Miles Of Aisles Of Melissa Manchester

March 24, 2009

During the nine months or so that Paloma and I’ve been buying vinyl, I’ve noticed certain things. There will always be some album which I’ve never seen and am thrilled to have found.

The next store I visit, I come across another copy of the new-found treasure (like the Korgis’ Dumb Waiters).

Then, there are the certain artists who I feel pressured to buy. There are so many of their albums in the bins of used record stores, I wonder if anyone held on to a copy (or maybe the previous owner upgraded to CD).

Melissa Manchester is one whom I’ve noticed. I could walk into any of the half dozen or so places where we shop for used vinyl and probably find a copy of damned near every album in her catalog, none costing more than a dollar.

It’s been tempting to make the investment.

I don’t really know a lot of her songs, but the ones I do know are pleasant enough. Of course, the only songs of hers that immediately come to mind are Midnight Blue and You Should Hear How She Talks About You.

(I’ve always thought that Carly Simon would have given the former some cojones)

And speaking of Carly Simon, she too is an act that, like Ms. Manchester, seems to be well represented in used record stores and most of the music she has released could be acquired for less than a pizza from Domino’s.

In Carly’s case, I have a copy of her box set from a decade or so ago – a freebie from her label – which I’ve never explored much beyond the radio hits.

Deep Purple, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins…they’re all there, too.

Most of these artists aren’t ones in which I’ve ever had much interest, at least beyond owning a stray track or two.

Yet I live in fear of them, knowing that one day I may return home from a vinyl-buying venture and, having been unable to resist the inexpensive siren song of some siren’s songs, find myself explaining to Paloma why we now own a dozen albums by Helen Reddy.

Here are a few tracks that I do own by some of the acts I’ve noticed with extensive catalogs readily available in used record stores…

Chuck Mangione – Give It All You Got
It is impossible for me to think of Chuck Mangione and not imagine Mick Jagger cranking the music of the flugelhorn player on trans-Atlantic flights with supermodels on a private jet in the late ‘70s.

His music makes me think of shag carpet and the 1980 Winter Olympics for which this song served as the theme (and after two weeks of hearing it on the television broadcasts, I was hearing it in my sleep).

Steve Miller Band – Swingtown
Actually, Steve Miller has already made his way into our vinyl collection (I think we’ve got the greatest hits record and possibly Book Of Dreams).

Even before I was really into music, I knew a lot of Steve Miller songs from his hits in the mid- to late- ‘70s. Fly Like An Eagle, Jet Airliner, and Take The Money And Run were always playing over the public pool’s sound system.

Personally, I much preferred Swingtown which was a staple on the jukebox in the bowling alley where my friends and I killed time before we could drive (and sometimes after).

Gino Vannelli – Wild Horses
I’m well acquainted with Gino’s big hits, I Just Wanna Stop and Living Inside Myself, as they were played often on the local light rock station. My mom was fond of the station and I was indifferent at the time. Once I became interested in music, I wrested control of the car stereo from her in a bloodless coup.

But Wild Horses I quite liked when I heard it on that same light rock station while home from college one spring. Several years later, I’d learn more about Gino than I’d ever imagined I would. Our record store’s receiving clerk (who greatly resembled Mario from the Donkey Kong video game) was a devoted fan of the bare-chested Canadian.

Atlanta Rhythm Section – So Into You
Southern rock has never been a genre of which I’ve been very fond (although I’ve become less resistant the older I’ve gotten). The handful of radio hits I know by Atlanta Rhythm Section are hardly what I’d describe as Southern rock (perhaps the non-hit stuff was more in that vein).

But those hit songs – Alien, Imaginary Lover, Spooky, a couple more – are all wistful and engaging. They sound like a cloudy, autumn day.

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