9 Aug 2012

Vinyl Record Store Finds - Amoeba Records, San Francisco

The next record store find on my trip was Marquee Moon Vinyl in Florence, Italy but I'm still waiting for those records to turn up in the post so for now I'll move on to San Francisco.
There are those who say that Amoeba Records in San Francisco is the best record store in the world, and while I'm open to the possibility that there may be a better one somewhere, I've certainly never seen it. Converted from a bowling alley, it's a huge store with a massive vinyl selection that took me three lengthy visits to get through.
I'd put together a list of hard to find titles to look for, and found quite a few of them as well as a whole stack of other bits and pieces I didn't expect to spot.
I spent a lot more than I should have but came away a very happy camper - and I had been saving for at least a year for this trip so managed to justify my expenditure to myself.
Really nice staff too, knowledgeable and not outwardly judgmental of my sometimes dubious purchases.
I picked up the following LPs.

Fabio Frizzi - The Beyond
This is a great new 180 gram reissue that's just hit the streets in the last month or so. One of my favorite Lucio Fulci films and probably my favorite Fabio Frizzi soundtrack. Creepy as hell with diabolical choral vocals and great sound quality. This pressing will be out of print before you know it methinks.

Bubble Puppy - A Gathering of Promises
$10.98 for a nice repress of one of the best U.S psych albums? Yes please. I've written an in depth review of this before on the blog. Nice to get a vinyl copy to replace my CD with.

Bulldog Breed - Made in England
This was quite a find as I'd been meaning to pick this up on CD for a number of years, and wasn't even aware that there was a vinyl reissue floating around. The copyright date is 2002 so perhaps they've had it knocking around on the shelves for a while. Quality U.K psych. They still had a copy left when I picked this up....

The Plastic Cloud
I think these guys are Canadian. Excellent psychedelic album. I've had a dodgy mp3 copy with the fuzz guitar channel barely audible for years so very pleased to pick this repress up and hopefully hear it as it's supposed to sound. Reissued by a label I'm not familiar with ( Lion ) so not sure whether this is a legit reissue or a bit dodgy. Glad to have a copy either way.

Ty Segal and White Fence - Hair
I'm a bit late getting into these two, but have had numerous friends and readers recommend them so picked this up, and am loving it. Quite anglophile in places, very melodic, great tunes, but not afraid to get a bit garagey and noisy. Nice.

The Shangri-La's - Leader of the Pack
I adore the Shangri-La's and there's no way I could leave this repress on the shelf for $10.98. If someone was to ask me for the most dramatic music I could think of I'd reach for a Shangri-La's record without question.

Lilacs and Champagne
I'd streamed this a few times and found it really interesting. It's a side project from the band Grails and is basically a sort of psychedelic cut and paste project. The general consensus seems to be that it's a bit primitively put together, but I for one thinks it's pretty innovative and a whole lot of fun. Definitely one to check out.

Flower Travellin' Band - Satori
My favorite Japanese album. This is the new reissue from Phoenix Records in England and has a nice heavy duty gatefold sleeve. Very heavy proto doom with a very psychedelic tinge. Fans of Black Sabbath will love this.

Ride - Going Blank Again
I haven't managed to fully immerse myself into the shoegaze scene, but Ride's second album really does it for me. It's got the massive sound you expect from a shoegaze record but is more immediate and has great hooks. While most music guides will tell you to start with their first album Nowhere, I reckon this is more likely to draw you in. 

Lee Hazlewood - The LHI Years
Light In The Attic did a great job with the track selection for this excellent collection which I reviewed a few months back. Nice heavy vinyl pressing too. 

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
This has been a favorite of mine since it was released, but I couldn't find any reference to a vinyl pressing when I decided I should probably replace my CD of it a few years back. I assumed it had never been pressed on vinyl and left it at that. I imagine my eyes bulged when I found this on the shelves. One of the best albums of the last ten years in this humble writer's opinion.

Grand Drive - Road Music / True Love and High Adventure
This was a great find too. Two albums combined into a z shaped gatefold from this excellent U.K americana band ( who would later turn into Danny and the Champions of the World ). The asking price of $7.98 was criminally low, but now that it's found it's way into my collection I'll ensure it gets treated with the respect it deserves.

The La's
Another great vinyl reissue that I didn't expect to find. One of the best albums of the 80's and along with the Beatles and the Coral, in the big merseybeat top three for me. A top album which sounds like it could have been recorded in any year from 1965 to now. Timeless.

Henry Mancini - Experiment in Terror
The title track from this Blake Edwards film was one of the tracks that Fantomas reinterpreted on their Director's Cut album ( necessary listening for any respecting horror / thriller soundtrack fan ). Up there with some of John Barry's best sixties work. Very nice original U.S copy for under ten dollars. Who prices these things?

The Left Banke - Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina
Sundazed reissues are great, but they're really expensive here in New Zealand so I took the opportunity to pick a few up on my travels. This is of course a great baroque pop album and along with the Zombies Odessey and Oracle acts as the perfect introduction to the genre.


The Shangri-La's - 65!
You can never have too many Shangri-La's albums.

The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird
I must admit that I'm one of the great majority who were reintroduced to Surfin Bird via that Family Guy episode. The rest of the album is surprisingly varied for a record with a fairly average reputation. While most seem to think it lacks energy compared to the single, I find the instrumental tracks in particular to be very lively. Great rhythm section and excellent lead guitar work. Some of the vocal tracks are a little more dated but generally very entertaining stuff.

And the following 7" records :

The Marble Vanity - You Can't Step On A Rainbow
This is the debut 7" from Bill and Lisa Roe's baroque pop outfit ( Bill and Lisa also run the excellent Trouble in Mind label who are releasing the new Jacco Gardner single and have also released the Paperhead among others ). As you'd expect it's great.

The Martian Denny Orchestra - Crossfire
This is a Record Store Day single from an excellent new instrumental rock outfit that just happen to include Sundazed head honcho Bob Irwin among their number. This would fit in perfectly with all the surf reissues that Sundazed have been putting out recently and gives the Ventures a run for their money.

The Spyrals - Sunflower Microphone
Finding a copy of this was on my San Francisco bucket list. I've already talked extensively about what a great band the Spyrals are. Get a copy of this through their bandcamp page.

Sharon Van Etten - Leonard
I know this is a pretty mainstream choice for me, but I'm of the opinion that good music is good music, and Jagjaguwar is a pretty great label when it comes to finding interesting songwriters and bands. This is just one of those songs that grabs you from the first listen. Great.

Mickey Newbury / Bill Callahan - Heaven Help The Child
I'm pretty sure this was a Record Store Day release too, and is quite hard to find now by the sounds of it so I snapped this up when I found it. I wish more labels would put out singles like this with an underappreciated classic track coupled with an innovative cover version.

I visited a few other record stores while I was in San Francisco too, so in my next post I'll give you the rundown on Rasputin's, Music 101 and Aquarius Records. And fingers crossed that Marquee Moon package will show up soon too............

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