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.

Vinyl Heaven

Sunday, May 1st was an absolute thrill.  Both Buffalo and Rochester held their annual record shows the same day.  I attended both, (nearly 120 eight foot tables!) and was amazed by what I found.

Standing in line for the Buffalo show to open it’s doors I was complemented by the four men in front of me for my resemblance to Captain Beefheart.  From our chat I learned of Frank Zappa’s Lost Episodes album which contains a number of collaborations with the Captain from as early as 1958.  Later when I researched that album I discovered a similar collection titled An Evening With FZ & CB. That’s what I love about music – there is always more to learn.

The Lost Episodes

An Evening With...

Within the first 10 minutes I found The Flaming Lips’ masterpiece, The Soft Bulletin.  Yoshimi may be their most popular LP but nothing compares to The Soft Bulletin’s masterful compositions, sonic bliss, and brilliant production value.  It was album-of-the-year on nearly every major list in 1999, and was selected by Pitchfork as the third greatest album of the decade.  Several critics have called The Soft Bulletin “the Pet Sounds of the 1990s.”  I’d been tracking copies online all month, so I bought it without a moment’s hesitation.  The disc also comes with a bonus CD featuring “The Captain,” “Satellite Of You,” and “1000 Ft. Hands.”  The same vendor had a red vinyl sealed copy of Yoshimi that I’d also been tracking online, but his price was a bit steep.

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin

Next I hit up a booth with a ton of original 70s funk LPs.  I purchased a near mint original German pressing of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain.  The album is an absolute classic.  Rolling Stone ranked the disc among the top 500 records of all time and the title track as #60 in the greatest guitar songs of all time.  It has also earned the reputation of the #1 guitar solo in the history of rock.  For those who aren’t familiar with the legendary solo, George Clinton allegedly told Eddie Hazel to play “like his mother just died.”  The result was a ten minute opus, the conclusion of which just might have resurected Hazel’s mother from her funky grave.  Beside the album was an equally rare near mint copy of Funkadelic’s self-titled album, but I didn’t have an extra $40 to spare.

Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

The last table I stopped at was better still.  The vendor asked me where I acquired my Beefheart tee.  When I told him that I made it, he replied, “Me too!  Hey – I’ve got that album right here if you want it!”  And he promptly produced a 1970 (second pressing) copy of Safe As Milk!  The first issue of that album, along with the baby Jesus bumper sticker is often considered the holy grail of record collecting.  Tom Kohn, owner of Rochester’s Bop Shop once said that he’ll retire the day he finds that LP.

Captain Beefheart - Safe As Milk
Just as I got ready to leave the table I saw a Jim Henson album which I snatched as quickly as I could.  For $3 I took home the soundtrack to The Dark Crystal, which sells for between $50-$60 online.  After looking up the album I saw photos of a fold-out poster that originally came with the LP.  I hesitated for a moment, reached into the sleeve… and pulled out the mint poster from inside!  Of my twenty five Jim Henson related albums, this might be my new favorite.

Dark Crystal Soundtrack

Dark Crystal Soundtrack Poster
At the Rochester show I met up with two wonderful friends and received hugs and handshakes from several vendors I hadn’t seen in as many as fourteen years, (namely Mark of the Compact Disc Exchange.)  One vendor had a mint original copy of the Meters’ Fiyo on the Bayou, but like the aforementioned Funkadelic LP I didn’t have an extra $40.  I was completely surprised, however to find at the very last minute Soul Coughing’s Irresistible Bliss!  I wish their debut album, Ruby Vroom had been released on vinyl, but alas it was not.  Still Bliss spent years in my CD player so it’ll be great to hear it on my turntable.

Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss

I finished the day with a massive garbage plate in the company of good friends and made a few more stops around town before heading home.

All in all probably the best day of crate digging in my entire life, and in the company of people I miss dearly.  Just for fun, below are the other albums I found but didn’t have the $400 extra dollars to pay for…

The Flaming Lips – Oh My Gawd! (2005 clear vinyl reissue) $20
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (red) $28
The Meters – Fiyo On The Bayou (mint original pressing) $40
Leon Redbone – Champagne (78RPM 10″ single) $4
Funkadelic – Funkadelic (original German pressing) $40
Funkadelic – America Eats Its Young $20
Funkadelic – Uncle Jam Wants You $10
Fuzzy Haskins – Radio Active $20
Bootsy’s Rubber Band – This Boot Is Made For Fonk-n $5
Tom Waits – Mule Variations $20
Tom Waits – Romeo Is Bleeding – Live From Austin $20
Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones $20
Tom Waits – Glitter And Doom Live $20
Captain Beefheart – Mirrorman $20
Captain Beefheart – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) $15
Captain Beefheart – Bluejeans And Moonbeams $15
Captain Beefheart – Unconditionally Guaranteed $20
Captain Beefheart – Spotlight Kid $20
Captain Beefheart – It Comes… In A Plain Brown Wrapper $30
Captain Beefheart – Strictly Personal $20

Along with the two Zappa albums mentioned above, I’ve got a lot of new music to take in before my birthday this June!  Special thanks to all my friends in Rochester who made the day memorable.

Psychedelic Cinema Double Feature

Tonight is psychedelic cult classic movie night.

Both of these are fairly low budget music films. The first is Sun Ra’s Space is the Place (1974).

Sun Ra Space Is The Place
Musician and space age prophet Sun Ra decides to bring the Black race to a new planet in outer space. He travels back in time to the 1940s and plays cards with a pimp for the fate of planet Earth’s African Americans. (It doesn’t make any more sense watching the movie.)

The special effects of his space ship and of the Earth’s destruction look like something you’d see on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact, Space was intentionally created to pay tribute to the low-budget sci-fi films of the 50’s and 60’s. Great things can come out of a low budget movie, and 82 minutes of the spaced-out sound of Sun Ra And His Year 2000 Myth Science Arkestra are as good a reason as any to produce a film.

Sun-Ra-Space-Is-the-Place-SoundtrackThe official soundtrack LP to Space is the Place

The second movie – the Monkees’ Head (1968) involves a similarly non-linear plot. The fun loving made-for-TV musicians run around and interact with Honey I Shrunk the Kids style props. It’s truly puzzling what the film is actually about. In fact, IMDB offers the following sentence as it’s entire entry on Head:

“The Monkees are tossed about in a psychedelic, surrealist, plotless, circular bit of fun fluff.”

Monkees - Head poster
When Head premiered it was a total flop. Fans hated it, because they were expecting to see a ninety minute episode of their favorite TV show. In a sense the film achieved exactly what the Monkees were trying to do – shatter their MTV boy band image and replace it with something more adult and experimental.

The Monkees - Head SoundtrackThe Monkees – Head soundtrack w/mirror cover art

If you watch Head for nothing else, watch it for Frank Zappa’s magical cameo appearance… or like the rest of the Monkee fans, for the “Porpoise Song.”

Frank Zappa offers words of wisdom to Davy Jones.

Thankfully, both Space is the Place and Head are available for viewing on the Web.

Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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