Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Been There, Done That

Over the weekend, I noticed that a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend had posted a comment stating that vinyl sales had eclipsed compact disc sales. That didn't hardly seem possible, this called for an investigation. I researched at least a half dozen sources on the subject and all offered up different sales numbers and market shares. 

The bottom line being that the CD remains comfortably in front of all other formats, including digital downloads (album sales only) Digital downloads  totally dominate the singles market. (CD singles never caught on and vinyl singles went out the early 1980's)

Nielsen Company & Billboard, both reported that during 2010 (in the U.S.) 443 million albums were sold.  By comparison, 2.8 million vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. during 2010.  For 2011, overall album sales were down in all formats.  Since 2007 (when they accounted for 95% of albums sold) CD sales have been locked in a downward spiral.

Vinyl sales are but a drop in the bucket, but  aficionados can take heart knowing that percentage wise, vinyl sales are skyrocketing  and cd sales are tanking.  But at least, vinyl's future as a viable music format is assured for years to come (if only as a novelty item)

I was once a vinyl junkie, more from a lack of options than a love for the format. My vinyl collection once numbered over a thousand  lps.  Although, by the mid-80's I had jettisoned all my vinyl. I sold off the best part of my collection, but  In most cases, I simply abandoned large portions in whatever apartment I was vacating at the time.

It seems that in order to amass and maintain a substantial collection of vinyl records, one needs to have a permanent address.  An unstable or dysfunctional lifestyle does bode well for vinyl collections. Nevertheless, I still have a tiny collection of vinyl.

With the exception of  two long players, they're all recordings by Albuquerque bands from 1995 or 1996 (the year I bought them) Being highly suspicious of the stylus on my turntable (I can't remember if it was the same one I used during an ill conceived attempt at scratching) I've never played any of the records that I still own.

Here's a listing and description of my entire vinyl record collection starting with the albums. What amazes me is how much effort and creativity went into the packaging.  At some point I need to play, record, convert them to digital and then compress the shit out of them into mp3's that I can post. Stranger things have happened, just don't ask me to catalog my cd collection, I have over a thousand of those.

Flash and the Pan, Ensign Records 1979  (British import) Flash and the Pan was an Australian new wave studio project made up of ex-Easybeats, Harry Vanda and George Young (older brother of ACDC's Angus Young) This was the first of several albums the duo would release.  They were a huge success in Australia and England on the strength of the single "Walking in the Rain."  

I originally bought the album in 1978, after hearing it played in store at Recycled Records in San Francisco. I found this copy at Bow Wow records in Albuquerque, plucked from the used record rack for $3.  At the time (1996) the album was out of print in vinyl, cassette and not yet been released on compact disc. 

I immediately recognized it as the U.K. import,  as the cover featured a posh woman wearing a sleep mask while holding a crow. The U.S. cover had  a group of  Aussies  dressed identically in blues jeans & white tees, all wearing sunglasses and sunbathing while frisbees hovered  around them. In the background a mushroom cloud billows skyward.

I bought the only other album I own on the same day, Trotsky Icepick's El Kabong,  released in 1989 on SST Records. The band's name alludes to the weapon used to murder Leon Trotsky (an ice axe) The indie band formed in Los Angeles as Poison Summer, which was also the title of their first album.

They had a plan (flawed to say the least) to give each of their albums the same title while changing the name of band with each new release. It goes without saying, that by the third album, SST told them to cut that shit out.  Staying true to their method of madness, they continued to change the band's name  for each performance.

Finally, they settled on Trotsky Icepick after guitarist Vitus Mataré screamed "Thanks for the trotsky icepick dude!" at an errant sound man who neglected to adjust the feedback levels on stage.  Having survived with their hearing intact Trotsky Icepick went on the release several more albums before disbanding around 1996.

I'll confess that I only bought the album because of the band's name.  Leon Trotsky getting iced by an ice pick has always fascinated me and "Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?, He got an ice pick, That made his ears burn." is one of the best lines, in one of the best songs, by one of the best bands from the first punk wave, No More Heroes by The Stranglers.

The rest of my meager collection includes "Spork" by Flake (pre-Flake Music, Shins) released as a 10" on Science Project (SCIPRO 004) in 1995. Mint condition, It could be worth a small fortune and it would probably be worth more if James Mercer hadn't tanked The Shins with his impulsive line-up changes.

The late great Bring Back Dad's  single  Al Capone/Upset,  recorded by Ryan Martino (above the Walgreens at Central and 4th in 1994) Bring Back Dad included, Marshall Nall, Scott Parsons and Joe Anderson.  Released by Science Project (what a great fucking label that was!) on green vinyl, SCIPRO 001.

Psychodrama's single, titled Vivid and featuring  Headache/Tamara  on the PKR label, 1995.  Lisa, Gel and Laura before they became The Eyeliners. Cover layout by Scott Parsons (Bring Back Dad)  Self recorded, self released.

The Drags clock in with a pair, the first features three tracks, Anxiety / Flying Saucer Rock and Roll / Elongated Man, released on Seattle's Empty Records label in 1995.   The other is a single,  Well Worth Talking About / Roslyn, and yes, that is the Pretty Things' Rosalyn, stylishly misspelled. Released on Rat City Records from Seattle also in 1995. 

Dishwasher (music to wash dishes by, Vol. I)  is a nifty compilation put out by 702 Records of Reno, Nv. It revolves around the concept, that in order to play music, some musicians must do whatever it takes. This includes washing dishes.

Four tracks by four bands from across the U.S. The Queers from New Hampshire- Born to Wash Dishes, our own Scared of Chaka- Dish Militia, San Francisco's The Hi-Fives- Secret Sodas and Ten Four from Portland- Pete's Theme. There is nothing not to like about this effort, including the highly entertaining and extensive album notes. It comes complete with a booklet, illustrations and pearl diving war stories.

Scared of Chaka's Dameon Wagoner tells of his experience washing dishes at an Albuquerque Greek restaurant. Where he showed up for work one day, only to find out that he had been fired. When they asked him to train the new guy, he handed him his apron. That was all the training required.

Albuquerque punkabilly icons, The Jonny Cats' four song ep,  Burns Rubber. The sides are labeled Front end (Pinky Black / Comfort) and Rear end (White Trash / Whiskey Woman) recorded and produced by Ryan Martino (above the Walgreens at Central and 4th) 1994, American Low Fidelity Recordings (that's a great name for a label!) Nice sleeve art, the long list of thank yous, reads like a who's who of Albuquerque rock music circa '94.

A 7" split from Scared of Chaka and Word Salad on Science Project (SCIPRO 002) pressed on blue vinyl. Creative sleeve art, four songs- Scared of Chaka (no gainers / instro 2), Word Salad (glamour shot cop / do not submit to surgery)

The Honeys (Pie / July 4) and Blastoff (rz / hot rod) in cherry red vinyl , two songs apiece on Pocket Protector Records. Also from 702 records, a 7" split with Scared of Chaka and The Gain (Simi Valley, Ca.) inner sleeves includes extensive notes, 702 catalog listings and photos.

Last, but not least. Been There Done That, a compilation ep from Science Project (SCIPRO 003) pressed on crystal clear vinyl (now that's rare!) Four Albuquerque bands playing a mixed assortment of cover songs. Scared of Chaka- Land of the Lost (Sid & Marty Kroft), Bring Back Dad - Cars (Gary Numan), Treadmill- Shock the Monkey (Peter Gabriel) and Flake- Your Love (The Outfield).

"The first time we saw Treadmill perform Shock the Monkey live, we knew it had to be recorded, cleverly packaged and sold." from the corporate offices of Science Project. signed: Joe Anderson, bartender