May 31

One of my goals for this 365 Days of Vinyl was to trade in enough of my old, unwanted, records for store credit towards the newly re-issued Led Zeppelin LPs that started coming out last year. I am now halfway there!


I recently ordered the first five Led Zeppelin re-issues from my local record store Groove Merchants. The cost delivered came in at $180 and I had amassed just over $200 in store credit since January first…

I opted for the Deluxe Edition Remastered versions on 180 gram vinyl. These releases include the original version of the album and a companion record of outtakes, alternate versions and the like.

According to Jimmy Page, the new remasters were created from 192 kHz/24 bit digital transfers of the original analogue tapes. Page stated in an interview on Sirius/XM radio that this remastering can now take advantage of significant advances in technology that have occurred since the last remastering took place in 1991. This technology allows him to create a distinct version of each album for each format available, vinyl, CD, hi-def download or MP3.

To make it over the top on my store credit account I took all of my scratchy but playable (we’ll just call them well loved) copies of Led Zeppelin vinyl… all nine studio albums and The Song Remains The Same soundtrack… as a trade in.

I love Led Zeppelin, but I came late to the party. I didn’t get my first LZ album until 1985… a bargain bin copy of IV on cassette. Since then I managed to collect all of their records. Some were thrift store/yard sale finds, a couple were given to me by a co-worker in the mid 90s, and I did by all the studio albums on CD when they first came out.

I won’t try to give you a critical review of the original albums here, except to say that they sound fantastic! What I thought I’d do is focus on the so called “companion disc” to see if those are worth the extra ~$20 over and above the price of the single record version.

It’s going to be a good week!

May 30

It’s a lazy Saturday morning, the family is still asleep, the coffee hot and the blue is peeking through some breaks in the clouds. Seems like a good time to check out a recent acquisition, the album Musician by sax player Ernie Watts:

This 1985 release on Quincy JonesQwest label definitely has that QJ flavor to it; arrangement, Phill Perry vocals and all.

Watts  was a member of the Tonight Show Band under Doc Severinsen for many years and also netted credits on some of Marvin Gaye’s albums.

Was Musician one of those albums that will really blow your socks off? Well, not for me it wasn’t, but it filled the bill this morning.

May 29

Welcome to Fleetwood Mac Friday!

It’s become a tradition around here to listen to the Fleetwood Mac station on Pandora for a big chunk of the day. So, why not extend the honor to vinyl?

Here’s 1982s Mirage. This is the last new Fleetwood Mac I bought. I am a big fan of the Buckingham/Nicks era Fleetwood Mac… including the duos pre FM effort. I bought Tusk two years after Rumors, I bought this three years after Tusk and the lesson was learned.

I’ve been hunting for Pre-Buckingham/Nicks Fleetwood Mac records lately. I’ll try to detail some of them on future Fleetwood Mac Fridays.

The band’s video of Gypsy was the most expensive video ever produced for MTV at the time, and was one of those “World Premier” videos that they hyped so well:

May 28

The legend goes something like this; a blues/tex-mex/rock band from San Antonio adopts a Beatle-esque persona to capitalize on the nascent British Invasion. Due to a pronounced Texas drawl, the band members avoid recorded interviews to preserve the façade. To add a sense of mystery (and disguise the Hispanic heritage of two members), their debut album (cunningly titled “The Best Of”) has a cover photo of five shadowy, mop-topped musicians… features indistinguishable. Finally, name yourselves something Britishy sounding and the ruse will be complete!

I give you The Best Of The Sir Douglas Quintet:

Formed by Texas music veteran Doug Sahm and his friend Augie Meyers, the band is probably best known for the tune She’s About a Mover… a #13 hit on the Billboard Hot 100:

Sahm and Meyers went on to play on many famous records of the 70s, produce for the likes of Willie Nelson, write and tour. In the 1990s they teamed up with Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez to form the band Texas Tornados.

May 27

In my mid-1980’s to early 1990’s life I listened to a lot of FM Album Oriented Rock stations. One feature of these stations that I loved was the giveaway contests.

I won several LPs during those contests… Starship, Billy Ocean, Julian Lennon are a few I remember.

But there were others, too. Lesser known artists, with the record companies trying to generate excitement (and airplay) by giving their records away.

The defining feature of these giveaways was a gold stamp stating “For Promotion Only” over the barcode on the record jacket:

One of these surviving “Promo” record in The Collection is Billy Burnette ‎– Try Me:

This 1985 rockabilly-ish release was one I dubbed to cassette and played quite a bit. It has some good songs penned by Burnette and an interesting cover of The Letter (a la the Box Tops).

Some great players on here too, Steve Cropper, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie to name a few. These Fleetwood Mac contacts paid off for Burnette a few years later when Burnette was invited to join Fleetwood Mac to replace Lindsey Buckingham on tour in 1987. The Mac album Behind the Mask featured Burnette on guitar and included some Burnette penned tunes as well.

Re-listening to this record 30 years on, it is dated by some funky synth parts but is still a fun, dumb rock record.

May 26

At a recent thrift store pick I found 20 European pressings of American pop/jazz and easy listening records, all circa 1968-1973:


Most of these titles I would have never bought, but a few stood out. There was a London Records version of Roy Orbison ‎– Big O:

…and a couple of Harry James LPs. Those are the ones I found first by looking at the covers. But then I noticed a difference between what I would consider a “normal” record jacket (like those found on most US records) and these UK/German record jackets… the European jackets were slicker, shinier and used a thinner stock of paper.

After I had the feel down, the European pressings were easy to find!

I know some audiophiles prefer the sound of UK pressings (first pressings) of bands that were first recorded in the UK… the master disks were thought to be superior to those copied and shipped to other countries for subsequent pressings. But these were American acts and European pressings… are they inferior to the original US pressings?

I also know that, for most popular artists, US pressings were quite common as compared to pressings from other countries, and are therefore more valuable to collectors. But, would this hold true with artists such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Mantovani and Liberace?

Turns out not so much… Discogs shows some fairly decent asking prices for some of these records, but few or zero ever sold.

Oh well, they’re all in great shape. I’m sure I’ll get my $0.49 out of them one way or another.

May 25

Some albums in The Collection seemed to have magically appeared out of thin air. For instance, I have absolutely no recollection of why I have a copy of Nick Seeger’s (yes, some relation to Pete) self titled debut in my basement:


It’s a pretty cool record, mid ‘80s, folksy bluegrass. It even has Jerry Douglas on dobro! I can’t for the life of me remember where I picked this album up, but it’s in near perfect shape, apart from a slight warp from leaning in a stack of other vinyl records for too many years.

Here’s a YouTube example of Nick Seeger from the album I don’t have:

May 24

Part of this 365 Days of Vinyl is to “spend a part of each day of 2015 with vinyl records… Listening to some music on vinyl, picking through dusty crates of albums, buying or selling some records”.

I’ve almost blown it once, but my mother (bless her heart) bailed me out:

Today was another dilemma. My wife and I headed out of town to visit family for Memorial Day. Being away from home, the option of listening to some music on vinyl was out, so the picking, buying or selling were the only options.

Being a Sunday on a holiday weekend complicated matters.

I sheepishly admitted to my wife that I was concerned about falling short after 140+ days. I shouldn’t have worried! She had found a thrift store, near our destination in north central Montana, that would be open upon our arrival!

My Memorial Day pick includes some funky ‘80s R&B, a couple of albums from the Southern rock/funk/fusion jam band Sea Level… an offshoot of the Alman Brothers Band featuring Chuck Leavell, a Joe Beck jazz/fusion LP, a live album from Renaissance and a Sergio Mendes Trio record.

But, the record I was most excited to find was a 1968 Volt Records copy of Otis Redding ‎– The Dock Of The Bay:

My copy is pretty beat up… with significant marks and scratches and a water damaged cover. But it’s still an Otis freeking Redding LP, and I’m happy I found it!

May 23

Prog rock and I have a troubled past. I’ve tried, really I have, to get into it. The Strawbs, ELP, Yes… I’ve had friends and family members, whose musical taste I’ve greatly admired, turn me on to some prog rock band or the other. All these attempts have failed.

The most recent example is the band Rare Bird, and the LP As Your Mind Flies By.

I had listened to it, half-heartedly, a month or so ago, while washing records… I put it aside to give it a closer listen at a future date. I pulled this record out on a recent morning when my wife and I were getting ready for a trip. Maybe it was a poor choice of timing, but this record just fell flat for us.

By all means, if your taste trends toward organ based prog rock, give this band a try! They only released five records, so collecting them all should be a snap. There’s a copy of As Your Mind Flies By at the local used record store up for grabs.

May 22

1994 was the first time I ever heard of Little Feat. I had recently moved to Great Falls, Montana, and the local music scene there was rich with musical knowledge. One performer, who worked for the city by day, became “Guitar” Grant on the evenings and weekends.

This dude could play a solo gig, just him and his acoustic guitar. He could be a bandleader, fronting a great 5 piece R&B band… or, he could be a sideman, playing fills and singing tasteful harmony behind other local performers.

Little Feat tunes were featured prominently in his solo and bandleader gigs and I became a fan.

My first ever vinyl Little Feat record came from a local thrift store that was having a spring cleaning sale… everything was half off, and the vinyl was $0.25. This is the same store where I scored the Tom Waits record a few blogs ago… so, I imagine these records were in the same collection:

This 1973 release, the band’s third, was a departure from the L.A. sound of their freshman and sophomore releases and showcased a more New Orleans funk/soul/R&B vibe.

There are many great songs on this record… the title track, the splendid Allen Toussaint penned On Your Way Down and the funky honk of Fat Man in the Bathtub, to name a few. But, the song that makes this album indispensible for me is the slow, simple and sweet Lowell George tune Roll Um Easy.

If I ever manage to string together words so sweet as those, in such a beautiful phrasing, lord please take me for my work here would be finished.