Sunday, April 10, 2016
It’s Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny - Scenes From A Record Fair
The guy left of me smells kind of funky. Like he’s just stepped out of a closet in which he has been smoking cigarettes for the past 30 years or so without a shower. He is currently flipping through the crate labeled “English pub rock” with such a frenzy that I almost start to worry that he will have a heart attack any moment. Suddenly his face cracks up in a smile and he pulls up the 1978 compilation album “Don’t Mind Rockin’ Tonight” by Ducks Delux and he pays the dude whatever it says on the price tag and disappears into the crowded isle.
She has dreads and Doc Martens. She doesn’t smell strange. Fully concentrated on flipping’ through the heap of stuff filed under “New wave/punk” she represents the minority of women in the venue with style. The amount of bags with records in her hand when she leaves reveals that she is an avid record collector. It’s all vinyl.
“I only want AC/DC albums with red labels” says the guy dressed in denim vest and an AC/DC bootleg tour t-shirt. He also smells funny. “You know, Australian or New Zealand pressings” he continues to explain to the bearded guy behind the table who has a slightly uninterested look on his face. He has been through all this before. The AC/DC guy babbles on about all the red label records he has collected over the years. A kid tries to buy a copy of “Back In Black” and the AC/DC guy gets a superior look on his face. “That’s a European pressing. It’s not a red label.” The teenaged kid looks confused but the bearded guy behind the table says to the kid: “Don’t mind him. It’s a kick ass album. Enjoy.” and puts the record in a plastic bag.
I get a text message from my old man. “Buy any these if you see them” it says. It’s a list of the few Frank Zappa records that he still misses from the official discography. He got the rest of them. They are all original first pressings worth a fortune that he bought when they were released. It’s just eight of them to go before the collection is complete. I find one of them: “Absolutely Free” from 1967 in a bad shape and much overpriced. Sorry dad. No buy.
I never made a list for stuff to look for when I visit the record fair. Well I have one in my head I guess. But I have never put it on paper. I am digging my way through table after table of crates hoping to stumble upon That Record. I always check the section for Metallica and thrash metal. And I always buy at least one album with Misfits or Bad Religion from that guy down in the right corner. It’s a tradition. And I buy the albums that I didn’t get to buy back in the days trying to create my youth I guess. I think that is what many of us do when we go to the record fair. We want to find that picture disc that we remember seeing on the wall in the record store back in 1987. And we want to build that ultimate record collection with complete discographies with our favorite bands to illustrate our own lives. But the collection will fortunately never get complete. There is too much music to discover in the crates and too little time and money to get it all.
Accidentally ends up at a guy who sells 1960’s and early 1970’s jazz on vinyl. Miles at his best, John and Alice Coltrane records in those awesome Impulse! editions with orange and black backs on the sleeve. Lord, have mercy on my wallet. I could buy these just for the covers. My friend Johnny Boy passes by with a smile on his face stating that he will be eating noodles the rest of the month. He only buys obscure ska, early 1980’s hardcore and strange oi!-punk on 7-inch singles. We all have our vices.
Speaking of vices. I just need to check that crate that says “Swedish kraut rock” before I go home. And maybe check out that dude over there who sells soul records. And maybe the heavy metal vendor over there…