Changing obsessions in the middle of an . . . obsession

Before I began my vinyl journey a couple of years ago, it wasn’t as though my house was free of stuff.  It was simply different stuff. I have a preoccupation with stuff.  I’ve tried collecting a variety of things including, but not limited to, baseball cards, political items, you name it.  But one of my stand-by’s is books. I used to use to compile my books in an organized fashion, back when that service was free.  I had room for a thousand books. And I had a thousand books.

I have books on countless topics. Lots are military topics that mirror my interest in wargame projects-The Hundred Years War, The American Revolution, The War of 1812. I love writers-J.R.R. Tolkien and Raymond Chandler, Richard Rhodes and Kai Bird, John Keegan and David McCullough.

Times change. I’ve made several big cuts to my book collection in order to make way for-you guessed it-more records. I traded in a hundred books, maybe a few more, in June at Half-Price Books for next to nothing in credit, which I reinvested in-you got it-records.  On Saturday I parted with another hundredish books at H-P Books, and you guessed it, put all $38.85 plus a few more bucks into five records. Sigh.

Don’t fear for my soul.  It’s not like I’ve adopted illiteracy as a new means of operating. I read every night, and sometimes more often than that. I still have hundreds, lots of hundreds of books. Some of them I’ve never read, and some I’d like to re-read.  It also doesn’t mean I’ll never buy more books. It just means there will be fewer of them in the paper manifestation.  I don’t do this  without trepidation.  Parting with books is a little like giving away my children.  I’ve been known to buy them back, though I believe I’m safe with that lot.

But lets face it, times have changed.  In many cases it’s just as easy to buy an e-book for my Kindle as it is to find a place to stash them. This doesn’t mean I’ll never buy another book, not so, but I may limit my book purchases to the Hundred Years War or Mark Lewinsohn’s biography of the Beatles.  What is clear is I have little space left to house them, and I have lots of books left to read, re-read and enjoy.

So what’s the deal? I’ve made the decision that I cannot live without an expanding record collection.  Call it Smyth’s Law of Vinyldynamics, the slowly expanding, entropic condition afflicting all vinyl addicts.

It’s funny.  I’ve attended two record conventions in my life, both in Tacoma, and at the last one in June I listened to two much more experienced (and aged) collectors than me. They were both sharing the stories of the various parts of their collections that were wharehoused in different storage units in different Puget Sound communities. THIS CANNOT BE ME! If I can’t reach it in my house, I can’t play it. If I can’t play it, I can’t listen to it. If I can’t play a record there’s no point in having it, because that’s the purpose of my collection. I just want more records to listen to (sniff.)

The bottom line, in this very long defense of my tendency to obsess over my stuff, is that I cannibalized a bookshelf in my den, full of wargame-related books.  I found various places to scatter them to after my delivery to Half Price Books.  Osprey books, Hundred Years War and World War I in my big bookcases in the reading area. Aircraft books to the garage where many others are living. In their place, I should be able to add an additional three shelves 30″ wide to house records.  Probably 250-300 records, which would put my collection at some 1,200 if I fill the space. I currently weigh in at about 860. That leaves some room for my frequently accessed gaming necessaries, as well as space in the bottom shelf for board games. Life is good.

What’s on the turntable?


One of my Half Price Books purchases was Encore by Tangerine Dream.  I really wanted to try some TD.  As you may recall, I had a bad experience with Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, and I wanted to try something different with the same techno, ambient sound.  The only Tangerine Dream I’d heard is from the 80’s Tom Cruise movie, Risky Business.  Remember “Love on a Real Train?”  Yep, I thought you would.

Encore, is a two record live album from 1977.  The record is built around four suites, each encompassing an entire album side. I’ve only listened to the record once, but really enjoyed it.  A great combination of ambient sound as well as some remarkably intrusive traditional instruments.  It bears repeated listening, but is also great as wallpaper if reading, chatting with the missus, or painting tiny little soldiers (raises hand-guilty!)

What’s in the mail? 


One of the artists I’m really intrigued by is Richard Berry.  For those not in the know, Berry was not Chuck Berry’s cousin, though they were recording at about the same time. Richard Berry was responsible for writing two of the most important songs in Northwest rock history: “Louie, Louie” and “Have Love Will Travel.” Berry wrote the former as a calypso song.  But bands like The Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and a thousand more acts from garage bands to the greats recorded it and bent it into an infectious, almost unintelligible youth anthem. To my knowledge, “Louie, Louie” is the only song that has it’s own anthology. “Have Love . . .” likewise was a staple of Northwest bands, notably the incendiary version by Tacoma’s The Sonics, but also covered by those same Paul Revere and Raiders, Sky Saxon (of The Seeds fame,) and Ian Gillian.

Richard Berry visited Seattle and played in the segregated R and B clubs on Jackson St. in the bad old 50’s. It’s just as clear he was playing for more than just black audiences. Unfortunately accessing a vintage LP of his work is challenging.  In fact there is no non-anthology of his stuff that includes the two big important songs. So I’ve opted for a 2014 pressing of a U.K. import, Louie, Louie from a Discogs seller in Brooklyn. Nice price. New. Can’t wait to hear it.



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