June 1

Led Zeppelin – I Deluxe Edition Remastered Vinyl.

The companion disc for this record is a bit of an odd duck, which makes it a horrible place to start. Most of these deluxe edition companion discs are made up of studio outtakes or alternate versions. For Led Zeppelin – I, Jimmy Page told Mojo:

“There simply wasn’t enough studio material to make that work… The material that was left over from the first album is already out. It’s just fragments really, which you couldn’t really put out. There wasn’t really even enough to pull something together for Record Store Day, so it made sense to look for something else from around that time.”

Instead, the companion disc is a two LP version of a live show from the Paris Olympia in October of 1969. This recording was originally recorded for French radio and was broadcast in November of 1969.

So, how is it and is it worth the $20 I shelled out for it?

Like many live recordings (those without a post-recording studio whitewash, anyway) this recording is rough in spots, with a few brilliant moments elsewhere. The concert opener Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown was a typical opening song… meant to get the crown going while the band is getting it’s sea legs for the rest of the show.

The gems are notable more for their extended jams than their sound quality, a 15 minute version of Dazed and Confused and a 12 minute version of You Shook Me (with some very suggestive groans and grunts from Robert Plant) were show stoppers. An early version of Heartbreaker was a welcome treat.

The deluxe packaging includes some band promo photos and an interesting photo taken from a great balcony seat at the 1969 concert:

Could you imagine having that seat for a LZ show?

I’m glad to have the companion disc, although, due to the recording quality, I doubt it’ll get much play on my turntable.

here’s an interesting aside for you. Ten months before this Paris show, a little known band, billed as Len Zefflin, was set to open for the band Vanilla Fudge at Spokane’s Gonzaga University. This was three weeks before Led Zeppelin I was released and only those “in the know” had any idea who this band was or would be.

This was the 5th U.S. concert by the band and some industrious kid snuck a cassette recorder into the show… this turns out to be the earliest ever recording of Led Zeppelin!

Here’s a YouTube of that 1968 recording:

February 25

Today is George Harrison’s birthday. Happy birthday, George, I miss you.

In memoriam let’s have a listen to another wife find from Spokane Public Radio Recordings & Videos Sale: a gold-stamped-promo of Cloud Nine.

cloud 9

Released in 1987 after a five year hiatus, Cloud Nine was a precursor to the Traveling Wilburys era, owing in part to co-production credits to Jeff Lynne. Other dudes credited were Eric Clapton, Elton John, Gary Wright, Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner… wow!

I had this CD back in the day. Listening to it now, 25 years on, it holds up really well! The poppy hit stuff was like visiting an old friend, but one song, Wreck of the Hesperus, knocked me on my butt! It’s a self effacing takedown of celebrity combined with a scathing critique of pot-shot media and critics.

Some things never change…

February 24

When I started this endeavor I knew I was going to be both adding new vinyl to The Collection… but also culling out stuff that I no longer care about, or stuff that is and odd fit. What to cull, what to add?

I knew I wanted to expand certain genres… jazz/fusion, easy listening “cocktail party” music, classic country. I also made a list of artists and individual albums I wanted; things I thought I could listen critically to, maybe even over and over, and not get tired of. The Police, U2… but especially Dire Straits.

Dire Straits debut album is one of the few of my teenage collection that I still own. The cover is gone, the inner sleeve is torn and the vinyl is trashed, but I still have it. I’ve been a fan since the beginning and know that a more complete collection on LP is in my future.

This brings me to the next gem from the Spokane Public Radio Recordings & Videos SaleAlchemy: Dire Straits Live.

On the way in my wife and I worked out a plan: divide and conquer! I’d go left, she’d go right and we would keep an eye out for records for each other. In that first hour, I managed to find a half-dozen potential keepers… and then I saw her. My wife must’ve been packing around 50 records when we met to assess out loot!

One of these was a warped, musty, peeled copy of Alchemy. Great. “I know you are looking for Dire Straits” she said. Once I pried the vinyl out of the cover I saw that the vinyl was kept out of the mold by a couple of anti-static protectors. In the florescent light of the venue, they looked surprisingly good!

Anyway, this copy made the $3 cut and came home with us. After a bath, the moment of reckoning came… I dropped the needle on the lead-in grove and, silence! It’s always a great feeling when, against all odds, you find a used record that you really want and will enjoy for the rest of time that exceeds your expectations.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of live records, but in this case, the extended (10+ minutes) versions of Once Upon a Time in the West, Sultans of Swing, Tunnel of Love and Telegraph Road trump any negatives.

February 21

Spokane has some great events… probably the best know event is Bloomsday, or the “Lilac Bloomsday Run”. First held in 1977 with just over 1000 runners, the event now hosts over 60000 entrants on the first Sunday in May, one of the largest timed races in the country. Spokane also boasts the “biggest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament on the planet”, Hoopfest, with over 7000 teams participating. From our Chamber of Commerce:  “Sports fans, art lovers, wine enthusiasts, outdoorsman and more flock to the Spokane region for phenomenal events. From Broadway shows and national artists touring the country to the highly acclaimed Farm Chicks and Custer’s Antique and Collectibles shows, the Spokane region serves as the ideal host for special events.”

My favorite event took place this weekend, the Spokane Public Radio 2015 Recordings & Videos Sale.

http://spokanepublicradio.org/post/2015-recordings-videos-sale

All year long Spokane Public Radio collects all kinds of media and equipment to be sold off in one weekend in February. 10s of thousands of records, CDs, cassettes, VHS and DVD, all donated, are sold for $3 (records) or $4 (CDs) to a crowd of collectors that travel miles to take part.

To boot, there’s a silent auction of donated stereo equipment… receivers, turntables, reel-to-reels, speakers, you name it!

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The media is fairly broken out into categories… pop/rock, classical, jazz/blues, easy listening, opera, folk and new age/world for the music.  This year there were eight 8 foot folding tables filled with rock/pop records (the 2nd row from the right in this photo):

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It was a bit of a battle to dig through these boxes, shoulder to shoulder with other diggers. Some people take this thing really seriously, and I saw many people with crates of records researching hundreds of records with online tools for potential re-sale. One guy even brought a little turntable and some earbuds to grade his records quality before committing to buy:

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As for the equipment, there were several Thorens turntables, one Fons, a few Duals and a Grundig. Vintage Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood and Heathkit receivers, and more than one reel-to-reel. I bid on a vintage Philips 4 track… wish me luck!

We (yes my wife is now a digger too) did find a few gems, I’ll be blogging about them soon…

January 29

Speculation in vinyl records is a fool’s errand.

This fool has a hundred or more records he speculates will bring profitable “in store credit” to his account at a local independent Record Store. The theory is that if you find a unique, interesting, clean (hopefully all three) LP at a thrift store, garage sale, estate auction… whatever, for $1.00 or less your local independent Record Store will happily give you $1.00 (or more) in “in store credit” to spend as you see fit on records of your choice.

You see, since I have started this endeavor I have been buying apparently (to me anyway) unique, interesting and clean vinyl LPs by the box-full. Some deals have been too good to pass up, some have been a stretch. All in I’ve probably spent $300 on vinyl (sorry honey) this month. Some of these LPs will go into “the collection”, LPs I hope to play and cherish often in my home. But most will go in dribs and drabs to the three local Independent Record Stores we have here in Spokane, hopefully to net a small margin for me to expand “the collection”.

If this goes as planned, we all win, right? I mean, I get the records I want to complete “the collection”, the Independent Record Store gets good LPs that keep regular customers coming back and they also get to make a profit, shoppers at the Independent Record Store get to buy LPs to add to their own “collection”…

This is the first record I purchased speculatively, Shoes – Boomerang.

Mine is promo #214046. Honestly, I had never heard of Shoes, despite the fact that they were active during my formative years and had some MTV exposure. My copy of Boomerang was in a thrift store, visually graded as a VG+ vinyl and sleeve (complete with a protective jacket).

After a cleaning the record played very well, just a slight surface noise. The music was a great throwback to 1982… almost a mix between Oasis and the Knack.

Would I listen to Boomerang again over some other tried and true record in “the collection”? Probably not, but I’m glad I got to listen to it this one time. I’ll hope my speculation pans out… and I hope the Shoes fan in Spokane that finds this record at 4000 Holes, or Groove Merchants, or Recorded Memories, is as thrilled to have found a unique, interesting and clean copy of Boomerang as I was.

Either way, I’ll blog about it!