Thursday, March 10, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Twenty-Eighth Fragment

* This is a fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened. All the names, locations, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. – JG *

The Record Mine, used record store of legend: it was refuge, source of pleasure, source of frustration, land of dreams. I bought all the following records from this one store over the course of my 4 years at Kenton North, and all of them subsequently changed my life in one small way or another:

Damned Damned Damned – The Damned

Raw Power – Iggy and the Stooges

New York Dolls and Too Much, Too Soon – The New York Dolls

Kick Out the Jams – The MC5

Can Your Heart Stand It? – James Brown

The first four records by Patti Smith

Love Revisited by Love

Singles Going Steady - The Buzzcocks

One Nation Under a Groove – Funkadelic

and, most importantly, a cheap looking 2-record set by the Velvet Underground and Nico from Germany. Its playlist consisted of most of the third album, the softer songs from White Light, White Heat (“The Gift”, “Lady Godvia’s Operation”) and a sprinkling of the best songs from Chelsea Girl by Nico. Oddly enough, considering the lineup, there were no songs from the first, actual Velvet Underground and Nico album. Those wacky Germans.

Although initially disappointing, I came to love that crappy two-record set more than any of the actual Velvets albums I bought later, and losing it (I probably sold it for beer money to the guy from the Record Exchange after I actually got the second and third albums) was one of the stupider record-related moves I have made. The Record Mine owner/proprietor, Jim (we called him Jim even though that wasn’t his real name because he kind of looked like the later, bearded Jim Morrison) was no collector scum – he priced all his records reasonably, so that Kenton kids could still buy them. I didn’t pay more than six dollars for any of the above records, and most of them cost four – even the Velvets 2-record set was priced at a very reasonable eight dollars. Some of Jim’s recommendations to us were pretty questionable (“That second Foghat record is amazing!”) but if we didn’t buy them and instead opted for Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen he would just shake his head and still pleasantly check out our purchases.

There was a little-seen television commercial for the Record Mine that featured members of Kenton band Green Jello, who went on to quasi-fame and fortune as the legally-altered Green Jelly. I never saw it at the time, but now it’s there on Youtube, along with the destruction of Snakeland in 1994 and other talismans from the era. Green Jello opened for the Ramones when they played the local college our Freshman year and I remember well the screeching of the papier-mache Rock N Roll Pumpkin, the plunking of the famous one-string bass and the seemingly endless mosh to the “Mr. Softee” song. Aside from the coolness factor associated with knowing Green Jello, Jim also perpetrated one of the best record store goofs ever with “Ed Cheese”. Essentially a series of doctored record albums with all the information and song titles changed with white-out and Sharpie, Ed Cheese became the author behind such pun-filled albums as Gouda Rockin’ Tonight, Havarti A Rave Up with Ed Cheese, and, of course, Ed’s masterpiece Cheese Is Christ. The prices on these things were between 300 and 600 dollars so no one not in on the joke ever tried to buy what was essentially just marked-up Herb Alpert albums. I remember one Friday night wandering stoned and girl-less with a couple of other punks into the Record Mine and spending at least half and hour laughing hysterically over the discovery of Ed Cheese’s ouvre while Jim looked on from behind the counter, surreptitiously pleased.