the original soundtrack

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07/25/2006: "record shopping."

I haven't listened to much new music over the past month. I've inherited a pair of Technics 1200s, on extended loan, and I've gotten obsessed with buying vinyl. I'm not talking new vinyl here; this is strictly dollar-bin material. I spend literally hours on weekends sifting through dusty old crates on floors in anonymous Brooklyn record shops and thrift shops, looking for that ruby in the rough. Bargain-bin shopping is motivated partly by finances, of course--I'd go broke if I bought tons of new records each week, and what fun would that be--but there's also that amazin' record-collector tingle you get when you find a good record for (almost!) nothing. And I miss record shopping. I don't like buying stuff online. I want to feel it with my own hands, test its weight, see the crinkles in the cover art and the frayed edges. Here are a bunch of records I bought recently that I paid a dollar for...

DOLLAR RECORDS, PART 1

Man Parrish - Hip Hop Bebop (Don't Stop) (Extended Remix) b/w Heatstroke [Importe, 1982]



This is one of the best records ever. The sticker bears the emblem of Sugarscoop, the long-dead New York electro label. I had trouble playing it at first, because so much dirt was crammed in the grooves that it actually would not play, taking the concept of "dirty electro" to a whole new level.

Mr Fingers – Washing Machine, Can You Feel It b/w Beyond the Clouds [Trax, 1986]



I kind of gasped when I found this for a buck. Not just because it's a great record, but because it's so shoddily pressed that I felt like it was crumbling between my fingers when I picked it up. Most of the Trax records I own are reissues, and I already had 'Can You Feel It' as a gleaming reissue, but I had to buy this twenty-year-old copy because it felt so old and fragile. I'd read all the stories about how Trax often used recycled vinyl instead of virgin vinyl back in the day, and that they used relatively untrained people to press the records (in stark contrast to the exacting professionalism we've come to expect from houses like Dubplates & Mastering.) And what was Trax thinking putting "Washing Machine" and "Can You Feel It," two of the best house tracks of all time, on the same side of the 12"? Were they that stingy with their vinyl? According to popular legend, Larry Heard wrote "Washing Machine," "Can You Feel It," and "Mystery of Love" on the same day--amazing to think he was just cranking out these tunes. The B-side is "Beyond the Clouds," a haunting, ethereal 8-minute sweep. I'm kind of obsessed with it. The label is wildly off-center, so it looks funny when it spins.

Inner City – Good Life / Big Fun [Virgin, 1988]

Still classic.

Maurice – This is Acid (A New Dance Craze) [Vendetta, 1988]

One of the dumbest acid house tracks ever, but still kind of great.

Mouse on Mars – Frosch [Too Pure, 1994]

This is pretty much a straight-up techno record--nothing like the weirdo 'experimental' stuff I normally associate with Mouse on Mars. It was also their very first release. 'Froschroom' is the jam on this one, I think. Nine minutes long and totally dreamy. A real anthem.

Vapourspace – Gravitational Arch of 10 [Plus8, 1993]

Classic.

Riley Reinhold & Steve Barnes – Black Rain [Trapez, 2005]

Goldie – Inner City Life Remixes [1994]

The Nookie remix on this is awesome. So much better than the 4hero one.

Manu Dibango - Makossa Man [Atlantic, 1974]

Before I got this, I only knew 'Soul Makossa' (which isn't on this; it came out a few years earlier, in 1972). 'Soul Makossa,' of course, was a total inadvertent disco anthem, one for the history books. But this is also really good.

Tangerine Dream – Atem [Ohr, 1973]

I've gotten really into early Tangerine Dream recently. Just waves of pulsing analog-synthesizer epic after pulsing analog-synthesizer epic. Great stuff. Seriously, I don't see how you could like Delia and Gavin and not like this.

Tyree – Turn Up the Bass [DJ International, 1988]

The Age of Love – The Age of Love [1990]

I have trouble listening to this because I've heard it so many times, but, you know, one dollar.

Tech Trax Inc. (Rheji Burrell) - Feel the Luv [Nu Groove, 1988]

The very first record on Nu Groove, I think.

Fast Eddie – Yo Yo Get Funky [DJ International, 1988]

'Acid Thunder' was his best tune, but I'll settle for this.

Todd Edwards Presents New Trend’s Sound [i!, 1995]

Wow.

Tangerine Dream – Stratosfear [Virgin, 1976]

Kerri Chandler – Atmosphere EP [Shelter, 1993]

Black Rabbit Whorehouse Vol. 1 [OSCARR, 2004]

Power House – 2 (Kenny’s Jazz) [Nu Groove, 1990]

Transphonic - Club Tools [Nu Groove, 1990]

Roqui – Lover [Nu Groove, 1989]

Kate Bush – Lionheart [EMI, 1978]

Marshall Jefferson - Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem) [Trax, 1986]

RECORDS I PAID TWO DOLLARS FOR

Neil Young – Trans [Geffen, 1982]



My former music editor at the Voice, Chuck Eddy, tipped me off to this record a few years ago. He was absolutely appalled that I hadn't heard it, knowing my penchant for electronic music. It never came out on CD as far as I know. This is Neil's ill-fated synth-pop record from 1982. I think it's genius. The songs have Kraftwerkesque titles like "Computer Age," "Transformer Man," and "Sample and Hold," but there's something distinctly American about this record--I mean, there's a song called "Computer Cowboy," for chrissakes. I'm writing a whole big article about Trans--I want to resuscitate it, unravel the stories behind the album, place it within the history of electronic music (if anyone is crazy enough to publish this, drop me a line.) Dig the lyrics to "Computer Cowboy": "Ride along computer cowboy/To the city just in time/To bring another system down/And leave your alias behind/Computer syscrusher..." I mean, what the hell? It's amazing.

A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray [Warlock, 1988]

Classic, of course.

Mathew Jonson – Decompression EP [M_nus, 2004]

'Ultraviolet Dream'! Gutted I'm missing his set at PS1 in New York next month.

Daniel Wang - Berlin Sunrise [Ghostly, 2004]

King Sunny Ade And His African Beats – Juju Music [Mango, 1982]

Jesse Somfay – We Breathe the Stars Through Each Other [Traum, 2005]

A beautiful record, the A-side especially.


Replies: 13 Comments

Geeta,
I enjoyed your post about vinyl bargain bin shopping. I too am obsessed with it, and blog about what I find (www.vinyladdict.blogspot.com)
You've piqued my interest about Trans. I'll have to pick that up.
Great finds by the way. Some real steals!
-David

David Poole said @ 10/28/2006 11:08 PM EST

i think, if you got that copy of "frosch" at academy, it was the one i sold. :/

hstencil said @ 08/08/2006 02:41 AM EST

i think, if you got that copy of "frosch" at academy, it was the one i sold. :/

hstencil said @ 08/08/2006 02:39 AM EST

There's a Neil Young DVD called "Live In Berlin" where he plays a lot of the Trans songs on stage to these very recepitive Germans. The live vocoders actually sound good too.

Michael F Gill said @ 08/07/2006 12:05 AM EST

trans is one of those funny albums...just never gets its due...you should definately hunt down some of the live versions...the story of it is well documented in "shakey", the endlessly useful neil young bio...what is particularly great is how defiantly proud neil remains about this album, despite the fact that he was constantly boo'd live in euorpe(a funny 80s replication of dylans early experiences with the band in the UK) for it...

jeremy g said @ 08/05/2006 06:19 PM EST

Gravitational Arch of 10!!!!!

Wow - what a tune. Had that mad siren-type sound didn't it?

That crazy dude Arthur C Clarke used to play it on Girls FM (London pirate) - he was wicked!

Up there with Horsepower-Ravesignal 111.

Good call!

drcolonic said @ 08/01/2006 10:39 AM EST

Damn! You know how much more expensive all that stuff is in Europe or Asia? Clue: at least 6 times more.

Jacob said @ 08/01/2006 02:33 AM EST

part of the Trans story involves Neil being involved with his son's therapy (for autism maybe? i can't recall the physical affliction) and the melding of machines with the human condition. he saw the vocoder as a way to communicate with him. it should be noted that the 'rock' songs on it suck while the techno trax are rad.

beta said @ 07/29/2006 11:58 AM EST

part of the Trans story involves Neil being involved with his son's therapy (for autism maybe? i can't recall the physical affliction) and the melding of machines with the human condition. he saw the vocoder as a way to communicate with him. it should be noted that the 'rock' songs on it suck while the techno trax are rad.

beta said @ 07/29/2006 11:57 AM EST

Arrrgh! I've been looking all over for a vinyl copy of "Ju-Ju Music"!

Sam said @ 07/27/2006 03:17 PM EST

I've never heard Trans, but there was a big trend of 70s rockes trying to go synth-pop in the early 80s, usually with hillarious results. Jethro Tull made 'A', which I guess probably sounds like a british equivalent of Trans. Later they made the even more electronic Under Wraps (lots of ridiculous sampling), which is rather horrible. Alice Cooper also did one, I think. And Kevin Coyne. Didn't John Cale try something similar as well? Rick Wakeman made Rock'n'Roll Prophet, which has to be heard to be believed. And of course, Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream tried to reinvent himself as a kind of pseudo-Gary Numan, don't hesitate if you see his Repeat Repeat, it's silly and funny and embarassing and even kind of funky.

As for TD, Atem is actually supposed to be one of their 'cool' records, so you'll get no problems there. Stratosfear, on the other hand, is uncool (almost PROG!) and Julian Cope will not have it. Personally, I think it's the best of the two.

Jannik Juhl said @ 07/26/2006 04:11 PM EST

Trans was actually released on one of those Gold CD reissue deals, but never at normal price. You gotta hunt down some footage of the live show!

Anthony said @ 07/26/2006 09:17 AM EST

'I don't like buying stuff online' I agree, making the effort, and going somewhere, usually miles, in my case Newcastle from Cumbria, right across the country, it somehow makes the purchase all the more important.
As for my top electronic record it has to be Microstoria’s SND, Endless Summer NAMM in particular.

Russ said @ 07/25/2006 06:49 AM EST

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