn't deliver. 'One Buffalo Heard' may be intended as a statement, but is really a collection of incredibly anonymous folk-rock. It's so anonymous that I only finished listening to it 5 minutes ago and I'm having trouble remembering anything about it.

Genre: Chanson/Folk
Place of Purchase: The Warehouse, Levin, $6.99
Why I bought this: At the time I was listenig to a lot of Jacques Brel. I suspected that he must have other goofy friends.

My high school French is somewhat rusty. However, I can tell you for a FACT that in several songs here, Leo is either singing about his 'copain' (friend) or his 'putain' (whore). The cover of this compilation lists Leo's hits - "la vie d'artiste", "le pont maribeau" and "monsieur william". I must admit "monsieur william" is a real toe-tapper! I like this record! As for what he's talking about, well... I'm a little unsure but from the look of this video it seems someone believes that Leo had a vision of a dystopian future, and the true subject of this song was none other than monsieur bill "weelllliiam" gates.

Genre: Comedy/Spoken Word
Place of Purchase: Slow Boat Records, Wellington, $0.50
Why I bought this: I like to gamble.

Set to a background of upbeat Cocktail Jazz piano, hyperactive host 'Billy Playtex' doles out his comedy radio show of used-to-be-funny sketches. "Introducing that ruthless gangster of the underworld - Huckleberry FINK!" "Tonight that romantic comedy 'Are Husbands Necessary?' with Ga-Ga Zabor!" "Thank you Alfred Bitch-crock!"

Euuuggh. Pretty much nothing can save this Turkey. Even my personal favourite gag - burping with tons of reverb.

Mind you, at a certain time of the night, like 6am, after a night getting blitzed, this will send my guests over the edge. Heh heh heh.

Genre: Country
Place of Purchase: Echo Records, Dunedin, $1.00
Why I bought this: She's famous and meant to be good.

Why have I found it so hard to play this LP? Answer: the cover.

On the front, Emmylou stares downwards, perhaps into her lap, perhaps into her smouldering cup of yet-to-be-invented Chai Latte. Or perhaps at David Crosby cutting her toe-nails and reading her fortune. "Yessssss... tonight you will sleeeeep with a dwarrrfff". On the back she stands on top of a hill wearing a dress made out of Mum's curtains, one hand by her side, the other raised as if to protect her unborn. Emmy as Earth-mother. I mean.... pleaaaase... Thankfully, some of the music is fantastic. Most notably, Before Believing and From Boulder to Birmingham, where Emmylou's delivery hits the right line between the winsome waif of the cover and ... I dunno, something. The band has amazing dynamics of soft and loud, which is exactly the kind of playing that you don't hear on modern records. Do you hear me, young man?

Genre: Noise
Place of Purchase: My house, from Donald, who was leaving the country.
Why I bought this: Donald asked me if I wanted to buy it.

This charmingly monikered group come packaged in a plain brown sleeve with a screenprinted image of a (presumably) single man with his shoulders slumped and his head cast forward. As with Emmylou, I can only speculate what he's looking at. However, the three slices of dirgy noise improv on this disc suggest it's not David Crosby.

All you really need to know about this disk is that the music is in perfect synergy with the band name, song titles and the cover. I'm inclined towards keeping this, but click the video below and decide for yourself.

That's all for now. A bit disappointing, cos I was really looking forward to getting some of this stuff out of my house. Next week, prepare to poo your pants when I review my Yoko Ono boxset. I hope I hate it, cos I reckon it's worth at least $60 for trade.