Sunday, October 6, 2013

Robin Trower - B.L.T.

I hope everyone (or anyone) is hungry for more Tales From the Thrift Store because after a long hiatus, this blog is back in town with an all new, action-packed, whopper of a report for you to sink your teeth into!

Power Lunch Trio

One-time Procol Harum guitarist and all-around master of the Stratocaster, Robin Trower, brings his impressive songwriting skills and soaring, Hendrix-inspired guitar work to the table on this 1981 collaboration with legendary Cream frontman, Jack Bruce (bass/vocals) and drummer Bill Lordan. Recorded at Konk Studios in London, B.L.T. is a superb platter of hard-biting rockers and soulful ballads.

Truth be told, I expected a batch of hastily concocted, largely forgettable uptempo jams that would get monotonous by the third track, but I'm happy to report that everything is well written, memorable, and definitely worthy of repeat plays. I particularly liked the ballads, which were mostly sandwiched in-between the more rockin' songs and kept things nicely balanced much like the complementary pairing of juicy, ripe tomato with strips of salty, smoked bacon.

The Art of the Sandwich

I've accepted it at this point, but I immediately thought the whole "BLT" gimmick with the giant bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on the cover was an ill-advised (if appetizing) idea, and one that didn't really inspire me to dig right in to the record. As a result, I left it on the back burner for quite a while before finally giving it a chance. I also had some trouble remembering who B. L. and T. were and I kept thinking it was a Bill Bruford album. 

Strange Days

This record was part of my all-time biggest thrift store record haul. That's the good news. The bad news is that after what went down at the store that night, I would have to lay low and stay out of there for quite some time, and just to play it safe, to this day I employ a revolving series of clever disguises and masterfully executed foreign accents to conceal my true identity from the watchful scrutiny of that vigilant thrift store staff: "Vaht? Speak in ze ear trumpet eef you please ... Ohhh, nein, nein, my name ist Hans, ja, und I travel all ze vay from Munich only Tuesday zis veek to visit for family und buy ze thrifty polka records, ja..."

Read on as I attempt to piece together the shattering events of that evening...

With an eerie orange glow, the moon emerged from the shrouds of a cloud-choked late autumn sky to cast strange shadows as I made my way through deserted, leaf-strewn back streets into town. Though my mood was light buoyed by visions of dusty vinyl treasures that might lay at journey's end it felt like something surprising, shocking, even sinister could be lurking just around the next corner...

[~~~~~cue TV show "flashback warp" effect~~~~~]

After bursting into the store shortly before closing time and toppling the revolving magazine rack near the front door to announce my arrival (as was my custom at the time), I soon found the record section was awash with new arrivals, and not the usual crusty, junk records that so often hang around the store forever, cluttering the place up like the towers of decades-old newspapers and empty food containers at your crazy aunt Edna's house. This was a large collection of clean, well-preserved rock albums — including many less common titles. It was like the whole year's worth of good "finds" sitting there all at once! It was almost more than I wanted to deal with. Almost.

The Time to Hesitate is Through

Racing against the clock, with store closing warnings trumpeting from above every few minutes, the air was fraught with tension and an inescapable sense of urgency as I tried to cope with the miles upon miles of LPs that stretched as far as the eye could see (or at least as far as the adjacent book and VHS sections). 

There was no time to wallow in the mire ... or even to spend more than a couple seconds assessing each album, and once the dreaded command to "please bring final purchases to the register NOW" came blaring from the overhead loudspeakers I could almost feel the window of opportunity slamming shut on my greedy, grimy fingers ...this is it...the chance of a or day or die...hurry hurry hurry...don't pass this up...must act set of steak knives...go go go, now now now ...
Robin Trower - B.L.T. / Chrysalis Records CHR 1324
Then it happened: all the years of hustling and grappling for dominance within the high-pressure, low-stakes, dog-eat-dog world of the thrift store record game had finally taken its toll and I cracked like a shellac disc in a Frisbee tournament. 

Forget about ever sifting through one more box of malodorous records now; with a newfound sense of purpose and clarity of mind, I dropped the late-era Foghat LP I'd been clutching and zeroed in on the bizarre, life-size amateur painting of a clown that's been holding court over the bric-a-brac department for the past week (and was obviously born of evil). 

That deceitful smirk, that treacherous leer ... that haughty little tutu-clad chihuahua doing a handstand on his shoulder. This horror show needed to be dealt with. Right here and now.

Long-repressed childhood memories of being menaced by a disgruntled clown at a run-down amusement park suddenly came flooding back as I lunged at the sinister abomination with a great howl of fury, and in one swift motion, it was ripped off the wall and impaled on a nearby "salty old sea captain" table lamp.

Fortunately, along the way, I had been able to swiftly push to safety the handful of unwitting bystanders mindlessly lingering in the shadow of the ball-nosed fiend — thus saving them from any permanent clown-related psychological trauma. Those poor souls seemed to have no inkling of what was really going on there; so veiled and insidious was the grinning demon's influence. Why was such an unwholesome thing ever given free reign to exude its creepy, malevolent charms in a public area full of wide-eyed children and fragile seniors to begin with? Why did it take this long for someone to do something about it? Where can I find some lighter fluid and a match to finish the job?

There was no time to contemplate the answers to these questions or any others, because to my surprise, instead of rushing to reward my heroic deed with a fistful of store coupons or perhaps even that well-used foot spa I'd unsuccessfully haggled over earlier in the day, I suddenly had the distinct impression the store employees now cautiously circling, crouched and at-the-ready like gladiators about to pounce on a cornered beast, actually meant to cause me harm!

These people were farther gone than I had thought, and probably suffering from some form of PDCP (post-demonic clown possession) syndrome, so I decided it'd be best to depart by whatever means possible at this point as my presence now seemed to be acting as a trigger mechanism of sorts, enabling everyone in the room to release their previously pent-up negative energies directly onto me. That may be well and good for them to get it out of their systems at last, but there are limits to my humanitarian endeavors and at some point I simply must consider my own welfare.

Scanning the scene, It only took a split-second to formulate an infallible exit strategy, and springing back into action like an overwound jack-in-the-box, a hail

of Richard Simmons exercise tapes, used golf balls and Tom Clancy hardbacks filled the air like junk drawer machine gun fire as I cleared the way and took my leave — barrel roll style — through a plate glass display window where an odd assemblage of dolls were apparently engaging in sacrificial rites with a stuffed purple donkey ... or maybe it was just an innocent tea party, I don't know, but those twisted little faces and soulless, staring eyes still haunt my dreams.

Oh, yeah, the record haul ... well, when the befuddled store employees began rudely pelting me with albums through the empty window frame as I was still shaking off glass fragments and trying to get my bearings, I managed to rescue most of those carelessly discarded LPs before hightailing it back to my lair for a spot of tea and well-deserved evening of relaxation and quiet contemplation.


Okay, okay, the dull reality is that I managed to unobtrusively rifle through all of the records, paid for my selections (a little over 100 LPs) and calmly exited the building the same way I came in: without incident.

Visit the official Robin Trower website

Visit the official Jack Bruce website 
Visit Bill Lordan's page on
Coulrophobia is no laughing matter