I acquired way too many records in June. And not on purpose either…
A few weeks ago while helping out a family member with their garage sale, I was gifted three records from their home. As I was looking at the gifted albums a customer of the garage sale approaches me.
“Hey man, you a record collector?”
“Sort of. I have my selective tastes but I’m into a lot of genres.”
“I got two or three boxes of records at my place if you want to go digging through them. You might find something worth while.”
My girlfriend and I wrap up the day a few hours later and head over to the man’s home. He greets us outside his home as he tunes up his car in the driveway. He leads us to his backyard and drops one box at a time on his patio table.
“Feel free to take your time and when you’re done let me know if you see anything that interests you.”
The gentleman was very nice. Considering we had just met him only a few hours earlier, and only for about 3 minutes, he was already offering us water and chairs to sit in so that we’d be comfortable. My girlfriend and I began to dig though his two boxes. Most of it was music I actually liked – The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. The rest included artists like The Beatles, Van Morrison, Pat Benatar, Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Credence Clearwater Revival, Big Brother and Holding Company, Bad Company among others.
Unfortunately, most of the records were in VG condition. Some were even warped, like Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, or Revolver by the Beatles. I put aside three piles while digging through the boxes.
Pile 1: Not interested
Piles 2: Possibly worth keeping
Pile 3: Definitely worth keeping
After spending about 40 minutes going through 100 or so records, we had reached a definitive number of we wanted. 14 Records grand total.
“How much do you think is a fair price for all those?”, he asks.
I was hesitating to throw a figure out. I’m terrible at pricing records and we were looking for a deal. I said $45 seemed fair for the 14 albums. The albums themselves weren’t necessarily rare, or even in good condition, which is why $45 seemed appropriate. My selections included most of the Grateful Dead he had, some Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and Holding Company, Abby Road by The Beatles, and a few other albums. Most of the albums I wanted were worth probably no more than $1.
“Huh. That’s it, just those 14?”
He hesitated and flipped through the records we wanted. He takes the records and stacks them up, slams them on the box of other records, and says, “Tell ya what, make it $50 and you can take everything.”
We didn’t decline. We took everything for $50 and were thrilled about our deal. In retrospect, I think I would’ve had the bad end of the deal to ask for $45 for our 14 albums. Most of the albums were not in the best shape.
We brought them home and I went through them like it was Christmas Morning. It took me several days to determine the value of over 100 albums from the boxes. Most were worth donating to Goodwill since they were so beat up. I was surprised to discover that a handful of albums were worth more than I had expected.
Below are the four most valuable albums we came across from the two boxes thus far…:
Toe Fat – Toe Fat
I had no idea who this progressive rock group from the UK were. Apparently, they were Uriah Heep’s first band before becoming Uriah Heep. Average price for a copy is between $30 to $45. I hate to admit, the copy we found in the box is pretty beat up. Probably worth closer to $20. Copies have previously sold close to $100.
Chris Isaak – Heart Shaped World
This album was only released on vinyl once and has been out of print for about 25 years. Most copies of this album sell between $30 to $50. The highest sold was about $135. Too bad our copy is in VG condition. Probably worth $25 or so if I had to guess. Not that we plan on selling this one…
Grateful Dead – Grateful Dead
At first glance, I thought my copy was a NM first pressing, but after looking into it a bit more, I was disappointed to find out the copy from the boxes is actually a second pressing. Even so, second pressings in NM condition typically sell anywhere from $35 – $75.
Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers – S/T
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first self-titled album was produced many times on several labels – including Shelter Records, MCA Records, and Island Records, Warner Brothers Records, and ABC Records. Our specific release of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was from ABC Records and included a picture collage insert of Tom Petty. This version was apparently a “limited edition” release and also had a different label from all other releases. In near mint (which is what we have), and with the photo insert, it’s valued between $50 to $80.
And then there was the least valuable album that came from the boxes…
In VG+ / VG shape, this copy of Jesse Colin Young’s album Song For Juli is currently being sold on Discogs for $0.02. Ironically, international shipping from the UK to the US for this album will cost you $15.
The one oddball from the boxes worth mentioning is a copy of Bad Company’s self-titled debut album.
What makes this album different? Side B for this album does not include a single piece of text on the label.
About 70% of the records in the boxes were not worth keeping. Either they were too beat up and scratched, or they featured music we didn’t enjoy. We’re still deciding on whether or not to sell the records in bulk to a record store, or to attempt liquidating them via eBay. Or, to just donate them to Goodwill.
Past that, I bought only one other album in June.
John Williams – Jurassic Park: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I loved this movie growing up. The music for the film is good, but it’s not something I would necessarily listen to on a regular basis. Unless of course it looked like this:
Mondo, the record label who published this album, released two variations and three versions of this record. The version I purchased was known as Variation A. Variation A came in the sleeve shown above and was randomly inserted with either black vinyl (version one, 3000 copies produced), or “Dilophosaurus splatter” vinyl (version two, 2000 copies produced – the version I own). The Dilophosaurus splatter design of the vinyl should be an obvious connection for any fan of the film.
Variation B featured a different sleeve design and the vinyl was produced with transparent golden wax, with a mosquito label in the center.
Limited to 1000 copies, and sold out within 20 minutes. By the time I tried ordering a copy after being stuck in traffic on my way to work, they were all extinct. The amber vinyl with its mosquito label should be another easy connection in reference to the film…
These records originally sold for $35, direct on the label’s website. They’re now sitting on eBay for really stupid amounts of money.
In May, I bought only six records. Below are four of the six.
Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd
This is a very rare Pink Floyd bootleg – recorded live at Musikhalle in Hamburg, Germany on February 25, 1971. The front cover is pretty offensive – so I’m showcasing the back cover. The specific copy I acquired is a second state pressing from the original, first-ever bootleg recording of the famed 1971 Musikhalle performance. The differences in pressings are equally subtle as they are superficial.
This bootleg was known for a few things: its rarity, its really obscene front cover, and its excellent recording quality featuring outstanding performances of songs like Careful with that Axe, Eugenie, Embryo, and Atom Heart Mother (performed with a backing brass and choir arrangement). It was also known for a really loud, chilling scream during Careful with that Axe, Eugene. The scream is queued up below (not advised for playback using headphones):
This legendary record has been copied many times by many of the big bootleggers of the 1970s. It’s been repressed before with titles such as:
and then there’s the extremely rare version of all the Muiskhalle bootlegs – Embrwo.
Embrwo, pictured above, is believed to be from the infamous Los Angeles based bootleg label Trade Mark of Quality (TMOQ) and was exported from the US to the UK to another bootlegger known as Freddy Stomper (aka, ‘The Marked Hand’). For Freddy, locating a record pressing plant in London to manufacture bootlegs was nearly impossible. So the story goes that Freddy got in touch with the guys at TMOQ to have one of his tapes (Musikhalle ’71) pressed on colored vinyl, shipped to the UK without sleeves (as not to alert customs), and then packaged and stamped in London. He repackaged the records in thin white cardboard sleeves and rubber stamped them as Embrwo. ‘The Marked Hand’ most likely intended for the title to be Embryo, the name of a song performed on the bootleg. Shortly after the sale debut of Embrwo in March of 1973, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) raided many UK record stores suspected of selling bootlegs. In fact, one of the main stores raided for selling bootlegs in London was none other than Virgin Records – The exact same Virgin Records owned by billionaire tycoon Richard Branson. The last time a genuine copy of Embrwo appeared on ebay, the album sold for close to $2100. If you go on youtube and search for “Pink Floyd M502” you’ll come across the full recording of this legendary bootleg.
Green Is The Colour / Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Saucerful Of Secrets
Atom Heart Mother (with brass and choir)
Leo Kottke – 6- And 12-String Guitar
I found an original first pressing of this at Amoeba in San Francisco in NM condition. It’s absolutely fantastic. The 12 string guitar musicianship on this album is really enjoyable. The acoustic folk sound makes me want to revisit Yosemite. Below is my favorite track from the album.
The Driving Of The Year Nail
The Last Of The Arkansas Greyhounds
Crow River Waltz
The Sailor’s Grave On The Prairie
Vaseline Machine Gun
Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring
The Tennessee Toad
The Brain Of The Purple Mountain
Mike Gordon – Overstep
This is Mike Gordon’s (bassist for Phish) fourth solo studio album (excluding two other albums where he was joined by Leo Kottke). I really like the cover art on this album. The music itself is pretty okay. I’m not necessarily blown away. Not to say the music sucked, or that it wasn’t at all good, I just don’t see myself playing this one too often in the future. Side C was definitely the best side of this album. This was one example where the cover helped push a sale – for me, at least.
Tiny Little World
Long Black Line
Various Artists – Dumb and Dumber Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Shop Radio Cast, a record label based in Canada, re-released this quintessential 90’s soundtrack in May. There was a limited edition of 50 copies on red and white wax, which sold out quickly. My copy is on blue wax and is limited to 500 copies. The music on this soundtrack is hit-and-miss, but I dig the majority of the songs. Some of the tracks downright suck. The good songs definitely outweigh the bad songs in either case. I’ve had the CD of this soundtrack for a long time. I still listen to the songs by Crash Test Dummies, Green Jelly, Echobelly and The Primitives when I come across them in my iTunes library. Oh, and side D has an special etching.
I realize the etching in the photo above is hard to see, but hopefully the caption will help you figure out what you’re looking at.
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)
Candy And A Current Bun
Apples And Oranges
It Would Be So Nice
Scream Thy Last Scream
Heart Beat, Pig Meat
Point Me At The Sky
Come On Number 51, Your Time Is Up
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.
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.
Raving And Drooling
You’ve Gotta Be Crazy
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
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…
I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve been busy overhauling my website and have been actively job hunting. It’s a learning experience (both building HTML in Dreamweaver and job hunting). I’ve also been working on a bunch of new videos; namely time lapse videos from various locations in the bay area.
Other than that, I’m going to discuss music and vinyl records!
So here are some recent purchases:
Found this rare gem sitting at Grooves in San Francisco. As mentioned in an earlier post, I met a gentleman at Grooves who collected only bootleg records. He had to unfortunately sell his entire collection to an independent buyer (Grooves). About 99% of every bootleg record found at Grooves was from a single collection from a single collector. I picked up a copy of “Stairstep to Abandon” knowing the rarity of the label and knowing that anything on the shelves at Grooves is in great condition.
Vinyl bootleg title: “Stairstep to Abandon”
Label: Ze Anonym Plattenspieler
Catalog Number: ZAP 7874
B2 On the Run
B4 Great Gig In The Sky
Lineage: Unknown AUD > Bootleg vinyl LP “Stairstep to Abandon”
*Venue may possibly be Colston Hall. Colston Hall is what is listed on etree as the venue. Yeeshkul indicates it is indeed the Hippodrome.
More info on this can be found here: http://www.yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?14318-1973-06-19-Pink-Floyd-Stairstep-To-Abandon
Fun fact about this recording: This was the final day of Pink Floyd’s 1974 Winter tour.
The recording quality is okay, nothing too outstanding for a bootleg from the mid 70s. I give it a B for recording quality. More information on the release can be found here: http://www.discogs.com/Pink-Floyd-Stairstep-To-Abandon/release/4238431
Another recent purchase: Daft Punk – Discovery
Bought this brand new at Amoeba in San Francisco for under $20. Definitely worth it!