Friday, July 12, 2013

Things I Have Learned While Shopping For Music At Thrift Stores

With my disposable income limited because of my ongoing unemployment, I've taken to searching through Goodwill, Salvation Army, Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission and other thrift stores for used CDs, cassette tapes, and LPs.  I've used my turntable (and now, Chris and Shirley Beasley's turntable; mine has an out-of-balance toner arm) and tape teck to load these into my computer, edit with audio software, and make mp3s out of them.

So far, I've snagged some good finds, such as:
  • Tangerine Dream's Le Parc
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio's Cast Your Fate To The Wind; Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
    • Andreas Vollenweider's Down to the Moon
    • Hiroshima's East
    • Big Country's The Crossing
    • Electric Light Orchestra's Out Of The Blue
    • A number of R.E.M. albums
    • Three Liona Boyd albums
    • And Colts Stampede, a spoken word album about the 1968 Baltimore Colts who would lose the famous Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets.  Quite a discovery in Reno!
    In the stores, most CDs and a surprising number of LPs are in good shape.  Cassette tapes can be a risky buy, as it's impossible to determine from observation whether the tape is stretched or mangled.  But when it's only a dollar or less for the albums, the risk is usually worth it.  Also, make sure the record, tape, or CD actually matches the cover; I thought I was getting a David Benoit cassette, but the tape inside was John Tesh, which I didn't find out until I got home.

    It's been fascinating to plow through the stacks of LPs in the stores that offer them; not all do.  They've taken me back in time.

    First of all, many instrumental artists would make compilation cover albums of current hits almost immediately after their release, such as Ray Conniff (above), Percy Faith, Mantovani, Ferrante and Teicher, and Andre Kostelanetz.  Even Henry Mancini got into it.  Nobody does it anymore; now, artists get "featured" on each other's songs.  But this trend of instrumental covers lasted well into the 1970s.

    Looking through all these Music Of Your Life albums reminds me of how powerful a radio format MOYL used to be, when pretty much all that got played was those kind of instrumentalists along with Roger Whittaker, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, et al. It dominated the Baltimore market until the mid-80s, when more formats (contemporary hits, country) moved from AM to FM radio.  Smooth jazz was an attempt to keep MOYL going, but it's almost nonexistent now.

    Speaking of jazz, there's a dearth of good jazz albums in these stores.  Whether they've all been bought up, or people are holding onto them, I don't know.  I'd like to come across some more Vince Guaraldi or Dave Brubeck, or their contemporaries.

    One thing there isn't a dearth of is Christmas albums.  If you need to expand your Christmas music library, the thrift stores can help you out and then some.  Also, old soundtracks are easy to find; LC came across Doctor Zhivago, while I procured The Sting.  Finally, classical albums are in ready supply.

    Oh, back to the album cover above: when I was a kid, I remember seeing so many Ray Conniff albums with women on the cover, I was convinced Ray Conniff really had to be a woman!