Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Old Records

I just did something I haven't done for too long: bought some records - meaning vinyl. Not that it's been months and months but it's been a while. Access to used vinyl around these parts has been more limited ever since Dynamite Records closed shop last summer (about which I blogged at the time). There are other shops in the Pioneer Valley but nothing else right in downtown Northampton that has quite the standing selection that Dynamite always had. And for a transportationally challenged guy like me (read: I don't drive a car) that's a big bummer.

Another used music shop is downtown, Turn It Up, but their vinyl collection has never quite had the depth to keep me sifting through the shelves on a regular basis - they've always specialized in CD's with LP's as a sidebar. It does seem though, that with Dynamite gone they've been making more space for records in the very crowded store. I still find their selection to be more miss than hit (and always suspect that they weed out most of the good stuff for themselves before they put anything out for general consumption) but on my recent trip I scored more than the usual array of good finds, coming home with four records to add to my collection.

Of course, shopping for used records always involves some complicated decisions about what counts as a worthy purchase. The desirability of the music as music rests alongside considerations of cost and of the condition of the record (both the disc itself and its cover material). When I buy used vinyl I find myself buying things I'd never buy on CD but that I find have a certain charm in the vinyl format, and that I'm willing to bring home if the price is right. In this case, all four of the albums I bought cost a mere $2 each, and all were in decent condition (covers a bit worn in a couple cases but the records themselves in good playable shape, with the expected cracks and pops here and there that vinyl fans believe to "add character").

So what'd I buy? Here's the rundown:

Journey, Infinity. An ironic purchase in light of my last post, Journey's first album featuring singer Steve Perry. First side is pretty fine, lots of short catchy songs strung together. Second side has hit "Wheel in the Sky" and then falls into less scintillating territory, almost prog-like at times.

Bonnie Raitt, Give It Up. Her debut album from the early 1970s. I've always meant to give her a closer listen so finally made the plunge. A nice album, bluesy and mostly acoustic but with great horn accompaniment on several cuts. Almost has a Little Feat kind of vibe at times which is okay by me.

Foghat, Fool for the City. This was my find of the day. I've been looking for a good copy of this for a while, as a supplement to their great Live which I've owned since I was a kid. After one listen, I like it but Live remains my go-to album, forty minutes of unrelenting rock. (I could write a whole other post on my fondness for live hard rock albums from the 1970s, and maybe I will some time).

Chic, Risque. I haven't listened to this one yet, but it's the album that contained the absolutely classic "Good Times," and even though I already own that song on a greatest hits collection, I'm eager to hear it in the context of the original full length LP.

Having begun to catalog my music collection a few years ago, I can say with ridiculous accuracy that these purchases bring my vinyl collection up to 992. I don't know why I care but I'm looking forward to breaking 1000 before summer's over.

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