I was excited for March for a few reasons – new job, got a huge tax refund, planned a trip in a few months from now. But more than anything in March, I was excited for three separate vinyl rummage sales.
The Newark Music Swap Meet – Newark, CA – March 23, 2014
We were told about this sale by a gentleman over at Dave’s Records on San Pablo in Berkeley. He told us about the sale the day before it took place. I had heard from other collectors before that the Newark Music Swap Meet is not very good. Even so, on an open Sunday with nothing really going on, Hannah and I decided to make an afternoon checking it out.
Upon arrival, I suddenly understood why. It was probably the most underwhelming sale I’ve ever attended. Granted, we showed up at around 1 PM when it first opens at 7 AM and closes at 2, but there were only about 8 individual sellers and most of what they sold was either overpriced or in terrible condition. Hannah found a copy of Neil Young’s Harvest for only $1. The cover was split down the bottom of the sleeve and the record was very visibly warped. Figures.
Even the atmosphere inside the hall was not very pleasant. Contrary to other swap meets I’ve attended, there wasn’t the sound of bustling people chattering or the sounds of 60s surf rock playing over a portable turntable speakers. Instead, the hum of fluorescent lights and distant microphone feedback from a poorly connected house PA system was the tune. Okay, sure, I’m slightly exaggerating – there actually were people chattering, but it was a dull roar compared to inaudible bartering and shouting.
We didn’t see anything particularly worth buying. I did find a sealed copy of a Runaways bootleg entitled Live In Concertfrom Wizardo Records. But for an asking price of $35, and not knowing a single song of theirs, I couldn’t justify the purchase. Besides, sealed records like that are really only good when purchased as a bargain since their best value is being resold still sealed.
We eventually made our way to one of the final tables. A middle-aged couple from the Central Valley with four crates were mainly selling classic rock and some 60s psychedelia. I wasn’t seeing anything particularly interesting, up until I asked if he had any Pink Floyd (the bread and butter of my vinyl collecting). He presented to me a copy of the bootleg Dark Side Of The Moo from Trixie Records.
If you didn’t recognize this cover instinctively as a well known Pink Floyd bootleg, than you probably wouldn’t even know this record has anything to do with Pink Floyd at all. The labels on the vinyl itself reference The Screaming Abdabs, a name briefly used by the band prior to 1966.
This bootleg isn’t really a bootleg. It’s more like a pirated LP containing rare B sides and studio outtakes from 1967 to 1970. In fact, there is only one genuine studio outtake on this album which is Track A6: Scream Thy Last Scream. The rest are just a collection of officially released B-sides. Probably the best part of this record, at least for me personally, is the cover itself. I dig how it’s similar to the theme of Atom Heart Mother’s cover which also features a cow – yet it’s subtle and doesn’t have any text all over the place much in the way that most bootleg covers do. Plus, the photographer got the attention of this cow, which was then immortalized in a photo and used for an illegitimate record cover. For some reason, I find humor in that. As far as the content of this bootleg goes, the music on this record is mostly from an era of Pink Floyd that I’m not too crazy about (mid to late 60s). To be honest, I find a lot of these songs to be pretty nauseating. I can’t say I’m excited to hear a poor quality outtake of this:
See? Told you it’s nauseating.
Fortunately a few songs on this album are actually worth listening. My two personal favorites are The Crumbling Land and Point Me At the Sky (which sounds similar to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by The Beatles)
|A2||Candy And A Current Bun||2:43|
|A3||Apples And Oranges||3:01|
|A4||It Would Be So Nice||3:41|
|A6||Scream Thy Last Scream||4:44|
|B1||Heart Beat, Pig Meat||3:09|
|B4||Point Me At The Sky||3:37|
|B4||Come On Number 51, Your Time Is Up||4:57|
Such is the case when buying vinyl bootlegs – you never really know what the quality of the recordings will sound like until you fork over $$$ and listen to them at home.
At the same table, Hannah found an excellent copy of The Beatles’ album Rubber Soul. It’s in great shape and looks like it had never been played before.
Her specific version is from Germany on Odeon Records (year of release is unknown). She already had a copy of Rubber Soul, but her other release is from the United States on Capital Records. The US releases left out many hits from this album which other versions from other countries contained in their releases. For example, songs like Drive My Car, Nowhere Man, What Goes On, and If I Need Someone were all excluded from US releases.
After buying our albums and chatting with the sellers for a few minutes, we left. There’s a good chance that unless I arrive at 7 AM at the next Newark Music Swap Meet that I probably will not return to this event.
Cavern Discos’ Rummage Sale – Albany, CA – March 29, 2014
Two years ago while browsing the garage sales section on Craigslist I came across a post from a gentleman who was planning on selling about 9000 records he had in storage. The ebay record store Cavern Discos, which specialized in funk, disco, and soul records, was officially kaput and the owner needed to liquidate all of his surplus records sitting in storage. So he posted an ad publicly on craigslist saying that he will be selling all of his records in his backyard and that every record was worth $3 each – regardless of rarity, condition or actual value. On the day of his sale about 100 people came into his backyard and tore apart his boxes of records (and his garden).
So flash-forward two years. A week before the sale, the owner of Cavern Discos sent me a message and told me that the very last of his records were moved from storage and were ready to be sold. It would be the exact same sale as last time – except this time the records were now to be sold at $1 each.
Saturday rolls around – and it’s pouring rain. California has been in its worst drought on record and the one time I actually was hoping sunshine and dry conditions I get the exact opposite. I arrived at the sellers house about 20 minutes before the sale starts. Unlike the last sale two years earlier, there was no one anxiously waiting around his front yard. I figured this was because it was raining and no one wanted to deal with the conditions. In actually what had happened was the buyers were waiting in his back yard and were helping set up two outdoor tarps and a bunch of plastic floor protectors to help keep the records and the buyers dry.
It’s about 10 minutes before the sale when the seller says, “Okay, it’s pouring and it’s freezing. So let’s just start now. Everyone go to my shed and pull out one box and drop it down on the plastic floor protectors under the tarps, and then you can start your digging there.” So I went into his shed, since I was actually the closest to it, and pulled out a box of about 100 records. It was heavy but it contained probably some of the best conditions of records I could have hoped for. The ones I picked out were mostly in near mint condition. After going through a few boxes it started to get kind of chaotic. Too many people, not enough protection from the rain, and not enough boxes for each person to causally browse though. It didn’t take long before it became more unpleasant than it already was.
Inside the shed wasn’t much better.
Nothing smells quite like a room full of wet, sweaty middle-aged men kicking up record dust. Fun fun fun!
So after 20 minutes, I realized that this sale was a waste of my time. I left with 11 records, but only had to pay $9. My selections, in brief description were:
Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead
I’ve never really listen to the Grateful Dead, but when they come on the radio on 94.1 KPFA on Wednesday nights, it’s pretty fun music. The condition of this looks like it’s G and it was missing the original cover when I found it, but to my amazement it plays like it’s VG+. For a dollar, this was a bargain.
Various Artists – Record Store Day 2008
I don’t know a lot about this album. All I know is that I found it brand new, sealed for $1 and it had artists like Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine, Patti Smith, Pearl Jam and others. Apparently copies of this have sold on ebay recently for about $50.
Terre Thaemlitz – Raw Through A Straw / Tranquilizer
I recognized her name from a few ambient songs that I heard from SOMA FM’s internet streaming station Drone Zone. Good ambient musician (although she’s kind of avant-garde and out there). Also, this vinyl is totally transparent.
Eazy-E – Eazy Duz-It / Ruthless Villain (DEMONSTRATION ONLY)
The picture above is of the regular, studio 12″ release. The version I have has a label just like the above photo, but also reads, “DEMONSTRATION – NOT FOR SALE” just below where it reads Eazy-E. I’m not particularly a fan of rap, but a near mint Eazy-E demonstration disc for $1? Sure, why not.
Kiln – Sunbox
Not going to lie – this was a total impulse buy. I’ve never heard of this group, and their music is downtempo techno / IDM. But it’s got a white label with a hand stamped little ghost on it. I thought it might be cool, or at the very least valuable. I’m still not entirely sure if either of those are true, but on ebay someone is currently selling the non-white label release for $40. Again, not a great purchase.
The Doors – The Doors
Coincidentally, I bought a copy of this two years ago from the same backyard sale, except this copy is in a lot better shape. It’s also a stereo release. The other copy I bought was a quadrophonic release (which I also suspect may be a counterfeit release). Even in mediocre shape, an original stereo release of this album is valued at about $20 starting price.
Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline
It’s Dylan for a dollar. Not a bad investment. Except this was a bad investment, because the condition looks VG+ but sounds like G+. Odd how that can happen.
Super Mysterious Test Pressing – ????
Too lazy to take a photo of this one, but it’s a test pressing of a 12″ hip-hop record. Another bad impulse buy. I saw a test pressing, with no real indication of it’s origin or even it’s genre, and I didn’t think to ask questions about it since it was chaotic and pouring at the sale. It could have been jazz, or some soul, or maybe something with value none-the-less. I bagged it and thought “at the very least, I’ve wasted $1.” I later found out it’s a test pressing from hip-hop artist Mr. Lif’s 2002 single New Man Theme. Even in near mint condition, it’s garbage.
Funkstörung – Post.Art
I bought this mainly because it was white marbled vinyl. It’s IDM / electronic music. Another bad impulse buy.
Pink Floyd – Animals
This definitely would have been the best of my purchases, had it not been in such terrible shape. It looked VG when I bought it, but it’s actually G+. Oh well, it’s an album I’m really not crazy about spending a lot of money on anyway. Fortunately for me this mediocre purchase only cost me $1.
David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
For the 11 albums I bought, this was definitely the best purchase. It’s in VG shape, but it’s got excellent replay value. I wasn’t familiar at all with Bowie’s work, but I figured this was a good excuse to start.
All in all, the backyard rummage sale was a waste of my time. I plan on reselling the majority of these albums either on ebay or to one of the local record stores. Given that this sale was a joke, I was looking forward to the next day…
March Beat Swap Meet (#5) – Berkeley, CA – March 30, 2014
So Hannah and my father and I met outside the door for this event. Having never heard of it previously, I thought it might be fun for a Sunday afternoon. Getting in the door cost $5 and a canned good. I went to the store and bought five cans of expensive Progesso canned soup knowing that a good chunk of those attending would offer Hormel re-fried beans and other junk no one would actually want to eat. I give the Swap Meet that much – it was nice of them to ask for canned food as a requirement to get in the door. I think that’s an excellent way to have people actively donate food.
Once inside, there were about 8 vendors selling records. This was great, up until I realized that the sellers are almost exclusively selling rap and hip-hop only. It was disappointing to say the least. We went from table to table hoping to find some variety but did not find much. We left no more than 20 minutes after arriving. Considering Discogs was a major sponsor of this traveling swap meet, I was imagining a giant cafeteria sized swap meet with all sorts of different collectors with different specialties. Oh well.
We were bummed out with the Swap Meet, so we had lunch and decided to go to Amoeba and Rasputin on Telegraph Street closer towards UC Berkeley. Rasputin proved to offer a more enjoyable experience. In the Pink Floyd bin, I found something of interest.
Pink Floyd – Raving and Drooling
This is a bootleg from The Amazing Kornyphone Record Label (TAKRL) featuring a performance of three songs from November 17, 1974 in Great Britain. I had been looking for a copy of this for a few months and was finally able to buy a copy at a reasonable price. The condition was VG+ but it sounds VG for the most part. The recording itself is pretty bad. It needs some thorough equalizing. Even so, it’s definitely worth owning. Raving and Drooling sounds amazing. Shine On You Crazy Diamond is also amazing.
|A1||Raving And Drooling||10:37|
|A2||You’ve Gotta Be Crazy||12:12|
|B1||Shine On You Crazy Diamond||23:06|
March had some promising swap meets and a rummage sale that was impressive the last time it occurred two years earlier, but failed to really provide. It was still fun to attend these events. Today’s April 1st and the next KUSF Rock n’ Swap Record Event is in about two weeks. Hopefully there will be a lot more to brag about then…