Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Amoeba Records, Music We Like, and Essential Records You Need on Vinyl

Amoeba Records publishes (online and in-store) a quarterly fanzine (they call it a book) of music (and just about anything else entertainment-related). It consists mostly of lists from their staff--I don't know if they accept outside contributions or not.
More than one issue contains a list of "Essential Records You Need on Vinyl" from the store's blog (the "amoeblog" which has its own website). Its intro says, "Looking to start your record collection or fill out the one you have? We tried to include albums that are readily available on vinyl, nothing too rare or out of print. We also tried to avoid greatest hits records and focus on studio albums."
So just how "essential" is this "essential" list? I count about 200 artists and about 400 albums on it, and anybody who listened to all the genres and eras represented would be completely disoriented while stone-cold sober.
About seven-eighths of it I've got along fine without all these decades. Now let's look over the remaining one-eighth or so:
  • The Beatles--anything ever by the Beatles is essential. If a Beatle record isn't in your collection, you're missing something.
  • David Bowie--no reason to stop at the suggestions Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Keep going with Station to Station, Low, Lodger, Let's Dance, Never Let Me Down, Heroes, and The Next Day.
  • Iggy Pop--The Idiot features David Bowie, so it qualifies as a David Bowie album, too. Dang, looks like I let my copy get away!
  • The Clash--I wouldn't consider London Calling essential anything. I'd want The Clash and Give 'em Enough Rope instead.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival--Green River, yeah, but Cosmo's Factory and Down on the Corner, more so.
  • Elvis Costello--My Aim is True and This Year's Model are essential but so is Armed Forces, Taking Liberties, and Get Happy! If you're as big a Costello fan as I am, even that won't be enough.
  • Bob Dylan--I'd limit essential Dylan to Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, The Freewheeling Bob Dylan, and Highway 61 Revisited instead of the six albums listed here. Even so, looks like my Dylan collection's a little short. 
  • Depeche Mode--Violator is a strange choice. I'd advise Music for the Masses and Black Celebration instead.
  • Green Day--Dookie is in vinyl! It's not the only essential Green Day recording (in any format), though. Nimrod and American Idiot are in vinyl, too, and they're not on the list!
  • Michael Jackson and Prince--I'll agree with Thriller and either 1999 or Purple Rain, but unless you're especially fond of Michael Jackson and/or Prince, you won't listen to any of these three selections that much.
  •  Bruce Springsteen--somebody left Born in the USA off the list, and that's the Springsteen album of the eighties. The ones on Amoeba's list are all from the seventies or pre-MTV eighties.
  • U2--only The Joshua Tree is essential vinyl? Either the person who made up the list isn't a fan of U2 or, there is no or--U2 not on vinyl is unthinkable. Add Boy, War, Unforgettable Fire, Achtung Baby, and Zooropa at least.
  • XTC--don't see any of their hits on Skylarking so why's it more essential than anything else of theirs?
  • Queen--if you're going to have A Night at the Opera, you're going to need A Day at the Races, too.
  • Johnny Cash--I don't know why Amoeba's list includes At Folsom Prison but not At San Quentin.
  • Elvis Presley is a hard guy to talk about in terms of essential LP vinyl, it depends on how much of an Elvis fanatic you are, whether you like his early works or his late, his rockers or his love songs. He wasn't an album kind of artist, he didn't live in an album kind of era.
  • Oasis--we find What's the Story, Morning Glory is on vinyl! But Definitely Maybe is, too, and it's not on the list. It should be, too.
  • Elton John--if there is one and only one essential Elton John LP, maybe it is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, an oddity because it was released as a two-disk set. Except an essential Elton John collection also needs Captain Fantastic, Rock of the Westies, Tumbleweed Connection, and Madman Across the Water at least. 
Some of the artists on the list are limited to one and only one album and it is the essential one:
  • The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bullocks
  • Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Janis Joplin, Pearl (but if you want the Joplin trilogy you'll also need Cheap Thrills and Kosmic Blues, because she only made three records)
  • The Cars, The Cars
  • Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
  • The Mamas and the Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
Amoeba, I'll be glad to do an list for you of all my "essential vinyl" records that your list doesn't have!