In praise of the $1.00 LP

PC 9781

Purple Dog Records in Naperville, IL recently had an ‘overstock’ sale to liquidate albums of which they have too many.

And what a sale it was – 10 records for 10 bucks.

But – and this is where record collecting can get tough (or fun depending on your perspective) – you had to dig through 5 huge plastic bins of dreck in the hopes of finding treasure.

Most of the albums were beat to shit, jackets peeled, torn and frayed. Lots of apparent water damage. Record after record by the likes of Johnny Mathis, Herb Alpert, John Denver, Carly Simon and Barbra Streisand. I never knew Dan Fogelberg released as many records as he did until I started digging through overstock bins.

I came across Santana’s first release (called Santana) and the jacket looked like it had sustained some minor water damage – the paper board was rippled but the artwork (which was developed by Lee Conklin and is iconic), looked okay. Frankly, water damaged records can actually be fine – the jackets may be shot but the vinyl may not be impacted at all. Unless they were kept in a humid room in the wet jackets and stacked flat on top of other albums with wet jackets, which can cause warpage. And warped records should be avoided at almost all costs. I hate warped records.

And, even though Santana was a buck and I’ve wanted it since my sister used to spin it all the time during the early 70s, I wasn’t going to grab it if the vinyl had any visible signs of damage. When I checked it (and you can pull records out of their sleeves to check them before you buy them), the vinyl looked fine – dusty but without any deep scratches or pock marks. And no visible signs of warpage (you may not know this until you put it on your turntable).

So, for a dollar, I couldn’t lose.

When I played it on my Audio-Technica turntable at home I was surprised that there was virtually no noise on the run-on groove (that silent groove before the first song on either side of the LP starts) – and that’s always a good sign. But, even if that track has some speckled noise, it wouldn’t have necessarily been a deal breaker. And the record wasn’t warped.

In fact, I really lucked out on this LP – its playability is almost perfect with the occasional pop or click, which I don’t mind. The bass is heavier than I expected but that’s probably due to production than playability.

The one thing I do think about when playing Santana is how it had to have blown minds back in 1969. Its hard rock edge didn’t really dominate the airwaves back then. But the band did play Woodstock and the song Evil Ways was a Top 10 hit (it’s still a classic rock radio staple) yet, as whole, the record is an ethnic journey like no other at that time.

Santana is timeless.

© 2016 Chris Barry



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