Sunday, April 30, 2017

St. John's Lutheran Thrift Shop [La Porte IN]

La Porte is kind of a grimy old town, new customer I never visited before and while I've been all over Indiana (and NW Indiana specifically), never been here before.  My work was pretty pleasant, there is nothing better then hitting the road for a day trip on a Friday, it's like ending your week early.  So afterwards I ducked into this little thrift shop in search of vinyl with low expectations but a good attitude nonetheless.


Well, nothing to see here.  Mostly religious junk with a smattering of useless orchestral tunes to fill out the crate.  But a nice quiet store with a couple other people digging through their collectibles of choice and a lady behind the counter who gave me a friendly, small town smile as I exited the premises empty handed.

The coolest part about the trip was that there was an old abondonded school across the street, here in this residential neighborhood.  Lots of windows were busted out and the date above the door says 1893! It's a shame that in this day and age there surely isn't enough cash to go around in a place like La Porte to turn this place into something useful or maintain it somehow.  I'm sure that the church that ran it still exists but that is a big undertaking to get a place this big functional.  But what a waste, this building was built to last.  I waited about 10 minutes for a couple parked cars to leave so I could get the angle I wanted.  I took many others and none were great, I had some fun processing this one in my truck and I'm happy with it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

'Vinyl Day' at Goodwill Elmhurst


Even Goodwill celebrates their vinyl culture and wants to get in on the RSD madness and I have no problem with that.  Or maybe I only feel that way when they load their bins with rare Chicago polka vinyl prior to my visit.

The Naturals album is a no brainer: great condition and it is a mono version, which I did not know exists.  I already know a stereo version exists, so this opens the door to two versions of many Chicago Polkas albums and is worthy of further research.  The Lil Wally albums I can pass on but the Eddie Zima stuff is a revelation.  Eddie has plenty of LPs on Dana, but I was not aware he had more than one on Jay Jay.  The second one had to be added to the db (I did this from Goodwill, waiting while my girlfriend shopped.  I'd had just bought it but side B had a pretty big, deep scratch).

I dug and dug for the jacket to this Ampol album but to no avail.  Very sad.
I also came across three Norteno albums, none in their jackets.  Maybe they were kidnapped and tortured by a cartel? One was by LTDN and I'd have grabbed it, I even searched.  What a shame.  I just grabbed the US version of one of theirs after waiting for months for a good price on discogs.

Record Wonderland, Roselle (RECORD STORE DAY 2017!)

I don't celebrate Record Store Day as perhaps people feel I should, given my work on this blog.  But I also don't celebrate record stores, an opinion I unabashedly hold, I much prefer the grime and total gamble of thrift stores and garage sales.  But when I found that a new record store had opened not 1/8th mile from my parent's house (where I was dogsitting/housesitting for a few days) - and when I realized it was Record Store Day (yes, I had no idea), I couldn't say no to that.

Record Wonderland is at the end of a pretty crappy strip mall that contains an array of crappy stores, besides a pizza place I went to once (and it was good) which no longer is a resident.  This must be a new store as they only have a couple Google reviews.  The store was filled moderately or more and the RSD crowd was evident.  As usual, I had no idea where to start and had a 'record store blackout', as the well organized bins forced me to remember what I wanted/needed, lest I search the entire place.

I fooled around for a bit in a couple boxes of picture sleeve 45s and found nothing except a feeling of awkwardness as I stumbled around the place.  Then I decided to just dig through the entire jazz section as it was totally neglected and is a place I feel relatively at home.  I still have a couple CTI 3000 series vinyls I need and thought maybe I could find one.

I did come across a $20 copy of the other Paul Desmond LP I still need but even with the 20% RSD discount the store was offering, it was too rich for my blood ($20) - I know I can get it for half that (though this one did appear to be time-capsule style mint condition).  I came across a Cal Tjader album that looked good and I found a couple Bob James albums but none I needed.  I found a reissue of a Verve classic with what I thought was a novelty fake OBI strip that I couldn't bring myself to pay for even though the price was fair.  Later found out while it was a reissue, it was legitimately Japaense.  Still, I'd rather wait on my own beat up US copy.

I could not believe the price on this one - it did not look like a reissue at first glance.  If this wasn't so 'ugly' (I couldn't bring myself to view the horror first hand), it would be worth 10x their price).  Too good to be true, as always.
I glanced at the country section and was getting ready to just grab the Desmond LP when as a last ditch I figured I'd check for Joni Mitchell's live album that I've been looking for for so long.  I've never actually seen a copy in person.  Well I found's MINT, and its a promo! It was only $25 which comes down to $20 with the discount.  This is beyond a deal!

At the counter I glanced at a $50 presumably first press of Kill 'Em All and a copy of Ride The Lightning autographed by the whole band including Cliff for $250.  I did ask them to unlock the case so I can check out a weird RATM 7" then I had a very pleasant chat with the clerk about the record.  He told me that he personally brought it into the store, and that it was his uncle's record! He also told me (I did not know this) that it qualifies as an audiophile example to test your hi-fi with (I was aware of this rep for even my non-mono version of Casino Royale which I inherited from my Aunt Betty [RIP] so long ago).

I heard at least two people qualify for the shirt just in the short time I was in the store.  RSD mania overtakes even the level headed! (or maybe just novelty fans).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The next generation of GR thrifting

Never give up, kids.  Keep on looking.  32 trips - god knows how many records.  There are always new frontiers, you must be patient.  Bethany's was new to me and probably new(er) to GR.  Did they have records.  This, I did not know.  I do now.

I darted in and made for the book section.  No vinyl.  But where were the CDs? I didn't see any.  Well I found those, but nothing doing.  I started to hang my head...then, wait - there! My platters!

This was a pretty slick selection for a thrift store, no matter the kind.  Individually priced records, many were bagged and a solid handful of near rarities.  I left with nothing but enjoyed the perusal.  First up was the old picture sleeve and even better the single to the right.  That one has been on my want list for a while but I wasn't interested in a reissue, and it also has a picture sleeve of it's own.  I can wait.

Next up was the alternate (original) title of Gord's big hit.  I had been aware of this for a while and I do have the other title.  I've never come across one of these and apparently the store knew its value.  It was overpriced at $6 even with the original inner sleeve.  If I splurge on something like this, I'd like the first press.

They also had the debut from BS&T.  I am an Al Kooper fan (the Blues Project LP I grabbed a couple summers ago is still a favorite) but it was a tad worn and again just a dollar or two rich for my blood. And I must admit (don't tell Al), I do prefer DCT on vocals.

I also saw a weird Genesis 12" single and even America's big one which you don't come across in thrift stores very often (or ever).  Neither of those interested me enough to put them in the collection, but they were fun to look at.  But even more fun was that there was another thrift shop just about 1/4 mile down the road, so I left my truck behind and sauntered on over.

This place had just one lonely bin.  The Kenny Loggins up front was somewhat of a good sign perhaps, and the Cat Stevens that followed (replete with it's heavy cardboard lyric insert) was even more so.  But we went downhill quick from there.

The bin itself may have been of more value but as noted above, it was not for sale (ditto the cabinet it sat on).  Oh bother! They did however have what looked like most of the discography from The Heralders Quartet.  Though perhaps all that bible study had the fellas neglecting math because I swore a quartet was four....

Revolve Records [Grand Rapids MI]

I've carefully dug through Grand Rapids many times over the years.  I've been in too many thrift stores to count and I've been through all the record stores I could find.  So during my 32rd trip to GR after I ran through two new (or at least new to me) thrift stores, I felt unfulfilled.  So I checked the map on the rare chance that a new record store had popped up since my last visit (surely I had already been to all of the existing shops).  When Revolve Records came up, I was confused.  I felt like there was some familiarity there...I must have been there before.  But all the reviews were within the past few months and when I looked at the street view, I knew for certain: it was new.  And with that, I was on my way.

Revolve is on the corner at a main intersection but immersed in a residential neighborhood.  A winding concrete staircase leads you to the front door.  Inside I found just one guy behind the counter and another lounging on a worn leather sofa.  My eyes tuned in like laser beams and I assessed the room.  I saw the lone bins in front of me against the wall and without wasting any time, I got involved in that.

Once I was elbow deep I found mostly R&B, some soul, hiphop, a good dose of jazz and even some gospel.  I found my first platter almost immediately.  I saw one Deniece Williams LP and checked the track list.  No, this was not what I was looking for.  Lucky for me the second one just behind it held the track I needed.  As I struggled to jam my 6'3" frame into the lower bins the clerk was nice enough to bring me the short cube in the foreground to sit on so I didn't have to crawl around on my knees.  Very courteous - he clearly knows the pain of audio archeology.  

"It's Gonna Take A Miracle" is such a great example of proper musicianship from the vocals (of course) to the band which epitomizes 'chops'.  The bass line especially has intrigued me of the last few months that I had to sit down and learn it.  This only furthered my obsession.  I'd like to thank this gent amongst the many who have posted youtube videos for his help in instruction, I found this video to be superior to many others in both technique and the actual transposition of the music from recording to playing it on an instrument.

After that I meticulously looked through every record in the shop.  I found a Blue Note classic late in my hunt and despite the condition, knew this would be a candidate, depending on what the clerk (owner?) thought it might be worth.  But as soon as I picked it up, I found something else inside.  I knew something wasn't right, it was way too heavy.  It was a Riverside oldie but even more beat than the record that DID belong in the jacket.  I wasn't interested in anything that beat (or honestly, even if it was decent) so I was already running through the scenario in my mind: showing my great honesty, the clerk would cut me a deal on the record I wanted.  

Turns out, there would be no need.  He ended up telling me to keep the bonus record and that he'd take $12 for both.  Sounded fair to me! I commented that this was my first legit Blue Note release but I later realized that wasn't true.  How could I forget the record I earned through my speaking engagement at the record fair/flea market so long ago? I guess when you jet set around Illinois these things slip your mind.  Ironic that both vinyls are from the same artist.

The clerk offered to let me peruse his 45s and brought them up the counter.  All cleanly arranged in fresh white paper sleeves - nothing worse than naked 7"s.    I glanced through but didn't find anything so I got the checkout process going.  Very pleased to see the trademarked paper bags (it's still sitting at home, I always have trouble throwing these things away when I get them....should have taken a pic to add to this post).  A small and possibly inexpensive touch that I always find adds value to the shopping experience.  I asked if this was his place and indeed it was.  Daniel aka TUD was not the clerk - he was the owner!  We chatted briefly and I started to think about how similar this place was to Funk Trunk, another shop where I had a really pleasant look around.  Similar selection of vinyl, similar quantity of inventory, just about the same size room, both times got to chat with the owner.  Nothing delights me more than these one-on-one experiences, except maybe being able to put some money in the coffers of a small, independent, old school record store.  I will definitely be back next time I am in town.

TUD gave me a bunch of business cards, I added one to my collection (need to scan that sometime soon) and then I set out in my remaining time in town to do some free advertising for Revolve.  First up was the coffee basket in my hotel room.

The next morning I had my ritualistic breakfast at Russ Restaurant on 28th, I buried one in the bottom of the jelly caddy (is that what this thing is called?)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Savers, Franklin Park [RIP]

Very sad news which I luckily caught in time to make one last trip to a shop that has been particularly kind to me.  It was pretty remarkable to have a legit thrift store in my hood and I'm proud to say I took good advantage of it.  I documented more than a couple trips there but there were many others that didn't turn up much.

I first visited almost exactly three years before they closed.  I scooped a garage sale type find which I don't regret because track B2 is such a classic.  It is funny that back then I wasn't even clear on what 'Savers' was and went in totally on a whim.

Made a very brief post about a visit just a few months later when I grabbed a pretty beat but important vinyl that I'm still glad to own (especially for the price).

That fall I am very grateful that I did not pass on a bizarre disco record.  Even if not totally listenable, an important collection piece to have in the inventory.

Early the next year is when things really started to pay off for me.  I hit pay dirt with a duplicate of my barbershop quartet magna carta and grabbed two Chicago polka records that I still hold dear.

Just when I thought things couldn't get anymore outrageous, I found a bevy of rare vinyls, too many to buy all at once, so I grabbed what I could.  Still can't believe these scores.

So that is eight whopping records from one shop, even if the first couple are pretty minimal in terms of rarity, etc.

When I found out about the close and read the story above, I made plans to get in there that last week.  So I rode down there one day after work.

Then I got inside and saw that they had modified hours, it was about 7pm but they had closed at 6pm.  So my last shot was to get in there on Good Friday.

I wish this epic had an exciting ending.  I had to elbow my way into the bins with a lady digging through the DVDs.  Besides a mint copy (still in shrink, original inner sleeve) of Roger's third (if it had been mono I'd have bought a duplicate) and a weird promo (there were actually two copies), the place had been picked through pretty good.  Rest In Peace, Savers FP.  You'll will be missed.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dyer again

So let's recap my numerous (this would be #4) visits to the Goodwill in Dyer Indiana, which has not yet been open a year.  In a short time I've been blessed to have been able to stop by so many times, and more specifically to have been able to get so many scores in that time!

June 2016: not yet open
August 2016: autographed Eddie Blazonczyk (just the jacket) plus a rare proto-house record which I sold for 40x what I paid.
January 2017: found the missing record I could not find on my previous visit

So this time again, I was not shocked to continue to find more polka.  Better yet, it was stuff that I know wasn't out last time.  They must have a large stash of polka but as all Goodwill's periodically switch what is in the bins, the supply gets petered out over many months.  So I walked in and saw the three below - the first I need (and purchased, of course), the second I already have (found at a local Goodwill) and the third I passed on, though that is some pure, legit polka if there ever was any.

The record I grabbed is entirely in Polish which is just a tiny bit disappointing to a blatant American like myself, but more important is the rear jacket which shows the credits.  I had read that Jerry Darlak got started as a drummer (much more well known for playing the squeeze box in the Versatones) but never saw the proof.  That aside, the credit on trumpet was even more interesting.  No question this is Tony Paliga of the Paliga Polka Dots of EXTREMELY nearby Hammond.  Technically I can't prove that, but the Chicago-Indiana connection (not referring to where I found the record, that is just a coincidence) and the unique last name, I rolled the dice.  Both gents are now credited for this release on discogs.

It was a bit disappointing to see that there are now only two levels of LPs (counting the wooden crates at the bottom).  Previously there was a third - now it is all 7".  As long as they keep the polka coming, I don't mind!