The Stranglers – The Raven

This is an album I had my eye on for some time at Good Times, my fave used record shop, and by far the best place to browse for records in this fair city. I passed it over a few times in favour of other slightly more desirable records, but I finally bought it along with another record which I will write about soon. I also bought another record the same day at another shop, so I have even more writing to do.

I have heard this album before, and while it is a decent listen it is not one of The Stranglers’ better albums, but it is still decent enough. It is a strange mix of songs actually, some of it sounds like their first album, and other songs are more experimental.

The pressing I have is a Japanese one, and has the limited edition 3D cover. It is in excellent condition and has the nice inside sleeve too. And I didn’t pay much for it either, roughly the price of a Big Mac Meal (I haven’t had one of those for a while now).

Yet another welcome addition to the slowly expanding vinyl collection.

Click here for a video of The Stranglers performing a couple of songs from the album live back in 1981.

Music count 2018: 97

The Rockafeller Skank

I went to a Hard Off that is not far from here recently and had a good browse through the record bins there. There is a lot of stuff there, but unfortunately most of it is nothing interesting. There are plenty of bins full of 100 yen (and pretty rough looking) records, but nothing worth spending even 100 yen on. Looking through the 12″ singles bin though I stumbled upon this for 270 yen.

As usual it is in excellent condition and it still has the original shrink wrap.

Apart from the title song which we all know so well, there are two songs on the B-side. You can listen to the first one here, and the other here.

This is not an essential buy, but it is good to have Fatboy Slim on vinyl.

Music count 2018: 96

Frampton Comes Alive!

I dropped into Hard Off for a record deal and walked out with this classic seventies double album.

It was a huge album back in the day, it sold eight million copies in the U.S. alone, and the rest of the world bought 3 million. In fact, in 1976 when this came out it was the best-selling live album of all time. Some of the songs were recorded at Winterland in San Francisco (where the Sex Pistols played their last gig), and most of the others at an arena in New York. Peter and his band were an arena band in the day. On the Rolling Stones list of the top 50 live albums of all time this comes in at number 41.

Many of the songs are recognizable, a few of them get regular air play on classic rock radio stations. It is the crystal clear recording that really makes this record though. Each of the instruments and Peter’s voice comes through clearly, and even the crowd who “Whoo”, “Woot”, and “Yeeeeah” a lot come through almost down to each person.

This is not an essential album just for the music alone, it is pretty standard stuff, but I think it is a good album to have in the collection for it’s place in history and that great live sound. My copy of the album is absolutely pristine, just a little wear on the corners, but it looks though I bought from new and never played it. It is a Japanese pressing too.

Garth Brooks now has the record for highest live album sales with his 1998 double album selling 20 million copies. Peter had some success after this album, but he hit a rough period in 1978 after some bad choices and a near-fatal car accident. He worked with David Bowie by playing on the Never Let Me Down album, and sang and played on the subsequent Glass Spider Tour. According to Peter this helped revive his career. These days he is still playing music, and has appeared on The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Here is an old video. Part of the way through the song he does his talk-box bit, something he popularised in the day.

Music count 2018: 95

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

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

Terminal Cheesecake – Unhealingwound 7 inch

I bought this quite some time ago, at least 15 years, but I can’t remember how I got it. It might have been on Yahoo Auction Japan, it could have been eBay. Dunno.

I was quite chuffed to get it as I like Terminal Cheesecake lots, and it is a neato disc to have. There is just the one song and on the reverse side is some artwork which you can kind of see in the image above.

Terminal Cheesecake are still around, and after a 22 year hiatus they released a new album in 2016 called “Dandelion Sauce Of The Ancients”, which is fab stuff. They are still an obscure band, and are deffo not to everyone’s taste, but they have always tickled my cochlea and vestibulocochlea nerves…nuff said.