Hey readers, Swan Fungus here. I'm back in Los Angeles this week after an exciting 10-day homecoming trip to the east coast. Part of my trip (the first weekend, to be exact) was spent working as a dealer at the WFMU Record Fair for the LA-based store which currently employs me. I try my best to make trips to the New York/New Jersey area coincide with the record fair, because it affords me both the opportunity to attend the fair, and also to earn a few extra bucks for "working" even though I'm technically on vacation. This year was just my second as a dealer, but I hope to make this a regular venture. It was really nice to see so many familiar WFMU faces, and to meet station manager Ken, Liz Berg and others.
The fair appeared to be a success, even if appeared at times that the number of tables stuffed into the Metropolitan Pavilion had decreased from previous years. There was enough great vinyl present to satisfy both low-end and high-end crate diggers. Some of the coolest records I noticed included: The unbelievably rare outsider/"real people" Heitkotter LP ($5,000), an original copy of The Bachs' Out Of The Bachs ($7,500), CA Quintet's Trip Thru Hell ($1,750), Morgen's Of Dreams ($800), and an original mono UK copy of the Beatles' Please Please Me signed by all four band members in early 1963 ($28,500). Sure, it's kind of disheartening to see an album for sale that costs more than I earn in a year, but it's also one of those things that keeps me coming back to the record fair. The chance to see something I've never seen before is probably the biggest appeal of the WFMU Record Fair.
So what did I buy, you ask? Well, here's a list of my ten best purchases.
10. Various Artists - Mata La Pena: A Compilation Of International Music - I'll buy literally any record released by Mississippi Records. They almost always feature beautiful artwork and music I couldn't discover on my own if I had even ten lifetimes to do so. The only annoying aspect of this record is they don't list where the music comes from, we just artist and song title with which to work. Oh well, that doesn't stop it from kicking ass.
09. BONG - BONG - Super-slow, heavy, drone doom rock...with a sitar. It sounds so creepy mixed in their with endlessly thick guitar sludge and pounding drums, but it's so perfect. How could none of those heavy stoner rock bands have thought to do this before? It's totally amazing. Unfortunately, this thing was limited to only 500 copies, so they're getting a bit difficult to track down.
08. Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia - The subtitle of this record is, "Warm earth music for plants...and the people who love them." Electronic composer Mort Garson also recorded two amazing records called The Wozard Of Iz and Black Mass under the moniker Lucifer. This record was original given away with Simmons mattresses in the '70s, and I was so happy to find a clean copy of it that also included the original illustrated booklet with directions for speaking to your plants.
07. Dzyan - Electric Silence - Jazzy krautrock / progressive rock from the '70s. This is one of those records you could drop acid to and completely lose yourself in the insane artwork. Marimbas and gong are heavily featured in the album's opening 9-minute track "Where We Came From," but when the guitars finally enter the mix they send a big reminder that this is not some nerdy, fey soft-rock.
06. Jorge Ben - Forca Bruta - The most annoying moment of the weekend came on the fair's first day. A Brazilian dealer had really clean copies of both Africa Brasil and Forca Bruta, and I momentarily forgot my edict of "If you see something you want, buy it before it disappears." I wound up having to pay $20 more for this record on Sunday because I couldn't get it out of my head that I'd lost out on it two days earlier. I don't think the music of Jorge Ben needs any explanation. So, I'll just state that this is a great recording.
05. Justen O'Brien & Jake - Time Will Tell - I didn't have a spare $1,000 on me to buy the original pressing one dealer had for sale, so I settled for a $20 Swedish hand-numbered re-issue. An obscure privately-pressed masterpiece, it's most commonly described as "dreamy acid rock" or "melodic soft psych" by those who know what it is. I didn't know what it was when I pulled it out of a box to take a look at it, but the dealer who was selling it fed me some of the story behind it, and I bit.04. Soggy - Soggy - Limited-edition vinyl-only release of this amazing French hard rock band that sounds way too much like the Stooges for it to be merely an homage. There's an absurdly huge poster included with the record, which depicts Soggy's singer, who looks just like -- wait for it -- Iggy Pop. There used to be an awe-inspiring YouTube clip of the band performing live on French TV from the early '80s, but it seems to have disappeared. If anyone out there knows where it went, let us know. More people need to know about Soggy.
03. Caetano Veloso - Caetano Veloso (Tropicalia) - Copies of this album just don't turn up all that frequently where I live in Los Angeles, and who knows what you're going to get when you see copies for sale on eBay originating in South America. So when I saw a copy for sale at the record fair, I had to jump at the opportunity to finally own a copy.
02. Dock Boggs - Country Blues - Beautiful deluxe gatefold packaging, limited edition clear-vinyl record of the amazing Dock Boggs. His voice and his banjo playing will floor you. Hell, even the album sleeve declares he, "...sounded as if his bones were coming through his skin every time he opened his mouth." Aside from 5 previously unreleased songs, this set also comes with a really thick book which includes biographical information and rare photos of the legendary musician.
01. Entheogens - The Gnostic Mass - I was so shocked to see this album for sale (and for only $20!) that I scooped it up wondering if I'd actually seen it -- maybe it was just an apparition. The wonderful Mutant Sounds blog describes it as, “Mostly a live album that features jam sessions recorded at various different locations in Sweden by artists of the swedish Xotic Mind label (St. Mikael, Adam, World of Life, Stefan etc.). A monster psychedelic trip aiming to recreate the effects of entheogens use (such as mushrooms, natural LSD and cannabis) as eucharistic substances; magickal elixirs to Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic ‘Gnostic Mass’.” Oh my GOD YES! If you want to hear this album for yourself, you can download it here.
I hope all of you who attended the fair this year enjoyed yourselves. Feel free to post some of your favorite finds in the comments section below. For those of you who could not make it this year, do your best to attend next year's session -- I guarantee you will leave with a smile on your face.