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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Another load of vinyl

After making it through December buying “only” about 140 albums, I’ve once again picked up a large collection to enjoy searching through to find some hidden gems.

Here’s what the car looked like when I pulled into the driveway:

All together it was 31 postal crates of 12″ singles and LP’s from primarily the 1980’s and 1990’s, all loaded into one large American sedan.  In this situation, and old “boat” of a car still has some practical value.

What’s really cool to me is that this collection is from when the popularity of  vinyl started to fade, so there could be some real gems in here.  Once I got it into the house, it looked a little more manageable:

Once i get it sorted, I fully intend to return the US Postal crates.  I expect I will find several additions to my personal collection, a lot of good value for resale, and still  be able to sell the remains for more than what I paid for the original 31 crates.

It was billed as 2000 records, but my initial samples average about 80 per crate, so it might be closer to 2500 records.  My random samples at the sellers location indicated the records are in very good condition, most showing no visible wear on the vinyl, while the covers have some wear and some labels, as it was part of a club DJ’s collection who worked int he 80’s and 90’s.

So while a lot of it isn’t going to be what I typically buy, for the price I couldn’t pass it up.  I got everything for $150.   I was very quickly able to find that much of value in things I could resell in just a few crates, so it was worth it.  Essentially I expect to get everything I want to sell and keep for free, and flip the rest for a couple hundred dollars.

I started looking through the first crate, plus a few that were stacked on top of it.  Totally random, it was just the one sitting next to me at my laptop.  In the first 50 albums, I found 10 that combined are worth $150.   Here’s the first 10 that should pay for the entire lot:

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Not exactly my cup of tea, but they should sell relatively quickly.  At that pace of finding ‘winners’, assuming 2,000 albums, I have potentially $6,000 worth of vinyl (before taxes, shipping, fees, etc), and that’s just the first pass at the things I can define value.  I think a lot of this dance music and singles have a market, I just need to find it.

So there’s perhaps $3600 profit to be had from 20% of the collection.  Not a bad return on $150.  And that doesn’t count selling the other 80% for what I paid for it originally, or probably a little more.  As i finished the first crate, I’m at about $220 of value, time 31 is  close to $7k, so I’m excited about this buy.  Even if I’m half wrong, it’s a great return on $150, and it’s great entertainment.  I’m excited to play some of the singles of songs from my youth.

The seller had many people contact him, but I was the only one to commit to purchasing under the condition that the collection was what he described it as being.  I was confident that a large lot of 1980’s and 90’s pop and rock vinyl would have some real gems, and i probably couldn’t go wrong.  When you know what your objective, be confident and take a few risks.

This sort of makes up for the lot in December which was largely in poor condition, but also had a ton of 45’s as part of the deal.  I’ll still make some money on that deal, but not every buy is going to be as good as this one.  And it may not pan out as great as the initial sample, but that’s OK.

Keep your eyes open, work hard, and you can create some luck.

 

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.

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.

Vinyl Discoveries 6.1.15

King Crimson: In the Wake of Poseidon

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Without getting into a history of King Crimson as a band, I have learned this group has had an unstable history, to put it mildly.  I find that instability in their music; I never know what’s coming next.

This album starts off light and airy with Peace – A Beginning.  Then Pictures of a City has a completely different sound; it’s harsh and angry.  The last two lines are

Concrete dream flesh broken shell

Lost soul lost trace lost in hell

Deep.  How many of us feel lost as we go about our daily lives, even though we’re in the middle of thousands of people in our familiar towns and cities?

The title track has more classical-sounding influences, and this 8 minute song could easily have been the climactic song in a 007 film.  There’s just so much tension in the music.

Side 2 starts off with Peace – a Theme.  Just a simple acoustic guitar interlude.  Then Cat Food jumps into a jazz inspired piano and vocal styling similar to The Beatles Come Together, with the “Cat Food, Cat Food, again” line bringing Joe Walsh to mind.  Man, a weird song, but musically very satisfying.

After an uncomfortable silence, the next track starts with a marching drumbeat.  It builds great anticipation.  After the long silence and what felt like 5 minutes of drums and ambient strings, I’m ready for something to happen!

Why hasn’t anyone used these guys for a film score?!?!  Sinister organ music layered on top of all this!  What’s going to happen?  How dumb can you be???  DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!!  

Then the sound of rushing wind, followed by silence once again…. only to start rebuilding with the same drumbeat, this time with horns and electronic keyboards, fading into chaos….

Wedged between the layers of cardboard In the bottom of the box that this LP was in, I found a Venezuelan coin from 1977.    So odd, yet it could be easily mistaken for a dime at first glance, and it made me wonder how it got there.

As the stylus returned after the end of the album, I muttered “Man is that weird” aloud. In the Wake of Poseidon is a wild trip, that’s for sure, but I’m not really sure where it took me where I wanted to go.  But hey, enjoy the journey.

Vivaldi – Four Seasons

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I’m not a huge classical music fan.  I probably couldn’t identify most of the great works by name, but I do appreciate them when I hear them.  This copy has almost zero background noise – including in the lead-in grooves – so it led to a very pleasing listening session.

Almost everyone has heard at least portions of Four Season’s before.  The first passage is the quintessential country club background music in movies.  And another passage is the music often used in one luxury automaker’s commercials.  I immediately thought “Lexus” when I heard the music.

I enjoyed this so much I was ready to listen to it again within hours.

The Grateful Dead:  Workingman’s Dead

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Causal listeners of classic rock will probably recognize Uncle John’s Band and Casey Jones, the first and last songs on this album, respectively.  The next two songs had me thinking “I don’t get it” again regarding the Grateful Dead and their popularity.

But three of the next four songs just floored me.  I mean – Wow.  Easy Wind on Side 2 is amazing.  Great guitar work, amazing drums, killer vocals.  Even Casey Jones seemed better than I remembered. Not a fan yet, but looking forward to the next Dead album; they’re starting to come to life for me.