Another wonderful weekend. On Monday, took all the music I was bored with and all the books I'm fed up with or will never finish reading (have a real attention-span problem with fiction right now) to Half-Price Books in Tacoma and turned it all in for cash. There wasn't actually that much to turn in, just a box-full, hardly anything compared to previous trips. And though the place was jammed -- everybody in town seemed to have the same idea, and the buy-counter was piled high with trade-ins -- it was worth the trip. Even found half a dozen good cheap vinyl albums in Half-Price's $1-or-less Clearance bin. There are some real bargains in there, if you don't mind digging and maybe getting a little dirty. However, the pickin's in the full-price music bins were kinda thin....
Then took the cash to Tacoma's Hi-Voltage Records, still my favorite record store despite their occasionally OUTRAGEOUS prices. They hadn't updated their bargain bin since the last time we were there (a week ago) -- but out in the big (and expensive) vinyl room, they had several boxes full of $3 jazz albums, and I found a few spacey things in there -- Return to Forever, Stomu Yamashta, etc.
After that, started going through the expensive-vinyl bins, which I still haven't picked clean of stuff I can afford. But the PRICES! FIFTY BUCKS for a vinyl copy of Miles Davis's LIVE EVIL?! Man, is someone gonna be disappointed. $30 for Miles's ON THE CORNER? Sure it was ahead of its time, but.... I also discovered that if I ever want to pay off the mortgage, copies of Gryphon's five imported albums run from $25 to $35. But I'm not giving mine up.
(One of the guys at Hi-Voltage's competitor a mile down the street, Golden Oldies, agreed that Hi's prices are sometimes off the charts, but he added that "If you're looking for something a little off-the-wall, there's a pretty good chance that you'll find it there." "But at what scary price?" I asked. Golden Oldies has VERY reasonable prices ... but you can browse through everything in the store in 15 minutes or less.)
Did find a few things. First two Byrds albums packaged together for $13 -- a bargain, considering they were selling separately for $15 each. First two Kansas albums cheap. Argent's first. Couple Anthony Phillips solo albums (early guitarist for Genesis). Journey's DREAM AFTER DREAM, Kayak's STARLIGHT DANCER, Jethro Tull's BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST, The Nice's ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS. Renaissance's AZURE D'OR for less than $6. (Really Bad Prog will be making its return soon.)
On the way home, listened to a blues album The Girlfriend found -- Bob Margolin's DOWN IN THE ALLEY. Some pretty rockin' stuff on there, with excellent guitar and piano work: "Boogie at Midnight" is straight out of the '50s, "Tough Times" is funny, "While You're Down There" is mildly raunchy and funny, and maybe best of all "Boston Driving Blues," which is about how tough you have to be to drive in Boston. Hilarious. I don't remember "All Blues" ever playing THAT.
After getting back home (and much of Tuesday), put some of this new stuff on the stereo. Argent's "Dance in the Smoke" is pretty freaking awesome, with a great build-up. It was so good I played it a couple more times over the evening. Best new music I've heard recently. Their "Liar" isn't too far off from Three Dog Night's cover version, either. I continue to think these guys were underrated.
Anthony Phillips's work on THE GEESE AND THE GHOST and PRIVATE PARTS AND PIECES seems to be mostly low-key guitar works, pleasant but very quiet. I had hopes for a piece called "Tibetan Yak-Music," but it turned out to be a 12-string showcase, pretty and very inoffensive. Nice background music.
The Byrds' "The World Turns All Around Her" still sounds great, and I tried a few other things I hadn't heard before -- "Oh Susanna" is kinda funny, and "Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe" is fun (all the hardships you go through just make you prettier, gorgeous). But I couldn't take "We'll Meet Again" -- had to put on The Turtles' version right afterward to wash the Byrds' downbeat version away.
The first side of Genesis's NURSERY CRYME is pretty cool -- Peter Gabriel makes a good Creepy Old Man in "The Musical Box." "Return of the Giant Hogweed" is also fun -- but they were very show-offy here. I was also surprised by how clear the production was. Much less muddy than I expected. Wonder what happened on FOXTROT?
Continuing with Peter Gabriel, both "D.I.Y." and "On the Air" from PG2 are interesting -- what surprised me most on these PG tracks was I didn't mind his voice. Maybe I'm getting over it, finally.
For contrast, turned to two tracks from Genesis's ABACAB -- "Like it or Not" and "Keep it Dark," which I hadn't heard in awhile. "Like it or Not" now sounds like a blueprint for Phil Collins's whole solo career -- strange that bassist Mike Rutherford wrote it....
Then turned to Jethro Tull. The Girlfriend has a block about Tull almost as big as her block with The Beatles. But she survived "the good parts version" of SONGS FROM THE WOOD (title song, "Ring Out Solstice Bells," "The Whistler," "Fire at Midnight" and -- yes, for contrast -- "Pibroch") edited by yours truly, and she didn't complain when I followed it up with Side 2 of MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. Of course she was blogging and maybe a little distracted by then....
I finished off with Tangerine Dream's "Monolight" from ENCORE -- still sounds great. I gotta get some more of their stuff....
(On a previous trip to Hi-Voltage, found a two-CD best-of by English folkie John Martyn -- SWEET LITTLE MYSTERIES -- that was worth $12. Despite that he was an old buddy of Nick Drake's, I'd never heard Martyn before. "May You Never" and "Solid Air" are especially nice, I like his smokey voice and sometimes-slurred vocals, and there's a nice long guitar instrumental, "Glistening Glyndebourne." There is also more nice vocal stuff that may take more listenings. Some of the later stuff gets so jazzy it almost loses form, and by the time I got to the title song, I thought John could fit in on '80s adult-contemporary radio....)
Of course, all this listening is going toward finishing that Strange Music book I've been writing in my head for 20-some years. More updates will be coming in the near-future.