Last weekend Lorri and I agreed to spend Saturday thrifting. For Lorri it’s an important part of her side business, for me it’s a way to seek out cheap vinyl. We spent the day together and hit a bunch of Goodwills, St. Vincent de Pauls and the big Salvation Army store in Seattle. It was fun, though I didn’t come away with anything brilliant. I’m always intrigued with what I do find, and this trip reinforced what I’ve always written about. Andy Williams, Mantovani, the usual, were in abundance. There was nothing in the racks that shouted-Me! Me!
That’s not to say I walked off with nothing. I bought three Judy Collins albums-the Colors of the Day anthology from 1972, Whales and Nightingales from 1970, and best of all Who Knows Where the Time Goes from 1968. I’ll be doing a subsequent blog post about this album. I also snagged a very nice copy of Hasten Down the Wind by Linda Ronstadt, which has a bunch of lovely Linda’s covers of songs by Karla Bonoff and Warren Zevon among others.
I made some other desultory purchases, eight records in all for four bucks. I guess the point I’d make is that in five or six stops I didn’t find anything that knocked my socks off, but such is the hunt, I guess. I’ve had a couple of really great days, but honestly, it’s a crap shoot, and for every time I walk out of a store with a record or two, or six, there are ten times I walk out with nothing. The larger the store, the more records, and the more they’ve been picked over by people just like me. They might be collectors or completists hoping for an unusual find, or they might be re-sellers, hoping to find something others will buy at a better price. The point is that I’m competing with others every day when I walk into a shop looking for records, and most of the time it’s simply a matter of luck when I happen to be in the right place at the right time.
But what I really do notice is that even the music that does make me go, hmmmm, should I or shouldn’t I, usually fits a pattern. One that I’ve noticed is the racks are full of cast-off women. I don’t have a problem with that, because I generally like female performers-1970’s Linda Ronstadt, 1961-75 Judy Collins, same era Joni Mitchell, Heart, Riot Grrl bands, Scandal with Patti Smyth-yes, give me more. Sometimes I find these in the bins (wait, never Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, or Sleater-Kinney stuff,) along with the less interesting Nicolette Larsen, Helen Reddy, Anne Murray, and Carly Simon albums. But there are rarely interesting guy vocalist records. No Bob Dylan or Tim Hardin records. No Phil Ochs or Neil Young. Yes there are lots of Barry Manilow and Kenny Loggins albums, along with terrible Neil Diamond offerings (which is anything post 1969,) but they’ll need to live in somebody else’s cramped record spaces. There are often John Denver records that I owned when I was 18-19, but studiously avoid 40 years later. But simply put, the proportion of cast-off female vocalists from 1961-1980 outnumber the refugee males at least 3:1. What’s the deal? Don’t have an answer, just think it’s curious.
FINDS OF THE WEEK
Emmylou Harris–White Shoes. After a lifetime of studiously avoiding anything that seemed remotely country, I’ve lightened up. Emmylou has such a gorgeous voice and chooses such great songs to sing. Her records are also astonishingly cheap and available.
Steve Winwood–Back in the High Life. The multi-instrumental Winwood is best remembered for his role in bands like The Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, and Traffic, but he’s had a bit of a solo career too. This 1986 record has the single “Higher Love.”
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys-Saw this in a thrift store in the middle of nowhere Pierce County. I’m really not a jazz person, and unlike my fellow blogger Mark, tend not to take as many chances on different genres of music. But I’ve actually heard Wills’ version of country swing and kind of like it. This is an undated MCA anthology that nobody seems to know much about, even on Discogs.
TAKING A CHANCE
I’ve mentioned the rules I’ve set for myself regarding record buying. I tossed almost all those out the window yesterday when I bought four records for $2.00 at a thrift store. They look dirty, the covers are pretty bad, and no dust jackets. But Stoney End by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys was available, so I gambled. I immediately went to my local record store and bought a discwasher and am hoping I can clean this up and make it playable. The album is a 1976 Pickwick anthology of the Stone Poneys work from 1967-8 with a very young Linda Ronstadt, before she embarked on a solo career. In 1976 Ronstadt was at the height of her fame, so this is clearly an effort to capitalize on that.
EXTRAVAGANCE OF THE WEEK
Every pay day (which is every other week) I try to allow myself something special. Last time it was Slater-Kinney, this week it’s Dark Side of the Moon. I have a CD of the Pink Floyd classic, but this is an album I should have on vinyl. This is the 2011 Parlophone re-master that received generally positive reviews on Amazon. Did not go the full nine yards and buys the hundred twenty dollar “immersion” box set, because, as I’ve said before, it’s about the music, not the celebrity of spending pile of cash on a classic record.