I was out running a bunch of errands today and ended up at Half-Price Books. When I arrived I didn’t find anything in the used vinyl bins that I absolutely needed– they had a couple of new Donna’s LP’s which was interesting, but I’m not familiar with their music enough for me to jump in. I was just about out the door when Claire– the girl who is the most knowledgeable about the vinyl– happened to be bringing a pile of newly-priced records to the bins to put away. Thankfully I stayed! I found the King Crimson LP from the pile she brought over and the Queen LP– she brought some other interesting pieces, but most of them were in pretty ratty condition– the first Doors record (stereo), a 13, The Who’s Tommy on Decca, Katy Lied by Steely Dan. She said that she had a Dark Side of the Moon behind the counter she was going to put out and asked if I wanted to see it. I don’t really need another Dark Side, but I know enough people who need one that I always look.
I didn’t end up picking up the Dark Side of the Moon, but I ended up picking up some other really great pieces!
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (LP, Harvest/Capitol SKAO 382, 1970) ($7.00) According to the matrix information this is a second issue done in Jacksonville, IL. The vinyl is in really great shape, but the cover got wet– hence the cheaper price. This is an album that I’ve never listened to– I tend to favor Wish You Were Here, Animals and Dark Side of the Moon. The “Atom Heart Mother” Suite which takes up side one is listenable, but still emblematic of the psych snobbery that I was glad they moved away from. I really like side 2 though. “Fat Old Sun” is a great song. I may keep an eye out for a new cover for this one since the vinyl is so clean.
New York Dolls (LP, Mercury SRM.1.675, 1973)($10.00) The landmark first album from New York Dolls– produced by then-guitarist for The Nazz Todd Rundgren! After watching the documentary about the reunion of the New York Dolls in 2006 called New York Doll, I had a new interest in this seminal proto-punk/glam band. The vinyl is in really great shape although it has a slight warp. The cover is clean, but has a spit at the bottom. The inner sleeve is intact and features a pencil sketch of a girl bent at the waist in a skirt with her behind pointing at the viewer. The album is great! I’m really happy to have this in my collection. A note: Ryan Adams quotes the opening of “Looking For A Kiss” on “Beautiful Sorta”: “When I say L-U-V, you best believe me L-U-V.” Apparently the New York Dolls are quoting The Shangri-La’s, but I’m sure Adams is quoting the Dolls.
King Crimson – Red (LP, Atlantic SD 18110, 1974)($2.98) This is my absolutely favorite King Crimson album. My foray into King Crimson started with the 1980’s releases Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair and Discipline that featured Adrian Belew on guitars and vocals based on a co-worker’s advice. I started digging into the catalog of King Crimson, and the next albums would be Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. Red is the final release from the King Crimson lineup that would include Bill Bruford (from Yes) and John Wetton (from Asia). According to the Wiki article on the album, Red was released after the band was disbanded by leader Robert Fripp. The album ends up being a compilation of the band’s studio work as well as their live improvisational abilities. The title track and “One More Red Nightmare” are both really heavy tracks especially for 1973-1974 and are cited as influential by many musicians (surprisingly including Kurt Cobain). The track “Providence” is an edit of an extended live improvisation. The copy at HPB had a water-damaged cover that was separating, but the vinyl was in really good condition, so I picked it up. I think it sounds very good.
Queen – A Night At The Opera (LP, Elektra 7E-1053, 1975)($5.00) When the HPB lady put this out, I knew I had to buy this as it is an album that is very influential in my wife Sherry’s life. Rock music was not allowed at her strict Baptist household, so she would get her dose of Rock music from her best friend when she visited. Queen was the first rock music she was exposed to and continues to be a favorite of hers to this day. I was familiar with a few of the songs on Opera, but had never listened to the whole thing before. It’s a classic for good reason– a really balanced album with writing done by the whole band. My second vinyl LP from Queen and a good start to a collection.
Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (LP, RCA AYL1-3738, 1967)($5.00) This is a “Best Buy Series” budget release of the album done sometime in the early 1980’s. The Best Buy Series are generally derided by most collectors and in almost every case RCA chose to make dramatic changes to the packaging and in some cases the track listings to achieve this budget line. In the case of this particular release, there is an ugly “Best Buy Series” logo on the cover art, but it is the normal track listing. Surrealistic Pillow was the Airplane’s second album, but their best known as it has three of their biggest hits on it: “Somebody To Love,” “White Rabbit,” and “Today.” Growing up, we had a cassette of The Worst of Jefferson Airplane the 1971 compilation that had four tracks from Surrealistic Pillow, so I was very familiar with this album as I listened to that a lot. Dave Donovan, who taught Spanish at my high school let me borrow his LP of Surrealistic Pillow as well as his copy of The Beatles White Album, which I thought was pretty cool at the time. There is a lot of debate about the various pressings of Surrealistic Pillow online, but from what I can tell almost every stereo pressing is considered to be thin-sounding, and I would judge this particular pressing the same. Interestingly, the matrix information on my pressing has “AYL1 3738 A 29” stamped on side A, and “AFL1 -3766B-2” scratched out and “AYL1 3738B” hand written on side 2. AFL1 3766 is the late 70’s (maybe 1978?) reissue catalog number. This correction on side 2 would indicate that the plates for this pressing were probably cut from the master tapes used for the late 70’s pressing. It doesn’t make it particularly notable, but provides an interesting view into how labels deal with cutting plates.
All-in-all a really good trip to Half Price Books! Since I spent over $25, they gave me an HPB calendar with the 5% coupons, and they used the first coupon on this order so I actually paid less than the prices listed above. On my way home I called my friend Andrew and told him about the Dark Side of the Moon I saw. He called and had them hold it– it was $7!