Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honoured tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. We’re sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules for our writer: 1. Listen to the entire record; 2. No research before listening; 3. Rip one song exactly as you heard it, skips and all.
The Keys, Album (1981)
COVER: I picked this because it’s your quintessential forgotten dollar bin record – pretty standard ’80s lettering and an overall unremarkable design. Or it may have been because each band member looks like a different kind of serial killer. Bashful, Grumpy, Dopey, Dahmer.
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?: Feckless ’80s rockabilly horseshit. I couldn’t listen to it all. Sorry, rule 1.
WHAT I LEARNED: That four men so close to middle age shouldn’t attempt to play what’s “hip,” especially if it’s Stray Cats.
BEST SONG: Uh, how about “a” song?
AFTER GOOGLING: All music-related variations on “The Keys” result in pages for the much better band The Black Keys. I’m not combing through Google for one archived Geocities fan page, so let’s all just pretend they never existed.
Rough Trade, Avoid Freud (1980)
COVER: This looks promising. Some long hidden synth act, perhaps?
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?: Roxy Music meets Blondie with the Rocky Horror guy singing.
WHAT I LEARNED: Most rock sounds more interesting with a bit of disco thrown in.
BEST SONG: “Physical Violence,” clearly about bondage.
AFTER GOOGLING: Rough Trade were a Canadian act, and were famous for their S&M-themed stage shows, and “High School Confidential,” a Top 40 hit about lesbians.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Maverick (1985)
COVER: Is that jacket real snakeskin?
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?: Rundown sports bar blues, the kind that’s now riddled with facade but is still endearing in a way.
WHAT I LEARNED: Music like this fills me with memories I never imagined would be happy ones.
BEST SONG: “I Drink Alone,” which saps all the mystery out of binge drinking like a cool dad Dracula.
AFTER GOOGLING: Uh, so this is the guy who wrote “Bad To The Bone”? And sold fifteen million albums? Maverick went Gold? Whatever, it’s not my fault. If these guys stopped selling their music to motor oil commercials, maybe I wouldn’t be so cynical.