Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Steady as he goes... shopping for CDs

Last week I alluded to the Raconteurs performances at the VMAs with Lou Reed (and with Billy Gibbons). What I didn't mention was how my otherwise expansive collection lacked any Velvet Underground (or ZZTop). However, somehow I know more than just what I've bought; merely paying attention has taught me a bit (like what band Lou Reed was in), perhaps through a sort of rock 'n roll osmosis.

Last week I went to the Amoeba store in Hollywood to seek out the new Buzzcocks album. (Sure, it would have been better to have procured that disc before I saw them in concert last month, but it didn't work out that way.) However, I cannot go to that store and simply find one thing, pay for it, and leave; CD shopping is always an activity of significance, not a mere task.

Thus, while I did find the new disc from Pete and Steve and the guys (even found a used copy to save a few bucks), in the abbreviated version of shopping I did (I could not afford a serious trip)—which was about an hour in the store—I went up and down the used rock CD aisles, just glancing left and right to see what artist names on the tabs caught my eye; it was hardly a thorough search, and even when I did stop and look through the CDs available for a given artist, I restricted consideration to discs marked $6.99 or less. (That still permitted discs by Black Flag, Gomez, Neko Case, Uncle Tupelo, as well as two other Buzzcocks discs.)

No doubt thanks to seeing Jack White and the guys with Lou Reed, as I patrolled the used CDs I was inspired to seek out the tab for the Velvet Underground, and there was a copy of their first album (with the banana on the cover) and the meager Millennium Collection (a "greatest hits" collection). The song performed at the VMAs ("White Light, White Heat"), from their second album, was on the "hits" CD, but I wasn't sure I wanted that; it seems kind of half-assed to just listen to a smattering of an artist's more well-known work and feel as one knows them. And if I end up really liking the songs, I'll probably be inspired to get the full albums later. However, as I was already spending more than I should (although much less than I typically do when I go), I passed on both.

After a bit more searching, I started toward the check-out area. Something steered me to the new CDs section and the V area. Finding the Velvet Underground tab, I noticed that the first album was only $2 more than used (making the used one not a good deal). The second album was not to be found. I did find a different "Best Of" CD (which had more tracks than the aforementioned Millennium Collection, and no live tracks), and a more comprehensive retrospective two-disc collection (which was about twice as much as the "Best Of" one).

I hemmed and hawed a bit (figuratively speaking), and finally decided to get the "Best Of" from the new section; it was a compromise of having a decent number of tracks but without being more than I should spend. Which means I was succumbing to having just that smattering of their better-known material, resigning myself to only that dilettante-level familiarity.

Which means I'll probably later wish I got the two-disc collection.

Anyway, although I declared the performance at the VMAs to be entirely non-promotional, it did succeed in making a sale for Lou's old band.

What didn't even occur to me as I patrolled the used aisles, however, was to see if the Raconteurs CD was available (and I suspect it would have been). My girlfriend probably would have really liked that. But apparently I sped through the R's too quickly, and the only aspect of their performance that stuck with me was whose song they did, not who was doing it.

Perhaps when one of the Raconteurs songs is performed at the VMAs in 36 years and I go to a store I'll remember to pick up their album.

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