Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honored tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. Our friend Eric is sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules are that he has to listen to the entire record, and not to do any research about artists before listening to avoid any contextual bias.
Robert Palmer – Secrets (1978)
COVER: Robert Palmer, looking like a character from BloomCounty, is shaving. Because nothing says rock and roll like a nice smooth face. I’m not sure if I meant that sarcastically… Mick Jagger is smooth like a peach and he’s considered quite the rocker in most circles. On the other hand, John Bonham had that great moustache and he was so rocking he fished from his hotel room. But Adam Levine, today’s top rocker, has that cool stubble which is in between the two! So, facial hair has nothing to do with it, I guess. What’s your game then Palmer?
THOUGHTS: This album is like taking a shit but still feeling gassy after. The job is done, you did everything you could do but, all the same, you’re still farting. Secrets out Palmer, you’re middle of the road. I still like “Addicted to Love” though (which doesn’t appear on this album).
WHAT I LEARNED: That song that goes “Doctor Doctor/ gimme the news / I’ve got a bad case/ of loving you” is called “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” which is bullshit. It should be one or the other. And furthermore, that’s not even the order the lines appear in the song. Fuck you, Robert Palmer.
BEST TRACK: 11. “Remember to Remember”
Remarkably stupid name and stupid singing, but I have to admit I like the instrumentation. It’s funky but still very white, ya know? Not that I like it more because it sounds white, but it just tickles me when dudes make funk all math-y. It’s like tie-dyed Legos. I’m tired today.
AFTER GOOGLING: Robert Palmer was in a band called Vinegar Joe, which I can’t decide on whether that’s the best name or worst name for a band ever.
The J. Geils Band – Ladies Invited (1973)
COVER: The best album name ever combined with one of the more abstractly sexy covers I’ve come across: Three sexy eyes, two sexy lips, and some sexy streaks… lady streaks. My only question is who this elusive Schnurr is?
The back is a photo of the band. They look like an English version of the E-Street Band. ALSO the organist’s name is Magic Dick.
THOUGHTS: Basically the J. Geils Band is the horny version of The Band. While The Band had Robbie Robertson’s history tinged lyrics of love lost and village heroes being eaten by the world, J. Geil’s lyrics pontificate on babes “laying the good thing down.” Instead of Richard Manuel’s haunting “hums” and “ohhhhs” you get the phrase “baby, baby”. And replace Garth Hudson’s powerful soulful organ with Magic Dick’s quick and curious hands. In other word’s, it’s rockin’ man.
WHAT I LEARNED: It’s always a party when ladies are invited.
BEST TRACK: 3. “Lay Your Good Thing Down”
The good thing is exactly what you think it is (V.J). And man, Magic Dick proves his name with a killer organ solo.
AFTER GOOGLING: Apparently harp means harmonica and not harpsichord, which I thought referred to the organ. I think I just wanted to believe that it was Magic Dick playing those breezy keys because the idea of a dude playing an organ with his dick is hilarious.
In the spirit of this column and the spirit of me being lazy, I will not edit out the references to him as an organist. I, like Magic Dick, have integrity.
**FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MAGIC DICK, LORD OF THE LICKIN’ STICK, HEAD OVER TO WWW.MAGICDICK.COM**
Sonny James – The Biggest Hits of Sonny James the Southern Gentleman
COVER: Sonny James looking all stoic and gentlemanly around some dirty old pond. I’m fairly certain this is the only appearance of a pond on an album sleeve in popular music. Euch. The back is a great sell:
THOUGHTS: Old people music... yeesh. Being neither the sentimental sort nor over 70, there wasn’t a lot for me on this handpicked selection of Sonny’s biggest monster hits. It was okay to wash the dishes to, I guess.
You’re probably asking yourself: “Eric, you stud, why pick something that is obviously by some dead by now old fart singing about love and racist Indian stories? Yeesh!” Well, dear reader, I’m a sucker for Southern Gentlemen. Not in a sexual or romantic way, but more so in a cartoony affection way. I thought there would be more songs about belles committing suicide over lost loves and mammies cooking chicken fried steaks under harvest moons. Yeesh, at the very least I hoped to hear the undertones of amphetamines that drive so many country western stars of the era.
Southern Gentleman, my ass.
WHAT I LEARNED: Southern Gentleman does not necessarily mean Foghorn Leghorn.
BEST TRACK: 5. “Only the Lonely”
Sonny doesn’t fuck up a song that’s impossible to fuck up.
AFTER GOOGLING: Shit, Sonny is still alive. Sorry for tarnishing your legacy, dog.