Wednesday, October 26, 2011

thrift store LP records for the vinyl seeker

So you heard vinyl is the hot new fad and you bought a turntable and now you want some records to play on it. But what's a fair price for an old LP that isn't particularly collectible? Whatever Goodwill sells it for. $2, $3 maybe, if it's one of those upscale stores that thinks everything's a collector's item. Hell, the record store in Peterborough we were at recently (open 24 hours, METALLIC K.O. on the store system) has a ton of LPs for fifty cents each or as many as you can carry for five dollars. But seriously, here are some artists whose entire catalog you can find for less than two bucks each.

Billy Joel - From "Record Where He's Throwing Stone At Greenhouse" to "Record where he's standing on sidewalk", his entire catalog is in every thrift store in the world. Tell her about it!!

Genesis. Duke, Lamb Lies Down, Abadabacaba, their self-titled LP, it's all there in the thrift. Also Phil Collins solo albums. Can you feel it in the air tonight?

Supertramp, "Breakfast In America". I've seen crazy grandmas trying to sell this for ten, twenty bucks, but your local Salvation Army has it for one dollar.

Styx - Pieces Of Eight, Crystal Ball, Paradise Theater, even Kilroy Was Here, it's all in the thrift. Keep your eyes open for their early pre-Tommy Shaw Wooden Nickel releases STYX and STYX II.

I know Elton John has a wide catalog, but much of it is right there in your local thrift store including Captain Fantastic, the record whose sleeve disturbed me as a child, don't ask me why.

It goes without saying that Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass will have a representative sampling of LPs in any collection of cast off records, including "Whipped Cream And Other Delights". If you need fifty thousand copies of that record, just go to any thrift store.

I know what you're saying, who the hell is Nana Mouskouri? Well, I don't know either, but somebody up here bought the hell out of her records because there is not one thrift store in Canada without a freakin' Nana Mouskouri record in it. Usually two or three.

Same deal with James Last. Holy cow could this guy make records that people would want to get rid of in a big way. In fact when I see the James Last LP in the thrift store, that's my signal to quit and go look at electronics.

Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors". NEVER PAY MORE THAN A DOLLAR FOR THIS RECORD. It's everywhere. I hardly ever see "Tusk", though.

If you ever need any kind of Christmas music for any reason whatsoever, your local thrift store has lots and lots and lots and lots of Christmas music.

Chicago. They made a lot of records, and I know this because they all got donated to Goodwill.

Bee Gees - the "Saturday Night Fever" LPs have largely disappeared thanks to kitschy 70s nostalgia, but their "Main Course" record always shows up. If you look closely it has a naked woman on the cover!

Toronto. Not the city, but the band, who apparently gave a copy of one of their LPs to every citizen of Toronto, who said "thanks!" and then gave them to the Salvation Army.

Max Bygreaves - singalongamax - this British fellow is something like Mitch Miller, a genial host who encourages people to sing along with him. He made fifty or sixty million different LPs and I've seen all of them in thrifts here in Ontario and in the States.

My Fair Lady - the Rex Harrision/Julie Andrews cast recording with the Hirschfeld cover. Everybody loves the Hirschfeld, apparently, I see this record everywhere.

Eagles - this popular country-rock combo was so hate-filled at the end of their "The Long Run" tour that they weren't speaking to each other except in curses. And you can buy all their albums at the thrift store now for pennies on the dollar! Take it easy, desperado! Christ, I hate the Eagles.

Bing Crosby's Christmas Albums. Apparently he quit hitting his kids long enough to cut this Christmas LP of which one awaits you at the Goodwill.

AC/DC - If you need "Back In Black" or "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" then you can't get much cheaper than your local thrift. Because they are there.

Loggins & Messina - if you wanted to hear what Kenny Loggins sounded like before he took that highway to the danger zone, look no further than Goodwill.

Carole King - "Tapestry". I think thrift stores find these LPs lying on the ground when they open for business.

Star Castle. Who were they? What did they sound like? I have no idea. But their LPs are everywhere.

The Knack "Get The Knack". You'd think hipsters would have snapped all these up, but you'd be wrong.

Beatles - they sold a hundred zillion records but people kept most of them. In fact people buy them over and over again in different formats. The only Beatles LPs I see in thrifts are the "1962-1966" and "1967-1970" compilations. And every record Wings ever made, they're all in the thrift.

Kingston Trio - they're still trapped on the MTA, and in the thrift. You'd think these early 60s folk LPs would be worth something, but you'd be wrong.

Monkees - you can still pick up their first two LPs in the thrifts for very little cash. Their later, less scripted records are harder to find, but occasionally turn up. I never see solo Mike Nesmith LPs, though I did find the "Dolez, Jones, Boyce & Hart" LP, which is an oddity, let me tell you.

Moody Blues - whichever one has "Nights In White Satin" on it, the sleeve looks like a classical LP. Never pay more than a dollar for it. In fact I will pay you a dollar to not have to ever hear "Nights In White Satin" again. Apparently the "mono" version of this LP is worth big bucks, though.

Classical LPs - they're all there. Everything. Take them, just take 'em.

Carpenters - if you never need a Carpenters LP, Goodwill has 'em.

Boz Scaggs - that record where he's sitting on the bench! They have lots.

still clogging up the bins - Frampton Comes Alive! Can you feel like I do?

Cheap Trick - I see "Live At Budokan" with the occasional "Dream Police". Both are worth having especially for a buck each.

Bobby Sherman - he's still got it! "It" being "lots of records people didn't keep."

Rolling Stones - apart from the occasional 80s release like "Tattoo You" which everybody agrees isn't really worth having, not a lot of Stones in the thrifts.

Heart. Usually two or three Heart LPs in the pile.

Children's records. Of all kinds and shapes and sizes. Disney, Peter Pan, Sesame Street, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, whatever label had children's records, they wind up in the thrift store. The Smurfs made a lot of records. Sometimes this intersects with...

Religious records. Jimmy Swaggart sermons, Tammy Faye sings, gospel quartets, gospel bluegrass quartets, hymns, children's religious songs, it can all be yours for pennies on the dollar.

Jim Nabors. Gomer cut a lot of albums of his operatic baritone style singing. I mean a LOT of records. You will see the first one and think it's kinda funny, and then you'll see the second one and the third one and so on, and then you realize that somebody out there was buying these things.

Bins full of the same 12" rap single. Local talent got together with local producer and cut a rap record! And it went straight to Goodwill, who got boxes and boxes and boxes of "Boomp (Street wit 2 EZ)" by DJ Zipadeh Doodah and Professor Murder, or whoever.

I see Michael Jackson's OFF THE WALL sometimes, but people held on to THRILLER. I hardly ever see Jackson 5 LPs.

All of the Osmonds' work is at the thrift. Donny, Marie, and the rest, they're all there. If you've been itching to hear Marie sing "Paper Roses", get to the Sally.

Melanie. Apparently there was a singer named Melanie and she cut some records, and they are disproportionately represented in our thrift stores.

Sing Along With Mrs. Mills! Let's Have A Party With Mrs. Mills! Somebody Tell Mrs. Mills To Go Home! Before Susan Boyle, the UK's middle-aged housefrau crooning needs were represented by Mrs. Mills and her hearty anthems. Who would buy this record? And why?

Jackson Browne. The Pretender. All over the thrifts.

Seals & Crofts. Who are they? What did they do? Did they croft seals? Who knows? Lots of albums from these kings of Yacht Rock in the thrifts. SUMMER BREEZE MAKES YOU FEEL FINE BLOWIN' IN THE JASMINE IN THE BACK OF THE GOODWILL.

Grand Funk Railroad. Was it THESE guys who had the cover where they're all cavemen? That's the guys I'm thinking of. All you want for a dollar each.

If you look at the cassettes you'll notice that the selection of music moves from 60s-70s to late 70s'-80s-90s. I hardly ever look at cassettes, which is stupid of me because a lot of really weird stuff shows up on cassette in thrift stores. But I don't know if there are any acts that show up everywhere the way Herb Alpert does on LP. CDs are usually empty cases, free AOL discs, computer software from 1996, or record company compilation giveaways.

Ethnic music. Hungarian folk songs, Russian folk songs, Ukrainian folk songs, Polish folk songs, German drinking songs. Electronic European dance tunes. Chinese traditional songs. Voodoo drums from Haiti. The ethnic makeup of the neighborhood matters, sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't. But every thrift has a good selection of weird foreign tunes from 'the old country.'

CANADA ONLY: Up here the thrifts are full of LPs that you don't find in the States. Mostly albums by Prism, whose anthem "Spaceship Superstar" is a classic of cheesy space rock. Also Canada's number-one good time party band Trooper, I see a lot of their albums in the thrift bins. Never seen a Prism record south of the border, though. I have seen Rush LPs in both nations, but the percentage here is higher.

I'll be honest, the chances of finding anything 'really good' in the thrift stores get smaller every day; professionals are out there culling the herd daily to try and sell to hipsters in Queen West stores at two thousand percent markups. The days of finding entire Ramones catalogs for $1 each in the Salvation Army are long gone. But if you do kill some time flipping through their albums hoping for a score, remember that you'll be spending a lot of time with Mr. Herb Alpert.

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