What I’ve learned from foraging for vinyl in second hand stores.

25 12 2012

I’ve certainly learned nothing important, nothing that will help me improve my life or the lives around me.  But I think I learned a lot about what the two generations before me liked in music.   The “Greatest Generation,” and to a lesser extent the “Baby Boomers,” listened to a lot of stuff that you never hear anymore.  Artists that I’ve heard of all my life, but who really meant nothing to me, were wildly popular 35-55 years ago.

When vinyl died its first death in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a lot of people replaced their favorite vinyl albums with cassettes and CD’s.  I know because I worked at Musicland at our local mall.  What I also know is that 95% of the stuff that fills vinyl bins at second-hand stores, flea markets and even record stores that specialize in vinyl, weren’t replaced.  When grandma and grandpa died their kids gave away their collections.

You know that these old records sat around for years, maybe decades.  A lot of ’em smell like mothballs and the mustiness of a mid-century home’s basement (you know those places, asbestos tiles and wood paneled walls.)  But I digress (as usual.)

Here’s the stuff that you are guaranteed to find at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or _____ second hand store:

*  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

*  Perry Como

*  Andy Williams

*  Multiple disk classical, hymns and Christmas songs packages

*  Barbara Streisand’s 70’s stuff

*  Barry Manilow

*  Bobby Vinton

*  Any number of classical works

*  Acker Bilk — Who the feck is that guy?

*  Johnny Mathis

* Roger Whittaker

*  Lou Rawls

*  Marches of all types

*  Al Hirt

*  Lawrence Welk — a favorite of my grandmother

*  Mitch Miller

*  Polkas, polkas, polkas and more polkas; polka records by the dozen — There were and are a lot of Polish folks around Detroit so that explains a bit of that.

There are cooler (to Generation X-er’s and hip Baby Boomers) things to be found, but they finding real gems is like hitting the Daily 3 or 4 lottery.   Aretha Franklin — I’m not a fan but … — is not too hard to find.  The Detroit second hand shops, meaning those right in the city, always have some  Motown platters.  Sadly, most of those records are pretty beat up.  But they are there to be found.  Of course, Detroit is a rock town so you’ll find Foghat, Nazareth, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent and Bob Seger. Elvis is easy to be found, but usually it’s some lousy compilation album that has been beaten to death.  What you’ll never find in those stores are the giants of the vinyl era: The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, good Elvis stuff, Chuck Berry, Neil Young… the core of the early rock and classic rock periods.  You gotta go to a record store for that stuff and you’ll find it there for a few bucks more than what you’d pay at Salvation Army.

The great thing about the few records stores that are out there is that they only buy old records with an eye toward re-selling them.  They might buy a beat up Zeppelin album, but you won’t pay more than a $1 for it.  The bulk of what they take in for sale at $5, $7, $10 to $20 has to be in great shape and/or really hard to find.  The real gems are in the records stores.

Maybe I didn’t really learn anything about anyone.  Maybe what I really learned is that Herb Alpert and Mitch Miller sold a shitload of records in their day and probably retired and/or died billionaires.  Their albums are as common and easy to find as squirrels on a tree-lined street.


Well, I’ll be damned

9 03 2012

This is old news but it’s news to me.  Lou Gramm, former lead vocalist of Foreigner, is a Christian and put out a so-called Christian rock album nearly 3 years ago.

I had no idea that he had gone the way of guys like Bob Dylan and Mylon LeFevre.

I’m a Christian but I don’t like most contemporary Christian music or Christian rock.  I find it unsatisfying as music.  If I want music to be part of my spiritual experience, I will listen to old hymns or classical stuff.  But if I want to rock out, I’m going secular all the way… (well, I will on very rare occasions still listen to Stryper.)

Anyway, I was surprised to see this news.


Best of Angus

12 11 2010

Growing up I was always an Eddie Van Halen fan, almost to the exclusion of all the other 70’s and 80’s supposed guitar gods.  I was particularly unimpressed, back in those days, with Angus Young.  I found him kind of boring.  I think I measured a guitarist by his ability to solo and I don’t think that’s ever been Angus’s strong suit.

20-something years later, though, I see his work in a different light.  Angus wrote some of the greatest rock guitar riffs ever.  They’re relatively simple in construction, but powerful.  It’s hard to match the sound he get out of his Gibson SG and whatever his rig was.

I’m not terribly familiar with AC/DC’s oldest stuff, nor do I know much about their stuff from the last 10-15 years.  But we all know their “classics.”  Here are my favorite AC/DC guitar songs

  • Hell’s Bells —  There might not be a better opening riff in rock history than in this song.  The bell is classic!
  • Back In Black — To find 10 better hard rock albums than Back in Black would be incredibly difficult, to say the least.  The title track is one of the best songs on one of the best rock albums of all time.
  • Who Made Who — Before AC/DC’s career took something of a dip, they put out this song for the soundtrack of Maximum Overdrive.  Top notch work in both the solo and the intro and outro.
  • Shoot To Thrill — Another song from Back in Black, STS is a 30 year old track that sounds maybe better now than in 1980.  It fit perfectly in the recent Iron Man 2 flick.
  • Highway to Hell — I always found it somewhat haunting that Bon Scott died within months of the song charting.  As a kid, I always shunned this song as overtly evil.  But I’d be lying to say it doesn’t rock!  HtoH features one of the best rifs ever.
  • Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) — Simple but powerful aptly describes this tune.  DDDDC is infectious.  It’s a great song to crank and scream down the highway.

A neglected classic: The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down”

25 08 2009

This might be one of the cooler guitar licks of the 1960’s.  It’s a great rock tune.  Too bad it never gets airplay, even on “oldies” and so-called “classic rock” stations.   Enjoy it here.

The concert I’d like to see

28 04 2009

As much as I love music, there are very few concerts these days that come to town that I really would like to see.  If I could put together this show, I would.

One of my favorites is Paul McCartney.  In the last ten years or so, he’s kind of falling out of favor with me.  I’ve not wanted to go see any of his shows and I don’t think I’ve actually paid for one of his albums in that stretch (although Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and Memory Almost Full are quite good.)  I didn’t care to see him play the Super Bowl a few years back and I didn’t have much interest in his recent gig with Ringo in NYC.

After watching some clips of his performances at Coachella, the Concert for George a few years back, and the “Change Begins Within” show, I’ve had something of a change of heart.  I’d love see Paul perform live.  Here’s what I would change, though.

The shows have all been heavily dependent on backing bands and heavy production.  The concert for George, for instance, had sets with multiple guitarists, bassists and drummers.  Get rid of all that stuff.  It’s too much clutter, too much noise, too slick.

Hand Paul a bass and plug him into a stack.  Get Ringo behind the drums.  Maybe get somebody like Eric Clapton or David Gilmour to play guitar.   Perhaps that’s too ambitious.  Find great lead and rhythm guitar players, some young gunslingers if necessary.  Put them in a 1,000 to 2,000 seat place, charge a grand per ticket and let ’em rip.  They could play old rock tunes, maybe stuff like the Fabs used to play in Hamburg.  Of course it should be recorded in hi-def audio and video and packaged for sale.

No overdubs.  No synthesizers or keyboards to recreate strings and horns and such.  Bare bones production.  Just rock out!

I know this will never happen.  But “it’s all part of my rock and roll fantasy.”

My favorite Rolling Stones song: “Gimme Shelter”

12 03 2009

Brilliant! Masterpiece! Fantastic! Love it!

I’m not a huge Stones fan, but I could listen to “Gimme Shelter” for hours straight.

Chopping up the White Album

7 01 2009

white-albumMojo The Magazine (one of my favorites) website has an interactive feature, “Towards A One-Disc White Album.”  Here’s the link.


The premise is based on George Martin having said (see the Anthology video series) that the White Album should have, in his opinion, been made into a really good single album instead of the double album that was issued.  The Mojo feature asks you, the fan, to craft the White Album as a single disc.  Sounds like fun.  It also sounds like a daunting task.  I figured I would take a stab at it here at The Sound of the Pounding.

My White Album will be issued on vinyl, like in the good old days, and will have two sides.  If I had to shrink this great record to one platter, I would give it 9 songs per side and it would probably look like this:

Side 1

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. Glass Onion
  4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  6. Why Don’t We Do It In the Road
  7. Blackbird
  8. I Will
  9. Julia

Side 2

  1. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
  2. Revolution #1
  3. Yer Blues
  4. Obla-Di-Obla-Da
  5. Sexy Sadie
  6. Martha My Dear
  7. Long Long Long
  8. Cry Baby Cry
  9. Helter Skelter

I played a bit more with the song order on side 2 than on side 1.  I like the idea of bookending the album with two of McCartney’s heavier numbers.  The album should start and end on high notes with bluesier songs (like Yer Blues or Revolution # 1) and ballads (Julia, I Will, Martha My Dear) sandwiched in between.

The only right way of doing this is to not do it at all.  The White Album is one of the greatest collections of songs in rock history.  The fans got a real bargain to get all that variety in one set.