Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's In The Hunt

As one who is still very new to the active collection and enjoyment of vinyl records (I'm not counting using them as frisbees or surfing the basement carpet on them as a child), I've begun to appreciate the fickle, frustrating nature of the medium. Everything about the collecting, the listening, the tweaking, the maintenance and the hunt can be equal parts maddening and rewarding. I once spotted a pristine, mint-looking early Nat King Cole record at a thrift store. The jacket - shiny. The spine - solid. The inner sleeve - factory crisp. The record inside - "101 Strings, The Glory of Christmas." It's enough for me to cause a scene there amongst the rusty Faberware.

There are good days, however. Here are a few recent finds from a Goodwill. 

James Brown - I Can't Stand Myself (1967, King)

This is a very lively record with The Godfather of Soul in his prime doing what made him famous.

Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart in San Francisco (1963, Columbia)

This is a Canadian pressing (I'll explain my hang-up about this in some future post), but I couldn't pass this up at $1.99 CDN. This album was the first LP, I believe, with the hit title song which had already been released as a single.

Teddi King - All The King's Songs (1959, Coral)

This is valued at $60-$70, but more importantly, it's a great recording and is a very good record with outstanding performances by Ms. King.

Jimmy Rushing - Five Feet of Soul (1963, Colpix)

Jimmy Rushing was a blues singer who sang for Count Basie. His powerful voice and powerful personality is on display here. "Five Feet of Soul" refers to his nickname, "Mr. Five By Five." Five feet tall by five feet wide.

Cecil Payne - Performing Charlie Parker Music (1961, Charlie Parker Records)

Cecil Payne was a saxophonist who played with Dizzy Gillespie. He only had a handful of records as a bandleader, and this one is from 1961. It's also in great shape.

In the film American Splendor, Harvey Pekar, in an interview, commented on his time spent at garage sales looking for old jazz records, in search of that one title which will somehow magically make his collection complete. To paraphrase, just when he feels like giving up, he makes some find that whets the appetite all over again, and the cycle continues. I wouldn't draw too many comparisons between myself and Harvey Pekar. Besides, finding records at garage sales is becoming rarer and rarer. The energy spent (and weekend sleep lost) getting up on Saturday to check out garage sales which might advertise records on Craigslist are usually in vain since eBay and flea market creeps often contact the sellers early to try to get first crack at the bounty. Who wants to compete with that?

Luckily, I've rarely spent more than just a few dollars for a used record. Demand is low for analog, which is sad for the industry, but great for fans. Unless, of course, you're a Michael Jackson fan. After his death, Thriller began selling for over $100 for used copies on eBay. I'm glad I got a replacement copy for my 1984 original a few months ago from the 50-cent rack at a local record store. Of course, eBay is the worst place to buy anything, really, since prices are usually driven up by one singular moron with more money than common sense.

I refuse to be that moron. 

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