More Successful CD Scrounging at the Thrift Store...
The Thrill of the Hunt!
Good evening people... it's your friendly neighborhood CD collecting maniac again. Quite some time ago I wrote a Hub about my love of scrounging for CDs at my local thrift shop. The store in question benefits a local women's charity and it is certainly not much to look at from the outside - it's housed in a run-down former church building which is cramped, dirty, and smells like feet on damp days - but.nearly every time I stop in there I manage to find some cool rock n' roll collectibles to add to my shelf, so I keep going back. How can I resist when the CDs are just a buck apiece?
The store's CD selection has been VERY good to me in the past and this visit was no different - as soon as I walked in I could see that the big plastic bin that holds the CDs had been stocked with more goodies since my last trip, because it was fairly overflowing!! Rubbing my hands together with anticipation I began searching through the heap and a short while later I came away with a fistful of audio goodness - one was an upgrade for a cassette that I've been meaning to replace for 20+ years, one filled a long standing "hole" in my collection and the rest were... well, just irresistibly weird collectibles. Here's the rundown on my latest scores:
Various Artists - "Powermad 2000: The Fourth Legacy"
(Siegen Records, 2000) Powermad was an annual progressive/power metal festival that was held in the Baltimore, Maryland area for several years in the late 1990s and early '00s. I never attended a Powermad fest, but I used to read reviews of the shows in various metal fanzines after the fact every year and I'd think to myself "someday...!" Unfortunately I never got the chance, because (to the best of my knowledge) the last edition of the fest took place in 2001. This 2-CD compilation was apparently a promotional item given to each attendee of the 2000 show, and it features tracks from some well known power/prog metal bands like Raven, Jag Panzer, Stratovarius, and Angel Dust, as well as newcomers and relative unknowns like Mystic Force (MF's bass player Keith Menser was one of the organizers of Powermad), Mindcage, Etheria, and Reading Zero. I have no idea if all 28 (!!) of the bands on this compilation all actually played at the 2000 festival, but if even HALF of the bands on this CD took the stage then it must've been one hell of a weekend!!
I don't usually "do" compilation albums (especially ones where I already own some of the albums that the tracks come from) but this was just such a weird and obscure thing to find in a rinky-dink little thrift store in nowheresville, New Jersey that I simply couldn't leave it there!!
Jag Panzer "Hell to Pay"
Extreme - "Pornograffiti"
(A&M Records, 1990) Extreme was one of the major playas in the hair metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s, and this second disc remains their best selling record. Of course, the most well known song on it is the smash hit single "More Than Words," an acoustic ballad that became the theme song to a thousand weddings and senior proms. Unfortunately, "More Than Words" eventually became the albatross around Extreme's collective neck. Grandmas were buying the album and expecting the rest of it to sound just like "More Than Words"... imagine their surprise when the more sleazy, funky, hard rocking stuff like "Decadence Dance," "Get the Funk Out," or "When I'm President" came blasting out of their stereos!!
I was lucky enough to see Extreme when they were touring for this album and it was an amazing show, Gary Cherone was a great frontman (we won't discuss his cup of coffee stint in Van Halen) and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was a true master of the six string. When he ripped into his solo "Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee" you could see the jaws on every aspiring guitarist in the audience dropping to the floor simultaneously, all seemingly asking "How the F**K does he DO that??"
Extreme "Decadence Dance"
Rainbow - "Long Live Rock N Roll"
(Polydor, 1978) Everyone knows that the late great Ronnie James Dio totally rules, right? Confession time: though I'm well versed in the man's endeavors with his self titled band and as a member of Black Sabbath, I've never investigated much of his seminal work with Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore's first post-Deep Purple band, from the mid to late 70s. Prior to picking up this disc, the only Rainbow material I owned was a "Best-Of" compilation which covered not only Dio's era with the band but also those of his successors, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner. So when this CD unexpectedly turned up in the thrift bin I naturally jumped on it. I'm already familiar with the title track and "Gates of Babylon" from the aforementioned best-of comp so I can't wait to hear the rest!!
This album was Ronnie's last with Rainbow, as he jumped ship to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1980... the rest is history, as they say.
Rainbow "Long Live Rock N Roll"
(Geffen, 1992) These Georgia rockers were one of the last so-called "hair metal" bands to make any kind of a splash before Grunge came along and wiped the whole genre off the map. Their music - a blend of AC/DC's pummeling rhythms and Black Oak Arkansas' redneck party rock - could be pretty obnoxious at times, but the semi-hit single "Down on Me" and the immortal "The Lumberjack" (complete with epic chainsaw solo - yes, you read that right, a CHAINSAW solo!!) were worth the dollar I paid. I happened to see Jackyl live once many years ago opening for Ted Nugent's Damn Yankees, and I have to admit they were one of the funniest live acts I've ever seen. At one point lead singer Jesse James Dupree grabbed a guitar, jumped off the stage and began running up and down the aisles of the venue (Radio City Music Hall in New York City) making all sorts of six-string racket. He finally leapt up onto an empty seat next to my friend Ralph and I, played the riff from "My Sharona," then looked straight down at us and said, "I wrote that!" We were dyin'.
Jackyl, "The Lumberjack"
The Queers - "Beyond the Valley..."
(Hopeless Records, 2000) I'm a huge Ramones fan but till recently I have never had time to look into much of the pop-punk that they've inspired. The charmingly-named "Queers" are one of those bands that people have been telling me to check out forever, so I decided to give this one a try. I have only listened to a few tracks thus far but they do indeed have the "one-two-three-four," over in a minute and a half formula of the Bruddas Ramone down pat, with the added bonus of an even more juvenile, foul mouthed sense of humor. My inner fourteen year old was getting a kick out of songs like "Stupid F**king Vegan," "Journey to the Center of Your Empty F**king Skull," and the endearing "My C*nt's a C*nt" but obviously I can never listen to this CD with my kids in the car!!
The Queers - "Stupid F***ing Vegan"
L.A. Guns - "Covered In Guns"
(Deadline/Cleopatra, 2010) Most people remember L.A. Guns for their hit single "Ballad of Jayne" (if they remember 'em at all) and though I was a fan back in the day, I haven't bought one of their discs since the early 1990s. However, they never went away. If you check their discography on Wikipedia, they appear to be one of those bands that just keeps on cranking out new records for a small but loyal audience. This all-covers album was released in 2010 (who knew?) and features Gunned versions of such classic rock chestnuts as "Rock and Roll All Nite" (KISS), "Don't Fear the Reaper" (Blue Oyster Cult), and "Let There Be Rock" (AC/DC), as well as a few left field choices like "Cry Little Sister" (the theme from "The Lost Boys"). Unfortunately, these songs are performed so lifelessly that you might as well be listening to a karaoke backing tape. L.A. Guns should be ashamed of themselves! I had much higher hopes for this one.
L.A. Guns "Cry Little Sister"
(Atlantic, 1972) I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to 70s progressive rock, but I've always liked "Roundabout" and "Long Distance Runaround" from this album... and besides, Yes bassist Chris Squire just passed away recently so I figured that giving these legends a long overdue try was the properly respectful thing to do. Interestingly enough, I was just commenting to my sons a week or so ago that the only letter of the alphabet that wasn't represented in my CD collection was "Y," because I had no albums by bands that started with it. Now I've got all twenty six letters covered!! P.S. Love that classic album cover painting by the great Roger Dean!!
Sara Evans, "Real Fine Place"
(RCA, 2005) I bet most of you are saying, "Sara Evans? Why is the Heavy Metal dude buying THAT?" ... and I'm sure this will sound shallow as hell, but in recent years I've begun to add a sub-section to my mostly metal and hard rock CD collection for a certain guilty pleasure of mine: "modern" or "pop" country music sung by hot women (see: Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson, The Jane Dear Girls, etc.). Miss Evans certainly fits that bill, because she has a great set of ... er... vocal cords. Yeah, that's it, vocal cords. No, but seriously, Sara *does* have a fantastic voice and even though this particular CD doesn't include her song "Suds in the Bucket" (her only track that I was previously familiar with), I'm sure Real Fine Place will get its fair share of spins while I stare lovingly at Sara's photos in the CD booklet. Don't judge me!
Sara Evans - "A Real Fine Place to Start"
A Satisfying Haul...
As you can see, it was another successful CD hunting expedition for yours truly, and as long as the thrift store keeps paying off with goodies like these then I'll continue to put up with its cramped conditions, creepy clientele and strange odor. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some serious listening to do. Till next time, may all your used CDs be in good, playable condition and keep scrounging!