Entry 0034: The Closest Dream Come True

joydcloser

LP: Closer by Joy Division

2008 Factory (?) FACT 25, FACT XXV, Unofficial, Red vinyl, autographed 2013 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Favorite Track: Isolation

I still remember the day I passed up purchasing original Factory Records of both Joy Division albums. I had just started collecting vinyl and I had no idea how scarcity worked. Vinyl was starting to come back into popularity and price tags were starting to be raised. I tried never to spend more than 10 dollars for a single record, preferring to buy five or six records at a time instead of just one “good” one. They were 20 dollars each, the most I had ever seen for a record at the time although that would soon change. Joy Division is my favorite band, I told myself. I held them in my hands, debating. I’m sure I made one or two of the store employers wonder if I was having a fit or trying to work up the courage to try and dash through the door. I put them back and left the store without buying anything.

I live in regret. And with a red bootleg of the album that changed my life.

Alas, I changed my buying purchases. Some people may laugh at me for buying the “outrageous” prices that are usually slapped on a punk LP these days. They can. But I don’t care anymore. I don’t have the luck or the time to search out every punk album I want to find the cheapest copy. Most of the original copies I have purchased have been cheaper than the brand new re-issues. Ultimately, what matters is that I love the music that is on the disc. I wasn’t even alive for when most of my favorite bands were making these albums anyways. I am not trying to be authentic or cool or to hold bragging rights. I simply like music and am willing to spend my hard earned money on it.

So when I discovered that Peter Hook and the Light were coming to Cincinnati to perform a set of New Order songs followed by both Joy Division albums in their entirety, you better believed I jumped out of my socks, danced, hollered, and started asking all my friends to come with me. Some “purists” probably immediately dismissed the show because Peter Hook was the only original member cashing in on the eternal popularity of Joy Division and who could sing like Ian Curtis? Perhaps, although I am positive Peter Hook was doing it more to honor his dead friend of 35 years (longer than the poor bloke was alive). But I say Joy Division never got to tour America in the first place. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity unless you are someone who can pack up and go see them in multiple cities or you get lucky and they do the tour again. This is the closest I can get to the dream.

Behind them were giant roll-outs of the Unknown Pleasures and Closer album covers. The band came out to a thunderous applause and Peter Hook, wearing a yellow A Certain Ratio Hacienda t-shirt, asked if we were feeling lonesome tonight. I didn’t get that was the song title. More embarrassingly, I discovered it is the B-side to Thieves Like Us, which I own. Guess I better spin that when I get home. Lonesome Tonight was followed by As It Is When It Was and This Time of Night, two New Order songs I was not familiar with. I was toe-tapping though despite some early keyboard/sound problems. Sooner Than You Think and Subculture really got me into the groove. No disrespect to Peter Hook or his son Jack who were playing bass; they were great. But, especially during the Joy Division material, David Potts stole my attention numerous times with his guitar work. He really showcased the strength of those riffs. The last two New Order songs were Age of Consent and Blue Monday, two of my favorites with Blue Monday being one of my favorite dance songs. The venue was crowded enough that I couldn’t go into full-arm swing dance mode, but I did my best to not step on toes and give the little 8-year girl a chance to see.

They took a short break and I expected the opening bass riff of Unknown Pleasures, which was going to send shivers down my spine. Instead, the drum began the long robotic drumming of Atrocity Exhibition. Ah, they were playing Closer first. Which meant my ALL-TIME FAVORITE SONG ISOLATION WAS NEXT! Atrocity Exhibition was great and a little different from the Martin Hannett production as to be expected. I have a couple of live Joy Division albums where they sound like metal crushing more metal and the the sparse space sound Hannett captures in the studio is lost to feedback and cheap speakers. The few live recordings I have heard of Atrocity lack the power of Hannett’s recording, but the Light were doing the song justice. Then Isolation came on.

Oh that synthesizer, those drums. A perfect combination of angst and rhythm. I sang out loud, sorry people around me. Joy Division became my favorite band the minute I heard the drums of Atrocity Exhibition back when I bought Closer on a whim my Freshman year of college. But it was Ian Curtis’s lyrics that took this weird band from being the band of the minute to the band of all-time. Isolation holds a strong personal connection with me and to hear it reverberating through Bogart’s as I was already working up a sweat and doing my best Ian Curtis dance impression wearing my red dress shirt (it looks like one he was wearing in a picture I saw in MOJO magazine also purchased my Freshman year) will be one of my favorite concert reveries in the future. Heck, it already is today.

The bass on Passover was outstanding. I was glad they were playing the albums in order because Joy Division is heavy with atmospheric songs. Some people may look at them as filler and not worthy of being played live, but I disagree. Everything about Joy Division is weird and the brooding beauty of their “ballads” are dynamic during a live show. For the most part, Peter Hook was austere, said little to the crowd, and just let the music speak for itself. He loosened up a bit for Colony and sold its cryptic repetition of “God in His wisdom took you by the hand / God in His wisdom made you understand.” A Means to the End and Heart and Soul are just great dance songs. This concert was already beyond my wildest fantasies. If I had a girlfriend, she probably would have broken up with me at this point or married me on the spot.

Twenty Four Hours is something everyone needs to hear live. Peter Hook did a swell job on the vocals, but again David Potts stole my attention. What a guitar riff. The Eternal was the weakest song of the night, in my humble opinion, but only because I think the bassist and the drummer got out of sync. The sound man came out a few times during the show fiddling with the bass amp which I think the synth was also hooked into. No problem for me though. Decades sounded like the funeral dirge it always sounds like. A great album closer. Peter Hook and the Light took a short break.

At this point, someone had texted me “When is the Joy Division show?” Ummm, sorry?!

They came on stage again. Alright, I thought to myself, here comes that Disorder bass line that is going to send everyone into dance craziness. Instead another song came on. It was Glass but I had mistaken it as Day of the Lords at first, thinking oh they are going to save Disorder for last. Glass was good. They segued right into Disorder and, for a moment, everyone was confused and then they recognized the tune and people started bobbing their heads and shouting. I have to say I saw a few people recording on their cameras but not as bad as I would have thought. Then Day of the Lords and Candidate made me wish I was at those early Joy Division shows. What kind of music was this? Punk rockers must have been baffled.

Everyone sang to Insight. RIP Ian Curtis, your words still mean a lot to people.

New Dawn Fades, She’s Lost Control, Shadowplay, Wilderness and Interzone were like the grand finale. If you were hating the show up to that moment for some reason, it was at this point you probably stopped hating and had a blast. These songs are indestructible to blase attitudes. Peter Hook sang I Remember Nothing like he really wanted everyone to be his friend. Perhaps he needed that because I can’t imagine what kind of memories were going through his head as he sang his dead friend’s lyrics.

Cincinnati needs to work on its encore cheering. Chicago has you way beat and not because of sheer numbers.

Surprise song of the night: Komakino. Excellent guitar riff in that song. Not surprising at all but who cares because they are playing TRANSMISSION AND LOVE WILL TEAR US APART AND EVERYONE IS SINGING ALONG AND UNITED IN AWKWARDNESS!

Did I have a good time? Yes. Do I still regret not buying those original Factory Records? Maybe more than ever. But that is alright. You lose some, but they are never as big as you win.

Entry 0033: Seeing the Sonics

heresonics introsonics

LP: Here Are the Sonics!!!

1998 Norton Records NW 903

Favorite Track: Psycho

LP: Introducing the Sonics

1998 Beatrocket BR 114

Favorite Track: Psycho

I have a habit of seeing bands when they are not in their prime. I am also happy to put that bit of musical snobbery to shame because it isn’t true. The original members of the Sonics are in their 60’s, but they rocked as hard as I imagine they did in the sixties. If you have a chance to see them, do it. Their new songs are just as entertaining as their old classics; their setlist is the perfect mixture of old and new. I try not to get my hopes up too high for a band to play my favorite songs. They could be sick of them for all I know. But Psycho and Strychnine are my jams. I also dance around in my jammies to Have Love, Will Travel; Boss Hog; and the Witch.

They played all five.

This was a concert I almost missed. I have been plagued my migraine symptoms for a while now especially light sensitivity. I was worried the stage lighting would mess with my head. A friend told me to go because it is most likely the only chance I will ever have to see the Sonics. It dawned on me they are old and probably don’t want a crazy light show either. I took the chance and stood waiting for the 17 bus to take me to OTR. It was late, I counted four buses going the other way before the 51, 19, and 17 all showed up at once with the 17 being last and almost driving past me. This was a sign of things to come, but more on that later.

I ate at MOTR pub and had some delicious mac and cheese. I also learned that the same people run the Woodward Theater across the street and everyone there was going to the show. One person had an original Sonics Boom LP and I may have drooled on my shirt. The jukebox also had the worst Fall cd in it. The Woodward Theater reminded me a little of the Metro in Chicago: a wide open auditorium with a small stage and some balcony seating. A fancy bar was tucked to the side but otherwise it was rather bare bones. The owner (?) was an old guy running around in a Cramps T-shirt so I knew the place was going to let the music speak for itself. I ran into an old acquaintance who bought me a fancy drink and told me some bad news about yet another person overdosing on drugs. The opening band were solid. The lead singer came out wearing an Egyptian headdress like he was Sun Ra. The venue went from empty to being full pretty fast. Everyone was happy.

While waiting for the Sonics to come on stage, I saw a very pretty girl leaning against a pillar by herself. I had seen her earlier in the night and I decided, “Oh hell, might as well go and be awkward around her. Chances are she will just roll her eyes and go lean against some other post.” Instead we started talking about comic books. She immediately said, “You are awkward, but not as much as I am” which made me laugh because I had thought I got away with being normal for once. Then the conversation turned to Hot Tub Time Machine and the idea that life can change on the circumstance of a chance meeting. She then asked me to join her upstairs to watch the show and I followed her. The Sonics started and after two songs I told her I had to go dance in the crowd. She nodded seeing my enthusiasm. I asked her to meet me after the show and ran down the stairs just in time for Have Love, Will Travel and Money. When they ended their set on Psycho, I became a dancing maniac. I hide my Sonics records every winter and only bring them out during the spring and summer where I listen to Psycho nearly non-stop. People were chanting for an encore before they even left the stage. They, of course, rocked us with three more songs including Strychnine and the Witch. I had to go to the bathroom immediately afterward, luckily not peeing myself during the Witch.

The girl was no where to be found.

Then the bus drove past me twice. I was clearly at the stop and waved at him way a block before he had to stop but he kept going so I ran to the next stop and he kept going. This lead me to get drunk at Arlins and pass out on the couch watching Seinfeld. But my head was fine and I am so ready for Peter Hook and the Light Monday night.

I said baby, you’re driving me crazy

When you turn me on

Then you shut me down

Well, tell me baby, am I just your clown

Psycho!”

Entry 0032: Record Store Day 2015

beefheartrsd

LP: Rough, Raw, and Amazing (Live at Leicester De Mountfort Hall 1972)
2015 Record Store Day Limited Edition, Dandelion Records OZIT DAN LP 8024, yellow semi-translucent, 14 out of 1500
Favorite Track: When It Blows It Stacks

My Record Store Day 2015 was yellow. No, seriously. Three of the four RSD vinyl purchases I made were on yellow vinyl. There must have been a lot of leftover dye at the factory. How was your Record Store Day? I would really love to read some comments about this “holiday” if you allow overt consumerism to be considered a holiday. Of course you do. I would also love to hear from record store employees and their opinions on RSD. Not all of it is pretty, but I support it. People come out in droves to spend their hard-earned money at a local, independent business and then, at least in my case, spend the afternoon with friends.

Speaking of the ugly, let us get the parts of Record Store Day that I don’t like out of the way. I would rather focus on the positive, but feel necessary to espouse a little on the negative. The prices have reached a high where I am starting to become frugal. This year I bought almost as many non-RSD purchases as RSD records (taking a chance on the Tom Verlaine/David Bowie split was worth the money.) I was really curious for the Johnny Thunders, Stooges, Captain Beefheart, Kinks Size, Brian Eno, the 101ers, and Violent Femmes records. Some of them were 35.99, which in the case of the Johnny Thunders I already had an original Live at Max’s Kansas City volume 1 (for 14.99) and wasn’t going to spend that much money for 5 more Heartbreaker songs. Kinks Size was 11.99, again just reaching a price tag too much for me. Actually, I ended up purchasing the most expensive album [Captain Beefheart at 40 making it the 2nd or 3rd record tied for most spent in my collection] because a) I lovvvvvvvve Captain Beefheart and b) I decided I wasn’t going to buy Thunders, Stooges, Eno and the 101ers. Also, it was the biggest risk I took because even the back sleeve said the recording wasn’t great, which is true. Luckily, the bass and drums thunder along on Click Clack, Grow Fins, and When it Blows it Stacks. What Record Store Day really needs is a time machine to send you back to a concert of your choice.

I’ve read a couple of online articles criticizing RSD along the lines that major labels hog the vinyl factories to chug out all these releases and a lot of independent music labels are put on the back burner. I also read that two pressing plants were discovered and are being fixed up, which hopefully will help address this problem. Ultimately, however, RSD has become huge and with large-scale success comes lots of problems. People often forget or don’t know that Starbucks was once just a coffee bean retailer back in ’71 and it wasn’t until ’87 when they began expanding did they become the coffee empire they are today. I think if people want to preserve vinyl records and have a fair usage between major and minor labels, independent people need to start their own pressing plants. I believe there are only 15 plants in the nation. But with that solution will only come more problems. The world operates on Aleister Crowley’s theory of the Solider and the Hunchback: behind every Aha Idea! is another question with another idea behind that and another question, etc.

Now for the good. I stayed at a friend’s house on Friday night and enjoyed a lovely grill-out and Wisconsin beer. Then I woke up at 5:30 am to promptly hit my snooze button for another 15 minutes. After a muffin, I was ready to stand and sit in the street for a couple of hours in line. We were about 40th in line which quickly filled behind us. The doors opened at 8 am but it was probably about an hour before we actually got to the records. Luckily, Rhinegeist brewed a specialty A-Side IPA and gave out samples which made the wait much more tolerable. A pint would have been nice. I was amused at the purchases people clutched in their hands as they lined up to buy. Sorry to be a “music snob”, but Stonesour and Phish really? Rounding the corner, the records came into view and I found a reissue of X’s Adult Books and a Side by Side: Tom Verlaine/David Bowie 7 inch. I didn’t know much about the latter, but it was one of the cheapest items I saw on sale and, wisely, purchased it. For a moment my heart leaped into my throat when I saw a kid in front of me grab the Happy Mondays record–the number one item on my list. But they had plenty of copies so I had no reason to worry. At this point, I was tired of being in line and instead of splitting my purchases between the two great record stores in the neighborhood, I decided to just buy all the RSD records at the current location and just look for other goodies at the other. Again, prices were part of this decision. Then I strolled downstairs and found an original albeit censored version of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams and a dubious import of Tom Wait’s Bone Machine. At the other record store, I found the Kink’s Kinkdom.

But the day was just beginning even though I had been up for five hours already. We stopped at a cafe for some much needed caffeine and to wait for friends. Then we shared a lovely lunch. Some went home after that, but others went to a bar where we played Barbie’s Queen of Prom Adventure or some such silly name. My hussy was only good for collecting money and talking to (closeted?) Becky. I only wound up with Tom by default as sexy Pointdexter and Ken were swooped up as well as someone taking a liking to creepy pencil-necked Bob.

Then I went home and listened to records when I should have taken a nap. I fell asleep at 9:30, the earliest in probably four years. I am glad Record Store Day is only once a year (I do not go on Black Friday) but I am also glad it happens every year. By the way, I should have mentioned that this was the first year I have gone in a two/three years because I normally work on Saturdays and the last few times I had friends pick up my requests.

Thank you record stores especially ShakeIt, Black Plastic, and Papa Jazz–the three apostles of Vinyl Jesus.

Entry 0031: Holiday in the Waxy Sun

essentiallogic

EP: Wake Up by Essential Logic

1979 Virgin VS 261-12

Favorite Track: Quality Crayon Wax O.K.

 

Record Store Day is Saturday and you better believe I am excited. Recently, despite that every year more and more record sales are happening, people have started to voice dissenting opinions about RSD. From what I’ve read, the majority of the complaints deal with major record labels hogging the few vinyl factories which delay indie releases. Maybe I will touch on that in a later post (although this is what happens to all things that start small and relatively unknown then become part of the social consciousness–Amazon and Starbucks were once a dream, you know) but this post is going to focus a little on what makes rare and/or limited-release editions (such as found on Record Store Day) so appealing.

Which is why I put the Wake Up EP by Essential Logic as this blog’s record.

I have met numerous punk rockers and fans of punk music in my short life time. Seemingly few have heard of Essential Logic even though nearly all have claimed to be huge fans of X-ray Spex. Lara Logic was 15 when she and her friend Poly Styrene started X-ray Spex. Lara blared that sax on the wonderful “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” single which remains not only a staple but one of the best songs of that rich era. Lara left (one source I read said management didn’t want two girls in one group, but I haven’t been able to confirm that with any other source) and started Essential Logic, which has a similar sound to X-ray Spex albeit more off-kilter and art-rock. They produced very little material: 1 full length, 6 singles, and a compilation album. Currently, I own 2 of the singles. As far as I can tell, none of it has been reissued on vinyl; I used to own the double disc CD which I sold to Papa Jazz Records during my great “Goodbye to CDs, Hello Vinyl” clearance in the summer of 2008. Finding Essential Logic records to me is like finding a magical weapon in Dungeon and Dragons. Oh, sorry. It is like kissing a lover.

I don’t believe that many people when they find a rare or limited-release album snatch it up and think: “Ha! I’m the only person in the neighborhood that has this album. People are going to be so jealous of me.” Instead, I think they think: “Holy shit! *mind goes blank*!” It is overwhelmingly exciting. A limited-release record usually has two numbers on the back such as 615/2000. Again, I don’t think many people care that only two thousand were made and only two thousand record collectors can boast of it in their collections. They are just shocked that one of them was still on the shelf by the time they got there. Record Store Day is slightly odd in that sense because it is a specific day that declares “When we open up at 8 am, there are going to be a bunch of limited-release items sitting there. Have at it!” It is a little too much like Black Friday to me, but I am a staunch supporter of record stores. Yes, I occasionally buy online mostly through discogs or ebay but, for the most part, I do my best to give my money to these independent stores.

This is the first year I remembered to call off RSD since it has gotten huge. I am excited to wake up at 4 am and wait in line for a chance to buy some albums I have craved for many years now. But it is just one day. There will always be another day like they day I walked into Black Plastic and found Wake Up by Essential Logic. I read they got in trouble for using the Alice in Wonderland rabbit which caused the record to be recalled. I wonder how many of them are out there in various collections. When I saw it, I immediately snatched it up and ignored how much it was going to cost me. I was too busy fist pumping. 

Entry 0030: My Cellphone is a Stand Up Comedian

voltaire

LP: Microphonies by Cabaret Voltaire

1984 Virgin Records CV 2

Favorite Track: Spies in the Wires

 

Here is another odd batch of text messages that tickle the pockets of my jeans until they puke up spare change. What follows is plenty of NSFW language and ideas. Spring is definitely in the air. Is the birds and the bees still a thing? Anyways, you can blame Miley Cyrus if you want, but that wouldn’t really be productive as the people writing these twisted messages are far older than she is. They are older than time itself…

PINEAPPLE: Blow off your condom boys. Let’s make a permanent mistake tonight!

 

KUMQUAT: The winds of the wastes smell like old blood and hog semen. Sunday 1 pm.

 

PINEAPPLE: Sweet! Track them down and beat them with a panty hose full of whale piss. Or thank them.

 

CHEESE: I’ll likely come over at 8 unless STRAWBERRY magically doesn’t have to work because then I’m going to do kinky stuff to him.

 

YAM: Ooooh the old arm touch. I did that tonight and then later I got to makeout.

 

PINEAPPLE: Best idea ever: 2 young girls manning a chocolate milk booth called 2 Girls, 1 Cup.

YAM: Oh wow cool kid must be awesome anal sex all around.

 

PINEAPPLE: I woke up this morning with this song stuck in my head: “Your panties, your panties, your panties are soaked in the brine of my love.”

BEETS: That’s pretty good, actually.

PINEAPPLE: Do you ever pronounce the classical music composer Debussy as De pussy?

BEETS: I don’t often say Debussy and no, I never have.

PINEAPPLE: That is a shame. De pussy is all up in this mansion, trilling your G chord with this 8 octave scale.

 

LIME: Is your landlord’s name LEMON?

PINEAPPLE: Yes

LIME: I met him doing laundry. They just sprayed your place for bugs. As far as he knows, you and I are going steady! Heyyy! Make sex noises tonight!

 

YAM: Oh wow cool kid must be awesome anal sex all around.

 

YAM: Also if you ever see that girl in person you should poop on her shoes.

 

PINEAPPLE: Ahh serendipity hit me in my tighthole.

YAM: How’s that?

 

PINEAPPLE: That game is going to be so fun. I should have gone but I am in deadly combat with egg yolk now.

Many hours later

GRAPES: Wait what?

 

GRAPES: Is there any chance the shoes that the brunette left at your apartment are a ladies’ size 10? They were kind of cute.

Entry 0029: Poetry Wax

elviscostello

7-inch: Watchin’ the Detectives by Elvis Costello

1977 Stiff Records BUY 20, solid-centre

Favorite Track: Mystery Dance (live)

 

“Elvis Costello is just like these pants / Snug and close to my lady parts.”

The drum fill reverberated around the student hall. The lead singer was a stick figure with liberty spikes. She held the microphone wrapped around one wrist, her other punching the keyboard with ferocious palm smacks.  Next to her, the bassist whipped his long-hair into a cyclone of unwashed split ends. Captain Legible did his normal dance, which remained obscene in twenty states.

“They’re great!” Yasmeen said to her best friend David, “What are their names again?”

“Yoga Nipple. Kind of a weird name.”

“Kind of?”

“I think it came from a Lord Buckley Loaf poem. You know, the poet who tried to turn the Appalachian Trail into a giant orgone energy accumulator.”

The song ended with the cymbal broken and spinning across the wooden floor. Two students tussled over it before the square-jawed drummer of the opening act stepped on it with his combat boots. The lead singer reached over the amps and pulled out a slim book of Lord Buckley Loaf’s poetry and began to recite:

“Lawn gnomes live between my toes

Planting herb gardens in rows

As I spread their seeds underfoot

Where I walk a hearty feast grows.

 

Tapioca is just soul pudding

In the godless subconscious wooding

Where in the dark cackle the psycho crows

And the misfits are known for brooding.”

David and Yasmeen put their arms around each other and snapped a photo of each other with their phones. There was unspoken apprehension in the atmosphere between the two college students. The semester was ending and David was going to Iowa for the Fall for a series of poetry workshops. He never told her about the time he held Brian in his arms as he sobbed into his shoulder when Yasmeen broke up with him. All the jealousy he had about his best friend dating the girl he was secretly in love with had dissolved under the nearly inaudible lamentations of a, albeit temporary, broken man. Yasmeen never told him she wrote him a love letter but lost it before she could give it to him, which, after three nights of discussion with her mother, she discovered she really cared for Brian instead.

It was April 1st, the start of National Poetry Month. Tonight, as they walked arm in arm toward the student dormitories, emotions were best left for the page. The written word bleeds more fiercely on the skin of paper.

Inside David’s head, he began to compose:

“In school, they taught us that love is like a red, red, rose.

To me, it was a kiss at a STOP sign.”