Countless artists pour their hearts and souls into making the "next big record". A precious few sell millions, some have maintained a comfortably small fan base, and others never rise from obscurity. But all are susceptible to one possible dubious fate: The shelf of your local thrift store. These poor unwanted remnants of the past grace the shelves of your Goodwills, your Salvation Armys, your local mom & pop shop, waiting to be rediscovered... to be loved once again.

Over my years of thrift store scouring, I gradually began to notice certain discs and records that repeatedly reveal themselves on nearly every visit to any location. It left me wondering: Why are these select albums so often discarded, what led them to this point, and will the recognition and love for them ever be renewed once again? Now I can confidently answer YES. I bestow unto you, an appreciation for all discs left behind: "Thrift Store Albums."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

TLC: CrazySexyCool

Given that TLC's 1992 debut album was titled, "Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip", it was at least clear when their sophomore follow-up, "CrazySexyCool", was released two years later, that these ladies had a knack for album titles. Although their career began right around the same time as female trio, "Destiny's Child", TLC found earlier breakout success through hits such as "Creep" and "Waterfalls" (don't lie, I know you can still rap that one section).

The group countered the lighter, bubblegum pop fare with a uniquely laid-back R&B vibe, many songs sounding stretched out, as if the turntable were slowed down a few RPMs. The more typically overt sexuality or fluffy production from female singers of the time was contrasted with a more tomboy-ish and slightly intimidating, yet sultry persona. As is par for the course with 90's groups, the band members all had their aliases: "Chili", "T-boz", and "Left Eye", the latter of which, Lisa Lopes, tragically died in an auto accident at age 30.

TLC's career took a number of fascinating ups-and-downs. Despite selling over 11 million copies in the U.S., the group eventually went millions into debt, partially citing that they only received 8% percent of album revenue (which seems like a relatively high number considering the artist's share nowadays on streaming media platforms). The financial situation resulted in a long line of legal disputes leading into their next breakout success, "FanMail", featuring yet another chorus that I know will get stuck in your head all day... "I don't want no scrubs..."

The loss of a member put an obvious wrench in TLC's career. Their last original album, as of now, was released following Lopes' death, and was less successful than the previous two. The remaining members deserve a lot of credit, however, for continuing to make appearances over the years, and are set for another album release this year. In spite of all the time and change, I'll still always remember the group best for that eye-catching red album cover, and the body of water metaphor that everyone learned so well that year, "Don't go chasin' waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."

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