Damn fine Wine: Enter The Vaselines

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You know you’ve had a couple drinks (bottle of Cave Springs Riesling Dry) when you find yourself dancing around the house to the beautiful lo-fi emanations of The Vaselines. Released recently by Sub Pop, via Newbury Comics on “Baby Poop” yellow wax, (which is actually a rather stunning mix of yellow, green and black) it makes you wonder why the f@#k no one had bothered to do it earlier. Truthfully, because I wouldn’t lie to you, most of the indie that came out in the nineties (or 80’s as in this case) seems to be meant for vinyl and The Vaselines especially so.

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There is just something about an acoustic/electric guitar and accordion mixed in a very simple rhythm that is just so damn appropriate to the crackle and pop of a turntable and a good set of speakers. Scratch that, even a cheap old paper pair of laminated shit sounds like bliss when Frances McKee is singing about “Molly’s Lips”. Then you add the (oh so) timely nasal and barely on key Eugene Kelly pontificating how inappropriate it is to die for religion (“Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam”) and you have reason to pull out boogie shoes… even if the music doesn’t really have ‘night at the disco’ as a prominent theme (or sound). However, the best stuff isn’t found in the familiar songs that a certain Seattle band covered, but rather in the deep cuts found in the supplementary discs.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t the first time The Vaselines have been repackaged for release… but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best of the lot. Sure, you got the CD copy of 1992’s, The Way of The Vaselines, put out quickly to capitalize on the Nirvana covers on Incesticide, but really, this particular compilation from 2009 is all about an influential band in their prime. While they might be forever linked to the aforementioned band, The Vaselines have far more in common with the sounds of Australian bands Smudge and Godstar than grunge. Down under there was a far better understanding of “who gives a damn about mix” dynamics and instead “just play the f@#king song” than anything out of Europe or the States (except for Sebadoh, because they are the lo-fi version of rock GAWDS).That said, my point is rather odd as The Vaselines are a Scottish band. Regardless, this three disc set covers their entire early output with demos and live sets. The live stuff sounds as if it is being played in front of no more than 30 arts patrons… which is pretty much exactly how I would want to see them.

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You see, (in my mind at least) The Vaselines are not epic rock gods in the classic sense, but rather, a simply epic band in the most direct of ways. There is no place for superfluous crap… just honest and straight forward songs that get straight to the heart of the matter and are done. If all you have heard is a few covers you owe it to yourself to (at very least use Spotify if you must) give them a listen.

As for the vinyl, and the new 300 copies out through Newbury Comics sounds great, you’ve only got two choices. The original 2009 Sub Pop release of Enter The Vaselines is still available at record stores. Then again, if you have a few days and are not worried about waiting for delivery, that “baby poop yellow” version is pretty sweet looking and sounds great too.

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Confused, Remorseful & Angry… It’s Awesome! or Sebadoh – Bakesale

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Back in ’93 a good friend turned me towards the lo-fi sounds of Sebadoh and their initial Sub Pop offering Bubble & Scrape. One listen to the fabulous opening number “Soul & Fire” and I became a forever fan.

Bakesale was released in 1994, and was a slight change of direction for the band in that they had refined the sound now and were becoming more accessible to the alt-rock hipsters. Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein were capable of breaking your heart at one moment and smacking you in the head another with their confessional lyrics and fuzzed out guitar work.

“What was that you just said, that didn’t make any sense to me, it’s not the way I see it man, I’m almost tired of listening to you” from the awesome “Not Too Amused” comes off all at once confused, remorseful and angry with the music only adding to the emotional impact. These are themes that play out over the course of the whole record.

Some critics call Bakesale Sebadoh’s finest moment; I’m not sure I would go that far as they have several records that have a giant place in my heart. However, it is certainly a great place to begin if you haven’t listened to them before and vinyl is definitely a great option.

Outside of the original ’94 release, Bakesale was re-mastered in 2011 and has a couple options. The first is your basic black vinyl which also came with a download card and is still available at all your finer record retailers. The second, long sold out edition was on grey splatter vinyl and was sold directly from the Sub Pop online store.

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If you are a fan of those essential records from the 1990’s, Bakesale definitely fits the bill. I’m just hoping Bubble & Scrape and Harmacy eventually see a vinyl re-release. Either that or I may have to start hunting down used copies.

Sebadoh is playing at Lee’s Palace in Toronto tomorrow night (May 27).

You know what they say about blinking… Nirvana – Sliver/Dive 7”

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So I put myself on a few mailing lists so that I don’t miss something cool when it comes out. Hence when Newbury Comics put out a limited run of the Strokes Room On Fire last week I scooped it up before it sold out the next day… it hasn’t even been shipped, yet e-bay re-sellers are already asking over a $100.00.

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Just yesterday morning I received an e-mail from Newbury Comics about a split coloured (pink/Blue) 7” of Sliver/Dive by Nirvana. It wasn’t two hours old when I got to it…

Gone

Sold out

e-bay resale has two listed already for over $95.00.

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Now you can still get a regular black 7” for around $15.00 which is pretty cool, and you can still grab the 2011 Record Store Day Nevermind Singles Box set for just over $60.00 through discogs or e-bay.

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The 2011 set has 4 10” discs and is basically a vinyl replica of the CD singles with b-sides included from the Nevermind era. It is a pretty cool set, but damn, the pink/blue is pretty sweet looking. Oh well…

Which Bleach is Bleach? Nirvana –Bleach

I wonder if any album ever recorded for so little has returned so much?

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If the myth is true, those “500 American dollars” have generated a whole frickin’ industry around one record.

Since it first hit the market in 1989, Bleach has gone on to sell 1.7 million copies and is Sub Pop Records biggest seller to date. So how much vinyl is out there?

Well, according to discogs, at least 60 vinyl versions have hit the streets worldwide since ’89. It is super easy to find a new copy at any time. However, recently some pretty cool editions have hit the North American market. Sub Pop released a Deluxe 180 gram double white vinyl gate fold edition back in 2009 that includes a live performance from 1990. Going through chat rooms, it seems that a few of these had complaints about skipping. Personally speaking, my own copy sounds fantastic, so I would just keep the receipts if you’re interested in pursuing one. Discogs has it listed at $34.10 and e-bay vendors are trying to get $100.00. Which is funny because it can be had brand spanking new for about $30.00 at Amazon and local retailers.

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The other edition that has started selling for outrageous amounts of money is the most recent release that was put out in limited fashion by Newbury Comics just last year. Two editions of the re-mastered Bleach, one is a clear white splatter while the other is a maroon black splatter, were released in quantities of 750 each and hand numbered. Again, it sounds absolutely fantastic, but the re-sale market is crazy for these. Discogs has the clear/white selling for 61.43 and the maroon/black at 74.98. E-bay on the other hand is asking $100 for one or $150 for both.

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Of course, if you are off your rocker nuts with money to burn… the coloured vinyl (specifically the aqua) released by Sub Pop in 1992 can and does sell for over $500 a pop.

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Other colours can be had for less… which is kind of a relative term when you spend hundreds on a single collectible record.

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