Sometimes you get what you pay for – 50 cents for a record is pretty cheap (you can’t even get a song for less than $.99 on iTunes). But sometimes that half-dollar record you brought home to put on your turntable turns out to sound like you’re dragging a rake through a gravel pit. Or a huge gash you didn’t notice makes the first two tracks unlistenable. You get the point.
But flipping through random, thrown-away vinyl for an hour or two of your day isn’t the worst thing. At all. In fact, it places you in a mindset in which nostalgia reminds you that we weren’t always so internet-obsessed and download crazy. Sure, I’ve enjoyed my spins of the new Justin Timberlake and Destiny’s Child tracks. But I’m also currently one of my ten-LPs haul with a spin of Wild Cherry, responsible for the decade-spanning “Play That Funky Music” (, White Boy). See, when you can spend $5.40 on a ten-album purchase, something’s bound to be awesome. Like the Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits (Part 2) that I found.
Sure, it’s a little musty. There’s a lot of sleeves without records and records without sleeves. And a lot of Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand, and Perry Como. So take your mom and she’ll flip at these deals. But the process of flipping through so much stuff is also pretty fun because you see some OUTRAGEOUS fashion (and hair). Take Jeffrey Osborne, whose blazer/jacket and vest combo nearly made me buy his 12″. Or Jermaine Stewart, famous for “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off,” and his pencil mustache and… hair, and earrings and all of it. It’s hard to believe but it’s the truth – these trends were in. And furthermore, at one point, Julio Iglesias was a dead-ringer for Steve-O of Jackass fame.
But some half-dollar LPs are real steals. There are some great collections of all kinds of particular genres: sing-along folk, disco, big band, old soul-singing groups, musical scores and classical music gems. In addition to Dionne and Wild Cherry, I found: an exciting record from Dory Previn (an obsucre, shown-to-me-by-a-Nebraska-gay-penpal), two, yes two, Bette Midler records, a weird double-record of Hawaiin music to combat seasonal effective disorder, a yacht rock record called Full Sail from Loggins & Messina, some retro tropicalia from Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66, random girl pop called Wee Papa Girls (Be Aware) from 1990 purchased exclusively because of what they’re wearing, and an old Free Library of Philadelphia record of Ethel Merman in Gypsy. It’s true, a generation of young homosexuals could find hours of education in these milk crates. Old-school divas and Broadway soundtracks abound.
Anyway, as always, it’s important to patronize our local, independent record stores. So go give em’ a visit at 538 South Street, would ya?