music, guitars & other obsessions

My Musical Journey – Abridged Version

Just realized, I have not posted anything about music, after all it is THE obsession for me, shame…


Music has been a constant passion of mine since I first listen to “Smoke On The Water” back in Taiwan. Deep Purple’s Live In Japan The alum came out in 1972, for whatever reason, my dad bought a copy. Once I heard those power cords from Smoke On The Water, it was pretty clear that my life would never be the same again.

So from that day on, music and collecting records became my obsessions. After the family moved to Hawaii, I finally have access to decent vinyls, some of my fondest memories growing up, were looking through record bins at Vinyl Donuts (near the Ala Moana Shopping Center), when Tower Records opened I think back in the early 80’s right behind Vinyl Donuts, it was a very big deal, but also the end of many independent retailers.

My collection, naturally started with classic rock and heavy metal – “Disco Sucks!” was the basic mentra for me during those years. It was a real shame that I sold most of the collection when I moved to Los Angeles, as I recall, there were a lot of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, UFO, etc. What the hell was I thinking! Those albums in mint condition today are worth quite a bundle, oh well…

After moving to LA, my musical taste shifted more towards New Wave and Punk, and LA was and still is the best place to be for a record collector, there are so many stores around, the ones I frequent included: Aron’s, Rhino (the actual store, not the record label) and a bunch of others on Melrose Ave. and West LA. Many weekends, I would drive up from the South Bay to check out the record stores and other hip shops on Melrose. Since Russel also lived close by, it also give us time to hang out in his “hood”. And I am happy to say, I still have quite a few of those records in my collection now. I had quite a few post-punk and shoegaze records as well, bands such as Gang of Four, Jesus & the Mary Chain, Bauhaus, Tones On Tail…

SF was another great place for record lovers, not as many stores as LA, but more than enough around my neighborhood, Haight Ashbury alone had no fewer than half a dozen to choose from, and this was way before Ameoba opened back in the early 2000’s (I think). I think Wax Trax was my favorite, it had a very alternative, industrial-centric collection (may that was just what Russel and I were into at the time). There were also a few of cool stores on Market Street, near the Tower Records, that I used to go regularly. Those were the days…

Also I really got into the retro, lounge music in a big way in SF, when I hanged out with Grant, John and Greg, we would often go around all the thrift shops around the city and Marin Swap Meets on the weekends to buy all kinds of 50-60’s vintage stuff, including of course, records. Most of the records were priced at 10 cents, 25 cents, don’t think we ever paid more than a dollar for an album. I also bid on some auctions at Butterfields, and won a few. In those cases, I would go through a few hundred records, keep the ones that I thought were interesting either in cover design (another obsession) or the music. Martin Danny, Arthur Lyman, Esquivel and many more… there were also latin dance records, stereo demo records, pop-jazz, beatnik records, you name it, I probably have a copy around… Proud to say, I still have all of them, except for a few that were destroyed in Singapore (frigging termites!!)

Since moving to Asia, record collecting became very difficult, I would buy as many as I can on the visits in the States. NYC, SF, LA, wherever I went, I always tried to pick up a few, but it was just not the same. Luckily, P2P music sharing took off big time around that time as well, Russel turned me onto Soulseek, and I got many albums from there, mostly downtempo and electronica stuff, unfortunately, most were in MP3 format, which sounds pretty bad when played on a decent stereo system, I don’t listen to those much anymore (may be they will be hip again like all the other genres over the years, who knows, since they are digital, I am keeping all of them).

Bit-Torrent became the next big thing in music/digital distribution on the net, that really opened up nearly un-limited possibility for a record geek like me. Anything, any genres, any era of music that I can think of, they are available, someone is sharing them and many in high quality lossless formats, just perfect for collectors like me. We never had so good.

Lately, to go along with my guitar amp building hobby, I have gotten back to my musical roots, sorta speak, now days I listen mostly to blues, rock instrumental, classic rock, etc. Besides the old tunes from my youth, there are so many talented guitar players on the scene making great music, I just love it. Some notables include: John Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Herring, Michael Burkes, The Black Keys, and many many more…

I will try and post a few favorites soon…

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