Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Clean, Well Lighted Used CD Store

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has so much as glanced at Citizen K. to hear that I like a good used CD store. The best kind does not necessarily have the largest selection. Any university district has a used CD store with acres of CDs that college kids have bought, burned and resold. If you're looking for something specific, these are good places to check, especially for mainstream recordings. The problem today is that much of the selection from these type places is available for downloading at the same price (or less) as the used CD version. You can even legally copy purchased downloads (iTunes allows seven copies), so in a sense downloading puts you ahead of the game.

But a small neighborhood shop can be a jewel. Last Saturday when we went over to West Seattle for dinner, I was excited to spot Rubato Records, a place with real potential. It did not disappoint. First of all, it's small enough that I could review their entire selection within 20 minutes. Second, the selection is offbeat, including a small selection of unusual imports. I wound up with four CDs that I didn't know existed, and they're all good.

Chuck Leavell has played piano for The Allman Brothers and The Rolling Stones (among many others) and fronted his own band called Sea Level. Back in 2001, he released a delightful set of solo piano compositions called Forever Blue. Brief but compelling, Forever Blue makes for great morning or dinner listening...The British folksinger Donovan's Sixties hits are familiar to most people (of a certain age, anyway), but I'll bet you didn't know that in 2004 he recorded an homage to the Beat Generation called Welcome To The Beat Cafe. He captures the coffee house spirit in a fun, ambient recording that includes a version of Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight" set to music...The expatriate singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy has lived and recorded in Paris for over 25 years. He releases much of his music on his own label, including Never Say Die: The Best Of 1995-2005...And More. I got turned onto Murphy a couple of years ago; Never Say Die is a great means of catching up on what I've been missing...Rubato Records even had a Cajun selection, and I took a flyer on Authentic Cajun Music by Jackie Callier, Ivy Dugas, and the Cajun Cousins. The Cajun Cousins include a steel guitar which adds an element of Western swing to their sound. Exceptionally well produced in the bargain...And where else would one find Greatest Hits from the Seattle avant-garde composer-musician Amy Denio? Denio's primary instruments are the sax and the accordion. I'm not especially well-versed in the avant-garde, but there's a gentleness and musicality here that I don't naturally associate with the term...

So, support your local used CD store. The smaller and more cramped looking, the better!

Now this is what should have been on the cover of The New Yorker. Thanks, PWALLY!

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