Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Right. That's not the actual Gary & the Hornets 45 that Ken gets into below. But pretty sweet looking, hm? (Courtesy of So Many Records, So Little Time.)
It's day #2 of The Posies Vinyl District Takeover...
I paid the most I have ever paid, via an ad in Goldmine, for one single. TWO SONGS. $40. I didn’t use the internet, I mailed a fucking check and got the thing. Why? Because I’d played a cover of a song called ‘Patty Girl’ by an Ohio group called Gary & the Hornets with Alex Chilton, who had heard about the song from Teenage Fanclub, who had heard about the song from Calvin Johnson. And I had to hear the original.
The story was too good: Gary & the Hornets were three kids—age 9, 11, & 12—who had a record deal and did these amazing, beat group-era songs, maybe just a little too sweet for the consciousness-bending preamble to the Summer of Love, so they didn’t have too long to enjoy the spotlight before looking quaint. ‘Patty Girl’ is not on iTunes. The band never released any album that I can find, so there’s no CD reissue. Basically, except for this 45 and some youtube videos, this music is extinct. And what a crime! Two and half minutes of chimey, glorious 60's pop, with a chorus that defies the laws of gravity in terms of melody—it was shocking to hear Alex pick off the high notes with such ease—we played it the last time that Alex and I played together, in Brooklyn last year.
So, now, iTunes saving grace: As a kid, I dutifully picked up Robert Plant’s solo music after the demise of Led Zeppelin, and was somewhat nonplussed by the mellow, unfocused and puzzling ‘Big Log’ 45 that I surely got at a drugstore or something. But, as one did, I flipped it over and found another enigmatic title—'Far Post', a non-album B side and a far more interesting piece of music. The recording sounded so deluxe back in the day and now I can hear it’s possibly a really well recorded live take; just one guitar, bass, drums, piano and voice.
The song is fast, but dreamy too—it seems to be about the tug between regret and letting go over a lost love—or something. It’s pretty haunting, and was a good soundtrack for the intangibles of fog and mist and early sunsets that were part of life in Bellingham c. 1982. Blazing piano solo, stereo chorus/modulating slapback delay on everything, awesome. And you know what? It’s on iTunes. A B-side. I bought it recently, and was happy not to have to dig thru my storage space 9,000 miles from my home to look for it.
Just a thought here: we were all told when we signed our record deals in the late 80's that due to the excessive packaging costs of the CD vs. the LP, that our royalty rate for CD's would be significantly lower than for LPs. And guess what? The LP's were a fraction of sales shortly thereafter. Duped. I think an LP is roughly twice as expensive to make and package as a CD now.
Along comes iTunes and offers even LOWER rates for selling something that DOESN’T EVEN EXIST. It’s not like there’s a factory banging out all those files. You upload your master, and you’re allowed to make a copy and store that somewhere. It’s like charging more for a bunch of photo copies than for a book. So, now, that I reach the end of this paragraph, I’m mad again and can say fuck you, iTunes.
Posted by Jon at 10:48 AM