May 2011

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bike 7up 3

One last reminder that this week Hymie’s is offering a 10% discount to customers who ride a bicycle to the shop.  The discount jumps up to 15% if you’re wearing your helmet.

So in February We posted a collection of country performers playing the Rolling Stones that included some of my favorite songs.  At the time we said the Stones cut right to the bone, and that’s what makes their songs so easy for us to identify with.  Most Jagger/Richard songs are about something we can understand, which isn’t something you could say about most artists who have made 24 albums.

And Hot Rocks, Big Hits and Fazed Cookies, Sucking in the 70s and all the other compilation albums are full of favorites, but the Stones are so good even the random album tracks are memorable.  Today’s playlist includes a few of my favorites.  There’s not any unifying theme – Today’s playlist is just a reason to collect a few great songs.  Here then are some favorite “non-greatest hits” Rolling Stones songs.

“Connection” from Between the Buttons.  A cover of this song by Montrose was already posted in February, and while we like that record a lot its nearly impossible to top a Stones original.  “Connection” is our favorite thing on the fifth Rolling Stones album, although its in pretty fantastic (If overlooked) company.


“Almost Hear You Sigh” from Steel Wheels.  This is kind of an interesting track because even though this album reunited Mick Jagger and Keith Richards after a couple disappointing solo projects, “Almost Hear You Sigh” is credited to a third writer as well – Steve Jordan, a drummer Keith worked with on Talk is Cheap and Main Offender, is a rare addendum to the familiar Jagger/Richards credit.

almost hear you sigh

“Dead Flowers” from Sticky Fingers.  While we think Between the Buttons is an underrated record, we think this one is not everything its made out to be – The most memorable thing about Sticky Fingers is its jacket, and when all is said and done our favorite song is “Dead Flowers”.

dead flowers

“Dear Doctor” from Beggar’s Banquet.  “Help me, please doctor,” the song begins.  “There’s a pain where there once was a heart,” and the situation doesn’t get any better from there.  Most of Beggar’s Banquet implies exhaustion and despair – Especially “No Expectations” and “Jig Saw Puzzle”, each of which should have been bigger hits than the album’s two successful singles.  “Dear Doctor” brings it all home by saying “I’m damaged”.

dear doctor

“All About You” from Emotional Rescue.  If anyone else made this album, it would be considered a cry for help.  “All About You” is maybe our pick for the all time best Stones album closer.

all about you

Laura and I started expanding the 45 collection yesterday.  By closing time my body and brain were pretty tired and I was eager to get out of the shop.  I did have a nice conversation with one of our regulars at the end of the day, however, who asked a question I couldn’t really answer.

The question he asked was: What’s the protocol with sealed records?  At first I thought he was worried about spending a lot of money on something that might be warped or damaged and I assured him we’re understanding about returns = Just the day before we returned a customer’s money because their new copy of Wilco’s Being There was warped.

Most big collections that come into the shop have a sealed album or two.  Sometimes they’re really awesome, and other times they’re albums that are still sealed for a reason.  Nobody opens a Richard Marx record because nobody wants to play a Richard Marx record.

I think the question was about the really awesome sealed albums.  Are we doing something terribly selfish by opening them?  If people keep opening all the best sealed albums eventually there won’t be any left.  Of course if we keep playing all the records there won’t be any perfect copies left, either, right?

The only analogy I could come up with was rare bottles of wine.  I tried searching online for a while but I couldn’t find a website that would explain when its okay to open that rare bottle of wine you’ve been saving.  I couldn’t find anything, and I’m stuck with my own conclusions – I think if you’re going to keep it sealed up its not really a record anymore, or a bottle of wine.  Its a thing you collect just like a baseball card or a coin or a lock of Donovan’s hair.

The sweetest sealed record I ever came across was in the radio station library Hymie’s bought two summers ago.  It was an original copy of John Hartford’s Aero-Plane, which is one of my all time favorite albums.  And yes, I opened it.  I’ve played it a lot, too.  There were a lot of sealed albums in that collection and over time Hymie’s customers bought every one – I hope they have all been opened and enjoyed by someone who appreciates them.

I was wrong when I said I didn’t have a single sealed record in my collection, however.  While Irene and I were on our way home I remembered that several years ago I bought a reissue of Master of Puppets, feeling nostalgic for the metal I grew up with.  When I got home I had the buyer’s remorse, and set the record aside to bring back as an exchange.  Truth is I never really like Metallica as much as bands like, um, Steeler and Keel.

I never exchanged the record.  Every now and then I think about bringing it to the shop and selling it (Ironically, we’ve ordered reissues of Master of Puppets).  Every time its added to a stack of records bound for Hymie’s I change my mind.  One day I’ll be in the mood to listen to Master of Puppets again and I guess I’ll have this nice copy to play.

I didn’t really come up with any music to post today.  I can’t post Metallica because I’m just not in the mood.  Since Laura went to see Martin Devaney open up for Dead Man Winter tonight, here’s a track from his album The West End, which incidentally didn’t come sealed.  That’s the way albums should come, ready to play.  This is “Underwood”:

07 Underwood

bike 7up 2

Before we get to today’s post, I wanted to remind you that riding your bike to Hymie’s this week gets you a 10% discount. Wearing your helmet when you do gets you a 15% discount! Tassels on your bike gets you an even greater discount, to be determined by the person working at the shop based on the awesomeness of your tassels.

Today’s post is pretty awesome itself, or at least I’m pretty excited about it. You see, lately I’ve been thinking about some of the various injustices in the history of rock and roll, and the bands that never got the credit they deserved. In one of the essays he wrote about the Velvet Underground, Lester Bangs said its just that some people are noticed in their time and some aren’t. That’s all well and good for VU or Big Star or any of a dozen band who have certainly sold more albums in reissue perpetuity than they did in active life, but what about the bands that aren’t even selling reissues. Some of those bands languishing in the purgatory of “out of print” truly deserve a little credit for having been there, done that, long before it was fashionable to be being there and doing that.

So I’d like to say a few words about Steeler. That’s right, Steeler, probably best remembered as the first band to feature metal’s most boring guitar “god”,  Sweedish-born Yngwie Malmsteen.  Steeler was also the first project for Ron Keel, whose next group, Keel, would become a favorite of Gene Simmons.  The band made a single album on LA’s Shredder Records that is still sought after by metal heads for Malmsteen’s dexterious, if dull, Bach- and Paginini-inspired solos.  The story is that he was flown in at the last minute to embellish the otherwise finished recordings.

And most anything written about the Steeler album pans everything but Malmsteen’s solos., for instance, dismisses Keel’s songs as “predictable rock chord progressions” (This is the same website that calls The Ramones “imaginative”). It creates the impression Steeler is essentially a novelty record for the guitar wank aficionado.

Look, I’m not going to make the case that Steeler stumbled onto the lost chord or anything.  They were just a Sunset Strip metal band, but they were one of the first Sunset Strip metal bands.  And as to whether or not they were any good before Malmsteen’s overdubs, there is a single that predates the Shredder album.  Here is the original Steeler’s first record – “Cold Day in Hell”:

cold day in hell steelerz

There are too many awesome things about this record to list, but the most important one is that it rocks.  You may be in the 95% of the population that has no interest whatsoever in 80s metal and find it hard to understand, but to some of us this record is sweet.  Steeler was part of a scene that eventually took over the world (As promised in so many glam metal anthems), even if they weren’t around when it happened.

Lead singer Ron Keel is usually sort of mocked for his country recordings (Which I kind of like too), but he could rock.  Steeler disbanded after a short tour to support the self titled Shredder album, and he formed the band Keel.

The second Keel album, produced by Gene Simmons, is pretty reminiscent of Kiss at the time.  I really liked it when I was a kid.  Here, for what its worth, is the title track from The Right to Rock.

right to rock

Eventually Yngwie Malmsteen feel out of favor.  I guess people rediscovered Eddie Van Halen or something.  I can’t really disguise my disdain for his records, if only because they’re so calculated and boring.  Ron Keel never really found success at all, probably peaking with the Gene Simmons-produced album heard here.  The Steeler album is pretty forgotten, and their pre-Malmsteen single is genuinely obscure.  Too bad, because they really rocked.

bike 7up 1

The 7 UP spokesman is right, riding a bicycle is refreshing.  And our fair Minneapolis, in addition to being the gayest city in America (According to The Advocate), is the best city in the country for bicyclists.  Click here to read what Bicycling Magazine says about us.  We were also named one of the top 10 summer destinations by National Geographic this year, in case you’re keeping score.  And that’s really all I have for links to magazine websites.

Our neighborhood here on the east side is especially bike-friendly, and we see a lot of our regulars passing by pretty often.  Laura and I have been getting around by bicycle and bus for over a year now, no small feat for a family of four that runs a small business.  The reason that we’ve been so successful is that this neighborhood has everything a family could need within a few short blocks (And it helps that we have a sidecar bike).

Last week I met somebody from the new shop by Loring Park, Kitzune Cycles.  I have not been there yet, but I have heard some good things.  We have always been pretty happy with the Hub Bike Co-Op here on East Lake and Minnehaha, in fact Laura just brought her bike there this weekend.  We hope all the bike shops in the Twin Cities are doing well for the same reason we hope all the record shops are doing well.  Its all part of what makes Minneapolis such a great place to live.

Last week I crashed my bicycle coming home from the Brute Heart album release show at the Turf Club (The new Brute Heart album, by the way, is great – We hope to have it in the shop later this week).  If you’ve stopped by you probably already noticed I was even harder on the eyes than usual.

If you get everywhere on a bicycle, you’re going to crash once in a while.  Or you’re going to get a flat and find yourself walking home.  Some days are just better than others.  The thing you want to avoid doing, however, is cracking your only copy of the Record Store Day recordings because it was in your pocket.  Fortunately, the amazing John from Empty’s Tapes keeps back-ups for everything.

We’ve been thinking a lot about bicycles lately and decided to offer a 10% discount to customers who pedal to the shop this week! And in recognition of my accident, we’ll up it to 15% if you’re wearing a helmet!

And putting your bike in the minivan and parking around the Blue Moon doesn’t count!

That’s a scene from one of the best movies ever made, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Hard to imagine a world where the bicycle is an exciting new invention, isn’t it? The 1890s are considered a golden age for bicycles. John Kemp Starley’s unpatented design for the “safety bicycle” led to its enormous popularity in the United States, and early mass production techniques made then affordable decades before Ford’s Model T would be introduced.

Bicycles also played an active role in the women’s suffrage movement. “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” wrote Susan B. Anthony. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” Even today, by providing cheap and (Comparatively) safe transportation throughout the world, the bicycle remains one of the most democratic innovations of modern history.

girls bike

bicycle built for two

The first track above was “Girl’s Bike” by the Aluminum Group. The second song is guitarist John Fahey’s recording of the old tune “Daisy Bell” (Now usually called “Bicycle Built for Two”).  Both tracks come from this cool disc that Laura got the 10th anniversary of Critical Mass in Chicago in 1992.  Critical Mass is a monthly celebration if you love riding a bicycle, and a monthly nuisance if you drive a car.  Participants gather and ride in groups of hundreds.  It is a largely leaderless, informal event in most cities, including Minneapolis where you can join the ride by going to Loring Park at five o’clock on the last Friday of the month.

Laura’s description of the anniversary ride where she got this disc is pretty exciting.  If you’re interested you should ask her about it.  I remember she said there were naked cyclists, including Travis Culley, author of The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power.

bicycle race

Speaking of naked cycling (How could I resist a segue like this?), rock and roll’s most joyous celebration of the bicycle inspired one of the best record inserts of all time – Queen’s “Bicycle Race” was issued with “Fat Bottomed Girls” as a double A-side single in 1978.  The album, Jazz, came with a poster of 65 naked women on bicycles.  Whether all sixty-five are genuine fat bottomed girls is open to debate, but the poster is pretty magnificent regardless.  Lots of people lose their train of thought when they notice the poster on the wall here at the record shop.

Here’s something even more remarkable about “Bicycle Race” – The picture is from the band’s video shoot at Wimbledon. The video cuts from shots of the band performing to shots of the naked chicks racing bicycles.

i need a man

“Where is my Man?” by Eartha Kitt from a 12″ single on the Streewise label.  I don’t think this woman made a bad record.


I guess there are a lot of songs that could take on new meaning now that we’ve all been left behind.  Skeeter Davis’ “End of the World”, for instance.  Looks like Dan Bern remained here on Earth with the rest of us, so I guess he wasn’t the Messiah after all.

And that’s not the song I was really looking forward to sharing with you anyways. Here’s our own beloved Jezebel Jones with the “Post Rapture Blues”:

If you’re interested, you can catch Jezebel Jones and her Wicked Ways at the Turf Club tomorrow night. They have also been recording and you can expect an album sometime later this year, and we hope another appearance here at Hymie’s!

Here’s a couple selections from this great album of stories by Bob Munsch. Many of his stories have been made into books which he writes and illustrates. When I was little I loved stories like Mud Puddle and The Paper Bag Princess.

01 mud puddle

01 the paper bag princess

Bob Munsch once studied to be a Jesuit priest. He and his wife are adoptive parents to three children. He is a recovering drug addict who suffers from obsessive-compulsive and bipolar disorders. Strange, really, that so many of the best writers of stories for children are people who struggle just to keep themselves together.

Childrens literature does not merely reflect our world, but our world as experienced by a child. The stories collected in Grimm’s Fairy Tales are disturbingly dark, unsettlingly filled with violence and sometimes perversion. Modern authors like Dr. Seuss attempt to construct elaborate morality tales but in the end stories like The Sneeches and The Butter Battle Book raise more questions than they answer.

Munsch and Shel Silverstein are two of my favorite authors and artists, but their books are filled with uncertainty and anxiety. Even still, I would rather read a book like Mud Puddle or Where the Sidewalk Ends to my kids than the latest Disney repackaging and whitewashing of a classic fairy tale.

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