Abba Arrive on Vinyl

Today, while my daughter was at art class in the central city, I made a beeline for Hard Off as on a previous visit there I noticed this album for a paltry 540 yen, including tax.

Actually, there were three copies there for the same price, and all three are in minty condition. I chose this particular one because it came with the original obi (the sash type thing that is on the left side of the cover). Obis are funny things. They are the equivalent of the stickers that are stuck on the plastic wrap on CDs or records that say things like “With the hit single “Hammer Smashed Face” or whatever. Obis though are bigger and have a lot more information. But for reasons I don’t know people do not throw them away, they leave them there and when you buy a used CD you will find the original obi inside the jewel case. According to this site they can add value to the CD or record.

As I said earlier, this is in minty condition. The cover is basically spotless and not faded, the insert which has the lyrics in both English and Japanese is like new, and the vinyl itself looks as though it has never been played. This is typical for used records in Japan, people here just seem to take great care of their records, or they just don’t play them. Or this is old stock which never sold back in the day, and has spent all of it’s life in record bins. Who knows? But, it is in my possession now, and it will be taken care of, and proudly displayed somewhere.

One of the reasons I wanted this was because of the great album cover. Benny, Anni-Frid, Agnetha, and Björn are sitting in the Bell 47 chopper looking kind of pensive, and look splendid in their all-white jumpsuits. Björn has his hand on the control stick, and on the back of the cover we see the chopper flying, so I presume Björn took everyone up for a spin, perhaps explaining the pensiveness. It is an iconic cover.

This is Abba’s fourth album, and back in the day sold like hot cakes. In England alone it sold over 1.6 million records. Other countries where it sold well were Germany, Australia, and Poland. Here in Japan it sold 645,000 records, which beats the U.S. at only 500,000. And of all of their albums it seems to be the best selling one, although their best-of album “Gold” is one of the best selling albums of all-time at 30 million. If each member got one dollar from each album sold they could each buy thirty of those Bell 47 helicopters, and have a bit of change!

The music itself is pure Abba with the most well-known songs being “Dancing Queen”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, and “Money Money Money”. The other songs are decent, but almost feel like filler.

A very worthy addition to the vinyl collection.

Music count 2018: 81

To Tokyo And Beyond

The much anticipated trip to Tokyo is now over, but my mission to spend ten thousand yen on music was a bust. Tokyo was great though, although it was very hot and humid. A wicked thunderstorm on the last day was fun to drive in.

I had the funds, but unfortunately time, which is of the essence in Tokyo, was not managed well. I was hoping to get several records at used record shops, and I did visit three of them, but I had little time available to spend in each…life even for a tourist is hectic in Tokyo.

But, I did manage to get one record, and a few CDs.

Nirvana – Supercollosal Big Muff

In Shibuya I went to “Disk Union” which was on my list of places to visit. It turned out to be a bit disappointing though, not much of a selection and a little expensive. After that I wandered around a bit and stumbled on a most excellent place called “Recofan“. It was jam-packed with music, some in long and narrow aisles.

I didn’t have much time as I had to meet the family to go off and get dinner some where, but I was able to find this bootleg live album for only 300 yen, quite the bargain. It was recorded at the University of Washington in 1990, and is a very decent recording. It was released by a Japanese label called “Small Clone”, who seemed to only release bootleg live Nirvana albums.

A good start to my music shopping.

The B-52’s – The B-52’s

Also at Recofan I found this in excellent condition on vinyl, and for a pretty decent price.

I remember listening to this on vinyl a long time ago, and I remember getting it out from a library our family used to go to, so it is good to actually own it now. And it is in my opinion their best album, and the cover artwork in simple but very striking…I must display it somewhere.

Excellent stuff.

Cypress Hill – Skull & Bones

Later on the same day, after dinner at a BBQ restaurant near the hotel in Meguro, I went off by myself, intent on spending quality time in Shinjuku’s music shops (Shinjuku Station by the way is the world’s busiest train station). I planned on going to Book Off there, and hopefully a vinyl place. I did find a Disk Union, but it was already closed (at 8 pm which seems a bit early to me, even if it was a Sunday). So, I went to Book Off, but as it would turn out they were soon closing too, at 9 pm. So, I quickly rummaged through the 200 yen section and found this album.

This is Cypress Hill’s fifth album and it is pretty good. It is different to “Black Sunday” in that it mixes in some rock elements. Also included are two bonus discs with eight extra songs in total, all good tracks.

For 200 yen this was the bargain of the weekend.

Bob Mould – Bob Mould

As Book Off was closing I quickly went to the “B” section where I had noticed this earlier, grabbed it, then went straight to the counter.

Good stuff from Bob, a solid album.

The Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits

The next day we drove to a city called Mito, in Ibaragi Prefecture, which is a two-hour drive north from Tokyo. My mission whenever we visit a new place is to seek out the local Book Off, which we were able to do in Mito.

This CD was the first one I found, and I was most pleased as The Cramps are an old favourite. This is good stuff of course.

Therapy? – Troublegum

Next in Mito I found this in the 280 yen section.

I generally find Therapy? to be good but not great, and this album is no different. It is not a disappointment though.

Therapy? have been around since 1989, and have quite a few albums to their name. Their next album is due out next month.

Public Enemy – He Got Game

The last CD I got in Mito, and the last overall is this soundtrack to the film starring Denzel Washington, a film I have never seen.

I had to get it because it is Public Enemy, a band I have several releases from, and a band that always makes good music.

I put this in the car stereo to listen to on the long trip back home. Unfortunately though that is where the disc still remains as the stereo is refusing to spit it out. I have tried forcing it out, but it just won’t move…dang! So, I listened to it three times over in the car before turning the sound completely down as listening to any album too many times over can cause negative effects.

And this is another good P.E. album, and certainly one of the best original soundtracks for any film.

So, while my plan to spend ten grand did not work out, I am still quite pleased with what I got, not a dud in all of them. I will just have to figure out how to get Public Enemy out of the car.

Music count 2018: 80

Faster Than Humbug

The music purchasing is still a bit anemic, so I have only two to speak of.

Bulletbelt – Faster Than Death

I was internetting a few nights ago, and I came across this release on Bandcamp.

Bulletbelt are a Wellington (New Zealand) black metal band who have been metalling since 2009. Usually I don’t go for black metal, but this was just so darn catchy that I had to buy it immediately…it was only NZ$2 anyway.

As I said it is catchy, and is really more thrash metal than black. It is also very well produced, it sounds good cranked up a bit. They have three albums as well, but after sampling those I decided that this single will be about all I buy from them for the moment, they all didn’t grab me much.

Arctic Monkeys – Humbug

The Arctic Monkeys are a band I have only gotten into in recent times, beginning with their first album which is top stuff. I also have a few other albums and an EP, so when I saw this album buying it was a forgone conclusion.

And it is a decent album, but at this point I would say it is not nearly as good as the first album. No regrets though. I am looking forward to listening to their latest album which from what I have read is good stuff, and quite different.

Next Monday we are off to Tokyo for one night, so I will be going to Shibuya where there are a couple of vinyl places I want to visit, along with my usual haunts when I go there. Looking forward to it.

Music count 2018: 73

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

This is the latest album by Deafheaven, a band I wish I got into a long time ago, but it ain’t no thing.

I pre-ordered this on Bandcamp a couple of months ago, and last Friday I was glued to Bandcamp, waiting for it to finally be released. I downloaded it and listened to it shortly after.

It did not disappoint. One song was released before the album came out, “Honeycomb” which I mentioned in a post back in April. I was wondering if maybe that song would be the highlight of the album, but as it turns out each and every song are works of metallic-shoegaze art (labelling Deafheaven is a tricky thing, I like to call them shoegaze metal).

Definitley not to everyone’s tastes, but I think it is pure bliss.

Music count 2018: 71

An Aural Binary of Putrid Reckonings

I have only two purchases to write about this time around.

R.E.M. – Reckoning

After the recent disappointing purchases I decided to be much more careful about choosing new music, spending more than the usual 280 yen per CD (this was 500 yen) and this one is a result of that new directive.

This is R.E.M.’s second album, one that I had not even heard one song from before. And it is very good, very R.E.M.

A fine addition to the R.E.M. collection, and a good start to my new and improved music selection process.

Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction

I had this album on vinyl a long time ago, and I now wish I still had it…why oh why did I sell it?

This is Carcass’ first album and is much maligned due to it’s terrible recording. From Wikipedia:

Reek of Putrefaction was recorded in four days at Ritch Bitch Studios in Birmingham. According to guitarist Bill Steer, the studio’s engineer “ruined” the record, especially its drum tracks. Carcass had only had a few hours available of mixing, so they had to release the LP as it was to meet the label’s deadline. The band were “everything but happy” with the end result, declared Steer.

When the master recording was first sent to the pressing plant, the original vinyl LP had to be pressed at lower volumes, because the bass frequencies were so low (sometimes reaching 25 Hz) that they were in danger of rendering higher frequencies inaudible.

Indeed it sounds pretty bad, but in a way it adds to the atmosphere of the album. But, when I saw on Bandcamp that there is a “Full Dynamic Range Edition” I had to get it to see what that is all about. Earache (the record label) are re-releasing their back catalogue by taking the original tapes and instead of fiddling about with all of the buttons, knobs, and sliders to try to make the sound better, have instead preserved the original dynamic range as recorded. The reason for all the fiddling back in the day was due to something called the “loudness war“, which is something I had not heard of before.

Anyway, this new recording does sound a little better, but not as much as I would have hoped. There are 22 tracks on topics such as detruncation, fermenting innards, and excretions of various things.

This is a classic grindcore album, certainly not to most people’s tastes, but I am an avowed Carcass fan, and John Peel called it the best album of 1988, so there you go.

Music count 2018: 70

An Enneadic Fusion of Omnifarious Tunes

The music purchasing has slowed down somewhat in the last few weeks, if not months, but a sudden spurt in the last week or so has yielded an assortment of CDs and downloads. So here they are in no particular order.

Gazelle Twin – Hobby Horse

I stumbled on this while perusing through Bandcamp’s catalogue, and liked what I heard. Gazelle Twin is the stage name of Elizabeth Bernholz, who likes to perform on-stage in a blue tracksuit, and a kind of stocking over her head. She says it is a version of her P.E. uniform that she wore in high school.

This purchase had only two songs which are quirky, but I quite like it.

3TEETH, Ho99o9 – Lights Out

Another Bandcamp purchase, and again only two songs. It is a collaboration between 3TEETH, who I have never heard of before, and Ho99o9, who I had just recently discovered. Good stuff, kind of hardcore/metal/electronic music with a bit of The Prodigy thrown in.

NOFX – So Long And Thanks For The Shoes

I went to a place way across town called “Hard Off” (a sister company of Book Off) that sell used stuff like furniture, clothes, games, cameras, and all other kinds of things, quite often over-priced. There is a decent CD selection there, and even a small vinyl section. And there is a CD bargain shelf with everything costing only 100 yen. So I had a good look through and came away with three albums, this one and the next two.

NOFX are not a band I am particularly fussed on, and this album does not change that. It is standard California punk stuff and quite forgettable. For 100 yen though I am not complaining at all.

Terrible album cover.

Ice-T – Home Invasion

An album from the O.G. for 100 yen…score!

Pearl Jam – Riot Act

As I mentioned a while ago in another post I seem to be collecting Pearl Jam albums, even though I am not really a huge fan, just slightly interested. So when I came across this in the bargain shelf I could not pass it up.

The music is quite standard stuff, I am listening to it as I type and are just waiting for it to end so I can listen to some Ian Brown.

Betty Boo – Boomania

I remember getting this way back in the day, 1990, and buying it because it was a catchy novelty thing. Listening to it now though I feel that this really should have stayed in the 90’s. It is still catchy, but not really something that I needed to listen to again.

She is still in the music business these days, but seems to be writing songs for others, and has not released a song of her own since 2007 (her last album was in 1992).

Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescents

This is an EP of four songs, with the title track coming from their Favourite Worst Nightmare album. Good stuff, I like it a lot.

The Cooper Temple Clause – See This Through And Leave

I just bought this tonight after work on a very hot day (a high of 37 degrees today), I just felt like buying some tunes. I spent a while looking through the 280 yen section at Book Off and was about to give up due to the paltry choices, but determined to get something I settled on this.

I have not had a good listen yet, but a quick sampling of some songs gives me the impression that this too is going to be a bit mediocre.

Charlie Parker – Bird Symbols

I dropped by my fave used vinyl shop again to see what I could find, and settled upon this for only 680 yen. The cover is a bit worn, but the record itself is good. The music though did not grab me as much as I was hoping.

I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I think I am just not a fan of the saxophone, which is probably all Kenny G’s fault. After a few more listens it might grow on me, but I am now wishing I had bought a Stanley Clarke album I saw there for the same price. I may go and get that sometime soon.

So most of the music I have bought recently has been a bit disappointing. I think I am going to have to be a pit more picky, and maybe stay away from the bargains. I still plan on blowing ten grand on vinyl sometime. I might just do that next time I am in Tokyo, which will hopefully be sometime this summer (Tokyo is bananas hot in summer though).

Music count 2018: 68

Grace Jones – Nightclubbing

I finally converted this to MP3 yesterday, so I thought I would add it to the Vinyl Vault as well.

This was purchased at the recycle shop I mentioned in a previous post. It was very cheap, but it is very minty, not a mark on the cover and the record is perfecto.

It includes her hit songs “Walking In The Rain”, “Pull Up To The Bumper”, and “Nightclubbing”. The other songs are all good, no filler here. There are only nine tracks though.

Grace is 70 now, but still going strong. Her last album though was back in 2008. A film was made about her recently, so I would like to see that.

Great cover, it says it all about Grace really.