Get Off To a Heavy Start

I’ve been playing the collection I’m a Freak Baby … on and off this week and am now certain that all the selections of the bands I knew beforehand are outstanding cuts. But I would push this most as a starter set for the curious youngster. Hear something that blows your brain out the window — explore some more (you’re not in my running pack if you can resist “Do It” by the Pink Fairies). A surprise throwback to the days of meticulous anthology boxes. (And I’m going to check out the debut album by Stray (S/T), which I gather is their consensus masterpiece and certainly kicks off the program with a wowser.)

R.I.P.: Fred Cole

Lifelong incarnation of “indie spirit rock and roll.” I discovered him and Toody when they were playing a Pierced Arrows album at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and I asked “who in the hell is this dandy item?” It was some early version of Straight To the Heart that doesn’t look like the one you can get now. Loved it, but sat around in ignorance until I read this definitive presentation by Bob Xgau. The double-CD is clearly where to begin, but I wanna snatch up anything I can find by Fred and Toody.

Day of the Doddering Dodo

This morning I think, “Hell’s smells, the last print issue of the Village Voice will hit town today, so why don’t I cruise over to Harvard Square — and specifically Out of Town News — where I grabbed acres of publications when I first moved here — and pick up a copy if any are left.”

So I get there and look around and no nuthin’ nowhere. Adding to my flightless and   clueless condition I ask: “Has the Village Voice sold out already?” Manager looks at me like I’m wearing paisley shorts with hair down to my butt and says “We haven’t got the Voice for four or five years!” “Well, the last print edition was yesterday.” “Ended for us a long time ago.”

So I go to the still-prime Newbury Comics and buy a couple CDs.

I attend an excellent free class on digital marketing of your brand. I am informed that Twitter analytics exists, which is serious news to me. Now I can see what’s going on over there a lot more. Might help me ask question to improve blog traffic,even.

 

 

 

R.I.P.: Walter Becker/Steely Dan

Steeky

Becker and Fagen would be first to say Steely Dan were a rock and roll future that never came to pass. The saddest aspect of their shortfall is that the more you had listened to, the more you appreciated what Steely Dan was on about. One of my greatest frustrations as a popular music critic is that I’m not happy with anything I wrote about the Dan. The only outright botch was my misguided rave for Fagen’s Kamakiriad (though it does still have its believers). And I did get it more or less right that Two Against Nature was quite an accomplishment after such a hiatus and was artistic justice. But probably the best I ever did for the band was during my first record-store job in Boston, where I convinced the owners that Aja was not just for hipsters but would be a hit and sure as hell would be more fun to play than the millionth repetition of Saturday Night Fever or (shudder) Dark Side of the Moon.

Anyway, I think this is as good as possible to do with Steely Dan and that, yeah, it does help to be from NY.

Made Peace with a Piece of the Past

Wearing my “rock.com” t-shirt today and feel happy and confident. For eons it stayed stashed away in a box because it represented an exciting professional future that never came to pass. I was haunted by the feeling that we made mistakes, if we’d only caught a couple lucky breaks, the operation could have been a thumping success. After all, we were unbound by print from the start. But the Leviathan future for the internet now looks inevitable and Google and Amazon stand revealed as mean as any giants.

Now I simply remember the fun. Best salary I ever made. Tickled to be headed into work every day. Talk directly to the wondrous music fans.

Yeah …

Retail Anecdotes, Pt. 2

(Trying for Friday amusement, here.)

A slight down of my post-dentist visit to the music store was that a lunatic showed up and started hassling some French tourists. They handled it like champs and he disappeared. Did remind me …

When I managed a music store in Missoula (before Boston), the kooks were not extremely kooky and it took only one “get out and don’t come back here” to shoo them away.

But in Boston, working the record stores as the Designated Big Guy I had to get troublesome customers out the front door and their Big City Intensity clued me that sooner or later something terrible was likely to happen. A motive to get outta that and into journalism.

I should, though, mention my all-time favorite shoplifter. It was still vinyl in those days and you can’t have everything crowded in the back of the store, though the box sets were always behind the counter. Anyway this speedy ace comes in, grabs a fat armload of LPs and is out the door, with me right behind him.

I’m sure he could outrun me under regular circumstances, but he was bogged down with all those records. After half a block, I was catching up. So he began shedding LPs, dropping one on the sidewalk every couple steps. After he’d gotten rid of more than half his stash, I realized I’d lose more merchandise by continuing to chase him rather than go back and collect the discs dumped on the sidewalk. So it worked out for both of us, man. You got away with some goodies. I got credit for at least mostly foiling a robbery.