Tough Call: Vinyl Shopping on $50-$60
Tough Call is a new, ongoing series looking at different ways to spend various budgets at the local shop.
Walking into a record store with a strict allowance in mind is something most vinyl enthusiasts know all too well. When building a collection, it can be a difficult task deciding how to spend one's hard-earned cash. Everybody would love to just grab whatever their heart desires, but that's just not how it works, so choices have to be made.
I don't think anybody believes the vinyl boom over the last few years has been an overall bad thing, but it doesn't come without a few consequences. Unfortunately, as more and more people seek out their favorite records, the law of supply and demand rears its ugly head in form of rising used prices for just about everything. Ten years ago, $60 would go much further than it does today when out hunting for used vinyl. Too many shops are well aware of the recent resurgence, and some of them push the envelope when pricing popular used LPs, taking advantage of the unknowing consumer. Luckily, some of the more honest places — looking at you, Wax Trax — still price their stock a little below what it would go for on Discogs or eBay, which makes it extra fun to flip through their bins. Unfortunately, though, I find those spots are regularly picked over, especially later in the weekend. With that in mind, and it being a Sunday, I recently dropped by Twist & Shout, the larger but more expensive of the two mainstays in Denver, to see what could be mine with $60 in hand. Not surprisingly, I found a few ways to spend that loot.
The Avalanches, Since I Left You - $33 (Standard US 2017)
Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors - $27 (Standard US 2017)
When walking into Twist & Shout, you are immediately greeted with all the hottest new vinyl releases. I always take a second to see if anything is worth picking up, and much to the dismay of my wallet, there usually is.
The Avalanches' sample-laden, epic debut album, Since I Left You, has been on a lot of people's wantlist since its very small, limited release in 2000. With original Australian copies routinely fetching hundreds of dollars, this long overdue reissue is a welcome sight for many collectors.
A couple rows down, I spotted the new self-titled album from Dirty Projectors. While it's not the EU deluxe edition, on beautiful clear smoke vinyl, it's worth going with the US black version for most fans. Even though Amber Coffman, longtime member and ex-girlfriend of frontman Dave Longstreth, recently left the group, this is sure to be one of the strongest releases of the year.
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti - $25 (US '75 Press)
Bob Marley & The Wailers, Exodus -$25 (US '77 Press)
Being from the camp that assumes almost all vintage pressings sound better than their inferior reissue counterparts (unless MoFi or Analogue Productions is involved), I'm always on the lookout for original releases of classic albums. I was lucky enough to come across a few in great shape while digging.
Led Zeppelin's catalog is full of must-own material, and their double disc ripper, Physical Graffiti, falls into that category. The asking price isn't a steal, but if given the choice of a $25 US first press or $35 reissue, I'd take the former every single time.
Reggae is one of my favorite genres, so I always take a minute to flip through the shop's meager selection. I usually walk away empty-handed, but the vinyl gods must've been looking down on me, because I came across a few original Marley records, along with some Peter Tosh and Toots & The Maytals. Depending on my mood, Exodus and Catch A Fire trade spots for my favorite Bob album out there. I've read that the original US Exodus sounds massive, with deep bass and clear instrument separation, so finding it in the wild was a treat.
The Beatles, White Album - $34 (German '68 Press)
Bob Marley & The Wailers, Kaya - $18 (US '78 Press)
Scoring an early White Album isn't difficult, but I've never seen the German press before. Anything from Deutschland always makes me do a double take, as their pressing plants are infamous for being some of the best in the world.
As stated above, the Reggae bins were quite healthy during my visit, so I had a few to choose from. I almost went with Toots' best studio release, Funky Kingston, but it was so egregiously overpriced that I had to put it back. Kaya is some of Bob Marley's best work with The Wailers, so it was an easy second choice, even if it is still over market value at $18 - damn you, Twist & Shout.
Very few records are worth over $50, new or used. They better either be rare, essential, have incredible sound quality, or all three. Like most casual jazz fans, Miles Davis is my go-to artist. When the listening stars align, there aren't many albums I enjoy more than his experimental, jazz-rock fusion masterpiece, Bitches Brew. After reading the glowing reviews of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's audiophile remaster from the original analog tapes, you have to believe this one might just be worth every cent.
Four fantastic ways to spend $60, now what am I to do? If I'm faced with a choice of something that I rarely come across, even if I like the music of the more readily available, new title more, I'll almost always go with the unicorn. So with that being said, I think the tough call goes to Physical Graffiti and Exodus. I just can't let either of those find their way to someone else's home.
'Til next time...