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Records: The Mountain Goats & Kaki King’s Black Pear Tree EP (2008) on black vinyl, Tom Jones featuring Tori Amos’ “I Wanna Get Back With You” (1994 (P)/1995 (C)) on black vinyl, and a remastered and expanded version of Minus the Bear’s They Make Beer Commercials Like This (2008) on rainbow vinyl.
Place of Purchase: Black Pear Tree EP was purchased on The Mountain Goats and Kaki King’s “The Last Happy Night of Your Life” tour Fri., Nov. 7, 2008 at the TLA in Philadelphia. The “I Wanna Get Back With You” single was a gift from my significant other, Joe Pelone. They Make Beer Commercials Like This was purchased at Repo Records.
Quality: There is absolutely nothing more divine then playing Black Pear Tree EP on your record player on an overcast, cold, and rainy Saturday morning. The vocal quality is impeccable. I love the haunting and sad sounds of the piano, organ, bells, and lesser guitars, which at times echo like you are sitting in a big cold room with John Darnielle. I love the sound of keys being pressed and the organ taking breaths. (I have created my own photograph for the making of “Black Pear Tree.”) Then, when Kaki King plays, really rocking only on “Mosquito Repellant” (still acoustically) I can hear her fingers progressing to each new string. I kind of hope that John Darnielle will use Scott Solter and Baucom Road in Monroe, North Carolina forever. Note: If you dislike TMG, you will still love this EP. And if you dislike Kaki King, as I did, you will still love this EP.
I get excited every time I take They Make Beer Commercials Like This out of its sleeve. I have to admit this is mostly for aesthetic reasons as this album is my least favorite Minus the Bear release. It’s just so damn pretty on rainbow vinyl! I’m not certain the remastering makes this record significantly better, but maybe that’s because I’m spoiled by digitally remastered music often (and by my favorite artists). I can say on track one, “Fine + 2 Points,” I do notice a low end I did not previously hear and still cannot really hear on the digital version of this song. The guitars, electronics, and keyboards still sound very Minus the Bear; that is, they sound generally exquisite. I can appreciate the intricacy of their music more on tracks like “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien” and “Pony Up!”. Last, it’s always cool to get a bonus track from an artist you adore.
I could have easily picked the “God” single Joe got me as my favorite single for this list. But, instead I picked Tom Jones’ “I Wanna Get Back With You” featuring Tori Amos because this has a much more interesting story. I knew about the “God” single on vinyl, and thought I knew everything about every one of Tori’s releases (or releases on which Tori is featured. I have two versions of the “Blue Skies” single by BT featuring Tori Amos!). Yet, Joe totally blew my socks off with this one. I had no idea that she sang a song with Tom Jones in ’94 or’95! Honestly, when I listen to this single, I only listen to the Tori Amos track because I think Tom Jones is laughable. It’s kind of a lot of effort to go to when you play just one track from a vinyl album, but totally worth it because it’s so rare and has such meaning for me that Joe would find this for me.