Off topic: Record collecting and the most-frequently found budget LPs

Since I no longer maintain a personal blog, I may on occasion use Car Con Carne to share thoughts and observations. Like now…
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I gave up collecting records in the mid-90s. At that point, vinyl production had all but stopped as compact discs became the dominant form of consuming prerecorded audio. My CD collection was growing exponentially, but my record collection had stagnated.

As I came to terms with vinyl’s seeming demise, I considered the overwhelming size of my collection. After moving countless crates of records from one apartment to the next, I couldn’t imagine making one more backbreaking move with them.

Once I decided there was no point in keeping my vinyl, I donated every last record and 7″ to the ALS “Mammoth Music Mart.” The annual event was a noble (and, as I recall, highly successful) tent sale in the Old Orchard mall parking lot, where instruments and recorded music were sold to raise money for ALS research. It was a great cause, and contributing to it cleared out a shocking amount of space in my Rogers Park apartment.

Fast forward to today: Charity aside, I wish I’d kept all my records. There was no way to foresee a present day where vinyl is the most collectible and desired form of prerecorded music. Like I said, the gears of vinyl production ground to a near-complete halt back in the 90s.

I’m trying to start over, but it’s an overwhelming task. In rebuilding a vinyl library, my eyes are focused more on acquiring bargain bin “library copies” than remastered, 180g pressings of old favorites. As someone who’s been spending a lot of time combing the 99 cent bins, I’ve noticed there are a few artists whose catalogs can always be found for next-to-nothing. For instance:

Pat Benatar – Her best shots have hit the clearance bins of every Half Price Books I’ve walked into.

Chicago – Hard for me to say sorry I’m not sorry.

The Guess Who – Really, you only need the Best Of. But if you wanted to dig deeper, you’d have no problem.

Jethro Tull – Some shitty copies of “Aqualung” can be found for less than a buck. It’s much easier to find copies of “War Child” and “Repeat: The Best Of.”

Billy Joel – “The Nylon Curtain” is in every bargain bin. Beat up copies of “52nd Street” and “Glass Houses” are also easy to find.

Moody Blues – Literally every album from the 60s forward can be easily found.

Pablo Cruise – If you’re a fan of the 70s one-hit wonder “Love Will Find a Way,” you can own it for a quarter. I guarantee the “Worlds Away” album is in the bargain bin of the record store closest to you.

Paul Simon / Simon and Garfunkel – Apparently, the sounds of silence are very real when discussing Simon and Garfunkel resale value. With the exception of “Graceland,” you can build a Simon/Simon and Garfunkel catalog in no time at all.

Meanwhile, I continue my quixotic quest for affordable copies of 80s NWOBHM, 80s post punk and early-era alt rock. They’ve gotta be sandwiched somewhere in between Jefferson Airplane’s “Red Octopus” and Foghat’s “Fool For the City.”

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