There are two things you should know about being a record collector in Seattle:
1. It’s easy to find Seattle and Sub Pop stuff here.
2. It’s impossible to find Seattle and Sub Pop stuff here.
Ok, that makes no sense on the surface, but play along. You’ll probably find more Seattle and Sub Pop stuff here than anywhere… but rarely the stuff you’re looking for. And on the off chance you do find what you want, it’s way more expensive than anywhere else in the record collecting universe. Case in point – I’d like to pick up the Sup Pop 100 vinyl. I finally ran across it the other day at a local shop for $175. Now, I’m all about buying local. I’ll pay more to buy local. But not when I can find this same record on eBay for $55-75 all day long. Welcome to Seattle
So this is why I ended up buying the elusive Sub Pop Rock City comp on vinyl not in Seattle, the home of Sub Pop and lots of the bands on the record. Oh no. I bought this record in Stockholm, Sweden, where I ran across it in the absolutely incredible punk store Trash Palace. I laughed when I first ran across it. Then I realized that for the price, the Glitterhouse version of this release was reasonable and worth picking up and schlepping back home with me. Go figure.
Sub Pop Rock City was released in 1988 (though the Green River track “Hangin’ Tree” was recorded in 1986), just before the Seattle scene blew up nationally. I had this record back in the day, back before I sold my original vinyl collection. So I was kind of stoked to add it to my new, growing vinyl library this summer. The selection of bands is impeccable. Sure, Nirvana is here. And so is Soundgarden. But let’s not overlook not one but two classic Mark Arm grunge bands, Mudhoney and Green River, alongside Tad, The Fluid, and Blood Circus. Also included are some early bands on the scene, Cat Butt and Thrown Ups. If you’re looking for a true grunge primer, Sub Pop Rock City is it.
I’m embarrassed to say I missed most of these bands live back in the day, but I’ve seen Mudhoney twice in the last couple of years (and I’m going to see them again in February), and they’re still amazing. I also caught Tad Doyle in his current band, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (the first time as an opener for Mudhoney in a classic double-bill). And while the crowds still have a ton of energy, watching a bunch of 40-somethings mosh isn’t quite the same thing as what you see on the cover of Sub Pop Rock City. No matter how much we try, there’s always the danger of someone breaking a hip.
I know a lot of people don’t like comps, and I get it. It’s not the same thing as getting a real feel for a band over the course of an entire album. Regardless, the mix here is solid, and unless you’re a serious student of grunge you’re not going to try to track down albums from all these bands – I mean, I only have albums by seven of the eleven bands featured. I don’t pretend to be the be-all-end-all grunge fan, but I like it… and I still don’t have all this stuff. If for no other reasons it’s worth picking up for Tad’s “Sex God Missy” and Green River’s “Hangin’ Tree”.
Put on your flannel shirt and work boots, grab a PBR tallboy, and put this sucker on the turntable. Sure, your hair isn’t long like it used to be… but you can still rock out.