Continuous Hit Music: The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Hot Rocks 1964-1971
Original Release: 1971
Label: ABCKO
Store: Egg Records, 3 Wilson Street, Newtown, Sydney
Price: $19.99
(Original US pressing)

Egg Records in Newtown. I wrote about them before but not this year. A great place to find rare records in the hub of Newtown. Occasionally their website will announce, excitingly, that a new shipment of US records has come in.

And there they are, a bunch of boxes in the middle of the store, and a bunch of folks on their knees, going through them all. It’s usually the same old 60s and 70s American rock. They probably pick em up for under and tenner and sell them for double. There must be millions of Help! in the US.

But I finally decided to pick up Hot Rocks. It’s not an uncommon record, and you can probably find it for under $20. But this was in pretty good condition, and lately, I’ve just been loving the Rolling Stones.

Hot Rocks is the greatest. Every song on here are amongst the greatest works in popular music. It is also the best summation of the early Rolling Stones. If you for some reason feel like you only need one Rolling Stones title, this is the one. Of the dozens of Rolling Stones hit collections, this is easily the best.

It’s the story of the Rolling Stones I know best. It opens with Time Is On My Side. It’s gospel pop, and from that mid 60s baroque period they had. The first of this double album is full of them. Ruby Tuesday, As Tears Go By, Play With Fire, etc. And they start there!

Here’s the thing about the Rolling Stones. One too many shit, bluesy rock song, and people forget how great a pop band they were. Nowadays they are like AC/DC, rememberd for their big anthems that are variations of a musical theme. That It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Start Me Up, Love Is Strong thing. But they were capable of stunning beauty. Yet, it’s hard to imagine them writing Ruby Tuesday today.

So for me, the Rolling Stones were always the band that did those thick sounding pop records (usually produced by Andrew Loog Oldham), and then did a bunch of great records in the early 70s. How can you deny such impulsive, urgent, nasty songs like 19th Nervous Breakdown and Paint It Black? How can you say these guys are just dumb rock ‘n’ rollers?

Album 2 collects tracks from their three greatest albums – Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. You know the songs. Sympathy for the Devil. Gimme Shelter. Brown Sugar. Wild Horses.

Which is why I love this collection. One half is a collection fo 12 60s pop songs that are as good as any. The other is a snapshot of an band at the peak of their emotive powers. And it stops before it descends into parody and recycling.

The album cover was always odd, but makes more sense on vinyl – big and arty. The inner photos are great also, but how Mick’s face is so big on the inside cover, I don’t know. Surely Keith would have had a word?

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Continuous Hit Music: Ben Folds – Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Ben Folds
Title: Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective
Original Release: 2011
Label: Legacy
Store: Red Eye Records, 143 York Street, Sydney
Price: $44.98
(Original)

Red Eye is a Sydney institution. I started going there in the early 90s, after school, buying You Am I singles. I still go there, nowadays to chat to the staff and buy records. It is the only physical store I go in Sydney to buy new music.

They moved recently, and they cut down the room for their CDs, but still kept a generous record selection – both new and second hand. The selection of new vinyl is probably the best in Sydney. The only problem is stuff sells out so quickly. It’s often frustrating how quickly new titles sell out.

I would say that the only place that would stock this album on vinyl in Sydney would be Red Eye. If anyone knows one otherwise, I would like to know! And it’s the importance of physical retail because I wasn’t sure if I would pick up this record. But the hefty double vinyl just drew me in.

I love Ben Folds. He will be an evergreen artist for me, as long as I live. I loved Underground in 1994 (my introduction to augmented chords), and lived through and loved through every album since. (His last album, with Nick Hornby, has been well worn in my house/ipod)

But I was hesitant about this best-of. Just because I had it all. And this order of songs is not my order of songs. It’s not even my songs. My 20 favourite Ben Folds songs come from personal moments, and not singles that charted. I didn’t think I need this. Especially in the iPod era, I can just shuffle Ben Folds.

But if any point is left in compilations, then this is a good reminder. It’s Fold’s own tracklisting for you. Opening up this lovely double gatefold record, you are greeted with personal notes on every song. It’s great to read the songs that are important to him.

Two songs about his kids take prime position – and the contrast between the two songs (one defiant and big, the other sweet and small), tell a new story. I’ve never thought much of “The Luckiest”, but reading Folds’ notes on it give me a new perspective. There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You, never a single, is rightly included.

Better still is just that it’s a sprawling double album. I lovely afternoon sitting in a sun chair, reading liner notes, looking at photos and playing this record – there is nothing more pleasant. It was like a lovely concert. A playlist, a journey for the listener.

It’s easy for me to say there’s not a bad song on here. But I would probably say you need to get all the albums, if you want good music. But if you want a reason why big sprawling double best-ofs should exist, then this a good start.

Continuous Hit Music: Charlie Rich – Behind Closed Doors

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Charlie Rich
Title: Behind Closed Doors
Original Release: 1973
Label: Epic
Store: An antique shop on Richlands Rd, Taralga, NSW
Price: $5
(Original)

Amazing how I can spend money just about anywhere. Having headed to Taralga over the holidays for a wedding, some time was killed perusing one of the 5 shops in this small country town. One was a secondhand/oldwares shop. It had a box of records hidden away under some old board games and things. And even there I could find a couple of pieces worth having.

Technology is improving, and maybe one day, it will be easy and make financial sense for a small store like this to put their inventory online. Until then, there are treasures to be found. Not that this album is particularly rare either. Although the 7” of The Flame by Cheap Trick was a find. But I’ve deciding to just write about albums here.

I don’t know much about Charlie Rich really, outside of this one album, and a couple of other tracks. It seemed that when I started reading Gram Parsons and Elvis Costello drop country artist names, I went for George, Buck and Merle. But I picked up this album because everyone says it’s a classic.

Certainly there are classic songs on here. The title track is rightly regarded as a masterpiece. But it’s the little songs in this album. is about as sad a song as I’ve ever heard. Contrast it with The Most Beautiful Girl, a clear eyed love song, as sweet as ever been brewed.

The album was produced by Billy Sherrill. The man is Nashville through and through, famously distrusting Elvis Costello’s intentions when he came to Nashville to record Almost Blue. It’s 70s Nashville too – a bit croony, and a fair bit of schmaltzy strings. Sometimes it gets a bit much, and it certainly sounds dated. When Sherrill dials it back, like on I Take It On Home, it works better.

That said, you wouldn’t trade the strings or the crooning or anything for something as great as We Love Eachother. Big, sentimental and lovely – sometimes schmatlz works. It’s my favourite song on this album. Why be coy?

This seems like an American copy with an one of the more obscure Epic logos (three circles shaped like a lowercase “e”). Charmingly, it’s owner wrote his name on the back of the sleeve in pen. ‘Ray Goodlow, Dec 74”. I wonder if young Ray imagined the record would end up in Marrickville, 38 years later.

Continuous Hit Music: Graham Nash – Songs For Beginners

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds in 2012. Read ’em all here.

Artist: Graham Nash
Title: Songs For Beginners
Original Release: 1971
Label: Atlantic
Store: Landspeed Records, 30 Garema Place Canberra ACT 2601
Price: $10
(Original)

Poor Canberra. There doesn’t seem to be much going on in terms of records. It used to be quite a place – until many of it’s indie stores sold up, and JB Hi-Fi rolled into town. It seems like the only place to get decent records is the last indie shop in town – Landspeed Records.

Landspeed is quite a cool shop. They do more than just CDs and records – they have clothes and some merch. It’s kind of the way of the future for music retail. There’s not a big collection of records, but there is some nice second hand stuff. It is pretty much the only record stop in Canberra.

And poor Graham Nash. I used to love this record but it hasn’t dated well. I saw Crosby, Stills & Nash live a few years ago, and it descended into parody. Outdated 60s ideals – still peddled. It was an oldies show. It sounds pretty good, but Military Madness, We Can Change The World and Chicago have dated badly. He’s stuck in the 60s, and it’s too bad.

But then there’s Sleep Song. A classic. So very Graham Nash. I would say it’s his best song. It’s yet another song he wrote for Joni Mitchell. And I love Joni and Graham together. I think they inspired the best out of each other. Probably the best two people have ever inspired eachother in the history of music.

The tender moments on this record are still great. Rightly so, this was Nash’s biggest solo album, and came right at the peak of his career. He never really achieved solo success again after this, and rolled happily into the plomp and bombast of endless CSN reunions.

It’s not a terribly uncommon vinyl find, but an original European pressing, with the classic Atlantic label, is definitely worth the $10.