The Thrifty Ear

Someday, somebody is going to trace the origin of these debilitating computer viruses to some well-paid nerds working for Sony, EMI and BMG trying to put the kibosh on your Kazaa and tangle up your Limewire. I can go out and purchase a second home in the time it takes for me to wait for one e-mail to open now, just for downloading a 50-year-old record no one's clamoring to reissue. Although I'll never go back to my pre-Napster consumerism, I am willing to atone for some of my past drop-and-click sins to the tune of 10 bucks a week. That's all I'm spending from now on, and that's just a slight cost-of-living increase from my teenage allowance. Now -- let's rock thriftfully!

The High Dials
A New Devotion
Source: eBay
Price: $5.97 + $2.50 S&H

If you find this Canadian quartet's brand-new album, War of the Wakening Phantoms, at any price, buy it. It's rare that an album can be both shimmering and sprawling yet still maintain believability. These Dials flip from Posies pop to psychedelia to British folk, all with the staggering ease of a band that's already made it and isn't from Canada. Lyrically, the High Dials are a page right outta prog rock, singing about castle ghosts and faces in the sky with all the earnestness and yearning of New Romantics. So brilliant a record is this that I'm doing the "fan" thing and buying one of their earlier, no doubt lesser, records, a move that is usually fraught with disappointment. And this is reportedly a futuristic concept album about a guy named Silas. Concept albums by Canucks always spell trouble, but as long as this Silas feller isn't prevented from rocking by the mind-control government in 2112, I won't suffer tryer's remorse.

Jackie Gleason
The Now Sound . . . For Today's Lovers
Source: Goodwill
Price: $1.07

The Great One seized on the market for background music with a successful series of mood music albums that barely rise above a whisper. His discography for lovers pitters out with this '69 release, an album that keeps the same dreamy Gleason string sound on pop standards like "Moon River" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," but adds incongruous Indian tablas and sitars, Oriental aung loungs and microtonal bells. And away we gong!

Wanda Jackson
Rockin' in the Country: The Best of Wanda Jackson (cassette)
Source: Goodwill
Price: 50 cents

How can a "Fujiyama Mama" yelling "I've been to Nagasaki/Hiroshima, too/The same I did to them, baby, I can do to you" turn into a spurned hausfrau threatening her man with "My Big Iron Skillet" in less than 10 years? I blame Nashville. It could turn even the female Elvis into a desperate housewife. And, oh yeah, I also blame those beauty massaging agents they used to put in Camay soap!


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