Sunday, December 16, 2012

Misleading Descriptions

I will start this post by stating outright that descriptives such as "psychedelic" and "progressive", in terms of musical style, are very much open to interpretation and argument. Some albums which I consider to be psychedelic in sound are not such to other collectors and vice versa. Classification as progressive music is probably even more open to debate, much to be found online. Indeed, anyone who has listened to a great number of "progressive" bands will know that, just like with any genre of music, alot of it sounds the same. And wouldn't that seem to fly in the face of a body of music being progressive?
All that being said, it has been long established that record dealers are often liars. I understand that they are salesmen, and salesmen in general bend the truth to make the sale, their only objective, but when it comes down to blatant false advertising I get a tad cross.
A perfect example is an album by a Canadian band named The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.
I have seen this album advertised many times in the past by dealers online and in published listings as "psychedelic rock" and "psychedelic blues". I bought a copy a few months ago. The shop where I bought it is not at fault here, they had no descriptive attached, it was merely in the stacks and I bought it based on how I had seen it advertised in the past. Once I set needle to groove I found that rather than being psychedelic or bluesy, it was in fact a rather mediocre set of country-rock. Country-rock is a genre I am not really interested in even when written and played well. Had I not been misled by the false advertising of dodgy dealers I would not have bought this. There is a consumer base for all genres. There is no need to lie.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - All Over The Road (1970)

Now this leads me to another topic. As I have been posting some of my favoured used vinyl stores I have debated in my mind whether or not I should do postings of stores I do not favour. I have pretty much opted not to do this for fear of possibly detering potential customers from a business over what may or may not be a petty reason.
That said there is one vinyl store that I will mention here as I will not do business there for several important reasons, including the above.
Beach Sound Records on Kingston Road does have some decent titles, but they are vastly overpriced, very much so. Many of the albums I inspected there had feelable scratches, further pushing the prices into absurd realms. Rather than just stating the high prices in a normal fashion prices are marked by a series of dots - each dot representing $5. Some times this is marked on a price tag as a group of dots, sometimes written as say "12 dots", and sometimes actually written on the inside of the sleeve. I can not fathom the reasoning behind this method other than to confuse or mislead those buyers who are not particularly good at math.
I was in there on a weekend afternoon some time back. I noticed a Moondog LP on the wall and, being a fan of Moondog, I remarked "You have Moondog, cool, I don't see that much." The owner offered that he wasn't really familiar with the artist and asked me if it was "psychedelic". I told him that no it wasn't. Moondog tends to be a mix of Jazz, Classical, Folk and Minimalism in varying degrees. Moments later a customer entered and advised that he was interested in psychedelic albums. The owner immediately referred him to the Moondog LP stating that it was "very psychedelic". My mind was blown (in a very un-psychedelic fashion, ha)! And I believe the customer was well aware of the dupe as he said nothing, spent a few minutes half-heartedly glancing at the stacks and left. 'Nuff said.

Moondog - Moondog 2 (1971)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dust - Hard Attack

Dust - Hard Attack

Kama Sutra KSBS 2059, USA, 1972

This is the second and final album by New York's Dust. An excellent album of mostly hard rock numbers with a couple of ballads and a short country influenced track thrown in. Initially released in a gatefold, this, I believe, is the second pressing in the more common single pocket style sleeve, but still on the pink Kama Sutra label.

A trio, two of the members would go on to their own further fame - guitarist Richie Wise as the producer of the first two albums by Kiss (along with Dust producer Kenny Kerner), and drummer Marc Bell would later join Richard Hell's band the Voidoids before becoming known as Marky Ramone in 1978. Listening to this album I can hear what was to come with some hints of a proto-punkish exuberance on some tracks ('Learning To Die'!!!) and the energetic drumming overall. I have heard rumours of an unfinished third album, but that is all - rumours.
Also of mention is the terrific barbarian cover art by New York fantasy artist Frank Frezzeta, also known for his cover art for several Molly Hatchet albums, and of course if you are of my generation and tastes, his work for Heavy Metal magazine (an American SF/Fantasy comicstrip magazine for adults; not a music magazine).

I had attempted to purchase this on ebay six times over the space of a year and each time the bids went beyond my budget, hitting 80-120 dollars US. I could not believe my luck when I found this clean copy at Kops Records for a mere 17 dollars. Just goes to show that patience really is a virtue!

Side 1 - 1. Pull Away/So Many Times (4:59) 2. Walk In The Soft Rain (4:18) 3. Thusly Spoken (4:18) 4. Learning To Die (6:20)
Side 2 - 1. All In All (4:03) 2. I Been Thinkin (2:14) 3. Ivory (2:38) 4. How Many Horses (4:18)
5. Suicide (4:53) 6. Entrance (0:19)

Kenny Aaronson-bass/slide/pedal steel guitar; Marc Bell-drums/percussion; Richie Wise-guitars/vocals.

Recorded at Bell Sound Studios, New York City.

Listen to 'Learning To Die' here:
and 'Suicide' here:

Kops Records

Kops Records

This downtown Toronto store has a rather average selection for my tastes, with only occasional gems. Their prices, however, are pretty decent overall and I have gotten some very good deals there (see my Dust post after this one). They have a good section of recent additions and a nicely sized bargain section with scale-priced LPs marked by coloured stickers (the kind that are easily removed without tearing the cover!). I think Kopps caters to a lot of DJs and accordingly has substantial funk, soul and jazz sections. They also have loads of 45s which must take days to search through - I have no patience for searching through 45s! The staff are friendly and helpful and the owner deals with fairness and an open mind. I also like that they are located pretty much across the road from The Rex (Toronto's #1 jazz club), so I can pop across for a pint and good music immediately after I make my purchase.

Kops Records
229 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1Z4
416 593 8523

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Whiz Kids - s/t

Whiz Kids - s/t

Kasaba KSB 200, USA, 1974

A nice obscurity I bought off ebay last year. The Whiz Kids were a duo from Michigan who released their only album on their own Kasaba label in 1974. Often described as progressive or even prog-psych by dealers, the music is better described as fairly commercial rock with poppy elements and the very occasional nod to progressiveism via synth. While enjoyable, I think the music would have definitely benefited from the addition of full guitar.
Of the nine songs presented here seven are originals and two are covers - 'Long Time Gone' by Crosby, Stills & Nash and '(Ride My) Chevrolet' by ZZ top.

I am also aware of one single 'Take' b/w 'Big Cigar Blues' (Kasaba KSB 101) which was released in 1971 and apparently features Cub Koda on guitar. These songs don't appear on this album and I have never heard them, so I don't know to what extent the guitar is used or if the style of music is in keeping with the album. It is interesting to note that the label of the single, pictured below, states that it was recorded in Canada.

Side 1 - 1. Tear The Walls Down (2:20) 2. Six Months (2:15) 3. Judas (3:25) 4. Long Time Gone (4:31) 5. Time To Lose (2:20)
Side 2 - 1. Start All Over Again (2:51) 2. (Ride My) Chevrolet (2:38) 3. I'm Leavin' (5:40) 4. Poison (4:38)

Pat McCaffrey-keyboards/horns/bass pedals/vocals/guitar; Ken Michalik-percussion/vocals

Recorded at Glen Arbor Roller Mills and Pampa Studios.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Circus Books & Music

Circus Books & Music

Located on Danforth Avenue in Toronto's east end this is another book/record store, though in this case the ratio between books and vinyl is fairly even. The prices can be a bit on the high end compared with some of the other shops I frequent, but they always seem to have some choice items in good condition. They are open 7 days a week, until 8PM Monday to Saturday. On the down side, all but a couple of the times I have been to Circus (generally in the mid-afternoon) I have dealt with a young fellow who could certainly do with some customer service training. Not exactly the friendly and outgoing type, but hey, I'm there for the vinyl.

Circus Music & Books
866 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
416 925 6116

Monday, November 5, 2012

Clark-Hutchinson - A-MH2


Decca Nova SDN.R.2, UK, 1969

An excellent album of instrumental eastern and flamenco influenced jazzprog jams, I picked up this beautiful specimen at Sonic Boom last Wednesday. An original British press, the disk shows what looks almost like water marks when held to the light, but there are no scuffs or even the slightest of scratches to speak of. It plays without noise. The sleeve has some slight creasing and small wear to one corner. The worst thing about this is that I don't have the original inner sleeve. The rear surface of the sleeve has a punch out hole in the top right area through which the colour of the inner sleeve could be seen. Red indicated a mono version (and red label on disk) and blue indicated stereo (blue label). This indicator hole did not appear on the American release of the album (Sire 97021, 1969). Alas, this copy has a generic white (yellowed with age) inner sleeve. I read some words online to the effect that the red label mono version (original UK) was never pressed, but I have seen pictures of them, so I believe they were.

Side 1 - 1. Improvisation On A Modal Scale (10:00) 2. Acapulco Gold (7:00) 3. Impromptu In 'E' Minor (8:30)
Side 2 - 1. Textures In 3/4 (11:00) 2. Improvisation On An Indian Scale (13:50)

Andy Clark-vocals/keyboards; Mick Hutchinson-guitar; Stephen Amazing-bass; Del Coverley-percussion.
Recorded at Recorded Sound Studios, London on May 21st & 23rd 1969.

Listen here:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Robert Plant Tour Tape

When I was going through the tape haul yesterday I completely overlooked this nifty little number:

Robert Plant - 1990 Canadian Tour Commemorative Cassette (Es Paranza/WEA SAMC 648). This rather scarce promotional tape, sponsored by Molson Canadian, features two songs recorded during the Manic Nirvana sessions but not included on that album. The fold out sleeve features tour dates, a Sam The Record Man coupon, Playlist Pay Off contest details and a tour shirt offer.

Side 1 - Robert Plant Intro/Robert Plant Playlist Pay Off Details/One Love
Side 2 - Oompah (Watery Bint)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Curbside Cassette Tape Haul

Don't you just love it when people leave good quality items on the curb side for others to peruse and take for free? So much better than throwing stuff in the garbage so it can slowly rot (or even not) in a landfill. Think of the money that could be saved and the beneficial impact on the environment if more people were open to leaving items out and scavenging for items.
Today I went for a walk between the rain drops and happened upon two bags of cassettes, not yet wet.
I have found many such urban treasure troves before and have come to expect a mix of bad soundtracks, dance mixes and empty cases, but in this case there be gold in them there hills. What I find upon inspection back home is a mix of mostly decent hard rock/metal of the 80s/early 90s with only one true piece of dross - Much Music Dance Mix '95 (I'll be leaving that in the lobby for another scavenger) - and one particularly shiny gem that made me smile and nod - Armored Saint - March Of The Saint (their best album and one I haven't listened to in years). Hot water and dishsoap are in order as the cases are filthy with dust and I suspect that many have been sitting on a shelf untouched since the dawn of CDs, but the tapes themselves look to be in excellent condition.
Among the fifty+ tapes are several titles by the likes of Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Metallica, Great White, Whitesnake, Rush, Motley Crue, Peter Gabriel, Ratt, Robert Plant, Wall Of Voodoo, Queensryche and more. While several of these are albums I do enjoy, they might not be items I would necessarily seek out for my vinyl collection or want to shell out the price of a CD for. Now I can listen to them at my leisure and the cassette deck won't feel so neglected!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Museum of Vinyl Art - wth!?

Many months ago I noticed that a new establishment was opening on Yonge Street (634 Yonge, to be exact) under the name Museum Of Vinyl Art. On the front window was displayed "Opening Soon". I liked the sound of that. Also displayed on the window was "Rare Vinyl $9.99". Now that made me scratch my head. How can so-called rare vinyl be lumped under one price? And such a low price? Months passed and this place just never seemed to actually open. Eventually there was some shelving put in, and after that records appeared. But the place was never open. Peering through the window I could see that the small amount of records that occupied the shelving was anything but rare. And the place was never open. Well, I just happened to find a listing on yelp with a couple of enlightening reviews (which now seems to be down to one review?). I won't copy it here, but let you read it for yourself. I am sure even the occasional purchaser of used vinyl will be left scratching their head on this one.

(UPDATE December - I recently noticed a 'For Rent' sign in the window.....)

Toronto Record Show in November

I seem to have deleted the original flyer image that was posted here. As the event was in November 2012 and this update is posted in January 2013 I won't bother trying to relocate it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales

Banzai BAM 1007, Canada, 1985

This is the Canadian pressing of Celtic Frost's first album, which I picked up at Sonic Boom last year, and is easily identified by the "speed metal" logo in the top right corner of the sleeve.

Switzerland's Celtic Frost are one of the forefathers of the extreme metal scene, possessing a raw, aggressive sound and moving easily between doomful dirge and frantic speed. They are also one of the earliest metal groups to wear what has become known as 'corpse paint' (which shouldn't be confused with the glam-influenced face paint of bands like Kiss).

Rising from the ashes of Hellhammer (who released two demos and an EP between 1983-84), Celtic Frost first released Morbid Tales as a mini-album in Germany in 1984 (Noise International N 0017). The following year the album was released in North America, on the Banzai label in Canada, and on Metal Blade (MBR 1033) in the USA. These issues were the first to add two tracks to the end of side 1 - "Dethroned Emperor" and "Morbid Tales". After a break-up and a reformation, the band declared their final end in September 2008.
I have always considered the cover image to be one of the best in metal, possessing the t-shirt in my youth and now having the sleeve framed on the wall. Fans of early Celtic Frost are recommended to check out Hellhammer and early recordings by fellow Swiss band Coroner.

Side 1 - 1. Into the Crypts of Rays (4:19) 2. Visions of Mortality (4:46) 3. Dethroned Emperor (4:35) 4. Morbid Tales (3:26)
Side 2 - 1. Procreation (of the Wicked) (4:01) 2. Return to the Eve (4:05) 3. Danse Macabre (3:51) 4. Nocturnal Fear (3:36)

Tom G Warrior-vocals/guitar; Martin Eric Ain-bass; Reed St.Mark-drums.

Listen to "Procreation (of the Wicked)" here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

David Peel & The Lower East Side - The American Revolution

David Peel & The Lower East Side - The American Revolution

Elektra EKS-74069, USA, 1970

This is the second album by New York's David Peel & The Lower East Side, a "hippie-rock" band who can probably be likened to the Fugs in terms of subject matter; politics, street vibes and marijuana (indeed, their first album was titled 'Have A Marijuana' (Elektra EKS-74032, 1968)). David Peel befriended John Lennon in the early 70s and Lennon produced their third album 'The Pope Smokes Dope' (Apple SW-3391, 1972). Peel has remained active in music and political movements to date.

I picked this original American pressing up at Vortex. Great condition apart from a lower corner cut to the gate-fold sleeve, this cost me a measly $15, compared to some downtown shops where I have seen it for $30-$40.

Side1 - 1. The Lower East Side 2. The Pledge Of Allegiance 3. Legalize Marijuana 4. Oink, Oink 5. I Want To Get High
Side 2 - 1. I Want To Kill You 2. Girls, Girls, Girls 3. Hey, Mr. Draft Board 4. God

David Peel-vocals/guitar; Billy Joe White-vocals/guitar; Harold C Black-vocals/tambourine -with- Tony Bartoli-drums; Herb Bushler-bass; David Horowitz-organ; Richard Grando-soprano sax

Listen to "I Want To Kill You" here:



Vortex is an upstairs record shop located up on Yonge Street. Because it is outside the downtown core I don't get there as often as I should, but it is certainly worth the visit. The large stacks are generally filed as an alphabetical misc., so a full search can be quite time consuming, but there are always good records to be found. The vinyl is in great condition and prices are refreshingly low, often half the price other dealers are charging for copies that might be in lesser condition. They also do mailing lists which are a valuable asset for the record hunter.

Vortex Records
2309 Yonge St, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 2C6
416 483 7437

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Exorcist - Nightmare Theatre

Exorcist - Nightmare Theatre

Cobra CL 1007, Canada, 1986

I first discovered this band in 1986 by way of a cassette I bought at a bookstore in Bramalea, Ontario and it was one of my first introductions to extreme metal (after Venom and Celtic Frost - thank you MuchMusic Power Hour). Of course the cassette was lost a very long time ago, but I recalled the music, especially "Black Mass", fondly and had hoped to eventually replace it. Fast forward to spring 2012 and I happened to pay a visit to Hits And Misses (now closed, see post below) with no money in my pocket, just wanted to see what they had hanging on the wall, and bam, a near mint condition Canadian pressing (the original American pressing came out in 1985 on Road Runner RR 9700). The owner was kind enough to hold it for a week until I could pay for it.
Exorcist are actually American power metal band Virgin Steele (apparently there were some legal wranglings going on between members) and that fact has led some of the more die-hard black-metal fans to look down upon this album, but I think it is a jolly good listen (!) and well worth a spin.

Side 1 - 1. Black Mass (4:15) 2.  The Invocation (0:50) 3. Burnt Offerings (3:06) 4. The Hex (0:21) 5. Possessed (2:42) 6. Call For the Exorcist (3:32) 7. Death By Bewitchment (4:23)
Side 2 - 1. The Trial (0:48) 2. Execution of the Witches (3:19) 3. Consuming Flames of Redemption (0:36) 4. Megawatt Mayhem (1:10) 5. Riding To Hell (3:41) 6. Queen of the Dead (3:23) 7. Lucifer's Lament (5:36) 8. The Banishment (0:24)

Damian Rath-vocals; Marc Dorian-guitar; Jamie Locke-bass; Geoff Fontaine-drums.
Recorded at Sonic Sound, New York.

Listen to "Black Mass" here:

When Bad Things Happen To Good Vinyl Stores

My next recommended vinyl store was going to be Hits And Misses on Queen Street West, Toronto, but I just found out that they closed down a few weeks ago! Oh no! Hits And Misses was THE place in Toronto to get your punk, hardcore and metal vinyl fix. I will miss this store.
Read the news article here:

In related news I just found out that my all time favorite vinyl store, Ton Um Ton, which was located on Lindengasse in Vienna, Austria closed down about two years ago. I haven't been there in many years, but back in the early 00's I frequented it a lot. They had an amazing selection of rare used vinyl from all over Europe. Also sadly missed.

Robert Connolly - Plateau

Robert Connolly - Plateau

Tube TSH-352, Canada, 1978

Here is an obscure disc I picked up at Sonic Boom a while back. A symphonic prog album by a little known guy who I believe was from the London, Ontario area. I can find almost no information about the guy or the label. Anybody know anything? The album deals with themes of ancient alien visitors and comprises a guitar-oriented side, and a keyboard-oriented side. The back cover shows a fluffy-haired Mr. Connolly posing with a double-necked guitar (guitar/bass) and kind of screams "will the real Geddy Lee please stand up". As a delightful insert the album includes an 8 page comic book, black ink on pulp paper, unstapled. I believe I paid about $10 for this one.
There has been speculation online that this fellow is the same Robert Connolly who photographed some 'alien' skulls in South America, and another blogspot site has an 'anonymous' comment by someone claiming to be this musician and confirming the connection, stating that the photographs came about through his television show "Timeless Places". Obviously, nothing can be verified by an anonymous comment, but it would seem to make sense. If you are reading this Mr. Connolly, please get in touch, provide further information!

Side 1 - 1. Plateau of Naska (4:45) 2. A Close Encounter (5:19) 3. Power of Giza (4:30) 4. Battle of Gomorrah (3:11)
Side 2 - 1. Journey (14:22) 2. The Oracle (3:05)

Robert Connolly-guitar/bass/all keyboards/vocals; Greg McIlveen-drums; Sheila&Sandra Willick-vocals; Dave Beatty-guitar; Peter Crolly-bass/flute/vocals; Frank Russell-drums/bells; Howie Strutt-vocals

Recorded at Cottingham Sound & Sound Stage, Toronto & Springfield Sound, London.

You can listen to Journey here:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom

Another shop I visit monthly, Sonic Boom is definitely Toronto's music super store. They have a massive floor space selling all manner of new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, books, clothing and accessories.
Vinyl appears to be priced using a value scale, so it is pretty easy to determine ahead of time what you will be paying. While I have not found any outright mind-blowing rarities at Sonic Boom, I have found some nice obscurities at good prices. They are open late 364 days a year.

Sonic Boom
782 Bathurst Street, Toronto
416 532 0334

Sound System

This is the sound system I currently use:

My turntable is an ION TTUSB. I like this turntable for it's size and the quality of the arm and stylus cartridge. Alot of USB turntables are small in size which is good if you have limited space, but I really don't like my vinyl hanging over the sides. The downside of this turntable is that it doesnt have a dust cover, but it is available with a cover (TTUSB DC). I have emailed ION to see if a dust cover can be purchased separately and await their reply. (UPDATE - Reply requested that I call an American phone number and ask   if dust cover is available separately.....hmmmm.)

I run the turntable through an old NAD 7125 stereo receiver, which produces a nice clean sound and higher volumes than I can get away with in my batchelor apartment (with paper thin walls!).

The speakers I use are RCA RS2640 Bass Reflex. They originally were part of the RCA RS2640 mini stereo system, but I bought them without the system for cheap from a pawn shop. There are some bad reviews online regarding problems with static and 'buzzing', but I have had no problems, so that could be related to the stereo itself. They are certainly nothing special, but they suit my current living space.

Feel free to tell me about your own sound systems or ways you think I can improve my setup (without spending a small fortune!).

Liquid Smoke

Liquid Smoke - s/t

Avco Embassy AVE-33005, Canada, 1970

This is one of the first albums I picked up at She Said Boom! The Canadian pressing of this New York heavy psych band's only album, I paid a fair $25. Since I purchased this I have seen a couple of others selling in the city for around $30-$40. The band also released three singles on the Avco Embassy label in the same year, the first one reaching #82 in the American charts. One of their songs was later covered by Peruvian band Gerardo Manuel and El Humo on their very rare album Apocallypsis (Virrey DVS 720, 1970).

Side 1 - 1. I Who Have Nothing (3:18) 2. Lookin' For Tomorrow (4:30) 3. Hard To Handle (3:43) 4. Reflection (4:00) 5. Warm Touch (3:31)
Side 2 - 1. Shelter Of Your Arms (4:05) 2. Set Me Free (4:55) 3. It's A Man's World (5:10) 4. Let Me Down Easy (4:28)

Sandy Pantaleo-vcls; Vince Fersak-guitar; Mike Archeleta-bass; Chas Kimbrell-drums; Benny Ninmann-organ.
Recorded at Ultra-Sonic Recording Studios, NY.

Listen to "I Who Have Nothing" here:

She Said Boom!

She Said Boom!

She Said Boom! is a small shop located on College Street in Toronto. While the vinyl section is small (most of the shop space is dedicated to used books), the diverse choice of titles are well selected by the owners and the prices are generally fair. I visit this shop on a monthly basis and have returned home with many unexpected treasures. As well as the vinyl section in the middle of the shop, I advise to always check the higher value items on the wall behind the checkout.

She Said Boom!
372 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1S6
416 944 3224

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bob Bell - Necropolis

Bob Bell - Necropolis

Pro Canada/Ism ISM 1001, Canada, 1978

A rare private pressing, usually described as acid-jazz/psych, by a musician from British Columbia. From what I have read he still regularly gigs in B.C. and has recorded further material.
I searched for this album for many years and have only found two for sale. The first copy was selling for $200 which was beyond my budget, but I managed to get this copy for only $17 on ebay (I was the only bidder, yay!). My copy is in NM- condition with a glossy, unmarked disc and a sleeve with only very slight wear.

Side 1 - Necropolis (Four Pieces) 1. (4:30) 2. (4:32) 3. (5:28) 4. (5:14) Bob Bell-electric guitar; Mark Franklin-bass; Paul Franklin-percussion
Side 2 - Necropolis (15:08) Bob Bell-alto sax; Paul Plimley-piano; Lyle Ellis-double bass
Recorded at Pinewood Studios, Vancouver, B.C. August 2nd & 10th 1978.

You can listen to tracks and purchase a digital copy of the album here: