My beloved and I went to Berlin recently, visiting two record shops: Station B on Kastanianallee and Saturn on Alexanderplatz. We were going to go to some place called Gelb in suckass West Berlin, allegedly Europe's best shop for minimal music, but sadly their opening hours are also a bit minimal.
Station B is a shop most forward thinking people would like, selling as it does lots of psychey, worldy, and jazzy music, as well as the hip music of today. It is presided over by this excitable German guy who tells you any given record you are looking at is brilliant. When I was in the shop before he did this with Sonic Boom’s compilation Space Lines, so I am inclined to take his word. Saturn, meanwhile, is a megastore type place.
Actual records acquired:
v/a Pebbles vol. 1 (vinyl): You know, scratchy psyche and late ‘60s punk. Notably this features 'Action Woman' by The Litter; sexual frustration never sounded so good. I was also amused to discover that Pop Will Eat Itself’s 'Beaver Patrol' is actually a cover. The sleeve notes claim that a beaver is a type of long hot dog popular in the Los Angeles area. O RLY?
v/a Ethiopian Modern Instrumental Hits (vinyl): This turns out to mostly include tracks from the volume of Les Éthiopiques that we already have, but it’s nice to be able to listen to Ethiopian jazz on vinyl Sundays.
TURBONEGRO Ass Cobra (CD): Imagine if The Hives were a bunch of camp metal bikers from Norway. Then you would be imagining TURBONEGRO. They sing songs about sailors and about having erections and appreciate how chortlesome Nordic speakers are when talking in English.
v/a Thai Beat A Go Go Volume 1 (CD): I was hoping for something as magical as the Khmer Pop CD I picked up a while back, but sadly this is mostly lamer beat music of a pedestrian nature.
v/a Amiga a Go Go Volume 2 (CD): Amiga was the East German record label; this is a compilation of socialist beat music. Much of it sounds like it would be at home on one of the later Rubble compilations. Particularly awesome was the cover of The Zombies' 'She's Not There', with the lyrics in German for extra madness. Saturn were selling this and volume 1 (previously reviewed in another publication) for half nothing; further investigation reveals that they have been deleted from the catalogues, which is maybe why they are going so cheaply. If you want to check out the magic of communist music, better head on over to Berlin fast!
Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth (CD): People be telling me how good this lot are, record shops in Ireland not be stocking their one album. Now I have it, but maybe the tracks I already know are the best? Or maybe loads of YMG together in one place is more fun. As you know, this short-lived and internally divided outfit played very sparse music accompanying quietly expressive vocals. Friend Eoghan reckons it lays down the template for music I like.
LATER: this record is awesomely good. The minimal music goes well with the minimal vocals, suggesting a world of boutique sadness.