Saturday, March 29, 2014

Old School Records, Forest Park

I had planned to visit Old School during an overly ambitious trip I attempted a number of weeks ago.  For today's 're-do', I found myself in the area visiting an estate sale just a few blocks away.  I walked over and came out on Madison Ave. at Beloit St.  I turned my head to and fro looking for a sign, I knew the record store was close...but where? I was about to check my phone when I added a few degrees to my head's arc and alas, there she stood!

The jazz section was right inside the door - I jumped straight in.  The bins were a bit overstuffed and the name cards were a bit tattered but I went through each and every disc.  I got to about 'M' and was wondering where the section continued and found the answer to be a rare one - they actually continued below.  Almost always, this area is reserved for doubles of the records in the bins above, or 'bargain' records, or both.  So onto my knees I got, I honestly had to stick my head and torso inside to get to the backs.

After visiting the sections A continuing to Z, I pulled out 3 releases:

1) George Benson - 'The Other Side of Abbey Road'.  I found this almost immediately and took it to be a great omen for the hunt to follow.  While not rare, never came across this before.

2) K & J.J. - 'Betwixt and Between'.  I have been listening to 'Isreal' like mad after picking it up a few weeks ago.  Definitely a fan and moreso as this is one of three 3000 series CTI releases with alternate cover template.

As for #3, I found my biggest treat of the day in the last section for compilations.  Mistakenly placed, this CTI release actually caused me to explain 'oh yeah!' quietly to myself.  I glanced at the musicians involved and saw Ray Beckenstein. Surely this must be the father of sax man Jay from Spyro Gyra.  Unbelievably it is not but it does look like Ray played with Shep Fields - who I know all too well

Luckily the poor acoustics of the inside of the record bin in which I currently resided prevented my fist pumping voice from carrying to the others in the store.  One gentleman behind the cash register (likely the proprietor) was chatting with a customer and another man in the store who seemed to work/hang out/etc. After an extensive (and honestly impressive) discussion about kraut rock, world beat and other European artists, the customer left.  The 'employee' then went on a longer verbal jaunt about his autistic nephew who likes sour cream and cheddar potato chips but only the coating - so he licks them off and puts them back in the bag.  And as luck would have it, some other member of the family actually ate some.  I still feel a bit sick thinking of this and he went on...and on.  He touched on the young disabled fellows eating habits in general which also included Tootsie Pops (but only the red ones - his mother actually contacted the manufacturer asking if she could procure that solitary color.  According to lore, they obliged with 'like a 10 pound bag') and also Home Run Inn frozen pizzas, which must be cut into a certain size/shape or will be left uneaten.   Brain troubles aside, his nutritional intake leaves much to be desired.

I knew that many or all of the Latin jazz releases I was looking for were absent in the jazz bins I had just investigated so I peered about for a Latin section.  I found it quickly and while small, it contained a bevy of excellent releases, two of which I had zero doubts about walking away with:

1) Antonio Carlos Jobim - 'Wave'.  I am listening to this right now.  It is just a no brainer, especially given my long journey through bossa nova which began with Brasil '66 many years ago.  I don't know how anyone would have trouble enjoying this but my familiarity with some of these standards makes it that much sweeter.  I wonder how many versions I have of some of these songs like 'Wave'.  I am a little surprised at the small amount of vocals on the album in it's entirety - though that doesn't disappoint me whatsoever.

2) Walter Wanderley - 'Rain Forest'.  My WW journey has been an interesting one that started with a thrift store find that screamed out YOU'LL LOVE THIS to the far more melodically addictive Cheganca to the roughly disappointing Kee-Ka-Roo (despite adorable title).  A few weeks ago I was perusing WWs discography deciding what album to purchase next (if I were to use the internetz) and this seemed appealing.  I came across it physically not long ago (perhaps at Val's? I don't remember) but the price was prohibitive.  Haven't listened to this yet (blame Tom Jobim) but very excited.

This put a total of five records in my hands and total value exceeded $30.  This was a quantity and cost beyond anything I have spent at one shop in a long time, perhaps ever.  The Benson album I could part with as it was pretty beat (but only 3.99) and also this is probably the 3000 series album I desire the least (though I'm sure I will purchase it eventually to complete the roster one day).  So I do not regret returning that to the bin.  The K & JJ album however is already driving me bonkers and should be filed along with the Herbie Mann album I returned for recently under 'albums left behind which then cause excessive anxiety at the thought that a return visit will prove fruitless as another more sensible shopper will have already whisked them away'.  Ironically, while there are not many albums inside this theoretical manila envelope, the tab designed for titling is rather large indeed.

I paid the cost for my records and on the way out commented to the cashier that I was half tempted to make him an offer on the Neko Case poster on the wall.  He said that she was the main endorser of the event in 2013 (apparently the choose an artist to do so annually) and that the poster next to it (Tom Waits) did the same the year previous.  I joked that Tom Waits interests me far less than Neko - surely in terms of their art as I adore Neko's music and also the potential for her to grace my walls, while Tom stinks in both regards. (I was not quite so verbose in the store).  Of course the 'employee' had to pipe up at this point as he makes a living filing records 1% of the time and running his mouth the rest of the time.  He mentioned that Chuck D (of Public Enemy) was going to fill this role in 2014 and quipped that he hoped Chuck would visit stores and reference the song "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man" when people asked if the store stocked a certain release.  I laughed but then determined this was fair game to make a tiny attempt to set this person straight.  I related that while it is a good idea, its not entirely appropriate because that is one of the few Public Enemy songs that Flavor Flav raps himself.  I may not own any PE vinyl but I purchase that cassette tape before I was even in high school and listened to it until it was committed to memory.

I stupidly did not take any pics inside the store and felt foolish to re-enter in order to do so.  You are left with this acceptable albeit reflective photo as a result.  Chew it up or spit it out, you are free.
I actually rode 4 different Pace Buses today - this is a personal record I believe.

Forest Park estate sale

Got a tip from Kelly at Knick Knack and swung through on a Saturday afternoon.

Walked away with the last Herb Alpert record I needed and another 5th Dimension release!  Also got the haps on a giant estate sale in May with 2500 records over in....yeah right! Like I'm telling you!

And I also stole this awesome 45 adapter (made in Chicago!).  I struggled to get it out of the 7" it was stuck in and it cracked during removal.  Oops!

Forest Park Emporium


Stopped in after Old School Records down the street (and a quick stop into Army-Navy Surplus) on the hunt for vinyl.

Vinyl was scattered around the store, felt like I was on an Easter egg hunt!  Didn't buy anything, but saw some decent platters.


Jazz Record Mart, River North

Spent my birthday weekend relaxing in a hotel in River North eating and drinking non stop for 48 hours.  I made a brunch reservation at Frontera Grill well in advance.  Also made more casual plans to visit two of my favorite places in the area: Pizzeria Due which I've been going to almost since I could drive; and Clark Street Ale House who provides the opposite sustenance.

At some point it dawned on me that Jazz Record Mart was somewhere in the loop area and I still hadn't been there.  I checked the map and found it wasn't just 'in the area', it was just a couple blocks from my hotel! So after a grade A meal at Frontera, I hoofed it on down to JRM.

While they do carry some amount of blues and just a handful of other styles, the jazz dominates the space.  Large sections are dedicated to specific eras such as 'WWII JAZZ'.  Glad they did not integrate that into the standard jazz bins as it surely does not interest me.

Once you find the 'A' section for jazz you enter upon a long and winding snake like trip around the store.  It isn't very logical but the snake does always continue, albeit sometimes not quite at the angle you'd expect!

So after feeding myself on gorditas for brunch, I fed my out of control CTI addiction down at the record store.  I picked up 'half' of a Hubert Laws album.  I am still barely scratching the surface on exploring his work but the other musicians on the album are what really drew me in. Steve Gadd in particular I am a fan of but it looks like his involvement with CTI post-dates the early years I so commonly follow (this album is from 1974).  His bandmate on this record however looks like a common collaborator - he has played on a number of Bob James' albums.  I come across Bob's stuff everywhere and I've had a few albums downloaded for years.  I always hesitate to explore that discography as the records are available so readily I'll end up adding 10-15 records to my collection really fast.  At this point I'm trying to be somewhat selective but my mention of it here probably does reveal my guilt for having left them behind.  I guess it's just a matter of time...

But I haven't spent much time with Mr. Laws yet as I also found a 3000 series release - albeit it a early 80s re-release.  Still it really is excellent.  The stereo imaging on simple melody lines played in unison - panned hard left/right - its such a delight to experience.  The first two songs on side B are so good I almost feel guilty.  The first ('Never My Love'), is a good example of the CTIs roster at the time, another excellent rework of a tune popular of the day.  The track that follows it ('Saturday Night is the Loneliness Night of the Week') is a far older standard that seems to have been custom build for the dueling trombones.  The guitar/trombone interplay on both tracks is delightful, the work of Eric Gale on only these two and one other on side A.  A review of his credits doesn't show much I am familiar with outside other appearances within the CTI canon.  I'm sure Mr. Gale and I will meet again as I continue to find more of these releases.  The album is in scary-good condition, one of the cleanest pieces of vinyl in my collection and the inner/outer jackets are nearly flawless.  Even came with the original Audio Master Series plastic inner sleeve.  Excellent!

What better place to find a Jane Fonda album but a jazz oriented record store, organized under 'M'.  It's quite obvious, really.

Don't know that I've been in a record store before that had their own bins.  And if I did, I know they were not personalized.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday morning western suburbs thrift store circuit

Went out on a Saturday morning/afternoon with my mom to do some record hunts.  She doesn't collect but surely influenced my taste in music at an early age.  As my own tastes are still mostly pre 1980 it was easy for her to get down with the game plan and get in the crates herself.  We hit a total of four shops and definitely came up on some scores and had a ton of fun.

I stopped at a Half Priced Books up in Wisconsin a while back after my mom had been in this new one in her own neighboorhood, and reported that they had vinyl.  I found the vinyl layout and quantity/quality almost identical.  I got on all fours and checked each and every vertical $1 record - did come across Engelbert's Christmas album but passed on it - I despise Christmas music.  This is the same reason that has kept me from Herb's offering even though I have almost his entire discography as well.  In the end I walked away with another Pat Metheny album and the cashier was kind enough to let us cash in on a coupon we didn't even have.  

The store in Wisconsin I visited had this same locked box, with the little window you can put your fingers in to flip through.  Interesting they equip all their stores with this device.  Did see a copy of this lurking in there...


Standard thrift store had a bevy of classical and other garbage vinyl but I walked away with a really cool A&M compilation.  Of 16 tracks, I have 5 of the originals with 2 more on my want list.  Really cool that it includes some CTI artists and even credits them as such on the track listing.  The record is in wonderful condition with the original inner jacket (with new A&M releases advertised) however some degenerate had decided they needed to put a huge gold label on the cover with what I can only assume are ('P.M.') their initials.  Perhaps more horrible is the fact that this drove me bonkers and I picked at it until I removed it and damaged the cover a bit.  Far too embarrassed to depict this here.  Really cool cover layout though that morphs a variety of A&M covers into one.


The only store of the day I did not purchase any records at.  I did come across a beautiful condition Ray Price album I strongly considered purchasing and also a couple (duplicate) Engelbert albums (see below).  Very small selection in a very un-ergonomic shelf.  At the door was a bin marked 'FREE' that contained truly a a handful of rubbish including some old golf balls.  So anyone reading this who is in the market - word to the wise.

This record comes with very clear instructions on how it is to be used.  Disobey at your own peril.

Neglected to take a photo of the rack of records - a 9 unit 12" cube rack with at least a couple hundred records - nice.  Had to roam about the HUGE store a few times to figure out if they had any vinyl/music and if so, where it was.  Wasn't near the books as is the usual MO in thrift stores. Sadly, I've been in this space before as it used to be a huge Super Low Foods grocery store that pulled the plug on the operation a few years ago.  Their house made roast beef was divine but the new tenants had some wonders of their own to provide.

Found at least 5-6 Eng albums but nothing I needed.  Ended up walking out with an Anne Murray album for a friend and a double LP live Neil Diamond that looks like it had been in a time capsule - but was still only valued at $1.06 by 'the Army'.  

The reciepts show that our hunt took exactly one hour! Amazing spoils for such a short duration! And THAT my friends - is how you spend your Saturday afternoon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rediscover Records - THE MOVE

Learned just this weekend that my friend Rich was uprooting his store and moving to greener pastures down the block, in a new, bigger retail space.

With the prospect of molesting 1000s of pieces of his vinyl, I immediately volunteered to help.

When I arrived, the heavy lifting was done - everything had been moved.  However, a vast number of records now had to be organized and moved from cardboard boxes and into their bins.  This is where I excel.

Rich and I worked together with minimal interruptions for a solid three hours.  Having decided that things were at least good enough to open the store Tuesday morning (cue the Moody Blues), we called it a night.

But not before I was honored to make the first purchase at the new location.  'Glory of Love' by Herbie Mann, a record I had coveted since my initial visit a month ago and the catalyst that caused me to become informed of Rich's transplant.

It's a special experience to be involved in the move of a record store - it's a life lesson to be forced to quickly and accurately organize boxes and boxes of records.  I've been training for a long time.  Thanks Rich.

Found this pic on the Rediscover Records Facebook page and swiped it for posterity!  Action shot - Chris and I shoveling the records like no tomorrow! Rich is so sneaky I had no idea he took this!
Rediscover Records has moved just around the corner from the old Chicago Ave. address - it is now located at 9 S. Spring St., just about a half block away.  Stop by today!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Community Thrift, [McComb, OH]

This was my sixth trip to McComb, I stopped in the day before the job to drop off my heavy equipment and noticed a thrift store and made a note to stop in when the drop was complete.  I was not disappointed.

I found a total of four Eng records - two of which I had - and made away with the remainder. One was 'My Love' (one of the greatest Eng covers) and the other was his final album for Epic (it's pretty bad, and I am a hardcore fan).  There was many, many 45s....since I don't care for those that much I half heartedly went through them just to pass the time. 

I'd estimate I actually went through about 33% and in that time I found four Eng 7", two of which were jukebox 45s aka minialbums (5-6 songs on 33rpm).  I am working on collecting these - one of them (Engelbert Humperdinck) I already have , with the picture sleeve.  The other (The Last Waltz) I don't have but I wasn't keen on buying it as a naked platter.  Both however were interesting really old looking blue Parrot labels I've never seen before.  I went back to make sure the other two LPs I left behind (The Last Waltz and Release Me) weren't mono (neither was) then moved on.  I left the four Eng 45s separate from the rest in the hopes that another rabid collector will find them and be grateful for my work.


I came across a copy of Ray Price 'For the Good Times' and was very tempted to buy it - I have a dub and I enjoy it, and I seem to come across this often.  I decided not to in the end but before I rendered that decision, I checked the vinyl to make sure it was intact and not wrecked.  There was inexplicably a second Ray Price LP in the same jacket! Bizarre!

I found a couple LPs with these 'notes' on them. The previous owner used masking tape and wrote down which songs were good/bad....pretty weird.

Came across this gem, autographed and all!
As I went to leave, I mentioned to the proprietor that whomever she obtained this collection of records from had taste similar to my own, and I commend him/her.  She told me it was her neighbor, who lives nearby.  She said this person gives her records on consignment and periodically comes in to swap them out with new ones.  Vaguely interested in this process, I commented as much.  Then she added something like 'oh, he has lots of records....I'd say about a million'.  I wasn't sure how to react.  Was she serious? Before I could say anything (not sure I was even going to) she went on to say that he had an entire building on his property filled to the brim with records, and that said structure also contained an elevator.  With that, I no longer cared if it was an exaggeration, a lie, whatever.  I asked if she would pass on my name and number, because I'd like to check this place out.

Well what do you know...a few days after I got home I got a call......I returned this voicemail and we had a long discussion in excess of 15 minutes.  Suffice to say, when I head back out this way, I'll be calling my friend Terry up and trying to see his Castle of Records! And when I do - I will share it here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Logan Hardware

Had a brief moment while in the area to swing through what is probably my favorite record store in the world.

One WW record and one game each of Missile Command and Bezerk and I'm a happy boy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Val's Halla Records, Oak Park

Came through Val's after a segueway into the Brown Elephant to find an unattended store.  A voice called out from the back room, and soon appeared an older woman carrying a large plate of garlic bread.  This must be Val.  She was cordial and asked if I was looking for anything in particular.  I never am, and this question always seems overwhelming to me - like I should have pinpointed my wants long before I left home.  But the question was only asked with the best of intentions (it usually is).  

I found a large jazz section that contained a number of attractive records.  I was looking for a record to complete a trade with a colleague and held Return to Forever's Greatest Hits in my hand - but replaced it in the bin when I looked at the atrocious track listing.  How any songs from 'Musicmagic' can appear on a RTF 'best of' is beyond me.  Who was the executive producer, Gayle Moran?  This record serves as a poor introductory record to the non-fan, and a possibly even less listenable release to someone already acquainted with their music.

After picking up an late 50s Atlantic release from Herbie Mann, I came across this - which boasts appearances from Jobim and Mendes.  I knew I'd be leaving with this record, and I did.  I did come across another Joe Farrell release but the hometown boy's albums usually do fetch a few bucks and this was no exception - too rich for my blood.  (Ironically - or not - I see it available now for ~$2!)

All in all a solid record store with a neighborhood feel, you don't get the idea that dorks looking for novelty records for their novelty collections shop here.  Almost overlooked, great shop.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Brown Elephant, Oak Park

On my way to Val's Halla Records, I stumbled upon this high end thrift store, also on Harrison just a couple blocks east.
I was relieved and excited to find a large record bin about 10' inside the front door!
 That goddamn George Benson album follows me everywhere, I almost bought it at Fish and Thrift Co but discarded it due to condition.  I passed today.  I did come across another Grover Washington Jr. album (already own Winelight) and grabbed it at once.  My CTI obsession knows no bounds and was excited when I left and found that it was actually released on the CTI sub-label, Kudu.  Even has the original Kudu dust cover inside.  Just as I type this I find that Grover had more than a few releases on Kudu - how about nine?! I hope Creed gave him some stock options with that contract.

Just as I completed the first bin, I saw another one just a few feet away lurking amongst some book shelves! (Grover came along for the ride)
A third record bin (they never seemed to end, much to my delight!) bookended the CD rack (you can see bin #1 in the distance).  It was here that I found a total of three Engelbert albums - two I already had (the 'EH' album and also 'We Made It Happen') and one I did not, which I promptly purchased ('Sweetheart').  It wasn't until I left that I found that my new Eng' score had a mostly torn top seam, but oh well.  That is what the plastic jackets are for - to hold my old vinyls together like duct tape! I must admit I do have a bizarre preoccupation with purchasing every copy of 'We Made It Happen' I come across....just to have them.  Yikes, I need help.

I picked up one more record - a 12" promo single of 'Rise'.  It was still in the (opened) wrapper and there is an odd sticker identifying it as a promo on the custom outer jacket.  I honestly thought this might be worth a few bucks - it had better be, since I already own the LP! Of course, it isn't.  There are legit promo copies of this single out there, identified as such on the actual label, this isn't.  Still a cool piece of 80s A&M history.

One of the most common thrift store records across the nation - and one I proudly own (though I bought it on ebay a long time ago :/).  Couldn't resist snapping a pic of this adorable personalization! I'm sure Marlyn was flattered.  And if Kevin was just a boob, she could long for Kris and enjoy 'The Woman in the Moon' at high volumes.

Monday, March 3, 2014

custom record bin #2

I built this for my friend Jen who was moving into a new home and is also a rabid collector like myself.  Like the record bin I built for myself, it is constructed from scrap wood that would be normally thrown away, I pulled out many, many nails and screws to make it salvageable.  I have a bunch of 4x4s which I never use - I committed myself to finding a use for them here, they can be seen below as the legs of the frame.

I was surely far over ambitious initially in my design.  My idea was that the bin itself would be removable (a design I had already failed on once, for my own) and have a locking lid with handle to carry it away with.  The lid could be stored below as a temporary second shelf.  Lastly, I was going to have a cotter pin hold the bin in place when it was in its stand, so it would be secure but have a 'quick release' of sorts to be able to swiftly detach and take it to your next record party.

This design was rife with issues.  For starters, my rudimentary carpentry does not allow me to make super precise cuts - building the box is tough enough but I can pull it off.  The lid however needs to be damn near perfect - and it was not.  Then I was faced with a design to secure the lid to the bin when it is in transit - this must be super strong as it may be supporting up to probably 30-40 records which is not light.

I toiled and toiled once the contraption was built to implement my wild plans and before long the anxiety crept up and I knew I had been beaten.  But now what? Trash the whole thing? I had to figure out a way to make it usable.  Eventually I was able to make the bin and the 'lid' permanent.  After some sanding and many coats of red paint (Jen's choice - and it does look great) it was done and I must admit, it was hard to part with it.  I have no practical use for it but I did want to take it home.  What a beauty!