Buying New Vinyl (In Canada)… when the economy has gone to shit!

vinyl cost pic355

“Are you sure you really needed that album” asks my wife as she looks at a recent credit card statement. Don’t get me wrong, we NEVER carry a balance from one month to the next, it’s just that the exchange rate has gone through the roof recently. So, what cost a dollar last year is costing a buck thirty plus shipping (which is also far more expensive because of the falling dollar). In other words, “OH WOE IS ME!” if you’re buying new vinyl from south of the border, you can quite easily go broke.

To make matters worse, some of the best music sites have yet to figure out how to ship items at anything near a reasonable cost. For instance, let’s take a look at the recent rerelease of Urge Overkill’s Stull EP on Touch & Go Records. The white vinyl edition of Stull sells for $16.00 USD, a price I’m willing to pay for a ten inch record. However, the shipping is $34.30 through the USPS (United States Postal Service), meaning the record is now triple its retail value. Then if you add the exchange rate the price jumps up to $66.89, making Stull’s cost quadruple the original asking price.

Now, not all sites use USPS to ship, and thank goodness for that. Recently, I ordered two albums from Newbury Comics and it was a better scenario. Paul Simon’s Graceland and the Modern Lovers eponymous record on coloured vinyl had asking prices that, combined, cost me $45.98 and another $16.00 in shipping for both. Newbury uses a courier service that charges only $14.00 for the first item and another $2.00 for each additional item. Of course, now with the current financial crisis sending the Canadian Dollar to an eleven year low, that small fortune I was spending is now an actual fortune and quite a bit more difficult to justify. My $62.97 USD bill shows up as $83.73 CAD on my credit card statement. OUCH!

When I first started ordering stuff from the US, the Canadian dollar was on par or better than USD. Now I’m looking at a huge markup that has made internet ordering direct from US record labels far less desirable.

Still, you do have options. First, if the label is using USPS, fire off a quick note to them expressing interest in their product, but not their shipping method. If they care about customer service, they will investigate alternate shipping methods. If that doesn’t work, go to your local record store to find out if they can order it in. It isn’t likely that you’ll get the “collector’s edition coloured vinyl” available only to fans making advance orders… but it is worth a shot. Finally, if that favorite artist of yours is coming to town, bring along some cash to their merch booth. Chances are, if they didn’t sell out during the advance order stage, it will be on the tour bus waiting for a chance to separate you from your money.

Regardless, even for a hardcore music buyer, the prices are now out of range. If only some entrepreneur with more brains than I could devise a way to distribute exclusive items in Canada, the costs would come down and music fans in the Great White North would be very happy. As it is, my vinyl orders will have to be filed under occasional – if at all. The vinyl revival may end not because of lack of interest, but instead because it is cost prohibitive… at least for us Canadian shoppers!

How Superstitious Are You? Playlist April 5/15

  1. “Slipin’ & Slidin’” – Little Richard

I read somewhere once that Here’s Little Richard is one of the most ‘essential’ records of all time. After listening a few dozen times in recent weeks, I believe that I agree. There is currently a special limited edition of it at Newbury Comics.

  1. “Livin’ For The City” – The Dirtbombs

Love this record and love this band. I highly recommend you give them a listen. You can order stuff from here.

  1. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder

After reviewing The Dirtbombs, I couldn’t resist playing something from the legend himself. Wish he hadn’t lost his political edge for a bunch of wedding played syrup, but still, when he was at his creative peak, he couldn’t be touched.

  1. “Your Touch” – The Black Keys

Earlier Black Keys, they just frickin’ rock – no matter what Mr. White has to say.

  1. “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

Something about this band just leaves me wanting more; looking forward to getting the new stuff.

  1. “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

A good Neil Young cover is always welcome around here. Besides it gives me another excuse to play something from those great cover albums by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs.

  1. “Ballad of Big Nothing (Alternate Vocal)” – Elliot Smith

Another re-release from Newbury, … I love Smith’s music, I just wish it didn’t remind me of… well, less talk – more listen.

  1. “Punky’s Dilemma” – Simon & Garfunkel

Started writing a review that included a memory of this song; haven’t finished the review, but the song makes me smile all the same.

  1. “Blackbird” – Paul McCartney & Wings

Besides the recent re-master of Wings Over America, I actually have an old cassette copy I got back when I was about 15. Can’t believe this guy is still touring… can’t believe Kanye fans didn’t know who he was… actually…. I can believe that. Nevermind.

  1. “Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan

Don’t own it on vinyl, but I really do love this song. For some reason I always thought this was a Buckingham – Nicks song and always pictured Lindsay & Stevie singing it together. For a billion years I’ve known the truth, but that image just never goes away.

  1. “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” – Turbo Fruits

Best Strokes sounding song not put out by the Strokes in a very long time; can’t wait to hear the whole record.

  1. “The Root” – Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler

Kim Deal is so frickin’ awesome it hurts. Don’t want to picture the Pixies without her – so I don’t. She has her own web store where she is selling her singles and posting videos. This video is pretty cool.

  1. “What Ever Happened?” – The Strokes

No, I’m not paid to promote Newbury! BUT – they do put out some cool collectible vinyl!

  1. “Disarm” – The Smashing Pumpkins

It is getting hard to find this edition of Siamese Dream that is 180 gram vinyl with a gatefold cover. Get it soon or wait for the next significant anniversary.

  1. “Positive Bleeding” – Urge Overkill

Yeah… I broke down and bought it! Probably use it as an example of how the poor exchange rate makes buying from south of the border a little on the expensive side.

  1. “Until The Sun Comes” – Rival Sons

Love this song, I’m just not sure about the band yet. I’ll let you know later.

  1. “If Only We Were Dogs” – Juliana Hatfield Three

Soon to be sold out from her web store, if you are thinking about it… you better get on it.

  1. “I Ain’t Superstitious” – The Jeff Beck Group

It just made it across the Atlantic, and it already seems hard to get. Good Luck!

  1. “Communication Breakdown” – Led Zeppelin

No problem finding this gem any and everywhere.

  1. “John, I’m Only Dancing (Sax Version, 2003)” – David Bowie

This record has become “My Precious” he says in his best Gollum voice. This is a great version of the classic “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Why do I love it so much – the answer is in the song.

For A Couple Hours They Were The World’s Greatest Band! Urge Overkill – Saturation

It’s funny the tricks that your mind creates for some screwed up database of how you remember things. As I drive on the 401 there is a man-made lake that you can see as you drive by the Niagara Escarpment, I think it is named Lake Kelso. Hundreds of times I driven by this spot in all seasons, weather, and times of day and every time I smile. The opening chords to “Sister Havana” play in my head and I picture an old Volvo with a tape deck that has wires hanging out, stretching toward a CD player that rests on a pillow on the floor. My roommate Kevin is hyped by this band and is telling me the finer details of their former indie label existence. I’m enjoying the song and nodding a lot as I look through the CD booklet. One song becomes another and by the time we hit downtown Toronto and the final notes of “Heaven 90210” ring out, I’m a fan. I know that when I get home I’ll be picking up this record and telling everyone who will listen, Saturation is a GREAT ALBUM!

saturation

Later that night as Urge Overkill took the stage things were a little different than usual. It being 1993, most bands were dressed down in ripped jeans and whatever t-shirt was handy at the moment. These guys were in flashy suits with big gold chains that had carried the UO medallion around their necks. As the show kicked in, the maybe 400 people present were treated to a freakin’ rock spectacle of epic proportion. For the next couple hours this band was convincing this audience that they, Urge Overkill – Nash Kato, Edward (King) Roeser and Blackie Onassis  were the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet. They swaggered, they posed, and they had a great album that was being performed in glorious fashion. Walking out of Lee’s after the show I was a ‘HUGE FAN’ and absolutely convinced they would be massive.

Critics loved them, other rock stars couldn’t heap enough praise on them, and they were in every alternative magazine of the time being ‘rock stars’. But that was pretty much the height of it all. They just didn’t catch on. The next album, Exit The Dragon, didn’t capture audiences imagination the way Saturation had and they broke up.

So here it is more than twenty years later, and I want to honour that day, that time, when for a couple hours Urge Overkill was the world’s greatest band. So I want this:

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Problem is the price and the condition. A good clean copy with a mint cover is around $100 once you add shipping. Oh well, maybe Geffen will do a re-release on vinyl… that would be cool! Still I want this album in my collection. I want this beautiful piece of orange vinyl playing at 33rpm as it takes me back to memories of Lake Kelso and Lee’s Palace.

Playlist March 22/15

Here is this weeks playlist. I will update the song stuff as I go.

March 22/15 Playlist

1. “Bottle Of Fur” – Urge Overkill

Saturation is one of my all time favorite records, which I am really wanting to find on vinyl, at a reasonable price…

2. “Three Women” – Jack White

Yeah yeah, Lazaretto, great record… not much more you can say.

3. “Freak Scene” – Dinosaur Jr.

From Bug, because Spotify doesn’t have Bug Live, “Freak Scene would kinda be considered the hit, if such a thing really existed for a cult classic. You can pick this up at some of the better record stores out and about, but the special purple splatter vinyl is sold out.

4. “In The Clear” – Foo Fighters

Great record that keeps finding its way onto my turntable.

5. “Born To Run (Live) – Bruce Springsteen

Did a write up on this a while back. Still think “Born to Run” is the perfect classic rock tune.

6. “20th Century Man” – The Kinks

7. “Everybody Makes A Mistake” – Otis Redding

8. “Little Wing” – Jimi Hendrix

This arrived from Newbury Comics last week. Sounds frickin great and is still available here.

9. “Witchy Woman” – Eagles

10. “Can’t Feel My Soul” – Teenage Fanclub

11. “Do You” – Spoon

12. “Crestfallen” – Pernice Brothers

13. “Neither Here Nor There” – Sloan

14. “A Very Sorry Christmas” – The New Medicants

15. “Things” – Paul Westerberg

16. “Crazy For You” – The Dirtbombs

Such an awesome sound on this band, just had to get a couple of their records. Listen and you might agree. If you do click here.

17. “Wild Eyes” – Vivian Girls

Couple years ago I was listening to these guys and thinking how great they were. Finally picked some up on vinyl.

18. “I’m Shy” – The Juliana Hatfield Three

What I said just a few days ago.

19. “Willow” – Said The Whale

20. “Kitsch Trick” – The Seasons

 

Superchunk: I Hate Music … (Just Kidding, because no one can hate music and do it this well)

There were quite a few bands that my roommate was into that took a bit of time for me to agree on. Usually it was pretty back and forth; I introduced him to Dinosaur Jr, he replied with Urge Overkill; I put on the Lemonheads and he replies with Sugar, but some stuff didn’t really stick.

Superchunk was one of those bands for me. I could appreciate what he was hearing, but other than the odd song (“Slack Motherfucker” is a frickin’ anthem of undeniable proportion) I just couldn’t get beyond the throwing then into a mix tape. Full albums just kinda slipped by me and never stood out in the collection as more than filler space.

slack

So here we are more than twenty years later and Superchunk has me re-evaluating my attitude with an awesome frickin’ record, that even makes my kids play air guitar. Of course their excitement might have more to do with the fan made Lego video for “FOH”, but they really don’t need to apologise for that.

“Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” bursts out with ‘anthemic’ glee as Mac McCaughan sings “I hate music – what is it worth?/ Can’t bring anyone back to this earth / Or fill in the space between all of the notes / But I got nothing else so I guess here we go.”

I Hate Music is a brilliant alt-rock masterpiece that arrives twenty years after such things were ‘so-called’ fashionable. It’s fuzzed out guitars and vocals seeped in blasts to match. The overall sentiment a ‘tongue in cheek’ “screw you – I play rock ‘n’ roll because I want to, mixed with some of the darker crap that comes with… well for lack of a better term – being a fuckin’ adult.

supchunck

http://www.mergerecords.com/i-hate-music

Beyond the tunes, the vinyl packaging for I Hate Music is phenomenal. For just a couple bucks more than the standard black disc, you get 150 gram coloured vinyl with a extra 7” inch single of unreleased material… and the damn 45 is white vinyl to boot. (You also get the download card, to put the album on your device of choice.)

So now that I Hate Music has finished playing I’m looking through my old CD’s for Superchunk’s Foolish with a sheepish grin on my face.  I’m wondering if I should have been paying closer attention to my roommates pontificating about the finer points of Afghan Whigs or the Archers of Loaf or…