And The Envelope Please…

Last time I checked in we had just gone to the annual Audio Video Record And Equipment fundraiser for the local Public Radio station. Our haul for the total three days I went was a significant 89 new albums, 78 single LP’s and 11 double or more albums. You can see details of the haul at my Discogs page here.

Rather than just list them off for your reading pleasure, I decided to have a little fun and give you an Oscar’s style “Best Of” competition between the records.

Just in case you’re curious about the process here’s an image that was smuggled out of the super secret vetting process.

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*The process was overseen by the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse*

So, let’s roll out the red carpet and get started!

The first category is Best Soundtrack. These are the records from the sale that I’ve enjoyed most just playing and hanging around the stereo with my wife. It’s become a bit of a tradition to have coffee and jazz on lazy Sunday mornings around here and these fit right into that soundtrack for us.

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Selections from a band called Free Flight, a George Benson Abby Road cover, blues from Jimmy Rushing, a Deodato album with an awesome cover of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, and the Gary Bartz Quintet album Libra.

And the winner is, the Gary Bartz Quintet Libra! We’ve listened to quite a few jazz records over the last year and find artists on the Sunday morning listening experiences to trend more towards bebop or smooth jazz rather than to free-form or harder edged things. This record, on the Milestone label, is in near perfect condition and sounds just fantastic. Great production and a very enjoyable listen.

Next up, the award for Best Hair and Makeup:

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Here the nominees tended to be the best of the 70’s and 80’s rock look. Most of these records were not picked for their value or extreme rarity rather they were just hole fillers in the Collection. The Tears for Fears Songs From The Big Chair album is still sealed example and updates the near mint used copy we already have. This was also the first pop music album my wife had on cassette years ago. The Joan Jett holds a special place for me as it was some of the first FM rock and roll I’d ever heard. A buddy had it on cassette and we about wore it out listening to Crimson And Clover (over and over). I have seen several copies of this album in the past year but had never found one that was clean enough to play.

And the winner is:  the Vertigo Records annual album from 1970! A naked model atop a huge hobby horse in the middle of a red field. It doesn’t get much better hairy and makeupy than that for me. Just look at the mane and the tail on that hobby horse! This thing is a two record sampler full of artists like Black Sabbath, Manfred Mann, Rod Stewart and Coliseum. It was an enjoyable listen and has the benefit of being fairly valuable!

Next up in the category of Best Costume:

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Here the seventies and eighties are well represented again. The T. Rex Electric Warrior is a VG+ upgrade to a wall hanger I found last year. The Temptations was an unexpected UK pressing on the Gordy label. Bon Jovi’s looking street tough and pretty and the guys from Ratt are apparently self aware enough to not put any of their own faces on their album cover.

This was a tough one! The Temptations were known for there outlandish costumeing, although this album cover of Puzzle Pieces seems a bit subdued. Ratt continues to prove that sex sells! But the award goes to the Jets and their synchronized dance troupe bubblegum manufactured music of the day. Congratulations!

Next up for consideration is the award for Best Cinematography:

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Here, our judges were looking for the best visual presentation on an album cover. What story did each of these covers tell? There were a couple of odd balls in here including a 1961 copy of the Medieval Jazz Quartet and a 1958 release from a group called the Gin Bottle Seven. Quirky and cool I am always attracted to you goofy album covers. The London Howlin Wolf Sessions sleeve tells the story of exactly what’s on the record and Parliament gives you an idea of what you’re in for as well! The final nominee is Motown Christmas double album that is so beautifully put together it’s almost an art piece unto itself.

And the winner is: Whoopee Makers Jazz by Carl Halen’s Gin Bottle Seven! This Dixieland or barrelhouse album may not be much to listen to, but that cover makes up for it in spades! Still shiny and perfect more than 50 years later there’s so much to look at on here you could spend the whole of an album side just a acquainting yourself with the artwork. I love this stuff and will buy it whenever I see it!

Next up is the category Best Actress/Supporting Actress:

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Here Joan Jett makes her second appearance of the night but she is up against some pretty stiff competition! The Bonnie Raitt Nick Of Time album is one that has been on my list forever. I’ve seen plenty of Bonnie Raitt pre Nick Of Time, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this album in the wild. That sounds great to me as it did when I first heard her back on The Tonight Show. Radio Ethiopia is Patti Smith’s follow up to the incredible Horses record. Janis Joplin is representing the back cover of the Cheap Thrills record, and this copy of Nuff Said is my first Ike & Tina record.

This competition was another really tough one! Two iconic records from my past, some funky Tina Turner and one of the most beloved singers of the Woodstock era. Maybe it was just the mood I was in when I was listening. The award for Best Actress/Supporting Actress has to go to Patti Smith and the record Radio Ethiopia.

Hard edge somehow softened in depth and complexity of lyrics made this one a true winner that I never heard before and never even knew existed.

In the category of Best Actor/Supporting Actor:

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Elvis Costello is represented here with the album This Years Model. It includes the song Radio Radio which really opened up a new world of music for me back in the day. T. Rex makes his second appearance with the album The Slider. These T. Rex records are so iconic of the period that they’re a must for a record collection. The first solo Van Morrison record, Blowin Your Mind, was a real surprise. I never ever expected to see this record in Spokane Washington and thought I would be doomed to an online purchase at some point. The Tom Petty solo Full Moon Fever is a record that I’ve had since it first came out, although on CD! This album falls into the sweet spot of the CD/vinyl crossover and was the most valuable record we picked during our time at this event. I was also surprised to find the Howlin Wolf record entitled Evil. This visceral recording really spotlights the blues and I’m familiar with and I was overjoyed to find it. Who would give this stuff up!?!

Tougher yet, all these records were a fantastic listen! Just for the Collection hole plugging ability of Van Morrison the award has to go to Blowing Your Mind! I found three Van Morrison records at this years event. This one, the album His Band And The Street Choir and a placeholder copy of Veedon Fleece from 1974, completing my early Van shelf!

Now here it is, the one we’ve all been waiting for, Best Picture! The envelope please!

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Selections from Blood Sweat And Tears, Santana, a return of the Temptations, Sugarloaf and Deep Purple! The one thing that all of these albums have in common is they are all UK pressings.

I have a few other albums that were pressed at record making factories in the UK and sold abroad. And, whether it’s true or imagined, they just sound better!

Now, I can kind of understand with British bands like The Beatles; the original master tapes where dubbed, sometimes multiple times, and sent to the US before manufacturing here. So the idea is that the British pressings, being first generation, made better sounding records.

But many of these are American bands so you would think that the inverse would be true.

So there’s something else going on. My theory is that the engineers that master records for reproduction in the US use compression and limiting to make the sound on American released albums overall louder whereas engineers in the UK still care about the dynamics of the music they’re producing.

In particular this Santana album, their first, sounds fantastic! To boot, this copy was misfiled at the event so it was overlooked for most of the day until my eagle eyed wife spotted it and nabbed it for me!

I know you’re all  waiting with bated breath for the decision so let’s get on with it! The award for Best Picture goes to the UK for making such great sounding records!

So there you have it! Thanks for tuning in to Mark’s Record Oscar’s 2016… now let’s all go find a cool after-party to get thrown out of!

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The Day Has (Almost) Arrived!

So one of my favorite local events takes place this weekend… the local Public Radio station annual audio/video and recording sale!

It’s a pretty cool idea! Locals donate vinyl records and CDs, videos in all formats and stereo equipment to be sold as a fundraiser.

This two day event has been happening this weekend in February every year since the mid 90s and is the single biggest (non pledge drive) fundraiser for the organization.

They’ve managed to keep the process is simple; a set price for any recorded medium and a silent auction for the equipment.

Vinyl records are $3 a pop. Here’s a picture of the event set up from today:

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As for the gear, there are feet and feet, piles and piles of equipment! Turntables, tape decks, amplifiers and speakers; everything from vintage silver faced beauties to black plastic crap:

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I have volunteered during the setup phase of this event for the past couple of years. It’s been great fun to meet other enthusiasts and community members.  Humping all this stuff into the Event Center is a good workout, but the payoff is the early bird opportunity to purchase up to 5 items. Here are mine from today:

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I’ll post some updates of my Friday early bird scores and the Saturday event as well!

*update 2/19, Friday set up*

Another successful day of volunteering at this event. Although we were all but done with heavy lifting, there was still plenty of work to do… setting up signs and posters and getting the gear ready for the auction.

And of course digging through these dusty treasures for vinyl gold nuggets! Here’s my score:

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That’s an import Sugarloaf album the debut album from the band Free a couple of T-Rex records and some more Van the man to add to the ever expanding Collection!

*update, 2/20, the big show*

So I don’t think I mentioned, I had been working the overnight shift during this whole process. 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and then carving out a few hours in the afternoon and early evening to help with the setup.

So, after my shift got over at 7 a.m. on Saturday… the day of the event, I was excited to get there well before the doors open at 9 a.m. I was a little punchy from lack of sleep but excited to witness the show!

We spent several hours going through box after box of vinyl records and talking with enthusiasts about vintage stereo and music. It was a blast! And we ended up coming home with a grand total of 89 albums!

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Some of these I have been looking for forever, some plugged holes in certain artists in the collection and some or just for fun! There are also a fair number that I plan on selling on down the line.

I won’t bore you with the gory details here but stay tuned for the next post when, after a thorough cleaning in a few needle drops, I will highlight some of the great scores from the 2016 Spokane Public Radio Audio, Video and Recording sale!

March 28

Well this is just sucks! 2016 has been really tough on my musical idols. Having just turned 50 myself, these things are hitting way to close home. Rest in peace master Hicks. http://www.danhicks.net/

Mark's 365 Days of Vinyl

I first heard Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks on an episode of Austin City Limits in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s:

This encounter led me to the Mills Brothers, The Andrews Sisters and, especially important, to Django Reinhardt. Suddenly that hokey old music seemed cool… and Hicks’ dry humor delivery only made it more appealing.

I got a chance to see the reunited Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks in the beautifully restored Grand Theater in Ellsworth, Maine in around 2007… two things about that show stand out; #1 he did a version of the standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”:

“Missed the toilet last night

Peed all over the floor

Cleaned it up with my toothbrush

Don’t Brush my teeth much anymore”

Which had me rolling and I still serenade towards my unappreciative wife and;

#2 we were from a small town 200 miles north of…

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