Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remember the RECORD SHOW?

I did something I haven’t done in a long time……went to a genuine RECORD SHOW this weekend. I had been hoping to get down to the great WFMU record fair this year, but Hurricane Sandy put the kabosh on that. Last time I went to the FMU show must have been a good 8 or 9 years ago. And it was sensory overload! Lots of dealers – tons of stuff to look through. Picking and choosing what to buy amidst all that great stuff can be a challenge on a limited budget. These days its getting a little easier since I’m slowly running out of room in the man cave area for extra platters!

Anyway, I had been to this particular record show many times over the past, I’d say 20 years or so. It’s pretty much the only one I know of that still happens monthly – the second Saturday of every month in Wayne, New Jersey. In recent years with the introduction of the MP3, I noticed a drop in dealers and buyers at this monthly show. Well, this past Saturday restored my faith in vinyl – the November record show in Wayne was EXCELLENT! Lots of dealers, tons of stuff to look through and (best of all) very reasonable prices even on some pretty collectable items! I had such a great time I vowed to start going more often (and with more money to spend – the dealers really had some great records out there!). Here’s the link to the website with all the info (plus a coupon for $1 off admission):

What was also surprising was the variety in the ages of the dealers – some younger dudes are starting to fill in the ranks along with the old guard. I really enjoyed listening in on conversations among dealers and the collectors. It was heartwarming to see and hear some genuine passion and knowledge from some of the younger folks there. Some of whom missed even the tail end of the great record shows of yore………

So what did I buy? Well, I saw a lot of stuff I would have liked to buy. Usually with these events I get so distracted it’s hard to focus. Yet I end up with a similar strategy – look for some cheap stuff to fill out gaps in the collection (missing pieces of an artist’s catalog), keep an eye out for super crazy deals and take at least ONE CHANCE on something I’ve never seen or heard before (as long as it fits the budget and looks interesting). To satisfy the last concern I picked up this thing:
The name of the group (and album) is GAS MASK (as if you couldn’t tell from the image on the cover). Aside from the unusual name and cover photo on the front, two other things about this record piqued my interest:   A)  production credited to TEO MACERO    and  B) independent record release – TONSIL RECORDS?  Together with the really wacky cover image (not totally unlike the front cover of Trout Mask Replica) those were the big selling points – that and the $5 price tag. No matter what the music itself sounded like, the package was impressive enough to warrant taking a chance on. So…………what does this record sound like?
Oddly enough – a whole lot like Blood, Sweat and Tears! Even the lead vocalist cops a pretty good vocal vibe like David Clayton Thomas. Overall, the music is pretty commercial and enjoyable! Having a little clout behind the project like Teo Macero doesn’t hurt yet I had to wonder – if the music was more commercial than radical, why the freaky album cover? I happened to find the picture pretty funny, but it’s actually kinda creepy! Could very easily induce nightmares in small children (or flower children – heh heh). Don’t think there was ever a Gas Mask II album which is too bad since the band was pretty good.

As far as late 60s / early 70s horn bands go, Gas Mask played it kinda safe. Much safer than Chicago or even a lesser-known outfit called “IF”. My good friend Craig told me about IF a long time ago and I picked up their first album – a good cross between a horn and prog-rock band. Very enjoyable extended songs – good arrangements – good vocals and musical chops too. So far I only have the first two IF albums, but they’re all fair game…. Interestingly I didn’t see any IF records at the show………

Actually before getting to the show I hit up a Salvation Army I knew was on the way. I’ve had some good luck there too over the years and I chanced on a few good platters there too. As it happens, I got to indulge in what some folks call the “guilty pleasure” – I picked up the entire Pat Benatar catalog on LP for under $1 per record – all in mint shape (some LPs still in the shrink with promo stickers too)! In fact, there were MULTIPLE COPIES of every friggin’ album of hers there. If someone wanted to do a Pat Benatar LP mastering shootout (different pressings, stampers, etc…..) they could have had a field day. I settled for what looked to me like the cleanest copy available.

Now, I’m not some Pat Benatar freak or something, but I will admit to enjoying her hit songs when they were on the radio. I certainly wouldn’t change the station if her tunes came on. She put out some great material in the early 80s! Plus she’s yet another great Polish gal from Greenpoint…….
Being at a record show for the first time in a long time I couldn’t help notice some buyer behaviors you’ll only see at these events. First of all there is ALWAYS a few guys roaming around with portable, battery-powered record players with a set of headphones hooked up to listen to records (mostly 45s) before buying them! I had one of those things as a kid. It was a Panasonic – pretty cool stuff! I used to play my Beatles and Kiss records on that thing. I remember going with my father to the store to get it when we lived in Woodhaven, Queens. The guy at the shop said I could pick out a free record to go with the player (it was for my birthday – thanks Dad!). Somehow my eye caught the Candymen LP and that’s what I brought home. Somehow I lost that album along the way and eventually got a replacement at…….a local RECORD SHOW!
Anyway – another buyer behavior I noticed was dudes walking around with little record bags for the loot they scored. I realized that was a good idea since carrying purchases under my arm around the showroom floor was kinda awkward after awhile. As luck would have it, I chanced upon a nice solution to that problem at a local thrift store today. Behold, the vintage Record Carrier:

I actually got a second, smaller one too that’s got a dark grey-speckled covering on it – not as nifty as this one, but still useful! Let’s see who’s popping out of there now……..

It’s the Big Bopper! Well, I’ve had that record for awhile and it’s a surprisingly modern reissue. But the cover art is intact from the late 50s and it looks like it belongs in the retro record box (dig that crazy inside paper pattern!). Well, who woulda thunk that even Colonel Sanders might get his own record out on the market. He doesn’t sing on this (all instrumental), but I guess it was Kentucky Fried approved!
Seriously, the world of vinyl records can be a lot of fun – even on the cheap! If anybody is lookin’ for a great record show to see where all the great vinyl has been hiding – check out the monthly show in Wayne, NJ. You might just see me lugging that crazy record box around and haggling with the dealers – great fun!!

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