“School’s Out” For Summer! It’s the Time of the Season for vinyl!

No, really, not the Alice Cooper song, school’s literally out.  The last week seemed super late and seemed to go on forever. But it’s over, and there are 79 days left of summer vacation.  I have lots of school related work to do this summer, as well chores to do around the house, but I intend to be sure to have some fun every day.  That means time to write, time to listen to music, time to paint figures time to hang out with my Aussie buddies, and time to play games with friends.

But today I want to share what I’ve been adding to my vinyl collection.  Let’s just start with philosophy, because that is always evolving for me. I’ve tried to stick to my guns on what I buy.  I haven’t scooped any large collections hoping something listenable will come out of it. However, I have been willing to take a bit more of a chance on music I wasn’t sure I’d like or should be part of my collection and I’ve been pretty happy with the results.  Here’s an example:

Ode to Billie Joe

Bobbie Gentry was no dirt farmer when she made this gem of an record. Though she’d grown up poor on a Mississippi farm, she’d moved to L.A. and then to Las Vegas before Capitol agreed to record her.  You may remember the title track.  It’s her song and this record is mostly her songs, full of strong folksy delta bluesy influenced music.  In fact the whole record is pretty darn strong. In 1967, after the success of Billie Joe, she recorded this record with country star Glen Campbell.  Nothing knew here and they do have a duet of “Little Green Apples” that should avoided with almost the same care and caution as Bobby Goldsborough’s “Honey,” But they also do a gorgeous cover of “Let it Be Me,” by The Everly Brothers that almost rivals the Phil and Don’s golden harmonies.

Bobbie Gentry and Glen CampbellI picked up both records at estate sales for under a buck each.  I’ve had some success at estate sales recently and acquired copies of Al Green’s Call Me, Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, and a fairly beat copy of Jimi Hendrix’s Axis Bold as Love.  The latter is barely playable, but I’ve hung on to it because it is a record club edition and thus rare enough to keep. I need a better play copy.

At garage and estate sales, or at thrift stores, one can’t control what one finds.  That doesn’t mean I have to buy, but I usually do, just to feel like my time wasn’t wasted.  If I buy a couple of records at fifty cents to a dollar a throw, I’m okay with that.  But every pay day, which for us is twice per month, I allow myself to spend more.  That’s when I go to used record stores in search of something on my list.  You don’t have a list?  I do and it’s worth your time to have a list of LP’s or whatever that you feel you need to give legitimacy to your collection, wow your friends with, and just enjoy listening to on a hot summer’s evening, or a cold winter afternoon. It also means I will avoid impulse buys.  Record collecting is expensive and for me if I go into House of Records and just follow my nose, I’ll be in trouble both in my collection and with all the explaining I’ll have to do to my very patient wife. I can follow my nose at estate and garage sales or at thrift shops, but not at twelve to thirty dollars a throw. And every pay day I try to buy one record in about that price range.

With my Jefferson Airplane collection complete, I’ve moved on to other artists.  One of them is Little Feat, the great southern rock band from the 70’s.  Though seeming pressed out of the same mold as The Allman Brothers, Lowell George’s interesting songwriting and his musical roots with bassist Roy Estrada in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention insured Little Feat would be different.  I’ve picked up several of their records, and believe Waiting For Columbus is the best live record I’ve ever heard.  Need a copy of their great Dixie Chicken and their self titled debut record which didn’t sell well.

I also really love The Spencer Davis Group. This British Invasion band was drenched in blue eyed soul and featured a teenaged Steve Winwood on keyboards and vocals. Unfortunately they are one of those Brit bands that tripped and fell translating their work to the States.They released only two LP’s in America, each featuring one of their biggest hits.  I’m a Man and Gimme Some Lovin’ were both released in 1967, just before Winwood departed the band to form Traffic. Spencer Davis managed to keep the band together, and I believe continues to perform and record today.  Lots of Spencer Davis anthologies, but I try to stay away from anthologies on general principles. I managed to pick up both of the American United Artists releases at a reasonable price, and am quite pleased to have them.

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