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.

Fumblin’ With the Blues

I had the day to myself today, so I got up at the crack of noon, poured myself a massive bowl of Corn Pops, and put together a map of all record shops in the area.

I didn’t expect to find anything special and was mostly visiting stores to inquire about special ordering rare items from my want-list.

One shop had a staggering number of Zappa-related albums – at least thirty, including the very first three (Freak Out, Absolutely Free, and We’re Only In It For The Money.)  But I wasn’t there to drop $200 on shiny black discs, so I moved on.

Surprisingly, just before I left the last store I found a gem in a pile of LPs of the floor leaning against a shelf.   It was Tom Waits’ second major release – The Heart of Saturday Night (1974).  A copy in VG+ condition will run you around $20 on Discogs, plus shipping.  I snatched it up for a quarter of what it would have cost for me had I ordered it online.  (And buying from local shops is always more fun!)

The Heart of Saturday Night

On The Heart Tom performs as his usual troubadour self.  He hadn’t yet developed the gravel-throated trademark sound, but the songs are instantly recognizable as Waits’, with lyrics like, “that ol’ bloodshot moon in that burgundy sky.”

Including this new find I’ve got sixty Tom Waits albums between LPs, CDs, digital albums, and DVDs.  The most recent acquisition before The Heart was the Live 7″ single from National Record Store Day 2009.   (Special thanks to Chuck for that single!)

Tom Waits Live

Tom once said, “The record store is the livery stable where I can tie up, feed and groom my ears.”

Tom Waits Fun Fact #2015: The topless go-go dancer that appears on the cover of the Small Change LP is Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!

Before driving back home I stopped at the downtown library, dug through the card catalog in their archives department, and had the librarian go into the basement and get me their copy of Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk album.

Safe as Milk

Unfortunately it wasn’t the original 1967 pressing, which I was hoping would include the legendary and highly sought-after bumper sticker.  It was the 1970 repress with the quote from Rolling Stone magazine printed across the top of the cover.  Still, it’ll still be a blast to hear “Abba Zaba” on my turntable!

When I got back to the apartment I found that a very generous fellow Underworld fan had contacted me and uploaded some EXCELLENT live material.  Waiting for me was the Brixton Academy show [31.10.2008] and a link to a professional looking fan-made DVD of Underworld – Live at Bucharest [2009].  He also let me have an MK1 demo tape from 1990 that I hadn’t seen before.  It included “Window Pane,” “Seven Hellos, and “Theme From the Underworld” – songs I had never even heard of.  If you have any information about this demo please drop me a line!