Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1001 baby!

That's 1001 records, which is how many I own now that I went on a bit of a spree after my last post. That's one thing about keeping a blog - writing about something can reflect what's on your mind but can also make something implant itself in your head all the stronger. After I wrote about my recent record buying experience I just kept thinking about how much I wanted to buy even more records. And so I did.

(Part of me is tempted to go off on some extensive tangent concerning how this impulse of mine is so much emblematic of consumer culture in general, the way that desire to purchase and own some thing builds irrationally, such that it seems impulsive, almost beyond one's control...but I'll leave it at that).

I made one of my periodic trips to the neighboring town of Amherst, which I do every now and then because I get sick of sitting in the exact same couple of coffee shops every day, but also because Amherst has music buying options that Northampton lacks. Specifically, in this case, Mystery Train Records.

Now, in my last post I went on about some of my mixed feelings concerning the used record selection at Turn It Up! in downtown Northampton. My feelings about Mystery Train are also mixed but for different reasons. This is a place where used vinyl remains the main attraction, which in itself makes it a fairly rare and special place. The problem is that as with so many used record shops I have visited in my time, the inventory doesn't turn over often enough. The "new" bin is always pretty well stocked but when you go into their regular stacks of old used stuff you just see the same things over and over for months or in some cases even years on end.

This seems even more true since the store moved from their old location next to Amherst Brewing Company to a new, less central location just down the street. The new Mystery Train has its charms - it's in a quaint little house tucked away at the end of a dirt driveway, kinda cool. But it also seems half the size of the old location despite there being two floors, and while I haven't asked to confirm I'm sure they keep less stuff out for browsing than they used to. Which is a bummer given how few good places there are to shop for used vinyl in the first place.

Part of the upshot of this situation is that if I'm really in the mood to buy something, as I was on this particular day, then I will often wind up buying something I only sort of want, something I've probably looked at literally 100 times before and decided that I didn't especially want or need but after so much exposure decide that maybe I'll take it after all. Of the eight albums I bought on this particular day, the one that most fits that description is Queen's News of the World. Not that it's a bad album, but like so many of Queen's albums it's a mixed bag and I already own some of the more choice cuts on various compilations. But, on this particular day it suddenly had an appeal it hadn't before, and it was decently priced at $4.50 to boot, so it became mine.

As for the rest, eclecticism was the order of the day. One thing I was happy with was that my desire to bring home a good selection (and break that 1000 records mark) led me to look a little harder in certain sections I don't always pore over. In this case that meant giving a good hard look at the Soul/R&B albums, three of which I took home with me, including Rags to Rufus by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan which has some great 1970s funk tracks. But this leads to one last bit of whining, which is that it was a very hot day and the upstairs of Mystery Train, where the regular stash of used records are kept, is not air conditioned and must have been damn near 100 degrees in there. I'll mark it as a sign of my ridiculous dedication to the task at hand that I didn't let the heat deter me.

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