Let’s unpack the haul…

A favourite YouTube influencer video is the showing off what you bought on your latest shopping expedition, or unpacking a package that came through the post. Well, this isn’t YouTube, and here at Americana UK you get a picture and a lot of words.

What could a rainy July Sunday bring? Well, it could bring a visit to a friendly local record store and a perusal of the bargain second-hand music section – hey, there are CDs at £3 each, 5 for £10. It’s cheaper to buy 5 than to buy 4.  Cool.  Although that’s probably some kind of comment on the longevity of physical media. In amongst the collections of U2 albums and the Supertramp Best Ofs there are actually some real finds to be…err…found. So here’s what £10 can buy you – and some partial explanations as to why.

Sparklehorse – ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ (2001)

Astonishingly, and my only defence is that there are only 24 hours in a day for buying and listening, this is the first Sparklehorse album I’ve purchased. That’s my credibility blown, although yes of course I have heard my fair share of the band. Given the ultimate fate of Mark Linkous the album title is wildly ironic of course, but this is seminal lo-fi Americana. Every home should have one (he smuggly says now).

Ry Cooder – ‘Paris, Texas OST’ (1985)

And why was this also not already sitting on the CD stack? Well, I had a friend who was obsessed with this movie soundtrack and I’d heard it – and in particularly the title track – so many times that it required a thirty year break to get me to contemplate purchasing it.  Of course it’s excellent – we all know that – but I needed to become unfamiliar with it again to be able to appreciate it once more.

Alejandro Escovedo – ‘Gravity’ (Deluxe) (2009)

Not just Alejandro Escovedo’s first solo album – even better this is the expanded double album version, one studio CD and a live CD.  That’s a pretty good deal for £3.   And, similarly to the Sparklehorse album, I have no excuse for not already owning this. I do have other albums by Alejandro Escovedo, thereby retaining a shred of dignity but yeah, I’m very late to this outstanding and genre defining album of Americana.  Sorry Paul.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born in the USA’ (1984)

And you’re thinking he just picked this up in order to get to 5 and that magical £2 saving. And you’d be incorrect. It spawned a ridiculous number of singles but there are a couple of songs I didn’t know – because I have never purchased ‘Born in the USA‘ before. And there is a reason. World conquering it may have been, but to these ears it was a tragic failure of an album. Things had been in a bit of a decline since ‘The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle‘, and ‘The River‘ was about a single album’s worth of good songs and another album of Springsteen getting deeper into his blue-collar, denim wearing, man of the people persona.

There was another reason that I’d avoided it – Springsteen, hand in glove with London’s Capitol Radio, had got me into trouble at school. Yes this bad boy rock and roll rebel had hung on at home by the radio as Capitol trailed the first UK playing of the title track of the upcoming new Springsteen album on their morning show. An exciting prospect, and one which should, I reckoned, only cause me to be slightly late for the calling of the register. And then they finally played it – and what a disappointment. The Boss had fully embraced Eighties polish with clanging, jarring, keyboards and the electronically manipulated snare drum being the key components. How was I going to now swagger into Form Time late and stare down a tragically unhip Dead Head form teacher with my newly acquired knowledge of the future of rock and roll when Springsteen had so spectacularly taken the wind out of my sails? That’s enough to sour the best of us.

And it remains an album that amply demonstrates why ‘Nebraska‘ is so good. Jesus ‘Dancing in the Dark‘, ‘Cover Me‘, ‘I’m On Fire‘ – just awful. Think I’m wrong – well riddle me this, if it’s so good why doesn’t Springsteen still record albums that sound just like ‘Born in the USA‘ ?  It was his MTV moment – and you have to say he grabbed it with both hands.

Gallagher & Lyle – ‘The Best of…’ (1985)

Yup, it’s a Best Of. Yes, I already have it on vinyl. Yes it was prompted by the recent musings for the First Time contribution. That’s it, that’s the sum total of the explanation. Disappointingly ‘Heart in New York‘ isn’t on it. This was the one, I guess, to make up the 5 for the offer.  God, that knitware…the horror, the horror.

About Jonathan Aird 2774 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fred Arnold

I wonder if that is the same friendly local record store that I visit. Same deal £3 per CD, £10 for 5 and quite often some really good finds. My store is predominantly vinyl, often new, but with some sometimes excellent deals on older vinyl records