This coming Saturday, people of all ages, whether they be short or tall, wearing glasses or contacts, dressed in blue jeans or suits and ties, driving their cars or riding in buses, college age or of a certain age, wearing long hair or short or in-between, partial to loud dress shirts or rock ‘n’ roll tees, rockers or jazzers or popsters, will be converging on independent record stores across America and various locations abroad.
It’s almost time for the vinyl fans’ annual pilgrimage to Mecca–the local or faraway or somewhere in-between record store that caters to them in a way that online shops can not; places where you are greeted with a smile by the owner or a knowledgeable staff member who can answer questions about a particular release almost faster than you can ask them; places where the new mixes with the old and all releases, regardless of genre or age, play nice with each other.
Most people likely have their eyes on the prizes pressed by both independent and major record companies–special releases and items created for Record Store Day that bring out-of-print releases back to life, gather previously-unreleased tracks (such as last RSD’s Bruce Springsteen album), or simply celebrate the occasion with style (this year’s Ramones Crosley Cruiser turntable, the sequel to last year’s Peanuts model).
Record Store Day is a fun day–a day to meet other music fans, swap stories about favorite platters, soak up the vinyl atmosphere, and spend lots of money; one in which everything goes and favored releases go out the door at record speed.
Anticipating Record Store Day 2015, I’ve been in a vinyl state of mind that has gotten me in the mood to visit past vinyl purchases and think about where and why I bought them. If it’s true that every picture tells a story, record albums speak volumes. And I’ve spun a few albums in my time.
One I probably haven’t spun since the late sixties is an album by jazz vibraphonist Freddie McCoy, who spent time with my father, a trumpet player, in the 440th band at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where I was born. Flipping through albums on a random shelf, I found a copy of McCoy’s 1968 Prestige records release, Soul Yogi, which contains covers of Brian Wilson’s “Pet Sounds” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus.” Signed on the cover in pen by McCoy with a dedication to my father, the album, which I forgot I had, has brought back some wonderful memories. I’m thrilled that I found it. Check out McCoy’s inscription above right.
Another album, a Columbia Special Products release from 1967 called Our Best to You, was a favorite record I got from a Columbia promo man who lived across the street from a friend of mine when I was growing up. Hits by the Cryan’ Shames and the Byrds stack up against Moby Grape’s “8:05” and Aretha Franklin’s “Sweet Bitter Love” for a fun spin. I somehow lost or misplaced my original copy; I was able to acquire another last year from the great record store, Trax on Wax (see below). This was an important record for me, because it came near to the start of my vinyl and music obsession. I about wore my copy out.
The first vinyl album I owned was a soundtrack recording by the cast of the kids television show Captain Kangaroo, which ran for more than 30 years on CBS television. I distinctly remember it being delivered to my house on a day when I was home sick from school. It was the greatest present I’d ever been given; unfortunately, I don’t have it any more, and I don’t remember which specific title it was.
But I do remember the second album I owned: Soupy Sales Sez Do the Mouse *and Other Teen Hits. I knew the words to every track on that record. I drove my parents crazy, running around the house singing “The Mouse” and “Pachalafaka.” “They whisper it all over Turkey,” I’d warble, trying to sound like Soupy. Crazy days! I don’t have the original album my father bought for me, but I do have another copy I bought a couple of decades later. Another prized possession that brings back great memories.
One more memory for today: A 1972 album by the Mighty Groundhogs, released on United Artists Records, featuring full comic strip art drawn by none other than super artist Neal Adams. I don’t remember how I heard about this record–I probably just found it in a used record shop and bought it because of the cover and package art. Pretty sweet, then and now.
These are just some of the vinyl memories I’ve been thinking about the past few days, leading up to the week-long countdown to Record Store Day 2015. We’ll be at the official record store for Pure Pop Radio, Catonsville, Maryland’s Trax on Wax, on Record Store Day, celebrating with fellow vinyl and music fans. We can’t wait.
Tomorrow: More vinyl memories as we continue counting down to Record Store Day 2015. See you then!
– Alan Haber
Trax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.
(All album photos, except for American Beauty, were taken by ace Daily Planet photographer, Janet Haber)