Friday, September 21, 2012

A Good 'Un -- John Lee Hooker

If you recall, my last post was about this big record collection in my son’s grandma’s garage.  I found a good 20 or so cool albums among the 200 or so that were in the collection.  The rest were, how should I put it, really white and really boring.  It was really safe old fashioned music with little or no soul.  However, many of them had really cool album covers.  I took some of those and framed them.  They make great office decorations and the frames are only about $10 at Target in case you’re interested.

But I digress.

Shortly after I sifted through my mother-in-law’s albums, I stumbled upon this place in San Diego called The Thrift Trader.  Thrift Trader is not your ordinary thrift store.  They specialize in selling vintage clothes, used CDs and used DVDs and they even sell old stereo equipment.  The thing that makes this place unique is that they accept trades.  You bring something in and can take something out in return.  It’s a very communal bohemian thing and it works great.

One thing seemed apparent about The Thrift Trader.  They appear to accept just about any album someone brings in.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Iron Butterfly or Julie Andrews, they will take it.  I decided to take advantage of this and hauled the whole mess of crappy old albums I just inherited down to the Thrift Trader.

They offered me one album for every ten I brought in.  Now since I had almost 200, that meant I had to find 20 albums.  Seems easy, right?  Not in Thrift Trader.  This place has, by far, the most colossal album collection in the history of mankind.  You walk in the place and they have shelf after rickety shelf stacked with albums.  They have box after box of albums lining the floor.  They have so many boxes they had to stack them one on top of the other about three rows high and then make a sort of maze out of the them.  I walked up and down the aisle of album boxes fingering through a few as I went by.

I headed back toward the front counter and I noticed this framed picture of Robin Trower with text over it saying, “Ask about our secret record room.”  Secret record room?  Is this guy kidding?  I would have had to go to this store 7 days a week for 10 hours a day for a month before I could sift through all the albums that were within my eyesight.  Regardless, I had to ask about the secret record room.

The owner lead me to the back of the store past all the racks of thrift clothing to this big black sheet tacked up against the wall.  He pulled the curtain aside and led me into the secret record room.

Let me tell you, it was not a secret record room at all.  It was a labyrinth of secret record roomS.  The back hallway went to left about 15 yards to a dead end.  To the right it was another 15 yards.  But it didn’t end there.  The hallway turned right again and then looped around in a giant square.    On one side of each hallway were album boxes stacked three rows high.  They went all the way to the left and all the way to right and around the loop.  Going in either direction were several rooms.  Those rooms were stacked to the ceiling with album boxes.  In one of the larger rooms, this guy had set up a smaller version of the album box maze.

It was rather intimidating, let me tell ya.

I had to go back to the place three times before I finally found 20 albums.  The fact was that most of albums he had stacked all through this building were crap.  But like a good miner searching for golden nuggets, I pressed on.  I found this really funny Woody Allen double album of his standup material.  I found a copy of the Peter Gunn TV soundtrack and the More Peter Gunn soundtrack.  Both had cool album covers and also had some great Jazz by Henri Mancini.  I also found several K-Tel and Ronco compilations.  When I saw the one I owned as a child, “22 Explosive Hits” with the 70’s electronic pop hit, “Popcorn”, I snapped that sucker up.

However, of all the items found in this vein of gold, was an album by John Lee Hooker called “Endless Boogie.”  Back in the early 70’s John Lee made a little comeback with the help of the San Francisco hippie scene.  These hippie musicians, all influenced by The Blues, paid their homage to Hooker on a couple of albums.  These albums had featured guests, Steven Miller, Carl Radle (drummer for Derek and The Dominoes) and Mark Naftalin, a keyboardist who started with Paul Butterfield and went on to jam with all kinds of the artists.

This album is rocks out a little harder than John Lee’s original material and I like that.  This double album was basically recording a jam session and putting it on wax.   Here’s a song off that album, “A Good ‘Un.” 


The whole album is great.  It has a great version of "House Rent Boogie" and great cautionary song as a tribute to the drug overdoses of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.  You can buy the whole album or just this song.

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