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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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.

New vinyl acquisitions

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:

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Beatles Blue Album – on Blue Vinyl

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
  • Boston
  • 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.

 

 

Heavy, man….

Every once in a while, an album just catches me off guard.  The sound that comes out of the speakers just doesn’t align with my expectations.  Since I am familiar with Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita, I thought I knew what was coming from their album “Heavy”.  I was very wrong.

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Instead of something that sounded like the forerunner of hard rock, I was surprised to hear what I have come to consider a West Coast psychedelic sound.  I would have never associated myself with psychedelic rock, but albums from artists like Hendrix, The Litter, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy  have opened my ears to a great sound.

As it turns out, Iron Butterfly was formed in San Diego.  This album was recorded in 1967.  Once again it is the magic combo of California and 1967, which seem to be the sweet spot of Psych music in my opinion.  This entire album has that classic 1967 sound, with the exception of the last track which foreshadows some of their heavier tendencies that would come.  Titled Iron Butterfly Theme,  I can see why Iron Butterfly was an inspiration for Jimmy Paige and originally toured with Zeppelin.

Tracks like Get out of my life, woman, You can’t win, and Stamped Ideas are awesome. Listening at 6 am, I can’t turn it up as loud as I’d like, but that might be the order of the day for evening.  In fact, maybe I’ll throw together a series of psychedelic albums and develop some film one night this week!

One other note:  I upgraded my turntable during the winter to a Denon DP-300F, and the speakers to JBL SVA1600’s.  They sound incredible at reference levels together, but I feel like the Dual 506 presented high detail better with smaller speakers at lower volume, so sometimes there was an extra “sparkle” to the sound with that turntable.    So sometimes at lower volumes, things sound good, but not great.

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Follow up:  Tonight I listened to The Album Soup, Procol Harum’s Broken Barricades, and Savoy Brown’s Looking In.   Not really a night of psychedelic rock, but just awesome guitar blues rock.

Comparing CD’s to vinyl

Since I now have a handful of releases which I own both the LP and the CD, and the new Dual 508 has me hooked on listening to music, I decided to see for myself if I could tell a difference in the sound of the music.

This isn’t scientific, but listening to music is more about how it makes you feel, right?   So here’s the method i decided upon after some messing around:  I’ll play a track or a significant part of a track on one medium, then play the same on the other.  I’ll try to describe any differences I hear, mostly subjectively since I’m not breaking out any measuring equipment to do this comparison.

I started with the Escape Club – Wild, Wild, West.   Unfortunately, I lost my notes, so I went back and re-listened to a few songs.  The audio level is a few decibels higher on the CD, so I make sure I adjust the volume when I switch sources.

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On Wild, Wild, West, the bass is significantly stronger on the LP, and overall the sound is cleaner sounding.  It sounds more like our band playing than a recording.   The guitar and vocals are more balanced, and the sound just fills the room better.  Walking Through Walls is a closer call, but there is definitely a larger presence to the sound of the vinyl; it is less directional and harder to pinpoint the sound coming from the speakers, even with identical setting on the amp other than volume level, which seems to be 6 dB lower output on the vinyl.  Love the sound of the LP on this one.

Led Zeppelin IV

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On Black Dog, the cymbals on the CD sound very harsh, and almost outside the mix, like they were added in later.  The guitars are a little more present and integrated on the vinyl, and I was expecting the hear  that the vocals sounded more buried on the vinyl, but in reality they sound more focused, and also more like part of the sound instead of vocal on top of the instruments.  Finally, there’s a slight ringing noise – almost a liveliness –  to the vocals and guitars on the vinyl that just doesn’t come through on the  CD.

Rock And Roll was similar, but worse for the CD.  It sounded so compressed I just didn’t want to listen to it after listening to the vinyl track.  However, I would give the nod to the CD on the first half of Stairway to Heaven for overall sound quality.  But, I didn’t find myself settling into the music, and once the drums came in around the four minute mark that slightly harsh feeling was there again.  And the final guitar solo was not as much a part of the music on the CD either.

Led Zeppelin IV – vinyl wins.

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Next up was Bon Jovi: New Jersey.  On the opening track Lay Your Hands on Me, the CD did a better job of allowing the guitar to cut through, but the vinyl actually filled the room better by making better use of the stereo imaging.  On Bad Medicine, the drums hit harder on the CD, but the vocals and guitar riffs were much smoother and fuller sounding on the vinyl.  Adjusting for input level variances, at the same listening volume the CD just sounds harsher, colder, and more “noise-like” than musical.

Bon Jovi New Jersey – Vinyl wins – but the CD is still very good.

I figured this was how it was going to be – CD is cleaner,but vinyl just sounds warmer, smoother, and “better”.  Billy Joel 52nd Street followed the same results as the previous 3 albums.

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Then I started listening to some of the Beatles albums.

Rubber Soul was the first.  Other than some of the tracks being different, which came a a huge surprise to me, this was almost a toss-up.  The CD was as good or better than the vinyl on most songs, but on a few the vinyl was clearly different and maybe slightly more appealing.  But songs like Norweigan Wood and Michelle were clearly better on CD.  Throw in Drive My Car and Nowhere Man on the CD which are absent from the LP, and CD wins this one.

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Then it was on to Yellow Submarine.  Same thing – the CD was as good or better on most songs, but Hey Bulldog was so much better on the CD.  The LP was almost lifeless on this song, and the instruments were buried – no bite at all to the guitar.   No pun intended.  CD wins again.

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Thankfully, Abbey Road was more of a pleasant surprise.  In fact, other than the crackling noise of the worn LP, I found the CD and LP to be very similar aside from the 6 or so dB difference in output.  The bass was a little better as well on the CD.  In fact, I think I’ll put the CD in my car.  Slight nod to the CD.

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I wrapped up the session with The Little River Band’s Greatest Hits.   This time it was back to the previous experiences of the vinyl being a little more integrated and warmer.

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Maybe the vinyl mastering just got much better in the 1970’s and 80’s, or maybe the Beatles LP’s are just pretty worn from years of use, but on everything after 1970 or so I preferred vinyl.  And it may have something to do with the CD mastering as well.  Maybe the Beatles CD’s are more critically mastered than others.

Whatever the reason, I know I’ll tend to favor the Vinyl  versions if I can, and I think a clean LP is a good benchmark to evaluate the quality of CD’s.  Now off to find The Dan Reed Network and The Nylons on vinyl….

I’m becoming addicted to vinyl records

OK, not to sound like a “broken record”, but I listened to a bunch of vinyl again today.

I started with a 12″ single of Eminem: The Real Slim Shady.  Hey, I’m buying whatever I can find at a reasonable price right now, which happens to be  a lot.  There’s an instrumental version which really shows how little musical talent there is in this song.  And the “dirty” version is really quite crude.

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That got me thinking of 45 rpm singles.  Last weekend, we found a handful of my old stuff at my grandmother’s house.  I felt like I had a lot of 45’s growing up, but there might have been a total of 30 or 35 in the box.  Nothing missing that I can tell.  So here’s what I listened to today from my old collection of 45’s:

  •  We Can Work it Out – by the Jalopy Five.  As a kid, I thought they sounded just like the Beatles. Today I could clearly hear the difference.  The record was also badly worn, so this one is now at Goodwill.
  • Gloria – by The Chellows. Same song that you know – “Gee El Oh Are Eye Ay, Gloria”, by a cover band.  I think HIT Records was a 60’s knock-off label.
  • I Want a New Drug – Huey Lewis and the News.  Sounds just as good as on the LP Sports.
  • The Curly Shuffle – Jump ‘N the Saddle.  From 1983, this was popular when I was 11 or 12 years old.  Sounds great!
  • Bang Your Head – Quiet Riot.  Hey, I had eclectic tastes even as a child…
  • Pac-Man Fever – Buckner and Garcia.  And this proves it….
  • Radio Ga Ga – Queen.  Leave it to me to have one of the more obscure Queen hits as the only Queen song in my collection.
  • The Politics of Dancing – Re-Flex.  My wife didn’t know this one, but I still enjoyed it today.
  • Bucket T – Ronny and the Daytonas. Oh yeah, digging deep in what was part of my “vintage” stuff back on the 1980’s.  This classic from the mid-60’s was worn out I played it so much!
  • Eat It – Weird Al Yankovic. OK, look at the last 6 singles.  I can’t believe this was from one kid’s small collection.  And I was that weird kid.
  • Hang On Sloopy – The Roamers.  Another HIT records offering….
  • Groovin’ – The Young Rascals
  • Do You Want to Know a Secret – The Beatles.  The Fab Four, on the Vee Jay label.
  • There’s a Kind of Hush – Herman’s Hermits
  • When A Man loves a Woman – Leroy Jones.  Yep, HIT Records again…
  • Uptown Girl – Billy Joel.  My introduction to Billy Joel – 1983.
  • Rock-in Robin – Bobby Day.  “Tweet, tweet.  He Rocks in the Treetop, all the day long…”
  • Help/California Girls – The Jalopy Five/The Chellows. HIT Records label, again.
  • Alley Cat – Bent Fabric and his piano. Man, I was a strange dude….
  • Purple Haze/Foxey Lady – There are so few 45’s that seem to have two great songs on them.  Hendrix does it right with these two!  And it is amazingly clean and clear.
  • Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield.

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Later in the afternoon, I found some time to listen to a few more LP’s too.

Album 1: Darryl Hall & John Oates: Private Eyes.

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I accidentally played Side  B first, and it’s not really all that strong, but still enjoyable.  Side A is great early 80’s music, including Private Eyes and I Can’t Go for That.  As a cool side note, this LP still has the Hall and Oats subscription card to “Broadcast”, which was apparently their fan newsletter.  I wonder what would happen if I sent it in this week?  Would someone get a good laugh out in California?

Album 2: Led Zeppelin: IV/ Zoso

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Perhaps my favorite album as a senior in high school, I was excited to finally hear this on vinyl.  I heard Page’s acoustic guitar like never before.  Really, words cannot describe how amazing it felt to listen to this album. As a bonus, it’s in great shape, with little static or crackles.

Album 3: The Eagles: Greatest Hits

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Unfortunately a little warped, so i didn’t play much of it.  Just too much thump, and didn’t want to risk damaging the needle since it would cost more to replace than I spent on the turntable.  I know I have another copy somewhere in the queue, so hopefully it’s better. Maybe that’s why this one was 99 cents at some point.  (Hey, remember when keyboards had a ‘cent’ symbol? )

Album 4: Van Halen: II  

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Pure Van Halen, from Dance the Night Away to Beautiful Girls.  Stereo imaging was fantastic, guitars were clear and flew around the room at times, drums were crisp on occasion.  Just a great performance.  Great sophomore album, and I hope to find more Van Halen in the future..

Album 5: King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

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Here’s another group I’ve never heard of, but I’ve come to realize they’re pretty popular and significant in the history of rock.  This is a trippy album that I’ll need to listen to again to appreciate.  Rock, jazz, and classical music fused together at the genesis of new age rock.  Their second album is hiding in the collection somewhere too. Unforgettable artwork too.

It’s always great to hear new music,  and just a great to hear old favorites in a new way that makes it feel new.  I can’t wait to see what my next day of listening brings…