While We Were In Your Room Talking to Your Wall

Since I’ve been obsessively collecting records for a while now, I’m starting to wonder if I will hit a wall at some point. Will I take a look at the shelves one day, sigh contentedly, and declare in triumph that my work here is finished?

In the past few weeks I have come pretty close to nailing the lid on this thing, having scored a few great reissues and stumbled upon some of my “holy grail” discs.

A recent trip to my local record shop, Rockaway Records in Silver Lake, ended up being more fruitful than I expected. The cream of the crop was an original copy of The Salvation Army‘s one and only record. This is the paisley punk band from San Pedro, California that had to change their name to The Three O’Clock when the real Salvation Army complained. The name change also brought about a change in sound, as the band endured many lineup shuffles and a shift toward a more polished 80s pop sound.

The original album is a classic of edgy power pop. Punk drum beats fuel a set of material that never shies away from melody, with lyrics that recall the confusion of a psychedelic trip. The pop-punk bands of today could learn a few things about subtlety and innovation from these guys, but they never will. Michael Quercio‘s later projects each have their moments, including his most recent (?) effort The Jupiter Affect. But the lightning in a bottle magic of the Salvation Army days will probably never be matched.

Luckily, all the Salvation Army material was reissued on a CD in the early 90s, under the name Befour Three O’Clock. That disc includes the original LP, plus some earlier demos that are even better than the “proper” album. I was perfectly happy with that disc, and never expected to see any Salvation Army vinyl in my time. Yet there it was, staring back at me with an expression that said, “you know you’re gonna fork over $20 for this.”

That same day, I picked up several other records that I didn’t expect to see anytime soon. They included the 12″ single for Dinosaur Jr.‘s cover of “Just Like Heaven,” complete with non-LP B-sides and etched vinyl on one side; His Name is Alive‘s classic third album Mouth By Mouth; From the Hip by Factory records synth pop geniuses Section 25; and an album by The Gist, Stuart Moxham‘s band after Young Marble Giants.

Some of these albums may be rarer than others – I haven’t looked for any of them online. But nothing beats walking into your neighborhood shop and finding a haul of records you’ve loved since high school but had never seen on vinyl. I spent more cash than I wanted to, but that was mostly due to the hefty price tag on The Salvation Army. Hell, it was worth it. And I walked away from two classic bootlegs of music by Pink Floyd and Sebadoh, respectively. That took some willpower.

Not to be outdone, my lovely wife also got me some vinyl for Christmas. This included the new reissue of Ride‘s classic debut Nowhere, and a box set of the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis albums.

I had pretty much given up on ever finding an original copy of the Ride album for under $50. Now they just need to reissue the rest of their stuff, specifically everything up through their second album Going Blank Again.

I had a couple of the Genesis albums already, but it was going to take me awhile to get the whole collection at decent prices. The box set solves that problem. Plus, the new mixes sound amazing. Genesis are a divisive band among music fans anyway, so you might as well go for the whole shebang, and wear your prog rock pretensions proudly. Now I can easily start fights whenever punk rock purists show up at my house for tea.

Thank you for indulging me while I show off some hot wax. Now it’s back to the bread line. Hopefully I won’t have to sell these on eBay to afford my rent next month.

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