Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 1/6

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it kinda is. Since Picasso Blue is posting the top 100 albums of the decade this week – 20 a day ya’ll – VV will be looking at three of those picks on wax. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: Big D and The Kids Table’s Strictly Rude (2007) on black and white, Flogging Molly’s Swagger (2000) on clear green, and Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros’ Streetcore (2003) on black.

Place of Purchase: Strictly Rude came from the kinda sketchy Springman Records. Swagger was purchased at Repo Records in Philadelphia. Streetcore was the hardest to track down; I eventually overpaid to get it on eBay.

Thoughts: Given that these all ended up on the My Decade in Music list, you can imagine how much I love each of these albums. I’m pretty selective in my ska tastes, but man oh man do I love Big D and The Kids Table almost unconditionally. Strictly Rude is my favorite D album overall. It’s the most dub-influenced, marking the beginning of the end for the band’s punk influence. It was a bitch getting the album on vinyl – Springman “forgot” to mail it for about five months – but once it finally came, my anger gave way to joy, as I dropped my needle on tracks like “Souped-Up Vinyl,” “Try Out Your Voice,” and vinyl exclusive “Halfway Home,” which is one of my favorite D songs ever. Which reminds me; I still have to buy Fluent in Stroll on wax.

A lot of people compare ’em to the Pogues (Celtic folk + punk rock), but I’ve always preferred Flogging Molly. Their debut, Swagger, remains their best album, although last year’s Float is a close second. Plus, their whole discography is worth owning, so ranking the albums seems a little beside the point. Still, though, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to recapture the thrill of hearing Irish stompers like “Salty Dog” or “Devil’s Dance Floor” again. As an Irish-American teen with a love of punk, Swagger struck a couple dozen chords with me, combining two sounds I was familiar with (Irish folk and punk) into something completely different. I’ve since heard several other bands/albums in that same vein, and save for Rum Sodomy & the Lash, they’ve all been a waste of my time. The previously mentioned celebratory tracks mix so well with sadder songs like “The Worst Day Since Yesterday” and “Life in a Tenement Square” that Swagger fits pretty much any mood I’m in.

While I already owned The Clash’s The Singles prior to ’03, Streetcore was my real indoctrination into the world of Strummerville. I originally got a promo CD of it from Sam Goody, my place of employment at the time, and picked up the vinyl pressing a few years later. I received a picture disc seven-inch of “Coma Girl” backed with a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” in the mail today, so I think it’s pretty clear how much I love Strummer, The Mescaleros, and this album. “Coma Girl,” a love letter to touring with his daughter, is the best song Strummer finished for Streetcore before passing away Dec. 22, 2002. But the album doesn’t let up from there, alternating between heavy dub thumpers like “Get Down Moses” and acoustic demos like “Redemption Song.” If “Coma Girl” is the penultimate “happy” song of the Mescaleros’ catalogue, then closing track “Silver and Gold” is the saddest. Strummer covered the tune on a four-track for the heck of it, promising to “kiss all the pretty girls” and live life to the fullest before remarking “But I got to hurry up / Before I grow too old.” Even though he made it to 50 (and, uh, wrote freaking London Calling), I still feel like Strummer was cut down in his prime, and a fourth Mescaleros disc remains one of my most wanted/impossible wishes.

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