Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There is something more to Record Store Day than long lines and overpriced albums.

Or so I said as I stepped into Record Theatre (one of Buffalo, New York's only 2 record stores), and saw a line at the register that snaked through the store, winding to the back wall, coiled around corridors of records, and seemed to go out the back door infinitely.

No way am I standing in this line, I said. And immediately, savage customers were scooping up a pink vinyl split 45rpm single of The Flaming Lips and Mastodon's recordings of The Lips' "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton". And there were only a few left. So I scooped up mine, defended it like a precious living thing against my chest, and an armful or records later, was the last son of a bitch in line.

We seemed a gloomy bunch, standing in line like they were handing out bread to poor people. It wasn't the festive, prize giveaway, raffles-galore, bargains! bargains! bargains! day described on the web sites. It felt more like waiting in line for Catholic Communion when you know you've sinned since your last confession.

The young and accomplished guitar band playing live in the store got little response from us when they finished a song. We were all holding records and had no use of our hands to applaud. I said as much to the kid guitarist when they finished their set and he informed me that he and his band, "were fucking great!", in case I hadn't noticed.

It was murder as the line inched through the store and every few feet a prominently displayed record screamed "Buy Me! Buy Me!". It was all I could do to get out of that store with my budget only shattered.

I feel obligated to go into a record store on Record Store Day. It's a commercial but earnest holiday championing one of my favorite past times. I like to consider it as a prep race for the upcoming Free Comic Book Store Day.

The other Buffalo record store is Spiral Scratch Records, so I ventured out to their new location on the West Side. Compared to Record Theatre, Spiral Scratch looks like a soup kitchen. Wedged in a trendy architecturally hip neighborhood next to a swanky Italian restaurant, coming upon the storefront is like being whisked suddenly away to a cheap laundromat where they cash checks.

And that's its appeal. It's a small, cool and comfortable store with a downstairs "dungeon" where local bands play. I caught a bit of solo artist Bill Nehill's performance and he was rather brilliant in a slow introspective "life in Buffalo sucks" set that recalled a young Tom Waite. Nehill is also the bartender and promoter at Buffalo's legendary rock club, Mohawk Place.

So the records. Like I need more fucking records -

I bought a RSD exclusive copy of Genesis' Spot The Pigeon. It's an EP (less # of songs than a regular album) that includes songs recorded during the Wind and Wuthering sessions in 1977, but weren't included on that album. It's been in spotty, limited release ever since.

And I bought a RSD split pink vinyl 7-inch of The Flaming Lips' "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton", with band Mastadon on the flip side doing  (what seems on one listen) an unimaginative version of the song.

I also bought a RSD exclusive 7-inch by The Blues Project, beloved late 1960s psych-blues-rock band that features two live recordings, never before on vinyl, of the band playing at Howard Solomon's Cafe Au Go Go in New York City in 1965. It has the original Verve Folkways label on the vinyl and looks very vintage and cool. The record's A side, "Parchman Farm" is eclectic in its hippie minded fusion of rock, blues and folk.

And a new, sealed copy of Son, Ambulance's double album, Someone Else's Deja Vu, complete with a cool psychedelic poster and fake credit card with a code for a free download of the album. I first heard them on their split album with Bright Eyes, Oh Holy Fools. They hail from Omaha, Nebraska. If Big Brother doesn't swoop down on my blog you can hear "Juliet's Son" from the album on the widget at the top of this post.

And a nice used copy of Elton John's 11-17-70, a live recording from 1970 of a small rock 'n roll show at a New York City radio station studio with a very young Elton John and a roomful of howling fans. I saw Elton John early in his career and it's a reminder that he used to rock. His concert at the old Buffalo Auditorium, I believe, is the first concert I ever saw. I was a child wondering why the people all around me were smoking funny smelling cigarettes.

And a used record with a beautiful and shiny vinyl sheen of The Friends of Mr. Cairo by Jon & Vangelis (that's Jon Anderson of Yes and Chariots of Fire film composer Vangelis). It's a 1981 record with a killer title track that merges Hollywood nostalgia with progressive rock. There is a shortened version of the song on the widget at the top of this post.

With these last two album purchases I've reached my goal of repurchasing every record I've ever owned.

Till next year, wax nostalgia!

there's nothing i can do to stop a corporate swine from adding commercialism to various words on my blog.