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John Scott's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

What’s up Sorry State Readers? This is my first write up in about three weeks as I was visiting a friend out in Madrid, so I wanted to write about what I was listening to while I was over there, which happened to be a lot of the Rolling Stones, naturally, as we had tickets to go see their show in Amsterdam. I love the Stones but if I had to pick a favorite album of theirs, I’d have to go with Tattoo You. This is another one of the many albums I can thank my brother for really putting me onto. I remember one time he said, “You know what the best part of Tops is? Heaven comes on after it.” He’s right though, the B side of this record is one of my favorite sides of any record. It starts off with Worried About You, which is a good song, but nothing too amazing for me. It’s really the last four songs on this album that make the whole thing worth it to me, which would be Tops>Heaven>No Use In Crying>Waiting On a Friend. Basically, any time I listen to one of them, I end up listening to all four. They’re all so great. My favorite of the bunch is constantly changing. Tops has one of my favorite choruses to belt out and do my best Mick impression. Heaven is one of the weirder songs in their catalog and sounds different from any of their other stuff, and I love it. No Use in Crying feels like a song only they could pull off and make it sound so good and Waiting on a Friend is the perfect end to the album. Anyways, Madrid is a city that thrives at night, so there were a lot of late-night listening sessions. We hung out there for about a week (I think I drank more Aperol Spritzes than water during that time) and flew to Amsterdam a couple days before the show, so we had some time to hang out there. It’s probably the coolest and weirdest place I’ve ever been to in the best way possible. Everything felt topsy turvy, but that also could have been the result of the many different things they’ve got to offer there. We walked about fifteen miles each day we were there just exploring the city and finding all these little spots. I loved just sitting out by the canals and watching the ducks and boats go by and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect coming from Madrid where it was getting up to 100 every day. The day of the show arrived, and we were just taking it easy and went to the Rijksmuseum and laid out on the lawn outside of it afterwards. We stocked up on goods before the show and headed back to the Airbnb to get ready. About an hour later we went to order the Uber to head to the venue, and I was double checking it on google to make sure we were heading to the right place when I saw the fateful headline “Mick Jagger Tests Positive for Covid: Amsterdam Show Postponed.” What a bummer. Oh well, there are lot worse places to have a free night in after a cancelled show so I wasn’t complaining. We headed back out and made the most of our night. We had one more day in Amsterdam and then went back to Madrid for a few days before I flew back home. All in all, it was an amazing trip, and although it would’ve been great to see the Stones live, it was a testament to how much fun we were having that we didn’t even let the cancellation bring our spirits down. We sat in silence for a moment after we had read the headline when my friend said, “Did we steal the sun yesterday and now we’re being punished?” before we both started cracking up. We very well may have, cause I had never had such a fun time. Some things are just out of your control and like Mick said, “You can’t always get whatchu want.”

John Scott's SSR Pick: April 29, 2022

What’s up Sorry State readers? I’m gonna get straight to the point. I’ve listened to I am the Blues probably 10-15 times this past week. Released in 1970, this record is the sixth studio album by the legendary Chicago bluesman Willie Dixon and is nothing but heavy hitters from beginning to end. The album features songs written by Dixon but originally recorded by other artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters for Chess Records. These songs have been covered countless times by artists like The Rolling Stones, The Doors, and The Grateful Dead to name a few, and are essentially part of the blueprint for rock n roll. Willie Dixon is pretty much the most badass person to ever walk this earth. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1915, he was one of fourteen children. His first venture into the world of music was at the age of four, where he sang in his church’s choir. Later, as a young teenager, he served time on prison farms in Mississippi, where he was first introduced to the blues. In 1936, he left Mississippi to head up to Chicago and began boxing. At 6’6 and 250 pounds, Willie was a force to be reckoned with. After winning the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship in 1937, he began his short career as a professional boxer, only fighting in four fights before leaving the sport due to a dispute over money with his manager. During his time as a boxer, though, he met Leonard Caston, and the two would harmonize together while at the gym. Caston was the first person to persuade Dixon to start taking music seriously, even going as far as to build him his first bass, crafted from a tin can and one string. He also learned how to play the guitar during this time. In 1939 he helped found the Five Breezes along with Caston, a group that blended blues, jazz, and vocal harmonies. However, this came to a halt in 1940 with the draft for WWII. Dixon was imprisoned for ten months for refusing to fight for a nation with such deeply rooted institutionalized racism. After the war, he formed a few more groups and recorded for Columbia Records. The biggest move in his career though came in 1950, when he signed with Chess Records as a recording artist but quickly became more involved with administrative tasks for the label. By 1951, he was already a producer, studio musician, talent scout, and staff songwriter for the label. Over the next decade is when he penned the legendary songs you’ll find on this album, my favorites being “Back Door Man,” “Spoonful,” and “The Little Red Rooster.” These songs are just incredibly written, and I’ll never get tired of listening to them. Willie Dixon is a southern legend and his music wonderfully stands the test of time and will be appreciated by music lovers for generations to come. If you ever want to learn about the roots of rock n roll, listen to Willie Dixon.

P.S. Shoutout to my brother William, who just moved to Seattle, for introducing me to the blues and Willie Dixon’s music. Thanks for fulfilling your duties as an older brother by always putting me on to cool shit. Good luck in Seattle brother, I’m gonna miss listening to records until the crack of dawn with you.

John Scott's SSR Pick: May 12, 2022

What’s up Sorry State Readers? I hope everyone had a good week. As we enter these warmer spring months, I find my listening habits changing up a little. Everything is green and blooming again, and naturally I’m drawn towards more upbeat and bouncier music. This week I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Tom Club but the album I want to bring attention to about today is Close to the Bone. If you’re not familiar with Tom Tom Club, the band was originally founded as a side project by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, husband and wife duo of Talking Heads fame. Recorded in 1983 down at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, this record is the follow up to their highly successful first self-titled album and features heavy reggae and dance club influences all over it. The legendary reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry (R.I.P.) was set to produce the first record for them but failed to show up to any of the scheduled recording sessions, so they took matters into their own hands with the assistance of Jamaican engineer Steven Stanley, who at the time was only 23. The band also took the reins for the second album. Both records feature beautiful cover art by artist James Rizzi that I get lost in every time I look at them. Back to Close to the Bone specifically though, this album is packed full of groovy tunes. Tracks like “The Man With The 4-Way Hips,” “On The Line Again” and “Pleasure of Love” were all met with great underground success. I love the B-side of this record, it’s so much fun to listen to. I find the lyrics from “Never Took a Penny” stuck in my head after every listen.

“Never took a penny

Never told a lie

You made me so unhappy

Now I’m gonna make you cry”

Shit just hits sometimes. I also really love the song “Measure Up.” It’s a lively song that’s got a lot of different stuff going on in it; I’ll include the track in a link below. In short, this album is a lot of fun and a great listen while enjoying a nice spring picnic or out on the beach this summer. If you haven’t yet, give it a listen.

John Scott's SSR Pick: May 5, 2022

What’s up Sorry State readers, my name is John Scott and you’re going to start seeing me around the store more. I’m excited to get to know all of you, so if you see me around don’t be a stranger! I’ve been in Raleigh for about ten years now, but I’ve moved around quite a bit in the Memphis and Nashville areas. In my free time, I enjoy going to the flea market and antique stores and places like that and just looking out for anything that catches my eye. I love finding old random stuff you can tell someone really cared about and give it life again. Naturally, that led me to start collecting records. A few years ago, I moved a couple blocks down the street from Sorry State and I discovered the store at some point down the line during my ritualistic morning walk. It quickly became my favorite place to shop. I started coming here in my free time whenever I was bored and wanted to find some new music to listen to. There is nothing more rewarding than digging through the bargain bins and finding something that looks cool, you take it home and it sounds equally awesome. This is how I discovered my love for jazz records. I would come in near the end of the day and go through the Jazz bargain bins and grab a few records (often along the lines of Bossa Nova or Brazilian Jazz) that piqued my interest. I’d go home and throw them on and lay out on the couch and just go over the things that were running through my head during the day or maybe think about nothing at all and just listen to the music. Have you ever had Astrud Gilberto serenade you at the end of a long day? It’s very soothing. They’re also perfect to throw on when having people over for a nice laid-back shindig. My friends tell me I have a great selection of “Lounge Music” to pick from. That’s why I love throwing on a record. There’s something about the act of physically picking out an album and putting it on and getting everything just right that makes people really appreciate the music.

More recently, I decided to embrace my southern roots and dive into more country and bluegrass, and I’ve been loving it. I used to be one of those dorks that would go around saying “I listen to all music genres EXCEPT for country.” How lame is that? I guess I was that way because I was exposed to it all while growing up in the south, so it didn’t seem very exciting to me. There’s so much cool shit to be heard when you don’t limit yourself, though. Who doesn’t love getting back home on a late Saturday night with some friends for a final final and moaning out “Lord I love to hear her when she calls me sweet da-a-addy” along with Hank Williams? If you haven’t before, I highly recommend it. This leads me to my first staff pick, Country Casanova by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. I found this a few weeks ago in the country section and the cover art alone was badass enough to make me check it out. I immediately loved it after my first listen. “Everybody’s Doin’ It” is one of the most fun and catchy songs I’ve ever listened to, and it is exactly what you think it is. That is, of course, if your first thought was truckin’ and fuckin’. I’ve yet to play that song for someone without seeing a smile come over their face. “Shall We Meet” is also a great song and sounds like something you would hear Billy Strings cover today. Another one of my favorites off this album is “My Window Faces The South,” a classic country song that’s been covered by many artists over the years. It’s just got such a warm feeling to it that reminds me of a southern summer day. Maybe I also just really like it cause I’m usually listening to it laying on my couch that faces a big window I’m aimlessly staring out of. At the time of writing this, there’s another copy of this album in store so if you ever feel like a little bit of honky tonkin’, come stop by and pick up this record!