Gimme Five: Overlooked Albums by Bad Company, Genesis, Husker Du, others

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Call this one: A Trip to St. Cecilia’s Orphanage for Homeless Albums.

It would likely be no surprise to many to find out that I’m always on the lookout for a good CD or record sale. New or used, CD or vinyl (and recently, high quality music files available from retailers online), it doesn’t matter. I’m still trying to fill in a few gaps in my collection. Unfortunately, these days it seems like the pickings are getting mighty slim.

Maybe I just have as many recordings as I want or need — or maybe the second hand shops, street markets and garage sales truly have been picked over, leaving hundreds of dud albums to sort through just to get that one gem. As well, these days maybe it’s just easier to pick them up off of iTunes. But that’s too easy and, even then, not everything I’m looking for is available online.

So I’m always happy to stumble across a good sale, as I did last weekend at the annual Fringe Festival here in town. I only bought a handful (some I wanted were way overpriced; I mean, really — $10 for the original CD of Destroyer by Kiss?), but I was happy to find a few and bring them home …

1. HUSKER DU – CANDY APPLE GREY (1986): I’ve got this on vinyl, but haven’t played it recently since I don’t have the turntable out that often. I had forgotten just how good this album is — a balance of great songwriting and great alt-punk delivery.

2. BAD COMPANY – MERCHANTS OF COOL (2002): Original vocalist Paul Rodgers and original drummer Simon Kirke pick up a couple of players and take the trademark out for a spin. Positively, each band member turns in a good performance. As well, the whole band seems to have picked up the tempo a bit, so it doesn’t plod like BadCo sometimes did. And since Rodgers and Kirke also played with Free, they do a by now-obligatory version of “All Right Now.” Given these two common players in both bands, one wonders why they just didn’t book this as a Bad Company/Free revival. They could have avoided some of the inevitable comparisons to either of the original bands, and still had access to another great back catalog of classic British rock.

3. THE GUESS WHO – BEST OF VOLUME II (1973): In Canada, there was a time where one could probably find a copy of The Best of the Guess Who Volume One in every third or fourth household across the land — vinyl or 8 track. Volume II was less successful, but it’s still a great a collection of songs that crisscrossed the airwaves of the Great White North during the early 1970s.

4. GENESIS – FOXTROT (1972): This is what you call a dark-horse purchase. Despite my appreciation of the occasional songs (like “Carpet Crawlers” or “Turn It On Again”), I still don’t get early Genesis. Or later Genesis. I keep buying them in hopes of reaching an understanding someday — but it won’t be today.

5. THE DOORS – WITHOUT A SAFETY NET (1997): This is actually Disc One from the 1997 Doors Box Set. It consists mostly of demos and live rarities, including the 1969 Miami performance where Morrison provokes and potty mouths the audience, leading to all sorts of problems with the law. I guess if you can only have one disc from the box set, it might as well be this one.

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