Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 9/15/2010

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

Records: The Blasters’ Over There--> Live at the Venue, London (1982) on black, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant (1967) on black, and The Psychedelic Furs’ The Psychedelic Furs (1980) on black.

Place of Purchase: Blasters was inherited from my folks (I know, right?), Guthrie was a gift from high school friends, and I scored the Furs from Siren Records. In fact, almost all of my Furs records came from there.

Thoughts: My parents’ record collection is weird. Some of it makes sense for baby boomers – Beatles, Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel. My mom’s love of rock extended into Alice Cooper, while my dad loved softer fare like Don McLean and Bread. I think this is where I got my dichotomous listening habits. It’s why I love The Mountain Goats and early Bright Eyes, but also Baroness and Fugazi. Even with that in mind, I have no idea how my folks got into rockabilly. Sure, they’ve also got that Stray Cats record with “Rock This Town” on it, but so does anyone who was alive in the early ’80s. Blasters are a different story. They weren’t the biggest of the rock revivalists, although they were certainly prominent. Anything with Dave Alvin on it is worth hearing. I respect the hell out of him for his involvement with The Knitters and X. And this live set from the U.K. is rip-roaring retro rock of the highest pedigree. I guess what I’m trying to say is I can’t believe my parents are… cool? I mean, this came out on Slash Records.

Interestingly, while my folky parents were into The Blasters, my punk rock best friends Tim and Christen were the ones who introduce me to Arlo Guthrie (Then again, they also smoked an awful lot of weed). “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” takes up the entire A side [NOTE: I just realized that this song wasn’t just called “Alice’s Restaruant”], and it’s delightfully anti-authoritarian. Over warm, gentle blues-tinged guitar, Guthrie tells a sarcastic story about how he was arrested for littering, and because of that incident wasn’t allowed to enlist in the army and kill folks over in Vietnam. I’m kind of ruining the story – all facts, no flavor – but you just have to listen to the song, which clocks in at 18:20. It’s funny, it’s rambling, and it has such a catchy chorus when Guthrie remembers to sing it. “The Motorcycle Song,” from the B side, was later used in G.I. Joe.

I love The Psychedelic Furs. While Talk Talk Talk remains my favorite of their albums, their self-titled debut delivers excellent, muted, vaguely post-punk gems. I got into the band through a trio of Furs covers: Dresden Dolls cover of “Pretty in Pink,” Jawbreaker’s version of “Into You like a Train,” and Foo Fighters’ take on “Sister Europe” from the deluxe edition of One By One. So it was Foo Fighters who inspired me to track down the original version of “Sister Europe,” which appears here. It’s a high point for this record, although it hardly represents the Furs discography overall. In fact, when I saw them play it live, it was somewhat out of place with the slicker pop songs they wrote later in their career. Anyway, good record.

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