Thursday, July 31, 2008

Milwaukee Cheap Album Round-Up

By Evan Rytlewski
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Once a regular feature of this blog, the Cheap Album Round-Up has all but disappeared in recent months as I, like much of the country, try to keep my spending habits in check. This weekend, however, I did treat myself to a couple of used albums, including:

Al Green – Al Green is Love (LP)

Price: $5.99
From: Bullseye Records, 1627 E. Irving Pl.

Paired with producer/songwriter Willie Mitchell in the ’70s, Al Green cranked out a succession of winning albums unrivaled by just about any other artist in pop history. Some where bigger hits than others, but even the most forgotten of Green’s ’70s albums (say, Full of Fire) contain some essential tracks. Al Green is Love, though recorded in Green’s prime, is the only album from this era that suffers overtly from a lack of quality control. Recording at a clip of at least an album a year had clearly caught up with Green, and instead of his usual prime material, he was left with some unusually downtrodden ballads for this album.

Worth the price?: Yes. It's not nearly Green's finest, but that awesome, Willie Mitchell sound is all over this album, even if the usual spark isn’t.

Prince – The Hits 2 (CD)
Price: $5.99
From: Bullseye Records

The second installment of Prince’s maddeningly disorganized, 1993 greatest hits series, The Hits 2 is song for song even better than its predecessor, featuring career bests like “Little Red Corvette” and “Raspberry Beret.” The sequencing isn’t chronological—a no-no for all greatest hits collections in my book—but the collection has held up better than subsequent Prince compilations. For instance, The Very Best of Prince, which distilled the Purple One’s canon into a tight one disc in 2001, felt abbreviated and incomplete. That’s the collection you want to see in a bar jukebox, but this is the one you want to keep in your car.

Worth the price?: Yup.

L7 – Bricks Are Heavy (CD)
Price: $7.99
From: Rush-Mor Records, 2635 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

In the early ’90s, Nirvana recorded their major-label debut with Butch Vig, tightening and cleaning their sound. L7 followed suit, recording their own major-label debut with Vig, but this time around the resul was actually harder and nastier than before—the first women of grunge, as it turns out, were less compromising than their male counterparts. Bricks Are Heavy does break from the bar-of-soap-in-a-sock heavy metal beat down for one perfect alterna-pop single, though: “Pretend We’re Dead,” a sonically saturated hit that presaged similarly rich singles by Elastica and The Breeders.

Worth the price?
: Yes.

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