Nothing has enchanted me more in October than this video of Noah Gundersen and his siblings covering CSNY’s “Helplessly Hoping,” one of my favorite songs of all time. This frills free cover takes full advantage of the reverb of the room and the Gundersen’s familial honeyed harmonies accentuates everything I loved most about the original, while showing me something new to love about the song. If that’s not the definition of a great cover, I don’t know what is.
But it wasn’t the only thing I listened to all month.
Our trip down to Portland in early September for Music Fest Northwest was admittedly just as much a trip for the record stores as it was for the live music. They are all over. Mississippi Records in North Portland’s Mississippi district was probably the most interesting place to us with a varied selection that doesn’t match, or much overlap, any other store’ inventory. With each flip of the record you’re likely to encounter something you never knew existed, oddities and unheralded classics that shouldn’t languish in a bin to be passed up time-and-again. New records are not this place’s bag, unless they’re the records that Mississippi Records prints itself. But then even those records are actually old records dusted off to be reprinted again for today. In short, this small nook of a shop seems to favor history like few others, and we like that. So we had to visit twice. Here’s a bit of what we came across.
1. The Dwarves – Blood Guts & Pussy (pink vinyl)
How Much: $7
Slowly but surely I’ve been exploring the local musical history of the early nineties over the past year or so and as a part of that has been collecting the various albums Sub Pop was putting out in those days. Released in 1990, some have hailed SP67 a punk classic. I think it’s mostly just fifteen minutes a side (if that) of unhinged teenage anger. As Sub Pop has been all about colored vinyl from the their beginnings, I didn’t think much of the pink marble vinyl initially. It’s something that’s an expected marker of a legit first edition. On later perusal of the web, this particularly rare (no one seems to know how rare) pink vinyl version of the record has auctioned for something like $300 online in past years. The record with naked ladies covered in bloody is not the record I would have ever pinned as leading the top shelf in my admittedly young and paltry collection. How punk am I? Will I display this new find with pride? Would I display a tasteless book on my bookshelf? Probably not. It’s an interesting artifact of an era nonetheless. – josh
2. Mudhoney – Superfuzz Big Muff 2001 Sub Pop Reissue
How Much: $12
Mudhoney remains the heart of rock and roll in Seattle 23-plus years on from this time-defining debut EP. This record will never go out of style, so you’ll never find it in a Seattle bin for long, so I was quite surprised to see an older version of it at Mississippi. And finding it cheaper than the new stuff these days? I’ll take it. Any early Sub Pop is marked up a few bucks it seems in Seattle. I’ll play the hell out of this one and if I can find an original copy, that will go into any actual “collection.” -josh
3. The Gories – You Little Nothing 7”
How Much: $4
When people harken back to the good ole days anyone who mentions the Gories outta Detroit gets extra points from me. When digging through bins I always go to the G section first looking for Gories 7-inches. No lie. They are my definition of “good” rock and roll. This roach ad/record cover fronts one of their final 7 inches issued in 1995 that pulls tracks from 1990 and 1991 in their early days. “Casting My Spell” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and this 3 song 45′ features the original mix of the song with Mick’s guitar turned up that didn’t end up appearing on their first LP. And I think I might like this version better. Since this was actually my first encounter with a Gories anything I no doubt would have paid bank, so $4 was a very reasonable price. -josh
See the rest of our Mississippi Record Store Scores (more…)
As for the first two tunes, my niece is due any day now, in fact she was due on Tuesday and in the weeks leading to her arrival, I’ve listened to these songs so many times BMI is going to start charging me. Tom Petty was right, the waiting IS the hardest part.
Tom Petty – “The Waiting”
Justin Townes Earle – “Can’t Hardly Wait”
Kelli Schaefer’s Doe Bay SessionBeen Here All My Days
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Gem Club – Breakers
Dan Mangan – “Leaves, Tree, Forest”
Canon Bros – “Out of Here”
Robin Bacior – Rest Our Wings
Numero Group Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Quiet Life – San Luis Opisbo
Damien Jurado – “The Loneliest Place I’ve Ever Been is In Your Arms”
Champagne Champagne’s Doe Bay Session
Richard Swift – “Lady Luck”
S – I’m Not As Good As You
Avians Alight – s/t
Apricot & the Beginners
Sera Cahoone’s Doe Bay Session
Haven’t professed my undying love for the Numero Group lately, but I scampering about my “Date Added” tab in the old I-Tunes, and came across this album I snatched from a co-worker a few weeks back. Numero Group’s been putting together some decidedly different bits of goodness over the last few months (hell, Pisces’ freak folk and then this?) and 24-Carat Black continues to push that change.
There’s a decided lack of booming funk and soul in this compilation of tracks from a band that barely existed, more so this is the soothing, darkened lounges of 1970s New York. Low lit blue lights, cigarette smoke wafting towards the ceiling, a well-dress bouncer perched at the door. You might be here with a lady, fingers snapping after each pained song, or you might just be here by yourself, the Rhodes washing over you, a cold cocktail nestled in your palm.
I am in full Numero Group jocking mode right now. I am eating, breathing, sleeping, excrementing, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, jitterbugging my way through just about every Numero Group release I can get my hands on. I’m usually one to stick to the label’s immaculate compilations of obscure, but Gorilla vs. Bear turned me on to this upcoming release (June 2nd) of an unknown Rockford, Illinois band called Pisces.
All of your friends made it to the dance in time, poodle skirts spinning, hair tucked behind your ears. But oh no, where’s Suzie? Duh child, Suzie’s in the bathroom with her duck tailed boyfriend taking shots, smoking grass, and listening to the psych-pop-doo-wop sounds of this mad-cap little band. She’ll be on the dance floor, but this Pisces and I can promise you, she’ll be dancing to a different drummer.
I’ve been skimping on the older joints as of late, as I’ve been hurriedly attempting to keep up with the onslaught of music catapulting on to my Inbox each and every day. I say this though sometime faithful readers, Numero Group is the shit. They’ve been digging deep in to the deepest of funk, soul, goombay, downriver shit for a good amount of time, and each and every foray they make is more interesting than the last.
They’re newest excursion, or newest to me, is a little trip to a tiny town called Ecorse, Michigan, where a man named Felton Williams recorded the lives and loves of a bunch of people you, I, and everyone else have never heard of. The absolutely gem, amongst a lot of shiny rocks, on this album is Shirley Ann Lee, a strong-voiced crooner that absolutely nails four joints. This track “There’s A Light” is quite deservedly the opening track, and I challenge you to listen to it and not want to consume the entirety of Numero Group’s impressive catalog.