Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phases and stages

Yes, yes, we all know Best Buy and its ilk are evil, but now that they have driven most of my favorite indie record stores out of business, sometimes I am driven to visit a big box. Well, actually, it was the SnapTell app on my iPhone that sent me to BB in search of a lower price on a Nara Leão album I found at Borders recently. (Fun fact: "Nara Leão" sounds to me like someone trying to say "Laura Nyro" and getting tongue tied.) BB allegedly had the album for two bucks cheaper, but after searching every conceivable bin in the (surprisingly tiny) music section of a specific store in the hinterlands of suburbia--World Music, Latin, Jazz, Female Vocalists, Bargains, even Pop/Rock--I found no Leão whatsoever.

What I did find instead was quite possibly the best deal I've ever stumbled upon in my many decades of bargain-hunting:

this five-CD box set of classic Steve Reich works on Nonesuch. When I saw the $14.99 price tag, I thought at first it might be a typo for $149.99, but then vaguely remembered reading about this rock-bottom-priced set when it first came out in conjunction with Reich's 70th birthday. (There is, in fact, a $100 Reich box, but even that one seems reasonably priced, given that it contains a whoppin' TEN discs.)

The scanner at the cash register wanted to charge me $35, but I pointed to the sticker and sure enough, $15 is what I paid. Or would have been, had I not had 7 bucks remaining on a BB gift card a niece gave me for Christmas two years ago--meaning I just paid 8 bucks and change for 5 albums' worth of minimalist masterworks, including the pioneering early spoken-word tape loop piece "Come Out," the lovely song cycle Tehillim, all of Drumming, and the one and only Music for 18 Musicians, which I will forever associate with the foyer of a New Wave dance club back in the early 80s. I already have a lot of this stuff on vinyl, and my Reich/Glass "phase" ended a couple of decades ago, but something like this is too good to pass up. And for the record, "Come Out" sounds just as mind-blowing today as it did when I first heard it (let alone what it must have sounded like in 1966, long before Bush of Ghosts or before the sampled and looped human voice became ubiquitous on hordes of electronica and hiphop releases).

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