February 6

Rockit, from the Future Shock album of pianist Herbie Hancock, sounds waaaaaayyyy better on my home stereo than it did coming out of a full range 4″ speaker in the front of my parents Montgomery Wards TV set back in 1983!

This thrift store find has renewed my faith that, one day, I will find a jazz-fusion record that I actually like. I’m happy to add this to my collection.

February 3

I became a fan of Buddy Holly thanks to Gary Busey. Like most of the late, late Baby Boomers (or early, early Gen X’ers) I missed the genesis of rock and roll, including Buddy Holly. Now I know that many of the bands I eventually fell in love with were influenced by Buddy, but radio had stopped playing his music by the time I was old enough to hear it.

Then, in 1978, Gary Busey starred in The Buddy Holly Story.

I was blown away by the music and needed to dig a little deeper. The album Buddy Holly/The Crickets – 20 Golden Greats came out that same year… perfect timing.

I bought this LP and, as was the custom, recorded it to cassette, put it back in its sleeve and never took it out again… for 35 years, until this morning! When you listen to as many scratchy thrift store heroes as I do you forget just what a truly mint record sounds like! The needle goes down, plop! and then… nothing! A song plays, fades and, again, nothing! On this recording you could even hear a bit of a “hiss” after a song would fade out… the sound of whatever master tape they were using, that would then fade to dead silence… beautiful!

Since Buddy only recorded around 30 songs in the studio, this 20 song compilation gives a good overview of both his Clovis, NM. recordings and his NYC recordings, and, since my odds of finding a mint copy of an original Buddy Holly record range from slim to none, these 20 Golden Greats will have to suffice.

Here are some photos I took when I visited Clear Lake, Iowa… the site of Buddy’s last concert. There is an informal memorial there to Buddy, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. There is also a separate memorial to the plane’s pilot nearby.

Buddy Holly

January 28

Thrift store hunting for vinyl albums is feast or famine… not 50/50, mind you, I’d say 10% feast and 90% famine. That is not to say that 10% of the records in thrift stores are things you would buy to add to your collection… more like 10% of the stores you enter, you find something worthwhile to take home.

Take a recent excursion I went on that included several thrift stores and one “record” store… the “record” store was a complete bust! They did have several new vinyl records, but the selection of used vinyl numbered around 50 LPs, al of which were severely overpriced. For instance, they had a We Are the World LP priced at $19.99. Now, there are recent Ebay sold listings for this LP for $0.99, so what makes this particular record, intrinsically, worth 20 times that?

This record may have had an instrumental value back in 1985… if you were daft enough to buy it, maybe starving people would get food? But why is it worth $19.99 today? It would have to be intrinsically worth $19.99, the music contained on the LP would need to be worth $19.99.

A few blocks down the road, a thrift store had a predictable selection of scratched up and gross 101 Strings, Mantovani, and Ferrante & Teicher vinyl. Great. My 5th encounter with a Firestone Christmas collection had me asking “why doesn’t someone just shitcan this garbage?”… and then, BOOM!

A Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy LP!

Sweet! This record contains some of the best music and songwriting I’ve ever heard. Other than the title track, this LP contains Werewolves of London (featuring bass and drums by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, no less), Lawyers, Guns and Money and (the standout track for me) Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.

This was Zevon’s third album and the one where mainstream radio played songwriter singing his own compositions. Prior to this, Zevon penned songs like Poor Poor Pitiful Me, Accidentally Like a Martyr, Mohammed’s Radio and especially (for me, anyhow) Carmalita were fantastic songs that were hits for other artists.

A visual grading of the vinyl showed it to be in very good condition, well worth the $0.94 asking price. After a thorough cleaning, the record does play as expected, a little surface noise, but all in all an exceptional recording!

It does lack a bit of dynamic, possibly due to production by Jackson Browne? Anyway, this is a solid addition to the record collection… one I will cherish way more than any $19.99 copy of We Are the World! R.I.P. Warren Zevon, I will enjoy every sandwich!

January 27

I don’t remember why I despised Helen Folasade Adu. It may have been the ubiquitous presence of the song The Sweetest Taboo on radio, TV and bar of 1985. It may have been the perception that this seemed an altogether manufactured musical substance… the good-looking, but exotic (to me, anyway) singer, surrounded by the band from Simply Red or Culture Club.

This wasn’t genuine.

Nothing could change my mind. I was in that finger-in-the-ears “I can’t hear you!” position… Helen, now just Sade, was just the worst of the other one named female singers of the time, without the vocal gymnastics. A friend, and American Sargent, newly transferred from England (after a lengthy stay) to Tacoma, sang the praises of Sade… (To be fair, he always alluded to her physical charms alongside her musical acumen, but I would have none of either!).

Fast forward 10 years or so. I found myself the 2nd owner of Sade-Promise (on CD) and also the owner of a 3500 watt stereo P.A. system set up in a acoustically ideal, 70 seat theater. This P.A. was no slouch, JBL mains and subs, bi-amped and rung out with pro mics and EQ…

(I used to do live sound for some small bands) I had set up the sound system for some show and decided to put Promise on to see if everything was working OK… From the first track, the sound that came out just blew me away! Jazzy, but not pretentious, funky but poppy, not muddy, and those vocals… more torch than Tesh!

Why had I missed this?!? confirmation bias? Who knows, the bottom line was I was hearing some 10-year-old music for the first time. I listened, then I increased the volume, and I listened again… eyes closed, sitting in the “sweet spot” of the theater, and was blown away! A friend who owned a neighboring store heard this music resonating from the theater and came in to investigate… she sat next to me in the sweet spot, shook her hair out-of-the-way and smiled… “nice!” she said… although I couldn’t actually hear her.

Since then, I’ve acquired several Sade CDs… but thanks to RRR Auction/Estate, I now own Promise for $0.05!

This vinyl record is a unicorn… (as close to pristine as I have found, proving that unicorns DO exist). 95% out of 100% low surface noise, tracks all very dynamic and full of “life”, just a joy to listen to! I did notice that there was a “for promotion only” stamp over the UPC… I assume this was a DJ or promoter copy of the record that was played very little, if at all.


The Sweetest Taboo is the hit on this record, but the standout song is side #2, song, #1, Mr. Wrong. I’m always searching for vinyl that I can count on to give the best possible impression to a visitor that asks “which is better…”, now I have one more in my arsenal to help answer that question.

(it rains a lot on the windows in this desert!)

January 26

It’s not too often that I’m totally taken off guard by an album title or cover photo. For whatever reason, coming across this one in a box of used vinyl had me doing a double take on both counts:

Rick Wakeman’s – The Six Wives of Henry VIII. First of all, I recognized Wakeman’s name as the keyboard player for the band Yes, but the title, The Six Wives of Henry VIII threw me for a loop. I had definitely never heard of this record before, was it a concept album? A band? A joke?

Then I paid attention to the cover art. There’s Wakeman, jeans and sneakers, casually walking in front of a portrait of… no, no a statue of… no! Madame Tussaud’s wax figures of Henry VIII and his Six Wives! It almost looks as though the photo was taken accidentally.

But, what was this record? A look at the back cover showed six songs, each named after one of the wives (although not chronologically). Inside the gatefold was a fantastic in-studio photo of Wakeman surrounded by the tools of his trade:

The musician list included other members of Yes, including Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Bill Bruford.

What an odd record, I knew I would have to try it out! My copy was fairly scuffed up but had minimal surface noise in the lead in groove and between songs. It was about what I now expected, a very Yes-like progressive rock concept album about a Tudor King’s wives…

January 25

“Where have I heard that song before?” Don’t you just hate that. You hear a tune or a snippet and it trigger some memory, but you just can’t put you finger on it…

I had that feeling when listening to yet another record liberated from RRR Auction/Estate. It was just called Deodato 2. The vinyl looked clean and the gatefold album cover was pristine. I cued it up, dimmed the lights and gave it a spin.

On yet another record label I am unfamiliar with, Creed Taylor Incorporated (CTI) Records, this LP has five songs total, three on side A (including a killer interpenetration of Nights in White Satin) and two on side B with a listing for Rhapsody in Blue.

From the first track, I could tell there was something off. Unfortunately, this record had been played with a damaged stylus at sometime in its life, and had a pronounced sibilance running through each song. What a shame! The sound from the record was big, bold and fun!

But side B was the WTF side. Track 1 was called Super Strut and track 2 was the aforementioned Rhapsody in Blue. It turns out the Super Strut was used in Grand Theft Auto – Vice City (my only XBox game) and Rhapsody in Blue  was used in early 1970s Pontiac commercials. Go figure.

I’ll definitely be looking for a replacement copy of this LP.

January 24

Jazz is not really my thing. Neither is quitting. I keep listening to jazz records, trying to understand why some people devote their lives to this form of music.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the virtuosity, and the staggering musicianship I hear from many jazz recordings, and I do like the be-bop, big band, swing jazz styles. I guess it’s the fusion thing I don’t care for. The instrument plays a big part too. I’m much more tolerant of guitar, bass or drums up front than I am of piano, synth or other instruments that are foreign to my palate.

Enter Chick Corea and Gary Burton – Lyric Suite for Sextet.

Chick is a piano player, famous for, among other things, playing with Miles Davis. I realize some of his work is held up a the standard of jazz of a certain era. Burton is a vibraphonist, famous for, among other things, developing a technique for using four mallets (two in each hand). He also played with Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, the Girl from Ipanema duo (I love that song).

Yup, there he is, the McLovin’ there on the vibes!

To be fair, this sextet is a duo with strings backing them up. Not that this is a bad thing, but this is definitely another Corea/Burton record. It sounds gorgeous, and was well produced by the German Edition of Contemporary Music (ECM) label. The standout tracks for me were the ones where Corea and Burton played note for note in unison. The pairing danced across the soundstage of the recording beautifully.

I hope the next owner of my RRR Estate score enjoys it.

January 18

#1 my favorite gal, #2, my favorite place, #3 my favorite scotch and #4 one of my favorite albums. I’ve been asked “what is your favorite band/album?” more times than I can count. It’s a mechanism for music lovers to find common ground. Trouble is, that ground can be quicksand! My favorite band? Easy question, the Beatles, hands down… unless I’m in a Led Zeppelin mood at the moment, or… wait! What about Miles Davis or Michael Hedges or Ani DiFranco???

One album that I constantly return to is Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. FMacRumours The record came out in 1977, and my memory of it is centered on one day in the summer of 1978 in Lewiston, Idaho. My parents had taken over the management of Hell’s Gate Marina on the Snake River. I was tasked with mowing the lawn, emptying garbage cans and, occasionally, minding the convenience store and gas pump at the marina. I was alone in the store when a small runabout came into the marina to get gas, ice and beer. There were four or five people in the boat, but there was one girl, twice my age I’m sure, wearing a “hippy” summer dress that got out of the boat on the dock and danced… twirled, carefree, smiling to this music! There was an 8-Track player in the boat and a couple of Kraco speakers. They never turned the music off and this girl danced! I had never seen such a happy person and I had to know, what the hell was that music?!? kraco I have several versions of this LP. This is my most recent addition… it is a Nautilus “Super Discs” version, which means it was a half speed master on superior and heavy virgin vinyl. The jury is still out on whether or not these “masters” are worth the additional cost, but, when this copy showed up at local record store Recorded Memories, I fell hook, line and sinker… rumors_scotch Yup, that’s $44.50 I paid for a used record. That’s the most I’ve ever paid for an LP in my life. I decided that if I was truly going to live this vinyl lifestyle for a whole year I needed to invest in my foundation in order to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing. I do have a pretty decent collection of Beatles and Bob Dylan vinyl, but am looking to build up the other pillars of my musical fortress… the Police, U2, Dire Straits, the Clash. Led Zeppelin has just re-re-re-released some of their records on vinyl and those are definitely on the want list. I picked this Rumors album up a few weeks ago. It has been sitting in the basement waiting for a time the my wife (also a big fan of the record) and I could devote some time together to listen to the thing. Tonight was that night. First, my wife was down with the idea (#1, check), we could hunker down in the basement… fire roaring, cocktails in hand and relax (#2, check), I had just enough Lagavulin 16 for the ~40 minute play time, (#3 check) and I had a clean copy of Rumors (#4 check). The album is fantastic! Is it because of the Nautilus “Super Discs” version? I don’t know and, really, I don’t care. There were a few pops and crackles (more than my pristine copy of Magical Mystery Tour) but way less than any of the other several copies of Rumors I own. In fact, the sound stage presented on this album was not only wide but deep. I could perceive, on some tracks, notably on Dreams on side one and The Chain on side two, the position of the drums in the front, the bass and guitar in the middle and some of the vocals behind, but mixed to the front dynamically. I’ll need to do a side by side comp of the normal vinyl LPs I have to the Super Disc to make a better assessment. There are a few extenuating circumstances for me to not do so tonight: lagavulin


January 17

Everyone has a favorite band.

For my wife, that means Queensryche.


As the story was recounted to me, there was a car with some older boys in some random parking lot in Great Falls blaring music out of an undoubtedly cheap stereo when she was snagged… “Whoa, what IS that?!?” She’s been a fan ever since.

My first experience with the band was riding in the passenger seat of a friend’s 1989 Ford Probe with him blasting me with their hit Silent Lucidity… “Just listen to his VOICE!!”

I hated it! It was overplayed on the radio and MTV and I just wanted to retreat into the safety of my Led Zeppelin and Beatles.

After 20+ years, she’s finally convinced me. Tonight we’ll see our 4th Queensryche show at the Clearwater River Casino.


One of the best things about sharing this 365 days of vinyl with my wife is, she’s gotten into record collecting too. One of her recent scores was the original EP from Queensryche just called Queensryche.


Issued on 206 Records in 1983, it contained 4 songs, “Queen of the Reich”, “Nightrider”, “Blinded” and “The Lady Wore Black”. Her copy of this EP was lovingly worn by the previous owners, but the cover has seen better days.


Even so, my wife loves this band and I love them because of her.

January 14

Short and sweet. Sometimes, you pick a vinyl LP out of a box at a thrift store and say to yourself, “Hey, I like that one song, I wonder what the rest of the album is like?”. That’s what happened here.

It’s by the band 10cc, from their 1978 album, Bloody Tourists. Although the song peaked at #44 on the U.S. charts it was a #1 single in the U.K.

I love this song. The bouncy faux reggae beat is an instant ear worm for me, and I can spend hours humming or whistling the tune until the ear worm moves on to its next victim. Unfortunately, the rest of the album made me want to go and find something else to do.


I’m sure to somebody somewhere out there this is their favorite album by their favorite band. That’s cool, it just was not for me today. I respect 10cc (geez, the bass player Graham Gouldman wrote some hit songs for the likes of the Yardbirds, the Hollies and Herman’s Hermits for crying out loud) and hope to revisit the other eleven songs on this record another time. Until then, your ear worm awaits!