Collecting requires focus that I just can’t muster. Someone who hunts down every album and single released by an artist is a collector. Someone who buys everything that has to do with psychedelic music produced in San Francisco during the 1960s is a collector. Someone who spends a grand to get a pristine stereo copy of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today with the “butcher” cover and laments that he also doesn’t have a mono copy of the butcher cover is a collector. What am I? I’m a librarian compiling a musical library of vinyl records. Except you can’t check anything out of my library. Sorry. Actually, I’ll let you borrow Abba’s Greatest Hits 2. I can always replace it for a dollar if it's never returned.
New to the Rocky Dennis Non-Lending Music Library is a mid-70s UK pressing of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. A Nick Drake collector would sniff disdainfully at such a trifle. Only an original UK pressing with a pink-rimmed Island label would make him happy. That’ll cost upwards of $500. The copy I found has the same matrix number in the dead wax as an original pressing, which means it was made from the original stamper. The sound quality should be pretty darn close to an original pressing. That’s a prime concern for the library. It cost me $10. It’s a great addition to the library. I’m happy, because I’m not a collector.
I had also been looking for an original pressing of Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. This is the first Mingus album I ever heard, on CD unfortunately. I’ve passed on picking up a vinyl copy, because I hadn’t come across a clean original pressing. Last year, I found a kinda worn playable copy priced at $55. I almost pulled the trigger. I’m glad I didn’t, because I would’ve been bummed out to have seen a pristine copy this month for only $25. It plays beautifully. The album is even better than I remember it. The magic of vinyl is undeniable!
Since I’m building a library, I feel compelled sometimes to buy an album because I feel it needs to be part of the library even though it doesn’t appeal to me personally. That’s how Weezer’s debut album (often called “The Blue Album”) found its way into my collection. Because it’s one of the most influential albums of the 90s. And it’s the only Weezer album that is out of print on vinyl. The copy I found is a European import. I’m not sure if it was ever released on vinyl in the US. The music isn’t that bad. The sound quality isn’t that good. Still I’m happy it’s now part of the library.
I probably listen to more krautrock now than any other musical genre. Good luck finding any original pressings of krautrock albums in your neighborhood record store, aside from Kraftwerk. There are a lot of reissues available, but most of them have indifferent sonics. So when I came across an original UK pressing of Faust IV recently, I did a mental somersault. Not only was it an original pressing, the matrix number indicated it was made from the first stamper. On my list of things to do is to compare this record to the CD I have.
A few more LPs I can check off my list are:
Horace Silver, Finger Poppin’ (Blue Note, 70s pressing with blue label, Van Gelder in dead wax, $10). It seems like I have a ton of Horace Silver albums, but this one has eluded me until now.
Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat (Cypress, original pressing, $10). An entire album of Leonard Cohen covers done in AOR style. Still enjoyable, and a reference recording for many audiophiles even though it’s a digital recording.
Introducing the Beau Brummels (Autumn, original stereo pressing, $10). Not as great as their second album, but gorgeous San Francisco 60s pop rock nonetheless. Surprising excellent sound quality, too.