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Of collecting and whatnot

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As a youngster, collecting things was pretty simple: you’d walk to the local Turkey Hill Mini Mart, purchase a pack of Tops Baseball Cards (you know the kind with the piece of pink plywood they try to pass off as chewing gum), take them home and hope to God somehow you scored a decent card in the pack of 12.

Every once and a while if you saved up your allowance for two weeks you could score a nice pack of Upper Deck cards. They were nice – super glossy without the powdery remains of the chewing gum. Most times though, you spent some of that money on Nerds and you were left with just enough to buy a pack of Score.

It was a simple thing. If you got doubles, you traded with your friend. I remember when I first started collecting. I thought it was a big deal when I hit the 100 card mark. “Wow I finally have 100 baseball cards!” Of course, when the numbers got into the thousands, you looked back at that day and laughed.

The older you get, though, the more complicated things seem to get. It became a serious venture. I had friends who would spend hundreds of dollars on a single card. Luckily for me, I got out before things got that serious.

Collecting music’s not too different I reckon. I recently had an experience much like my young baseball card collecting days. An older friend of mine had his apartment broken into about 7 or 8 months ago. He lost several boxes of vinyl and all of his CDs. His vinyls were sitting down in his basement as he had no record player or safer place to store them. Needless to say, he was pissed. He commented about how he knew he still had several hundred vinyls at his brother-in-law’s house down in Virginia, and he would be bringing them up to PA for him within the next couple of weeks.

He told me that since he didn’t trust storing such valuable treasures in his apartment, and since he didn’t have a record player, that I could have the records. I waited anxiously for weeks for those sons of bees to get here!

Finally one day at work he came in and said the records were here! I went out, loaded them into my car, and headed home. Oh how I felt the simplicity of collecting again! I felt like a little kid looking through a fresh pack of baseball cards hoping to find a real keeper. I dug through hundreds and hundreds of vinyls. Lots and lots of crap, but lots and lots of treasures as well. It seemed simple at the time, as I am fairly new at record collecting.

However, after scoring hundreds of top quality records for free, I found myself unsatisfied with my collection and longing for more. This drove me to record shops, music expos, wherever I could find records. Sure I still found lots of goodies in the dollar bins, but I also found myself willing to spend amounts of money that I just didn’t have … for a black vinyl disc with grooves in them.

I reckon I ain’t much better than them folks who spent hundreds of dollars on a little piece of cardboard with Nolan Ryan’s picture on it. I reckon it’s just as silly and definitely not as simple as buying a pack of cards at the mini mart.

What can you do though? Everyone’s got their poison. Mine happens to be big black frizbees.

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About Andy

  • Dew

    I must agree. I have been collecting ‘small silver frizbees’ since tenth grade when I first received a cd player. The feeling to this day is still the same. I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I take the wrapping off the case.

    I have not ventured into vinyl yet especially since I know its far more addictive and far more expensive, but soon, very soon…

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Andy, you captured the feeling very well. Actually Dew, if you are careful and stick to the bargain bins, vinyl is cheap. About once a year I go into my favorite used record store, spend the day, and come out with maybe 200 or 300 albums for $.25-$.50 each. You can even find some collector’s stuff in there if the store doesn’t really know the value of vinyl.

    I once found the original pressing of Desmond Dekker’s “Isrealites” album for a quarter. Haha

  • Andy

    Eric that’s awesome. One time I found a bunch of 45s of old 2tone records for like, $.50 each. There was even a copy of the Special’s first single. I believe it was a split w/ the Selecter. Scored that day. I never found a bargin on old ska vinyl though other than that. Closest was I found an old Trojan Records comp for $7.

  • Taloran

    I have two copies of the initial pressing of Harvey Mandel’s Cristo Redentor in the original plastic wrap. While I was a Harvey Mandel freak in those days, I had heard about this legendary album, but had never known anyone who owned it. I kept bugging the guy who owned Albums on the Hill in Boulder about it, and he kept saying “The first one that comes in is mine – I’ll hold the second one for you.”
    One day I’m browsing through the stacks, and not one, but two copies of this amazing album are in there – both in the shrinkwrap! One is priced at $2.99, the other at 99 cents. I take them up to the counter, and the color drains from the owner’s face.
    He didn’t want to sell them to me, but I talked him into it by threatening to shop at the other used record stores in Boulder from then on if he refused. I eventually found a used, opened copy of the album, taped it, and sold it back to Albums on the Hill for 90 bucks.

    Ah, those were the days!

  • Eric Olsen

    It takes a lot of time – and once I’m in the record browsing trance I can’t come out until my stomach is empty, my brain numb, and my head throbbing.

    Great stories Andy and Taloran!

    Another great one I found was the original British pressing of the punk classic “The Roxy London WC2” live collection for $.50

    And I found Sopwith Camel’s “The Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon,” which I loved more than life but lost in a fire, for about $5, which I didn’t have on me (it was worth about $50 at the time).

    I asked the clerk to hold it for me – when I got back he was gone and so was the record. The rat bastard never came back to the shop, I think he went to South America with my Sopwith Camel record or something.

    About a year later (this was mid-’80s), I saw the prick walking on the other side of the street in Hermosa Beach. I crossed over, walked right up to him, said “Sopwith Camel,” and kicked him in the shin, hard.

  • The Theory

    oh god, E… please tell me you’re kidding!! haha…

  • Eric Olsen

    No, it’s true. I’m very nice and all but I have a bad temper, especially about records.

  • Taloran

    Oh man…. I think I’ll knock off early today and go down to the record store. These stories have me salivating.

  • Eric Olsen

    Sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

  • The Theory

    mwahahaha. i don’t know if we have a good record store around here. hmmm.

  • eric’s right about the cost. there’s tons of vinyl out there to be had..pretty cheap too. expecially compared to cds.

  • andy

    TT, we have Stan’s on Prince Street. It’s well….a record store. I don’t know if it’s GREAT, but it’s decent. I found some Who albums in there for good prices.

    Vinyls are so much more cheaper than CDs. Nothing beats going to a record show w/ $20 and leaving w/ 20 albums.

    Did I mention I found a Sly and the Family Stone album for $1? yeah baby!

  • Eric Olsen

    That’s choice if it’s mint. That’s the only problem with vinyl: you have to be very careful with the condition. It’s hard to find mint that have already been opened – you do not want scratches or much wear at all or you won’t even play them.

  • andy

    It’s not mint, but it plays alright. I never noticed an annoying amount of static on it or any skipage. I won’t have that.

  • Eric Olsen

    Good man

  • I got a 12″ copy of Central Line’s “Walking into Sunshine” with an extended mix b-side in nearmint condition for 50p. That’s about $.80!

  • andy

    Rock on! This thread will turn into “post your vinyl treasure finds here”! I missed the last record show due to financial reasons, and I may not get to go this coming month either, but on the uphand a friend just returned my Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live double record set to me, and I’m happy about that.

  • Collecting Jack In The Box antenna balls, anyone?

  • Dew

    Eric, thats the problem with living in the not-so-big city. We only have 1 Vinyl store here (at all, the record stores sell only CD and Cassettes) and that store caters mostly to Urban DJ’s. All the vinyl in that store is priced 15.99 and up. I don’t pay that much for CD’s.

    We used to have several different USED CD stores that carried limited Vinyl but they were sold or closed down due to lack of business. Woe is me…

  • andy

    Dew, any music expos or record shows in your town or near by?

  • Dew

    We have had one expo before (that I know of), but the turnout was not good enough for a repeat appearance. The closest place I could go where I could really do damage would be New Orleans which is a 2.5 hour drive. From what I understand there are tons of shops and expos in N.O. and Atlanta.

  • frost@work

    Ok, this is my greatest find ever… a guy I worked with sold me most of his old vinyl for a mere $50. Here’s what I stole errr, bought from him…

    Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (M)
    The Smiths – Meat is Murder (M)
    The Who – Quadrophenia (M-)
    Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon (M, w/ orig stickers and two orig posters)
    The Beatles – 1967-1970 (VG)
    Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (M-)
    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Live 1975-85 (M, only two out of the five LP’s have ever been played. Those two were played once)
    10,000 Maniacs – The Wishing Chair (M)
    The Pogues – Red Roses For Me (M)
    The B-52’s – Wild Planet (M, hey it’s got Private Idaho…)
    Devo – Freedom of Choice (M-)
    The Bangles – All Over The Place (M)
    The Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach (M-)
    Heart – Dreamboat Annie (VG+)
    Squeeze – Argybargy (VG+)
    Pretenders – II (VG+)
    Fire Power – Legs of Diamond (VG-)
    Eddie and the Hot Rods – Thriller (VG)
    Face Dancer – This World (F)
    Annabel Lamb – Riders on the Storm (VG + Promo remix)
    Go Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (VG)
    Ted Nugent – Double Live Gonzo! (M-)
    Brian Eno – On Land (M-)
    Brian Eno – Another Green World (M-)
    Lyle Mays – S/T (M- I have no idea who this is)
    Styx – The Grand illusion (VG+)
    Times Square – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (M- Feat. music of: Suzi Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, Marcy Levy & Robin Gibb, Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, XTC, The Ramones, Robin Johnson & Trini Alvarado, The Ruts, D.L. Byron, Lou Reed, Desmond Child & Rouge, Garland Jefferys, The Cure, Patti Smith Group, David Johansen)

  • Eric Olsen

    Frosty, that’s a great list. The used vinyl place near us has mostly the usual ’70s crap and ’80s promos, but the last time I went through the pile there – which I only do about once a year – I stumbled on to a vein of VG-M ’50s and ’60s jazz and vocalists that about made me pop something: Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Sinatra, Peggy Lee, all for $.50 each. YOu just never know.

    Dew, sounds like you should make a weekend trip to the BIG CITY and stock up on the cheap vinyl. I would call ahead, though, and make sure you know what prices and what type of stuff each place has.

  • Dew

    YAY!! I found a store in New Orleans that has an excellent collection. Check out: http://www.JimRussellRecords.com. As suggested I did call them and they seem to offer all the old vintage Jazz I am looking for. I think its illegal too be this excited.

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent Dew, I am in the mood for some good news. I hope you have a great time and find some really good stuff for good prices. Remember too, it can be the dumbest looking stores that specifically DON’T specialize in what you are looking for that can cough up the best deals because the people don’t know what it’s worth and don’t care anyway.

  • andy

    Dew, for jazz, if you can find it cheap score yourself the Smithsonian Jazz Collection. It’s like, a 5 record boxed set of classic jazz. I got mine for free(one of the treasures I scored from my friend), and I play it constantly. It has great liner notes too.

  • Dew

    Thanks guys. I will keep the great advice in mind. I am also looking for great album covers as well as great music. The not-so-good music usually has great cover art. I’ve been wanting to frame some and use it as decor for my next apartment.