I am an addict to records, but I have two kids and a wife and four cats and incredible credit-card debt and all that. Therefore, I have become a habitué of one-dollar CD sales. My local indie record store sometimes busts out with the “gotta get rid of this stuff” rack; used bookstores will sometimes unload a bunch of stuff for a buck each; I AM SO THERE. But my true downfall/jones/whatever has come this year, as Frugal Muse, the great used store in walking distance of my house, opened a ONE DOLLAR OUTLET STORE. So yeah, people who ask me, “Hey, can I borrow a dollar?” are often met with, “Fool, don’t you know, I just scored Curtis Mayfield’s New World Order with my last dollar!” They slink away, cursing. I don’t care.
Here are the 21 greatest one-dollar CD nabs I have made in my life, at various music stores around the Midwest. Don’t tell my wife.
1. Carlinhos Brown, Alfagamabetizado (EMI Odeon)|
One of the great snags of all time. I have been looking for this record by Brazil’s finest young-ish multi-genre pop percussionist for YEARS and there it was, one dollar, grinning at me. I actually could not breathe. 2. Bört Lenk, Bört Lenk Iss Da (K&P)
Can’t find any info on ol’ Bört, who was probably some minor German pop star in 1993. “Shootingstar” is a great dance song (nü jack swing ahoy), I love the way “Mars Overture” swings into “Der Mars macht mobil,” and “Du holst mich rüber” just sounds awesome. 3. Takeshi Muto, Expect More From a Past Life (Schematic)
Blippy bleepy techno from Florida—I Googled this group once and they’re not even Japanese, they’re a guy named Romulo del Castillo, which is an even better name than Takeshi Muto. Too minimal to be microhouse, even. Stunningly great writing music, but do not play while driving or you will become disoriented and end up in a damn baobab tree. 4. Angel, An Anthology (PolyGram)
Dirtbag 1970s prog cheese, and it’s all amazing. The liner photos of these guys’ hair alone was worth the dollar, but the long-ass song “Tower” is better than Styx ever was, and the disc ends with “The Christmas Song,” so it’s all gravity. 5. Suga T and Friends, Gettin’ It (Pushin’ Hits)
This album is so strange. Suga T was a member of The Click; this is her first solo record from a couple of years ago, and it’s bizarre. She brags about her 40 DD bra, does a couple of duets with her brother E-40, and does a song called “Super Bad Bitch” with a group called the Conscious Daughters. “Conscious” means a lot of things, I guess. Great record, but only for Dada-ist rap fans, and people who like songs about “Ghetto Luv.” 6. Psychedelic Breakfast, Bona Fide (Sonance)
Extremely goofy nu-prog quartet from Massachusetts. This live album (from Northampton!) almost made my top 10 list last year. Holy crap can these dudes play the hell out of a 19-minute song (“Rufus”). 7. B. Fleischmann, Pop Loops for Breakfast (Charizma)
One of the most beautiful records I own. Lovely electronic melodies, still kind of hook-filled, a world of shifting digital textures but less boring than that sounds. I still cannot believe that this record is virtually unknown anywhere. Great NIN-esque cover of “Torn” hidden at the end. 8. Todd Terry, Ready for a New Day (Logic)
This, I think, is the great lost classic of house music. Terry’s been written out of the house canon lately, but this stunning 1997 album should have re-established him. It didn’t. But: still excellent to hear Shannon again, Martha Wash wails the HELL out of some songs, and the “cows come runnin’” hook on “I’m Feelin’ It” is my favorite hook EVER. 9. Various Artists, Down South Bounce Volume 2 (Warlock)
I think this is the first time I heard Trick Daddy. This some thug stuff out of the south; crunk’s blueprint, Lil’ Jon’s daddy, the future of music. 10. John Tejada, The Matrix of Us (DeFocus)
More electronic albums should have Divine Styler rapping over opera singing. That’s not even the best moment on this album by American DJ Tejada, but I don’t think this record was released in the U.S. It’s a shame, as it has at least five perfect tracks. 11. Chage, Prologue (Toshiba/EMI)
Chage and Aska were one of Japan’s finest pop duos. Here, Chage does a solo album with a bag on his head. Long stirring songs. Still haven’t absorbed this fully yet. 12. Joyce, Astronauta: Songs for Elis (Blue Jackel)
The reigning queen of bossa nova jazz, as far as I am concerned, did a tribute album to Elis Regina. These songs are great, but Joyce tears ‘em a new one all over again. I whooped when I saw this. 13. Eek-a-Mouse, Eek-a-Nomics (RAS)
My favorite reggae album. Twisted stuff, from the serial killer love jam title track to more typical Eek-a stuff like “Do Me” and “Goon-a-Goon.” 14. Wylde Bunch, Wylde Tymes at Washington High (Ruff House/Columbia)
This record came out THIS YEAR and somehow I still found it in the $1 rack. It’s awesome: 14 band members, rock and rap and r&b from South Central L.A. 15. Various Artists, Disco Nights Vol. 1: Divas of Dance (Rebound)
Every female-sung disco song I needed, all on one disc. 16. Various Artists, O Melhor de MPB (BMG)
A whole bunch of Brazilian stuff I didn’t have, including stuff by Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Maria Bethânia, and Toquinho. 17. Little Georgie and the Shuffling Hungarians, Roll Up the Rugs and Crank It:
Live from Styleen’s Rhythm Palace (Queen Bee Brand) You’ve never heard of these guys, and neither had I. But this two-disc live album kicks so hard I call it Tom Dempsey. R&B, soul, bar-band rawk, and New Orleans shuffle, all straining to conquer the world. If anyone’s ever seen these guys live, please let me know. 18. L ? R, Let Me Roll It (Pony Canyon)
19. L ? R, Lost Rarities (WITS?)
L ? R is my favorite enigma. A Japanese power pop trio (I think their name might be pronounced “Lefty in the Right”), they manage in these two records to produce silver-plated perfection with swoony vocals and meticulous fun. I think an American was involved on Lost Rarities but I’m not sure. Also: perfect packaging. 20. Various Artists, 15 Exitos House, Vol. 4 (Producciones Muretsa)
Dance music from Guatemala. This is not really house—more like cumbia offshoots, as far as I can tell - but it spins my dome. 21. Justin Warfield, My Field Trip to Planet 9 (Qwest/Reprise)
The greatest hippie rapper that never broke through. He was a sexy bald black Jewish guy from the Bay Area, and on this record he is obsessed with the movie Drugstore Cowboy, jazz, Sherilyn Fenn (weren’t we all, in the early 1990s?), LSD, children’s television, getting laid, and P-Funk. His song titles range from “Live From the Opium Den” and “B Boys on Acid” to “Teenage Caligula” and “Guavafish Centipede (Aquatic Meditations).” If anyone can explain to me why Justin Warfield never became huge, I would appreciate that.