musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Posts tagged ‘Replacements’

Songs for Slim

songsforslim

The new Songs For Slim compilation album is overflowing with great songs, plus it’s for a good cause, making it a very worthwhile purchase on all counts. Songs For Slim is a benefit album, proceeds of which will go to help pay the medical bills of Slim Dunlap, best known as a guitarist for the Replacements, the legendary Minneapolis band that made some wonderful albums in the 1980s and early 1990s. Dunlap also made two highly regarded solo albums (the first in 1993, the other in 1996), but a stroke in 2012 curtailed his music career and he now requires round-the-clock medical care. Fortunately, he has many friends in the music industry who have banded together to help him out.

So yeah, Songs For Slim has its heart in the right place, but on musical merits alone this 2-CD set is thoroughly enjoyable. If you cut your teeth on the alternative-pop guitar-propelled music of the 80s, particularly the rowdy rock of the Replacements, you’ll find a lot to like on this album. I’ve been a Replacements fan since the early days, but I’d never heard either of the solo albums that Slim Dunlap recorded, so the biggest surprise for me was the high quality of these songs, all of which Slim wrote himself. This tribute album features the likes of the Replacements, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Joe Henry, Tommy Keene, Jakob Dylan, Patterson Hood (from Drive-By Truckers), Soul Asylum, Peter Holsapple, Frank Black (from the Pixies), Jeff Tweedy (from Wilco), and many others, including a track by LP.Org, which features the radiant vocals of Gary Louris from the Jayhawks. Another of my favorite tracks is by a guy I’d never heard of before, Frankie Lee. Imagine if Ronnie Wood was a much better vocalist and that’s pretty close to what he sounds like.

Kudos to these artists, and to especially Slim’s friend and longtime Replacements manager Peter Jesperson, for putting this heartfelt and rockin’ tribute album together. Songs For Slim is available as a 2-CD set, or on good ole vinyl, including some 10-inch and 12-inch singles available, plus limited edition artwork by Replacements drummer Chris Mars.

www.songsforslim.com

In addition to Songs For Slim here are some of the other CDs that are making me sing and dance and cool down during the intense heat wave that we are having this month in Bangkok:

halloffame2 

Various Artists – Hall of Fame Volume 2: More Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults

Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The ‘74/’75 Studio Recordings

Various Artists – The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles

Stanley Turrentine – That’s Where It’s At

George Jackson – All Because of Your Love

 leGrandeKalle

Le Grande Kalle – His Life, His Music

Various Artists – Eccentric Soul: Smart’s Palace

Ry Cooder – Get Rhythm

Doug Paisley – Strong Feelings

Al Green – Love Ritual: Rare and Unreleased 1968-76

 dbt_englishoceans

Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

Allen Toussaint – The Complete ‘Tousan’ Sessions

Eddie Reader – Live in Japan

Flora Purim – Butterfly Dreams

Josh Rouse – The Happiness Waltz

worldneedschanging 

Various Artists – The World Needs Changing: Street Funk & Jazz Grooves 1967-1976

Television Personalities – Yes Darling, But is it Art?

Midlake – Antiphon

The New Mendicants – Into the Lime

Willie Mitchell – Poppa Willie: The Hi Years 1962-74

smokedsugar 

Smoked Sugar – Smoked Sugar

The Young Fresh Fellows – The Men Who Loved Music

Mary Chapin Carpenter – Songs from the Movie

X – Under the Big Black Sun

Patrick Cowley – School Daze

lowellgeorge 

Lowell George – Thanks I’ll Eat It Here

Tommy Tate – I’m So Satisfied

Various Artists – Late Night Tales: Belle and Sebastian Vol. 2

Beth Orton – Pass in Time: The Definite Collection

Roy Harper – Man & Myth

larrysaunders 

Larry Saunders – Free Angela

Major Lance – The Very Best Of

Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

Chumbawamba – The Boy Bands Have Won

 

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30 Years Ago … a Murmur

Thirty years ago R.E.M. released their first full album, a collection of alluring, jangly, mesmerizing songs titled Murmur. The band made many other fine albums during their multi-decade career, but to my ears nothing else they recorded (except perhaps their following album, the equally excellent Reckoning) boasted as much musical magic as Murmur.

 R_E_M__-_Murmur

Smitten by that album, thirty years ago this week, in October 1983, I opened my first retail shop, Murmur Records, in Orlando, Florida. The location where I operated the first three years was a relatively small space, but I packed it with tons of records (most of them bought on consignment from my D.J. friend, Mike Cooper, in Atlanta) and cool posters covering the old walls, along with plenty of enthusiasm and — needless to say — lots of great music playing each day. I took risks, I listened to requests, and I worked long hours (open to close every day, no days off for the first two years), and was lucky to develop a loyal base of customers. Eventually I outgrew the first space and moved to a larger location (with working air conditioning) a few blocks away. Once I had enough money to able to hire people to work for me, I was rewarded to have quality folks like Jim Leatherman, Eddie Foeller, Tim Skinner, Beth Ann Sparks, Quan Nguyen, De De Branham, and so many others (off the top of my foggy head; hello to April, Julian, Kareem, Cory, Paul, Sovanna, Michael, Mitchell, and the other Jim) who were valuable additions to the crew. Those Sunday softball games with friends and customers were a lot of fun too.

To inaugurate the record shop when it opened in 1983, we had an in-store concert by Love Tractor, a band that I knew from Athens, Georgia. Nine years later, when I decided to change the name of the shop and add books to the mix, Love Tractor also returned for a final show in the back of the store, along with an amazing performance by opening act Billy “The Human Jukebox” Taylor. In between those dates Love Tractor also played a special Fifth Anniversary birthday party that we threw in a downtown Orlando club. As it happened, Love Tractor was in the middle of a tour with the B-52’s that month, and a couple of members of the B’s (including Fred Schneider) dropped by the club and sat in on a few songs. I wish I had a recording of that show; Fred singing versions of “Born to Be Wild” and “We Are Family” tore the roof off the sucker.

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In addition to Love Tractor, I booked a few other bands to play in local clubs and halls, including the Swimming Pool Q’s, Replacements (that show at a VFW Hall ended up getting raided by the local police!), and True West. We were also lucky to have in-store appearances from The Ramones, John Wesley Harding (also a novelist known by his real name, Wesley Stace), The Ocean Blue, the Silos and many other national and regional bands.

I operated the record shop (more of a CD shop after the first three years) until 1992 when I had the “brilliant” idea of revamping the entire concept. I added new and used books to the mix, stopped stocking louder and more “abrasive” music, and changed the name of the shop to Alobar Books & Music, convinced that the growing number of grunge rockers was ruining the atmosphere of the shop, or at least making it much less fun than it had been. Unfortunately, the more “mature” mix of music and books that I stocked didn’t attract as many customers as the old “alternative” blend of music that I specialized in. Plus, the advent of deep-discount chains like Best Buy was putting a hit on the CD business. But that didn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things; I was still having fun and enjoying the camaraderie of cool customers and employees. The “end” came in 1996 when I moved to Thailand. But the store still didn’t die. I sold the shop to Quan, one of my longtime employees, and he brought back the Murmur name one more time.

Nowadays, I live in Thailand and sell used books instead of used records. Instead of returning to visit the Sunshine State I’m more likely to be found wandering around monasteries in Myanmar’s Shan State. But I remain an incorrigible music addict and still try to keep up with any noteworthy music that’s being released, and digging deeper in the archives of stuff that’s been released in previous decades. I continue to be amazed, and pleased, with the music I’m discovering this late in life. I’m also one of the declining numbers of people who still purchase real CDs. A downloader I’m not.

But this week I’ll be breaking out the beer and toasting all those amazing employees, customers, relatives, and musicians who helped make Murmur Records such a success, and played such an important part in my life. I think I’ll also be play R.E.M.’s Murmur a few more times too!

 

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