Known Johnson

May 4, 2008

Squarer for Maud

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 11:21 pm

One of the great things about trawling the stacks of a used CDs store are real finds, things that just aren’t going to happen online like they do in the real world. They can’t really, unless the person selling them just wants rid of something so bad they ignore all of the information that is just handed to them as a seller by Amazon and Half.com. Today I had one such incident.

In making my usual slow crawl through the racks, I came upon N and found National Health, a relatively short-lived 70s progressive band formed from members of various other prog bands – Hatfield & the North being the most notable name. I really wasn’t familiar with them, only having heard some clips of their stuff long ago and thinking that it sounded interesting, but as with stuff like this, it’s really impossible to tell what you’re listening to in a 30 second sampling when the band shifts gears approximately every 18 seconds. I shuffled them away in my head as one of those acts that I may simply never get to check out because their stuff is largely out of print, and when you do find it (online) it typically sells for ridiculous prices (save for a few newer pressings of rarities albums – what new listener wants those?)

And then I saw it – a fat double CD case with the title of Complete and a happy yellow price sticker on the side with $9.99 on it. I grabbed it and pondered one of those questions I should never ask: “Do I need this?” Never ask this of yourself when confronted with something you’ve never seen before – the answer is obvious, especially at that price. Even so, I still wondered if maybe it might be cheaper online . . . I bought it anyway. Listening, on the way home, I was thrilled – well, okay, maybe the female vocals present on some tracks didn’t thrill me completely, but the music overpowered what the vocals took away. And when I did look it up, I was stunned – Complete is selling for about $50 on Amazon and Half.com and isn’t even available on Ebay. I done good. Now I’ve got some seriously complex music to digest – as the liner notes say, one of their simpler pieces is in 25/8. I don’t even know how to comprehend that.

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