Thrift Store Cowboy: Garth Brooks, Sonic Youth and Yaz

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Location: Salvation Army, 3620 Broadway, Pearland

Thrift stores are a museum of random genius. Where else can one find a faded D.A.R.E. t-shirt and a pair of soiled leather pants? Each trip is a chance for magic. Rocks Off spent some time at the Salvation Army out in the badlands of Pearland last week, on a mission for music.

One afternoon he found a vinyl copy of the Nuggets compilation, and his fifth copy of Sgt. Pepper. Increasingly, this location has become a goldmine for compact disc cast-offs. In a time of vinyl resurrection, most of the good stuff is now picked over by zealous teenagers. Compact discs are quickly becoming the new cassettes.

On CD, you can find plenty of discarded copies of any number of C-list boy-band records, generic compilations made for furniture stores, even entire collections of classical music. It just so happens on this trip we found a three-headed monster of weird: Garth Brooks' 1990 breakthrough No Fences, Sonic Youth's 1992 alt-fuzz touchstone Dirty, and Yaz's 1982 New Wave classic Upstairs at Eric's.

We spent a good four hours of our lives trying to decipher any sort of cosmic connections or reasons why these three records would fit together, and an undisclosed amount of time listening to No Fences out of sheer nostalgia. I mean, we had heard Dirty ad infinitum in dusty and dank garages over Miller High Life tallboys for almost a decade.

The thing about Yaz is that you can only listen to so much until Alison Moyet's voice starts to grate and she sounds like a drag queen after a pack of smokes. Plus, no one knows any other songs except "Don't Go" and "Situation." And why can't we call them Yazoo? That's what they call them in Europe, right? Total horseshit.

It was a welcome change to bask in the glory that was Garth Brooks in the early '90s. The guy was like the country version of Billy Joel (and in fact covered Joel's "Shameless" on 1991's Ropin' the Wind). Many people forget No Fences went platinum 17 times over, spawning four hit singles that dominated radio for almost two years. It crossed over from country into pop, leaving a trail of puke-printed western shirts in its wake.

No Fences included the infidelity-laced "The Thunder Rolls," which had about the cheesiest video to come out of the '90s country boom. You had Brooks showing up in a wig, playing a bastard of a cheating husband spending the night in a motel with a bottle-blonde bimbo straight from Spring Break 1990. Then the dude gets blown away by his wife when he comes home at the end, cementing the video's legacy as a total ripoff of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun." - Craig Hlavaty 

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