Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday Thrift Store Circuit

Last March I was visiting my folks and hit up a bunch of local thrift stores with my mom scavenging for vinyl.  Woke up Black Friday and shook off my hangover then got a recommendation (from my mom of all people) to check out a new resale shop called Wings in the area.  Well Salvation Army is across the street so we decided to add that to the journey, then hit up a few more in between as well.

One of the biggest Salvation Army's around, this used to house a killer grocery store.  I stop in from time to time but they don't rotate the vinyl often.  That being said, there is quite a bit of it so it is hard to ever go through it all unless you have help (as I did with my trusty sidekick girlfriend).  The main stop is a large bookshelf near the registers.  However, you have to go on your hands and knees to check it out and you then block a main aisle.  And as big as this place is, the use of shopping carts is commonplace which leads to a lot of "excuse me"'s and irritation from all parties involved.  That rack is largely filled with junk anyway and the records do not seem to have changed even one iota in the year plus I have been regularly stopping in.  We did find that the backside of the shelf has even more vinyl but it is even more difficult to access as in order to view it you have to block the aisle to the jewelry cases.

However in the back of the store there is probably 40-50 more records on the lower shelves of a big bookcase in the book section.  But the real motherlode (where almost all of our scores originated from) are some shelves in the back of the store where the new donations come in.  The area is like a war zone and we had to displace some furniture and other stuff to be able to get up in there but it was worth it.  I only found two Tom Jones records all day and they were both Parrot releases (the other one I already had) so I was glad to add to that sub-discography.

While not exactly chronological, there are three Billy Joel albums that fascinate me.  I dubbed my girlfriends copies long ago so I was content not to own them (silly, since I come across them regularly for pennies).  But after I got one for free through a unique circumstance, and I came across another in these filthy racks (a giant relic of my childhood, a piece of vinyl my mom owned) , I have resigned to owning them all.  One left.  To my two records, my girlfriend grabbed 5 of her own.  And prices were slashed for the holiday shopping season's inaugural day - 50% off.


Next up was my mom's recommendation: Wings.  She said it was on Golf Road, then corrected herself after glancing at Google to find it was on Higgins.  She had recently made a donation and been to the store, it looks like they may have actually moved between the time she had visited and my own.

After turning around (it was less than a mile) we headed to the new location (and noticed a Savers on the way, through from the back we were sure it was a Goodwill.  Either way, it was then noted for a plan as our next stop).

They didn't have many records, only one small bin, and it was unremarkable save a single release which had one of those covers that you ask if maybe it was a joke or a parody or something.  Turns out, it isn't.

Dat face.
The standard 'Savers Bin' (wire plastic coated wire) was in full effect and the only thing worthy of note was an easy decision.  I have been doing substantial research on barbershop quartets since I found my Center Stage LP  in Kentwood a few weeks ago.  In that post I commented that I regretted not buying it - well that feeling was so intense I had a colleague who lives in GR go in there, buy it, and ship it to me.  

As can be seen on the reciept, I also picked up 3 more (they had 6!) of the books from the late 70s Time-Life 'The Good Cook' series I have been working on for a long time.  The calm of this store was soothing in comparison to the madness at the S.A. a few hours previous.  Still, we felt 'the madness' setting in and we decided to call it a day after just one more store.  I took at look at the GPS and we decided on the Kenneth Young Center as it was on the way back.  There was a Disc Replay in the same mall as Savers but we decided that thrift stores are way more fun that record stores and decided to forego a stop in there.


As we headed down Roselle Road I continued to inspect the many strip malls in the area, as so many looked familiar from my last circuit in March (linked at the beginning of this post).  They all looked like candidates but when I peered more closely everytime I struck out.  But then I saw The Shelter and remembered this one - I had picked up a nifty A&M comp last time (though I defaced it trying in vein to remove a sticker from the cover) so we swung through.  

It paid off because while I did find a record here I found nothing at our eventual destination at Kenneth Young.  This is the second Riverside album I own and the condition was so good on this one I was convinced it was a reissue.  It isn't and it is excellent.  Ironically it is neither of the brothers that attracted me to the release (besides the label) but the man on the vibes.  He actually plays on both albums, though piano on the former.

A nice haul of records on a great day to spend doing...not much. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fantastic Andy's, Kewanee IL

Went for a road trip to visit my girlfriend's home town for the weekend and stopped by Fantastic Andy's, a place she had already told me about.  I was eager to check it out after hearing some wild stories.  

A very important record was purchased here (by her) over a year ago - still probably my favorite and definitely the most important Engelbert record to me, 'We Made It Happen'. At that time she was just beginning to branch out on her interest in Engelbert's music (she was barely more familliar with his discography than I), she gave me the record and said 'I might like it'.  Of course that has proven to be a wild understatement and that record has honestly changed my life.  So back to Mecca I went, to see where gold is spun and magic drips from the walls of Andy's consignment shop.

I questioned my own motives as my hunt began as I pulled out so many records that I wondered if I was just getting carried away and buying stuff I didn't need because I was excited to be there.  But as I have since sobered from the intoxicating ways of these four walls, I can attest that indeed I carry no regret with my purchases.

Glen Campbell - The Artistry Of Glen Campbell
Normally I'd stay away from Glen's compilations but the packaging is beautiful and it is in insane good condition so I could not resist.  I may go ahead and play C1 at the next Bar Mitzvah I attend.  Also jammed inside was a huge full color concert program - total bonus that I'd bet did not come with the actual release.

Mike + The Mechanics* - Mike + The Mechanics 
I did not buy this for A2 but A1, a song everyone knows but not by title.  Such a great track and this record will fit well within the virtual bookends of my growing 80s collection which also contains Benny Mardones and Gino Vanelli (amongst others).

Sade - Promise 
Like the record above, I continue to evade the obvious justification for purchase.  It is actually A1 that brought this one home, by far my favorite Sade song and one of my favorites in general.  I was introduced to the track by MF Doom (by way of the Molemen) on the title track here, later renamed 'Kon Queso' (which I later appropriated for my own music video)

Alvin Lee & Mylon Le Fevre* - On The Road To Freedom
I don't have a clear reason for this one besides that it called out to me.  I am aware of Alvin Lee's work with Ten Years After and his general guitar bravado but the cover just looked interesting.

Tom Jones - I (Who Have Nothing)
#11 in the Parrot discography so far - this one is still in the plastic wrapper.

Dionne WarwickGlen CampbellBurt Bacharach - On The Move 
A very odd promo record for Chevrolet which drew me in for the Glen Campbell tracks and put me in the sleeper hold for 'Walk On By', which I think has some of the most ingenius producing ever.  Such an excellent and haunting song with sparse instrumentation.

Suntones, The - Somewhere
My barbershop obsession continues.  The '61 International champs record even contains a mailorder form to order their other LPs - AND an envelope to boot to put it in! There are oxidation marks on the inner sleeve where you can see that neither item shifted inside the jacket for many years.  Where things get really odd is that this is the 4th barbershop album between my girlfriend and I - and all are autographed.  Three were found in thrift stores (the other on eBay) and its just a strange coincidence that this trend continues.  May it never cease!

My girlfriend bought my favorite Elvis record (which I already have, addendum forthcoming) for $3 which is a steal considering its in good shape and the original custom inner sleeves are intact.  I on the other hand paid $11 for mine and its warped (we joke that it has been 'plier-ed' - the act of being damaged purposefully with a pair of pliers).  She relented after I complained of this unfair fact for a couple hours and said I should just have it.  Now I feel disgusted with myself and plan to return it to her tomorrow, so that I may live on for eternity with my plier-ed special edition.

There is just no way at all that this many great records should be housed in this small, cluttered space.  The groups of vinyl I grabbed pushed me over the edge of 400 LPs (includes my scant couple 10" records but not 7"), which is exciting.

I also saw a copy of everyone's favorite Ray Price album (well that's not totally true) which was ironic given that my girlfriend's grandmother (who lived and died in this small town) held that as one of her favorites, and its another album and artist that I was introduced to via the same method as Engelbert.  
Grandma -> girlfriend -> and me.

I'll close with this smattering of pics from inside and outside the store.  Andy's small notes stuck in the most random places are excellent stuff.

this was taped to an item that had nothing to do with liver sausage, recipes or food at all)


the other album she bought besides Live in Hawaii is visible here.  Andy's hat simply says 'Sport'.

Goodwill, Kewanee IL

Just a tiny sampling of vinyl at my 11th Goodwill (on this blog at least).  Almost all Xmas music clearly put out recently for the occasion except for one very odd disco/rock record which I almost bought.  (Something/somebody needs to keep Macho company).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oak Park Records, Oak Park IL

My first visit to Oak Park Records did not go well back in March.  I forgot about the place entirely until recently, so I made an impromptu journey straight from work two days ago and found the following:

Well I get that people have other things going on in their life then sitting at a record store waiting for me to show up but I feel that we sign into a social contract to meet the hours your publicly advertise as.  Or perhaps I just feel so strongly about it since I came from a substantial distance via public transportation and walking and it was cold out.  But I accepted my fate and went home.  No problem.

That was on Tuesday, as per above Wednesday is out of the question even if they keep their listed hours.  Today is Thursday and after two previous failed attempts I had the good sense to place a simple phone call to make sure they would be open before I headed all the way down there.

The person that answered the phone seemed to sense why I was asking if they were open and began with a length and detailed grocery list of excuses and justifications of why they weren't around earlier in the week (or perhaps beyond as there was some inference that this has been an ongoing issue of late).  The excuses all revolved around this person's children and the hours their wife works, etc...

I don't have any kids, so I won't be so presumptuous to pretend that I know what that is like, and I'm sure its a real tough gig.  And I surely do not and have never owned or operated a brick and mortar business.  But as I listened silently to the short rant explaining things I had not asked about, this person closed by asking what time I thought I would be by (6pm) and that I should 'be a good customer', insinuating that I should make it worth their while for doing me the huge favor of keeping their business open to the hours they advertise as being available to the public.  It is worthy of note that there was some hint at humor along with the above comment but the general sighing and other non verbal cues I got during this short phone call led me to feel that I was very much putting this person out by making such a request.  And it felt awkward.

When I was a kid, there used to be a crappy buffet in town called Shoney's.  They did a breakfast buffet with french toast sticks and other garbage and my brother and I were fond of it (I was about 10).  Somehow my grandfather agreed to take us over there.  And the line was out the door and I could see the red creep into his face (I inherited this trait but did not share it at such an early age).  Before long he muttered 'they don't need our business' and he exited the packed lobby and back towards his giant Caprice station wagon. 

Despite my admission above that I do not share the hardships that this person suffers to keep their business open I wondered should I be giving them any of my money? And I decided that the bad news for the store is that they will be forced to stay open for me, but the good news is they never will again because I won't be back.  The journey down there is long enough to have a couple thoughts about things and I thought about buying the first junk $1 record I came across and leaving, just to not make it worth anyone's while.  But that punishes me as well (or maybe only me).  So I thought about how I should just do what I normally do and have done in a million record stores before, and take my time and enjoy myself.  

But when I got there I had that feeling of being unwelcome, and that someone was checking their watch and checking how many records I had in my hand.  And writing that now I see how pathetic it sounds.  But I don't need a warm hug when I enter a record store, I just need to be left to my own devices to do what I do best, and better than most, and that is tear through bins at a rapid pace looking for scores.  

The first record I found was an odd one.  I have every Pat Metheny Group release through about 1990 (save for a couple promos) so to come across something I don't have is rare - something I've never seen before - almost impossible.  I had to do some research and add this one to myself.  In a wild twist of fate, I actually returned this one to the bin as I decided I didn't "need it" (what record collector has heard of such a thing?) when I found the other items listed below (I shall return):

Kiss - (Music From) The Elder - A number of years ago I was stuck in central Ohio for work with a colleague and we had this tape stuck in the tape deck of our truck the entire time.  The band I was in at the time (with said colleague) used to play 'Escape from the Island' and I have distinct and fond memories of cranking 'I' at giant volumes.  I am closing out side B now and very glad I grabbed this.

Chick Corea - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs - Can't believe I got an original pressing of this (didn't know that at the time) for less then market value (similar deal on the Kiss album).

Strangely, I found both items in the 'new releases' bin of yet unfilled records.  Found a couple CTI 6000 series vinyls I examined but put back.  I didn't properly peruse the jazz section due to the gun at my head but my next visit will be early on a Saturday morning to grab that PMG record and maybe then I won't be rushed along.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another Sunday at Raffe's

I first learned of Raffe's at the CHIRP record fair last spring.  I made my first visit on Record Store Day a short time later and I have now returned twice since.

It has taken three visits to continue to return and purchase the Paul Desmond records I saw on my first visit and which will perpetually remain awaiting the next Sunday I want to take a ride.

It is about a 12 mile round trip to get there which is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  It was unseasonably warm (about 52F) today and not very windy so I was really moving on my way out there.

I grabbed the 'icicle album' on a previous visit but the 3000 series mate is still waiting for me to grab it.  Today however I returned today with a strange mission: to purchase a double of an album I already have.  Over a leek and potato fritatta this morning with my girlfriend we were listening to Paul's take on the S&G classic.  Dyed in the wool fan of the original artists that she is, she raved about how much she enjoys it and asked to borrow it.  I made her an offer: I would head back to Raffe's and if the double was still there, she could keep the borrowed record and I'd replace my own copy.  If the double was gone, she would have to return it at some point when the lending period had elapsed.

She hit the jackpot and the double which I first saw almost 7 months ago was still patiently awaiting and I scooped it up.  I also grabbed a copy of Roger Miller's first album.  I am still looking for the 'real' OG debut and I'm sure I'll find it before long.  This version has a water damaged jacket (only shows on the back side) and needed a new inner sleeve badly.  Besides being torn and having the bottom ripped out from the vinyl, the water damage actually took some of the red dye from the label and stained both sides of the sleeve.  Can't believe the labels themselves look OK.  $6 is a little steep considering all this and I did pass over it during a previous visit for the same reason.  I now have the first three plus the comp (and a true oddball) and I am feeling good about my Rog' discography.

I got a Raffe's business card at their booth at the CHIRP fair but today they had some new ones.  And of course I had to scan their excellent ledger receipt.  Nothing better than a brisk ride to the Riot at the end of a long weekend to set you right!

A couple quick stats:
-The Roger Miller album is LP # 391 in my collection
-The one year birthday of this blog is approaching in just a couple weeks
-This is post #113.  Can't believe I even hit #100.  Here's to 100 more!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Goodwill, Mundelien IL

This is the 10th Goodwill I am blogging about and it has been a wild adventure!

No, that is not true.  It has been filled with records without jackets, jackets without records, jackets separated into two easy pieces (sans vinyl) and a multitude of religious recordings aimed squarely at no record collector who has lived since 1954.


I was convinced that Gabriel Bondage was a religious act (while it may not be a crucifix, the sign of any kind of cross apparently is evidence of a crusade to this heathen) but I was incorrect.  Speaking as a musician who has probably 30-40 shrinkwrapped CDs in the basement right now, this is a painful reality which I laughed at in the store but now regret.  There was another stack on the otherside of the bin, had to be at least 20 all told.  It is hard to read here but the sticker on the front advertises that this is the red vinyl - pretty cool for a record released in 1977! I've seen the band/album in my cursory research described as progressive/symphonic rock.  The latter interests me not at all but the former (especially considering it is a local act) would have been plenty reason to purchase.  If I find myself back out that way, I'm grabbed a copy.

I found a number of Engelbert albums - all orphaned from the safety of their jackets, standard Goodwill protocol.  The 'Red Album' was all alone, and 'EH' lied in wait inside of 'A Man Without Love'.  I did not even check the copy of 'Release Me' (besides checking if it was the mono version - it was not).

Speaking of mono versions - I did score the debut from Brasil '66 in that format; I've owned the stereo release for years.  The jacket and vinyl are a little beat but not ruined.  Well worth the $1.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Corner Record Shop [Grandville MI]

Another trip up to GR - found the hottest record store in town.  I spent my last trip exploring a seemingly endless array of thrift stores.  With that just about quenched, I took a quick look for record stores.  Found this one conveniently on my way into town from my point of origin and glad I chose it.  I initially planned to hit another one but I spent quite a while in here and was just about exhausted from the hunt by the time I was done so I called it a day.  I was cranking up one of my favorite albums of all time (vinyl dub, of course) and cried my eyes out listening to the epic title track as I pulled up.  I pulled myself together and headed in.

Took a periphery glance at the jazz section on my way from the front door into the back of the store where a giant $1 bin sat patiently waiting for my visit.  Mr. Yellow Shirt arrived - surely a regular.  After his greeting with the two proprietors behind the counter and made a bee line (appropriate given his dress) for my vicinity and commenced to scoop up a growing pile of cheap vinyl.

I kept trying to sneak a peak at his scores (I did sneak the pic) but I was never able to make anything out.  He was obviously doing the same - and more successfully as well - as at one point he handed me a copy of 'This Is Tom Jones' and said something like 'though you might want this' (he obviously saw my copy of 'Green Green Grass of Home' in my pile already).  This stands as probably the coolest thing anyone has ever done for me during my record collecting annals.  I am still floored to be here writing about it.  Unfortunately - I already had it (just got it the week before from my buddy Terry) but there was no way I was going to shoot down that good deed.  I added it to my pile for the moment and continued on.

Besides 'Green Green Grass' (slightly beat but the mono version!) I also grabbed Roger Miller's second album (also mono - wow!).  Earlier this summer I picked up a copy of Anne Murray's first album (ironically did not blog about this quick stop at a Hoffman Estates garage sale) though it was the Pickwick reissue.  I've been on the lookout since for the original from five years previous on small Canadian label, Arc Records.  Found it here for a buck! And better yet track B1 has been replaced with an alternate.  I gifted the reissue to my girl (an Anne Murray fan as well - though I feel this album requires little fandom to appreciate) and replaced it with the OG copy.

I poked through the country and jazz sections and didn't find much of interest.  I keep looking in the 'H' section for some Eng and found none.  Now it is standard practice for record stores to keep their doubles and other backup vinyl in bins below the main racks that customers dig through.  Here however, there was simply MORE records.  As if this wasn't good enough, I encountered something I have never before seen and perhaps never will again.

At great cost no doubt (confirmed by the proprietor upon my release of payment and exit from the store a time later) they had put these lower bins on tracks so they slid out like drawers.  I cannot count the times I have forced my giant frame inside of the woodwork to peer at the vinyl within at great discomfort and low light.

Truly amazing.
I gave up on trying to find any Eng (still distressed that a store this large and complete would have ZERO records) and made my way towards the cashier when I asked if and where they had any 7"s.  The fella commented 'yeah, we have a few' with brazen nonchalance.  He led me to another room with likely the most vast collection of 7" records I have ever seen and furthermore the most well organized collection of such that probably exists anywhere.  I am not a great collector of these small platters but I have often thought that this was influenced by the usual organization (lack of, specifically) that all record stores seem to employ.  Without full sleeves (as most do not come with) flipping through them sans proper bins and dividers is maddening and just a waste of time.  Not here - they are setup no different than regular 12"/LPs.

Those are SEVEN INCH records - not LPs.  I still can't believe it.

I went straight for the Engelbert section and was not disappointed.  There had to be 20-30 records in there including 4-5 copies of the (one of eight) picture sleeves you see time to time.  But hidden within was a very odd import (probably a bootleg, more accurately) with a strange history.

It is a split seven inch on a small Asian 'label' (as this is surely an unofficial release I use that word very loosely).  Side B is Tom Jones yet he is credited nowhere on the sleeve (which is on nice card stock) or the vinyl label.  It is mono (bonus) and has some interesting stamps on it.  I would not have known that Piliana was an Asian label except for the scant two releases already on discogs (both of which are clearly from that corner of the globe).  I will guess it made it's way to the USA and GR beyond that by way of an immigrant: the first (and more legible) stamps shows the 'Family Life Center' in GR proper.  I cannot find any facility located at the stamped address but Google maps 'Street View' shows the 'Hope Network' has a location there now.  But it is the stamp underneath (largely obscured) that is truly mysterious and interesting (and calls to the Asian roots of this piece of vinyl).

Two lines of Chinese characters (forgive me if this is not specific enough or altogether incorrect) is followed by what appears to say:


There are two lines further after that but they are totally obscured by the stamp from the 'Family Life Center' which was actually double stamped right over it.  I can only extrapolate that someone bought this record in the late 60s (it is undated but that would be the presumed ballpark) at a bookstore on the island of Boreno when it was released, brought it with them to the USA (perhaps directly to GR) where it was donated to the Family Life Center's thrift store.  Someone bought it there and then it came into the hands of the Corner Record Shop, and now my own, where it shows no signs of departing again.

Just as I had been ready to depart before my excursion into the '45 Room', I again prepared myself to head out.  It was then I was notified there were yet 'MORE RECORDS' (many, many more I would soon find out) 'just through there' [points to door].  And as the door opened, my adventure continued.

I came into a giant garage like area that housed a full stage with giant PA and musicial instruments from someone's performance/jam session/rehersal.  Also a number of vehicles sat (there was a giant overhead door behind them) covered in tarps.  It was still and quiet and brisk but not cold.  Nothing stirred save the overhead door which rattled in spite of the wild winds whipping outside.

I was greeted with two large racks on my left as I guided myself into the area.  I found a number of 50s-60s singers and felt this must be where they store their Engelbert collection.  After the second bin I had still found nothing, when I noticed a stairwell leading up to a huge concrete mezzanine.

It held the perfect fodder for a book or movie script: a man trapped in a record store, left to nothing but organizing vinyl day and night in total serenity and silence.  I am embarassed to admit that I allowed too great a span of time to elapse between my visit and the actual writing of this post (my often nemesis).  It has only been about 10 days but I have indeed forgotten the gentleman's name - for he is not a fictional character but a very real person.

He explained that the owner of the store approached him with a 'job to do' as he had recently lost his own gainful employment (likely less fun than this).  The job: to sort through many thousands of albums and organize them.  Indeed this mezzanine of countless wooden bins of records could constitute a record store of its own in terms of area and number of vinyls available.  I have certainly been in stores smaller, some very much so.

He asked immediately if there was anything in particular I was looking for - he had already spent weeks up here organizing in solitude and knew where everyting was.  'Engelbert Humperdinck', I announced; his retort was that the bin immediately before me contained only male vocalists.  

I did not find any Engelbert records I did not have (there are only a couple Epic releases left, save any UK version of US Mono versions) but we collaborated on pulling every single one out in plans for alphabetizing said bin.  I did hunt through the Christmas music bin looking for Epic Xmas release #3 (no dice) but did find #2 for my girl (who like me now has both of the first two releases.  Found #1 in there as well).

The stack was immense and was tantalizing to the obsessive Eng hoarder inside me and already partially active.
I was looking for Tom Jones simultaneously and when the Eng hunt reached its end I went back and pulled out every Tom Jones album.  I did so to help, in case I missed anything and also because I love going through records.  That stack was equally as huge and I grabbed a handful of releases including:

Tom Jones - Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings - glad to find an older release, the current build of my discography offers too much later work.
Tom Jones - Tom Jones' Greatest Hits - the only Parrot compilation
Tom Jones - The Body And Soul Of Tom Jones - same as comments for the FFFF album above. (Also part of a three release series with covers by the same artist, all managed by Gordon Mills.  I don't know enough about Gilbert O'Sullivan but the resemblance to Engelbert's 'In Time' is obvious.

I took a look through some additional country albums and inquired regarding the presence of the collaborative album between Glen Campbell and Anne Murray I've been looking for for a while.  Nothing doing - I took a brief look through some of the piles already in progress.

He had a hilarious series of stacks of what I would call 'Goodwill Filler' - the leading candidate for that club shrouded in infamy would be Mr. Mantovani.  I suggest a funeral pyre for the lot of he and his ink.  I caught wind of a tiny Barbershop pile and found the 67 Decca comp to my delight - been working on researching the full series lately. Since I found a local classic during  my previous visit to GR and my girlfriends phenomenal score  (overwhelmingly recommended) I have been obsessed - forgive me.

I actually returned to the male vocalist bin and started pulling out all the Andy Williams before I felt like some kind of creep who wouldn't leave - so I did. I complimented the fellas behind the counter on what is one of the best record stores I've been to lately (or ever) - as evidenced by this massive post which threatens to kill me if I keep typing.  Good night.