Continuous Hit Music: The Monkees – Monkeemania

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here

Artist: The Monkees
Title: Monkeemania
Original Release: 1979
Label: Arista
Store: Arkaba Hotel, Glen Osmond St, Adelaide
Price: $3.33
(Original AU pressing)

Adelaide Record Fair is a new event on the calendar. It falls on the same weekend as the Adelaide Fringe festival, a wonderful time to be in Adelaide where the entire city is out, and many tourists are in town. There are plenty of other things going on, taking advantage of all the extra people. This record fair is one.

The mix of fringe, record fair and good friends was all the excuse I needed for a weekend away.

It’s new, so it’s small. It has two main stalls – Revolve Records from Erskineville (who is just down the road from me) and OzVinylJunkie, a stalwart of the record fair scene. It’s held in a mega pub, the Arkaba, just slightly out of the city main.

It’s not a huge selection, but hopefully it’s the start of something good. There was plenty to go through, and opposed to Parramatta, a friendly vibe and no one really trying to rip you off. I walked away with dozens of albums, many from the 3 for $10 boxes. This record is one.

Davy Jones passed away a few days before this record fair. I am a huge fan, and wrote a piece about Davy for EMI Australia’s blog. I adore my deluxe Rhino CDs, box sets and Monkees collections through the years. But the vinyl I’ve seen around have been mostly poor condition.

So it was nice to find this mammoth Monkees anthology. The name Monkeemania was recently reused by Rhino for a new collection, but this one is pretty definitive. No matter where you stand on how great this band is, you have to own at least 20 of the songs here. Over the 40, it hits all the big songs and the best album tracks. However, it does fall into the later years in the end – I’m not sure how often I will play side 4.

One of the best things about vinyl is that double albums make sense. These double best of collections are just a treat. If you’re a fan, you can really sit with them in an afternoon, pour over the artwork and really immerse yourself.

The music. So Clarksville, Pleasant Valley Sunday, both the Believer songs…they’re all here. Then there’s the lesser known track. Take A Giant Step, Randy Scouse Git, For Pete’s Sake, Cuddly Toy and so much more. It doesn’t capture everything, but no 40 tracks can (try the Music Box boxed set for that).

This probably sorts out my Monkees on vinyl for a bit, until I track down some high quality versions of the first four albums. The artwork is fun, and reflects their innocent pop image. There’s a full sleeve sized Monkees comic, and collage of magazine cut outs, photos and track notes.

There are times when I want to listen to the Monkees, and it’s tough to choose between those first few albums – they are all so good. But this will do for now.

Continuous Hit Music: Sunnyboys – Sunnyboys

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here

Artist: Sunnyboys
Title: Sunnyboys
Original Release: 1981
Label: Mushroom
Store: Parramatta Town Hall, Church St, Parramatta
Price: $50
(Original AU pressing – limited edition)

Continuing the adventure of Parramatta record fair (I bought so many records, I figure I can squeeze this out over a couple of weeks). Now, record fairs are great because of the range (hundreds of thousands of records in one roof) and the price (people know what things are worth, but still pretty competitive). But above all that, it’s the few times in life you actually get to see some real rarities.

If there is one rarity of Australian vinyl it’s the Sunnyboys‘ first album of yellow vinyl. I heard about the existence of this album for over a decade. A yellow version of the iconic blue cover. A limited, 2000 copy first run. I’ve been looking for this album ever since, and finally found it. At $50, it’s probably right on in terms of value. That’s what it goes for on eBay.

In Australia, there actually aren’t that many reknowned rarities. A handful of singles will go for a few hundred dollars. But that whole business of mono vs stereo versions and printing errors had gone out of style by the time Australian music got really good. Most of the really respected bands of the 80s that were Australian were usually signed to labels overseas. So in Australian record collecting terms, this is gold.

But I really don’t know the story of this limited edition. Anyone out there care to enlighten me? First – 2000 copies? That means I’ve probably met half the people who claim to own this on yellow vinyl. Was there a second printing? And why yellow vinyl? I know yellow was used on some of the early artwork of the band. Was it that simple?

Most importantly – the tracklisting differs. Not only is ‘Happy Man’, the album’s first single, not included, but there is a large sticker on the front telling us ‘Happy Man’ is not included. As if it was selling point. What is going on? I don’t know.

This album would be worth nothing if it wasn’t brilliant. It made number 37 in the book ‘100 Best Australian Albums’. For me it’s much higher than that, sitting around number 10. It’s a brilliant slice of edgy, jangly pop guitars bashing against the sombre, dark words of Jeremy Oxley. So many bands sound like this today – and I hope they know the Sunnyboys got there first.

The big hit from the album is ‘Alone With You‘. It’s one of the greatest songs to come out of Australia and is worth the price of admission alone. Even without ‘Happy Man‘ you have ‘I Can’t Talk To You‘, the frantic ‘It’s Not Me‘ and the brilliant closer ‘I’m Shakin’, and most bands would kill to make an album this good. Hell, most bands would kill to make an album COVER this good. Surely one of the most iconic images in all Australian music.

Sadly, the current CD version is awful, and no effort has been made to reissue this album, and it’s fallen away, almost forgotten. Unbelievable, but it’s happening to so many great Australian albums. No one is taking care of them.

Continuous Hit Music: Crowded House – Temple Of Low Men

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here.


Artist: Crowded House
Title: Temple Of Low Men
Original Release: 1988
Label: Capitol
Store: Parramatta Town Hall, Church St, Parramatta
Price: $3.33
(Original AU pressing)

Parramatta Record Fair is one of the staples of the Sydney record collecting scene. It has been going for many years. I went to my first one around ’98. You would see flyers for it in every record store. Twice a year, you’d make your way out to Parramatta, and fight it out with the various anoraks and weirdos that make up the record collecting set.

I’ve been away for years, and it’s like going back to your old family home. Has it shrunk? Or have I grown? There didn’t seem to be as many stalls as previous years. The variety was missing too. Secondhand CDs are worth almost nothing these days. And lots and lots of old records – and not selling for that much either.

It was a delight in the late 90s and early 00s. For all of the music industry’s excess, it was high time for quality CD box sets, and fancy promo items. Now you’re just fighting over a $5 Randy Newman album.

There is so much to say about this world. Like the way people treat eachother. Or the pair of charming older ladies talking to stall owners about gigs they once saw. Or the pair of young girls, who were impressively out of place. But that will be a story for another day.

$5 each or $10 for 3. You’d see that in a lot of boxes. For years I’ve avoided them, looking for more precious jewels. But this little blog project has set me back going through them. In one of these boxes I found this album – Temple of Low Men by Crowded House. Amongst 20 or 30 purchases that day.

I could have written about quite a few albums but this one is interesting. First of all, it’s not that easy to find. You see the first album around a lot, but this one is a bit rarer. And not because it’s more hunted… probably because it is less loved.

Common concensus is that this is the least of those early Crowded House albums. The debut, self titled Crowded House is an established classic (and Triple J listener’s favourite), and Woodface was the hit record with the best story. Together Alone has been reassesed in recent years, and has been declared an underrated classic. Which leaves us with Temple Of Low Men.

And yes, I would also say this is the 4th best album by early Crowded House. But it is a fantastic album. It just had two things set against it. It was a bit all over the shop stylistically. And it is hopelessly sad compared to their hopeful debut.

As the years go by, we see more and more that Neil Finn is powered by his melancholy. He can write a snappy tune with the best of them, but his body of work is tied to sadness. It’s just his radio hits that are bright. And it is this side of Neil Finn that blooms more than ever on this album.

Let’s not forget all the great songs on here. ‘Into Temptation‘ is the best ‘sad’ song Finn has ever written. ‘I Feel Possessed‘ is spooky and mysterious, and gifted with a chorus that most songwriters would kill for. And there’s ‘Better Be Home Soon‘. A song that everyone in Australia knows, and should have been a smash.

In a way, this album was the end of Crowded House. The bright, sunny joker-y of the first album could not be sustained. Tim Finn gave it a shot in the arm, but one more failure and it was all over.

Continuous Hit Music: Raspberries – Raspberries’ Best Featuring Eric Carmen

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here.


Artist: Raspeberries
Title: Raspberries’ Best Featuring Eric Carmen
Original Release: 1976
Label: Capitol
Store: Addison Rd Markets, Marrickville, Sydney
Price: $10
(Original US pressing)

Markets continue to be a great source for vinyl records. There’s always a couple of stands at Marrickville’s Addison Road Markets. The market itself is something out of Portlandia. People selling Dim Sum over twice how much they cost in a proper Chinese place. There’s also homemade shampoo and and guy who I think puts his leftovers into an ice cream maker and sells the results at a premium.

I also wonder who is buying some of these records. Take this $10 purchase. Raspberries’ Best – featuring Eric Carmen. Did the guy who sold me this think, “Ah, Marrickville. They love that overly dramatic power pop stuff there. It’s bound to go today.” I hope he did.

I did get it, of course. I figured it’s a good way to knock over this band’s discography on the head.

For those who don’t know – well, you mostly don’t need to. The Raspberries were a second rate power-pop/glam rock band. They had a talent in frontman Eric Carmen, who wrote and sang their music. Carmen went on to sing and write the hit ‘Hungry Eyes‘ from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. He also penned ‘All By Myself‘, which ended up being a hit for Celine Dion. His best song however is ‘Make Me Lose Control‘, a slice of Beach Boys meet Bryan Adams bit of radio rock that still sounds great.

But this compilation was before all that. Raspberries themselves never made it to the big time. They do have a devoted following in that power pop scene, so much they they actually reunited a few years back. I bought all 4 of their albums on CD, and it’s pretty same-y stuff. And even some samey stuff seems a bit lacking.

There are a handful of pretty good songs. ‘Go All the Way’ opens every Raspberries compilation, as it’s a pretty fun, Free-like rocker. Then the schmaltzy verses kick in, and then the highly disturbing lyrics. ‘Tonight‘ and ‘I Wanna Be With You‘ are fun, servicable rockers. ‘Ecstasy‘, with a riff very close to a You Am I song, is probably the best thing on here.

Then there’s ‘Overnight Sensation‘. A widescreen, overblown bit of insanity about wanting a hit record. It starts small then goes big, very big. Then it stops, and hey, it comes back again, with a huge choir singing the chorus, brass squeeling away, and the drums bouncing all across the mix. I think they probably thought it was a clever, but this is exactly the kind of stuff that the Clash came and pissed all over a few years after.

Yeah, it hasn’t dated well, but it’s still pretty fun. Terrible lyrics and dodgy production aside, it’s definitely worth $10. And it’s quite nice to listen to just 40 minutes of this stuff in one hit, as opposed to a long drawn out CD length greatest hits.

The sleeve is also quite fun, with two essays running along the edges, then continued on the back, then continued on the inner sleeve. I know it’s supposed to look like a newspaper, but why? We’ll probably never know. For the strange design alone, it’s worth having. It certainly makes it the best Raspberries collection out there.

Continuous Hit Music: Paul & Linda McCartney – Ram

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ‘em all here.

Artist: Paul & Linda McCartney
Title: Ram
Original Release: 1971
Label: Apple
Store: St Vincent De Pauls, 683 Darling Street Rozelle NSW
Price: $2
(Original Australian printing)

This record was happily sitting in a bargain bin at Rozelle St Vinnies. Most St Vinnies seem to have a box of records somewhere, usually for a dollar or two. There’s really about a 1 in 3 chance to actually find something good amongst the battered old soundtracks and forgotten country compilations. So, to find one of my favourite albums for $2 randomly is quite a find.

Ram. The only album credited to Paul & Linda McCartney. I know it’s weird to say, but it’s my favourite album that Paul McCartney was ever involved in, and by default my favourite album involving any Beatle. It gets a lot of flack because, I guess, people hate Linda. But I love Linda. And I love how in love with her Paul was. And I love this album that they made.

Ram was the first album McCartney made after he left the Beatles (his first solo album was made in a weird period when he was still technically a Beatle). To escape from it all, they moved to their Scottish farm, and made this rustic, sweet down home recordings. The big people’s anthems that Lennon wrote were missing here, this was a small scale record. Another reason it is hated, I guess.

But the songs are just so sweet. McCartney’s sense of melody is on top form. The yearning “Dear Boy”, the little uke & voice ditty of “Ram On” – all very simple but very beautiful. The biggest thing approaching an anthem was the two part “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, even that has that has McCartney making phone ringing noises with his mouth. Not really “Imagine” then.

The legend looms large for me. Most of my love for Paul and Linda together comes from this period. Hiding away on their farm, experimenting with sounds, no doubt wearing awesome sweaters, making music for the fun of it. People say Yoko broke up the Beatles, but I think Paul only had the strength to leave that band because he had Linda. And Linda was an extraordinary woman, if not much of singer. She is McCartney’s muse, and that alone makes her more important to the story of popular music than all but three people ever.

I can listen to this album all day. And it ends on one of McCartney’s absolute best songs – “The Back Seat Of My Car”. It’s got those Pet Sounds chords and sadness, and the story is of two young lovers running away to be together. Not only is it a great song for everyone, I imagine Paul and Linda, both about to hit 30, living like they are teens again. They sound so young, so in love, so invigorated.

Macca makes great music to this day, but I keep going back to Ram. And maybe it’s age on my part too. “Imagine” sounds silly to me now. And I get less impressed by big production as the years go on. Something down home and lovely will do.

My copy has a tag taped to it, declaring this album as belonging to ‘Liz Marshall’. She took very good care of it – it doesn’t skip and sounds great. I assume Liz was the first owner, and I don’t know how it ended up in Rozelle St Vinnies. But thank you Liz for passing your copy of this wonderful album on. You’ll be glad to know it’s found a loving home.

Continuous Hit Music: Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On the Edge of Town

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Title: Darkness On the Edge of Town
Original Release: 1978
Label: CBS
Store: Rozelle Markets, 663 Darling Street  Rozelle NSW 2039
Price: $10
(Original US printing)

Markets. More than ever, they seem to be the place to pick up the odd record. Records have deeply fallen in with the vintage crowd. And Rozelle markets, a medium sized affair, has three or four dedicated record stalls. And then some of the stalls have a random pile of records in the corner somewhere too.

There’s a lot of these guys doing the rounds. Some have eBay stalls as well. But I see the same faces and the same records at some of these stalls. One guy in particular has been trying to flog off a Easybeats compilation with a great sleeve but horrible scratches at about four markets I’ve been to.

Maybe if I get to these markets earlier there would be a better selection. But I doubt these guys dig out their finest stuff for the markets. What they do have a lot of is mid-level finds. And I can never have more mid-level finds.

Despite Sony’s work in recent years, Darkness At the Edge of Town is not one of Springsteen’s more famous albums. It doesn’t have any of his big radio singles. No ‘Born To Run’, ‘Born In the USA’, ‘Dancing In the Dark’, ‘Hungry Heart’ etc. For a casual fan, looking at the tracklisting might lead them elsewhere.

In fact, it is kind of an unassuming album. Born To Run (1975), which came before this, was a revival of a dying career. A dramatic, commercial turn. The River (1980) that came after, was the ambitious double. Every album after has been an event. Where as Darkness came out after a long (and well documented elsewhere) break, and on the surface, offered more of the same.

I am a Springsteen fan. So I love this record. What it lacks in the big story, Springsteen offers us some of his finest songs. It’s his vision unencumbered by making some bigger point. That said, ‘The Promised Land‘ is probably a big an anthem as he’s ever made. But my personal favourites are the more tender moments, like ‘Racing In the Street‘.

Sony reissued Darkness a couple of years ago in a lovely book form. There are plenty of reviews online to read if you want to decide for yourself. If you’ve not heard much Springsteen before and are keen to, I wouldn’t start here. I would go with Born To Run.

Interestingly enough, this is my first Springsteen album on vinyl. I always see the stuff around, I guess because they made so much of it. It’s so regular I figured I’d get around to it one day. Good thing about this blog project that that day is now.

One final thought on this album – one that has always bugged me. The album cover is terrible. In the middle of a run of iconic album covers, he doesn’t even look like he thought about this one. The back cover is pretty much the same photo without the jacket. Who thought of this? Anyway, another reason this album is just short of a classic.

Continuous Hit Music: Donovan – Greatest Hits

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Donovan
Title: Greatest Hits
Original Release: 1969
Label: Columbia
Store: Rick Rack Retro, Summer Hill, 136 Smith St, Summer Hill
Price: $10
(Original US printing)

Rick Rack Retro seems to be one of a thousand cool second hand knicknack places. King St in Newtown is full of them. The growingly trendy suburb of Summer Hill has a couple too. And amongst the retro clothes and vintage kitsch cutlery, most of them have a box of records somewhere. Who knows how this stuff got there, but most of the time they have something worth buying.

The choice this time around was between a copy of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 1, or this Donovan collection. Poor Donovan. Even in a box under some clothes in the suburbs of Australia, he’s up against Dylan. You’re lucky the Dylan sleeve was slightly more worn.

I should like Donovan more than I do. I very much enjoy all the songs of his I’ve come across. But even on CD, I only own this Greatest Hits title. If I could, I would like to blame the people at Sony Legacy for this. With no box set or deluxe reissues, my money went elsewhere, to newer reissues that seemed to be more important. Fuck, I’ve bought My Aim Is True like 5 times. God I’m a sucker.

Speaking of the CD, and blaming Sony Legacy, what the hell is wrong with the tracklisting? Looks as though the CD has mixed up sides 1 & 2 completely! Compared the the vinyl, the CD runs tracks 7-12, then 1-6 (then some extra tracks). I assume because the album cover lists the songs in another order again, that someone at Sony got confused and went with it. Poor Donovan.

The vinyl of this album, as I have also now discovered, features the superior ‘band’ version of ‘Catch the Wind’ and ‘Colours’, that were recorded for this album. Sony went and replaced them with the earlier versions on CD. The version of ‘Catch the Wind‘ when the big drums come in is THE version. The original clearly marks him out to be the sub-par Dylan he was to begin with. Poor Donovan.

Whatever the order, these tracks are still fantastic. There were so many cheap folkies in the 60s, but Donovan transcended that. He was trippier and a bit weirder. Which I guess mistakens his music for being softer, as it doesn’t sound very trippy today. Austraian fans have also had ‘Mellow Yellow’ ruined by that TV ad for Caramello chocolates. Poor Donovan.

Mismanagement and history aside, the songs are still fantastic. In addition to ‘Catch the Wind’, there is ‘Sunshine Superman’, ‘Wear Your Love Like Heaven’ and more. For a distilled, punchy, 12 track collection, it’s hard to go past it.

I see that Sony released a deluxe version of Sunshine Superman last year. Maybe it’s time I found out more about his catalogue. I have many friends who love him. Noel Gallagher named his kid after him. And there doesn’t seem to be a Bob Dylan reissue on the horizon.

Continuous Hit Music: Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Uncle Tupelo
Title: Anodyne
Original Release: 1993
Label: Sire
Store: Jelly Sounds
Price: $28.96
(Rhino reissue – 2010)

Firstly – Jelly Sounds. I have no idea who these guys are, and many of my vinyl mates have not heard of it either. Based out of Queensland, it is the best stocked and cheapest new vinyl site I can find. Even the shipping is cheap. They are cheaper than almost every Australian eBay seller I can find. Reliable, quick, and a great selection.

If you buy vinyl in Australia, I suggest you check it out. http://www.jellysounds.com.au/

And they stocked this record, Anodyne. For a few years it was my favourite album of all time. It is still well and truly up there. Rhino finally put out a excellent vinyl edition in 2010. I’m not even sure it ever came out on vinyl the first time around.

The story of this album is all over the internet. It is, along with maybe Son Volt’s Trace, the high watermark of this genre that came to be known as alt-country. It’s beautiful. It rocks. It has Doug Sahm. Most importantly, it is the last word on one of the greatest somgwriting partnerships of all rock. The riches of music that came from the bands that followed – Wilco and Son Volt – started here.

In a pub in London with a new super-boss, he asked the entire team what our favourite albums were. A highly inappropriate question, I think. I said it was Wilco’s Being There (still true, I guess). Michael commented that it would either be that or Uncle Tupelo, depending on how obscure I wanted to get.

The album has dated extremely well. So many bands still want to sound like this. Jay Farrar’s songs in particular hold up. Full of mystery and sadness, they still reveal new secrets almost 20 years later. It’s his use of words that is his greatest power. The album was called Anodyne for god’s sake. Not a popular word in popular music.

It is one of maybe 20 albums where I know all the chords and lyrics to. I played many of these songs in teenaged bands. Forcing people to learn them. I learnt harmonies listening to ‘New Madrid’. This record is a very big part of me.

It is a thrill to finally have it on vinyl. It’s a big gatefold record, and a nice quality pressing. It has been treated with priority care, like a new Wilco record.

If you’ve not heard Uncle Tupelo, or the rich well of ‘alt-country’ records that came before 2000, then this is the place to start. May it lead you to the Old 97’s, the Jayhawks, the Bottle Rockets, Slobberbone and all that.

When Wilco first toured Australia, I got to meet them, and we discussed Tupelo. Jeff said they couldn’t play the songs because Glenn, then the new drummer, didn’t know them. But Glenn said he would learn them if he had time. And yup, next show, they kicked into two songs from this album – ‘New Madrid‘ and ‘We’ve Been Had‘. I’ll never lose that memory.

Continuous Hit Music: The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Hot Rocks 1964-1971
Original Release: 1971
Label: ABCKO
Store: Egg Records, 3 Wilson Street, Newtown, Sydney
Price: $19.99
(Original US pressing)

Egg Records in Newtown. I wrote about them before but not this year. A great place to find rare records in the hub of Newtown. Occasionally their website will announce, excitingly, that a new shipment of US records has come in.

And there they are, a bunch of boxes in the middle of the store, and a bunch of folks on their knees, going through them all. It’s usually the same old 60s and 70s American rock. They probably pick em up for under and tenner and sell them for double. There must be millions of Help! in the US.

But I finally decided to pick up Hot Rocks. It’s not an uncommon record, and you can probably find it for under $20. But this was in pretty good condition, and lately, I’ve just been loving the Rolling Stones.

Hot Rocks is the greatest. Every song on here are amongst the greatest works in popular music. It is also the best summation of the early Rolling Stones. If you for some reason feel like you only need one Rolling Stones title, this is the one. Of the dozens of Rolling Stones hit collections, this is easily the best.

It’s the story of the Rolling Stones I know best. It opens with Time Is On My Side. It’s gospel pop, and from that mid 60s baroque period they had. The first of this double album is full of them. Ruby Tuesday, As Tears Go By, Play With Fire, etc. And they start there!

Here’s the thing about the Rolling Stones. One too many shit, bluesy rock song, and people forget how great a pop band they were. Nowadays they are like AC/DC, rememberd for their big anthems that are variations of a musical theme. That It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Start Me Up, Love Is Strong thing. But they were capable of stunning beauty. Yet, it’s hard to imagine them writing Ruby Tuesday today.

So for me, the Rolling Stones were always the band that did those thick sounding pop records (usually produced by Andrew Loog Oldham), and then did a bunch of great records in the early 70s. How can you deny such impulsive, urgent, nasty songs like 19th Nervous Breakdown and Paint It Black? How can you say these guys are just dumb rock ‘n’ rollers?

Album 2 collects tracks from their three greatest albums – Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. You know the songs. Sympathy for the Devil. Gimme Shelter. Brown Sugar. Wild Horses.

Which is why I love this collection. One half is a collection fo 12 60s pop songs that are as good as any. The other is a snapshot of an band at the peak of their emotive powers. And it stops before it descends into parody and recycling.

The album cover was always odd, but makes more sense on vinyl – big and arty. The inner photos are great also, but how Mick’s face is so big on the inside cover, I don’t know. Surely Keith would have had a word?

Continuous Hit Music: Ben Folds – Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Ben Folds
Title: Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective
Original Release: 2011
Label: Legacy
Store: Red Eye Records, 143 York Street, Sydney
Price: $44.98
(Original)

Red Eye is a Sydney institution. I started going there in the early 90s, after school, buying You Am I singles. I still go there, nowadays to chat to the staff and buy records. It is the only physical store I go in Sydney to buy new music.

They moved recently, and they cut down the room for their CDs, but still kept a generous record selection – both new and second hand. The selection of new vinyl is probably the best in Sydney. The only problem is stuff sells out so quickly. It’s often frustrating how quickly new titles sell out.

I would say that the only place that would stock this album on vinyl in Sydney would be Red Eye. If anyone knows one otherwise, I would like to know! And it’s the importance of physical retail because I wasn’t sure if I would pick up this record. But the hefty double vinyl just drew me in.

I love Ben Folds. He will be an evergreen artist for me, as long as I live. I loved Underground in 1994 (my introduction to augmented chords), and lived through and loved through every album since. (His last album, with Nick Hornby, has been well worn in my house/ipod)

But I was hesitant about this best-of. Just because I had it all. And this order of songs is not my order of songs. It’s not even my songs. My 20 favourite Ben Folds songs come from personal moments, and not singles that charted. I didn’t think I need this. Especially in the iPod era, I can just shuffle Ben Folds.

But if any point is left in compilations, then this is a good reminder. It’s Fold’s own tracklisting for you. Opening up this lovely double gatefold record, you are greeted with personal notes on every song. It’s great to read the songs that are important to him.

Two songs about his kids take prime position – and the contrast between the two songs (one defiant and big, the other sweet and small), tell a new story. I’ve never thought much of “The Luckiest”, but reading Folds’ notes on it give me a new perspective. There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You, never a single, is rightly included.

Better still is just that it’s a sprawling double album. I lovely afternoon sitting in a sun chair, reading liner notes, looking at photos and playing this record – there is nothing more pleasant. It was like a lovely concert. A playlist, a journey for the listener.

It’s easy for me to say there’s not a bad song on here. But I would probably say you need to get all the albums, if you want good music. But if you want a reason why big sprawling double best-ofs should exist, then this a good start.