My wife and I went out to estate sales this morning as we often do on Saturday mornings. After buying some books, a tripod for six dollars to act as a temporary replacement for one I just broke, and an expired 4-pack of Kodak Max 400 film for a dollar at the first sale, we headed to the second sale. In a corner of the garage was a bin with record albums. On top were things like “Songs of Christmas”, The Captain and Tennille, and Sonny & Cher. Another boring 70’s lot of records.
Being the optimist that I am, I decided to dig a little anyway. Not far down was a group of Billy Joel. Then I found a few titles from The Who. Then some Frampton. Then led Zeppelin. Then Paul McCartney. Then the Beatles. Nobody seemed to be interested or noticing the albums. They also weren’t priced, and I don’t recall them being listed in the ad for the sale. In fact, the main reason we came to the sale was to check out a player piano, and also because once one musical or art/photography item is listed, I often find other music or photography related items are included. They just can’t list everything.
These albums were in amazing condition to be found in a bin in the garage and treated as an afterthought. Many covers were almost new, and the few I looked at looked pretty much unplayed. So before drawing much attention to them by dragging them out to really get a good look at them, i decided to try to buy the entire lot for one low price. I estimated there were 80 albums, so I found the guy that was running the sale. “How much for all the vinyl albums?” “What vinyl albums? You’ll have to show them to me.” He glances at them, and says they normally charge $2 each. I ask again for the buy it all price, and he asks how many. I said about 80 – and he said he needed to make a call.
I looked through the rest of the sale, and showed one of the workers how to operate the player piano. It was a cool Wurlitzer, but we really don’t need one, and definitely don’t need one at $500. I get back down to the garage where the check-out is, and he tells me there’s actually only 74, which at $2 each would be $148, and he could do $115 for all; otherwise $2 each.
Now I felt that some of the titles were definitely worth $2, even if I was going to flip them because they were duplicates. I’m getting a little backed up on vinyl listening, so i decided to see if I could find 25. After my first pass, I had 27, so i picked two – Billy Joel The Stranger and Steve Miller Fly Like an Eagle to put back in the bin. Then i carried the 25 out of the corner and into the light to check them out, and a few guys took notice.
About a third of the way through my stack, one guy comes over and asks if there was anything good in there. I replied “I think they’re all good, which is why I’m checking them before i buy them.” I was nice, but he was clearly getting ready to start going through the ones I had just inspected. He replied “Oh, you’re planning on buying all of them?” and stood and watched for a few more seconds before shuffling away. This guy was obviously interested in records, but couldn’t be bothered to really look for the other 50 albums over in the corner, in a bin. Which still had another 20 or so really good titles in it.
About 75% of the way through the stack, a real treasure emerged: The Beatles, 1967-1970. Purists might be saying “That’s not even a real Beatles Album” or “So what? It’s a greatest hits album. Big deal!” And I have a great copy, and might even have another still in the ‘to be listened to’ stack. I think i have a copy at the office too. But at $2, i could flip it to buy other vinyl or photography items, so it was in my stack.
As soon as I slid the first album out of the sleeve, my wife gets all excited and starts excitedly whispering “Put it back! Put it back! Hurry up and put it away!” Even she knows something sort of special when she sees it these days. What in the world would get her so wound up? It’s the kind of find that keeps us going to sales. Here’s what we found:
It’s the UK release of the Blue Album on Blue Vinyl. I was aware it supposedly existed, but hadn’t searched it out, and certainly had never seen it. The bright, translucent blue almost glowed even in the subdued light of the garage. It’s actually playing as I write this, and it sounds incredible. When Revolution started at the end of Side 2 the guitars were piercing and gritty! It felt like I was playing my Casino in the room, except I can’t play that well! When I cleaned it before sitting down to write, my wife realized it was actually two albums – both blue. Ironically, the next album in the lot was the Red Album, 1962-1966. For a moment, I thought “Maybe this is on red vinyl!” No such luck. Just a regular album.
A couple of albums later was a copy of Styx’s Paradise Theater with the hologram on side 2. I had sold a copy a year or so ago, and sort of wish i had it back. This copy is a little nicer than the one I had, and I had actually looked at it before starting the pricing discussion, so i knew which version it was already. I didn’t bother to inspect it again.
After buying those 25, we headed to a third sale, by the same estate sale company. I found two Jackson 5 albums there. Not in the same condition, but worth a shot at $2 a piece. They might have a little noise, but I don’t expect and big skips or pops. So, I picked up 27 albums today. Here’s the list:
- Beatles / 1967-1970
- Beatles / 1962-1966
- Styx Paradise Theater
- Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace
- Wings London Town
- Cyndi Lauper She’s So Unusual
- Culture Club Colour by Numbers
- Jackson 5 ABC
- Jackson 5 Lookin through the Windows
- Michael Jackson Off the Wall
- Michael Jackson Thriller
- The Who The Kids are Alright
- The Who Face Dances
- The Who Secret Policeman’s Ball
- Steeley Dan Aja
- Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive
- Styx The Grand Illusion
- Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975
- ELO Out of the Blue
- Eagles The Long Run
- Billy Joel Turnstiles
- CSNY Deja Vu
- Foreigner Double Vision
- Led Zeppelin IV
- Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
- Led Zeppelin In Through the Out Door
Some of these, like the Jackson 5, Cyndi Lauper, and Houses of the Holy, I’ve never seen on vinyl – again – I buy my vinyl second hand, and rarely at stores, and definitely not at retail, so I’m not saying they’re rare, just that i was excited to find them. Others, like Frampton Comes Alive and The Grand Illusion, I’ve probably had well over 10 copies already in less than 18 months. But I really like the albums, and if I find one in good condition at a cheap price, I buy it because at the very least I can make a few bucks off of them after I clean and listen to them. And occasionally I find a better copy for my personal collection.
It was a great way to start the weekend.