Some of you might remember an epic length entry I posted back in 2005 wherein I recounted my sorry saga of procuring Rhino Handmade's lovingly limited box set, 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions by the Stooges. In a nutshell, after having been a devout fan of both the band and, more specifically, Funhouse, the original album in question, I was easily taken in by the shiny promise of this seven-disc box set's ultimate Funhouse experience. As described in that weepy post, however, I found 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions to be a sobering exercise in needless excess and a painful revelation of the folly of we so-called "collector scum."
As its title suggests, 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions contains virtually every single recorded take that went into crafting the Stooges' seminal second LP. I bought the box set in 2000, and probably only played in all the way through once, if even that. I mean, I don't care how big a fan you are of a particular album, no one needs to listen to thirty consecutive takes of any song. Even if you're curious, you're not likely to revisit the thing too often.
As such, I didn't. In our previous apartment, the Stooges box lived on a high dusty shelf, only to be spied at from afar. When we moved in 2002, the Stooges box --- along with several other box sets by bands like Iron Maiden, Queen, the Velvet Underground, XTC, Motorhead, U2, Kiss, Black Sabbath, The Stranglers and a few others -- was relegated to my cramped front hall closet. In fact, I don't think it's even seen the light of day until this past weekend, when I dug it out from the behind a bag of cassettes and piggy bank shaped like Space Ghost.
Maybe it seems poorly timed -- or even disrespectful -- in the wake of the untimely demise of stoic and burly Stooges drummer Scotty "Rock Action" Asheton, but on this past Sunday, I decided that it might be the right time to finally part with the thing.
In the spirit of spring cleaning and motivated by a sudden need to fire up some cash, I removed 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions from my closet. You see, in an effort to be efficient and responsible, I'd been a little over-diligent in paying some of my bills, and had recently fired off a particularly big check a little too early. And as they are perfectly entitled to do, the recipients of that check went ahead and cashed it upon receipt. In doing so, they'd effectively liquidated my cash supply for a few tight, nervous days. Prompted by same, I looked around my apartment to see what might be transformed into a wad of bills, and being that I'd paid such a handsome pile for it upon its release, I thought the sale of the Stooges box might get my wallet back where it needed to be. I'd seen the box set fetch some respectable sums on eBay, but I didn't have the time or patience for that. I carefully placed it in a backpack and walked out my door.
Now, time was when there were literally scores of used record shops and hives of furtive rock geekery that would have been happy to entertain the notion of buying 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions from me, but as evidenced in several tear-stained, melancholy posts here, most of those places are long out of business. I decided that my first stop was going to be Academy on West 18th Street. Staffed by a savvy crew and stocked with an ample supply of rare discs, I figured they would at least recognize my offering, respect it, and maybe offer me an appropriate amount of money for it.
Indeed, while carefully examining the discs from the box, the hirsute gents behind the counter couldn't help but remark how "unloved" (translation: largely unplayed) they looked. Restoring all seven discs to the box and punching a few keys on a computer, they turned to me and said. "We'll give you $70.00 for it." It took a couple of seconds for that to sink it. I smiled, thanked them, told them I'd think about it, and put the Stooges box back in my backpack.
Being that I paid over twice that amount for it initially, I couldn't really justify (or tolerate) parting with the thing for under a hundred bucks, and even that would have stung. Here's the thing, though. People just don't buy discs anymore. I mean, sure,...idiots like myself and a paltry nation of other deluded die-hards still do, but not enough to meaningfully sustain the used compact disc market (or at least not like the vinyl market, which gets way more respect). Bloodied but unbowed, I walked back downtown to look for another potential taker.
I didn't check out Second Hand Rose on East 12th because, well, they suck. They're surly, expensive, they don't know what they have, and I resent their existence, so fuck'em. I found myself darkening the door of the new incarnation of Bleecker Street Records (now on West 4th ...in the spot formerly occupied by Disc-O-Rama a million centuries ago). Unlike the scene at Academy, the guys behind this counter had no idea 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions had ever existed. I found that dispiriting and a very bad omen. After blithely examining it, they offered me twenty bucks, which felt like a steak knife to the heart. Suffice to say, I didn't take them up on it.
Stepping out into the rain (of course), I started to realize the futility of my quest. Sure, if I'm determined to part with 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions for a respectable sum, I will have to hit Craig's List or eBay or whatnot. It was naive of me, I suppose, to think I could still find a buyer in a NYC brick'n'mortar establishment that is invariably struggling to meet its rent, let alone in an era when no one seems to care about the tactile artifacts of music anymore.
As such, 1970: The Complete Funhouse Sessions remains with me.