Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Spin on Relationships

Think that your record collection can just share space with a spouse, close family member, roommate, the neighbors dog?  Think again!  Even if your significant other is into vinyl (if not, you have chosen poorly), getting to a healthy balance of packed shelves takes work, patience, and at times a thick skin.  You can't just assume that the other party is interested in having your super-amazing vinyl co-habitate with their substandard fare.  More to the point, the other party may not feel your super-amazing vinyl is so super-amazing and vice-versa.  It's ok not to agree on everything.  What to do?

In a significant number of musical arenas, VVer #1 and VVer #2 have melded minds on taste.  That's probably 60% of the time.  30% is "live and let live."  The other 10% is a knock down, drag out, carnage fest of warrior rage that goes something like this:
VVer #1 arrives home from work, pops on (insert great 90's alternative album here) and begins to cook dinner.  Just as he starts to hit a thrashing groove musically (as well as rocking it in the kitchen).
VVer #2 arrives home from work.  "WARRRRMMMM.  WHAT is this awful NOISE?  Aghuughhhh!"
VVer #1 "You can put something else on if you like."
VVer #2 "Aghhuuughagh!!!  Off!"

As wholesome as this back and forth must sound, the VVers are hoping to minimize bloodshed in their home and, in turn, help others out there who may be having similar dilemmas.  How to get along?  Here are a few questions to help you with those areas of avoidable misery:

  1.  When does the record come from?  If it's from an era that you grew up in, say the late 80s and not of your significant other, say the late 90s, there could be some conflict.  You may even be labeled as "living in the past."  Horrifying, right?  What can you do?  Try and show interest in the significant other's era.  Don't pigeonhole yourself by being a completist on every band from your favored era.  Be selective.  You don't need every single release from that indie label that came out between 1988 and 1991.  No, you don't.

  2.  Where did the record come from?  If it was purchased in a dusty estate sale or thrift spot, be mindful of what level of dust, scuzz, and fuzz you might be introducing to your home.  The quickest way to sour an impression on a purchase is if you disrespect the home (and more importantly the turntable) with a filthy record.  Take a few moments to inspect your purchase before it crosses the threshold.  Clean it outside if needed.  Do not force the issue.  Certain lines should not be crossed.

  3.  How much?  If you plunked down some hefty dough on a record or two, you better be able to back that up with some earnings, some solid playtime, or both.

  4.  How long?  Did you spend hours in a dumpy thrift store sifting through their Barbara Streisand albums looking for treasure?  Were you scouring the internet for rare platters?  Did you spend half your weekend driving to random and far flung yard sales hoping to find something special?  Digging for albums may be fun at times, but remember that the Pinocchio picture disc you found may be worthless compared to the time you spent in discovering it.

  5.  How many?  Any time you dedicate real estate to new arrivals you have to be very clear about your plans.  "I am going to listen to this once because I am curious and then I am going to donate this to (insert charitable thrift shop here)," or perhaps, "I am going to listen to this record all of the time and probably blog/DJ/make it my new favorite/wear it like a hat."  Stacking them up by the player and in front of the stereo, and next to the fish tank, and in front of the closet door, and in the closet, and (things can get out of hand very quickly) -- this is a losing proposition.

  6.  When are you playing it?  "When I get home it's not necessarily that the music is bad it's that I'm home and I need some peace and quiet and it BLARGH AGH CRASH RRRAAAAGHHH!!!"  This is very relevant.  Everyone has a comfort zone and if you're not paying attention to this, it doesn't matter what the record is in the slightest because you are going to lose that fight every time.  Sometimes music with too much multi-tonal activity is too much for the morning.  Sometimes jazz flute is a little too much like Christmas.  Sometimes you should just not play that record around the other person.  It's not worth the hassle and you are not going to convince your flatmate to like that album by bludgeoning it into their skull.

A smidge of advice:
  1.  Pay attention, dumbass.  Does this one really need an explanation?  If so then this entire write up isn't going to help you.  Dumbass.
  2.  Be respectful.  Timing matters
VVer #1"Would you like to hear record?"
VVer #2 "Yes"
VVer #1 "Is there something you would like me to play?"
VVer #2 "Play something I like."

Makes sense.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

2015 Year in Review: Concert Edition

Your ever so humble VVers spent a good chunk of 2015 at some ridiculous concerts.   Many of these shows had vinyl treasures worthy of a chronological year in review write-up.  Here are the best of the best in the "Concerts of Goodness that Yielded Vinyl of Greatness" category:

APTBS and Black Clouds
The February cold brought these VVers to Metro Gallery in Baltimore to catch A Place to Bury Strangers.  The VVers own quite a few of APTBS records, but had never had a chance to see them live.  Should you get a chance, you're going to want to bring earplugs.  From the merch table was snagged a metal "trivet" sleeved 45 that can also double as a weapon.  Read more on that here.  The 45 is super-fantastic, also extremely heavy (in both the physical and auditory sense).  In addition, all instrumental act Black Clouds played a strong opening set for APTBS and VVer #1 picked up their LP, Dreamcation.  This transparent vinyl is housed in a transparent printed sleeve with a full size booklet of semi-transparent, grayscaled photographs of haze filled ruinous landscapes.  Bleakly beautiful, and impressibly see-through.  Their album is melodic, atmospheric, and just the right amount of thrashy.  But it's the sleeve and design that keeps haunting.  Hey guys, nice package!

Big Business
April at Ottobar brought VVer #2's first time being exposed to the Biz (and VVer #1's fifth).  Survey says?  Hell yes.  The band was paying in its classic two man line-up which really emphasizes how much they can make the fur fly.  Holy smokes!  Throbbing bass lines, insanity invoking drumming, and barely audible droning vocals.  "Yeowww my head."  Big Biz merch also never fails to impress.  Home came the hand-screened "quadruple single" and gold-on-black screened beer coozies that came with a free download of their new single (while not vinyl, a very nice touch).

Crocodiles
You know what really takes the cake?  Finding out one of your favorite bands is playing in a few hours in the city you are heading to in your tiny rental car.  Totally unplanned and half-way into a leisurely, twelve-hour cross-country drive, these VVers put the petal to the metal to catch Crocodiles play a stellar set in Austin, TX at Holy Mountain.  Not only was there a new LP, Boys, to be bought (ahead of its actual release date) and signed, the VVers got an entire show of new music plus a few "classics" to jump around to, ending with "I Wanna Kill."  It was lovely and loud, and the VVers got a shout-out mid-show.  Heart.

Levitation (aka Austin Psych Fest)
Los Mundos Dios es Fuzz
Album avoided: Flaming Lips, Good Vibrations.  Hand-carved and multi punctured.  Fifty bucks... Just couldn't do it.  The VVers did come home with some stellar vinyl, inspired from Levitation (purchased in Austin record stores).  Two standouts are the Well's  six-track LP, Samsara, full of churning, bluesy heavy metal, and Los Mundos' EP Dios es Fuzz with crazy, Spanish-sung, psychedelic drone rock.  Read more about the entire experience here.

Melvins/Le Butcherettes
Though the VVers and friends went to this show at Ottobar on July 4th weekend to have the Melvins melt their faces, VVer #1 had inside knowledge that Mexican opening act, Le Butcherettes, should not be missed.  He had seen them open for Faith No More at Webster Hall earlier in the year.  Teri Gender Bender, the female lead of Le Butcherettes, put on quite an enamoring and hypnotizing show, so much so that VVer #2 requested that their most recent record (at the time), Cry Is for the Flies, be purchased from the merch table.  The LP is filled with guttural, poetic, power vocals, and a spoken-word track from Mr. Henry Rollins.  On repeat listens the catchiness of this album has burgeoned to the surface and is getting repeat spins.

Flowers of Evil
Yes, the VVers bought a record
directly from this dude.
Sometime in late summer our VVers somehow found out about a house show in DC featuring some of their favorite bands in different line-ups.  Local and awesome Shark Week was headlining, but the big draw was Flowers of Evil, a mysterious punk side project of Crocodiles, APTBS, Young Boys, and SISU.  What a sick basement show!  Not only did the VVers get to rub elbows (and share beers) with some of the band members, but they also got to whoop it up at a really unique performance space (basically a laundry room).  The VVers don't usually go in for all this hobnobbing... but could really get used to it!  At the close of the night, out came the debut Flowers of Evil record for purchasing directly from the band.  "Keep the change you bastards!"  The album is eleven songs of 45-speed snarling punk with a hint of psych.  Not only is it a great listen, but VVers are dead certain the names of those involved on the LP are all fake... Donny Desade?  Will Killingsworth (actually a real person)?  Legs McDaniel?

Dilly Dally
These Toronto indie punks played a scintillating gig at DC9 that had VVer #1 all a sorts of happy.  This band will immediately bring you back to 1990 with their raw blend of head-crunching riffage and yowling vocals.  The sloppy vibe put on by the disheveled band members says nothing about their professional chops.  Tight sound all around, especially from guitarist Liz Ball (sonic sorceress) and vocalist/guitarist Katie Monks (destruction arteest).  They heartily earned VVer #1's greenbacks (and high fives) for their debut LP, Sore.  The album captures much of that live vibe and adds to the mix haunting production, shimmering guitars, and one of the grossest album covers ever.  Bravo.

Honorable Mentions
The 2015 honorable mentions go to the bands the VVers saw live this year, but pre-ordered their vinyl instead of buying it at the show.  These include: Shark Week Beach Fuzz, Faith No More Sol Invictus, Heavy Breathing Airtight, and Puscifer Money Shot.  All great and unique concerts with vinyl to match (still waiting on that Puscifer).

Year in Review in review:  Buying vinyl is all fine and good, but buying it at a concert?  That comes with bragging rights.  Seriously, to hand money directly to the artist on the road is something special.  Odds are the band is getting a bigger cut of the merch sale.  You might get a signed album and get to chat up the band a bit.  Unique or limited edition schwag is fairly common on the road.  Overall, what's really important is being able to directly show your appreciation for the band.  To get a keepsake from a great show is icing on the turntable.  Your record comes with a memory.  How sweet.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hellraising Vinyl

By The Vinyl Apprentice

Some time ago, the Vinyl Vagabonds wrote an article about different kinds of interesting vinyl sleeves. I immediately thought of a single that a buddy of mine let me borrow once. The single was “Hooch,” a 45 by the Seattle grunge-metal rockers the Melvins, and it was a beast! Feeling in the spirit this most recent Halloween, I was summoned to “Vinyl Vagabond” it; any record this strange deserves writing about. What makes this particular one so special? To start, it is housed in an impossible to open Hellraiser "puzzle box” type multi-fold out sleeve (it's actually copyrighted as a "Hard to Open Package," so you know it's good). To get it open you actually have to bend the sleeve paper in such a way that you will feel you are going to tear it to get to the 45. Hence, once you have opened this unusual packaging, the cover automatically becomes damaged. ARRRGGH! And why ARRGH? This is a hand screened, 1,000-copy limited edition single, with the cover by none other than renowned California artist Frank Kozik. Kozik is famous for his raunchy, Day-Glo concert posters that he started making in the early 1990s. He also ran a record label for a time called Man’s Ruin Records that put out records by the Sex Pistols, Queens of the Stone Age, and many other primarily stoner metal bands. Today, Kozik is an institution in “lowbrow” art. True to his style, this particular monstrosity has devilish visuals plastered all over it. To start, the front cover has a Disney-esque Satan on it. The back cover art is creepy on a whole other level and completely different in style. It looks like a 16th century wood cut of the birth of baby Beelzebub himself. Not for the meek. Eeekkk, it is chilling to the bone. Inside the sleeve of evil, is a nasty two sided Kozik picture disc. The A side has an illustration of a cigarette smoking, mustached Diablo dad chuckling away. Side B has a green haired, red skinned, monster mommy also puffing away on a cancer stick.

But wait, there’s more to this vinyl vulgarity. Both of these tracks are from the Melvins 1993 major label debut LP, Houdini, which was partially produced by none other than, Kurt Cobain. Not only did the late Nirvana frontman produce these two songs on the 45, he also contributed with guitar work on the side B song “Sky Pup.” Now I know what you are thinking, does whatever music in those grooves live up to the collected talent involved here? I’m not sure. You see, the Melvins are one of the more experimental, noisy, punk bands. They have never created a radio hit in their lives, nor will they. It's just not in their nature. Also, while singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne’s voice is strong and interesting, it's substandard. He has zero range, he was born grotesque in this category. But wait … Kurt Cobain!?!? Surely his magic and genius would make these songs shine, and transcend the Melvins to greater heights? Wrong. Unfortunately, he was fired half way through the production of Houdini as Buzz has stated Kurt was "too out of control" with his drug problems at the time to continue producing it. If there is an ounce of Kurt on these tracks, I can’t find it.

But enough of that, let me talk about the songs themselves. The first song, “Hooch” has all the right notes to make it a classic Melvins track. It is loud and thrashy with a nice dirge-like hook and Dale Crover delivers a deep, bombastic drum beat. While the song does drone, it is a head banging, hideous tune, and I enjoy it. Side B is a different story. “Sky Pup” is a mysterious enigma. It sounds more like a song from psychedelic space rockers, the Flaming Lips than it does the Melvins. While it is kind of groovy and has a magnetic bass line, it is not very memorable. Drummer Dale sings on this track, which really sounds more like him just talking. His voice is frightful, and practically inaudible. In fact, the whole track sounds very quiet, and puts me to sleep. Snore. This song is a goofy head scratcher.

Contrary to how my review sounds, I really like the Melvins, and recommend spending your time and money getting to know them. And this single? The packaging alone is sick, and the music is decidedly weird. Pinhead would be proud. It's classic Melvins. Looking and listening to this creepy conundrum will definitely keep me up at night for years to come….

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Urgent News Bulletin: Vinyl Vagabonds DJ Set

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention.  I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.  I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen.  

Listen to the Vinyl Vagabonds play records at Bump 'n Grind in Silver Spring on
Friday, January 15th 7-9pm 

Don't act like you're not impressed.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pssst Your Butt and Bravado Are Showing...

"Animal" as painted by
VVer #1
Heavy Breathing - Airtight - 2015
(Part 2 - After the Music)

In the VVers' world, very few instances exist where seeing a band live increases appreciation of their recorded work. Washington DC's Heavy Breathing is the exceptional exception.  When Heavy Breathing perform, they bring it.  "IT" = scintillating synths, make-the-audience-feel-awkward asides, all-out drumming, bravado guitars, and a whiz-bang light show.  Each member of this three-piece band has a distinct stage personality and is responsible for the above mentioned "IT"s.  It should also be noted that the band members madly grin through their entire show; they have serious fun.  This makes perfect sense as it is impossible not to dance gleefully during a Heavy Breathing set.  Was the faith of our humble VVers rewarded that the band could capture all of said je ne sais quoi on their brand new LP Airtight?  Absolutely rewarded.  The same joyful abandon--with a hint of very naughty--is etched in every single groove, so turn it loud!  Airtight is a laser light show on wax.  Live performance and recording complement each other just right with neither doing a disservice.

"Intro" perfectly fits the bill for a starter to this LP.  Heavy Breathing starts their live shows with aforementioned narratives which often make the audience look at each other nervously and think to themselves, "Did I come to the right show?  What have I gotten myself into?"  "Intro" begins with apropos heavy breathing noises in what sounds like a time warp or black hole.  "What record did I just buy?  This is weird!"  Weird is right, and it is great!  Highlight tracks, "Gimmie Mine" and  "Drop It" are staples of Heavy Breathing's live shows.  The recorded versions have a crisp sound that allows the layered samples and instruments to come through.  The energetic, manic drumming on "Gimmie Mine" is just as pronounced in the recording, granted it is more fun live (their drummer is Animal's doppelganger: flailing arms, bobbing body, giant smile; it is wonderful to watch).  "Drop It" has more of a relaxed tempo, but both tracks are also loaded with all sorts of indescribable weirdo noises and funky-fat riffs.  It is hard to pin-down exactly what Heavy Breathing's music sounds like because they really don't sound like anyone and no one sounds like them.  This is a fantastic problem.  Psychedelic heavy metal electronica?  Psych-rock disco?  Shredding cabbage?  Oddball house goth?  World-inspired weirdo-pop?  Sure, yes.  Heavy Breathing grew from former group, the Apes, keeping some of their similar sound, but ditching live vocals for repeated, distorted samples and dance oriented jams.  These vocal samples are just as confusing to describe, as they generally sound like gibberish, but in a surrealistically pleasing way.  It more than works; it helps the listener to focus on the music being pumped out, shredded, and blasted by the band. "Easy" has lovely vampiric organ flourishes leading into and out of a propulsive booty shaker.  Slow tempo tracks are scarce except for "Touch It" and "I No Luv"; the later is playful and allows for synths to really shine through.  Airtight has numerous twists and turns that are as stupefying as they are rewarding.  Each crescendo of darkness met with a mightier triumphant riff.  Epic is the right word.


Let's take a minute to reflect on the album art again, shall we?  Front cover naked guy (aka "Steve") looks like he is passed out after a night of hedonism.  Back cover lady also passed out on the ground, but at least she managed to keep her clothes on.  Too much Heavy Breathing or just the right amount?  No one knows.  Regardless, it's just the right visual cue that these cats have a relentless sound that will party you up until you drop.  What does that even mean?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Doomed from the Cover or Psst, Your Butt is Showing

Part 1 (Before the music)

It has been a long standing policy in the House of VV to actively avoid any albums with naked butts on the cover, specifically male (the female behind TBD).  This rule was first enacted when the Yes album, Going for the One, entered the house and then just as quickly was going for the door.  It's been a long time since the VVers had this one, so remembering the music is nearly impossible, except for the consensus that it was entirely displeasing.  What is memorable is: butt cover = bad album.  Ironic in that famed album designers, Hipgnosis, designed and shot the cover for Going for the One.  This is the team that created the iconic album art for Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Houses of the Holy amongst others.  While there is a legitimate history of famous album covers that feature nudity, the VVers have just said no.

"Topless is ok, bottomless no way."

After many years adhering to this rule, the VVers are confronted with an epic quandary: they are on the verge of possessing a record with a butt cover.  That's right, a naked butt-man.  In the House of VV.  Butt.  How could this happen?  Back in March, the VVers funded an Indiegogo campaign for always awesome DC band, Heavy Breathing, to press their new LP on vinyl.  What a great thing!  The band raises money and the VVers get a record, win-win!  No one was concerned about what the album art was going to look like at the time.  The VVers were merely excited to hear a new LP of Heavy Breathing's quirky synth/psych dance/rock electronica.  But now that very album might be too cheeky from the start!  Eeeeepp!  [Full disclosure: Based on past music and live shows, the VVers are optimistic this album is going to be killer.]  The new album, Airtight, was released today on favorite local label Electric Cowbell.  Hopefully it isn't doomed like the aforementioned, unclothed butt cover.  The VVers promise to remain objective and let their ears be final judge.  Stay tuned for the full album review and if you are in DC catch them at the Black Cat on November 19th.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It Came from the Garbage


Weird as it may sound, the VVers, on a seemingly annual basis, come across vinyl thrown in the garbage.  Usually there are only a few records, but occasionally there is an entire box.  Recently, the VVers were walking out of a local record store and just twenty steps up the road found a massive stack of records cascading out of a garbage can.  A lot of these were very clearly beyond hope.  Quite a few were water damaged and were starting to show signs of growage.  This is where the buck stops.  Sifting through the trash heap, at least three of James Brown's most sought after records were found in this condition.  Sad as the thought of that may be, this discarded bunch contained many of the sorts of records that deserve to be put out of their musical misery.  A few exceptions?  There was one 70's "Fat Albert" animated series record, which at first glance looked ok, but upon further inspection (mind you that the inspection was going on out on the sidewalk of a busy street with VVer #1 digging in a garbage can, awkward) the vinyl was badly warped.  Initially, an "All in the Family" TV soundtrack looked sharp, but then it turned out the record itself was missing.  Fear not dear reader.  Digging a bit deeper, a few things were salvaged.  Important to note, when these records entered the House of VV they received a thorough, double cleaning, inside and out.  Here are the three that were rescued:

Aretha Franklin - You - 1975

Unfortunately, this record survived.  Side one is slightly listenable, lead off track "Mr. D.J. (5 for the D.J.)" being one of the funkier numbers.  It's also the only track she wrote on this trashed LP.  The ballad, "I'm not Strong Enough to Love You" is pretty on target.  Not really the sort of thing that makes hearts happy in the House of VV, but not too painful.  The rest are just rough.  VVer #2 was very unsympathetic to Ms. Franklin's caterwauling so much so that most of the album was accompanied by a dying cat impersonation.  It's for the best.  The most entertaining quality for this one is the photograph on the cover.  The outfit, the glasses, the blowout 'do, the pose, the campy smile... it's a special kind of train wreck.


Mr. T - Mr. T's Commandments - 1984

Tougher-than-nails 80's superstar, Mr. T, raps, does spoken word, and tells it like it is, with his back-up singers keeping the tempo up.  The album is a total cluster, geared towards young-ins.  The synths and songwriting are horrendous.  The tempo-less Mr. T's voice is like a bag of gravel being rolled around on concrete.  Think Oscar the Grouch and you're almost there.  Granted, his message to kids is full of wisdom, "Don't Talk to Strangers," "No Dope, No Drugs," and the like.  The tunes that really fail hard though are the ones about himself, "Mr. T, Mr. T (He Was Made for Love)," "The Toughest Man in the World," and "The One and Only Mr. T."  Taking corny to an entirely other level of pain--way to go T.  Somehow they figured out how to take the tough out of the toughest.  Awful.  He wrote exactly zero percent of what's on here so let's at least hope he got paid.  Those gold chains don't pay for themselves!  Again, the album cover is probably the most entertaining thing here.  Mismatched tube socks, boots held together with duct tape, gold chains, feathered earrings, and of course the mohawk.   He's a true original, sort of a disco era fashion icon of rags to riches.  It's just one of those ridiculous 80's artifacts that have to be seen (and not heard) to be believed.


James Brown - Nothing but Soul - 1968

All instrumental, a little chaotic, kind of funky.  There is a chance the VVers hold on to this one for a little while.  The Godfather of soul takes a break from shouting about Hot Pants and Soul Power to instead focus on "his increasing technical ability as an organist," says the back cover write-up.  Also, it describes the album as a "series of instrumentals that should find their way on the turn tables of disc jockies and home recording machines of millions of his fans."  Good luck arguing with that!   Rhythms and soulful swagger are here, especially on the all too short "Buddy-E."  Not too bad, but sometimes it flows into a blurting, wince-inducing, scat-clarinet territory.  It tortures the ears.

Of the three, no big winners here.  In doing a bit of reading on the interwebs it turns out that all three albums are out of print, which is interesting, and not entirely disappointing.  Also, there is a good chance the Mr. T album is worth a little chunk of change, somewhat justifying the effort.  Sometimes garbage is just garbage, but you'll never know until you give it a spin.  Dig it!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Does Your Fish Approve?

I like records too you know.
After a spin of the first Crocodiles 45, Neon Jesus, VVer #2 popped on Santurce, the first 45 of local DC band Shark Week.  She then turned to the fish tank, directly positioned next to the record player.  There sat Bella, the bushy-nosed plecostomus (basically a little sucker-mouthed catfish), out of her normal hiding area, at the front of the tank, and enthralled with the sonics infiltrating her water waves.  The VVers have no shame in the fact that they (mostly VVer #2) often talk to their fish.  VVer #2 loudly proclaimed, "Bella!  You like the Crocodiles?!" then realized, "I know it's a scary band name for a fish, but the music is good, right?..." then remembered, "Eeep, I'm playing Shark Week for you now; also a band name you probably don't like! ... Sorry!"  Bella definitely shook her tail to signal her disapproval of all this banter.  (Ok, it's possible that part didn't happen.)

Coincidentally, Crocodiles and Shark Week are tour buddies and both have new LPs out this year which are well worth your cash money.  Just don't tell your fish what music they are listening to and they will be happy as clams!

Translated from Fish to Human English by VVer #2:

Crocodiles - Boys 2015
This one will have you water-bobbing and fin-flipping in no time, especially with opening track "Crybaby Demon."  Continuing the Crocodiles' trend towards electrifried-rock over catchy beats, Boys skews more pop than their earlier LPs.  Less of a extended backstroke and more of a cannonball.  Songs tend to stick to under five minutes and are full of sing-a-long-able vocals.  The stylistic shift works well within Crocodiles' sound, but VVer #2 yearns for the loose, grungy format of their first LP, Summer of Hate (based on the ridiculous amount of times that record is played in the house).  [blurp, blurp, blurp] Other standout tracks from Boys include "Foolin' Around" which features what sounds like a digital yo-yo (with a sweet music video) and "Kool TV" with its punchy, samba-swing beat.  "Do the Void" is an awesomely cacophonous track with nasal, high-pitched vocals from Crocodile-wife Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls.  "Blue" and "Don't Look Up" slow down the tempo to exude a tropical beat, this might be the product of recording this one in Mexico. [blurp, blurp, move it guppy, blurp]

Shark Week - Beach Fuzz 2015
After pre-ordering Beach Fuzz, Shark Week's debut LP, the first listen was a bit surprising.  The A-side is what was expected sonically from the DC/Baltimore based group.  Think, retro 70s punk, with a hearty dash of soulful surf, a lavish display of confident vocals, and plenty of fluidity in tempo. [blub, it's got me swimming like crrazzyy, blup!]  Then on a flip of the record, "Honeybee" evokes a Freddie Mercury-esque performance that will make you think this is a strange album.  [blurp, ohhh algae, blurp]  Just keep listening to it repeatedly and that thought will be nullified by all the extremely catchy, fuzzy, riff-rock that ensues.  Every fish knows, strange albums actually the best, right?  The yelping in "Desire" works really well for this track as does the thunderous drumming, ominous bass, and double-time tambourine.  "Scratching Post" is a slow burn at its utmost; possibly the poetic lyrics of a relationship sinking into the abyss. [blup, or getting sucked into the filter, blurp, blup]  "Gone" is a harshly emotional song coming from the depths of the past.  [blub, blub, it's a real fin slap to the face, urp]  Somehow mid-song, you realize that the whining guitar solo evokes 80s hair metal ballads, then you laugh, because it is great.  "Play it as it Lays" is an epic seven-minute burner, full of echoing vocals, drawn-out instrumentals, extreme tempo shifts, and glistening maracas that close out the LP.  Relentless!  Floating around for a week in the shark tank and loving it!

Oh by the way, the people that feed me, clean my tank, and sometimes appear with their giant heads peering through my glass walls have seen both Crocodiles and Shark Week loads of times and say they put on a great show.  They're even talking about plans to see them on October 20th at Comet Ping Pong in DC.  Think they have a travel tank for me?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Richmond Zine Fest '15

This weekend!  Come peruse and buy Vinyl Vagabonds zines!  Limited edition back-issues #3, #4, and #5, as well as the newest issue #6 (aka the food monster issue), will be available to purchase!  Check out the VVers mini-comics as well!
http://richmondzinefest.org/



Be there
For the new zine!
It's going to be
Interspectacular
Fantabulous
It'll blow your socks off!
It's one of those things
Where Cookiezilla versus zine
Zine versus comic
Comic versus vinyl record
Be there!
Intergalactic zine battle
It's... instupituous!!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Flash Gordon Soundtrack 1980

Science Fiction before CGI.  Comic Book movie before that was a thing.  Queen before Highlander.  Sam Jones before... well, Ted?

People hate on this movie so much it just isn't right.  Amidst its over the top style, there is much to savor.  Top most of these being the greatness that is the original soundtrack by Queen.  Remember now, this is Queen before they were completely watered down by the pop-focused whirlpool of the 80's.  At this point, Queen was still straddling the greasy, hot line between experimental pop and excellent British heavy rock.

VVer #1 has listened to this soundtrack so often it's practically in his DNA.  For years, this was his only Queen LP.  Why?  Containing story elements of classic sci-fi, with the high-octane glaminess from Freddie/Brian/John/Roger, it plays like a concept album.  Instead of just a straight review, it seemed logical, as it is truly a part of the film, to review the album in the context of the film itself.  Here it goes:

HOT HAIL!!! METEOR STORM!!! TORNADO!!! EARTHQUAKE!!! VOLCANIC ERUPTION!!!

Ming's evil laugh morphs into the iconic kickdrum/piano opening salvo.  The graphics of the opening credit sequence, comprised totally of imagery from the original comic strip, are perfectly timed to the Flash theme song.  This theme has all the Queen elements you love: four part harmonizing, nasty interstellar guitar leads, a driving rhythm section, and just the right heaping helping of pop.  After this mega-opening (FLASH!  AAAAHHHHHH, HE'LL SAVE EVERY ONE OF US!!!), is a long gap of plot and character introductions before we get into any more Queen.  It actually times out perfectly, lulling you to nearly forget that the world's greatest rock band is waiting in the wings.  When "pathetic earthlings," Flash, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov, launch into the psychedelic "Imperial Vortex" you find yourself immersed in droning, mystical, new-age soundscapes soon to be accompanied by entrancing drums.  Note all the laser beam and magnetic force field sounds--yes--done by Queen.

Into the throne room for some antics and a proper introduction to Ming, "Hail Ming Hail, Ruler of the Universe!  Hail Ming Hail, Emperor of the Galaxy!"  His theme music is ... truly evil.  It's a cross between a slow motion chainsaw riff and a therimin, distorted with a wahwah petal.  Even when Ming uses his magic ring to make Dale go all sexy/weird it's the same theme, just solo, slinky synth.  You only get a moment to digest this when Flash turns all Johnny football and tries to fight his way out, and in rocks Queen with a corny, upbeat, synth-funk jam.  Crashing drums and over the top guitar leads make your hair stand up straight.  Next, a goofy one-liner, "Are your men on the right pills?" and in crashes Brian May with some tasty licks that even get a little heavy for a hot second, but only a second, and then Flash gets knocked out cold... cue evil therimin.  The fight scene is entirely silly and is most likely just an excuse to have this massive jam.

It's worth noting the abundance of orchestral flourishes throughout the film.  Apparently these were arranged by somebody named Howard Blake.  You would never know this from watching the film, as his name barely exists in the credits.  Well, he does a fine assist for Queen who wrote everything you hear.  Together they create just the right amount of ambiance, embouyance, and umbeyonce (all three are right depending on context).  There are moments where you'll be saying "that's not Queen!" especially the (spoiler alert!) "death sequence," but you'll also be thinking "this is awesome."  How about some excellent, brooding, gothic orchestration which leads into a new-age, guitar-led, stoner flautist moment?  Cue the brass section and scene!  Super high drama, courtesy of Mr. Blake.

"Who's voice is that, Freddie Mercury?" asks VVer #1.  (Spoiler alert!)  Flash comes back to life to the sound of some sort of angelic oohing and ahhing.  That's just one you'll have to hear for yourself.  It's weird.

Here again we wait for quite a while as the earthlings begin to make their way towards a plan to stop Ming.  "Nothing can save me now," says Dale, tears streaming from her eyes.  That mesmerizing drum cadence returns for a solid five minutes of exposition.  In roars the entire drum set all at once (drummer Roger Taylor really sets the bar high on this LP) and into the galloping synths (nobody's playing synths like that anymore)!  It's high octane fun but what really kicks it up a few notches is the insane drum breakdown (sounds just like a speed bag in the gym) that unleashes May's absolute crushingness.  Add in laser beams everywhere!  Let's just say that the fight scene on Ajax battlecruiser is what Queen was born to write music for.  "Impetuous boy!"  When Queen brings it during the action sequences, wearing an adult diaper is highly recommended.  "Ah well, who wants to live forever!?!"

"I think all movie fight scenes should have Queen backing them."  Sage wisdom from VVer #2.

Consider for a moment other movies with soundtracks and scores composed by one band or musician.  There aren't many.  Not like this.  Much less comic book, action films by rock bands.  Shaft, from nine years prior, is really the only soundtrack on this scale that comes to mind.  Isaac Hayes pumps out the entire funky score along with the soundtrack.  No others touch this achievement.  Some folks come close, but no banana:  Superfly by Curtis Mayfield and Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye are in that alley, but don't really hold together as well; Magical Mystery Tour by and starring the Beatles could count, but is the movie any good?; Dead Man is mostly just Neil Young making improvisational feedback on a guitar, not up to scale; Ghost Dog from 1999 features mostly original music by RZA, but not exclusively.  Queen really is the first (and only) band to do a complete rock score on this level of mainstream film and for such a colorful one at that.  It's unparalleled.

Back to the record for a second (lest you forget, dear reader, this is a vinyl project), which is a near-perfect album (twelve stars out of five!).  It has amazing songs, plus a good portion of the orchestration (apparently there is an entire other album out there of just Mr. Blake's orchestral score), and to boot it's got loads of dialogue and sound effects interspersed.  When you listen to it end-to-end, it's just like getting the condensed version the film which, frankly, unless you're seeing it on the big screen, is just about the best way to experience Flash Gordon (but definitely see the movie first).

Ming takes his final bow while the band makes as much noise as possible... "FLASH!!!"
Final credits reprise the Ajax battle scene and knock what's left of your teeth out.  There's even lyrics now and more laser beams!

P.S.  The VVers used the Flash Gordon version of Wagner's wedding march for their actual wedding... and it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Cover-Up?

For your listening pleasure, the Vinyl Vagabonds will be playing an entire night of covers at their next listening party on Friday, October 2, from 7-9pm at Bump N' Grind.  Here's a sneak peek as to how the night may go...

Surfin' USA - Beach Boys (Chuck Berry)
This here blog is about cover songs, so why lead in with this one, not even a true cover?  Read: The foundation of the music is a cover of "Sweet Little Sixteen," but the Beach Boys do their own lyrics and significantly developed instrumentation.  Having not owned any other Beach Boys, it was surprising how it really got these swingin' VVers thinking about how artists pay tribute to other artists.  Berry obviously is a huge hero to the rockers of the 60s, so for the Beach Boys to have done a straight cover would have been perfectly cool, but for them to do this wildly different version is downright revolutionary.  At its peak, the Beach Boys' iconic, high pitched harmonizing gives way to an organ solo that quickly mashes into some lovely electric guitar.  Though it's partially a cover, there really is nothing else to compare it to, even now.

Had ta be Playin' on the Jukebox - Rage Against the Machine (Allen Ginsburg) 
Another untrue cover, but does it matter, no.  RATM creates the riffing, but the lyrics are Ginsburg's on this flipside to People of the Sun EP.  The beat poetry slam on the absurdity in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination makes perfect sense piped through the ballistic assault that is RATM.  Though this is in many ways a spoken word track, minus the hip-hop, it's completely relevant to the RATM catalogue in representing their political bent.  Also it's dope to hear Zack de la Rocha lacerating this poem over a psyched-out slow jam.  "WORKING TOGETHER IN CAHOOTS!"  You should listen to this.

Do You Love Me - Nirvana (Kiss) 
This is the only Nirvana song that bassist Krist Novaselic ever split vocal duties on.  He's not cut out for this type of singing, but that in no way stops him from completely going for it.  How does that pan out?  Well, it's kind of awesome in its raunchola.  Thankfully, Cobain helps it along in the right spots with his powerful vocals and entire the Nirvana rhythm section is furiously on point.  The fact that it's a cover of a Kiss song... Kiss sucks.  There, it's out there.  The VVers are not in the Kiss Army.  Something about Nirvana absolutely ruining a Kiss song just makes sense.

Balls to the Wall - Puscifer (Accept)
Not initially knowing it was a cover, VVer #2 thought "Balls to the Wall" was a strange, yet stand-out song included on Puscifer's Donkey Punch the Night EP.  After a chance listen to the early 80's original in the car one night, things started making more sense.  The original version by Accept has a completely metal approach while Puscifer offers two versions: "Pillow Fight Remix" or "Silent Servant El Guapo Mix" both sounding exactly as their remix description describes.  Pillow fight is a fluffy, yet still hard rendition, while the silent is, well, sans lyrics and techno-esque.  The pillow fight remix is the one to hear; the alt-goth take is confident, well produced, and f%$#*^$ing catchy!  Nice work Puscifer!

Strange Moon - APTBS (Dead Moon)
A Place To Bury Strangers takes the obscure Portland, OR band, Dead Moon, and makes it their own.  This EP is drenched in APTBS' full on, echoey, distortion while keeping the garagey sounds of Dead Moon.  What's interesting is that this entire EP is devoted to covering one band (one the VVers had never even heard of).  Usually you might get one cover on an album or an album of all covers, but of multiple artists.  Not here, APTBS crushes their tribute to these 80s/90s unknown punk heros.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Can Let You Go

Second song, "Can't Let You Go," on the 1983 Rainbow album Bent Out of Shape, leads in with nothing but pure, gothic organ (think Phantom of the Opera), then some minor distortion and out of left field comes this glossy, hair metal ballad.  There's no mistaking that 80's drum sound and overwrought vocal style for anything else.  You'll be fist-pumping in your fringed leather vest and jean cut-offs in no time!  Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner belts this one out with cornball bravado that just skims the edge of opera.  It's not that he sounds bad or anything--actually he's got an impressive voice--but the delivery is so dang pretty.  More to the point, Joe Lynn Turner has pretty hair.  You can (and should) check it out in this weird video.  Rainbow founder and leader, Ritchie Blackmore throws in a nice little shredding solo which lends this cut a hint of metal cred.  Unfortunately the solo is a shorty.  Ultimately, the pop-oriented approach with sugary riffs makes this single, amongst others, entirely too catchy.  The rest of the album has a few flourishes here and there, two notable instrumental tracks might get your attention.  Keyboardist David Rosenthal manages to insert some proggy non-Christmastime sounding synths in there, which is no small feat.  For the most part though, the album is only mildly bearable.


Rainbow's Bent Out of Shape may or may not have been a beloved LP, so why do the Vinyl Vagabonds make particular mention of "Can't Let You Go"?  Apparently, the prior owner loved the song as they took the time and care to punch up the lyrics on a typewriter.  The original lyric sheet/sleeve that comes with the album is still intact so that owner ("Tracey Studios" is the signature on the hand typed sheet), must have typed this up for a party or some sort of homework assignment, maybe a karaoke night?  Perhaps she typed it up out of mega-devotion to Rainbow?  Was Miss Studios the world's biggest Rainbow fan?  Maybe Joe Lynn Turner's only stalker?  Either way, this is just the sort of oddball ephemera that tends to turn up when buying (or in this case finding abandoned on the side of the road) random used records.  As amusing as this is, the LP isn't exactly worth holding on to so the VVers can let this go.  Clutter the VVers shelves with your harmless hair metal no longer!

Don't have your own lyrics sheet?  Just sing what you hear.  That's what the VVers do.  For instance take "Desperate Heart," the break-up rocker that starts Bent Out of Shape side-B, where no one will miss a beat when you belt out: "You promised me there would be a food fight!" sung like you are in the band Europe [whoa-oh!].  {Actual lyrics "You promised me there would be no goodbye."}  Seriously, who wouldn't be heartbroken because of the lack of a food fight (or this record)?  Whoa-oh!  No lyric sheet, no problem!  Clearly the VVers need to get themselves a typewriter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Have You Ever Danced with Prince in the Pale Moonlight?

By: The Vagabond Apprentice
I’ve always thought of movie soundtracks by pop musicians to be merely an element of support to the visual medium of film. On the odd occasion I listen to a soundtrack separated from its original purpose, it tends to have a weaker sound; more like an album of unfinished demo tracks or B-sides. I consider it not a normal part of an artist's discography because it rarely matches the experience of a traditional finished release.

This brings me to the Spring 2015 Brooklyn WFMU Record Fair. As I was expertly going through the rows of LPs, like a good vagabond should, I spotted a huge, cropped, solid-gold Batman logo’ed record cover.  I knew immediately it was Prince’s Batman soundtrack to the 1989 Tim Burton smash-hit film.  Don’t you just love those 80’s golden, gaudy colors? (yuck).  For all you young people out there, this film stars Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, and Jack Nicholson (NOT Christian Bale!).  Staring at that record, I was immediately was transformed into my former fourteen year old geek self.

A few Bat-songs I remembered from the film were “Batdance,” “Partyman,” and “Trust.”  I recall thinking back then, that the soundtrack was just another piece of sell-able Bat-merch, along with a million other bat-things, action figures, keychains, mugs, underoos, etc., that Warner Bros. was hawking.   Warner Bros. studio, who produced the DC comic, the movie, and the Prince record, definitely wanted my hard earned paper-route money for the Bat-merch that Bat-summer.

Now, twenty-six years later, I realize how wrong I was.  While the 1989 Batman film has not aged well, the Batman Soundtrack has become a timeless Bat-sterpiece rivaling “Purple Rain.”  Prince went “POW,” “BAM,” and “BIF” on this one!  This album is loaded with those classic Prince deep beats, funky guitars, groovy bass lines, and synthesizer pulses.  For the most part, the songs really don’t have much to do with Batman, comic books, or the movie in general.  Doing some research, I found out that Prince was desperately in need of a hit album at the time, so Warner Bros. persuaded him to change a few lyrics, add a bunch of audio movie quotes clips, and slap on a “Batman” logo cover, so that the album related in some way to the movie.  You can tell though that Prince had fun being part of this Batman tidal wave.  He seems enthusiastic and uninhibited on the album and to this day, he still performs songs off this record at concerts.

Looking at the lyrics sheet, I noticed songs are pseudo-sung by Bruce Wayne, Joker, Vicki Vale, and Gemini.  Who is Gemini you ask?  Gemini is Prince’s alter ego for this record.  Huh?  And in all the marketing for this album, Prince wore a "Gemini" superhero costume that was split down the middle; it had a half Batman outfit and half Joker outfit, which also looked similar to Batman villain, Two-Face’s costume.  Is Prince trying to be a new Batman character?  Is he being conceptual and making a statement that no man can be all good or all evil?  Prince’s birth sign is Gemini (June 7th), does that have anything to do with it?  Your guess is as good as mine.

As with Prince records, the lyrical concepts throughout the LP are mostly about sex, women, love, and partying.  I mean, what does a “Lemon Crush” have to do with Batman?  Absolutely nothing, but it's an amazing, kick-ass song.  Another fascinating stand out is the slow, romantic duet “The Arms of Orion,” sung by Prince and the 80’s Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton.  Usually, Prince’s love songs sound like he’s on the prowl, lusting for a woman, like a tiger lusts for bloody, raw meat.  Not here.  In this song his tone is of true love and being content with his deep affection. It’s a top notch 80’s ballad.  Last but not least, I must talk about “Batdance.”  This bombastic, amazing track is a collage of music and audio movie quote clips that needs to be heard to be believed.  It's electrifying and manic.  Prince also does a guitar solo that rivals former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash on it.  (Don’t forget to check out the “Batdance” music video, Prince and his crew perform the movie in a seven minute interpretive dance.  it is bizarre and super funny.)  If you buy this record, I guarantee you will “Go, go, go with a smile!”

Saturday, August 1, 2015

DJ Night: The Flipside of Summer (because digital B-sides just don't cut it)

(It was too damn hot out to do a fancy logo.)

The Flipside of Summer
(because digital B-sides just don't cut it)

Friday, August 14th 7pm-9pm

Be seen with the Vinyl Vagabonds as they Baffle your Brain by Busting your summer quota of Beautiful B-sides.  Better not Be late! Beat the heat, Be cool, and listen to some lesser-knowns from the Best side of the platter.

This is a free, metro-walkable, all ages, cosmically-relevant music night at Silver Spring's newest (and only) record/coffee shop.  Also, they have an awesome staff, fine adult beverages, and delicious foods for eating.  YES!

Bump 'N Grind
1200 East West Highway,
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910


Be there!
  
  Stuff you probably already know:  
The Vinyl Vagabonds (who are Eric and Sara) is a music and art focused project inspired by the medium of vinyl records, going strong for over six years!  They like all kinds of music and are prone to play just about anything.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Killer Joe's International Discotheque

1965 was a great year for corny but capable dance albums.  The proof?  Welcome to the world of "Killer Joe" who manages to just mildly slay you with his virtuoso musical abilities.  Recorded gently and without a hint of malice by the "Killer Joe Orchestra."  A little research and the VVers discover that the entirety of the music was in fact done by Atlantic Records' serious session men and even more serious record execs of the day.  See, the "King of the Discotheque" isn't a musician at all, but instead a superstar for his skills with the boogie.  At least so says the back cover description.  His job?  Pick the tunes, order of songs, and set the tempo to elicit maximum dance.  Hang with Joe as he manages to not bore you through: the watusi, the monkey, the swim, the "cheek to cheek," the bosa nova, the merengue, the jerk, the cha cha watusi, the hully gully, the mlle (pronounced "millie"), the frug, the shake, the frug (twice with the frug!), and lastly, la bostella.  Yes, "all the new dances to be seen at the chic discotheques in New York, Paris, Washington, or London, where the smart people have fun" are featured here in one handy dandy collection.  Is that Ray Charles?  No, it's not.  It is however a handily done version of "What'd I Say" from the session crew.  Not too shabby, cats!  Pop this platter on and you'll be fruggin' in no time!  As well, "C'mon and Swim" is a tidy little cut for you to swim to - aka - aquatically shake a little of this and that.  You can tell these session pros are having a blast with this Sly Stone penned ditty.  Also, Mr. Joe loves to rock the third-person insertion into the lyrics "look at Killer Joe look at him go," "Killer Joe is one fancy pants, mojo whoa oh," "Go Joe, go and kill it, Joe, you are killin' it," and "she wants to dance with Killer Joe, Millie, she's silly, from Philly." Good luck trying to figure our which of those lyrics are real.

Killer Joe, also known as Frank Piro, winner of the national jitterbug competition of 1942, does it all!  He's got the right moves for every occasion.  However, those who should make the mistake of looking at pictures of Mr. Piro on this record will likely recoil in horror/amusement at his over the rainbow expressions and herky-jerkiness.  "The Jerk" indeed!  One look at this cornball and you will never want to look away.  You are now under his power!!!  Perhaps, at the discotheque, with the lights turned down a bit, it's not as blinding.





Mr. Joe apparently was doing a very important and respectable job of teaching people of a certain means the hip dances of the day as well as generally being a regular on the big-time club scene.  No harm, no foul.  These pics just have not aged well.

P.S. Also, what the hell does this high fidelity thing mean?  The VVers refuse to look this up.  The VVers refuse to learn fancy terminology for turntables.

P.P.S. The Cha Cha Watusi:
"My Girl Sloopy" really just sounds like "I want schmoopy" and in particular, Spanish ham soup, "I want schmoopy, schmoopy jamon."  Singing the wrong lyrics is impossibly catchy to VVer #2, that there's no way this record is dancing its way out of the house anytime soon.  That is what VVer #1 gets for digging around thrift shops and picking up random, horribly covered albums as a joke.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Close But ... Not Even Close

Trying to complete a run of albums by a particular artist is a truly daunting endeavor.  You have to ask yourself a few questions before embarking on such a hazardous quest.  Is the artist still active?  Were albums ever released during a time when vinyl was scarce (early 90s to mid 2000s)?  Did the artist ever "jump the shark" and make music that stank mightily?  Some items to ponder while hunting for those final vinyl vagabonds.

Consider also that completing a collection by an artist can very easily dilute your listening experience.  Every artist has laid at least one egg in their career.  Remember that one?  You know the one.  Why add that mediocre fare to your collection?  As well, storage is most certainly an issue.  How important is it for you to make room for that last LP that you'll never listen to?  Be honest with yourself.

In favor of being a completest?  The concept of listening to an artist's entire catalog has its merits.  Experienced end-to-end it can be quite compelling; even listened to out of order you will gain amazing perspective on their career.  Unless they sober up.  Those albums are usually pretty bad.  Sorry, but it's true.  As well, artists can also get a little off-the-rails with the non-sobriety.  Watch out for those also.  Regardless of the reasons, you are bound to find peaks and valleys in even the most heralded musician's discography.

Where did they record the album?  Was it done on the cheap?  Who produced it and how quickly?  Was there a major label bigwig pressuring the them to do something novel or something they didn't want to do?  How about the final product?  Did the studio chiefs chop it to bits and shoehorn it into a pop-tacular package?  That final product might be arriving at your inner ear after a long, strange trip.  Don't worry, the Vinyl Vagabonds are here to help.

Several examples:

Faith No More - Completing the run of albums by FNM is an interesting idea, but actually getting most of the LPs will make a considerable dent in your wallet.  Each could easily set you back $30 and good luck finding an original pressing!  Why do it?  A back-to-back album listening session lets you hear how the band changed so dramatically along their career--mind blowing!  Totally different lead singer?  Yes.  Totally different sounding same singer?  Yes.  Complete change of guitar sound?  Yes.  Complete change of guitarists?  Yes.  The very first album, We Care A Lot from 1985, sounds as if it was recorded in the Stone Age compared to records from the 90s onward.  That's not a gripe, as the album is crushingly great, warts and all.  The very definition of completion is that if you love a band then the back catalog is must-listen material, no matter who plays on the album.

Kurtis Blow - For the VVers to finally complete this run was painfully difficult because Mr. Blow seriously ran out of creative juice along the way.  The purchase of his last album was something they put off for several years.  One VVer would see it in a store and tap the other on the shoulder, "Are we getting it?"  "I'm scared..."  "Me too."  Why they finally broke down is anybody's guess.  Still, it was an accomplishment and the VVers are willing to own being KB's #1 fans (even though they never listen to Back by Popular Demand--there was no popular demand Mr. Blow, none).

Peter Tosh - All studio albums plus one live album live on the VVer's shelf, spanning 1976's Legalize It to 1987's No Nuclear War.  Of course not all of these are created equal (Equal Rights being the superior, Wanted Dread and Alive, consider the title and draw your own conclusions), but there hasn't been a huge rush to break up the collection.  Still, the VVers should have probably quit while they were ahead.

DEVO - Haha, there are two later records that seem... not interesting.  Why hold off when those are fairly inexpensive and not too hard to come by?  The completest would buy them, but a crappy album can, and should, be avoided.  The VVers are trusting their instincts here.

Talking Heads - The VVers keep avoiding "Ape Face" album, also known as Naked.  All seven other records are accounted for, but not this one.  It could very well be the greatest LP of all, but something about that cover is just creepy.

The Clash - Although only six studio albums, having the complete Clash discography will actually set you back some shelf space, Sandinista! is a triple and London Calling (both of which took some seeking-out and wallet-opening) is a double.  By some strange turn of events, the VVers already had the Clash's least exciting albums, Give 'Em Enough Rope and the horrifyingly dull Cut the Crap in their collection for quite some time.  Those should probably be jettisoned, especially the latter which apparently the producer made most of without the actual band.  While the VVers were recently house cleaning and working on this here write-up, they decided to drop the needle on Cut the Crap since it has literally been years since this platter has seen any action.  The substantial layer of dust that needed to be cleaned off of the record proved that!  After a half-spin, the VVers decided the dust should remain so that this record doesn't get played again.  This blog is helping the VVers cut the crap, out of their collection.

Queen - Do not become a Queen completest.  Most of Queen's albums past the mid 70s are just too full of stadium/radio pop, goofy experiments, and over the top ballads.  Those albums just have way to many gaps.  The exception being the Flash Gordon Soundtrack which is mostly instrumental, just sayin'.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Five out of seven, and only the good ones.  Missing the last two, does it matter?  No.  Done.  This just wrote itself.  Actually, it does matter.  Recently the VVers, against their better judgment, got carried away and picked up Mardi Gras at a local shop, CDepot in College Park.  At the time, it was thought that this was the last album to finish the CCR run.  For a measly $3.99, why not give it a spin?  The VVers will tell you why not: they cringed through about three tracks and decided it was way too country and way not-Fogerty-vocals enough to keep it.  The sly VVers slipped it into Vagabond Apprentice's record bag as he was packing up to head back to New York.  Goodbye bad record!  Banished to another state, hopefully never to be spoke of again.  Not only was it a disappointment that the album was lametastic, but they also discovered there is still one more album to check out, Pendulum.  Pheh, no thanks.

Neil Young - The idea of getting every album by Mr. Young will kill you.  He's recorded around thirty-eight studio LPs to date.  That is not a typo.  That's more shelf space than the entire VVers jazz section.  Don't even think about including his live albums, soundtracks, compilations, or band albums--Buffalo Springfield, CSNY--impossible.  Avoiding being a completest with Neil is actually not that hard.  Some of his LPs just do not appeal.  For example, he's done several straight country albums which are never going to enter the VVers inner sanctum (living room).  He's also been on a recent tear, putting out six albums since 2000.  The modern records (post 1990s) are in no way affordable.  No way!  Now the nice part about trying to track down records from Mr. Young has been seeking out the weirdo ones from the 80s that nobody seems to love.  Many of these albums came out at a time of vinyl abundance.  Therefore, these fun finds, particularly Landing on Water being a strange standout, are very affordable.

Completalest in Summararium (that's Latin you know)

Molto Bene (that's actually Italian):
  • Get a full picture of the artist.
  • Bragging rights of owning every release (this actually might not be a good thing).
  • Satisfying your inner-completest-ness (curiosity).
Molto Male:
  • Find yourself buying records that are not good, diminishing love for that artist (can also be funny).
  • Take up precious real estate on the shelf.
  • No money left for snacks.