I have three different vinyl pressings of Love’s desert-island-disc Forever Changes. I have two Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s lps – most don’t realize there was more than one, but it predated “Come on Eileen” and is more informed by Northern Soul than the Celtic whatever of their second album. I have no fewer than four Sheena Easton albums (at least three of which were purchased in the last twelve months, none for more than a dollar), and this afternoon discovered I still had the promotional album card – a thin slab of cardboard with the cover art on one side and promotional text on the other – for her Strut album. Does anybody out there like jazz tumpeter Woody Shaw? I have several of his 1970’s lps for Columbia, the entire run of which was collected on a box set by Mosaic Records, but I’ve never listened to them and can’t remember where I bought them – maybe one or two came from a trip to Amoeba Records in Berkeley in the ’90s. Man I bought a lotta records there.
In short, I hoard vinyl – I have hoarded it since the 80’s, and have memories of the dollar used bins at Kemp Mill Records in Georgetown where you could have picked up a mono pressing of St. Pepper for less than $10 (sadly, I didn’t). I remember when Zodiac records, a Latin music specialist on Columbia Road, mysteriously acquired an incredible record collection full of punk/new wave lps that they were selling for $1.50 a pop. I picked up early Roxy Music, Todd Rundgren, John Cale solo records; I passed up a first pressing of X-Ray Spex’ Germfree Adolescents because I already had a copy. Too bad, because a few years later I saw them selling for three figures.
In the early oughts I lost a few boxes of records to mold damage owing to a flooded furnace room, but besides that I’ve never made a concerted effort to shave off the collection’s unruly beard which is now several ear-splitting decibels beyond ZZ Top. In the ensuing years, there has been a resurgence of record stores (and I mean record stores) in this town, with three excellent sources of used vinyl within walking distance; the dollar-bins at one of those shops is the bane and boon of my existence, full of strange records of all lands with jaw-dropping covers that – well, like this:
There are thousands of lps in my basement, and I weeded a boxful this week. Some were easy decisions: did I ever need the Blow Monkeys lp? I’d always thought their hit, “Diggin’ your scene,” had an unresolved chorus that should have gone on for another bar. I don’t think I ever listened to Difford and Tilbrook’s post-Squeeze album more than once – for that matter, I can say the same of Squeeze’s last album, and do I really need any besides Argybargy? If that? They were a band I used to eat up like corn flakes but they no longer stay crispy in my milk. I never listened to my Guided by Voices double-lp bootlegs, but I’ll probably give those to my brother if he wants them. And I always thought Pussy Galore was trying too hard.
Of course, I went for a walk this evening and bought a new lp, Excavated Shellac, a collection of old string-centric 78s from foreign lands compiled by the curator of the blog of the same name, and issued by Dust-to-Digital, producers of the fantastic Goodbye Babylon set of old gospel. I bought it at Melody Records, the best new record/CD store left in Washington, DC. I remember buying a picture-sleeve 45 of “(Just like) Starting Over” at Melody Records, when they were still at the corner of Connecticut and Q, the week before John Lennon was killed. Over the years their stock shifted from vinyl to CDs and now they again have a healthy selection of new vinyl. When I bought a Big Star 45 at Melody several months ago, it was the first time I’d bought a 7″ single from Melody in more than a decade.
The thing is – I could have bought a whole stack of records from the dollar bins I could have bought twenty one-dollar records for what I paid for Excavated Shellac.
My apologies to those not infected by vinyl geekery. I feel I’ve gone on ad nauseum like a friend goes on about where he’s seen what movies and how he saw that movie at the Jerry Lewis Cinema in 1971 and how an appallingly expurgated version of it ran on the CBS Late Movie in 1975. I have waxed more than was my intention, and could wax some more. I have a problem. I am a recordaholic.
I’ll post updates on this continuing crisis, as developments occur.