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Eishtmo's Mystery Box of CDs

A Story:

Sometime last year my job sent me to Laredo, TX to count a store called 2nd and Charles. This is a book store, both new and used. But also comics, movies, music, video games and all the silly toys, t shirts and musical instruments. Like most stores that sell these things, they've been slowly chipping down their CD collection. I mean, have you seen these new vinyl music records? They're so advanced, CDs are old tech now.

To do this, created a Mystery Box. 100 CDs for $30.00 US. You don't get to see what's in it, just a big white box, 30 bucks, good luck.

Of course, I bought one. Threw it in the back of the van and brought it home. Upon opening we (my family and I) found that about half the disks were Christian Rock.

DON'T LEAVE! I'm not going to talk about them. In fact, I got rid of them (donated them to Goodwill). I kept a small handful out of curiosity (Best Christian Rock of the 70's and 80's, I must see what they think is their best), but the rest are gone.

What is left is various stuff from classical music to country, hip hop to Christmas Music. There's also some weird ones like the disk of whale sounds and Jewish Celebration Music. Oh, and a copy of Encarta I dunno.

Anyway, I finally started actually listening to some of these CDs with the goal of sorting out the crap. This thread is going to be part of my journey through these random albums. I don't know how regular this will be, it depends when I have the time to go through them. There are A LOT of them and I have limited time to listen when I'm not sleeping or working. Wish me luck.
So it begins. I will state that I divided up the discs into 4 piles. One is country music, which I don't much care for (at least anything after about 1990). Those are mostly my sister's to deal with. The next is mostly classical music which I have nothing against, but considering I will be mostly listening to these while driving my car to the far ends of Texas, I'd rather not fall asleep. I may tap them, but not now. The third is all the weird stuff, like the whale sounds and the Jewish celebration music. The fourth, that's the pile we'll be going through.

Title: Brownstones and Moonlight
Artist: Various
Genre: Various
Year: 1994
I actually listened to this some time ago because out of all of them, I kind of figured I would be keeping this one and yes I will. It says it is a "Celebration off Black Music Month" so it's made up of mostly blues and jazz. And some Motown. I actually have quite a few cds like this, random songs by random artists that follow some kind of theme or another so it will be right at home in my broken CD binder.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Hand on the Torch
Artist: Us3
Genre: Jazz Rap
Year: 1993
Yeah, jazz and rap, together and it works. They used jazz samples (and live musicians) to build the music tracks that they added the rap to and it works really well. I am not well versed in rap (I will get to that in a couple disks) but at the very least it doesn't get in the way of the music and works together with it otherwise. What is odd is there are a pair of cards in the liner notes that have the track list and I'm not sure why. Wait, looking again, these look like they came from a jukebox? Wow, weird.
Verdict: Keep

Title Time to Move On
Artist: Billy Ocean
Genre: R&B
Year: 1993
It took me a bit to figure out exactly who this was, and it turns out I know him, and so do you. "Get out of my dreams, get into my car" guy. Yeah. Not sure this is one of his better albums, but then I was trying to listen to this while driving 3 hours at 5 am to work after not getting enough sleep to begin with. I was tired and it made me more tired. I may have to go back to this with further information and not as much exhaustion. It's not bad, but I wouldn't keep it normally.
Verdict: Relisten

Title: Weekend at Burnie's
Artist: Curren$y
Genre: Rap
Year: 2011
I do not have an ear for rap. As a lily white boy raised on Billy Joel albums (not a complete lie, I at least had the Footloose soundtrack), I really don't know good from bad here. So when it comes to rap, being interesting is kind of the most important thing. And this isn't that intersting to me. There is one track that I found fun, but the rest were kind of just there to me. I might rip that one track, but the album as a whole likely won't stick around. I do find the release date interesting though, most of the CDs in the box are from the 90's, so this one being so recent is quite remarkable.
Verdict: Don't keep

Title: Doc Lawrence
Artist: Doc Lawrence
Genre: Pop/rock?
Year: 1992
This album. THIS album. This is why I decided to start this thread. THIS is something. Listening to it I could not figure out what kind of music he is trying to make. I mean, it seems it's supposed to be rock of some kind, there's somewhere I saw that suggests blues. I don't know, but it's definitely something. The worse part is that he sounds like the lead singer of Nickleback. Yeah, that kind of voice. And if he was trying the blues he's got the tempo all wrong. And if it's pop, he doesn't seem to get how to make a good pop song. I can't say he's bad, but that's only because I don't know what he was trying to do. Apparently he doesn't even have a wiki page, so his career was this album. I don't know if I should keep it for the novelty of it or not. I don't think I want to listen to it again though.
Verdict: Dunno!

That's it for today. I'll dip in some more later.


Summon for hire
You may be missing out with your separated piles there, Jewish celebration music can be hoppin'!

The Jazz-Rap sounds kinda interesting, as well as the weirdness of that last album.


can stop, will stop
So, I'm excited to follow along with this thread, but I can't let this one slip:

weird stuff, like...Jewish celebration music.
As someone who was raised Jewish, this is incredibly Othering. Why is Jewish music "weird" and lumped into the same category as whale sounds, but Christian rock not?

I promise I'm not looking to pick a fight here, because I know you're not trying to be anti-Semitic, but I strongly encourage you to rethink this phrasing (which appears twice in your post). Please consider that just because you may not be part of a particular culture, that doesn't make it weird.

Doc Lawrence, though, that sounds weird.


Geno Cidecity
I can't say he's bad, but that's only because I don't know what he was trying to do.

I think you could argue for the stuff that isn't bluesy that he's trying to do a Van Morrison kind of soul sound. I'm kinda with you in that I think his rougher-edged delta blues vocal tone doesn't quite mesh with that sort of sound as well. It's also all very obviously 90s production practices (high-pitched snare that's the main instrument with actual reverb, probably-korg keyboard, gated guitars).


Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
I recall Cantaloop by Us3 was to luxury sedan ads what Thursday by Morphine was to 4 wheel drive pickup truck ads, so a lot of us had probably heard them without realizing it.
So, I'm excited to follow along with this thread, but I can't let this one slip:

As someone who was raised Jewish, this is incredibly Othering. Why is Jewish music "weird" and lumped into the same category as whale sounds, but Christian rock not?

I promise I'm not looking to pick a fight here, because I know you're not trying to be anti-Semitic, but I strongly encourage you to rethink this phrasing (which appears twice in your post). Please consider that just because you may not be part of a particular culture, that doesn't make it weird.

Doc Lawrence, though, that sounds weird.

Sorry about that, I didn't mean anything offensive about it. Given all the Christian music that was in the box, it stood out. Of course it's also intriguing as I have no idea what most, if any of it, might be or sound like. It's outside of my sphere of knowledge and "weird" verses what I do know. I will try to be more considerate in the future.

And yeah, Doc Lawrence. . .

I think you could argue for the stuff that isn't bluesy that he's trying to do a Van Morrison kind of soul sound. I'm kinda with you in that I think his rougher-edged delta blues vocal tone doesn't quite mesh with that sort of sound as well. It's also all very obviously 90s production practices (high-pitched snare that's the main instrument with actual reverb, probably-korg keyboard, gated guitars).

All I can think of is Tom Waits who sounds like he was born a 50 year old smoker. Doc might have been able to pull off a 90's version (he's not nearly as gravelly), but yeah, the 90's production definitely sapped him. I don't know.
So as I said most of the CDs were Christian music of some kind (mostly pop and rock). Of the remaining, we divided them into 4 piles.

One is pile is all the country music. I am not a fan of country, especially any made in the last, oh, 30 years or so. This pile is mostly my sister's who is much more of a country fan than me. Maybe I'll look at a couple of them if I recognize the artist (I think there's a Faith Hill disk in there) but don't expect much

The next is mostly made up classic music. I think there's a Three Tenors disk in there amongst other things. These belong to my mom and while I have no problem with classical, they mostly sound similar, at least to my unsophisticated ear.

Then there is the random pile that has all the cds that don't fit any category easily. Christmas music, the whale sounds etc. I will go through some of these, but not all and I will let you know when I do. In the mean time.

Title: Long Time No See
Artist: Chico DeBarge
Genre: R&B
Year: 1997
Looking at the cover, the images in the liner notes and even the intro track of the album, I was something much harder and edgier. I mean, the intro has the DeBarge in a short audio play where he's leaving jail, should have a lot of F* the police stuff right? Nope, it's all love songs. Heck he does a cover of Marvin Gaye! The thing is, it sounds off. It sounds more like a demo than a third album (10 years after the second, and his release from actual jail, so. . ..). The music doesn't do a whole lot, like they powered up a Casio keyboard and let it run while he sings, and he sounds like they recorded it anywhere but a professional studio. That said there's bad about it, but nothing that stands out and I have enough random music like this that I don't need this copy.
Verdict: Don't Keep.

Title: Cold Rock A Party (Bad Boy Remix)
Artist: MC Lyte
Year: 1996
I think this is a single. There were 3 in the box, one country, one Christian rock and this. It's certainly not a full album with 6 tracks, the first three are remixs of each other and the last 3 sound super similar. They ALL sound similar. I mean more than "all rap sounds the same" old boomers talk about, it's literally the same lyrics in many cases. It's energetic and fun, and I think if I just had one of the tracks rather than 6 of them, I would be happy enough with it. It is interesting enough to keep in this case because it is odd, but I'll probably only rip one or two tracks from it later
Verdict; Keep

Title: Loud City Song
Artist: Julia Holter
Genre: Avant-Pop
Year 2013
Listening to this I am reminded of Florance and the Machine, specifically whenever she does that airy, dreamy parts. This is almost a whole album of that. Though there are bits when it sounds like they dropped all the instruments. I mean it. I enjoy it well enough, but it looks like something I would have to really invest some time on. Hard to read the cover though, dark print on black background, thanks for that.
Verdict: Keep

Title Back to Bedlam
Artist; James Blunt
Genre: Alt Rock
Year: 2004
As soon as I put it in the disk I thought "I know this guy." Then the second track started and I knew that one so it was nice. And it's his debut album, so that makes it interesting. It is quite good and I'm glad to have it. Though why does the cover look like Jim Morrison? Seriously, look at it sometime. So weird.

Title: Blue Collar Black Future
Artist: Dripping Goss
Genre: Stoner Rock (?)
Year: 1998
I though it was more metal than whatever Stoner Rock is (though even the lead of the band apparently called it acid rock). Still a high energy album with music I quite enjoyed. I wish I could come up with more but I did like it and am keeping it. Also it's the only time I have ever found a CD case with the hole support broken in all my life. No idea how that happened. No wiki page for this one only for the lead, which is odd. Ah well, it's fine.
I did forget that there is one more kind of category, but not really. 2nd and Charles sells new and used media. Which means you can sell them your old cds, and they just threw them on the shelf. So while many of these CDs are new and still wrapped in their cellophane, the rest are previously owned and are open. All of the disks I have listed so far are opened, and so someone bought these once, then sold them to the store. So someone out there thought Doc Lawrence was a good buy once. Moving on.

Title: Smudge
Artist: Luv Junkies
Genre: Rock of some kind
Year: 1996
I do try to do some research for these after listening to these and there's nothing really for these guys. It looks like this was the only album for the group and they disbanded shortly afterwards. Which is a shame as I liked this actually. There's one track that's very, odd, but it's a fun kind of odd that I like finding. I do wonder what the story behind it was, but in the meantime, I'll probably just hang onto it and listen.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Everlife
Artist: Everlife
Genre: Pop
Year: 2007
The lead singer sounds like Taylor Swift to mean. I mean she isn't, clearly, but it's that kind of sound. And looking it up, it's much more that Disney pop music sound than anything else. There's nothing wrong with it, but it feels the filler music for a pop radio station between the music you actually want to hear. Nothing wrong with it I guess, but nothing I really want to hang on to. My sister might like it.
Verdict: Give it to the sibling.

Title: City of Angels Soundtrack
Artist: Various
Genre: Pop
Year: 1998
Do you remember this movie? I do and I don't as I remember it being advertised but never actually watched it. I don't see a lot of movies but can oddly identify them when the show on TV. It's almost a superpower, except not. Anyway for some reason I actually have 5 of the 14 tracks on the disk amongst my MP3s. Thank Napster for that. Anyway while it's kind of novel to have this, I probably will just rip the extra tracks I don't have (Jimi Hendrix and John Lee Hooker for sure) but the orchestral tracks at the end I don't need or really want. They're okay, but not worth keeping
Verdict: Rip and don't keep.

Title: Ian Moore
Artist: Ian Moore
Genre: Blues/rock
Year: 1993
I think this is what Doc Lawrence wanted to make because it has the same feeling but is SO much better. In fact this probably my favorite disk so far. It is that mix of blues and rock that I really love and I pretty much fell in love with it. It helps that it showed up on a particularly awful set of days at work. So yeah, this is staying no question, an diamond in a rough that I was expecting and am pleased to find.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Rated R
Artist: Rihanna
Genre: Pop, hip hop
Year: 2009
It's Rihanna, I mean even I don't listen the radio stations that play her music and I know who she is. Which means this is the first time I've really listened to one of her albums and I like it actually. I likely wouldn't have gone out of my way to listen to it normally, but this is why I went out of my way to get this box to get music I don't listen to very often.
Verdict: Keep
Well that was a long drought. Sorry about that, my work schedule was kind of killer after that last set of posts. Seriously had to fight to get some time off for a visit to the DMV. March and April has been miserable at work. So I mentioned last time that I was going through the used cds so far, and this batch represents the near end of this with ONE disk left afterwards. Starting with entry 22 I will have to open the wrap of the cds. Excitement. In the mean time our next batch.

Title: The Best of Swing N' Jive
Artist: Various
Genre: Jazz/swing
Year 1998
Ah swing. And jazz. And this is music I enjoy. Hell, I have other versions of couple of these pieces (Jump Jive An' Wail you might actually know). It's good and obviously I was planning to keep it. That said I had to look it up to figure out if it was various artists or just one group. There's a tag line after the title that says "Swing Street Romp" but is a little unclear what it's for. I guess it's just a tag line though so there we go.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Hear, Soul & a Voice
Artist: Jon Secada
Genre: Pop
Year: 1994
Another case of "I know this guy" without knowing him and then hit the track I know and suddenly it's "Oh him." This is the kind of music DeBrange was making but the production value is much better here and I found myself enjoying. The fact that it has Spanish versions of a couple of tracks (including the one I knew) makes it kind of fun that way. I'll probably keep it mostly because I know some of the music already
Verdict: Keep

Title: Vendetta
Artist: Mic Geronimo
Genre: Hip Hop
Year: 1997
It's a rap album. And I kind of like it. I wish I could say why, maybe a feel bad for dumping Weekend at Burnies earlier but I enjoyed this quite a bit more regardless. I might change my mind later, but for now I'll hang on to it.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Your Little Secret
Artist: Melissa Etheridge
Genre: Rock
Year: 1995
You know, I remember when I first divided up the box I noted this was a Melissa Etheridge disk. I then forgot and when I loaded this "key hole" album I was surprised that it was Apparently it's her best selling album, but I hadn't really heard more than like one track with any regularity. I have a feeling they tried to throw in some decent music amongst the piles of Christian pop music and I wonder if this is one of them. And yes, there are a few more I suspect as well.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Comfort Zone
Artist: Vanessa Williams
Genre: Wiki says a lot of things from Hip Hop to Dance, but I will go with Pop
Year: 1991
So this is one of only two cds in the entire box that had duplicates. The other was one of the Christian disks. It's also her second album, which I didn't really think just looking and listening to it. I thought it was much later in her career. Not that I knew much of her career, clearly. Anyway, good late 80's early 90's music that reminds me of what I grew up with so guess what? Oh, and I'll sell off the copy as it is sealed copy.
Verdict: Keep

Wow, all keeps. Anyway I did go back and relisten to the Billy Ocean disk and I'm not keeping it. Nothing really grabbed me with it.
So today I finish the last of the opened disks and go into the wrapped ones. Which are not actually new disks it turns out. I mean, some might be, I've only gotten 4 in, but for some reason many of these disks were taken somewhere and wrapped in cellophane again. I don't know why. This one might be a bit longer than the last few because, well, I have a lot to say.

I will also note I just quit my job and since I was listening to these while going to and from work so the next update might not be very soon. Or it could be by Sunday, it depends. Anyway, let's get going.

Title: Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
Artist: MC Hammer
Genre: Hip hop, pop rap
Year: 1990
Yes, it is that album. Last time I mentioned that I thought there were a few actual gems they tossed into the box to make it worth the money, and this is actually THE one that stood out to me. As I said, I wasn't raised on this kind of music, but even I heard some of the songs on this album. Hell I remember the MC Hammer cartoon. To be fair I remember more of the ALF cartoon (basic plots of 2 episodes), but I remember it existed which more than most I'm sure. So I was really excited to hear this and, well, it's good. I enjoyed pretty much all of it. Honestly the one thing that threw me was finding out it came out in 1990. I really thought it came out later, like 1993 or something. No idea why.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Back to Now
Artist: Labelle
Genre: Soul
Year: 2008
No, not quite Pattie Labelle. I mean, she's in the group, but it is a group and for some reason they are wearing some, uh, lively costumes on then cover. Which is why I couldn't translate what it was until it started playing. It's soul, it's good. I really enjoyed this and will certainly keep it. Even if I think they should have picked different costuming.
Verdict: Keep

Title: Bobby
Artist: Bobby Brown
Genre: R&B, New Jack City
Year: 1992
There is a sticker on the front of the case. It's fabric, and says "Backstage All Access Pass." It was there before it was traded in, as the sale sticker overlaps it. Is this part of the actual disk? Did the previous owner stick it on there? And if so why? And did I just spend a chunk of this talking about a damn sticker? Yes, I did, mostly because the music is, okay, but I will add note that my car cd player is kind of, um, dying. It stops randomly, usually at the last few tracks of a disk. It will straight stop, not skip, just stop. Then start again for either the rest of the track or about 1 second. I've avoided it on most of the cds I've gone through so far, but it hit hard on this one. So I my enjoyment might have been impacted. But the sticker is why I will keep it anyway, even if the music didn't do anything for me.
Verdict: Keep

Title; Music of the Heart The Album
Artist: Various
Genre: Soundrtack
Year: 1999
There is no indication that this was a soundtrack on cover. I mean "The Album" appears in small print, but it's overshadowed by all the artists so I just figured it was a compilation disk. Then the last track was Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins and I just stared at the cover trying to figure out what was going on. Then it figured out it was a movie soundtrack and it made a lot more sense. I've never even heard of the movie, but the music is a nice mix of various stuff, mostly latin beats.
Verdict: Keep

Title: The Sweetest Days
Artist: Vanessa Williams
Genre: Pop
Year: 1994
So out of the whole box I suspect this is the only artist who has two full albums in the entire box. Well, there might be one in the country pile, but that's not my domain. It also wasn't wrapped, just sealed with tape because the jewel case is broken. Anyway, more of the same from her, good but nothing I have heard before. I think I might have liked it better than the other one.

Like I said, I'm not sure I will get to another 5 anytime soon, but I might do special one next time. So until then.