June 7, 2016 How Sad.

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Polly Bergen, All Alone By The Telephone, Columbia 1300, 1959

The idea for this blog came from being at a party the day after I’d been to an amazing record show in Portland.  There was a turntable going and everyone was talking about records and what I found, when a very smart grad student asked me “How do you know where to put the needle when you want to hear a particular song?”  Aside from suddenly feeling older than rocks, I was also validated for possessing knowledge that suddenly seemed en-vogue.  Buying a record in 1993 was uncool, but buying them if you were born in 1993 is Broad City Cool.

I’ve been waiting to find the right way to tell that story here, and today’s album seems like the perfect chance.  I’ll bet there are a lot of people out there that just can’t conceive of a time where you would have to wait by the telephone to hear form someone.  Imagine it’s 1959, your Studebaker is in the shop, and you’re all dolled up in your pink negligee.  But the phone isn’t ringing.  There is literally noting you can do but put on a Polly Bergen record.  And wait.

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I know The Beatles get all the credit with Sgt. Pepper for inventing the “concept” album.  I think that isn’t exactly true.  Sure, many teen oriented albums before The Beatles came along featured a hit single or two and were then filled by rerecording other people’s hits.  But almost all adult oriented albums had a consistent theme like this one.  It might seem like a  campy idea now,  but people in 1959 would have related to this album’s sentiment.

I just wish I enjoyed it more!  The orchestra is incredibly lush and the songs are just so bad that it took a real effort to listen to both sides.  Still, I’ll never get rid of this record, just because of the cover!  Miss Bergen was a gravelly-voiced actress first, and a torch singer second, hung around with The Rat Pack, and last acted in a memorable in a cameo in The Sopranos.  This $1 record is like a mini poster and it’s still a win for me.

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The VG+ record also came in a great Capitol Records inner sleeve.  There will be a posting on “sleeve shifting” just as soon as I find a Columbia inner sleeve holding a Capitol record.

Today’s Summary:

Cost $1, $982 Remaining

June 6, 2016 Goodwill, Paul & Mary

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Peter, Paul & Mary, Warner Brothers 1449, 1962

“How many thrift stores must a man go to before he finds some folk albums?  The answer, my friend, is not more than one.  The answer is not more than one.”

It was really a toss up for me to choose between Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and Peter, Paul & Mary as the all time Goodwill record bin champion.  I have to believe that the records that get donated to charity have been gone through and rejected- for free- by everyone related or even friendly to the donor before they get dropped off.  I’ve yet to find a Beatles album at a Goodwill.  Hell, finding something by Gerry & The Pacemakers would be an achievement.  But it sure seems like anyone who wants a Peter, Paul & Mary album already has it.

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Thrift stores are generally like lending libraries for both The TJB and PP&M, and at $1 each, it doesn’t take much to quickly collect all of both groups best albums.  They are so plentiful, that if one copy of this album doesn’t work out (meaning it doesn’t play well or the cover is shot), I just buy the next one I see and take the best bits of the two and then re-donate the unfortunate paring.

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This record though, had it all!  A shiny cover with minimum splitting, a clean stereo record, and the best of all words, and original Warner Brothers inner sleeve in great condition.  I haven’t really talked much about inner sleeves yet, but they can be a great indicator about how the record was cared for through the years.  This inner sleeve is in really great shape, which tells me it wasn’t taken out about 1000 times.  Which also means the record probably wasn’t played very much.  Buying it four years after it came out probably helped keep this copy on the bottom of many a party stack.

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I know what you’re thinking…”How could you possibly know when the record was originally bought?”  The records advertised on the sleeve give me an idea of about when it was pressed.  While Peter, Paul & Mary was first released in 1962, the inner sleeve features The Markettes version on The Batman Theme which came out in 1966.  So what I give up in original issue value is off set with the condition of a really nice copy of the first album from the biggest selling folk act of all time.

I’ll be donating two pretty junky copies I no longer need to a Goodwill near you, happy that this $1  copy will keep me “Hammering” away for years.

Today’s Summary:

Cost $1, $983 Remain

June 5, 2016 The Most Popular Group Of All Time

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S.R.O., Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, A&M 119, 1966

It’s day two of the $1 highlights of my latest tour through Goodwill.  Yes, I know that very few people would agree with today’s headline, but just like yesterday’s attention getter, any Goodwill record shopper would have to agree that Herb Alpert records are always available there.  Literally always.

Thrift stores are wonderful places to buy records, but you will have to adjust you mentality about the kind of records they sell.  Forget big time name bands, true collectibles, or mint condition records.  Instead, you’ll find tons of classical, awful christmas compilations, Reader’s Digest boxed sets, random international records, bizarre homemade religious albums, and, well, the entire discography from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

It’s easy to understand why.  The records hit a groove with a segment of the record buying public at a time when Rock was just one type of popular music.  Singles still outsold albums anyway, and the mid sixties album charts really were dominated by broadway and movie soundtracks as well as the kind of records bought by adults.  Herb Alpert sold more albums than even The Beatles did in 1966.

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“TJB” records are wonderfully made, and still very fun.  The musicians on them are the famed “wrecking crew” of LA studio players that crafted hits for more artists than I could possibly list here.  These albums now sound as perfectly cliche as Herb’s formal velvet jackets and ruffled shirts.  The sanitized cha-cha sounds had a 30 year run of “Oh God No” uncoolness, but you just know that Don & Megan Draper would have played these records.  And that’s cool.

Today’s Summary:

Cost $1, $984 Remaining

June 4, 2016 The Best Selling Album Of All Time

IMG_7048Blood Sweat And Tears, Columbia 9720, 1969

Seven weeks at number one, three #2 hit singles, the Grammy for Album Of The Year 1969, the second album from the group Blood Sweat and Tears has got to be the best selling album of all time.

Except it isn’t.  True, it did sell four million copies, but these days it seems like 3.9 million of them have ended up at Goodwill.  Which is why anyone looking for interesting affordable records will invariably run across hundreds of copies of this album without even trying.

To get back on my budget’s track after spending $10 on an unopened Bobbie Gentry album yesterday, I needed to average out my budget by making a run at the $1 bins at my local Goodwill superstore.

To be able to buy 365 albums for less than $1000, I am going to have to really look for records in many places besides actual record stores.  Thrift Stores are a natural.  They get donations all the time, and price things to move.  Sometimes, they even run sales on top of their already low prices.

Goodwill is my go to thrift store.  They get the most donations, and most of them have a dedicated vinyl section.  True, most of the records found there seem to have been in the bins for decades, are in terrible condition, and would have long ago been thrown away by anyone trying to make money in the record business.  But with a little perseverance, you can still unearth some treasures.

In virtually  anywhere they operate, Goodwill has one large master “superstore” and several smaller branch stores.  The best records are usually found at the superstores, I think because that’s where the most donations first arrive.  The branch stores have a smaller selection and therefore they don’t have much of their inventory turn over.

When they have their $1 sales, Goodwill can be a great place to shop for records.  Now, you have to know that it would be miraculous if you found any records that would have traditional value at a full priced retailer.  But, for albums like Blood Sweat And Tears, you can walk away with records worth spending an evening with.

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And this is an interesting album!  There are elements of classical, pop, jazz, folk, soul and hard rock fused together very well, and it’s very easy to see the influence it had on groups like Chicago, Genesis, and ELO.  Maybe it’s just that unlike those other groups, B,S & T didn’t really have a breakout star or any recognizable players.  The songs are virtually all covers.  Musicians came and went from the group and everyone of their albums just sounded different from the one before.  This was their only best seller, and all of their top ten hits are on it.  I wouldn’t call them a one hit wonder, but this individual album is kind of their greatest hits package without even trying to be.

Today’s Summary:

Cost $1, $985 remaining