Originally posted August 10, 2007
As mentioned here earlier, it’s time to celebrate Vinyl Record Day at Echoes In The Wind this weekend with a blogswarm. Organized by the DJ at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, the weekend swarm will feature posts here and at these other fine music blogs:
AM Then FM
Flea Market Funk
Good Rockin’ Tonight
Got the Fever
Lost in the 80s
The Hits Just Keep On Comin’
The Stepfather of Soul
The actual day selected as VR Day is Sunday, Aug. 12, which turns out to be the 130th anniversary of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison.
Now, old Tom didn’t invent the vinyl record. That came quite a bit later. Edison used wax cylinders to record sound, and around 1900 came the invention of the 78 rpm record made out of shellac. Both had obvious drawbacks. The wax cylinders were soft and could melt too easily, and 78s were heavy and more fragile than china. The dual problems of durability and weight were solved in 1948 when engineers at Columbia and at RCA invented the LP and the 45, respectively. But celebrating vinyl on the anniversary of old Tom’s breakthrough in recording sound just feels right.
So how should the vinyl record be celebrated? Well, by talking about record collecting.
But instead of talking in generalities, I thought I’d look at my collection and the milestone records. Which record was the 100th? Which was the 2,500th? And how about the numbers in between? I should note that having many times bought multiple LPs on the same day made it difficult to specify in some cases exactly which record was, say, the 500th I ever bought. I decided that any record bought the day I reached a milestone number was eligible, and I selected the record I thought most interesting.
I should also note that every mp3 shared in this post is a rip from the vinyl being discussed. There are a few pops here and there, as a result.
A third note: This will be a very long post.
No. 1: Honey In The Horn by Al Hirt, Sept. 5, 1964, St. Cloud, Minnesota. This 1963 release was the first record I can recall that was specifically mine. It was a present from my sister for my eleventh birthday. I’d been playing cornet for about three months, and after hearing “Java,” which reached No. 4 on the pop chart that year, I’d begun to look at Big Al as my model. “Java” is no longer my favorite song on the record. More than any other track, I love Al’s incredible work on “I Can’t Get Started,” a song that most horn players have left alone since Bunny Berigan’s definitive version in 1937. But the track I’ve decided to share is “Malibu” because, well, it just sounds like 1963 to me: There’s a couple in a car. It’s night, and they’re heading out of the city on the Pacific Coast Highway, maybe actually heading toward the beaches of Malibu. They’re in a convertible, maybe a Thunderbird, and its headlights slice through the post-midnight darkness. He’s probably something in show biz, maybe beginning a career in the business side of television, and she, well, she might work for the same network or studio. And life is good, with the soft sounds of the horn and the choir providing the soundtrack as they glide north through the night into the future.
No. 100: Mancini’s Angels by Henry Mancini, May 15, 1977, St. Cloud, Minnesota. I was just finishing college at St. Cloud State, and one day, down by the television studio, there was a box of records the radio station didn’t want. I grabbed a bunch, and this was one of them, a 1977 release that had Mancini and his pals performing not only the “Theme from Charlie’s Angels” but such classics as “Evergreen,” “Car Wash” and “Silver Streak.” (Just from this entry alone, it becomes obvious that I rarely throw anything out of the collection.)
No. 200: Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan, June 19, 1987, St. Cloud, Minnesota. I got this 1965 release as a gift from a lady friend with whom I was trying to acquire a complete collection of Dylan’s works. We succeeded at that, at least, and when we split up, I got the records. The track I’ve ripped is “She Belongs To Me.” I first heard the song when Rick Nelson took his version to No. 33 in early 1970. Although I like Nelson’s version, there’s nothing like the original.
No. 300: Cruisin’ 1967 by various artists, June 8, 1988, Minot, North Dakota. This is one of a series of LPs put out in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Increase Records. Each album centers on one year and packages hits from that year in the context of a Top 40 station, featuring a different announcer from a major market in the U.S., complete with jingles and commercials. The 1967 album, released in 1984, features Dr. Don Rose of WQXI in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s an interesting curio, but this one is the only one in the series I ever bought.
No. 400: Gaucho by Steely Dan, December 10, 1988, Minot, North Dakota. I likely got this 1980 album from the bin at the Minot Public Library, as December is not a month for garage sales, and there’s no price tag on the jacket, as there would be if I bought it retail, even second-hand. Library records are usually in bad condition, and I tend to avoid them. If that’s where I got this, then I did well, as it’s in pretty good shape. It’s an okay album, but it’s not my favorite Steely Dan album; I prefer Pretzel Logic.
No. 500: Chicago VI by Chicago, February 17, 1989, Minot, North Dakota. This 1973 album came from a pawnshop in downtown Minot, where every record was $2.50 or something like that. I didn’t get there a lot during my two years on the North Dakota prairie. These days, I imagine I’d be checking the new arrivals every couple of weeks, at least. I decided to share “What’s This World Comin’ To?” because, to my ears, it’s one of the last times Chicago really rocked.
No. 600: Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, July 11, 1989, Edina, Minnesota. I went on a binge in the Minneapolis suburbs after I moved back from the prairies in mid-1989, buying something more than thirty records my first month back in Minnesota. As to this 1967 album, well, it’s essential for any serious attempt at a good collection. I love “The Wind Cries Mary.”
No. 700: Tap Root Manuscript by Neil Diamond, June 2, 1990, Conway Springs, Kansas. This album came out in 1970, and I always meant to buy it but for some reason never looked for it. I ran across it and finally bought it on a Saturday morning of garage sale stops during a three-month stay in Kansas. I’m sharing “Done Too Soon,” which after thirty-seven years remains one of my favorite songs.
No. 800: Wet by Barbra Streisand, April 3, 1991, Columbia, Missouri. I’ve never been a big Babs fan, so I must have grabbed this 1979 release for something less than a dollar at a garage sale. I was teaching at a women’s college and beginning my final project for a master’s degree at the University of Missouri at the time. College towns are always good used music locales: I got some very nice albums during my two stays in Columbia.
No. 900: Wild Things Run Free by Joni Mitchell, Sept. 5, 1992, Minneapolis. I must have been spending birthday money when I picked this 1982 release up. I think I bought it new, and it fits in with the other Joni releases on the shelf even though it’s not a favorite of mine. I think this is one of Joni’s experiments that wasn’t real accessible.
No. 1000: Great Hits by Eddie Cochran, May 5, 1993, Minneapolis. The pace of buying is accelerating here, and so is the scope of my purchases. This is a collection put together in 1983, and it’s not bad, considering that Cochran had only three singles reach the Top 40 before he died in a car crash in 1960. I’ve ripped “Pink Peg Slacks” a 1956 recording that was released as Liberty single 10204.
No. 1100: My Baby Loves Lovin’ by White Plains, October 15, 1993, Richfield, Minnesota. This 1970 bit of studio Bazooka is pretty hacked up, but I only spent fifty cents for it as I made my way home through the suburbs one day. I got a good Al Stewart and a few other things at the same stop, so it wasn’t a total loss.
No. 1200: Burgers by Hot Tuna, August 4, 1995, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. I’d left the newspaper in Eden Prairie for a job in downtown Minneapolis in July, and one Sunday morning I got a call from the woman who’d coached gymnastics at Eden Prairie High: She and her husband were clearing out their old vinyl. Did I want it? I headed out to the southwest suburb pretty quickly and got this little gem from 1972 and another forty or so records. Best find of the batch? Probably two albums by Bonnie Koloc, a little-known singer/songwriter whose stuff I intend to post here soon.
No. 1300: History of Hi Records, Vol. Two by various artists, October 8, 1996, Minneapolis. I got this 1988 release and its companion first volume on a very odd Saturday morning. Unattached at the time, I went on a blind date, meeting a woman of similar age at a farmer’s market in Richfield, a suburb just south of Minneapolis. After wandering around the small market in a chill wind, we made our way to a record store in Minneapolis, one new to me. We browsed for a while, and when I went to the register to pay for the two Hi LPs and a book, she laid her two records on top of mine at the counter. The clerk rang them up on my tab as I stood there stunned. I paid and didn’t say anything, but I never called her for another date. I’ve ripped “You Made Me What I Am” by Erma Coffee, one of the lesser-known artists for Hi, the home of Al Green and Ann Peebles, among others. It was released in 1973 as Hi single 2253.
No. 1400: Beaucoups of Blues by Ringo Starr, July 26, 1997, Minneapolis. This is perhaps the most odd record of Ringo Starr’s career. A straight country, featuring some of the best sessions players in Nashville at the time, this 1970 release was Ringo’s second solo album following the break-up of the Beatles. It’s not something I listen to very often, but I’m glad it’s on the shelves.
No. 1500: Lady Day Blues by Billie Holiday, February 14, 1998, Minneapolis. By this time, I was stopping by Cheapo’s several times a week, checking the new arrivals every few days and keeping a bag full of holds behind the counter. I’d either buy the records or put them back in the bins each Saturday. This 1972 release on the AJ label is a goulash of performances from throughout Holiday’s career. Its only real attraction is the first release of a 1939 recording of “Don’t Be Late” with saxophonist Lester Young.
No. 1600: Gerry Rafferty by Gerry Rafferty, June 6, 1998, Minneapolis. This 1978 release – following Rafferty’s No. 2 hit “Baker Street” and the album City to City, which reached No. 1 – is a compilation of work from earlier in Rafferty’s career. Taken from two albums recorded in the early 1970s when he was part of a duo called the Humblebums, the record gives a look at Rafferty in the days before Stealer’s Wheel. I’ve ripped the track “Steamboat Row,” which appears to be an edit of the version the Humblebums recorded in 1970.
No. 1700: Faragher Brothers by the Faragher Brothers, August 4, 1998, Minneapolis. When I pulled this 1976 release from the stacks, I didn’t remember a thing about it, so I dropped it on the turntable as I was writing. It’s inoffensive pop rock with mellow vocals and a few horn flourishes, kind of a Pablo Cruise meets James Pankow of Chicago. The only name in the credits that rings any bells is that of producer Vini Poncia, who played numerous parts on Ringo Starr’s 1973 album Ringo and co-wrote “Devil Woman” for that album with Ringo. A year from now, I imagine I’ll have forgotten all about the Faragher Brothers again.
No. 1800: Caribou by Elton John, October 24, 1998, Minneapolis. I picked up this 1974 LP to help fill a gap. About this time, I realized I was low on stuff by Elton John and began looking for some. This release from 1974, a time when Elton was nearly king of the musical universe, fit nicely on the shelves.
No. 1900: Sonny Terry by Sonny Terry, December 5, 1998, Minneapolis. This was part of the Great Blues Grab at the local Salvation Army store. As I wrote once before, the manager of the store called me when someone dropped off about twenty boxes of nearly mint condition rock and blues albums. This 1965 release of archival performances on the Everest label is one of the relatively few records released during Terry’s lifetime – he died in 1986 – that did not also include his long-time partner, Brownie McGhee.
No. 2000: Dinner With Raoul by the Bliss Band, January 30, 1999, Minneapolis. I think this came in a box of records I bought at a church rummage sale. I’d often buy entire boxes of records – if most of them appeared to be in good shape – at rummage sales and garage sales, then sort through them, keep the ones that intrigued me and then sell the rest at Cheapo’s and a couple other places. I’d generally do no worse than break even, and I’d still have the records that interested me. I’ve ripped the track “Rio” from this 1978 album, which was produced by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. Like the Faragher Brothers above, the Bliss Band sounds to me a bit like Pablo Cruise or the Little River Band, both of which were hitting the charts about the time Dinner With Raoul was recorded.
No. 2100: The Babys: Anthology by the Babys, March 19, 1999, Minneapolis. A decent greatest hits album from 1981, this was another attempt to fill a (small) gap in the collection. I still do like “Isn’t It Time?”
No. 2200: Copeland Special by Johnny Copeland, May 10, 1999, Minneapolis. I was pretty much grabbing any blues LPs I found in good shape at Cheapo’s around this time, adding to the collection that started in earnest the previous December at the Salvation Army store. Copeland – who died in 1997 – was a pretty decent blues guitarist and singer who hailed from Houston, and this 1981 album was his first. I’ve ripped the title track, “Copeland Special,” which features the wonderfully named Brooklyn Slim on harmonica.
No. 2300: James Cleveland and introducing the Gospel Girls, by Rev. James Cleveland, June 13, 1999, Minneapolis. This LP, which was released on Savoy around 1960, as far as I could ever find out, is one of several gospel albums by African-American artists that I bought around this time. I’d seen the Twin Cities Community Gospel Chorus perform at a street fair, and as I was digging into the blues roots of rock, I decided to dig into the gospel roots of soul. On the back of the jacket, Savoy offers a copy of the label’s entire catalog for ten cents. I wonder if the offer’s still good.
No. 2400: Enigma by P. J. Proby, October 1, 1999, Minneapolis. Albums at Cheapo’s were priced according to quality and rarity. Most LPs in fine condition would cost you $3.60. Every once in a while, you’d find one that was a bit rare and that would run you $4.20. (The store’s owner siphoned off the truly rare LPs the store received; I wish I could have seen his collection.) This 1966 LP by folkie/rocker/singer-songwriter Proby – who was a star in England but never too prominent here – was priced at $5.30, which meant it was rare. I didn’t know much about it, but I grabbed it. It turned out to be kind of a chunky mix of roots and rock and folk, and I like it. I’ve ripped the track “Niki Hoeky,” which was also recorded by artists as diverse as Redbone, Aretha Franklin and the Ventures.
No. 2500: Still ’Round by Michael Gately, December 7, 1999, Richfield, Minnesota. Like the Faragher Brothers and Bliss Band records above, when I pulled this from the stacks, I looked at it and had no idea what it sounded like. So I dropped the needle on it. First came a somewhat funky introductory track with a saxophone solo. But the first vocal track put me in mind of England Dan & John Ford Coley, and then came a country rock thing, followed by more mellowness. After that, it was early 1970s singer-songwriter stuff. All I could ever find out about this record was that it came out in 1972 on the Janus label. By the price tag – sixty-nine cents – I can tell it came from a thrift store on Penn Avenue where I could occasionally find some treasures. This isn’t one of them.
No. 2600: We Got A Party by various artists, October 13, 2000, Minneapolis. Subtitled “The Best of Ron Records, Volume 1,” this turned out to be a nice little gem. I’m not sure where I got it – no price tag – so I’m guessing a garage sale. A 1988 release on the Rounder label, the LP collects fourteen tracks released as singles on the New Orleans-based Ron label from 1958 through 1962. Some of the familiar names are here – Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, Robert Parker – along with some less prominent folks, including a performer named Paul Marvin. According to the notes, Marvin started life as Marvin Geatreaux and also went by the moniker Little Mummy. That was too odd to ignore, so I ripped Marvin’s 1959 single “Hurry Up,” which was released as Ron 322.
No. 2700: Typical American Boys by the Chad Mitchell Trio, June 22, 2002, St. Cloud, Minnesota. Still living in the Twin Cities at the time, the Texas Gal and I drove up to my hometown of St. Cloud on a June Saturday. We saw a parade, visited my folks and went to a few garage sales, one of which provided this 1965 release of super-bland folk. It’s a reminder of what college campuses sounded like in the years before Bob Dylan went electric and rock became something to think about. I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Animal House when John Belushi’s Bluto smashes the folk singer’s guitar.
No. 2800: Let’s Take A Sentimental Journey by various artists, May 20, 2004, St. Cloud, Minnesota. I got almost fifty albums that day. And I wish I didn’t own any of them. They were my dad’s, and I brought them home when Mom was getting ready to move after Dad died. Well, I guess I always knew I would end up with the records, and cataloging them when I brought them home was an afternoon of memories: Among them were Pearl Bailey, the Ray Charles Singers, Guy Lombardo, and about twenty excellent classical records from the Music Heritage Society. (My sister and I used to tease Dad when he was buying the Heritage Society records during the 1960s, and all he said was, “You’ll be glad to have them someday.” He was right.) There was a five-record set by the Mystic Moods Orchestra. And four Reader’s Digest boxed sets, one of which was Let’s Take A Sentimental Journey, which came out in 1970. From that box, I’ve selected a 1961 live performance by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra of “Sugar Foot Stomp.” The song was originally known as “Dippermouth Blues” and was first performed in the 1920s by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band; the high point of the song each night was a two-chorus solo by King Oliver himself on cornet. When the great Louis Armstrong moved from second chair in King Oliver’s band to first chair in Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra in 1924, he brought the song, now known as “Sugar Foot Stomp,” with him, and he brought King Oliver’s solo, too, note for note. In 1934, Henderson broke up his band and became an arranger for Benny Goodman, and he brought “Sugar Foot Stomp” and its cornet/trumpet solo, still played – note for note – as King Oliver first played it. And in this 1961 performance, following the first, brief solo by Goodman on clarinet, the horn player follows with King Oliver’s solo, played just as the King had done about forty years earlier, now about eighty years ago.
No. 2900: Harper Valley P.T.A. by Jeannie C. Riley, April 24, 2007, St. Cloud, Minnesota. There are very few places that sell any vinyl in St. Cloud these days. There are a few thrift stores, but I’ve rarely found anything in them worth bringing home. The only other place is the Electric Fetus downtown, with a small selection of new records and a slightly larger offering of used records. I stop in there about once a month, see what’s new in the used CD bins and take a look at the vinyl. Every once in a while, I find a record I’d forgotten about entirely. That was the case with this one. I don’t know that I ever aspired to have Harper Valley P.T.A, but I do recall when the title track was on the radio. (It was No. 1 for a week in the fall of 1968, and the LP went to No. 12, which has to make it one of the more successful crossovers from the country charts to the pop charts.) Along with the tale of the widowed mother calling out the hypocrites – with that sweet twanging guitar or dobro – the LP was almost a concept album, with its other vignettes of late 1960s life in a small southern town. Since I don’t hear it often on the oldies stations, I’ve ripped the title track, “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” to share here.
No. 2906: Another Day in Paradise by Bertie Higgins, August 1, 2007, St. Cloud, Minnesota. My most recent acquisition. A while back, I wrote about how I was certain I had a copy of this album somewhere and then learned to my surprise that I was wrong. Well, I saw it on my latest trip downtown, and laughing, I couldn’t resist. (The fact that it was priced at seventy-eight cents with thirty percent off helped.) And of course, I have to share “Key Largo,” which went to No. 8 in the summer of 1982. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.