Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 8/25/2010

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it usually turns out that way. This week’s entry is kind of death-themed, because that’s where I’m at right now. So uh… yeah. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: The Call’s Modern Romans (1983) on black, Jets to Brazil’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary (1998) on black, and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’s Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) on black.

Place of Purchase: The Call came from the Philadelphia Record Exchange. JtB was purchased from some dude in Japan, which weirdly enough is where I’ve gotten most of my Jade Tree vinyl, I think. Darkness either came from Disc World in Conshohocken or Geeks and Gawds in Ambler (R.I.P. either way).

Thoughts: My girlfriend rocks a deluxe cable TV package, so we watch a ton of VH1 Classic at her place. Periodically they do an ’80s video marathon. It’s two-thirds crapshoot, one-third awesome. For every “Solid as a Rock” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” they occasionally slip in something like “The Walls Came Down” by The Call. It’s an infectious, vaguely post-punk song, powered by frontman Michael Been’s voice, which reminded me then and still reminds me now of David Byrne’s pipes. Been is the reason I think of The Call as a more straightforward version of Talking Heads. Been recently passed away while on tour with his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I can’t say I was the biggest Call fan out there, but I still mourn his family’s loss all the same. Check out Modern Romans sometime for a solid ’80s rock effort.

The rest of this post is about my cousin Michael, who recently passed away. The last time I saw him, we talked about music, just like we always did. One of the bands we talked about was Jets to Brazil. Mike had always preferred Jawbreaker, but that night JtB was our focus. We’d had this argument before. I pushed Perfecting Loneliness as their best album; Mike stood by Orange Rhyming Dictionary. Mike used to argue that it was their best because it sounded the most like Jawbreaker, but that night he actually pushed for the songs. I want to find some sort of commentary in which songs we prefer. My favorite Dictionary cut has always been the closer, “Sweet Avenue.” It’s a love song that’s really dear to me. Mike’s favorite song was one track prior, “I Typed For Miles.” They’re jarring when played next to each other, perhaps intentionally so. “Sweet Avenue” is about finding value in life through love; “I Typed For Miles” is about being alone and freaked out and just loathing everything about yourself. Mike loved that song, and his reasons were all valid: The guitar tone is amazing, the lyrics are biting, and it really is intense when frontman Blake Schwarzenbach screams “You keep fucking up my life” over and over and over.

The Pelone men love Springsteen. Mike’s favorites changed a lot – I remember him being obsessed with The River for a while. He went through an intense Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. phase. And everybody knows Born to Run and Nebraska are awesome. Born in the U.S.A. was always forbidden in Mike’s house, but Darkness on the Edge of Town was a constant pick. Springsteen’s discography can oscillate wildly emotionally, but Darkness does a good job capturing all of his sentiments. “Badlands” is still one of his best songs, and it kicks off the record with a steady beat and throaty vocals. “Adam Raised a Cain” is almost an anti-anthem, one of the most dissonant, punk songs Springsteen ever wrote. It’s an anomaly, both for this album and for Springsteen’s discography in general, but that chorus is so ugly yet commanding all the same. Other songs are a little more genial, like “Prove It All Night” and “The Promised Land.” Mike had a fondness for Springsteen’s quieter songs – “The River” and “Nebraska” got plenty of play, and the same could be said for “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” which closes out the album. It’s such a sad song. Here’s an excerpt from the second verse:

“Everybody’s got a secret, sonny / Something that they just can’t face / Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it / They carry it with them every step that they take / Till someday they just cut it loose / Cut it loose or let it drag ’em down / Where no ones asks any questions / Or looks too long in your face / In the darkness on the edge of town.”

Live it’s a lot more furious than forlorn:

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