Archive for Record Store Day

Record Store Day: A Message from Ambassador Jack White

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on April 16, 2013 by 30daysout


We’re still focusing on our day jobs, so our posts will be rather infrequent for the next week or so.

Want to quickly remind you about Record Store Day, coming up this Saturday. Make sure you go out to your friendly neighborhood record store, and at the very least, tell them thanks for hanging in there.

Here’s a message from Record Store Day ambassador Jack White:

Record Store Day official web site

Record Store Day 2012

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on April 22, 2012 by 30daysout

Evanescence with Amy Lee (far right) showed up to sign autographs for Record Store Day in Houston. What happened where you live?

I still have a bit of a hangover from Record Store Day yesterday … what about you? The fifth annual event, staged to help music fans remember their independent music stores, took place yesterday at record shops across the country, and people walked away with armloads of exclusive, rare vinyl and CD items made just for the occasion.

As someone who’s faithfully patronized RSD every year since its inception,I found that the asking prices for this year’s exclusive items have gotten a bit steep. Seven-inch singles by classic bands like the Byrds and the Small Faces, as well as by current artists like Jack White and the Flaming Lips, reached into the $12 range this year … I found that a bit much to pay for a couple songs on a 45-rpm single.

Likewise with the longer offerings – I bought a Miles Davis LP with five unreleased songs for $25 … but passed on the Flaming Lips’ The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, a double LP that went for upwards of $35 and which may or may not have contained an autograph from band frontman Wayne Coyne. (Ha ha, that item was long gone by the time I got to the table – we purchased a Mastodon/Flaming Lips 45 single instead, for 10 bucks.)

For me, Record Store Day is starting to lose its charm. These prices are seeming more than ever like a gouge, for limited-edition stuff that most likely winds up on eBay an hour or two later. I’d rather go to my hometown independent record store – that’s Cactus Music in Houston – on a non-special day when I can peruse the stacks of used vinyl at my leisure. And of course, I’m there when the good folks at Cactus want to set up a fine in-store performance with free beer. And for all of you who didn’t make it on Saturday – visit your friendly neighborhood record store on Monday … you’ll be surprised what is left over!

On Saturday, Cactus in Houston hosted the band Evanescence for a meet-and-greet autograph session, and a live solo performance by Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller. I tried to swing downtown to the equally awesome Sig’s Lagoon for a live in-store by classic rocker Mark Andes (formerly of Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne and Heart) but totally failed on that count.

I hope you got most of what you wanted to get on Record Store Day; and I hope you are NOT that asshole who posted it on eBay five minutes later.

Back to Black: The Magic of Mono

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by 30daysout

As I sit down to write this on a bleary-eyed early morning, I can hear the coffee maker click on automatically. My phone dings insistently to remind me of meetings, appointments and upcoming annoyances, then it offers up a morning tweet for dessert. In my pocket I there’s a little flash drive smaller than my thumb, carrying about 35 albums’ worth of music with a little room for more.

Technology has surely wiped some of the romance out of modern life; what did you expect? Old guys like me quickly get tiresome in referencing the past to recall the many ways that life was better – yeah, guilty as charged.

Thankfully, at my house there’s an easy way to shut up the old guy: slap some vinyl on the turntable, and crank it. With the resurgence of vinyl records we’ve all rediscovered our roots, and we are “remembering” our past, meaning: if we knew this at all, surely we forgot. Frankly, I forgot about mono.

Back in the day, record companies put out music in monophonic – as opposed to stereo – because they wanted their hit singles to sound good on AM radio and on the crappy sound systems that lived in most homes. Stereo was kind of an afterthought, and often you could hear stuff on the mono (meaning: “original version”) that didn’t show up on the stereo versions. Or so we’re told today.

When LPs nearly died and CDs came along, old music got remixed, remastered and repackaged. The resurgence of vinyl provided another opportunity to hear (and buy) the same old stuff once more and then we have the mono versions. I don’t know how many versions of Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited I want, but I certainly have more than I need. Mono is the aural version of watching a black-and-white movie: experiencing the past while not quite reliving it. Know what I mean? (I think I don’t.)

Hell, I didn’t know the Beatles did their albums in mono. I was just a kid when the Beatles were a real thing, and besides, I didn’t buy albums – just 45 singles. I knew about Brian Wilson’s famous deafness in one ear, and that’s why he did many of his masterpieces in mono; but I learned that only after I had gotten older.

So here we are, a decade deep into the 21st century, and we’re still spinning mono records on turntables. You gotta admit, that stuff sounds GOOD.

MP3: “Mr. Soul” (45 single) by Buffalo Springfield

MP3: “Run Through The Jungle” (45 single) by Creedence Clearwater Revival

MP3: “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (mono remaster) by Simon & Garfunkel

MP3: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (45 single) by the Velvet Underground

MP3: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (mono remaster) by the Beatles

MP3: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (45 single) by the Rolling Stones

MP3: “Help Me Rhonda” (mono album version) by the Beach Boys

Record Store Day official website

Back To Black: Headphone LPs

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by 30daysout

Koss headphones and a porn star mustache got the chicks every time.

Way back in the dark ages (the 1970s) I’d heard that a few albums sounded really great on headphones. Well, my parents had a stereo but we didn’t have headphones. They cost about $12 apiece then, which in today’s dollars would likely be a monthly mortgage payment.

So I borrowed a couple of albums from my good friend Randy Fuller and took ‘em home to experience “true stereo.” My homemade headphones substitute was putting two stereo speakers on the floor facing each other then turning them out at about a 45 degree angle, just enough to slip a pillow and my stupid head in between.

With the volume set real low, it was a great substitute – until a little brother sneaked into the room and jacked it up to threshold of pain level. I still hate those guys.

Back in the day, one used to see magazine ads like this.

Anyway, with Record Store Day approaching, I thought I’d pull out a handful of my favorite “headphone” LPs and give ‘em a spin. These records were best listened to on those big clunky headphones, like the kind the Koss company used to make. You really got good spatial separation and a sense of true depth by listening to rock albums over headphones, and they were great soundtracks to some, ah, chemical stimulation. Or so I have been told.

For me, the granddaddy of all headphone LPs was Fragile by Yes (1971), which was one of the albums I borrowed from Randy back then. It was the group’s fourth album and the first with new keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and these prog-rockers really explored the studio space. “Long Distance Runaround” and “Roundabout” got a lot of radio airplay, but hearing those songs on AM radio really didn’t do them justice. The extended jam “Heart of the Sunrise” would usually send me into space or more accurately, a deep sleep.

The progressive rockers were great for headphone music: Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973), Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues (1967) and In The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson (1969) are classics. Randy likes Pink Floyd’s Animals (1977) for its crossing, slashing guitars and in 1976 I went for Rush and 2112, considered by many a headphones classic.

Randy remembers Quadrophenia by the Who (1973) as a nice headphone experience, and I always used to go for Electric Warrior by T. Rex (1971). And for some reason: Phoenix by Grand Funk Railroad (1972) got a lot of headphone mileage, but maybe I was just too lazy to take it off the turntable. And let’s not forget: Abbey Road by the Beatles (1969), Ram by Paul and Linda McCartney (1971) and Best of Spirit (1973), all favorites of mine.

Our memory wavelengths converge on one act who always sounded great in stereo: The Firesign Theatre. Not musicians, this was a comedy troupe whose medium was the stereo album. Their stuff is multi-tracked and brilliant, and you can listen to their setpieces over and over again just like a great rock song. Their very best albums – Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers (1970) and Everything You Know Is Wrong (1974) are rich experiences on headphones, but hands down their best for special effects and stereo is the futuristic I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus (1971).

Look at me, going on about all this stuff. I could talk about old records and music all day. And there’s a perfect day to do just that: Record Store Day, April 21 this year. Go out to your independent music store, grab up some special vinyl and see how many people are music freaks just like you and me.

MP3: “Long Distance Runaround” by Yes (from Fragile)

MP3: “Planet Queen” by T. Rex (from Electric Warrior)

MP3: “Flight Of The Phoenix” by Grand Funk Railroad (from Phoenix)

MP3: “A Passage To Bangkok” by Rush (from 2112)

MP3: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd (from Animals)

MP3: “The Breaking Of The President” by the Firesign Theatre (from I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus)

Record Store Day: The Aftermath

Posted in News with tags , , on April 16, 2011 by 30daysout

Don’t know about you, but we had a nice day in Houston for Record Store Day – temps in the 60s, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky. We lined up two hours early outside Cactus Music and by the time the doors opened a little before 10 a.m. there were about 150 die-hards in line to snap up copies of about 200 exclusive vinyl items. (There were more than 200 copies, there were many copies of about … never mind.)

We talked to the guy in front of us in line, his name was Sonny.  He

Record Store Day line outside Cactus Music in Houston - that Kenny Rogers shirt worn ironically, I hope.

brought a Bible to read while waiting, and after we bothered him from that activity he told us he was getting married tonight! Sonny was worried he wouldn’t make a planned lunch with his groomsmen and even though he didn’t get the My Morning Jacket items on his list (Cactus didn’t get ’em) Sonny did walk away happy with Kings of Leon, Mumford & Sons, Bruce Springsteen and some Regina Spektor for his fiancée. He told us he bought tickets for his entire bridal party to see the Avett Brothers in Houston – but that show was scratched due to Scott Avett’s wife possibly giving birth ahead of schedule. That’s life – it gives a little, and it causes your rock show to get rescheduled.

As for us, we came away with the Foo Fighters covers LP Medium Rare, highlights include “Band On The Run,” “Darling Nikki,” “Life Of Illusion” and a scorching live version of the Who warhorse “Young Man Blues.”  We also got some choice 7″ singles including the new Wild Flag song “Glass Tambourine” and the Rolling Stones doing some vintage stuff from Sticky Fingers and a live “Let It Rock.”

It was kinda pricey – the copy of Big Star’s Third, considered to be the band’s “lost” album, went for 40 bucks and the Foo Fighters item was about 20. The 7″ singles cost anywhere from seven to 10 bucks apiece, so you had purchase wisely. Cactus Music personnel helped that process by distributing a list of everything they had, along with the price, so you could make a plan before you got to the counter. Some of these vinyl items were limited edition, but I got pretty much everything on my list.

Yes, even though there was a bit of sticker shock and I wound up spending money I shouldn’t have, it felt good to support my favorite record store. Cactus has been there for me since the 1970s, and even though I don’t buy as much music as I used to I still regularly attend their in-stores. In recent months you’ve read about awesome Cactus performances from the likes of Everest, Anders Osborne, Los Lonely Boys, Girl In A Coma and Rodney Crowell; they have someone playing pretty much every weekend and on May 3 they welcome Steve Earle for his third in-store!

And you know what – right now, as I’m writing this, my 17-year-old son is in the next room playing vinyl records for the very first time in his life. As Ken Shane so aptly put it – that’s like a VISA commercial … Big Star: $40, sharing music with a kid: Priceless.

First time in 20 years I spent 100 bucks on vinyl records - and it felt good.

Record Store Day Buyer’s Guide

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by 30daysout

Okay, this may seem really half-assed but today we’re going to piggyback on (steal?) a great article in Goldmine magazine where they rate the best and worst of the exclusive vinyl available on Record Store Day. That’s Saturday, at your friendly neighborhood record store.

You can read the Goldmine story here, but we just want to touch on a couple of their top picks … keep in mind, this is highly subjective. You really ought to check out the complete list of exclusive vinyl available on Record Store Day, and if something really appeals to you then plan to get up early on Saturday and line up outside your local record emporium so you have a better chance of getting your hands on what you want. There will be some music aficinados like you, but there will be a lot of jerks who just want to get hold of this rare stuff so they can put it up on eBay.

Goldmine is salivating most over a Jimi Hendrix 7″ single, “Fire”b/w”Touch You.”  The 45 has an alternate version of “Fire,” which appeared on the West Coast Seattle Boy box set. The real find is on the flip side: “Touch You,”  a previously unreleased 1967 studio recording made by the original Experience during sessions for what would become Electric Ladyland. Very cool, indeed.

The other cool stuff the magazine is anticipating seems mostly to come from vintage acts – a live LP from Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, unreleased Derek and the Dominos, live Roy Orbison, live Bob Dylan. It’s a record store nut’s dream come true.

A word here, too, about the “lost” single from the 13th Floor Elevators, which we in Houston can partially claim as our own (they cut many of their songs in Houston, at the famed Gold Star Studios). The record available on Saturday is a limited-edition green vinyl 7″ single – “Wait For My Love” b/w “May The Circle Remain Unbroken.” Roky Erickson and the group planned this as the band’s sixth single in 1968 but never released. The two tunes are remixed by ‘Sonic Boom’ (Pete Kember of Spacemen Three & producer of MGMT), and the single will come packaged in an International Artists Records label house bag.

Another choice cut is a complete LP by the Foo Fighters, performing 12 covers including “Band On The Run,” Baker Street,” “Darling Nikki” and others. There are many, many more releases, by the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, R.E.M., ZZ Top, Phish, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam and more. The newer crop of artists will be represented by Peter, Bjorn and John, Regina Spektor, The Joy Formidable, Wild Flag and many more. Now keep in mind, these records are going into general release on Saturday and some of ’em may be available after Record Store Day but many are limited-edition releases and will likely get snapped up pretty quickly. Then, on Saturday afternoon, you can find ’em on eBay at double the retail price.

Goldmine singles out a handful of exclusive releases that disappointed them.  One of their offenders is the Bruce Springsteen offering, a 10″ LP featuring “Gotta Get That Feeling” b/w “Racing In The Street,” which will appear on his upcoming DVD Live From The Carousel. The magazine says “The ‘easy way out’ on Record Store Day: selling a sample from an upcoming release. This isn’t a special item for the fans. It’s nothing more than a promotional piece!!” Yeah, but we’ll probably buy this if we can get our hands on it.

Our suggestion to you for Record Store Day: Check out the list of exclusive releases, show up early (before opening time) and know what you want to buy when you get into the store. And please, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on an exclusive release: take it home, remove the wrapper, take out the record and play it. Call your kids into the room and play it for them. Dance if you want, or just listen to the music. Share it, talk about the memories conjured by this great old and new music and let somebody younger listen to it again and again. Don’t be one of those assholes who forces them to go find this stuff on eBay.

Record Store Day official website

Goldmine magazine “Top Ten Record Store Day” vinyl 2011 article

Still Standing: All Hail the Record Store

Posted in News with tags on April 18, 2008 by 30daysout


Modern technology has taken all the romance out of life … music downloads are great but songs coming out of a computer are kind of cold.  Sometimes you just gotta get out and make old-fashioned human contact.

If you do nothing else tomorrow, Saturday, April 19, turn off “Guitar Hero,” shut down the BlackBerry and head over to your friendly neighborhood record store.  Because Saturday is Record Store Day, presented by a consortium of independent stores and trade groups in order to remind customers, “Hey, we’re still here!”

So you say, “What’s a record?”  Ho, ho.  That one’s been done, don’t do it tomorrow.  And forget about the comment that you can’t roll a joint on a CD cover.  Just go to your local music shop if you’re lucky enough to live near one (Wal-Mart and Best Buy don’t count), catch an in-store performance and pick up a CD or a vinyl LP.  And don’t forget to say, “Thanks for sticking around!”

Record Store Day official website