Hey, did you know Sunday, August 12th is Vinyl Record Day? Me neither, until I was invited by the lovely jb over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ to participate in a “blogswarm” to mark the occasion. Any regular reader of this site knows the amount of time I spend getting my fingers nice and dirty flipping thru old, musty album covers at a variety of used record shops nationwide, so how could I resist? (By the way, always bring Purell when record shopping.)
So, where do you find the good vinyl? Depends on what you’re looking for…if you have a specific want list, you can’t go wrong with good ‘ol eBay or GEMM, but it’s gonna cost ya. If you’re patient and you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, there’s a used record shop or thrift store in just about every town. Since I’m lucky(?) enough to live near Los Angeles, trips to Amoeba Records are a regular monthly thing for me.
As you can see from this shot taken from the DVD-centric second floor, Amoeba LA is huge. Huge. This very hugeness also results in huge crowds, competing for the same scarce vinyl goodies. While the selection here is immense (and is just as big at their Berkeley and San Francisco/Haight locations), it does tend to be much of the same stuff, mostly mainstream, not too tough to find things like, say, the original 12″ of Bronski Beat’s “Hit That Perfect Beat” as opposed to a 12″ of “Why”. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $3.00 for a single album from Amoeba, so they definitely beat auctions for value.
Plus, you can find things like the second English-language Nena album:
…or a classic from Homo Picnic (I dunno, either):
I prefer to treasure hunt in more obscure Mom & Pop record stores, which seem not only to have survived this post-Napster/file-sharing music biz, but are thriving. Some are pretty shoddy – records filed any which way with no rhyme nor reason, lazy clerks who glare at you for interrupting their texting session, etc. But there are some gems, like Dizzy on Vinyl in Long Beach (my hood!), where the owner, whom I know only as “Hey, guy!” keeps a snappy, well-organized shop, complete with separate “80s” and “80s 12-inches” sections. Talk about playing to the crowd. I’d link to his site, but he doesn’t have one, he’s so old school!
It’s at Dizzy on Vinyl where I can get lost for hours, flipping thru bin after bin of vinyl, wearing my knees out from squatting down to flip thru milk crates of records on the floor. And it’s in these less-traveled locales, you’ll find unparalled treasures like the electro-hip-hop classic from 1986, “Vanity, I Want To Be Your Bodyguard”:
Yes. Oh, yes. Find THAT anywhere else. And yes, it’s exactly what the title says it’s about. A guy (credited as Fabulous Freddie Star on the label) with a hard-on for Vanity. It may be safe to assume that will never make it to CD. Viva vinyl!
Speaking of never making it to CD, Dizzy on Vinyl is where I also found this little diamond:
That’s right, Garrett Morris’ 1980 debut LP, Saturday Night
SuiteSweet. I say “debut” jokingly, since there was never a follow-up. One listen reveals why. On this coke-y, freebase-driven trainwreck Garrett “sings” over a variety of already-dated disco, lame-ass funk and even reggae with fucking BURNING SPEAR (seriously) as his backing band. The coup de grace is a “funny” song called “I Wanna Be A Cowboy (But I’m Too Short)” that’s about…well, wanting to be a cowboy, but being too short. Take that, Boys Don’t Cry! It’s essentially Garrett rambling about the song’s premise repeatedly for seven minutes and forty-one seconds. I dare you to get through it. It’s sad and hilarious all at once. What’s sad is the one song that Garrett has writing credit on, “Secret Place”, a jazzy torch number, isn’t bad at all. You have to wonder why he didn’t write more of the LP, as it barely edges out Chevy Chase’s LP from the same year in overall awfulness (which I own as well…it will have its time here, trust me). The entire second side is taken up with something called “The Saturday Night Suite (In Four Movements)”, where Garrett is scarcely present amongst the instrumentals. I would have been careful with the using of the word “movement” when referring to this stinker.
I can’t tell you about Saturday Night
SuiteSweet without sharing it in its entirety. I believe suffering is lessened by numbers:
All those deaf people offended by Garrett’s “News For the Hard of Hearing” bit on SNL were thanking their lucky stars for their affliction when this was released.
Other blogs participating in Vinyl Record Day include:
Collect ’em all!
“Hit That Perfect Beat” peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in 1986.