Friday, October 7, 2011
The other day I got a nice email from a guy named Fred Champion, who used to own the CD Alley record store in Wilmington, NC for over a decade (until music "fans" downloading music for free--an activity known as "stealing" when applied to most other industries--made it nearly impossible for record stores, indie bands, and indie labels to make any dough from selling albums).... In any case, without asking Fred's permission because I'm lazy, I just thought I'd post part of his email. I thought it was a pretty funny story about how people discover unusual music like mine. The following text is excerpted directly from Fred's email:
"OK..HOW I CAME TO HEAR CHARLES DOUGLAS.... by FRED CHAMPION.....
i owned CD Alley in Wilmington from 1998 until i closed it down in January 2010 - for a while, i lived off selling my ebay stash of records i had accumulated over the years and some music equipment until a friend hooked me up working with him on some TV show.... fast forward a few months to "money is really thin" and i am organizing all of my possessions in stacks... Garage sale / ebay / keepers.
i had a storage room beside my apartment stacked to the Ceiling with the old CD ALLEY inventory.. and i started planning for a Garage sale.. i have over 5,000 cds laid out everywhere and post it on craigslist.. about half the cds are new but nothing great because these are titles that my distributor would not take back before i closed CD ALLEY doors.. Anyway.. Garage Sale goes great.. i sell cds at 25cents each or 50 for $20 bucks .. that tells you how bad most of the CDs were.. but still a few gems here and there.
i sold about 2800 cds in one day .. and about 2000 of those went to just 2 people who had little barcode readers on their phones and software applications that told what each cd was listing for on ebay and amazon..
ok.. during on this time your "Burdens of Genius" CD from '98 is right there hanging out with all the other CDs not drawing a bit of attention..
so that still leaves me with around 2200 CDs but still some gems hanging around.. so i start sorting through these.. now i put them in different catagories LOCAL/CRAP/ NO NAME PUNK & METAL bands / LOOKS COOL give it a quick listen and check it out Section.. 90% of these were still crap but every once in a while i would throw a cd on.. and usually you can tell when something is crap in about 30 seconds.. but others i give them a fair chance if i make it through one or two songs.. or if they were on a cool label like Matador/kill rock stars or merge.. but there is definitely some stinkers on those labels too.. which brings me to : i picked up THE BURDENS CD priced $5.98 from our used been.. my guess is that someone who bought it in chapel hill or maybe a "friend" of yours traded it in here in Wilmington.
So cover made me think it was some reissue of a dude from the late 60s or 70s and then i also noticed the THANK YOU to No. 6 records.. and i knew Dean Wareham and a few other cool bands i like where connected to that label .. so i threw the cd on and went back to sorting through the rest of the cds.. and it was the first and only CD where i thought to myself.. "damn, this is actually Pretty Good" and good enough to make me search for this CHARLES DOUGLAS person on Wikipedia, google and youtube.. and finally to your website.. which i throughly enjoyed... THE END"
So yeah, that about sums it up. And i think Fred's email is great! "Burdens of Genius" was my first album. And yes, he's probably 100% right that I was kind enough to give a "friend" (glad i don't have too many of those anymore, haha) a copy and they just sold it for a few bucks the next day. As I get older, I find that I need less and less music "friends" anyway (unless they are cool, funny people like fred, or my good friend alun who puts out my stuff on broken horse records in manchester). In fact, i really regret even working with certain musicians (just a couple) on my albums along the way (i won't name them, because they know who they are, and also i realize that i am a difficult person to get along with, so the fault is probably partly mine)... Anyway, people like fred restore my faith in indie rock music.... as do people like alun.... and dave (who has tipped me off to so many great bands over the years)... and terry and bobby (the guys at elektra who discovered me back when i was a teenager)... and all the FANTASTIC musicians i was lucky to work with (moe tucker, kurt ralske, joey santiago, wharton tiers, bill whitten, phil costello, and a bunch of others)..... and all the great bands who have covered my songs (including The Long Winters, Brakes, The Comas, Wye Oak, Alina Simone, Mark Robinson from Unrest, Steve Turner from Mudhoney, and many more)!!! [PART 2 of this long ramble coming soon....]
Posted by Charles Douglas at 12:57 AM
Friday, September 30, 2011
Broken Horse Records in Manchester, UK will soon be releasing a 60-song retrospective of my 90's home recordings, titled NOT YOUR KIND OF MUSIC: THE BASEMENT TAPES '95-'99. It's going to be packaged as a double-disc set, with a 26-page booklet of really demented liner notes and other cool things! More details coming soon...
Posted by Charles Douglas at 2:02 AM
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
My 1999 album THE LIVES OF CHARLES DOUGLAS is now available in limited edition vinyl from Broken Horse UK for Record Store Day. If you want to pre-order a copy, just visit www.brokenhorse.co.uk.
Here's a review from Record Collector:
Lost indie gem uncovered
It is unlikely that Charles Douglas could have predicted how appropriate the title of his sole studio album would become. In all, the man has written several screenplays, authored four novels, and at the age of 22, recorded this album that, before it even got released, seemed destined to remain a niche concern.
Douglas had spent years accumulating material in his bedroom before somehow convincing Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker to produce and play on his debut. The result is an eccentric collection that concerns itself with subjects as diverse as girls, fast food, drugs and the death of The Notorious BIG. The whole has a loose, first-take feel that calls to mind the spontaneity of Jonathan Richman’s solo records, while also being clearly indebted to Lou Reed. There’s a simplicity and immediacy here that’s difficult not to enjoy, including loser power-pop anthems dripping with charm, such as Earlybird School and A Boy Like Me.
If The Lives of Charles Douglas had been released a few years later it would have very neatly fit into the New York “anti-folk” scene with the likes of Jeffrey Lewis and Moldy Peaches. Instead, it was an oddball curio. Thanks to Broken Horse, however, the cult may just expand...
Posted by Charles Douglas at 1:15 AM