Dredging the ocean lost in my circle


While 8 years ago the majority of my time and money was spent on Etsy and clothing, now the majority of my time and money is spent on Discogs and vinyl. Vinyl for me is like therapy, as having to flip a record over and stop it to make sure you don’t wear your needle out when a record finishes makes you really pay attention to the music, rather than just having something going in the background. And while the sound is obviously so much better than mp3s/streaming music, having a physical record in your hands just makes you feel more connected to the music, as you see the artwork on the cover, can read the liner notes, and wonder how the huck music comes out of grooves in a piece of plastic…

Music for me is what gets me through the day and is what I immerse myself in when I’m stressed, so, unsurprisingly, in the last couple years my record collection has grown almost exponentially. New additions basically arrive in groups that make my mood and/or rabbit holes I’ve gone down that month quite obvious and traceable (e.g. Beastie Boys, Bowie, Nick Cave, Icelandic punk/new wave, Prince, Seattle…). And, since I basically missed the 80s and 90s while, let’s saying, being sequestered in the east wing, my purchasing trends often reflect the recent deaths of musicians who were active during that period and who I’m unfortunately just discovering/paying attention to (and/or the most recent tribute show KEXP has done, as they’re my daily jam).

So, since I’m enjoying keeping track of the books I’ve been reading throughout the year (click here if you haven’t noticed that new-ish tab at the top of the page), I thought I’d add another tab to do the same for the vinyl I’ve recently collected and am listening to on repeat. Since the list could get embarrassingly long if I just listed everything I’ve bought in the year, I’ll keep it to the Last 5 I’ve got and the Top 5 currently on my turntable, complete with links to their Discogs page (for the particular pressing I own). And as the page will be constantly and otherwise silently changing behind that tab, I’m thinking I’ll write a regular blog post each time I do change it (and so each new vinyl blog post will be pretty much the same as the tab, with some different comments à la Henry Rollins’ multiple versions of a radio show’s notes). This then is the first.

I’m always searching for new-to-me music that I’ll dig, so I’d love to hear your Last 5/Top 5 albums in the comments!

Last 5

  • Mother Love Bone, Mother Love Bone (Music on Vinyl, 2013) – This compilation is basically a reissue of Mother Love Bone’s 1990 record, Apple, plus their 1989 Shine EP. Anything from Music on Vinyl is almost guaranteed to be great and Mother Love Bone, well…’Kick it!’
  • Various, Secretions (C/Z Records, 1988) – A showcase of what was going on in Seattle at the time beyond just so-called ‘grunge’, including some great female-fronted bands that I’ve never heard before, as well as a band called H-Hour, who I’d listen the crap out of but unfortunately never put out anything. There are two other essential Seattle compilations from C/Z Records, being the 1986 Deep Six (with some ridiculously good early Soundgarden and some Malfunkshun, Andrew Wood’s pre-Mother Love Bone band) and the 1989 Another Pyrrhic Victory (with another appearance by H-Hour and more Malfunkshun).
  • Various, Sup Pop Rock City (Glitterhouse Records, 1988) – This is basically the European, cheaper version of Sub Pop 200, and is claimed to be the compilation that brought ‘grunge’ to the world with its great collection of bands at the heart of the Seattle scene.
  • Chris Cornell, Songbook (Friday Music/UMe, 2011) – Sigh.
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (Mute/BMG reissue, 2014) – Having just discovered Nick Cave on the plane to Iceland last summer, I’ve had a lot of fun working backwards through his catalogue, albeit at a really slow pace. His classical mythology references in this just get me, and, being a Harry Potter nerd, I was kind of sort of ecstatic to find out that “O Children” is him.

Top 5

  • Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies/Sap (Music on Vinyl reissue, 2010) – This double EP includes the 1992 acoustic gem, Sap, and the 1994 Jar of Flies. The absolute highlight of both discs is “Right Turn”, credited to ‘Alice Mudgarden’, i.e., members of Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden – Chris Cornell’s vocals on this song give me chills every gorram time. Ann Wilson from Heart also does vocals on a couple Sap songs.
  • Soundgarden, Screaming Life (Sub Pop, 1987) – So soooo good. My man’s favorite band out of the Seattle scene was always Soundgarden, but really only Badmotorfinger and Superunknown got play around here. I’ve discovered that my jam is the earlier stuff though like this and Ultramega OK, both of which are so heavy and raw.
  • Madhouse, 16 (Paisley Park, 1987) – It seems to be a rather unknown fact that Prince put out a few jazz albums under the band name ‘Madhouse’ (2 full albums, 8 and this one, and 3 singles, 6, (The Perfect) 10, and 13), the reason likely being his own attempts to hide the fact, not putting his name anywhere on the records and even having a full band play shows without him. But he did, in fact, play most of the instruments on the recordings, creating some of the funkiest jazz you’ll ever hear.
  • The Boys Next Door, Door, Door (Mushroom reissue, 1989) – This is what Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party started as, same line-up and all. But, oddly, while I can’t quite get into The Birthday Party, I think this is a completely brilliant album.
  • David Bowie, Black Tie White Noise (BMG/Savage Records/Arista, 1993) – This is the Bowie album that I have put on most often in the last year and a half. I don’t know why, but I’m sort of obsessed with it.

Title quote: “Station to Station”, from Station to Station