kiss the Mississippi

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I don’t know why I don’t make it up to Mississippi Records more often. It’s my favorite record store in Portland, and it’s not like we don’t have a big selection of good-to-excellent record stores to pick from. It’s a little store up in North Portland’s hipster district, and it stocks almost exclusively vinyl—really good vinyl, mostly at reasonable prices. (They also have a tiny little shelf with CDs and CD-Rs by a few local artists, and a few shelves of cassette-only releases—the Daniel Johnston catalogue and some curious handmade compilations.)

In the last couple of years, they’ve started putting out LPs on their own label (and sub-labels including Change Records and Little Axe)—fantastic compilations of gospel blues and African pop, reissues of D.I.Y. punk oddities, what have you. They have no Web site, as far as I know; their records don’t tend to turn up at other Portland stores; they release everything in small quantities, you snooze you lose. I admire that attitude, actually; Lord knows I don’t mind making people work a little bit to get some music, either.

So I went up there yesterday to see what Mississippi releases they had on hand. Not a lot, it turned out (and there were a few things I already had in other incarnations, like the Clean’s Compilation LP and some Animals + Men material), but the three I ended up with were totally choice: Washington Phillips’ What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? (twelve of his 16 extant recordings), a reissue of Dog Faced Hermans’ splendid Mental Blocks for All Ages, and Oh Graveyard, You Can’t Hold Me Always, a compilation of post-war (I think) gospel that’s co-released with Mike McGonigal’s new label Social Music. I’ve been playing all three pretty much constantly since I got home with them.

For a second, I was thinking “I bet it’ll only be about three or four more years until early-’90s indie-rock starts sounding really revelatory to a new generation of listeners, and I can start combing through those thousands of 7-inches around here and putting together some compilations that will blow people’s minds.” But, actually, that DFH album was recorded in the spring of 1991—almost 18 years ago, he said with a shudder—and right now it sounds like a flock of stainless steel razor-edged sparrows smashing through my wall and letting the sunlight in. As far as I’m concerned, it never stopped sounding like that, though.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on January 12, 2009 11:54 AM.

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