Friday, February 28, 2014

Laurie's Planet of Sound, Lincoln Square

I had planned to visit Laurie's for a while but it's central North side location make it difficult to find a good route via public transportation.  On a 'mild' (32F) Saturday I decided I would take my bike on the Metra, and ride the ~12 mile round trip up and down Western via cycle.  As it usually is when buses and trains, you either get there early, or late.  And you won't catch me late when it comes to hunting for vinyl. 

So I arrived at Laurie's a good half hour early.  I walked up and down Lincoln and checked out the other stores in the area.  Came across Merz Apothecary (which is expanding) which I had read about before a few times.  They are one of very few retailers that carry the Chicago Comb (bought mine online).  I saw Quake collectibles across the street from Laurie's and couldn't decided if they were a thrift store or something more specific.  They were closed of course, so I peered inside - well they aren't exactly a thrift store, but they did have records! Front and center, I could see the three-bin rack staring at me.  Laurie's opens at 11am, Quake not until noon. I had some time to kill.

Bored of walking, I camped out in front of Laurie's, slowly draining my thermos of the coffee that filled it.  About 10 minutes before open, the clerk arrived.  Any hopes that he would be opening a little early were dashed to pieces when he walked his bike inside and locked the door behind him.  The door opened again a short time later - again my hopes peaked - but he locked up again behind him and walked away.

He returned a short time later and having decided he would wait until 11am on the dot, secured the entry as he passed.  Never in these passings did he acknowledge me at all - I figure if he doesn't say hello, he ought to tell me to get the hell out of there for soliciting in front of his shop.  

Finally he did allow me in and the hunt began.  As the first customer of the day, I had the place to myself.  The jazz section was just inside the door and it was adorable! They had a whole 20 records! :\
Luckily for me I did find something I want.  I became an instant Walter Wanderley fan after my find at Thrift and Fish Co.  not too long ago and this record easily eclipses that one.  Very pleased - listened to it a few times already and despite a small tear in the gatefold, the vinyl is in prime shape, very clean.  'Organ-ized' sounds artificial in comparison, 'Cheganca' has more soul, more swing....its just excellent. Best new artist discovery in a while.

I dug through the rest of the store, their soundtrack section was substantial but nothing of interest.  I got down on all fours to search through the commons but the bins were so deep that even my giant wing span could barely reach the back without putting half my torso inside!
There was some interesting jazz on, early 50s sound, bordering on big band at times.  But it had swing and wasn't bad - until some high pitched, chipmunk like voices interrupted! I figured this was a good time to break the ice with the clerk and I joked that I was digging the tunes until that voice kicked in! He responded dryly 'It's Raymond Scott.  It's a jazz record'.  It wasn't until now (that I remembered his name, finally) and dug through to see that this is the guy that scored loads of cartoons decades ago.  That might have been a good opportunity for the clerk to break the ice with me, and educate me on the topic.  I didn't go record shopping to get a hug from the clerk or start a passionate bromance but a hint of customer service would be appreciated.  I watched him practically leap out from behind the counter to push a stack of records back (they were leaning forward, the horror!) when a customer walked away.  Going to be a long day if that is amongst your job duties.

Perhaps more fun was the experience I had in Ravenswood Books, just next door to Quake.  When I left Laurie's, Quake was not yet open.  I was content to sit there and bide my time when Jim from the bookstore was opening up shop.  Unlike the experience I had waiting outside the record store across the street, Jim was warm and inviting - immediately asked if I was waiting for him or for Quake.  I did end up visiting the bookstore and hanging out with him for a while, we looked for some books I am collecting.  Couldn't find them, but he took my name and number and said he was sure they would come up.  So forgive this sideroad into 'Book Collecting in Chicago' but it is an interesting foil in service to the actual subject of this blog.

Small selection, ice cold employees, difficult (even by my standards, and I am willing to crawl) to access commons and teeny jazz selection make Laurie's a store I won't be soon revisiting, but I am sure glad I did.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quake Collectibles, Lincoln Square

I smelled vinyl on the premises from across the street as I waited for Laurie's to open.  Quake wasn't open yet either, but I peered inside and could see the record rack through the door.  Didn't buy anything but there was a bunch of nice stuff in here!

The first five records I flipped through were MOD and DRI.  Two bands I've loved for years - a used toy store is the LAST place I'd figure to find those! If they had 'Gross Misconduct' I would have bought it instantly! The DRI record has been reissued a few times by Beer City but the original looks like its kind of rare.  I think I'll be back up this way before long and I'll have to glance at the label.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rediscover Records, Elgin


Standard day for the majority of society as I know is as follows: go to work, punch out, go home, beat/yell at your wife, eat some kind of slop, fall asleep watching tv.

No matter where you live, and especially if you live anywhere near a large city, I cannot understand why people do not spend all their free time adventuring around.  I have not owned a car (have a perfectly valid license) for over 5 years and this has only acted as a catalyst to venture out even more.  Perhaps some people think that it is not very adventurous to visit far away pockets of the city or distant suburbs.  To them I ask, what are your passions? What do you spend your free time doing?  Sometimes I wonder if I just collect records so I can fulfill my other obsessions: traveling via public transportation/bike/foot, and writing.

I get incremental fare on the Metra since I constantly have a monthly pass but on a trip like the one I took yesterday, it is actually cheaper to just purchase a weekend pass.  For $7, you can ride unlimited, any zones, on any line.  I have done this before but I never end up using it again on Sunday.  Even after my four rides on Saturday, I easily milked that pass for beyond its $7 face value.  But when I woke up Sunday, I challenged myself to find another use for it.  Since I have explored most of the record stores in the city limits, I wondered what may lie west.  I thought about the larger cities that have stops and Elgin first came to mind.  A Google search pointed me immediately to Rediscover Records.

A subsequent Google maps search showed that it was a staggering 1/3rd mile away.  Not that I cared - trains are a couple hours between on Sundays and I was in no rush, I would have easily hoofed it a couple miles each way.

My train got me into the station a little earlier that hoped, as the store did not open until noon.  I figured I'd just camp out until the shopkeeper came to unlock like my standard maniacal self.  I was pleased to see it was already open about 10 minutes before it should have been, and I made my entry.

Rediscover Records is actually a smaller enclave within Two Doors Down, an antique shop.  That sounds like 2 boxes of vinyl but there was more than enough to keep me occupied for well over an hour.  Things were pretty well organized - backup cheap vinyl was stored vertically below the main bins as standard practice but - NEWS FLASH - it was actually alphabetized. What???

So down onto the floor I went, all fours, crawling around using my phone as a flashlight to inspect every nook and cranny.  When I entered I looked through about 10 records then cast off my jacket and bag onto the floor.  Moments later someone who obviously worked there arrived and I apologized for my 'mess'.  I explained that I would be digging for a while and had to make myself comfortable.  Not only were they understand, he added a comment that 'its like a journey'.  Very well said.

I moved to the jazz section before long with my usual high hopes.  My Pat Metheny obsession is riding high...I spent the previous night (a Saturday night, worthy of mention considering my activities):

1) doing my taxes
2) drinking Heiniken I earned by changing someones thermostat
3) dubbing the three Pat Metheny vinyls I accumulated recently into full-side mp3s
4) making/eating homemade pizza

A GREAT night to say the least.  So I had about 2 1/2 hours of Pat Metheny on my phone for the train ride over.  I found his first solo debut quickly and remembered just recently reading about the personnel on the album: performed only as a three piece with none other than Jaco Pastorius on bass.  It's just mind boggling to think of two jazz greats having gotten together well before their fame had peaked to perform on a classic record.  in 1976 Jaco was only 25 (Pat was only 22!) and this stands as nearly his first official appearance. 

I honestly couldn't believe I had the fortune to find it...not that it is especially rare but it is a good feeling during a dig to know that you are leaving with something more than a 'consolation prize' - I actually wanted this. I remember coming across this online and marveling at it then, I had no idea that the two would collaborate later on a much more important release.  At any rate, I've never been a super Weather Report fan but I did grab 'Heavy Weather' a while back on a dig late last year.

During my digs through one of the many $1 bins scattered throughout the store, I found a copy of 'Weekend in LA' by George Benson.  I seem to come across this everywhere I go, its beginning to haunt me.  I don't want it that much but for $1, I couldn't pass it up.  I saw the seam was split on one half of the gatefold but that is easily repairable (as long as it is split, not torn).  More on that later...

When I looked through the jazz section I came across a release that kind of surprised me.  I wasn't familiar with Herbie Mann but the template A&M used on the cover I am well acquainted with. 

I commented yesterday about how I now have the three Wes Montgomery albums (his last three) that use this same template with the same excellent photography.  This has intrigued me for some time, I was fairly certain I had come across every release that used this format.  I have sorted through every A&M and CTI release on Discogs digging and digging....I spent some serious quality time continuing my efforts this evening as this album's existance revealed that my work was far from done.

I am confident that it is now and I've accumulated the releases into a list on Discogs.  It turns out that the same photographer supplied all the photos - Pete Turner.  I fancy myself as an amateur photographer myself and I love his work (now realizing - amazed - that it is all the same person behind the viewfinder) but I am more in love with the really concise, concrete format of the layout.

Well I did not buy this album.  For a moment I considered it then decided against it - never heard Herbie Mann before.  What instrument did he even play? I jumped online to find out and read a little background.  There were some of his other albums in the bin and one caught my eye.  It's age stood out to me, without checking I could tell this was from the early 60s and when I saw it was on Atlantic I immediately thought of old beat copies of 'Giant Steps' I've seen more than once for modest prices.  As it turns out, I wasn't far off as 'Giant Steps' is Atlantic 1311 and this album is 1380.  Plus it was live...I don't know, I never do stuff like this but I bought the album totally uninformed.  I just had a good feeling, plus it was only $5 (and most of the jazz records in the bin were $8).  A surface clean didn't help this one much, it needs a DEEP clean to get the dust out of the ruts but it was listenable.  About 3 seconds of the 2nd track led me to the 'netz to confirm what I already knew to be true - Sublime sampled the vibraphone intro (amongst other things) for their song "Doin' Time".

I did come across Bob James 'One' in the dollar bin and grabbed it.  I have a bunch of Bob's albums downloaded but nothing on vinyl.  Recently someone told me I should explore his work - I said that I already had, I am just holding off on the vinyl because he has so many albums and I don't need another discography to obsess over.  I come across his stuff constantly but this time it caught my eye when there was a promotional sticker on the cover mentioning that Grover Washington Jr. played on the album.  I got 'Winelight' via mailorder accidentally many years ago when I was trying to order a copy of  'Breezin' and the seller let me keep it while sending me what I had originally wanted.  It wasn't until recently that I finally put the album on and I was shocked at how much I liked it.  However, when I opened the Bob James jacket to check the condition of the vinyl, I saw that (ironically) a different record was in there!

The friendly demeanor there translated into the physical space.  You have to love the markers used in the bins.  The last one took me a minute.

When I finally went to check out, I got into a deeper conversation with the fella I had run across when I had arrived.  this indeed was Rich - the owner! I can't imagine a guy who could look the part more of a record store owner and enthusiast.  He had a beat up tweed sport coat on and David Lynch hair.  We got into a good conversation about how we don't quite understand some of the hype surrounding Radiohead (as great as they may be) and we discussed the value and collectability of 78s on my way out.  We had instant rapport - a good quality in an entrepreneur who interacts with his customers.

I checked out and Rich hooked me up with some paper sleeves for the Benson 2xLP, a solid gesture no doubt.  I had about 25 minutes to kill and about a 5 minute walk back to the train station.  I thought of the shabby condition of my glue stick back at home, which was about to get called into action to mend 'Weekend in LA' upon my arrival at HQ.  It was so old the glue had taken on an odd texture - I needed a new one. I checked my phone for the nearest Walgreens - no where near.  Damn.  I figured I'd take care of that errand when I got home.

There was a JJ Peppers right across the street from the station - one down the block from my own home has probably gotten a few thousand dollars from my wallet over the years.  I stopped in to grab a snack for the ride home and wondered if they could possibly have a glue stick.  Well I'll be goddamned - THEY DID.

I ate my chips and drank my OJ and listened to more Pat Metheny on the way home, as I reflected on another awesome hunt, this one completely spontaneous and barely planned beyond about an hour previous to embarking upon it.

Old George went into one of my high school year books with a help from Mr. Peppers adhesive tube - I knew those volumes would come in handy one day.  Perhaps its time to call some of those 'KIT' numbers inscribed inside?

Maybe not.

Return to the Record Dump aka Beverly Records

No better way to spend a Saturday than the 6 hour round trip from River Grove down to Beverly Hills.  I visited Beverly Records for the first time a couple months ago and I can honestly say that I did give them a fair shake the first time around - the place is a dump.  Having more and more records - in poor condition, disorganized/cramped to the point of creating claustrophobia (in persons not generally prone to such maladies), random pricing....yeah, it's that good.  Ever seen an episode of 'Hoarders'? You. Just.Can't. Look. Away.

But despite this I returned, for it is at times not the destination but the journey.  And it is indeed an adventure.  I made an unplanned stopover at St. Vincent thrift store just a couple miles north on the way where I came up on some excellent scores.  What would the dump have for me on this day?

My first order of business was a record I had held in my paws during my previous visit but elected not to purchase.  Part of the CTI All Stars series (the initial offering, actually), the California Concert features George Benson (I found it mistakenly in his bin) and other of Creed Taylor's soldiers of the era.   I had recently picked up the first of three 'Live at the Hollywood Bowl' albums (via mail order) and I was planning on completing the collection.  I moved to the 'Misc Jazz C' bin and immediately found all three - including the one I already had.

While in the 'George Benson' bin, I looked for another album on my want list - The Shape of Things to Come.  A continuation of my current CTI fascination, this is one of a handful of albums that uses this same cover template.  The last three Wes Montgomery albums (of which I already had two) as well as Jobim's 'Wave' also share it.  The did have a copy of 'Shape' - but there was no vinyl inside the jacket!  The whole area was a mess, there was a random stack of A-B jazz albums, largely more Benson and also Count Basie just laying across the bin, apparently because there was no longer room in the bins they belonged in. For shame.

I checked the 'Misc Jazz J' bin for 'Wave' - I did find one older Jobim album, but not the one for which I searched.  So I moved onto the area housing the Wes Montgomery albums, on the hunt for 'Down Here on the Ground' - the last of the three albums I previous mentioned which I did not already own.  I not only found it, I found a couple copies.  First the standard issue, than the gatefold, then another gatefold in EXCELLENT condition.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I checked the inside.  Was the vinyl even there? How badly beat up was it? It was intact - its its original A&M plastic sleeve.  A keeper for certain!

I checked for any Azymuth records - they only had one, 'Telecommunication', which I already own.  Drat!  To conclude my jazz hunt for the day (before moving onto simpler pastures), I went to the Pat Metheny bin.  I recently picked up 'Still Life (Talking)' (via mail order) and was on the hunt for 'Letter from Home' to complete the so-called "Brazilian Trilogy" that includes those two albums plus the previous 'First Circle' which I picked up at Logan Hardware a while back.

After shaking my head at coming across multiple copies of 'Still Life' (which I had ordered via the internet after being frustrated at not finding it in any of my hunts), the last album in the bin was indeed a mint copy of 'Letter from Home'.  Success!

Now I moved onto a new project.  Beverly Records brags about its extensive 45 collection.
As far as quantity, I agree, they can't be beat.
But like everything else in the store, they are roughly organized and physically laid out in a way that requires that you basically lie on the floor to dig through the 100 records or so in each bin.  Of course the quality is low - these are BEAT.  Worst of all possibly, they 'start' at $4.  I am far from a 'snob' and I am ok with beat up records as long as they play (somewhat).  But these things are beat to hell.  But in my case, I didn't care.

I have been messing around with wall hanging vinyl for a few years.  I got three big frames that will easily hold a 12" sleeve (even with the vinyl still inside) and are easy to open/close so you can swap 'em out when you get tired of looking at the same thing.  I had my Brasil '66 Pickwick reissues of 'Equinox' and 'Ye-Me-Le' recently but I've started on more permanent projects that contain a larger amount of creativity.

My Engelbert Humperdinck obsession is in full swing - the first piece I have created (with help) is a copy of the 'We Made It Happen' jukebox 45 (33 1/3rd 7" that contains 6 songs), along with the jukebox strip and custom matting made from the classic London/Parrot paper sleeves that outline upcoming and existing releases.  The frame is bigger than 12" so I used more than one and realigned the grid and its basically flawless.  

Big thanks to my far more crafty friend Jen for her help with this project (and purchasing the 45 for me as a gift!).
Not too long ago I had a Discogs seller screw up and ship me a copy of 'Release Me' inside of 'A Man Without Love' jacket (the latter being the record that I wanted).  I got a refund and the 'Release Me' was actually the mono version so I swapped that out with the existing copy already in my bin and and framed the useless vinyl and jacket, separately.  Not much to do with the jacket (besides get some blue matting, already in progress).  And then we come to my diabolical plans for the 'Release Me' LP...

I initially just centered the 12" in the frame - looked pretty cool, but a lot of dead space.  I grabbed a tape measure and saw that if I got four 7" singles I could put them in the corners and while the vinyl would overlap, the labels would not.  So I started on my hunt for four unique versions of the 'Release Me' single.  Not an especially difficult task given the millions of copies that were pressed for that classic single.  I found two quickly on Discogs for minimal loot and already had two more lined up on eBay.  But what better place to get a couple relatively common 45s when you don't care about the condition (as they will never be played)? The record dump - that's where!

Eng' filled not one but two huge 18" long boxes.  The first revealed nothing new, only many copies of the two I already had in my possession back at home.  But the second gifted me two excellent specimens! First a London reissue, likely from the mid-late 70s with an alternate B-side ('There Goes My Everything', replacing 'Ten Guitars').  But it was the second - which was in the very back of the last bin - that really made me nearly sqeeeeeeee out loud.

It was the ridiculous version of the Parrot label that has like a desert/beach/I don't know scene instead of the famous black (or tan) background with the humanoid Parrot.  But better yet - it was a double stamp mispress!
At the plant where it was manufactured two labels had been placed on it, one overlapping the other. Score! After that I sorted through to grab two of the best condition Parrot paper sleeves I could find.  All were beat up - it took some time in a heavy encyclopedia once they got home to flatten them out.  Here is the frame laid out, but not yet put together (still have to secure some colorful matting):

I was pretty satisfied with the day's finds but still could not understand why I couldn't find a section for Eng' in the 'male vocal' bins.  So I asked at the counter.  The old timer told me 'oh, those are in the back' and explained that there were simply too many LPs to put in the normal section.  My skin bristled with delight as I "excuse me"d back through the aisles to the rear of the shop.  And oh, what did I find?!

At this point I am at least temporarily satisfied with my Eng collection - I have the first 6 LPs plus 'After the Lovin'.  I have a fleeting interest in his remaining three Parrot LPs but the rest of the Epic stuff (of the 'mustache years' in the following decade) pretty much turn me off.  But I had to look.

The first thing I found (the two black bars on the left) definitely interested me.  I balked at what they would dare to try and charge me for a 5-LP set so I didn't even ask but as I am pretty sure these will sit here a while, one day I may return to the dump and pick them up.

I went through the rest of the LPs and found what I can only consider a 'holy grail'.  Pardon me - a holy FUCKING grail.  A SEALED COPY OF 'WE MADE IT HAPPEN'! This is the record that sparked by obsession.  Previously I had only known his famous single 'After the Lovin' of which admittedly, I was a fan.  It was given to me as a gift and I continue to play the hell out of it but to have a sealed copy - oh my goodness!  Convinced that it could get no better, I added it to my stack of four other 12 & 7 inch records and returned to the counter.  Where in fact, I was told that it was a $20/5 LP sale.  How they can do a blanket price on everything in the store is typical of their disorganization but no matter.  I had in fact seen something else in the rear of the store that interested me.  It wouldn't be until I got home that I really realized how interesting an item it really was.

So I went back to the Engelbert section and grabbed this gem.  I had come across it before, but somehow this one was different.  I knew it was a compilation of early Eng tracks, despite the reference in the title and the (zoomed in) cover photo, this is not a variant of his debut.  I also noticed that it was labeled Decca - not Parrot - so I was sure it was a European release.  When I looked more closely I saw that I was right - it was from Greece! The versions of this compilation already listed on Discogs have a slightly different track selection - this Greek version was all new and I added it to the database.  However, it is one of the worst sounding records I have ever heard, and I don't mean the record is dirty.  It just sounds tinny and horrible, I don't know if this was mastered differently or what.  The vinyl is definitely not in great shape but my actual copies of the albums these songs were taken from are of similar age/wear and sound warm and wonderful.  This sounds like it should be in a horror movie.

The clerk acted like he was doing me a favor by only charging me $5 for the sealed vinyl (even though there is no signage anywhere in sight explaining that it should be more) and then pointed out that the 'Release Me' comp should have been $10 (it was pencil written on the back of the jacket - along with some other scribbles which I am confident were NOT put on by this store.  They looked ancient.

All in all, a wonderful afternoon and one of those things that you have to laugh at its just so messed up.  I came away with what I needed though I paid a bit of a premium for it.  Oh well, there are worse habits I suppose.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

St. Vincent Thrift Store, Beverly Hills

While on my way down to Beverly Records,  it dawned on me that there might be a thift store nearby.  Considering my recent good luck in such establishments, I did a quick internet query for nearby locations and came up with this place at 93rd and Western.

So I jumped off the Metra at 95th instead of my planned 115th and walked west to Western Ave.  Before long the store was upon me and I entered.  I was greeted with the standard fare: racks and racks of used clothing and shoes.  I saw books in the back and headed in that direction, just adjacent was a nice wire rack with 6 bins and a couple 100 records probably.  Even by thrift store standards, it was disheveled.  I can understand having some torn up records with unglued jackets and missing paper sleeves but I almost gave myself a slipped disc having to turn my head constantly as I flipped through - every record seemed to be topsy turvy from the last.  It was hard not to rip them all out and put them back in some kind of order.

It was an absolutely Engelbert motherlode.  I found a copy of 'Release Me' in the first bin, and found two copies of 'Engelbert Humperdinck' before I was done.  I did not see a single copy of any release after about 1970 - very tasteful.  I found the two remaining Parrot (pre-1971) albums I had been looking for in the last bins - 'A Man Without Love' and my fave, 'Engelbert' aka 'The Red Album.  I had purposely refused to purchase these online even though I could get them for pennies because I knew I would come up on a spot like this before long.  I also came across a copy of 'We Made It Happen' and just shook my head in disbelief at the amount of Eng one store had to offer! Better yet, there was a sign stating all records were only a buck!

I carried my two new vinyls up to the counter - only to find that Saturday everything in the store is 50% off! So with tax, I left with a debit of only $1.09 - positively absurd.  I had considered going here after Beverly Records but decided it made much more sense to come here first as selection would be more limited (and price likely lower).  I hit the nail on the head.

I walked back to 95th and waited for the Pace 349 - someone/something was shining down on me because the bus showed in 5 minutes.  A few miles south and I strolled into 'the record dump'......

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thrift & Fish Co. (Julie's Gifts), Montclaire

I stopped back into Knick Knack over the weekend and they still had not come up on the load of records they promised were in the pipeline.  They said they would be getting them Monday.  So I swung through today (Tuesday) and alas, they were closed again.  Not willing to waste the trip, I walked east to Harlem Ave to check out an old haunt.

Julie's Gifts has been on Grand Ave. since the dawn of time.  I had not noticed but the giant JULIE'S sign is now gone, I'll guess that it was going to fall down unless it was manually removed.  I had visited once last summer on a whim, they had one box of totally beat vinyl, mostly religious and symphonic - totally worthless.

So I strolled in and walked towards the back where I remembered the vinyl had been last time.  On my way I saw a big stack inside a giant furniture-record player.

It was filled to the brim with what can only be called 'easy listening' - the epitome.  Henry Mancini (there was even a copy of the one album I have) , Bert Kaempfert and even a copy of 'Rise'!  Tons of Roger Williams and his brother from another mother, Andy Williams.  You could tell it all came from a single collection due to the style similarity and it was all in EXCELLENT condition, the jackets were so vivid and clean, really nice.  I didn't see anything in there that really screamed out to me but I figured this was all the vinyl in the place and I hate to leave empty handed on an expedition like this.  So this caught my eye:

I've never claimed to know much about samba but I've got plenty of bossa nova in the collection.  I figured 'what the hell!'.  Just on a whim, I asked the shopkeeper if they had any other vinyl, I was convinced the answer would be 'no'.  I was wrong.  She pointed towards a box by the front door.

This box had all kinds of fun stuff in it and more than a little jazz.  Unfortunately, many of the candidates for purchase were beaten down, badly.  But ironically, others were in pretty good shape.  I found more than a couple albums I wanted and made a mental note to just put that weird samba album back.  They had a big snooker (not billiards) table set up so I laid out my score (minus the samba album).

I actually gasped a little bit when I found the Eng album...I have been working on his Parrot/Decca/London stuff and this is his first album once he left and hooked up with Epic, but its too good to pass up.  I had it on 8-track for a while until it got eaten up and the Barry Manilow cover is just irresistible.  I have almost every solo album from the members of RTF downloaded from years ago and this album is a classic.  Probably the most beat of the bunch but still good to go.  John Klemmer is a name I come across all the time and it was the first album I found in this bin that was even a candidate.  To be honest its a little smooth even for me, if you want to be that smooth you have to at least be funky.  I determined that the Benson album was too beat up.  I kicked it to the curb and went to cash out.

I couldn't resist the samba album so I took all 4 for $8.  Not bad! The shopkeeper cued me that there was yet a third stash of vinyl she had forgotten about so I checked that next.  Nothing of interest...the vinyl was stacked up horizontally and I couldn't stand it (and I had to go through it all anyway) so I put them all spine-out, vertically when I was done.

Now back to that 'samba album', as I keep generically referring to it.  It is excellent! Better yet, sales history on discogs shows that its probably worth about $20.  I don't buy records as 'investments' and normally I wouldn't even check but I had half a feeling that this might not even be listed (it was).  The third song 'Vivo Sonhando' is one of my fave bossa nova standards, most famous (or at least, how I discovered it) on the awesome collaboration between three of my favorite musicians - Herb Alpert, Lani Hall and Sergio Mendes.  The organs constantly remind me of the little riff Sergio plays on 'For Me' and it just SWINGS.  Somewhere, long ago, someone bought this just to chill to and likely was not a hardcore jazzcat...and didn't care.  I am listening to it for similar reasons and enjoying it just as much now, and it will live in my collection forever.  What a gem!  I must admit I am tempted to go back and root through that box again -- what did I miss???

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Half Price Books [Appleton, WI]

Up in Appleton for work and stumbled upon this place.

Ironically found a bunch of the record i just got yesterday.  The jazz section was kind of phony, all sealed reissues for big money.  The best jazz they had was in the 'clearance jazz' section and they were all releases i owned.  Decent amount of vertically stored commons for a buck and i crawled around and checked threm all - not horrible but nothing that leapt out at me.

Walked away with a copy of H2O from Hall and Oates for $2.09 with tax.  Browsed the books for some old cookbooks I've benn looking for.  They didn't have them but more disappointingly didn't seem to have anything older than 5-10 years at all.

[note: this post may not qualify very well as 'record collecting in chicago', but i couldnt help myself]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Knick Knack Paddy Wack, Elmwood Park

Around Christmas, my long time grocery store (Dominick's) closed, along with all the others in Illinois.  This has been a slight inconvienence as it is a greater distance to the next store.  However, it was a good catalyst to get me to shop at a smaller and better store, rather than be lazy and just go to the closest place.

So I've set up a good system where I can take my normal Metra train home from work but go past my stop to the next one, which takes me right to my new store.  Then I have about 25 minutes to shop and I can catch a bus straight back west on Grand Ave and get dropped off right in front of my place.

I've been using this system to good results for weeks now and a few trips ago, I noticed a thrift store across the street as I walked to my bus stop.  They were closed with a sign in the door saying that they were off picking up some goods from a seller.  I made a mental note to return -- and today I did!

I remembered just as I was crossing the street and alas, they were open.  Both of the owners David and Kelly were sitting inside with their little dog who is apparently also the mascot of the store.  I tried to see inside if they had records and I could see the stack even through the window.  I entered and after a short greeting got back there and got down to work.

There were probably 20 records in a stack, with another stack of 7"s on top without sleeves.  Now I knew I had about 10 minutes max before I had to get the hell out of there or I'd miss my bus.  I set the 7"s aside and start digging through the pile of LPs.  I came across this gem right away!

what a shame! look at this beat copy of a blue note classic!
I've had a shot at some Spyro Gyra albums before but always passed them up.  I must be a total poseur because I would have bought them if it was this album (as everyone knows the title cut) but I always came across other albums.  I almost laughed out loud when I saw this today and realized what I had.

It is complete with the original paper sleeve and its even stamped 'FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY' by the record label on the front.  Over the weekend, I took the train out to my parents house and I gave my brother $40 for the huge dinner we cooked (he spent about $80) so I was left with nothing.  But I realized that on Sunday as I went to leave so I got $2 back for my train fare.  However, the conductor didn't notice me so I rode for free.  Good thing - because only had that $2 on me and there would not have been time to hit an ATM (and I assume they would not have accepted credit).  The record bin was marked $3 but I gave them my (abbreviated) hard luck story and they accepted my $2.

They told me they expect to have some more vinyl in about a week and gave me a business card and even wrote an additional number on the back to call and check to see when the shipment has arrived.  They also said that Monday and Tuesday are their days to be on the road doing pickups so I was lucky to have caught them there today.

Side 1 is kind of tore up - its pretty skippy even though it looks great.  Side B played just fine though and I am pleasantly surprised to hear their overall style besides the one song I knew, it's good stuff!