Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 2/17

[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. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: Nico’s The Marble Index (1969) on black, Prince’s Dirty Mind (1980) on black, and Radish’s “Little Pink Stars” (1997) single on clear with pink glitter.

Place of Purchase: Um… all three came from eBay.

Thoughts: I’d like to discuss Nico’s The Marble Index by telling a story that has nothing to do with that album, at least on the surface. Freshman year of college, my good buddy Eric Crack, of the rockin’ punk band The Next Big Thing, were visiting record shops in Philadelphia when we stepped into the now-departed Spaceboy Music. As much I dug their selection, the dudes there were kinda pretentious, and the music usually followed suit. The highlight on this particular occasion was a song that played the entire time we were there (20 minutes or so). A man rambled about holding his father’s skull while a harmonium or maybe a Moog (I don’t remember; this was like five years ago) screeched along. So it was 20 minutes of “And I beheld a skull” *DEE DEE DEEEEE* “It was my father’s skull” *DEEEEEEEE DOOOOO DOOO DOO DEEEEE*.

That’s kind of what I think about Nico’s The Marble Index, except with female vocals. But I’m still giving it an honest effort. I kind of dug her Velvet Underground and David Bowie covers on Drama of Exhile, but right now I feel like I’ve become everything I swore to destroy.

But while avant-garde electronic music is my guilty pleasure, I feel no guilt whatsoever for my love of Prince. Dude wrote a ton of awesome songs about sex, politics, and sexual politics. Dirty Mind is as far back as I’ve gone in his discography, and I think this is probably a good stopping point. The title track announces the album as a hot and heavy, somewhat minimalist record. It’s primarily driven by drums and synth – both played by Prince, with some help from Dr. Fink – and it deals with sexy sex. “When You Were Mine,” which Cyndi Lauper did a solid job with a couple of years later with She’s So Unusual, is about gettin’ cheated on, but Prince, as always, turns the pain of not getting effed into an infectious pop ditty (Have you heard “If I Was Your Girlfriend?”). The flipside is what got Prince into trouble. “Head” is an insanely frenetic ode to blowjobs – the music makes you realize how much the dude likes ’em. “Sister” was also controversial due to its depiction of, um, uh, errrr… incest. Yeah, I don’t know what it’s here either. For an album that celebrates like, 23 positions in a one night stand, “Sister” is the one that makes me blush. But then “Partyup,” an anti-war tune, kicks in and, in complete defiance of the album’s theme, gets all types of political.

In some ways, I think I love Ben Kweller more than the bands he’s been inspired by (my beloved Nirvana and Weezer). At this point, he’s released more solid albums than the Weez, and for a while there, I was obsessed with collecting all of his older, out-of-print stuff. Sometimes it paid off (Freak Out… It’s Ben Kweller); sometimes it didn’t (Radish’s Restraining Bolt has like three good songs). It’s been interesting for me to go through his discography and realize how many of his songs emerged during his teen years. As awful as some of the Radish material is, there are some fantastic nuggets scattered around. Case in point: the “Little Pink Stars” single. “Stars” is one of the good ’dish ditties, very much in the Nirvana vein. The flipside is a demo of “Make It Up,” which later showed up on BK’s 2002 solo full-length Sha Sha. The lyrics are a little goofier, with references to Star Wars, but the structure is there. Basically, regardless of how Radish did, BK was always on track to write my most beloved pop songs.


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