Friday, February 9, 2007

compared to what

About a year ago I heard the song "compared to what" on a 2CD Black Power CD comp. Les McCann. Cool flute and vocals. Political in that kinda indirect 70s way. The "I'm as mad as hell..." kind of school of political thought. Played it endlessly. Learned it was written by Eugene McDaniels -track down a couple of his records (Outlaw and Headless Heros...) neither one is quite as rad as "compared to what". Find the Les McCann "Swiss Movement" lp that the track is credited to from the cd. And so it ends or so I think. Last month, I am waiting to pick up my step sons and have some time to shop at Dynomite in Northampton. I see a Les McCann "Live at Montreaux" 2LP that has "compared to what" on it, so I grab it. Then I see a Roberta Flack LP with this rad cover. "First Take" I love all the shit she did with Donny Hathaway so I flip it over. 1st track "compared to what". ????? Then I realize the liner notes are by .... Les McCann. Small world. Grab that as well. What I loved about this is it reminded me of life as a teenage skatepunk in the pre Internet 80s. You would by a record and scan the thanks list to look for other bands to track down. You would look at any flyer in the background, stickers on guitars, shirts the band was wearing -all looking for clues. If you were lucky enough to track down a MRR or another zine, you would write to every label for a catalog which was usually a one page photocopy of the one or two records they had put out. It was like foraging for food and when you found something great, you were so stoked and when you met somebody else who was into it too, it was the best. With the advent of the internet and such, the thrill seems gone most of the time. Between Google and Ebay you can track down almost anything, but some days like today you get surprised and that is a nice treat when you are an aging grumpy record collector.
The easy availabilty of so much information makes it kind of cheap and uninspiring. You can download an MP3 of a 20 year old record in a minute. I had to wait 3 weeks after I mailed off a money-order for that 7" to arrive in the mail and the day it did was a special one. I remember very clearly the 1st 7" I mail orderded-gang green skate to hell and the 1st one I bought in a store, Freeze Guilty Face. I can't remember the last thing I downloaded or streamed. I can remember reading and rereading every page and ad in Thrasher and MRR back in the 80s, I can't believe anyone reads or remembers what was in the last AP or Decibel or whatever kids are reading. It is probably a true indicator that I am an old grump, when I harken for a day when things were harder(we walked up hill both ways to the record store)
It makes me wish for "what we do is secret" mentality. I wish I could stumble upon some rad music or scene that wasn't hell bent on being the next big thing on myspace , youtube, or MTV2.
I have found about 6 versions of "ode to billie joe"(don't ask me why this song) and I would love to track down every version because I am a nerd. 10 minutes on google could probably net me a list and a google-earth map to the record stores they are in. But I won't do that. "compared to what" and "ode to billie joe" are tracks I hope to always stumble upon when I am out looking at and for records. Reminders to keep looking and having fun, cause for a minute you are not that cynical old grump.

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