The Breakfast Club stuck in a VCR at the cabin or Yukon Blonde – On Blonde

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Shooting for the sound of Joy Division and hitting the Psychedelic Furs instead means only one thing to a fan of Yukon Blonde; the sound was overhauled in a total ‘WTF’ way. Confusion can be forgiven when a leap from R.E.M. mixed with Teenage Fanclub becomes an analog synth driven kaleidoscope of the 80’s New Wave movement. The opening track “Confusion” may not have been written as a message to fans, but the coincidence certainly matches the sound I’m hearing.

That said – I’m digging it!

Gone are guitar fronted loose ‘extenda jams’ that were present in Yukon Blonde’s eponymous 2010 debut and in is the more atmospheric layered production of a far more evolved unit. The change shouldn’t be entirely shocking as synth-pop has always been an element of the Yukon Blonde sound. “Make U Mine” with its playful flirt has a slight Prince feel and single “Saturday Night” lays out that “Safety Dance” vibe that has weird haircuts and pastel clothing running for the dance floor.

The whole Yukon Blonde experience is built around fun and On Blonde is no different from Tiger Talk in terms of lyrical themes. Still, to have so completely transformed from one record to the next makes one wonder if they had The Breakfast Club stuck in a VCR at some old woodsy locale. You know, a few friends, some odd flavoured cider and that guy who says every line a step out of cue until you all start yelling.

Good Times…

For vinyl lovers, go to the Kings Road site where they are offering On Blonde in a pretty cool looking gatefold cover with orange/black splatter wax. Only 300 are available so move quickly.

The Best Album of 1993 or Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville

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Some records are great sounding and personal. Some records are great sounding and important. Then there was Exile In Guyville which was all that and so much more. 1993 was an awesome year for music seeing releases by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Breeders, U2, Belly, Porno For Pyros, Sloan, The Cranberries, Blur, Counting Crows, PJ Harvey and so many more. All those records and yet Spin and the influential Village Voice both picked Guyville as the number one record of the year.

It wasn’t just that Phair was writing about sex as bluntly or as graphically as any ‘guy’ had before her. It wasn’t just that a so-called feminist view hadn’t been placed in music to the extent that she now had. It was that Exile In Guyville had seventeen kick-ass songs that talked about the female experience without having to make proclamations. This wasn’t Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman” or Courtney Love warning you that “someday you will ache like I ache.” Instead Phair’s vocals are so matter of fact you feel that anger and sarcasm would be out of place. These are the stories of women in love, lust, distress and having sex told in a style where shock seems both out of place yet warranted.

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Spin recently ranked the Top 300 albums since 1985 and Exile In Guyville ranked #7. The only albums to rank Higher were:

Radiohead – OK Computer

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

Daft Punk – Discovery

Prince – Sign O’ The Times

Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang

Nirvana – Nevermind

Quite the company eh!

So when I talk about wanting to have not only albums I love, but also essential albums in my vinyl collection – Guyville fits both bills.

Strangely, Exile In Guyville has only two vinyl options. The original 1993 Matador release came with two basic black vinyl discs and an insert detailing the album info. You can find used copies on the internet for about $50.00.

In 2008, ATO Records released a 15th anniversary edition that was re-mastered and placed on two 180 gram vinyl pieces. With them also came a bonus 7” of unreleased B-sides and a copy of the re-mastered CD. Oddly, the reseller markets are asking over $60.00 for the 2008 reissue. It is still available at local record stores and online retailers for much less.

If you haven’t heard it – listen here. Then BUY IT!

A Glorious Bit Of Ragged String Bending or Foo Fighters – Medium Rare

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Foo Fighters have always enjoyed putting out limited and rare b-sides for their hard core fans, but finding them all can be a big frickin’ problem. To solve this minor dilemma, they compiled the whole lot of cover songs as an album for Record Store Day 2011 and dubbed it Medium Rare. The vinyl included thirteen songs from various EP’s, singles and soundtracks. The CD version, which was released as a companion to Q Magazine subscriptions, was missing the Prince cover of “Darling Nikki.”

As cover albums go, the songs are over the spectrum including numbers from Prince, Joe Walsh, Husker Du, Paul McCartney & Wings, Cream, Gerry Rafferty and few others. The whole album sounds great and gets held together by the Foo Fighters enthusiasm for the material. Taylor Hawkins vocals sound stellar on “Life Of Illusion” and the guitar solo on “Baker Street” is a genuinely glorious bit of ragged string bending.

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Thing is, trying to get a copy.

Record stores sold out of this a very long time ago and I’ve only seen one copy in the used bin of my favourite record store (or any other for that matter) once in the last four years. Discogs seem to have the most reasonable prices in the resale market with asking prices in the $100.00 range for either of the CD or vinyl.

On the other hand, e-bay resellers have sealed copies with asking prices that balloon to nearly $250.00 for a CD copy and over $500.00 for the vinyl. However, those high prices are by no means an average, and if you have your eyes open you should be able to snag a copy for under $100.00.

I think the best bet might be to hope for a limited re-issue at some point. The market is certainly there for it, let’s hope Grohl and co. decide it is worth doing.