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Letting Go: My First Foray Into Selling Used CDs

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It is true, the painful anguish of selling music really does feel like being fed to a sumo wrestler.

This blog is entirely built around the idea of buying CDs, so rare is the time when I actually try and sell them back.  Some of you might even say it is blasphemy to return music, for one should always try experience an album through repeated listening, song background research, and artist appreciation.  Uh huh.  Well there has come a time when the plastic and paper has taken up a little too much space in the apartment.  I have already tried to convince the wife to throw out some things or to sell some things or anything, really, that didn’t involve my stuff.  But alas, it was my stuff that was causing the visual distress.  Therefore, it was time to sell some of them.

I have a lot of CDs as it is.  There are many, many that I would not think of parting with.  Truthfully, the only way they would all be gone from my sight would be if I suddenly became deeply in love with digital music.  My views on that is a conversation for another time, but needless to say it ain’t gonna happen.  There are quite a few records that I no longer listen to mainly due to changing tastes, changing times, or a bad case of accumulation (which I wrote about here).  After giving many of them one last look, I stuffed about eighty or so CDs into two reusable shopping bags with plans on selling them.  These discs consisted of discs from my days in the nineties as well as old dollar bin purchases that didn’t pan out.  With even more consisting of those promotional freebies detailed in my Court of Flippant Reviews (1, 2), I set off to see what I could get.

Will the hero actually gain any money from this adventure?  Does he really think anyone would actually buy his dusty Guns N Roses CDs?!  Read on, skeptical traveler …

Read more…

Various Artists – MOJO: Studio One Selector

March 5, 2010 Leave a comment

MOJO Magazine, March 2005

I don’t know what I was reading in 2005, but I certainly missed out on a couple of great months for MOJO compilations. I already reviewed this disc that I got for a dollar in a bin somewhere and now I’m reviewing the compilation that preceded it on the newsstands.  Despite my previous assertion that most MOJO compilations are sketchy at best, this will be the third compilation that I’m actually fond of.  I still think they put out a lot of hit or miss stuff, especially this past year’s collection, but when they go with a genre that can be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t mind a little relaxation then they really can’t fail.  I didn’t think I could either, so I made sure to snag this undoubtedly appealing MOJO compilation of early reggae tunes.

I will confess that although I have recently enjoyed everything reggae, I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge about its origins, its various sub-genres, or really any of the artists aside from the usual popular ones.  I suppose that is why anyone picks up a compilation, which by definition is a smattering of tracks that some producer thought might interest a casual listener to consider following up on an artist or two.  I’m not sure if that was in my future, but I did know that Studio One was one of the earliest and most influential reggae record labels that made the genre as big as it is today.

There are a few of the mainstays like Bob Marley and the Skatalites on here, but the compilation also contains some names that don’t necessarily jump out but just sound good.  The first track by Johnny Osbourne, entitled “We Need Love”, is just the kind of light, simple reggae that permeates a very easy feeling right at the start.  The gentle, steady guitar riff that is evident in most reggae tracks slips behind the high crooning of Osbourne’s voice.  It’s definitely got everything one would expect from reggae in the sixties and seventies, and it certainly sets the listener up for what the rest of the record pretty much sounds like.  Ernest Ranglin’s “Surfin” doesn’t sound like anyone’s soundtrack for barreling under the curve of a wave.  Instead, its quiet pace and solo guitar instrumental makes me think of surfers just bobbing up and down the water waiting for the next big one.  The echoed group vocals of the Eternals on “Queen of the Minstrels” is utterly soothing when combined with the song’s lazy, relaxed sound.  One is further smoothed out when the foggy horns enter and exit from the haze.   There are many other tracks that this record that I could go on about, but each sentence would pretty much say the same thing.  This is a good, solid reggae compilation.

Honestly, I really can’t find anything on this compilation that I don’t like.  That’s the way it is with reggae and me in that unless the vocalist is terribly annoying I almost never have a problem with the musicianship and can listen to reggae for hours.  I like this compilation a lot because it is primarily the older reggae sound that I like.  Even though the new stuff coming out these days is a little louder, brasher, and certainly more produced, it still contains many of the same elements that the artists on the Studio One label helped cultivate.  Looking inside the liner notes, it seems that a slew of Studio One-themed compilations came out at the time of this release, so it may be difficult for the casual reggae listener to pick just one.  If you find this compilation somewhere like I did, trust me that this is a great starter for new fans and an excellent party mood-setter for those looking for something to keep things chill.

Various Artists – MOJO: Beyond Punk!

January 27, 2010 1 comment

MOJO Magazine, April 2005

Well look, it’s another one of those free compilations that come with those great MOJO magazines and yet usually sells individually for a few bucks (or more) at record shops.  Lucky for us, some of these can be found cheaply here and there.  No, I imagine you’re not shocked that this compilation has the word ‘punk’ in it and I bought it, but you may be surprised that I still held this record with hesitation.  I have to say that I am not a huge post-punk fan and, if I am going to be honest, the Siouxsie song I’m most familiar with is “Peek-a-Boo” that I heard a lot of from watching “Beavis and Butthead”.  Yeah, I know, my credibility just took a hit there (even if I scored major points with the mundane humor crowd!)  Therefore, this record read like a list of bands that I should know more about, so I suppose that the choice to pick it up was even more obvious.

Post-punk, by definition, really does mean ‘beyond punk’ when put in context of the time.  Punk was getting played out and musicians were trying to be more creative with elements of punk but without resorting to the typical thrash and yelp that was common in most punk outfits.  What you get on this compilation is a wide array of sometimes complicated, sometimes noisy tunes that won’t always necessarily mesh with your tastes.  However, there are quite a few great tunes on here, like Mission of Burma’s “Academy Fight Song” (mislabeled on this comp) which is a classic song that is right up there with their “Revolver” tune in greatness.  Wire, my favorite post-punk band, gets their soothingly enjoyable yet essentially nonsensical “Kidney Bingos” on this disc, which highlights their later period of music more than their earlier raucous.

Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Mirage” comes across as the most punkish tune, with the speed and hard riffs required to cause a bit of pogo-ing.  The band that I had hoped would be great is Bird Blobs, if only because their name is rather amusingly curious.  However, they are rather noisy without being memorable, which I suppose appeals to some.   A few more modern bands, like Radio 4 and Death From Above 1979, get a tune on this record due to their post-punk style in the more modern day.  It’s too bad that the latter have disbanded and the former hasn’t put out anything particularly good since 2002.  Those two groups, once promising in 2005, are now just another addition to the post-punk back catalog.

Unlike some other genres, I’m not sure if there are many people out there who like everything that is post-punk, but this is a great introduction to the sound of the genre.  Some of the artists on this compilation are still putting out music, like Mission of Burma and Siouxsie Sioux, but it’s mostly a collection of tunes from time gone by.  One would have to check out some post-punk revivalists like A Place to Bury Strangers and the Walkmen to get their modern day fix these days, but that shouldn’t be too much of a chore since I can vouch for the Strangers’ excellent live show.  Still, is there any chance we can rewind a few decades to when the music scene was utterly fantastic?

Various Artists – MOJO: All the Young Dudes

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

youngDudesMOJO magazine, May 2009

In a total disregard to that cute, minimized phrase of “Not to be sold separately”, I’ve seen many used music stores sell these compilations that are included with monthly issues of Mojo magazine out of England.  I managed to get this one for only a dollar in Chicago, yet I’ve seen them sold for $5 around Boston and upwards of $10 in New York City.  It’s usually only worth a few quarters, if that, because I’ve found that these compilations are crummy more often than not.  I don’t think I’ve truly enjoyed a single one through and through, even if I’ve only been picking up MOJO magazines off and on for a few years.  Sometimes the magazine will entice you with the music material, or they’ll throw a few somewhat popular bands at you as motivation to buy the magazine for that month.  Usually this means that you’ll get a C-level track from the big bands and a bunch of filler that, although themed well, turns out to be a collection of tossers.  I don’t think I’ve kept, or at least listened to frequently, a single MOJO compilation.  However, I give the magazine props for trying.

Thank goodness I was not entirely jaded from previous compilation failures when I saw multiple copies of this compilation in a used bin stack.  I love that 70s British rock period, for one thing.  Something about the rock n roll combined with the sexual vibe as well as dodging the classic rock tag out of America seems to work for me.  Bowie from that time, the glam that ensued .. fantastic stuff.  So imagine my surprise when this compilation dished out some instant greatness with T.Rex, Motorhead, and some guy named Larry Wallis early on.  Even the Mott the Hoople track, which isn’t “All the Young Dudes”, holds up as a great tune.  A few songs get a little British midway through, if you get me, yet I found that for the first time in possibly ever I have enjoyed a MOJO compilation nearly in its entirety.  Even once I got past the bands I recognized, I liked what Be-Bop Deluxe and Jook brought on, as well as a high energy rocker from Bearded Lady entitled “Rock Star”.  This disc, finally, is a keeper.

Alas, with the shutdown of Lala, I’ve got nothing for you to listen to.  However, you can always search around Grooveshark and see if there’s a couple of tunes from this compilation to listen to!

Difficult thing with this review is that, though I’d like for you to go check out this fine compilation, finding it affordably is tricky. Like I mentioned before, most places don’t pawn this off for under $3, so you might just have to compile this yourself using mp3s and artwork found online somewhere. I would still caution one from buying these things for a top price since they are, usually, throwaways that aren’t all that interesting. However, if you can find one on the cheap these MOJO compilations do provide a pretty good look into the age or theme that the magazine has featured for that month. They are also impervious to age, as most compilations are based on decades in the past. So in conclusion, regardless of what you think of the cds themselves, everyone should definitely go out and pick up a MOJO magazine to experience some great music writing that will take you days to fully read over. I’m a subscription man, myself!