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Record Digging Adventures

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My favorite thing about record shopping, or even just the idea of records, is just how many are out there and how strange they can be. You’ll be flipping through a stack and find a David Cassidy record with hearts and kissy-lips drawn all over it or the opposite- my friend once found a Leif Garrett record that presumably, some mean older brother had scrawled “fag” across, you’ll see a guy who wrote his name on each and every one of his records or had some elaborate filing system, some people (and not just DJs) marked their favorite tracks, you can stumble upon local rappers who pressed a couple hundred copies of their best ‘2 Live Crew’ approximation, local high school marching bands released their shows, even churches recorded their choir or their bat-shit crazy preacher…it’s wonderful. It’s tough to explain, but something seemed to inspire even total normies to get real obsessive with their records and I know for me, even today, my records mean a great deal more to me than CDs, books, or movies, and are wrapped up in numerous thoughts, feelings, and memories. Below are a few of my favorite records for reasons other than music, for some weird personal touch the previous owner placed on them or with a few, some personal memory that seem interesting or hilarious enough to share…-Christopher Cross ‘Another Page’: Okay…this was found at a Salvation Army in Newark, Delaware that I wrote about in this ‘White Rapper Show’ entry. This might be the saddest or the sweetest thing in the world, depending on the mood you wake-up in…this was in a stack, with probably five or so other 80s soft-rock records, all of which have homemade braile on them. Just imagine some blind girl in like 1984 and her, along with her mom or dad or something, applying braile to these records. If that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, what does?? Some blind girl in the 80s in fucking Delaware who is really into like poignantly sad soft rock?! Why doesn’t this blind girl care about her records anymore? In my head, everything from Salvation Army stores was donated after death. All of those plates and glasses once belonged to old ladies, even the children’s clothes are not from children who’ve grown out of them, but children that were hit by cars or swallowed draino or were killed by their mothers in a fit of post-partum depression psychosis…I bet this blind chick offed herself, maybe while listening to ‘Think of Laura’ and her parents donated all her shit to the Salvation Army.-Isaac Hayes ‘Black Moses’: Monique got this and some other records for me at Spence’s Bazaar in Dover, DE. Spence’s is this big three-day-a-week flea market full of individual vendors of all types. There’s an older black woman who runs a computer parts/records room and the records she has are ridiculous. If you have the patience to dig through stacks of dusty records, you can find a lot of good shit there. The other crazy thing is, the prices are unclear (other than stuff relegated to a $1 table) but somehow, whenever you hand her something and ask the price, OFF THE TOP OF HER HEAD, she knows a price for it, that if you go to eBay or some record guide, is usually pretty accurate. I like how fucked-up the cover of this record is because it adds to the Biblical title, like it actually came from the time of Moses or something. The record is really thin and flimsy like whoever had it before me had listened to it a million times, wearing-out the vinyl. It gives it a particularly crackily, recorded-in-an-asshole sound, that again, makes it feel like its thousands of years old. I’ve seen much closer to “Mint” copies of this record since then, but somehow, because Monique gave it to me and some weird devotion, I feel weird replacing it.-Boz Skaggs ‘Hits’: I didn’t upload an image of my copy of this record because I wanted you to experience it in crystal-clear quality. I’m not being ironic or funny or anything: This is my favorite album cover of all-time. I can’t even really explain why, it’s just so simple and genius and sincere and everything else anything can be ever.-Modern Jazz Quarter ‘The Sheriff’: After my first teacher meetings at my first teaching job, I left annoyed/scared and looking for some cheering up, stopped at a Goodwill. I dug through the rows of records, not finding anything except for this. I had just watched the Ken Burns ‘Jazz’ series and it talked about the Modern Jazz Quartet in ways that meant they could either be terrible or really great, so it was kind of serendipitous (or felt that way) to find this. The group isn’t terrible and they aren’t great, but they are pretty good, especially this LP, which has this bad French movie music feel that is kind of perfect; I really like the cover too. Anyways, as I drove home thinking “How am I going to teach a bunch of kids? I don’t know shit about dick!” I was also driving home, pretty excited about hearing ‘The Sheriff’. That night, as I poured over Lesson Plans and textbooks, I listened to this about 30 times.-Giorgio Moroder ‘From Here to Eternity’: Okay, so Freshman year of college, Spring semester, I’m leaving ‘German II’ and some girl hands me this note and says “this is for you” and I’m so freaked-out I just grab it and keep walking, head down, in a straight line, as far away from this girl as possible. I opened the note in my car and it’s basically this incredibly bizarre, stalker-ish note about how she thinks I’m “cute” and blah blah blah. Oh yeah, it was written on the back of a photocopy of the first New York Dolls album (???). So, I e-mail this chick and agree to hang-out with her and in the mail, we sort of talked music so I mentioned a (now-closed) record store sort of near my school called ‘Joe’s Record Paradise’.

So, I meet here after class and we drive over there and at the time, I was in this stoner/doom metal phase, so ‘Jerusalem’ by Sleep was playing in my car and it obviously freaked her out because I guess in 2002, “cute boys” at liberals arts colleges don’t listen to such things (although five years later, it’s all they listen to, no?) and of course, it makes me feel like a douche even though it shouldn’t…Anyways, we get there and we’re looking around and I start going nuts because I find a really good-looking copy of ‘From Here to Eternity’ by Giorgio Moroder and she just sort of laughs at the cover. Now, maybe all of this is obvious, but I had such limited exposure to record nerds outside of my close circle of friends, that I just thought everybody into records would understand why stuff like ‘From Here to Eternity’ was awesome. Bitch ends up buying some ‘Best Of’ Velvet Underground LP and a Joan Jett records and makes me feel like an ass! A few weeks later, I went to a Yo La Tengo show and the between-sets music was ‘Black Liberation Dub’ by Mad Professor and she was asking (innocently but not not-annoyingly) why they were playing reggae…I just nodded my head instead of interjecting or explaining. I walked back from the show, left, and then uh, never called her back…she was kinda raw-looking anyways…

So now, everytime I see or grab this record from my shelf, I think of that chick’s face and how stupid I felt for being excited about something. The whole thing was sort of a learning experience about “cool” people and cool people and indie types and and silly, romantic, small-town ideas about “cool” people that I had.-King Crimson ‘Live in Holland’: Another record Monique got for me at that Spence’s Bazaar place, maybe even the same haul as the actually-from-ancient-times copy of ‘Black Moses’. The sleeve is sort of a homemade LP sleeve, out of thin, white cardboard, and it has the title and track-listing written in blue pen and the guy who presumably owned it’s name at the top (N. Heagerty). I love the boyish nerdiness that would work on the cover of a bootleg; Dunno if you can tell in the image, but for the title ‘King Crimson: Live in Holland’, the guy first did it in red pen and then went over it more elaborately in blue. The record itself has a yellow sticker in the center and typed onto each respective side it says ‘SIDE ONE/TWO’. Did this guy record it himself in Holland and somehow put it on a record? Did he get it from a friend? Was there some fairly elaborate mailing list of prog-nerds in the 70s which distributed bootlegs to one another? Maybe it came in a blank cardboard sleeve with only the ‘SIDE ONE/TWO’ labels on the record and N. Heagarty took it upon himself to design a cover…who knows.-Rod Lee ‘Rod Lee Vol. 2′: This is an older release from Baltimore Club legend Rod Lee. The record is really worn and scratched and was obviously heavily played at clubs at some point. Who would ever get rid of this? I like the idea of records having a previous life before I got ahold of them, so it’s fun to think of the Baltimore DJ who owned this and played it and where he played it. The label also just looks great, like on an aesthetic level: Orange paper with a black photocopy on it, Rod Lee in side-profile and at the bottom, in all lowercase letters and underlined: play at your own risk! Pretty soon, I should have a way to make records into MP3s and I’ll definetely put this up. It’s really spare, minimal club, and not minimal or spare the way the club you hear now is, but like, lo-fi, kinda underwhelming, goofy stuff that is barely even danceable, so the cover sort of fits the music’s sound. All of it is pretty great, but the revere side (not seen in the scan) is particularly great: ‘Word Up!’/Gimmie Hoe/Where Da Weed At’…’Gimmie Hoe’ grabs the “gimme a ho if you got your funky busfair” line from Frankie Smith’s ‘Double Dutch Bus’, cuts it down to “Gimme a ho” and mixes it with the the “Iz”-talk from the same song, until it just loops and loops and sounds really nuts. ‘Where Da Weed At?” is just a guy near-whispering “Hey yo where da weed at?” as the beats grows a little each time and then breaks out into some really hilarious-sounding ‘Donkey Kong Country’ jungle-breaks or something.

Written by Brandon

October 22nd, 2007 at 4:01 am

Posted in Lists, Records

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