Alice Coltrane: Huntington Ashram Monastery (1969, Impulse)
Last week Rachel shared one of her scores from Miss Veola’s collection, so this week I’ll share one of mine.
With over 5,000 items in Miss Veola’s collection we can’t process it all at once, so we’ve been bringing a few boxes from storage to our warehouse each week to be priced up, cleaned, and prepped for sale. The collection is in something of a disheveled state at the moment. It looks like someone hastily packed it into liquor boxes, and whoever did that didn’t even take time to make sure the records were all facing the same direction, much less maintain any kind of order. However, it’s clear that at some point the collection was organized, if only idiosyncratically.
Interestingly, the jazz records in Miss Veola’s collection seem to have been filed by lead instrument. All the Grant Green and Kenny Burrell records are near one another because they were both guitarists, for instance. The first box of records I processed from the collection featured a bunch of harpists. This is exciting because two jazz harpists in particular—Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby—are favorites among collectors. Even better, a bunch of the Alice Coltrane records in the box were 70s pressings that were still sealed! Dominic grabbed a Dorothy Ashby record he’d been after for years, and I was excited to fill this gap in my Alice Coltrane collection.
Huntington Ashram Monastery was Coltrane’s second album as a band leader, appearing a year after 1968’s A Monastic Trio on the Impulse label. I’ve been exploring Alice’s catalog over the past few years as I come across older pressings. I don’t search for copies online, but when a record I don’t have comes through the shop I usually check it out and end up taking it home for myself. Alice’s records get a lot of play around my house because their gentle, ethereal vibe helps to counter-balance the frantic, stressed state I put myself in by taking on too much responsibility. When I checked out Huntington Ashram Monastery, I knew it was going into my collection, particularly given that my purchase would also support the Veola McLean Scholarship Fund.
What’s up Sorry Staters?
This week I’m gonna talk about one of my recent scores. The record in question is not my choice because I’m trying to flex. Or at least I hope it doesn’t come off that way! I’m really excited to finally have an original 7” version of the Dirty Rotten EP by DRI because I have a lot of history with this band!
DRI was a hugely important band to me when I was first getting into punk and hardcore as a teenager. I remember being blown away at how fast they played. And even more impressive to me was how fast the vocalist Kurt could squeeze in all those lyrics! Dude could spit mad fast. But THEN when I actually got my hands on a CD copy and could read the lyrics, I was dumbfounded at how great they were. I think the political and social ideas in DRI lyrics actually impacted my worldview. For my money, a lot of them are still pretty right on. It actually took me a while to discover that DRI was a foundational crossover thrash band later on. Some of those later records I still find pretty corny. When I heard the lyrics to one of their later tunes, I think it was something like “GO. Don’t be tardy. Got drunk last night at a party!”, I definitely winced a little.
Listening to that CD when I was 15 or whatever, even with the raw recording, I was fully under the impression that the Dirty Rotten record was a full album. When me and some of my other punk skate rat friends found out that they squeezed 22 songs onto a 7”, I think we were super impressed by that haha. My first band that ever played shows definitely took heavy influence from DRI. We never put out a record, but I remember us discussing how many 23-second songs we could fit onto a 7”. We also covered “I’d Rather Be Sleeping.” Our lyrical content was certainly less serious than our dirty-rotten teachers. We were less about politics and more about skateboarding. That band was called Feeble Minded… pun definitely intended. When I listen to this record now, it brings me right back to high school. The other night when I was playing my recently acquired copy of this EP, I reached out to my buddy who was in that high school band. We hadn’t talked in quite a while. We recited the lyrics to “I Don’t Need Society” to each other in ALL CAPS, exchanging the verses line by line. That was cool.
The grooves on the actual 7” copy of the record are so tight and thin that it’s almost comical. In order to fit all the songs, I’m sure the record had to be mastered a certain way because the record is pretty quiet. But for me, once you crank the volume on your stereo, they sound perfect. Stoked to have this record. Revisiting some old memories while listening to DRI makes the record feel all the more special to me.
Thanks for reading.
‘Til next week
Greetings Sorry State gang. I hope we find you all well this week. Thanks for clicking on our newsletter and reading. We appreciate it. Another week and more great music continues to hit the store. Lots of cool new stuff and tons of great used records. We are always buying collections, large or small and have records covering a wide spectrum of genres and price scales filling our bins. There really is something for everyone. We’d love to see you if you ever get a chance to visit Raleigh. If you are local and reading this, then you know already but should still come down anyway. We want to see you.
This week I thought I would highlight a couple of new releases albums that we have in stock, albeit in limited quantities. I was excited about their releases as I am a fan but realize that over here Stateside not as many people are aware of them. I’m talking about The Coral, a group from Merseyside, England who have been around since the late 90s and Gruff Rhys from Welsh heroes Super Furry Animals.
Long time readers will know that I like SFA a lot and have had many amazing adventures centered around seeing them over the years. Front man Gruff has been releasing solo records for a good dozen years now and this is number seven or eight. His style is generally in the pop field with some twists and turns and there have been some concept records and a soundtrack he did which veered a little. This latest offering is called Seeking New Gods, and it is another concept record. This time dedicated to a volcano with mythical properties in North Korea called Mount Paektu. Why not? You don’t need to be up on your Korean mountains and legends to enjoy the album, however. For this record, Gruff recorded the majority of the tunes with his touring band live in the studio and you can definitely feel the energy of that collaborative style of recording. Sound wise, the record has the hallmarks of his recognizable style. Candy dipped psychedelia in glammy 70s pop fashion with clever lyrical wordplay delivered with his inimitable vocals. Great stuff.
There is a little note from Gruff printed on the Obi around the jacket that says,
“I hope this album and its component songs sound like they came from a very personal place, and the fact they are all inspired to varying degrees by events relating to Mount Paektu, from 2333 BC to the present day, remains coincidental to the listener.”
Job done, I would say. You can totally enjoy this record and not have any previous knowledge of orography. My favorite track so far is single Loan Your Loneliness, a keyboard and synth led jam that harkens back to some of the pop hits from later era SFA. I’ll leave you a link to that one. If you like it, you’ll be onboard for the rest of the album, I think.
Also, just to note, we received nice green vinyl versions here at SSR as an Indie exclusive.
Coral Island is the name of the latest record by The Coral and it’s another concept record coincidentally. As with SFA, I have been a fan of these guys since they first appeared. They mix retro psychedelia with pop nous and excellent wordplay to create what could be classified as Cosmic Scouse Rock TM. Their first few albums are all solid and the couple of times I saw them live I was not disappointed. When they came over to New York for the first time they visited the shop I worked in and signed my copy of their single, which we had just got in and invited me to their show. One of the advantages of being in the city was the chance to see visiting UK groups in very small venues when they first came over. My memory bank is full of so many great experiences seeing bands like this. Good times.
The Coral Island LP is their tenth record. I’ll be honest, the last couple have slipped by me over the years but when we were solicited this new one, I thought I would get a copy for myself and the store. Like the Gruff Rhys record, this one is an Indie exclusive and comes on translucent yellow/green vinyl. It is a concept record, as I mentioned, with a narrative about the joys and sadness of a seaside town. The 85-year-old grandfather of band members the Skelly brothers provides a soft monologue throughout the record in a nod to The Small Faces and their Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake LP. It’s a nostalgic kind of record, harkening back to the pre-Beatles era of rock ‘n roll and like watching an old movie from the 1950s set in a seaside location. Possibly not the record I would choose to introduce newcomers to the band but those of you reading who might be aware of the group and their sound will find plenty of familiar and comforting sounds within. I would highly recommend their self-titled debut and follow up Magic & Medicine as good starting points for those wanting to investigate but regardless, I still enjoyed listening to Coral Island and found the whole tone of the record very pleasing and dare I say it, easy listening. They are such good song writers, and the musicianship is top notch. Lots of interesting sounds are employed throughout which help to set the scene of each song and provide context. Twenty years into their career and you can tell these guys know their way around a studio and their instruments. Having the record released as double vinyl might not have been necessary timing wise but it helps separate the two parts of the album and as one reviewer has said, the gap of placing the stylus down on each side gives a few seconds for the narrative to seep into the unconscious before the music begins again.
There are several highlights but on the first few listens I have been digging a track on the last side called Watch You Disappear which sounds like it could have been produced by legendary producer Joe Meek and helps to drive home that retro early sixties feel. In fact, the album does close strongly as also on that final side of vinyl comes another early favorite, a song called Land Of The Lost which has some nice guitar work going on. I’ll drop those links here for you to check out.
I’m going to sign off here. Thanks for reading. I hope my selections this week were of use to at least a couple of you. I guarantee good results should you chose to fall down either a Coral or Super Furry Animal and Gruff Rhys rabbit hole. Until next time, peace and love - Dom
There is a lot of good shit in the shop right now. I will briefly talk about a few things. Most importantly, we got copies of the Molde Punx repress!! This was first pressed about 1 year ago and the copies sold so fast... I do not think many copies made it to the States. I’m pretty sure Sorry State didn’t have a chance to get copies either, but I made it my Staff Pick back in July 2020 when I got a few distro copies. I gave an in-depth rundown of my take on the bands and made a nerdy chart of Norwegian bands haha. Some of these tracks I actually used on the Norsk tape I made a few months ago, if you got one of those. You can check out the label’s bandcamp to hear the songs, but just buy one soon. Don’t fuck up. I fucked up this week; I came back to work to find out we sold out of Disattack and LVEM is also sold out, haha. I can’t stress enough how cool the booklet is with the Molde Punx comp. On the repress they changed the cover of the booklet, but everything else seems identical. I think the new cover is way fucking cooler than the first one, haha. Anyway, you can read the Staff Pick I wrote about this at the link above if you wanna hear me blab more and missed it the first time.
Chaotic Uprising Productions is like my favorite label in the States right now. I dunno the person/people that operate the label personally, but I know it’s someone from Subversive Rite for sure though. Everything they release is worth listening to. All of it has a similar vibe, artwork included. All of it sounds fucking raw and classic in the best way. I know it’s a lot of tape releases, but the tapes themselves actually sound damn good, so it gives the releases more merit in my opinion. Some people don’t care much about tape production and rely heavily on the digital aspect of it. I can understand the digital thing even though I more or less disagree with it, but to me there is no reason why yer tapes can’t sound amazing. You can get a demo tape’s worth of material professionally duplicated for literally $2, in a case too. But disregard that entire opinion when it comes to a band self-releasing a demo/tour tape. Usually those are made with mad haste right before a gig/tour, and everyone has a million things going on so no one gives a damn what they come out like, haha. So the “consumer” pays the price... but I dunno, I don’t expect much from a bands tour tape when I’m at their merch table, I just want to support them so I grab ‘em regardless of how bad they are likely to sound. Anyway... Chaotic Uprising just released a gang of 3 titles. You can check them all out here. Unfortunately Sorry State is already sold out of my favorite from the batch, Bloodsuckers. This band is not doing anything new, but damn, is it good. Pefectly executed, snarling hardcore. The riffs are pretty UK82, but everything sounds a bit meaner than that. I dunno who all is in this band, but I know it’s the same vocalist from Koward, who has been in a shit ton of bands. Koward was one of my absolute favorite bands on the East Coast for a long time. If you dunno them, I would check their first EP out right now. The second EP is very good too. We still have the Hounds of War flexi, but everything else is gone already! (I do have a few copies of the 100% Blood tape, if you want one you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The last thing I wanna mention briefly is the new Rudimentary Peni LP. If you haven’t taken the time to check it out cos it’s new and you assume it won’t be good, listen to it! It is fucking killer, and honestly it fits perfectly into their timeline. The sound is amazing. I need to listen to it more but it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. I wanted to mention it especially cos Sorry State had A SHIT TON of these, and now we are down to the last two boxes. I imagine they will sell out relatively soon, so be sure to check out the jams and decide if you wanna grab one before it’s too late. Alright, thanks for reading.
Every time I think I’ve come to know what’s on the floor at the store, I inevitably find some sort of hidden gem. I don’t think I’ve gone a week without buying at least something from the bargain bin since I’ve started working here. I have to dig around the store and office space three days a week to fulfill orders, so I thought I had a semi-good grasp on our inventory. As I hope you’ve seen, I’ve been adding to the used section in our online store every Monday. I’m having a great time finding things in-store customers have slept on and it seems like y’all like it because stuff is selling.
This past weekend I found two records in my two favorite sections of any record store- Spoken Word/Oddball/something with a lot of slashes because it’s where all the miscellaneous stuff ends up...and of course the country section. To my surprise, I found two records that had SKUs dating back to 2017-18. HOW had no one snatched these up? Two LPs of great country folk music and a spooky ‘true’ story record priced well under the Discogs median? I didn’t even think twice about buying them. These poor babies had been sitting in the back of the bins for years!
I guess this is all to say what I feel like I always say at the end of my bargain bin record rants- DIG THROUGH ALL THE BINS! The amount of times the very last record in a stack has been the thing I bought...it’s an addicting mentality because who knows what you’re missing! I love when customers come in and can’t leave until they’ve flipped through our entire ‘new arrivals’ bargain bin shelf by the register. Because SAME. Finding gems like what I got this past week just fuels the fire and I know I’ll be making sure I pay extra attention to what we have lurking on the lower levels of our bins.
You know how some records just look RIGHT? I saw this coolass sleeve on the wall at Sorry State the other day, and it jumped straight out to me. Sufficiently minimalistic fonts with a high-contrast copy of the ill-fated Andy Warhol robot printed on a lovely mustard yellow cardstock? SIGN ME UP! I pulled the 7” down from the shelf and next noticed its New Underground Records tag. Hey, I know that label from those weird’n’wonderful “Life is So Why Not ?” comps, so that’s even better!
Then I asked the main mane Jeff behind the counter if he knew what the heck was up with Artistic Decline. He couldn’t say much but did acknowledge this’un was another of those Meat House Productions reissues. Since Meat House’s Hated, Child Molesters and Wuffy Dogs rereleases already received a ton of fanfare in my household, pretty much every sign now points to “YES.”
And, well, yeah… this thing is great! Despite its original 1983 release date and Mystic Studios credit, Artistic Decline’s “Four Song E.P.” sounds more like like an old Dangerhouse record than one would rightly expect. It’s choppy and nerdy and pleasantly lacking the machismo carried by many California contemporaries at this juncture in the 80s. In short, it’s PUNK.
The songs are punchy, quick and deceptively intricate, using all kinds of wild turnarounds and cutoffs in quirky ways that one may not catch on first listen. It’s kinda like the Minutemen doing the Dils or vice versa. Upon our initial store spin, aforementioned SSR employee Jeff also noted that it reminded him of the incredible Modern Warfare, which I think is a very apt comparison.
I could listen to this kinda stuff ALL DAY LONG, so keep up the good work, Meat House!
(I subsequently read Daniel’s Artistic Decline writeup and noticed he said a lot of the same things I just wrote. Great minds, huh?)