Rare Sesame Street, John Cage, Zappa, and more!

It has been an absolutely amazing week for vinyl.

I started it off picking up one of the last Don Adams LP missing from my collection.  (I still need his self-titled first LP.)  The disc is titled, Don Adams Meets The Roving Reporter.  Not nearly as cool as my Agent 99 7″ radio promo, but a nice addition just the same.

Don Adams - Meets the Roving Reporter
Then I found another Sesame Street album that I didn’t have, which is getting more difficult now that I have nearly fourty Henson-related LPs.  Play-Along Songs is the re-issue of the Somebody Come And Play album from 1974.  Even the reissue is hard to come by, and I’m happy whenever I find material from the first ten years of Sesame Street.

Sesame Street - Play Along Songs

At a garage sale the same day I found three hardcover 7″ Sesame Street book-and-records, each with lyrics and an illustrated sleeve.  They were dated 1970.  I’m so glad I found them when I did, because they gave my brain something to connect with when I came across a real treasure the following weekend.

That was this morning when I hit up the Antique Mall and spotted a box set I’d never seen before with Sesame Street characters on the front.  To my surprise when I opened it, I found hardcover book-and-records just like the ones from the garage sale, but these were a complete set in near mint condition with the original box!

The Sesame Street Carry About (1970)

The Sesame Street Carry About (1970)

Sesame Street was first broadcast in 1969, and I could tell that this was from the first few years because of the images of the original Big Bird and orange Oscar the Grouch, both from Season 1.

The seller asked for $15 and I offered $10.  As soon as I got the set home I researched it and found out that it was in fact produced in 1970 along with the singles I had bought the weekend before.  The set contains songs from The Sesame Street Book & Record (which I have as well.)   And the catalog number was CCA 24509 – the first pressing for the set.  The binding is mint on the books, you can tell that the covers have not been opened all the way.  Better still, the handle is intact on box.  I found six other sets available for purchase online and none of them had the handle.  The first three sets I found were $89.99 each, the other three were priced between $100.00 and $500.00.

If I ever sell mine… I’m going back and giving the guy the extra $5.

Before I went home I made sure I stopped by the two record booths that bring me back to the Mall each weekend.  This time I found a classic comedy record I’ve loved for years – Steven Wright’s I Have a Pony.

If you’re not familiar with Stephen’s deadpan delivery, it’s hilarious.  Mitch Hedberg fans should definitely check him out.

I also found a John Cage promotional double LP from Tomato Records called Sonatas and Interludes For Prepared Piano & A Book of Music For Two Prepared Pianos.  Inside the NM jacket was a copy of a typewritten stapled document about the recording on Tomato letterhead along with the original kraft “Tomato Quality Product” inner sleeves.  I know the compositions are originally from 1948 and 1944 but I am not familiar with them so I’ll have to investigate further.  I didn’t mind paying $7 for it as copies start at $22 on the Web.

John Cage - Sonatas and Interludes For Prepared Piano / A Book of Music For Two Prepared Pianos

Just when I thought I was all done at the Mall I found two more discs.  How’s Your Bird is a 10″ compilation of early pre-Mothers Frank Zappa recordings released in Italy in 1998.  It was released as four different colored limited edition transparent discs, 1000 copies of each.  This copy is on clear vinyl.

Frank Zappa - How's Your Bird?

The seller didn’t really know anything about the disc and gave it to me for $5.  Copies are available online for between $27-$36.

The last disc was purchased purely out of nostalgia.  I’m a child of the 80s and found this disc tucked behind a GI-Joe album.

He Man & Skeletor - Masters of the Universe

He-Man & Skeletor – Masters of the Universe

I still have two large fold-out posters from He-Man magazine (thanks to a generous customer at work), and the He-Man LP should be good for a laugh if for nothing else.

All in all an excellent week of finds.  It’s good to know I’ll have fresh material to listen to come winter time.

Record Store Day (Revisit)

It’s been a busy week – I’ve picked up 50 new albums and am working on a post that will highlight a number of them.  In the meantime here’s a forgotten post from Record Store Day 2010 which fell through the cracks in the months between my old blog and the new site.

I hit various record shops in NYC that morning with a specific plan of action.

Record Store Map

Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica
Trout Mask Replica (1969)

“A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n bulbous! Got me?”

I was blown away when I found this disc.  It’s been on my wish-list for quite some time, but it’s long out of print and highly sought-after, so I never thought I’d actually own a copy myself.

Matt Groening had this to say about Trout Mask Replica:

“I took it home and put it on… it was the worst drek I’d ever heard in my life. They’re not even trying!  They’re just playing randomly! And then I played it again and thought, it sounds horrible, but they mean it to sound this way. The third or fourth time it started to grow on me. And the fifth or sixth time… I loved it. And the seventh or eighth time I thought it was the greatest album ever made and I still do.”

The legendary John Peel once said that Beefheart “is the most important figure to emerge from the rock era of the 1960s and 1970s.  I heard echoes of his music in some of the records I listened to last week. And I’ll hear more echoes in the records I’ll listen to this week.”

He also called him “rock’s only real genius.”

Carl Sagan - A Glorious Dawn
Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn 7″ etched picture disc (2009)

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

Symphony of Science is a musical project designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.  For the song “A Glorious Dawn,” speech recordings of astrophysicist Carl Sagan and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking were auto-tuned and set to music.  The result was not a kitschy novelty track, but a beautifully philosophical tune that stands quite well on its own.

As an added bonus, the b-side of the disc is etched with the image that appears on the Golden Record which was sent into space on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.  (Sagan directed the committee that selected the sounds for the Voyager LP.)

Voyager Record

Barbara Feldon - "99" single
Barbara Feldon – 99/Max (1966)

A strange and unusual item… Barbara Feldon played the spy 99 on the ‘Get Smart’ TV show back in the 1960’s with Don Adams. Here she sings seductively about her prowess, and then, on the B side, about her secret passion for Max (Don Adams). The music is in the same vein as Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots Are Made For Walkin’.  I also have a recording of Beck performing this song live.  “99” is the most rare of all my Get Smart collectibles.

Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns - Say Blow by Blow Backwards
Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns – Say Blow By Blow Backwards (1979)

The Horny Horns involved many of the members of Parliament Funkadelic, with Fred Wesley on trombone, Maceo Parker on tenor and alto sax, and production by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.  I found this disc beside a stack of Bootsy LPs, but I had to draw the line for the sake of my wallet.

Parliament - Chocolate City
Chocolate City (1975)

Another original pressing to add to my collection of all things P-Funk.  “God bless Chocolate City and its vanilla suburbs.”

JBs - Doing it to Death
J.B.’s – Doin’ It To Death (1973)

Just as I was leaving the shop where I picked up Trout Mask Replica, I took a quick look through the milk crates of “bargain bin” cheap LPs on a small table outside the store.  Astonishingly, stashed among the mostly disposable LPs was this copy of Doin’ It To Death, marked at $3!

This album also contains favorites like “More Peas” and “You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight.”