Further frustration at the thrifts

The Beatles - Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever (the one that got away!)It does appear that spring is here. People are cleaning out their attics and more stuff is finding its way to the thrifts. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’ve found anything good! A few really close calls though.

The most frustrating one was yesterday, hit a thrift store around the corner from me and saw that they had a small case of 45s. The one in front was an original Monkees picture sleeve, and behind that, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Beatles picture sleeves (including the “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields” one pictured here)! But of course…no records inside!! Agggh. There were some loose 45s in the case without sleeves and I flipped through them feverishly, hoping that one or two would match up with the Beatles sleeves, but no such luck. And then to make myself feel even worse I got on Ebay and found those same singles going for $50-100 a piece. Gah.

The same store also had a new crate of stuff that looked pretty promising, but ultimately nothing that floated my boat. Lots of classic rock: Eagles, Marshall Tucker Band, Eric Clapton, Ten Years After… I’m just not really a fan of these bands. But it was so close, I just kept thinking the next one in the bin would be something appealing. Wasn’t meant to be though.

Well, I’m still feeling positive…things are happening and I’m gonna keep at it, hoping I’ll run into something good soon.

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Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude

Earth, Wind & Fire - GratitudeFile this one under…”Where the hell have I been?” Wow. Not only am I amazed that I never heard this entire record before, I’m amazed that I’m admitting it here! It’s true though. I’ve liked Earth, Wind & Fire for a long time but somehow this, one of their biggest albums ever, slipped through the cracks. Found it at a Savers a while back, along with another EWF album, and even after picking it up, it actually sat around for a bit. I’ve been getting music faster than I can listen to it, and this one ended up somewhere in the middle of the “must listen to” pile. After a good cleaning, both LPs play pretty well…a little bit of surface crackle but nothing to ruin the beautiful experience of listening to this album. ANSXS2VPEBXH

Man, the live portion of Gratitude just kills, right from the opening medley, to a stunning rendition of “Reasons” and a totally kickin’ performance of “Shining Star”. This was one of the hippest, tightest, most groovin’ and musical bands there was. And dig “New World Symphony” with that ridiculous Verdine White bass solo…oh yeah. Many of the studio tracks I had of course heard before, but didn’t have them on vinyl– here they sound better than ever. That groovy outro of “Can’t Hide Love” with the wordless vocals just kills me every time I hear it.

Funny, just now I’m noticing striking similarities between this and another favorite double live/studio album that I also picked up for short money– GenesisThree Sides Live. Think about it…both start off with a live set and end with studio tracks, both are double albums with white covers…and, hang on– the Earth, Wind & Fire horns play on “Paperlate”! Hmm…

Hell, now I need to go back and give another listen to Spirit. My original impression of that one wasn’t stellar, and I now think I may have been completely out of my mind. How could this band produce anything less than perfect?

The Verdict: HELL YEAH!
My Cost: $2.00

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Yes Remixes (CD)

Yes RemixesOkay, here goes…this is officially the first “CD find” I’m listing here. Found this one at a local Goodwill last week. So, first a disclaimer: I am a crazy Yes fan. I’ve been listening to them for about 30 years, have been to 20 shows, have all the albums, videos, etc. etc…. You wouldn’t know it from reading this blog so far because frankly there’s been no need for me to pick up any Yes stuff at the thrifts, I have it all! 🙂 Well, most of it…I didn’t have this one, though I’d heard it before.

This is a damn cool CD. I’m kinda surprised I hadn’t picked it up sooner, to be honest. These are all remixes of Yes tunes done by guitarist Steve Howe‘s son Virgil, or known here as “The Verge”. There’s an interesting mix of tracks here, he doesn’t just stick to the hits by any means. In fact the first two songs, “Tempus Fugit” and “Arriving UFO”, happen to be from what were two of the most controversial albums by the band at the end of the 70s, Drama and Tormato. Other tracks include “Siberian Khatru”, “Sound Chaser”, “Awaken”, and “Heart of the Sunrise”, which might be my personal favorite here. The rearrangement of themes and bits that in that particular tune is done with a tremendous amount of musicality and skill. The approach varies from tune to tune– sometimes parts are rearranged in a manner that is almost unrecognizable, while at other times things stay fairly true to the original, with only some minor changes like the addition of a new rhythm track.

This disc might not be for everyone, maybe not even for some of the diehard Yes fans. In fact, a quick look at the reviews on Amazon reveals that people either love this or hate it! I’ve found that some Yes fans don’t like things to be messed with too much. I find this funny, as Yes was known for doing many cover tunes in the early days where they completely messed with the original songs. I think there’s some really creative stuff happening here. I really enjoy this disc. It’s fun to hear some of these songs and sounds done in a completely new way.

The Verdict: SCORE!
My Cost: $1.99

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Vinyl vs. CD

Vinyl vs. CDOften the mere mention of the words “Vinyl vs. CD” sends people into epileptic fits, causing an endless, raging debate that will continue until the involved parties are even angrier. People on both sides present various “facts” and “opinions” even as the line between both of those things blurs until it is totally nonexistent. In the end I think it comes down to personal preference. And as you’ve probably guessed from this blog, I tend to prefer vinyl. BUT, I do listen to and enjoy CDs too. So, why raise the question here? To start more debate? Actually, no, but there is a reason for all of this and an explanation as to how it fits into the context of this blog.

This has been weighing on my mind for some time (because clearly, I have nothing else to worry about…). The original thought for this blog was “records only”. But the fact is, in my travels I come across a lot of great CDs too. So I’ve decided I’m gonna start listing some of those as well, because some of them are just too good not to share. But no worries, vinyl junkies, it will mostly likely still be predominantly LPs that you will see here, with the occasional dip into digital territory.

Can’t vinyl and CD just get along? Can’t they hold hands and co-exist peacefully?

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The Sad Ballad of the Empty Sleeves

Queen - The GameHow does this happen? Is it just me? Is it a cruel joke played on all of us crate diggers by the Goodwill employees? Most recently it was a copy of Queen‘s The Game, a record I knew from many years ago but never owned. Damn, I was excited when I found it… In a newly donated box of LPs, just brought out from the back of the store and plopped down in front of me, no less. But as soon as I picked up the record I knew– it felt just a little too light. NO record inside. Agh! Before that it was a Nat King Cole record, and before that a Beatles LP (Let It Be, I think). There have been so many others, but I’ve tried to forget about them. And it’s always the best records too, the ones I get really psyched about when I see them. When there’s no music inside I’m just left thinking of what might have been…

Thrift store gods, please smile upon me when I visit a new Goodwill tomorrow.

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The latest batch of records (and they smell good too!)

My cat smells recordsCame home with some pretty decent stuff from the Goodwill yesterday. It was exciting just because I haven’t had any luck in a while, so I was happy to find anything that looked remotely interesting. My cat likes them too, she was smelling them all afternoon. I’m gonna take that as a good sign and not a bad one…I don’t really want to know what it is that she’s smelling… Anyway, too early to tell how I really made out this time, as some of these are a little dinged up and I really have to play them and check ’em out. But the classical LPs all look like they’re in great shape. That’s pretty much par for the course at this point– the odds of finding a Who record in excellent condition are obviously much less than finding a clean copy of a Bartok LP.

Here was the total haul:

  • The Who – Who’s Next (orig. Decca US)
  • Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story (red label Mercury US)
  • Grant Johannesen Plays Poulenc (Golden Crest Records)
  • The Beaux Arts Trio – Brahms Piano Trios Complete (Philips 2LP)
  • The Grass Roots – Golden Grass (ABC/Dunhill)
  • Jon Gailmor – Dirt! (Philo)
  • Carl Weinrich – J.S. Bach Trio Sonatas and Trios (Westminster 3LP…I actually grabbed this just because I thought the packaging was really cool)
  • Isaac Stern/Leonard Rose/Bruno Walter – Brahms: Double Concerto, etc. (Columbia Masterworks mono 6-eye)
  • Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose – (s/t) (United Artists)
  • Beveridge Webster – Piano Music of Stravinsky (Dover 2LP)
  • Richard Austin – Bartok: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (Westminster mono)
  • Leonid Kogan/Pierre Monteux – Khachaturian Violin Concerto, Saint-Saens: Havanaise (RCA Victor “Advance Copy”!)

The Who, Grass Roots, Bartok, Stravinsky, Rod Stewart, etc.I have a pretty large backlog of stuff now, but will try to throw on some of these soon and post more thoughts as they come up. I did actually start listening to the Who record, and it’s pretty crackly, but sound quality is really good so maybe a thorough cleaning will help it out. And there’s a lot of classical music here that is new to me…I’m really looking forward to checking it out, but it will take some time…

The Verdict: Too early to tell
My Cost: $11.88 for all 12

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Retrospective – The Best of Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield - RetrospectiveBuffalo Springfield is one of those bands that was off my radar screen for way too long…a good friend of mine is a big fan of theirs, and after reconnecting with him recently and talking music, I got excited to check out some of their stuff. Of course I’ve been aware of them forever, and years ago I borrowed Buffalo Springfield Again from this same friend and really dug it. Part of my interest was because my favorite band, Yes, covered the Steven Stills tune “Everydays” from that album and I had never heard the original. Sadly that tune isn’t on this compilation, but several others from that album are, including “Mr. Soul” which has since become a personal favorite. And of course it has the classic “For What It’s Worth” which still sounds fresh to me even though I’ve probably heard it hundreds of times.

This is a really nice sounding slab of vinyl. Yes, it’s a pretty common LP, but I didn’t have it and was pretty psyched to find it…in great condition, for 50¢ no less. How can you argue with that?

The Verdict: SCORE!
My Cost: 50¢

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Rare Record Collecting in the UK

Just came across this today on the ‘Tube and found it highly entertaining. This dates back to 1990 and clearly a lot has happened in the last 21 years! I love the guy they interview at the record show, right around the one minute mark. He seems rather proud of his 4000-LP collection!

This is a real trip! Check it out:

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Sixties Hits, brought to you by WRKO Boston

30 Now Goldens from WRKO Boston!I came upon this one in a Goodwill awhile back. Honestly what first struck me was the WRKO in the title. I grew up in the Boston area and remember my parents listening to ‘RKO a whole lot. Back then they were mostly a music station, but after 1981 they switched to all talk. Here’s a site with a pretty detailed history of WRKO. As for the record in question here (30 Now Goldens vol. 2…you gotta love that title!), this is a pretty straight-up & darn great 2 LP compilation of late-60s hits, the kind of things that I certainly heard a lot of on the radio growing up (though I was born in the early 70s), and used to enjoy seeing/hearing in late night TV ads for records you would send away for (like Groovin’…anybody remember that one?). The cover of this one grabbed me right away too…check out that nice young couple hanging out in front of the Paul Revere statue in the North End of Boston.

The back of "30 Now Goldens vol. 2"Okay, let’s get to the music…“Incense & Peppermints”! “Expressway To Your Heart”“Green Tambourine”“Kind of a Drag”“Hush”…”Grazing In The Grass”…’nuff said, right? Both records are in great shape, except for the first track on side 1, The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”, which happens to have a skip in it. To be honest with you, that’s perfectly fine with me as that’s one of the few songs on here I’ve heard one too many times. But these records fit the bill nicely for me– I don’t think I would search out a record by the O’Kaysions, but yeah, I’ll take another listen to “Girl Watcher”, thank you very much.

Here’s hoping that I run into 30 Now Goldens vol. 1 in another thrift store soon.

The Verdict: SCORE!
My Cost: 99¢

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Spiritual Jazz from ’74: Michael White and Norman Connors

Michael White - The Land of Spirit and Land & Norman Connors - Love From the SunBoy, this was a great find…and at a place that seemed to have little to offer for quite some time. To browse the vinyl at this particular thrift shop, you need get down, and I mean DOWN on the ground and dig through a nasty pile of mostly grimy and moldy records. But I keep doing it. Why? Because suddenly, one day you look through and there are a couple of nice records like these.

Avant-garde/black/soul/spiritual jazz from the 60s and 70s rocks my world…I love this stuff. To be honest though, I wasn’t all that familiar with Michael White‘s The Land of Spirit and Light. Apparently it’s considered a classic, and is a pretty rare LP to boot. When I came across this one I did recognize the name and of course right away saw that it was on Impulse Records— that was enough for me, before I even saw that the lineup included Prince Lasha and Cecil McBee. Then I saw the Norman Connors record (Love From The Sun) and was really psyched…I had actually been looking for this one. Heard a cut from it online (called “Holy Waters”, featuring vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater) and it blew me away. At the time there was actually no indication of what the track was or who it was, so I bugged a bunch of people at the Organissimo jazz forums and they told me it was this album (THANK YOU!!). This all literally happened a week before going into the thrift store and coming across this record…amazing. Man, I love this album. Check out the band!… apart from Dee Dee on vocals, there’s Carlos Garnett and Gary Bartz on saxophones, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Hubert Laws on flute, Herbie Hancock on piano, Buster Williams on bass and of course Norman on drums.

Clearly both of these records were part of the same collection. I wish there was more, but hell, I’ll settle for these! Funny thing that they are both from 1974 too. And now I will continue to go back to this thrift store and browse through their grimy pile of LPs that rarely changes, just so I can be there when that next great find finally comes in.

The Verdict: SCORE!
My Cost: 50¢ for BOTH!

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