Friday, May 27, 2011

C is for Cavedogs

Finally, the third installment of the unabashedly self-indulgent "Lee's CDz from A to Z" series.

The C-section has delivered one bundle of joy after another. I was just getting started when my beloved pre-legal woes Captain America popped off the spindle. Along with Tougher Than Leather, this is one of the few records that actually makes me taste and smell beer whenever I hear it. Amazing. Licensed to Ill is the all-time winner for "beerfeel," but a bit unfair since the CD itself is actually covered with malt liquor and literally smells like beer. Anyway, "Buttermilk" from CA's "Flame On" was a boozy fave back in the day. With lyrics like "buttermilk was on her chin, same color as her white skin," it's no wonder the record was recalled! Also no wonder I was thrown out of their show at Club Babyhead for over-consumption of beer.

I'm getting all kinds of shit 'round the compass about how long this is taking... well excuuuuuuuuse me!! Do the math, Euclid!! Let's say each CD is 45 minutes (conservative estimate!), and I'm well over 500 already... so that's at least 500 hours of ripping time! Add the time it takes to put the discs in and out of the computer, plus typing all the song titles into iTunes, and we're talking about months of work! Josephina was yowling something about "doing it at 20X" the other day, but she usually has no idea what she's talking about anyway. Most of the time she's just looking for ways to bill more hours for her internship...
oh dear god in heaven!

Wowed by The Cars in a big way. What a great fucking record. "Bye Bye Love" is pretty much perfect, and segues seamlessly into another vision of perfection. That would be "Moving in Stereo," aka "the song that makes every guy born between 1960 and 1970 instantly pop a boner."

Once again, missing tons of CDs. Between Josephina's notes and my spotty memory, here's the death toll: 3 Cream, 4 Eric Clapton, a ton of Cure CDs, a few John Cougars, possibly 2 (!) Chi-Lites discs, and God knows how many releases with Crosby and Stills on the spine. It's possible that each of the above titles were mysteriously replaced with Cypress Hill CDs, of which I somehow have eleven. What the heck happened?! And where's my Coolio record? 

About two-thirds of the way through the letter-grouping, I unearthed a piece of plastic that belongs in some sort of museum (or laboratory)-- my Giant Steps CD. This thing found its way into trouble so many times I was sure I chucked it! Nope, still here.A buddy of mine that crashed on my couch in college for at least a full semester had something to do with it. We took acid one night (actually, dozens of nights... but I'm referring to one in particular here) and ended up in a familiar scenario: taking turns playing records for each other. At some point, "Fruitfly" (not his real name) threw the Coltrane on, which I was certainly familiar with but by no means expert. My friend launched into several lectures within 30 seconds, namely (a) an etymology of the title "Giant Steps," (b) a quick discography of Paul Chambers, and (c) something about bungee jumping. At the same time, Fruitfly had unsheathed his bass guitar and was furiously playing along with the song, to my ears, perfectly.

Like many LSD experiences, fascination quickly morphed into terror. Fruit's fingers were moving so quickly that I imagined them as the blade of a circular saw, which made me shrink back about two feet. I stammered out some sort of suggestion about "Giant Eyes" or "Giant Squares" as an alternative title, and made an end run around Fruit over to the CD bookshelf. I considered hanging on for dear life until "Naima," but that was light years down the road at this point. I grabbed a disc off the top of the bookshelf just before 4:30 on the display and made a slick switcheroo. A brilliant transition popped into my throbbing orange brain in the 10 seconds of silence between records. Something like "here's your fucking Coltrane!" slid off my tongue as I skipped to track two of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

Fruitfly cowered in mortal horror as I practically climbed on top of him, with "Bring the Noise" shaking the walls of our building. I regurgitated some jive I'd tried out a few nights before on cough syrup, but fired off my lines about twenty times faster and clearer than the first time. "You're overwhelmed right now!! You're musically and conceptually overwhelmed!! This is politics, lyrics, production, innovation, humor, dance, race, EVERYTHING AT THE SAME TIME!!!"

I don't even think we made it to the end of the track; I felt like a rogue linebacker after breaking a placekicker's neck. It didn't take long for us to settle down and make friends... I think we went outside and watched cars for a while. Pulling a nasty stunt like that takes a lot out of you.

The Giant Steps CD resurfaced years later on Long Island, when I somehow left it in a paper bag with four other titles on a stool at Gunther's Tap Room. Next time I walked into that hole the bartender threw the brown package at me, sneering, "These are yours." The 'Trane was in there, but my brand-new Iron Maiden collection wasn't. I hate that bar.
looks kinda like a fish...

Somewhere along this odyssey, the CD was damaged badly. Who knows where,  who knows how? Regardless, there's a swatch of digitally encoded polycarbonate missing from the disc's underside. The missing data is near the outer edge of the program area, possibly during the alternate take of "Syeeda's Song Flute." I attempted to import this monstrosity a few weeks ago, and nearly destroyed my computer. As the CPU tower started to shake, a sound I immediately compared to running over a putter with a lawnmower filled our apartment, waking up two of the three sleeping children currently residing at Chez Mazzola.

I'm starting to worry about ripping my Red Hot Chili Peppers CDs, if I still have any. I know for a fact that one of my copies of Freaky Styley was submerged in orange juice for at least two hours.

Monday, May 16, 2011

B is for Bad Brains

Not vinyl but bloody brilliant
If the "digitization" of my CD collection were a cross-country trip, the B section would be the first hour of Pennsylvania: a few initial thrills followed by nerve-deadening boredom. I never thought I'd be so thrilled to see David Byrne's The Catherine Wheel emerge from a freaking spindle.

Original Émigré pressing of Basehead's Play With Toys ("Not Over You" is a forgotten classic), a copy of Biz' I Need a Haircut with a chainsaw-sized cut-out notch in the booklet, a promo-only single of Bodeans' "Closer to Free" with the Party of Five cast on it, a couple of weird BDP discs, and more Bill Bruford CDs than I'd like to admit. Oh yeah, Lindsey Buckingham's Words and Music too-- a collection interspersed with dorky musings and comments about the songs by LB himself (director's commentary-style).

MIA: nearly all my BÖC, Jeff Beck, Sabbath, and my Last Waltz double disc... no question that these were traded in during the early '90s depression days. Needed a 15-pack of Stroh's? That certainly seemed worth four or five perfectly good classic rock CDs. Now? Not so much. Remarkably, I'm even missing some additional Bruford recordings.

[The fucking Rays just scored five runs in the time it took me to write two paragraphs.]Flat-out missing are Vincebus Eruptum, Power of Pussy, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, Last Splash, and one of my Richard Buckner CDs. Like, I have the booklets but not the actual music. I guess they all might've walked at the same party, but seems a bit fishy.

Funny as hell watching my computer try to import We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n' Roll... hiccuping and wheezing over the horribly scratched CD like a tubercular pigeon. After multiple attempts and piecewise ripping, only "Sweet Leaf" was declared to be unimportable and omitted.