Well the re-entry into the wonderful world of vinyl was much more painful and much more expensive than I could ever have imagined. However it was also full of a few very good surprises. The obvious highlight has been listening to the vinyl; hundreds of old albums, new releases and “new to me” vintage albums that I had bought or been given. Working through my old albums reminded me of sampling wine… you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it’s an incredibly good surprise and other times it’s sour grapes. Thankfully the sour grapes have been few and far between, but there have been a few moments when I just shook my head and wondered, “What the heck was I thinking when I bought that?”

Here in Pittsburgh, we are blessed with a few remaining record shops. The only one of which I’ve found time to visit is Jerry’s Records http://www.jerrysrecords.com/. Jerry’s is an absolutely amazing place… and one of the best places I can think of to just spend a few hours browsing. It is not fancy, far from it. It is huge, dark, and very dusty, with crates and bins as far as the eye can see, and shelves from floor to ceiling along most of the walls. With each crate, bin, and shelf it’s a trip down memory lane organized alphabetically, and by genre.

The selection process is simple. Thumb through the sections marked by the name of the group or artist, pull out the disc and check for condition. In the dim light this is a challenge. “Can’t have any scratches” is my first rule for vinyl picking. I can deal with dirt. I can deal with scuffs, tattered covers and even yellow/ ripped album sleeves, but not scratches. The rhythmic tick, tick, tick of album scratches is one of the reasons CDs became so popular. With a small bit of effort, it is amazing that you can still find scratch-free albums that are now decades old. Nice to know that I wasn’t always the only anal retentive buyer out there for all those years! It’s not quite like the Antiques Road show, but every time you do find an album in nearly perfect condition, it’s like finding something valuable at a rummage sale for a few dollars. I still find it amazing how inexpensive most used albums are.

I’ve been fortunate enough so far to find out about both the annual Pittsburgh Record and CD Convention held at the Green Tree Double Tree and the first Vinyl Show and Convention held at the Pittsburgh film society. http://mindcurerecords.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/pvc-record-show-october-8th-2/

But the best of the lot was Vinylpalooza sponsored by Jerry’s… it was a huge inventory reduction sale. I bought 43 albums for $65, most of which were in perfect or near perfect condition. And 40 of them only cost $1 each! I splurged on the other couple to fill in gaps in my collection; missing/stolen Stones, Zepplin and a classic Jimmy Buffet that I never had.

Like I said earlier, finding a good album is like opening a vintage bottle of wine. Could be nirvana, could be vinegar. I’m looking, or rather listening, for the quality of the recording as much as I am for the music. I can listen to a good recording even if I don’t love the music, but I can’t do the opposite. Monthly, I’ll try and provide a few of my new and old favorites. This month’s selections are:

-          Mel Brown- I’d rather suck my thumb

-          The Black Keys - El Camino

-          Loggins and Messina - On Stage (side 3 is just great!)

-          Tommy Bolin - Private Eyes

Jim Pittsburgh

 

 Jim Pittsburgh is a self made home theater/audio expert and accomplished audio blogger.

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Category: Gear Porn