Thursday, February 4, 2010

Saturday Single No. 150

Originally posted September 26, 2009:

Well, there’s one more reasonable chance to take a look at which records came to roost on my shelves during September. (Not that carrying the idea into October would be truly unreasonable, but it would be a little off-kilter, it seems.) In my Saturday post two weeks ago, I wandered up through 1989.

In 1990, I spent some time during the first week of September in the two better used record shops in Columbia, Missouri, and indulged myself with six records for my birthday. Later in the month, I added three more to the shelves. The best of the month? Probably the second Duane Allman anthology or maybe the Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet (a record that likely ranks in my top fifty all-time). The least of the month’s acquisitions? Probably Eastern Wind, a record by Chris DeBurgh that’s so fey and lightweight it almost floats in the air.

A year later, I found myself settling down in the northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis and settling into my work at the Eden Prairie News as well as setting aside forty minutes every morning for a fifteen mile commute. For some months – or so the log tells me – buying records was not a priority.

By the time the late summer of 1992 rolled around, however, I had found my place on Pleasant Avenue in south Minneapolis, five blocks from Cheapo’s and only a little further from a few other stores that sold used records. And there were always garage sales. A total of twenty-one records came home with me that month. The most interesting? Maybe Joni Mitchell’s Wild Things Run Free, a record I’m not all that fond of but one that I do find challenging. And Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones is, I think, frequently overlooked. On the slight side, there were a couple of albums by pianist Peter Nero that are pleasant but inconsequential.

A year later, I’d begun my habit of visiting Cheapo’s – now in a larger location about eight blocks further from my home – at least twice a week, sometimes more often, and had been given the privilege there of keeping up to ten records on reserve under the counter. Once a week, I was supposed to empty the reserve bag by either buying the records or reshelving them, but that rule wasn’t firmly enforced. In September of 1993, my total LP take was twenty-eight, with most of them coming from Cheapo’s. The best of those were likely Delaney & Bonnie’s Motel Shot and Mother Earth’s Living With the Animals. During the same month, as I wrote during the first weeks of this blog, I found the self-titled album from 1970 or so by the band from the western Twin Cities suburbs that called itself DEBB Johnson.

I eased up in 1994, maybe because the shelves in my apartment were getting full of records and I’d begun packing books away to make room for the music. I brought home only eleven records in September of that year. My favorite among them is likely Van Morrison’s Wavelength, although it was a prime month: I found some John Prine, Ry Cooder, Aretha Franklin, more Van Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Ian & Sylvia and Little Feat. I also brought home an anthology of rock ’n’ roll from 1959 that, while fine listening, is overshadowed by the rest of the month’s take.

There was one September record in 1995: The World Of Ike & Tina Turner Live, as I adjusted to some changes in my life. Those changes were still echoing a year later, but I brought home a cluster of records on what appears to have been a garage or rummage sale day, and added a few more at the end of the month. The best finds of the month were likely Tomorrow the Green Grass by the Jayhawks and Eric Andersen’s Blue River, while the least consequential was the Doobie Brothers’ Farewell Tour, a live album that never really grabbed me.

Come the later summer of 1997, I was scuffling with a mix of temp jobs, and I likely should have cut back on my visits to Cheapo’s. But that would have been wise, and wisdom comes late, or so they say. (It sometimes feels as if it is getting quite late, and I think I am still waiting.) The truth was that music was my solace during a few difficult years. Among the nineteen LPs that helped provide that solace in September of 1997 was one of my favorites: Le Mystere de Voix Bulgares, Volume Two, the second collection of folk music recorded in Bulgaria by Marcel Cellier between 1957 and 1985. Also that month, I found a couple albums each by Redbone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Tower of Power. Nothing in that month’s take looks very slight, but the month did provide perhaps the strangest group name in my collection: I found a copy of The Bluest Sky by a duo with the name Nikki Meets the Hibachi. (I listened to it once and forgot about it; from the reviews I see online, I should listen to it again; the album may show up here one of these days.)

On more stable ground once September 1998 came around, I continued to visit my local record stores and brought home twenty records. Some of those were by favorite artists: Richie Havens, Joy of Cooking, Jim Horn, Jim Capaldi, and almost all of them, looking at the log, were pretty good. Most likely the least impressive was Vienna, an album by Minnesotan Linda Eder, who’d come to attention through the talent show Star Search.

About ten days into September in 1999, some health problems began, and I responded the way I’d responded to crises for a while: I bought music, bringing home forty-three records that month. The best of the month? Maybe the two albums by Fairport Convention, or a cluster of LPs by Bread. It was not a good month for great albums. The worst was easily the self-titled 1968 album by a group called the Trout: a work of unfocused country-ish sunshine pop that nevertheless had a fascinating cover.

Since then, the pace of record buying has slowed. Eventually, I moved from south Minneapolis to the suburbs and then to St. Cloud. In September of 2000, I got five records. Two of them were great albums by Etta James: At Last and Second Time Around. But they paled beside the first birthday gift I ever got from the Texas Gal: The Bootleg Series, Volume 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966 (The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert), which actually took place in Manchester, England. A year later, another piece of Dylan vinyl – Love and Theft – founds its way home (along with an album by Toots & the Maytals).

In 2002, just before we moved to St.Cloud, I found a few treasures at a suburban thrift shore and brought home nine September LPs. The best was a second and better copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees, while the one I listen to least was a rock soundtrack titled Lazarus. I spent some birthday money on a trip to the Twin Cities in 2003, picking up a couple records by Jimmy Spheeris, some Clannad and some Mandrill. And the last September LPs I’ve obtained came a year ago: a Quincy Jones record the Texas Gal found for me at a garage sale, two Leo Kottke albums sent me by friends (and readers) Mitch and Bob, and a sealed copy of Lori Jacobs’ album Free, which I mentioned a little more than a month ago in a post I can no longer link to.

So what sums up my September acquisitions? Well, there are not many songs more autumnal than my favorite Eric Andersen song, “Blue River.” So that’s today’s Saturday Single.

“Blue River” by Eric Andersen from Blue River [1972]

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