This week, I took a trip to Rasputin to specifically pick up one album, A Taste of Honey’s self-titled debut. I had passed on it a week earlier or $4, and I really like the group, and I regretted not buying it because it seemed like $4 was too much to spend. I’ve since come around to rethinking what I am willing to pay for records and the chances I will take. And it has absolutely paid off, because I’ve picked up so many more records that I love and I rarely skip on records because they might be a few extra bucks. A Taste of Honey’s album is worth the $4, and has had a lot of plays in our apartment since it is right up Carla’s alley too.
Steely Dan is one of the reasons that I got into records, and after buying these records I want to buy a better record player to get as much out of these records as I can. The quality can’t compare to perfect digital versions, but with this band and its obsessive attention to the sound of the album, I am sure there is a lot that I am missing. What I am saying is, listening Steely Dan is a great way to test out your audio system, and for that alone they are a great purchase for any record collector. I love the group, and found a seller on Discogs that had Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied and Gaucho so I got all three, along with a couple others. Since I was only paying a few bucks for a Manu Dibango album and Miami Sound Machine’s Primitive Love, I thought I got a good deal on all five for less than $30.
After having little success finding dance tracks in record stores, I decided to grab a bunch on Discogs, finding this entire collection for about $25. I was happy to have about 20 minutes worth of dance tracks, and ones that audiences would recognize and have broad appeal. If I had to produce a bunch of music and only had vinyl records to play, I thought I’d be on my way to being covered. Especially if I had to DJ a wedding, an opportunity I should have insisted on but missed. I’ve collected more 12″ since this Discogs order, but this was fun to grab a bunch of records for a few bucks and collect some classic singles and get a couple classic albums while I could bundle some records to save on shipping.
At the end of June, I had a lot of new reference points for records that I wanted to buy. I also had good luck finding albums at great prices, which indicated that I should be more, ahem, uninhibited in my selections. For the price of a coffee, you can afford to be liberally selective, and at the end of the month I was really starting to build out my collection with these in-store purchases and other Discogs buys.
I was able to find great albums at Rasputin’s that week, including Joe Sample’s Carmel and Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene, and George Benson’s Greatest Hits for one buck. I also found a bootleg Sergio Mendes record for $0.50. At Jack’s Record Store I found Cameo’s Feel Me and the Japanese jazz-fusion band Native Son’s self-titled, which really turned out to be an interesting record. I felt that I had good luck at the end of June and it was a good time, when record collection held so much potential for me.
Sometimes you have to pay the piper, and if you want a record you’ll need to buy it new. If I want to play some of my favorite albums or introduce someone to an artist I appreciate, I would like to have these records. I visited Green Apple Books in the Richmond with a gift card to buy a couple records, and after looking through their small collection I realized I was going to have to buy new. I found two albums that I listened to a lot in college as I was discovering new music thanks to a very active filesharing community. I was very fortunate to find it as it opened up all kinds of new music to me, including Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation and DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, and I might otherwise not be buying these records today.
I also purchased a few new records from Amoeba Music after not finding any used records on my first trip there. I hit the electronica section first and found Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children, then picked up Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. While I mostly go to record stores looking for secondhand records, there are some that I really want to have in my collection, and I doubt many people that buy these records will ever sell them.
Green Apple Books
I visited the Lower Haight to check out Jack’s Record Cellar, a record store only open one day a week with a great selection of 45s, 78s and old audio equipment. The place is cramped, some sections have only one entry and exit point and the records are priced to sell. I was able to find three records to take home, and the owner even discounted them. I picked up Ohio Players’ Fire, Chic’s C’est Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire’s All ‘N All, making it one of my best days since all of the records are fantastic.
First opened in 1951, Jack’s Record Cellar is my favorite store in San Francisco, and every few weeks I try to get there on Saturday. It is filled with regulars, the owner is very friendly and it has a variety of albums. If you are out here on a Saturday, especially near Golden Gate Park, visit this store.
I also went to Groove Merchant, where I found XTC – Drums and Wires, The Best of Wes Montgomery. This store has a lot of old rock, funk/soul and world music records, and is recommended if you are in the neighborhood. I’ve always been able to find something at this store and the boxes of $1 records they place outside on weekends draws in a lot of customers. I also visited Vinyl Dreams where I picked up Bootsy Collin’s Stretching Out In Bootsy’s Rubber Band.
Discogs is a fantastic online record store and vendors that often are record stores across the world, or collectors that buy and sell vast quantities of records. I also use it to track my collection, which helps when cataloguing which release I have and provides additional details about the pressing.
I initially made a lot of purchases on Discogs to build out my collection, and its fantastic at that; the prices are often lower than what you would find in record stores, or good for hard to find releases. And browsing/combining records to save on shipping is fun while deliveries are nice to receive. However, you can sometimes buy so many records that you deprive yourself of the store experience and digging for good finds. That might be a terrible way to spend time for some people, so if that’s the case Discogs is a great resource for you!
This was my first purchase on Discogs, and the experience was good. You have to rely on descriptions for the state of many records, but you can’t always tell if a record will play flawlessly by sight either, so its a crapshoot sometimes. Just be sure to acquaint yourself with the Discogs grading guide when you purchase records.
I visited Econo Jam Records in Oakland before going to the New Parkway Theater to attend a fun karaoke night and was impressed by it. The store is fairly small and sells a good selection of records, so if you are in the area I definitely recommend checking it out. I was able to find six records for about $25, and was happy to snag a copy of Songs in the Key of Life for $8, but the condition of the record is so bad I am going to have to replace it at some point. I also left the copy of MFSB’s Love Is The Message that I was going to buy in the store somewhere, so it a little frustrating, but I’ll be back at some point. And go for karaoke at the New Parkway Theater while you are at it!
The weekend after I got my record player (An audiotechnica AT-LP-60) I visited two record stores, Rasputin and Amoeba Music in the Haight. I couldn’t find anything at Amoeba but I brought home nine records from Rasputin for $30.
I made some mistakes on some of these records, but I learned some lessons and can hopefully sell this album of Inner City remixes from Japan someday for what I paid for it. Overall it was a good haul for the money, and built out my collection with some great albums. Additionally, I bought a copy of Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic, but found later that the LP inside was Katy Lied, so I had to return it.
I started collecting vinyl after recently staying at a friend’s place and experiencing the pleasure of playing records as the evening went on. I have been streaming music for years, mostly at work, or while making and eating dinner, and sometimes I choose it based on how little of a distraction it will be. It’s terrible. I knew that I would enjoy visiting record stores, thumbing through rows of overpriced records that inveterate diggers passed over, but I was reluctant to take up a needlessly expensive hobby. But the searching, the buying, and the playing on my home stereo has been so fun for me that I can’t resist. And I’d like to share what I’ve learned and the albums I’ve been able to find in the Bay Area.
My first purchases were made at the Bookmark Bookstore in Oakland, a non-profit bookstore that sends proceeds to the public library system. This was my first experience buying records, and while the selection wasn’t great, I thought that I found some great records. However, I now see the Pointer Sisters Break Out and 5th Dimension records at nearly every store I visit, so in retrospect it was an average haul. I think that it was a good start, and at the time I was excited by what I found.