March Vinyl Acquisitions

I actually made it a month without buying any records!  Of course, I was recovering from illness and working through the 2,000 records I bought in January, plus it was the shortest month of the year, and I had a couple business trips (photos from one coming soon!), but the fact remains I didn’t buy any vinyl in February.  I had worked down the January acquisitions to less than 100 records to process, which included clearing one of my two shelves of about 150 records that were “in queue” to be listened to as well.  So overall, a good month for working through my acquisitions, and I felt like I had reclaimed much of my available space in the man cave.

I made up for it in the last 8 days, buying about 825 records, of which about 75 are “junk”. Of the 750 I like, about 475 are mostly Motown and soul, and the other 275 are classic rock.  They’re currently sitting in 9 crates and boxes, so all of that available space I created in February is about gone.

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9 boxes of vinyl remaining after sorting out the “junk”…

The group of classic rock is fairly spectacular in my opinion.    It came after the Motown collection, and Mrs. Outspoken’s response after I received the call about the collection was “Really?   You have all these albums yet to clean and listen to, and you’re buying more?!?!”

Yep.  I gotta buy when the opportunity arises.  I went 7 weeks or so with nothing, so buying 2 collections in a little over a week might seem a little over the top, but both were great deals at under $1 per album.

So what makes the collection of rock so great?  How about 4 Zeppelin, 4 Pink Floyd, 4 David Bowie, 4 Allman Brothers, 3 Beatles, and 20 Bob Dylan for starters?    Other artists with multiple albums include Van Morrison, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Steeley Dan, Springsteen, Foreigner, Rush, Yes, Kansas, CCR, ELP, Grand Funk, Heart, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Cars, and Aerosmith.  It’s basically a compendium of 70’s and 80’s radio rock music, including some of the softer folk-ish tunes, with none of the pop-disco stuff.

Then there’s some oddball stuff too – stuff I just don’t see. The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Hackett, Kate Bush, Patti Smith,  Nektar, and some Christian praise stuff by 2nd Book of Acts and Phil Keaggy.  Honestly, I could probably enjoy listening to about 80% of this collection, and if it comprised my entire collection, it would represent probably 60% of what I’d want to have.  Basically, the guy who assembled this collection and I had similar tastes.  🙂

One of my favorite finds so far has been an album from The Monroes.  It’s an EP, only 5 songs, and it was their only album.  I really enjoy it.  Definitely and 80’s sound, but 80’s guitar, not the electronic stuff.

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It was missing a lot of Beatles (but hey, it has Abbey Road), Hendrix, and some of the psychedelic stuff I like, but overall, it’s a great collection in my opinion.   I’m sure I’ll find enough titles to cover my costs, but I think I’ll be keeping a much higher percentage of this collection than normal.

Both of these collections came through my previous contacts; the albums are finding me at times!  It’s also part of why i got the deal I did on them.  I’ve treated the sellers fairly, and they’re active collectors, so I was in a way helping each of them move a large quantity of records quickly.    I also agree to buy them all, and don’t get into cherry picking the collection  or nit-picking on the condition of certain albums.

The way you treat people is important in life and business.  Over the course of my career, I’ve always been focused on process improvement; how to find ways to do “it” better.  It hasn’t really mattered what “it” is, as the basic problem solving methodology of Lean works anywhere (at least I’ve yet to find an application where it doesn’t).  While some people call me an efficiency expert, I look at it more as improving the overall performance of the teams and systems of an organization.    We change the system to change the result, and coach the people through the systemic changes.  But it’s about more than results; for the changes to stick, it’s also about behaviors.

As we change the behaviors and systems to produce different results, we start changing beliefs within the organization.  What happens when the shared beliefs of an organization change?  One, we change the future of that organization.  Two, we have created a culture change.

How’s all this tie into me buying arguably too much vinyl?  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first.  But for one, I buy with no fear of spending too much, because I have a several year track record of all my hobbies actually producing money.  I have the tax returns to prove it.  🙂 Plus, I’m spending cash that has come from the hobbies.

Therefore, I believe, as does Mrs. Outspoken – even if not as completely as me – that I’m not being irresponsible or delaying our objectives, because in the end I actually contribute towards those shared  objectives from my hobbies.   And I believe I’ve done so buy dealing appropriately with others, and the evidence of that is the number of opportunities that tend to find me.

Second, since there was so much David Bowie in the one collection, would be this album:

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A line from the song Changes is perhaps the foundation of the best inspiration I can think to provide today:

“These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

No matter what it is you’re trying to do or achieve, there are often people who will try to hold you back, make you feel like it’s too hard, not worth it, or even impossible.  Don’t listen to them.  Act responsibly and with intention, treat people with dignity and respect,  but be courageous at the same time.   You can’t do what everyone else thinks you should do and still achieve the greatness that is within you.

Great things aren’t done by being average.

 

 

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Aorta and Argent

For years I feel like I didn’t expand my musical tastes much other than a bit of Contemporary Christian Worship music.  I’m just shocked at how many great artists I’ve found that I like since listening to vinyl, or how many unique records I’ve come across.  Aorta is the latter, and the Argent album In Deep is in the former category.

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Aorta album cover

As soon as I picked up this album to clean, it struck me as a likely psychedelic album I’d never seen or heard of before.  The album starts off with a beating heart sound, singing about your “Main Vein”, then goes into “Heart Attack”.  Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the earlier tracks.

I really enjoy some music that’s classified as Psychedelic, but some of the other groups I don’t care for.  I guess it was such a short lived genre in it’s peak and it attracted a lot of varied groups, so there’s not a really focused sound; it was a style of music that encouraged experimentation, and eventually led to both the progressive and hard rock genres.  Sometimes I feel like if a band sings about using drugs they get thrown in the Psych group by some sources, regardless of musical style.  But it’s always cool to find a new album and group.

As the album continued on, I started to like the later tracks on Side 1.  Then on Side 2, things really started getting better.  By track 3, Ode to Missy Mxyzosptlk, A little more fuzz was on the guitar, the beat was more driving, and it really became more of a true rock album.  Maybe not one of my all-time favorites, but I plan on holding onto it for a while.

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Argent In Deep with one of those vintage sleeves

Then there’s the Argent album In Deep, which was in the first collection I purchased in November.  From the very first song, I was hooked. “God gave Rock and Roll to you….”  It was just an amazing sound.  To my ears, their sound is so ahead of their time – even their album artwork looks more like 1990’s than 1970’s.  I had to verify when this album was released, and was shocked to discover it was almost as old as I am, being released in 1973.

The next songs are It’s Only Money Part 1 and It’s Only Money Part 2.  Part 1 has a driving beat which just rhythmically keeps says “It’s money, It’s money, It’s money” in my head.  The combination of  the guitar, drums, bass and amazing keyboards just makes me feel like it’s recreating the stress of most jobs, with the limited singing being the weekends in our lives.  Part 2 sings “It’s only money, ain’t it funny when you want it you ain’t got it.”  It carries an entirely different rhythm, but keeps the driving weekday, lighter weekend interlude feel.   There’s even a nod to the Beatles “Money” at the start of the Bridge.

Side 2 starts of with “Be Glad”, which goes a few different directions.  At times you wonder if it’s the same song as it morphs from one groove to the next, but it works very well as just a cool 8-minute jam that seems to explore various keyboard sounds, and starts hinting at Christmas-like melodies at times, including a brief run of chimes, that sort of sets the stage for the second song: Christmas for the Free.

This is the day of Jesus; This is the day of Peace.

Joy to the World at Christmas; Jesus this is Christmas for the Free

Blunt is the pain of Hunger; cold is the wind of Grief

Motherless child has a hard time; Jesus this is Christmas for the Free

It’s a strong song, having great guitar and keyboards as well as great vocals.  To me the song is a conviction of the commercialism of Christmas – from 1972.  My summary is this: Why are people fighting when this is the day of Peace?  They have everything they need, and others have nothing.  Why don’t we give more and help others?

The next track is Candles on the River which is about overpopulation according to the jacket.  I’m not sure I really understand all the words, let alone get that it’s about too many people in the world.  It is a dark sounding song, but I just think it’s awesome.  Maybe it’s the guitars and drums and an amazing organ solo that distract me.  It could just as easily be about too many people trying to tell me what to do with my life.

The final song is Rosie.  It’s a good song, but it was when i first heard it that I decided I had to figure out who was in this band, because it sounds a little like Rod Stewart.  I think it’s the weakest song on the album, but it’s still good, with decent guitar and a nice upbeat tempo.

I actually found a copy in my listening backlog as well, so now I have a copy at the office and a copy at home. I’ve listened to the album several times in a few weeks; it just really suits my music tastes.  Then I found a copy of a later album, Circus, also in my backlog since who-knows-when.  I don’t recall getting it, so I’m guessing it was the summer of 2015 when i was buying way too many albums and didn’t have a good system for quickly processing them.

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Argent Circus album cover

The Circus album has mostly circus-themed songs, but it’s more synth-driven than guitar focused.  It’s more Billy Joel and space-synth stuff than Traffic or Soup like the In Deep album.  It still has a similar feel, and if I listen to both of them for a while, I think there’s enough to say “that sounds like Argent…” on this album – especially the second track on Side 2 – Shine on Sunshine.  It does have some cool artwork on the inner sleeve too.

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Circus inner sleeve

 

It’s probably telling that the Argent Greatest Hits album has no tracks from Circus.  I didn’t love it instantly like I did the first one, but I’ll work on seeking out some of the other Argent albums for the collection, because In Deep keeps getting regular spins on the turntables both at home and office.

 

 

Sea Level

In the last collection of vinyl I purchased, one of the intriguing artists was a group named Sea Level.  At first I paid it no mind, but when i found multiple albums, I started wondering.  There was a lot of jazz, blues, guitar rock, and some psychedelic music in there, so I wondered what kind of music this group played.

Looking them up on the internet, I found the Wiki page and discovered I had all five of the studio albums issued between 1977 and 1980.  The only albums missing were a couple ‘best of’ albums issued in the 1990’s.  They were described as a Southern Rock/fusion jam band that was originally an offshoot from the Allman Brothers Band, so i was very interested.  I decided to listen to them in chronological order.

The first album is the self titled Sea Level, and it really sounds like what i would largely call jazz fusion.  There’s piano, keyboard, brass, and solid guitar.  It would probably be good upbeat dinner music.  The track Shake a Leg really caught my attention.  The second side was mostly instrumental jams, but I found it really motivating and good music to listen to while working on cleaning vinyl.

The album was good enough it made me start rethinking some of the other bands that the previous owner had several albums for – it seems his taste in music aligned relatively well with mine.   Artists like Thin Lizzy (8 albums), Little Feat (First 8 Albums), The Marshall Tucker Band (8 albums), Blue Oyster Cult (4 albums), The Dixie Dregs (4 albums), and Traffic (9 albums – all but the 1994 reissue.)  These might form a lot of my December listening – if I like them.

Part of what makes the albums so compelling to play is their condition. These are early pressings from the 1970’s, but most of them were stored in upgraded sleeves almost from the day they were purchased.  They may not be quite as nice as modern Mo-Fi sleeves, but they’re close.  The owner said he felt he was smart to “invest” in better sleeves, as they really made a difference.  Even the albums with beat up jackets are still in near pristine condition. The very first collection of 78 albums I bought in March of 2015 had these sleeves, and i didn’t appreciate how nice it kept the albums.  Now I’m always excited when i see them, as odds are the collection was well cared for.

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My favorite vintage sleeve
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Two different Vintage upgraded sleeves

Back to Sea Level

The second album was titled Cats on the Coast, and it started out very nice as well.  It has a little bit of a Disco influence in the first few songs, and overall it feels a little softer an more jazz than Southern Rock in my opinion.  It was still good upbeat background music, but I wasn’t as impressed as the first album.

The third Sea Level album titled On the Edge starts off with a bit more of a funk feel.  It’s off to a much better start than the previous album.  But it’s still just driving, energetic music that doesn’t inspire me, but it doesn’t distract me.  It might be good office music.

The fourth album, Long Walk on a Short Pier, had some weird skipping at the beginning, and it looks like there’s a lot of defects in the album.   It sounded a lot like the third album started out, so i just decided to skip it (no pun intended).

Album five is titled Ball Room.  Honestly, I din’t finish it.  The music just didn’t speak to me enough.   By the time I got to this point, i was so uninspired that side 2 of this album sat on the counter while I played other albums.   I ultimately decided to get rid of all the Sea Level albums, and I forgot to take pictures of them before I got rid of them!

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Side 2 waited on the counter for days….

 

One of my goals for December is to have all those albums I purchased in November processed.  Either cleaned and ready for sale, donated, or on a shelf in my queue for personal listening.  I’m about half way through them (including 75 cleaned today!), so I’m on a good pace.  And while the Sea Level albums didn’t impress once I experienced the entire set of albums,  some of the other artists might become favorites.  That’s part of the joy – listening to new music, finding new stuff, and just expanding my experiences in general.

 

November Vinyl

After a bit of a lull in buying for a couple months, this month I purchased about 640 albums.  Six Hundred forty albums!  I started the month buying about 100 albums from a dealer to flip, with about 10 being albums I wanted to listen to and 4 or 5 likely to stay in my collection.  I bought them purely to add to my offerings for the December and January buying months.

 

Then I bought private collections on two successive weeks, each containing about 270 albums.  One was billed at 350 albums, the other at 200, so i paid a little more per album than I thought I was for the first, and did a little better on the other.  Both contained music primarily within the rock and blues area that I like, but had many artists I wasn’t familiar with or that I simply believe will sell.

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Collection #2 from November

Part of what I enjoy about collecting vinyl is the discovery process.  It is primarily why I like to buy entire collections.  From that first collection I bought in November, one of the “discoveries” for me was this Roy Buchanan Album.

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Roy Buchanan – Live Stock

Roy Buchanan sounds like a cross between Bryan Setzer and Eric Clapton.  The track Roy’s Bluz on side 1 is incredible.   I had never heard of this artist, so I looked him up.  Basically, he’s considered one of the best guitarists EVER, but he never had much publicity.  At one point he even stopped playing professionally and went to become a hairdresser until a PBS documentary brought him renewed attention and a new record deal.

The first track on side 2 is Can I Change My Mind, and it is also incredible, but also has a rhythm that reminds me of another song – much newer.  I’m thinking Roy Buchanan probably influenced a lot of people.  And an interesting note for guitarists – his tone was all guitar and amp – no effects pedals until late in his career.  He used the volume and tone knob on his Tele to control changes in tone.   Truly a great find, in my opinion, and one I would not have found looking through a record store.

Between the two collections, there were about 110 albums I wanted to listen to (on top of the other 300 or so waiting in queue).  Since i spent $650 on the two collections, that’s a little under $6.50 per album, which really isn’t too bad considering some of the stuff in that  grouping sells for more than I would pay at this time (or maybe ever).  There were about 60 not worth trying to sell, either due to condition or just lack of popularity.  So there’s about 470 I intend to sell out of the 640.

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About 500 albums waiting to be cleaned.

If I do the math solely on the others that I plan to sell, subtracting the ones I want to listen to and the non-valuable albums, that’s 370 albums for $650.  That works out to about $1.75 each.  I need to sell about 20% of them to make my money back, then the rest are profit, or fuel for other purchases.  Plus I essentially then added the 110 albums to my collection for free.  And realistically, I’ll sell a large portion of the 110 I wanted to listen to once I play them – often upwards of 90% of the albums I listen to I end up selling.   The $650 came from sales of other albums, so basically all my vinyl hobby costs me is some time – and space in the Man Cave.

I can’t see myself spending $20+ on a single record, but many people do.   Which just boggles my mind.  While I may not quickly amass a collection of all my favorites, I am building a nice collection and finding new music at the same time.  I currently have about 250-300 in my “semi-permanent” collection between home and the office.  I’ also apparently offering a small supply of vintage vinyl that is sometimes hard to find.  Many expensive hobbies don’t need to be expensive, if you’re just creative.

Over $3,000 worth of vinyl for $475

An incredible Saturday 180 gram Vinyl Score!

Ever since I was a kid I would go to garage sales and flea markets with my Nana.  It was always exciting to find something that was an incredible deal, or just something cool for a price that is well below what I’d be willing to pay for it.  It didn’t happen every trip, but the sort of euphoria that I felt when I made a score continues to drive me even today to keep hitting estate sales and flea markets on a regular basis.

Then there’s Craigslist, which is sort of a virtual flea market.  Several times per week I do a quick search for my favorite things:  Film, Cameras, Wine (I haven’t found anything yet, but some day it will pay off), and vinyl records.   The middle of this week, I found a post for vinyl records that seemed like a good deal, even if it was more than I normally pay. It was for 95 albums, including a few box sets.  Some of the albums I was sure were 180g albums, and the listing said they were the original owners of all of the albums.  So I sent an email asking how many were 180 gram pressings.

The reply:  All but a couple, one of which was a 200 gram pressing.  So 95 titles, mostly 180g, some limited release, some box sets.  The asking price of $475 was fair, but I like to feel like I’m getting a deal, so I offered $450.  Now that’s still a lot of cash to drop on records at one time, and some of you might be thinking what my wife said:  “WHAT!?!?  Holy Cow!  That’s a lot of money for records.”  I agree.  But basically I took my money from selling fifteen or so cameras this month and bought albums with the intent of keeping some and selling the rest after I listened to them.

However, my plan fell apart when i went to go pick up the albums.  The seller had neglected to mention one key point:  virtually all the albums are brand new!  Unopened, still in the shrink wrap, never listened to 180 gram vinyl!  For $4.75 an album!  Now I was the one thinking “Holy crap!  What a score!”

The guy was so nice, he threw in the rack they were in, a Blu-ray of the Beatles 1, and a framed original Mott the Hoople album because I offered to come to his house and load them so he wouldn’t have to transport them.   Realizing the incredible deal I was getting, I told the guy i was going to give him his asking price of $475, and he refused a little, but accepted the extra 425.  So i handed over the money and loaded the car.  I immediately called my wife, and she said “maybe you should have paid him more.”

They’re worth more, but I paid they guy what he was asking.  He bought them thinking he’d enjoy collecting vinyl again, and most of them came with a digital download.  He didn’t want to bother with selling them individually.  So he figured this price got rid of the vinyl and he still came out ahead vs buying just the digital.  But I can’t see how that math works, and here’s why: After I pull out the ones I’m thinking of keeping, which is 40 of the 95 albums, I think I’ll still triple my money when i sell the other 55 albums, even after paying selling fees wherever I sell them.  I’ll certainly recoup the $475 rather quickly.  If I find any of these are not sealed, I’ll throw them into my listening queue.

Then i considered how much it would cost me to buy the 40 albums I’m considering keeping:  $1067 from Amazon. More from Music Direct if they’re available; the Cream box set is $200 on it’s own.   Some of these were $50 and $75 albums I drooled over from Music Direct, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the money for one album. One of them i almost bought at B&N last week:  Mumford & Sons Sigh No More.  I’m listening to it as I type this, and I’ll essentially be getting it for free if you ignore the opportunity cost of not selling it.

I’m not going to list every album that was in the lot, but here’s what I decided to pull to contemplate if I want to keep it or at least listen to it before selling it.

  • Mumford & Sons Sigh No More
  • Cream 1966-1972, which is a box set of  all 6 Cream albums
  • Black Sabbath Paranoid
  • Black Sabbath
  • Black Sabbath Master of Reality
  • Black Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on Red Vinyl
  • Black Sabbath Vol. 4 on orange Vinyl
  • T. Rex Electric Warrior
  • Frank Zappa apostrophe (*)
  • Neil Young Harvest
  • Jefferson Airplane Volunteers
  • Them Crooked Vultures (just opened and now playing as I write – It’s a double album!)
  • ZZ Top Tres Hombres
  • Neil Young After the Gold Rush
  • Van Halen
  • Neil Young Crazy Horse at the Fillmore 1970
  • Hozier
  • Clutch Psychic Warfare
  • The Beatles Help!
  • The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • The Beatles “White Album”
  • The Beatles Abbey Road
  • The Beatles Revolver
  • Deep Purple Machine Head
  • Grand Funk Closer to Home
  • Grand Funk We’re an American Band
  • Free Fire and Water
  • The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964-1971
  • Paul McCartney and Wings Band on the Run
  • Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick
  • Jethro Tull Aqualung
  • Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland
  • Derek and the Dominoes Layla
  • The Doors Strange Days
  • The Doors Morrison Hotel
  • The Doors LA Woman
  • The Doors Waiting for the Sun
  • The Doors
  • Eric Clapton Slow Hand 35th Anniversary edition
  • Eric Clapton 461 Ocean Boulevard Limited edition
  • Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced
  • The Best of Procol Harum

All but the last four I think are 180 gram pressings.  The last two are definitely not, and only the Procol Harum and Grand Funk’s American Band album are open as far as i can tell, because in addition to being new, they’re also in protective sleeves!  Some are special editions, like LA Woman and Band on the Run each being 2 LP offerings when the originals were only one album.

Oh, wow!  I just took We’re an American Band out of the sleeve:  It’s 180 gram gold translucent vinyl!  I’m loving listening to it as well – never heard the entire album before.  Creepin is an awesome song.

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When I add it all up, this was over $3,000 worth of vinyl.  It also adds up to me keeping over $1,000 worth of vinyl for free.  I just can’t figure out why nobody else was on this posting.  One guy apparently offered the seller $100, and another guy wanted them shipped to San Francisco.   I just feel fortunate to have been in the right frame of mind to look at the post, and admittedly I was shocked they were mostly unopened when i arrived to pick them up, but this was still a great deal.  This may be the score of the year for me, and definitely my best lot since I picked up 150 or so vintage albums last June, of which i still have about 30 to listen to!

If I keep all 40 of the albums I’ve pulled from this score, my personal collection is at around 175 albums counting those that are at the office.   Considering at least 3,000 have passed through my basement since I started last spring, that’s not a high percentage of keepers.  I also didn’t listen to all of them, but I’m probably close to 1,000 that I have listened too, simply because I sold a lot of 1200 and a lot of about 700 that hadn’t been listened to simply to make space.  Also – about 10% of my collection are Beatles albums, and it gets more skewed if we count solo albums from the Beatles.

 

Every so often, somebody will tell me I’m lucky.  Lucky to find the cameras if find, or the albums, or the whatever it is I bring home.  While there was definitely a component of luck involved, most days that I’m searching for deals I find nothing.  There are weekends of hitting estate sales where we come home with nothing.  Sometimes I can hit a dozen garage sales and find a few books in total.  We spent nearly a year looking for the right buffet for the dining room.  It reminds me of the old quote “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”   So while I don’t ever expect to replicate my finds like the Hasselblad in June or this latest vinyl score, I’ll keep working hard at uncovering the next great deal.

Others tell me I’m lucky to have had the career and the experiences I’ve had.  I firmly believe my diligence and persistence creates most of my luck.  Consider this vinyl score:  it has been 16 months in the making, developing the awareness and knowledge of what these titles were and what they were worth when nobody else on Craigslist seemed to see it, as well as routinely checking Craigslist for postings.

Good luck to you in uncovering a great score of your own.  Start working now, and start improving your luck.

 

 

Today’s Vinyl – 8.15.15

Four Albums today.

The Jackson 5 – ABC

Overall, a decent album with a couple of pretty big hits.  I think I liked “I’ll bet You” on Side 2 the best.

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Styx-  The Grand Illusion

Maybe my favorite Styx Album.  probably listened to different copies at least 20 times since I got back into vinyl.

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Led Zeppelin IV – ZoSo

The most famous Zeppelin album?  This is a later copy.

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Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

Man, I forgot how awesome this album is.  Every song is amazing.  “Where’s that confounded bridge?”

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Today’s Vinyl – 8.14.16

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Led Zeppelin – In through the Out Door

Amazing album.  First time I’ve ever listened to it.

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ELO – Out of the Blue

Honestly – I only pulled this one out because side 3 of the double album is titled “Concerto for a rainy day” and that’s exactly what it was.  Some good songs on side 1, nothing else really caught my attention.

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Awesome artwork on the cover.  While true 1980’s pop, it’s not a bad album.

Nice listening while I processed film and cleaned all the newly acquired albums.