Thursday, April 30, 2015

Record Store Day 2015 - Part 3: Piano Man

My apologies if we end the Record Store Day posting trilogy with a bit of a whimper instead of bang...consider it the Return of the Jedi after Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back [nerd alert]. After the big RSD record haul, and then the major strike on the Want List with Kill 'Em All, I really wasn't expecting to buy anything as we entered the last used record store of the day. The Metal section was a bust, so I started flipping through some other vinyl, and stumbled upon the Billy Joel section. The prices were cheap, and since I'd recently started getting into his stuff, I started making a pile of stuff I wanted. Five Billy Joel records later, I figured it was time for me to check out.

I grew up in the 70's and I remember those Billy Joel songs being played around the house as I was a kid. I've gotten a bit nostalgic lately, and have been drawn back to those hit songs from my childhood. I first started with the Piano Man LP last summer, but as a whole, it didn't really do much for me, and gave up on it quickly. Earlier this year, I was looking to give him another chance with 52nd Street, and that was when it clicked. Suddenly I couldn't get enough...I was listening to Billy Joel albums daily, and went and dropped a few hundred on a couple of tickets so that my wife and I can see him live at Fenway Park this summer.

Turnstiles from 1976 is a great album...worth it for the song Angry Young Man alone. This song reminds me of myself back during those emo/Ebullition years of the mid-90's.

As I mentioned, 52nd Street, from 1978, was where Billy Joel really hooked me. I remember jamming Big Shot and My Life as a introduction to music that has a bit of an edge and has something to say.

"And when you wake up in the morning with your head on fire, and your eyes too bloody to see, go on and cry in your coffee but don't come bitchin' to me".

Knowing how much I loved these two songs as a kid, it should be no surprise that I ended up falling in love with punk and hardcore. Yes, I'm saying that Billy Joel is a gateway drug into hardcore music.

I'd never heard 1981's Songs In The Attic when I saw the vinyl in the used bin, but seeing that it was still sealed and had a $6 price tag, I figured that I'd give it a shot. Come was a live album that featured only songs from his pre-'77 records. There was some stuff on here that I wasn't familiar with, so this was a good introduction to some early songs.

Billy Joel's Kohuept album was a gamble for me, as I generally have stayed away from anything past his late 70's period...Uptown Girl still makes me cringe a little bit. However, this double live platter from 1987 paid off. None of the songs from Songs In The Attic were repeated here, and this whole thing was a great surprise. Man, I'd completely forgotten about the song Goodnight Saigon...what a powerful song. Amazing.

While out for some long runs last year, I had loaded some Creedence Clearwater Revival to my playlist...something to just chill me out as I put up some big miles. Whenever a song from their Green River LP started playing, I would absolutely love it. I still remember running some quiet country roads, early in the morning with the sun just starting to break over the trees, and having Sinister Purpose started playing through my earbuds...damn...I felt like I could run forever. Since I don't own the vinyl, decided that it was worth the $5 price tag when I saw it.

So...yeah...overall, I had a pretty solid outing for Record Store Day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Record Store Day 2015 - Part 2: Jump In The Fire

I'd already spent a large chunk of change on Record Store Day purchases, and heading to the used record stores, I didn't think that I'd be spending much money. However, I wasn't expecting to hit the Megaforce silver label jackpot.

The store had a Bang Your Head section for their Metal and Hard Rock records, and my jaw dropped when I flipped a few records in and found a first pressing of Metallica's Kill 'Em All vinyl. I've chased this record on and off for the past year or so, and even though the price was a bit high, having it in my hands was too much to resist, and I crossed this heavy hitter off my Want List.

My biggest hang up on buying this record previously, has been trying to find one that wasn't beat to hell. I needed one in great condition, and it obviously needed to include the insert...and this copy fit what I was looking for. As soon as I found it, I fired off a message to Doug, and he was just the bad influence that I needed to convince me to pull the trigger.

Silver labels, baby!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Record Store Day 2015 - Part 1: Seek And Destroy

Record Store Day is what people make of it. You can choose to focus on the endless stacks of worthless vinyl reissues, or you can celebrate and support your local record store...if you are lucky enough to have one. Look, I love Deep Purple, but what is the point of a 7 inch vinyl pressing of the Black Night single? If you want one that bad, hit up discogs and buy yourself an original pressing for a fraction of the price...unless that foil Record Store Day Exclusive sticker is worth that much to you. Leave that shit to collect dust in the dollar bins, and really celebrate record stores by visiting them and purchasing stuff that really matters.

I ended up hitting three stores on Record Store Day, so let's go through my haul while I try to justify my purchases and not come off as a complete hypocrite after that RSD rant. This is part one, and focuses on my first stop...and includes a bunch of RSD vinyl.

At the top of my RSD Want List for this year was the Clutch vinyl for their From Beale Street To Oblivion LP. This was the album that introduced me to Clutch after catching their video for Electric Worry on Headbangers Ball. It is such a great album, and given that this RSD release was the first time it had ever been pressed on vinyl, I had to have it.

I got to the record store about an hour after the doors opened, so most of the crowds has come and gone by the time I got to the store. As I walked through the door, I saw this Clutch album on display, and breathed a sigh of relief that this was still available. With this in hand, I had all that I needed...but while I'm in the store, let's see what else I can grab.

I was torn on whether to buy the Get Behind Be Satan album from The White Stripes. There was a time a few years ago, that I used to listen to the shit out of this band...I could not get enough at that time...but it has been a while since I've given any thought to listen to them. I'm pretty burned out on their style, and I no longer pay any attention to what Jack White is doing these days. Put Meg on a drum stool, bouncing beside him, and I may start to pay attention again. In any case this is probably my least favorite White Stripes album, but it still has some great stuff on it. Like the Clutch LP, this was the first commercial pressing of Get Behind Me Satan, and with the 3D lenticular cover that alternates between the album cover and the Blue Orchid single cover, it looked too good to resist.

I've seen some good reviews for the new Venom album, From The Very Depths, and as I've never been one to turn away from a new release from Cronos and company, this was a "must buy". While I've seen some nice praise for this new album, I don't know if it is really much better than any of the bands releases from the past 10 years. Solid stuff, but I don't imagine it will much of an impression on my "Best of 2015" list. Time will tell.

Okay. You got me on this one. The Strange Days LP from The Doors may be a throw away release for Record Store Day. I had no intention of buying this, but on the way to the store, my friend, Jeff, spoke so highly of the mono recordings...and how expensive the originals of Strange Days can run...when I saw it in the bin, it was a pure impulse buy. I was a sucker for his hype on this thing...and since this was the only Doors studio album that I didn't own on vinyl, I figured there was no harm in picking up a copy here.

While I was able to justify the purchase of the Strange Days album, I've got nothing for this one. This Curated by Record Store Day pretty much encapsulates all that is shitty about RSD. I'm not sure what the purpose is of this piece of vinyl. Eight tracks that were hand picked by independent record store owners...blah blah...who the fuck cares? This was originally pressed for the Black Friday RSD in 2013, and was on sale for 50% off. I was riding a Doors high at the time of purchase, and the die cut front cover, with the sale price, tricked me into thinking that I wanted this.

Slayer. Sorry...I mean, Fucking Slayer! For Record Store Day, Slayer released a 7 inch single for the song When The Stillness Comes which will be on the new album that is due out later this year. This song isn't that exciting, and takes about three and a half minutes to get I'm really not sure if this was the best song to release as a teaser. Still looking forward to the album though.

I believe that this is the third time that OFF! has had a new piece of vinyl available for Record Store Day, and like 2011, we get another live record. OFF! has already released a live 7 inch and a live LP, so this time around we get the dreaded 10 inch. Damn, how many live records does this band need to release? Who do they think they are, Iron Maiden? It is cool to hear some of the newer songs live, but this still probably won't see too much action on my turntable.

For the REV part of Record Store Day, I only went with the Better Than A Thousand record. I probably would have grabbed the Dag Nasty record if my store had some available, but I was okay that I missed out on it...and while I kinda dig the Gameface record they released, I guess I didn't care enough to add it to the list, so I just left it in the bin. I didn't own a copy of the Better Than A Thousand album on vinyl, so this was a good time to grab one.

Same goes with the first Death By Stereo album...I've never owned the vinyl, and this is a great record, so why not grab one now. My copy was on white vinyl, but apparently there was some clear vinyl pressed for RSD as well.

Another Indecision release for Record Store Day was a reissue of the Unity 7 inch, You Are One. Like Death By Stereo, there were two colored vinyl pressings for this. 550 on clear, and 550 on green vinyl. My store only had the clear vinyl.

Fucking cassettes. I curse their existence, and as much as I hated to buy the commercial release of the No Life Til Leather demo on cassette, I love early Metallica too much to pass it by. Nothing beats this early shit...even if I may never feel the need to remove the cellophane wrapper and play this stupid thing. It is RECORD Store Day, and I wish this was a vinyl release.

The final purchase from the first stop on the RSD train was for the Goatwhore album, Carving Out The Eyes Of God. Because Record Store Day is not only about those exclusive releases, I hit the store's regular vinyl bins. Holy shit. Apocalyptic Havoc is an absolute beast of a song.

Don't worry, we aren't done yet. We still have some other stores to hit, and chances to find buried treasures in the used bins. To be continued...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Violent Revelation

It has been nice to see Revelation Records releasing stuff from current bands again...Soul Search, Forced Order, Title Fight...even though I don't find any of those bands very interesting. When it was announced that Violent Reaction had signed to Rev, my first thought was "finally, they signed a current hardcore band that I give a shit about".

Violent Reaction have to be one of the hardest working bands in hardcore right now...or at least the most productive. Since their demo in 2011, the band has released two 7 inches and two full length LPs. Pretty impressive for a band that started out as a one man project.

315 pressed on clear vinyl.

With Marching On, Violent Reaction stick with the sound they do best, and they keep the punches coming fast and furious. Great stuff.

1,243 pressed on gold vinyl.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cruel Bat

Last month, Hells Headbangers released the Bat demo on 12 inch vinyl. While I was initially disappointed to not receive the colored vinyl for that release, in the end I found that the black vinyl actually looked better, so I was okay missing out on the more limited pressing. With the release of the new Bat 7 inch, I was not going to be satisfied unless I had my hands on that limited red vinyl pressing.

Just like with the demo, I was visiting the Hells Headbangers webstore once or twice a day, refreshing the page for the Cruel Discipline 7 inch, just waiting for the record to be available to order. My persistence paid off this time, and I got what I wanted.

Red vinyl limited to 111.

As a teaser for their new LP that is due out later this year, Bat released a two song 7 inch. Well, since the b-side song, Rule Of The Beast, was originally from the demo, we really only get one new song here...but damn, it is worth it. Cruel Discipline picks up where the 2013 demo left off. Fast and raw...this song rules, and increases my anticipation for the new album.

Friday, April 17, 2015

En Vivo!

A few months ago, Doug posted a picture on Instagram of all the Dickinson reunion-era Iron Maiden albums. Seeing the photo opened my eyes to actually how many of these things I was missing. As an Iron Maiden fanboy, I was ashamed of myself.

I'd originally passed on Maiden's En Vivo! record when it was initially released, as I'd grown tired of the band releasing yet another live album. After seeing Doug's photo, I was inspired to give it another go, and went out and purchased the blu-ray release. Man, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed watching it. The setlist was full of those reunion-era songs, and even though we have to sit through the millionth live version of The Trooper and Running Free, at least we get some interesting newer shit like The Wicker Man and Dance Of Death. That isn't to say the the new songs are better than the classics, it is just refreshing to hear something different.

After watching the video, it was only a matter of time before I grabbed the vinyl.

While picking up a couple of live Maiden bootlegs in the Hells Headbangers store, I spotted that they had copy of En Vivo!, and with more excitement than I ever expected to have for a live Iron Maiden album, I added it to the cart.

While I'm turned off by Maiden's insistence on releasing picture discs, and not just giving their fans a regular vinyl option, it is cool to finally have the artwork for the El Dorado and The Final Frontier singles. It is a shame they didn't release proper vinyl singles, and only went the route of digital and CD singles for these two songs.

The inside of the gatefold is a nice painful reminder that Iron Maiden didn't make a stop in Massachusetts on this tour, and in fact only hit 18 US cities, thus I wasn't able to see them this time around.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Master Of Vertigo Swirl

Each Spring, I receive a nice sized annual bonus from my employer. As the time of the payout approaches, I start thinking about what big ticket item I can scratch off my Want List. The past two years a UK Vertigo swirl pressing has commanded my attention, with both Volume 4 and then Paranoid, and this year was no different.

I thought that last years hunt for my copy of Paranoid was over the top crazy, but getting my hands on a quality copy of Master of Reality exceeded all previous efforts. No expense was spared in my quest to find one in top condition...because if you are going to do it, you've got to do it right. It is by far the most I've ever spent on a single record, and is either a testament to how much I love Black Sabbath, or an indication that I'm incredibly stupid.

Unlike any other Sabbath record, the UK Vertigo swirl pressing of Master of Reality comes packaged in a laminated and embossed box. The box cover makes it difficult enough to find one in good shape, as I'm sure it had a tendency to get crushed over the years...add in fact that on most copies the laminate has bubbled along the edges of the embossing, and finding one in great shape is like finding a needle in a haystack. When I found this one on eBay, and saw the amazing condition of the box, I knew that finding another one in this good of shape was going to difficult, so I was determined to make it mine.

Another major piece that will drive up the price is the original poster that came with this record. You can actually pick up the Vertigo swirl of Master of Reality for a decent price if you are willing to sacrifice the poster, and go without it. I couldn't cheat like that...I needed the complete package.

The nine day auction seemed like it took forever to finish, and when the price started to shoot up within the first couple of days, I started to get nervous. Stupid fucking kids were already driving up the price of this thing, and needed to calm the fuck down. I started chewing my fingernails and my nerves were shot as I imagined the price on this thing skyrocketing out of my range. In the end, I may have paid more than I intended...partially because I didn't account for the currency exchange when I threw my maximum bid down...but none of that mattered once the auction ended and it was mine. This was huge...such a major purchase...and I was elated that it was done, and I was crossing a heavy hitter off the Want List.

I've purchased a few other copies of Master of Reality over the years, but none of them come close this UK Vertigo swirl pressing. It is easily the copy to own for big time Sabbath fans. The sound on this thing is amazing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Step To Rhythm

Sometimes I impulse buy. I see a record that I want, and I just buy it. No thought. No research. Sometimes this comes back to bite me, when I discover that if I'd spent a little time looking into the records pressing info, I would have made different choices with my purchase. Such was the case with the latest Rhythm Collision record that recently bought.

It blows my mind to think that the last piece of Rhythm Collision vinyl I bought was the Pressure LP back in 2010. What the fuck? When I started looking through the history of this blog, I was thinking that it was maybe two years ago...not five! Damn. Time flies. In any case, after buying Pressure, it meant that the Now LP was the only album that I didn't own from the band. I did a quick eBay search, and found an auction that was ending soon with zero bids. It was too good to resist, and it was an easy win at $6.00.

Then I started looking at the pressing info for the record, and realized that there were colored vinyl options...and those don't go for much more than what I'd paid for the black vinyl. Damn it. Now I wish that I'd had a bit more patience, and grabbed the colored vinyl instead.

Oh well, this album from 1992 is a great shot of uptempo punk rock. Great melody with a raw end that gets me bouncing whenever I hear it, so I'm just glad to finally have the vinyl in my collection.

Monday, April 06, 2015

High Hopes

Yeah, sometimes I'm a little slow. Last year, both Doug and Sandwell tried to turn me on to the hype of High Spirits. I gave the band a couple of casual listens throughout the year, but I failed to see what the big deal was. I even revisited the band, downloading the band's newest album, You Are Here, as both of them kept going on and on about how it was going to make their Top 10 lists for 2014. I wanted to get into High Spirits, but I still found myself wondering what the big deal was. I didn't understand why they liked this band so much.

Sometimes things will connect when the time is right. Earlier this year, I was listening to the Dagger LP a ton...I was spinning it daily, and was really digging their straight forward, melodic Metal approach. I couldn't get enough of that album, and suddenly I was reminded that High Spirits played a similar style. I checked out that You Are Here album again, and it finally a big way.

Soon, I was listening to this album daily, and I new that I needed the vinyl...soon. I started checking the around at a couple of distros, but came up empty handed each time. Had the vinyl for this already sold out? In a panic I hit up eBay...saw what I wanted and didn't hesitate to click Buy It Now.

I'm not typically a fan of splatter vinyl, but I'm really digging this multi color on white pressing.

As I was buying the You Are Here LP, I noticed that the seller also had High Spirits' 2011 LP, Another Night, available as well. I was riding a high on the band, so I dropped that into my cart as well.

Third pressing. 300 pressed on clear with purple splatter.

How is it that I didn't care much about this band when I first heard them last summer, and now I can't get enough of them? Once again, I end up looking like a fool when I initially ignore Sandwell and Doug's recommendations. You'd think that I'd learn.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

No Survivors

Growing up as a metalhead in the early 80's, listening to Maiden and Priest, and then gravitating to harder and faster stuff like Metallica and Slayer...I suppose it was inevitable that I was going to discover punk and hardcore. Attracted by band names like Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Suicidal Tendencies and Dead Kennedys, it seemed like a natural fit with the shock tactics and aggression of thrash.

Given that I've been listening to a ton of metal lately, I guess that it is a natural progression to find myself starting to listen to more and more of those punk bands that I started blasting from the stereo when I was 15 and 16.

Growing up, the big question was always "Who's better...Iron Maiden or Judas Priest"...and then as time went on, the two big names that I'd pit against each other were G.B.H. and The Exploited. It was always a tough call as to which one I liked better. Here we are, 30 years later, and I think I can finally crown G.B.H. as the winner.

I've been listening to those early G.B.H. songs a lot lately. Every day, I'm listening to City Baby Attacked By Rats, City Babys Revenge, or the first Leather Bristles album, and I'm amazed at how well these songs have held up over the years.

So what do I do when I start obsessing about bands? I start checking eBay, of course.

Just like the Raven records I bought at the start of the year, I found myself drawn to the 7 inch records when I was looking at the options to buy. Right off, I found a near mint copy of the Catch 22/Hellhole 7 inch...and it was in the States as well. Sold.

Once I had one G.B.H. 7 inch, I couldn't stop there. I needed more, and a UK seller quickly gave me the fix that I needed with the No Survivors record. It was beat up a little, but it still plays fine, and the one two punch of No Survivors and Self Destruct kicks my ass every time.

While I was buying the G.B.H. record from the UK seller, I noticed that they also had a few other punk classics available for auction, so I went after them as well.

While I still don't find them as strong as G.B.H., the early Exploited stuff is no slouch. It had been a long time since I'd heard these songs, and now that I've listened to this Dead Cities 7 inch, I've had to add The Exploited to my list of current obsessions. This shit is catchy as hell...let the eBay searches continue!

The final 7 inch that I'd won from the UK seller was the Holiday In Cambodia record from Dead Kennedys. My introduction to this band was their Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death CD. At the time I just thought the title was Jello's dig at society, and I had no idea that it was because it was a compilation of their 7 inch and b-side songs. I've always been content with owning just that CD...until now. Seeing this 7 inch lit a fire under me, and in addition to my obsession with the three different covers that are available for the Holiday In Cambodia release, it has got me thinking of putting in some serious work into building up my DK record collection.