The Vinyl Junkie
I am a vinyl junkie. I admit it. I enjoy looking in record stores for the perfect record, the one that somehow has slipped through the hands of everyone else. With my superior knowledge of the holy grail of record collecting, I can spot perfection. After more than a half century of scouring through record bins throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world (last month, I looked for vinyl in Istanbul), I know that I have an edge on at least the novice.
I guess that admission represents the first step to a cure, but I really don’t want to be cured. From my vantage point, everyone should be a vinyl junkie. First of all, music soothes the soul. Those passionate collectors who search for the greatest music of all time, or the sounds of surprise in the words of one critic, should be lauded and not ridiculed. Vinyl junkies seek truth through art, in this case music. We hope to learn more about the human endeavor by experiencing the transcendence of sound, which has been crafted by musicians who in most cases suffer mightily for their craft. We want to find the answers to some of the probing questions of all time through our pursuit. We search for the meaning of life itself in seven-, ten- and twelve-inch pieces of vinyl.
Vinyl discs provide a medium unmatched by others. Though compact discs surely have great sound quality, vinyl provides larger-sized cover art that can be framed and placed on the wall. The vinyl record also offers a sound that cannot be easily replicated. It has that analog hum, that buzz, which captures the very gestalt of a performer. Moreover, vinyl provides a historical record of the music. When you have a record in your hands, especially an original, you can be transported to a place in time, which no longer exists. For example, hold an original Blue Note ten-inch record by Thelonious Monk and join the privileged few who experienced Monk during the early 1950s, when he first emerged on the scene and bop exploded from New York City. Or lay your hands on a rare Stiff Little Fingers punk LP and feel the anger of youth during the heyday of U.K. punk. With a record album, you become part of the times, which gave birth to the music.
I collect the music I consider to be great music in the genre of rock, jazz, soul, techno, funk, blues and other similar styles. Others focus on different types of music or try to collect every extant artifact by a specific artist. Others might collect Christmas records, big band albums or easy listening sounds. Still others crave white-label promo records that came off the presser in the record plant first of all and have superior sound. Yet other collectors, myself included, look for certain graphic artists who crafted the cover artwork of albums. I collect David Stone Martin artwork which appeared on many jazz and a few other types of records from the 1950s to the 1980s.
I have agreed to write this column because I recently discovered the amount of rare vinyl housed in the three locations of Silver Platters. Like me, you may have assumed that Silver Platters carries only compact discs and DVDs, given its name. However, several years ago, the owner decided to offer new vinyl and then used records albums in his stores. Within the past six months, he has bought a number of massive collections of highly collectible vinyl and placed it for sale in his three locations. He pledges to continue to feed the habit of rabid vinyl junkies with rare and unusual items. Of course, he also carries mint versions of all the classic rock (e.g. Led Zeppelin, Dylan, Bowie, Eagles, Doors, etc.) and jazz (Monk, Coltrane, Bird, etc.), which serve as the foundation of any record collection.
In this continuing column, I will feature one or two rare records that the store has just priced for sale. I will highlight some very cool records that will whet your appetite to become part of music history and get you closer to the truth.
A few weeks ago, Silver Platters bought the very first Flaming Lips 12-inch. This record comes in a variety of pressings, but the store found the very first version, which the band pressed themselves in 1984 on green wax.
If you collect, the Flaming Lips, you need this record. It represents the rarest piece of Lips history possible with only 500 copies ever made on Lovely Sorts of Death Records. It also includes the photocopied lyric sheet. As an original pressing, it comes with the black (not brown) border. When you listen to this record, you will be carried to the early 1980s and the beginnings of indie rock. You will be especially pleased with the steady, ominous beat of “Bag Full of Thoughts.”
Dr. Dave Szatmary
Rockin’ In Time