Vinyl Answer

Every record tells a story. Here's a few stories in my collection. Also, I've been a down-to-earth vinyl nut for decades, so if you want some record collecting advice, just ask.

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An Oingo Boingo “Best of” LP, culled from their A&M years. Not bad, but they forgot “Sweat.”

The A-side stinks, but the B-side tracks are interesting. “SOS (Perpendiuclar Mix)” is yet another career-making creation by remixer Julian Mendelson, turning the dinky-sounding LP track into a glorious sonic-pop assault. “Dreamworld” is piffle and deserving of being a B-side, but shows the duo starting to lean more towards jazz—a move that they would jump into feet-first with their second album, the ill-fated Dancing On The Couch.

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Last summer, I went to Las Vegas for a convention and decided that instead of losing money at the tables and going home pissed off, I’d blow it at every record store I could find and have a great time instead—and that’s exactly what I did.

That included a visit to one of the Zia Records shops, where I asked the guy behind the counter if they had the Beastie Boys’ 20th anniversary remaster of Paul’s Boutique on vinyl. He nodded, headed off into the records, dug a minute, and handed me the one seen here on the left: the impossible-to-find, original pressing from 1989! Even more amazing—it was still sealed! “Man, you’d think it was the original,” he chit-chatted. Realizing it was the real deal, I tried to act all nonchalant, nodded sagely and said—and I quote: “Yup.” Best part? 20 bucks, less than the cost of the remastered one.

It was an incredible find, but of course, the downside was that I still needed one I could actually play. That led to the eventual purchase of the remastered LP, seen here on the right side [Link-Amazon]. As you can tell, the packaging on the newer one is nicer, with a thicker cover and better centering of the photo; I expect the remaster’s vinyl is nicer, too, but I’m not gonna rip open the old one to find out!

Ever wish you could own a unique artwork by Robert Rauschenberg? If you hunt down the limited edition of Talking Heads’ Speaking In Tongues, you can. The LP itself is clear, but it is housed in a see-through, clamshell-style case with three circular, translucent sheets in it, each with different printing and coloring. The sheets and the LP are held in place by a center spindle, and they can all be spun around, so that the artwork itself—the record cover—is never exactly like another. The limited edition isn’t that hard to come across, but finding one with a clamshell in good condition is tough. The clamshells have yellowed and grown brittle with age, so that most of the ones I’ve seen have chipped and torn edges. Luckily for me, mine’s in pretty nice shape.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to make a notebook out of vinyl records.

"BUT THAT’S SACRILEGE TO DESTROY A RECORD, MAN!" you say.

"Not if it’s the Eagles," I reply.

Australian 7-inch picture disk for Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait A While.”

Severed Heads 12-inch

Depeche Mode “Never Let Me Down Again” 12-inch.

Nitzer Ebb - “Join In The Chant” US 12-inch.

The Untouchables - shaped UK picture disc for “I Spy For The FBI”

The promo sampler that started it all—two 7-inches, each with two tracks a side, each played at 33 1/3 RPM instead of 45. Classic Punk songs like “Blank Generation” and “Sonic Reducer” still cut like a switchblade, but the label invented the term “New Wave” because they knew lumping it in with Punk would scare off radio stations. No need to bother—the music scared them enough on its own; none of it got played on the air and “New Wave” went on to mean English guys with synths and makeup instead.

Rare 1994 Ivy 7-inch on white vinyl

The cream of the crop in 1980s Glasgow got together for this cool tribute LP.

I’ve only been to Hawaii once, but while I was there, I went to Hungry Ear Records ‘cause it was Record Store Day, and I got to meet Todd Rundgren. Hungry Ear is moving this week after 35 years in the same spot; I hope their new digs work out for them, but in the meantime, follow the link above, which goes to a cool article about them that all record stores can relate to.