Friday, August 27, 2010

Grateful Live

Writing about The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Kingfish, RatDog or any other related spinoffs is a daunting task. With a ‘Dead’ career spanning 30 years, and another 15 for the surviving members, the momentum of the Grateful Dead and their devoted ‘Deadhead’ fan base have continued to release and catalogue almost a half decade of live material. The Grateful Dead were notorious for allowing bootleggers to tap right into the soundboard to create next to perfect recordings. They were always on tour. Though this leaves an endless supply of material for the obsessed fan to collect, many piss-poor recordings have surfaced throughout the years. Hopefully this will act as a ‘primer’ for the fans of live Dead material.

There are 3 rules to collecting live Grateful Dead:

1. CHOOSE YOUR TOUR WISELY: Like any band with a long career, The Grateful Dead underwent some musical changes despite their commitment to the classic ‘Psych’ sound. I would stay away from most of their shows from the late 70’s if you are just getting into the band. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely produced fantastic performances then, but their disco sound didn’t live up to the free acid jams that were present in the early 70’s.

I would suggest: 1969 in Central Park, 1970 at the ‘Action House’, and May 1970 at the Fillmore East. Fantastic shows with UNREAL sound. Shows from 64-66 were under the name ‘Warlock’, and definitely possess a more ‘Psychedelic’ sound to their later jam-based set.

2. CHOOSE THE RECORD LABEL WISELY: Many Grateful Dead bootlegs were pressed under nameless labels. Encouraging fans to bootleg dropped the value of many bootlegs, so beware of poor quality recordings. If possible, give them a listen. Many of the covers possess a two-tone photocopied cover, often referred to as a ‘insert cover’. Beware of the run-off groove! Some poorly made bootlegs have run-off grooves spilling onto the label- which would DESTROY your stilus.

Bootleg labels I recommend (not just for Dead shows): Takrl, TMOQ (Trade Mark of Quality), Smilin Ears Records, K&S Records, Edgard Kuabande…

3. USE YOUR EARS: Listen to a few shows from different years and make up your mind. When I was getting into the dead a friend made me a cassette with a few clips from a few different shows. It gave the a wide spread of Dead to choose from and I’m thankful for it.

Happy Digging, Deadheads!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My First 'Wall'

I've been collecting for 7 years. That said, I collected a few LP's in high school, but it wasn't until I was part way through university when I realized the difference of sound in vinyl. I became particular about pressings and began digging day and night. Here's to 7 years of obsessive digging- My first wall of records! I'm sure when I move in a few years this will locate to a larger wall which will only need more records to make it feel 'adequate'.

I should mention that I have several hundred more, but they are doubles in the closet. Not to mention my Metallica shelf and my 45's. Oh boy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Label Feature - Relapse Records Pt. 1

Relapse Galore is right; I just got back from picking up a lot of about 40 Metal records shipped by one of my favourite traders -Qua1l.

The Majority of these LP's I already owned in one incarnation or another, but relapse records are known for doing many limited runs as well as several different back to back pressings of the exact same album. I will admit that this post is going to be picture heavy, but by the looks of these albums I doubt you will mind.
This post kicks off a new section for my blog titled 'Label Feature' where I feature a particular label in some form or another. By the looks of starting with Relapse, I assume this may end up showcasing a band at a time.

I am going to throw in several pressings I already owned so you can see some of the down right beautiful pieces that have been available from their catalogue. Mastodon have been around for 10 years-though you may only just heard of them (or maybe this is your introduction). Regardless, they are talented and creative enough for me to dedicate a post to their albums. Relapse Records (a leading metal label) have been producing some of the most stunning coloured, clear, and splatter LP's for years. Though my Mastodon collection isn't the largest, it gives a basic understanding of the appeal of collecting relapse LP's.

Here are 3 copies of Grammy nominated 'Blood Mountain'. The Red and Blue copies were released this year on 'Record Store Day' (limited to 1350 each) and the White (limited to 1000) is the second pressing from 2006 when they sold out the first pressing immediately.
Their latest album 'Crack the Skye' is fantastic. The splatter to the left is a limited run of only 650 that sold out online in a few days. To the far right you see a red/yellow/gold splatter which was sold on tour (along side a green splatter, equally as hard to get).
The Gold, Green, and Black 'Laviathan' are all part of the latest reissue series, which are housed in a beautiful gatefold with a very thick spine. The Blue/White marbled LP is a second press, limited to 500 copies (Very Rare!)
Both of these copies of 'Remission' are double LP's and early pressings. Which pressing they are is unknown, though I believe the blue is a second and the green is the third pressing.
Divinations Picture disc, Original Call of the Mastodon Blue LP and the Crystal Skull 45(Rad clear pressing).

If you have any comments- Please post them! I am confused on a few of the pressings, so please fill me in if I have them wrong. The next Relapse feature will likely be on Baroness, though the next label feature will be on....CTI!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's just an autograph...

I'll be the first to admit that I've never been star struck. My mind always wanders to 'I wish I could have met' (Fill in the blank with a dead musician here), but rarely wanting to meet a high profile band.

When people come to visit me and peruse through my collection, they are always shocked at just how many signed LP's and CD's I have. Some of them I have purchased this way, though many have been from striking up a conversation with a band, often months if not years before they 'made it big'. To me an autographed album is another notch on the items history. The autograph may bring the value up quite a bit, it is the story associated with the autograph that is exciting. Below are some of my autographs for you to peruse at your leisure. Though I have many more signed albums, hopefully the stories associated with these items will show why I have selected them.

The Dears will never make it big. With music that's too avant-garde for the average radio station, not avant garde enough for Zappa or Bungle fans, they have never found an audience. I adore their arrangements. I have seen them 13 times, and here are a few fully autographed items from their tours (6 members can be tough to track down after a show!) They are from Montreal, Canada, and their performances are legendary in the Canadian alt-rock scene.

I own 17 items autographed by Metallica. Having been a Metallica completest for as long as I have been collecting, having a slew of autographed items from each of their line-ups is a must. Though I am not going to post each and every item I have autographed of theres, here are a few that excite me to no end. The first is the Greek pressing of ...And Justice For All. It is a tough pressing to find, let alone fully autographed by the Jason line up.

This is a 7" single from ...And Justice titled Eye of the Beholder. This was when they started using legendary punk artist PUSHEAD to do their t-shirts and merchandise. This cover features mock-ups of each of their eyes, and each member of Metallica signed their own eye! The final signature is my ticket stub from when I briefly met Lars after my third time seeing them in 2004. It was my first Metallica autograph, and it means the world to me. Check out my Sister site:

Anthrax joins Metallica is my collection of Thrash Metal autographs. Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer collectively comprise what fans and critiques have coined as 'the big four'; The originators of Thrash. 'Persistence of Time' and 'Among the Living' are my two favourite Anthrax albums, and though I did not get these signed personally, finding them signed by the original line-up is tough. Joey Belladonna is the original signer for Anthrax, and is widely considered more creative than many Thrash front men who have since lead the genre. Josh Bush replaced Joey in the 90's and performed on their semi alternative album 'Volume 8: The Threat is Real'. Though this was a departure from their classic sound, it's still worth checking out.

When it comes to Electronica I have always been drawn to the originators of the field(Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Claus Shultz,). The 90's saw a slew of electronic-oriented bands arriving as household names, and artists like Fat Boy Slim, The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method earned their due credit. Seen is a fully autographed double 12" single by The Crystal Method titled 'Community Service II'. I was originally drawn to this single because of their unique interpretation of New Order's 'Bizarre Love Triangle'. Though The Crystal Method only has two members, this album features 3 autographs! Ken Jordan signed it twice, as the first signing didn't turn out the way he liked. You would be shocked to find out how often an artist does this.

Flo Mournier from Cryptopsy comes in as one of the few CD's you will find on this blog. For those interested in Death, Tech-Death, or Early Grind, Canadian Cryptopsy were early pioneers of these genres, mainly thanks to Flo. Flo is the fastest drummer I have ever seen, and I got this cover and insert autographed by him at a clinic he delivered in Kingston, Ontario of all places. 'Once Was Not' was the last album with their singer 'Lord Worm', and many consider this to mark the end of Cryptopsy's career (Subsequent releases got, well, 'New Metal'). On this album Flo plays so fast that his double bass notes blend together to sound like wind. A must have, even for the novelty!

Nothing says Hardcore like EARTH CRISIS! As bands began experimenting with the crossover genre 'hardcore' (A mixture of Metal and Punk), few have lasted as long as Earth Crisis. This Vegan, Strait Edge band from Syracuse just reunited 2 years back to release a LP and tour extensively. Here are three 45's I got them to sign when I met them this past March. The band were extremely friendly, and their willingness to speak to fans speaks volumes on their character. Earth Crisis' dedication to their music and lifestyle is inspiring, and any fan of this genre should at least give them a listen.

I have a love/hate relationship with Dream Theater. I love them because they are talented. Graduates from both Berkeley and Juliard, Dream Theater have risen to the top of Progressive Metal's field by creating a new breed of accessible, yet technically brilliant music. Though their latest album (Black Clouds and Silver Linings) was a huge let down, Train of Thought, Scene from a memory, and Awake still remain some of my favourite albums from this Genre. My main qualm with D.T. is their lack of ability to demonstrate a point in less then 10 minutes. This fully autographed CD comes from the their tour of 'Train of Thought' and contains plenty of variations of classic studio tracks. I got this signed before a Toronto show 3 years back; still one of my favourite sets of sigs. Very nice guys as well!

I hate Weezer. I have never liked their music, their image, nor their spastic bat with popularity. I do love the look of these sigs on this LP, though! If anyone has their Blue Album, the only Weezer LP I like, I would gladly trade this fully autographed LP for an original Blue (autographed, or not).

This fully signed album by The Tea Party was luckily found at a local CD shop in Toronto for 7 bucks! The signatures look so good they might have mistaken them for a print (Hence the price!) I have always wondered how at item like this ends up in a CD store. Obviously it was sold to the store for less than $7, or the store wouldn't have made a profit on it. At one point a fan was so enthralled by the band that they decided to stick around after a show for a set of autographs. A few years later this album was worth less that $5 bucks to them.

Mike Patton is a musician that deserves the respect that he never received. Ex-singer of alt Metal band Faith No More, Patton has continued to wow his fans by his vast array of vocal stylings, by fronting Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, 3 Solo albums, Peeping Tom, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Tomahawk, The Executioners, as well as guest sang on over 100 albums from bands ranging from Jazz to Death Metal, or from Punk to Noise-core. Here is a ticket stub including Patton and Buzz Osborne's(of the Melvin's) autograph, both as they were in Fantomas. Slayer Drummer Dave Lombardo was around, but wasn't really in the signing mood so I settled for a quick chat about his drumming. Mike Patton is a singer that anyone interested in music should be keen on checking out.

Perhaps if there is enough interest I will do a part two to this post in time, as I do have plenty more items to showcase. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back from the moon

Howdy readers,

I recognize it has been some time since my last post. The stress surrounding the weeks leading up to a wedding, and a fantastic trip to Costa Rica afterwards prevented me from getting to writing much.

Luckily I have continued to purchase records; like that was going to slow down!

Today I purchased my first two LP's as a married man. The first is 'Sextant', Herbie Hancock's electo-influenced fusion effort from 73. I do enjoy it, but it isn't 'Thrust' or 'Headhunters' by any stretch of the imagination. The album kicks off with Rain Dance, a repetitive track which sounds like something off a Jon Hassel or Tangerine Dream album. I'm sure I would have enjoyed this better if I hadn't heard any of his previous efforts, but I found that his experimentation was without focus. 'Hornets' on the other hand is a full side of fusion glory. For fans of Benny Maupin, this track just slays. Is full of groove, courtesy of drummer Billy Hart, and the various synths provide unique layers of sound. Overall a very good album, but if you are looking for classic Herbie, this ain't it!

The second LP is quite the find. 'The Elephant's Child' features Jack Nicholson (Jack Nicholson!) reciting Rudyards Kipling's beautiful story of how an elephant got its trunk. Though fronted as a spoken word album, it's accompanied by a beautiful score by Bobby McFerrin. Several catchy themes are repeated throughout in typical McFerrin fashion, and the whole second side contains instrumental versions of these themes. 'The Elephant's Child' epitomizes why I go to record shopping regularly. The album is nothing shy of fantastic. The music is poignant and clever, Nicholson speaks with a confidence that brings you into the story, and the production is perfect (It’s a Windham Hill release from 1987. Their albums always sound fantastic.) This album is a reminder that the obscurity of records is endless. Every time I think I have seen it all, I find another LP to challenge the previous. ’The Elephant`s Child’ maybe a tough one to find; BEST OF LUCK!