Tag Archives: vinyl

In which James Last almost makes me cry.

When I first got a record player, I imagined myself being very selective in which records I buy. That was before I discovered the glut of 25 cent records available at thrifts stores.  In fact, I haven’t yet spent more than 50 cents on a record.  It’s difficult to keep a music collection “pure”–I’ve tried many times (an the difficulty increases with the absorption of the music that comes with a marriage).

Most of what you find in thrift stores is kitschy: cheesy old gospel records with awkward pictures of the quartets on the front; self-titled albums by where-are-they-now artists with single names (Eva or perhaps Bridgette), the artist’s slightly fuzzy head-shot gracing the entirety of the record sleeve; records with grinning men holding accordions on the cover; and so on.  The truth is, I wanted to buy several of these records just for fun, but I did restrain myself at least that much.

Several months ago–before I even had a record player–I checked the records at the thrift store in a neighbouring town.  I bought The Band’s second, self-titled album for 25 cents, as well as Benny Goodman and his Orchestra Live in Brussels (that one was a bit of a risk, but it turned out well) and a children’s record with Winnie-the-Pooh songs on one side and “Peter and the Wolf” on the other (alas, the kids don’t seem to care for that one as much as I did when I was their age).

Last week, Dixie had a look at the same thrift store and bought several more: The Sound of Music soundtrack; the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir (that one was a miss); some kind of Mexican music (tentatively a miss); and Trapezoid’s Now & Then (a hit! click on the link to go to Amazon.com for sound samples).

Today I went to the thrift store in Steinbach and came back with several more: the original cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof (for Dixie); ABBA Greatest Hits (unexpectedly, given the title, I don’t recognize half the songs on it); and another kids’ Winnie-the-Pooh album.

I also bought two records for purely nostalgic reasons.  First, I bought Zamfir The Lonely Shepherd.  I have loved the title song since I was a young lad (if you’ve seen Kill Bill, you’ve heard it). I have no idea what the rest of the record will be like.  Actually, yes–yes I do.  Nostalgia!

As a joke, I also bought Christmas with James Last (sound bites at Amazon on the renamed album).  I thought I’d give it a quick listen to bother Dixie and then redesign the cover and use it to protect my sleeveless The Band album.  When I played it, however, it turned out to be a nostalgic treasure!  THIS ALBUM IS THE DEFINING SOUND OF THE CHRISTMASES OF MY CHILDHOOD!

Dixie is out with a friend tonight. I played a bit of Christmas with James Last for her before she left. She saw my giddy delight upon realizing just what it was I had purchased for a mere 25 cents.

“Great,” she said. “Now I’m going to spend the evening imagining you at home crying quietly to yourself.”

And the truth is, a bit of water did rise to my eyes at the jingly sound of James Last’s Christmas.

Miscellaneous 2 (LPs; John Irving; O.K. Vandersluys)

So I got myself a record player.  Actually, my mother-in-law was kind enough to give me one of hers. Yes, the thing on which you place a scratchy black vinyl disc which rotates while a needle-tip drags along grooves in the vinyl.

I’m more or less from the post-LP generation (my early music collection was all cassettes), although my first experience of a full “secular” album was U2’s The Joshua Tree on LP.  I still remember it fondly.  My brother had left his record player and a number of his records at home after he moved out.  He had some U2 singles as well. One of them–“Hallelujah, Here She Comes”–had a scratch in it and would start skipping at exactly the same spot every time. I could sing along with the song as if the skipping part was normal.

Vinyl is a bit of a trend for music enthusiasts these days. Some people buy LPs simply because it’s trendy, others because of a reputed better sound quality than CDs.  I didn’t get the record player for either.

I wanted it simply to go back to something that is less about instant gratification, shuffling, skipping, and songs instead of albums.  I’ve been a member of emusic.com for a year or two now and every month I’m presented with the need to download 40 songs (there is no rollover).  I get a lot of recommendations from my brother, but, quite frankly, I can’t keep up with all the new material and the need for find new stuff every month.  My hope is that with records, I’ll go back to choosing carefully–buying only after giving it a good listen.

I won’t stop buying CDs, I don’t think.  In my estimation, some albums are not an improvement on LP (I might be proven wrong).  There are others which might be worth getting on vinyl–I’m thinking of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska or perhaps local favourite Del Barber’s latest album.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at the MCC Thrift Store in Niverville and had a look at their records.  I found a couple gems in there: The Band’s second album; a children’s record (side A: Peter and the Wolf; side B: Pooh Songs); and a jazz album: “Benny in Brussels”– Benny Goodman (“Ambassador with a Clarinet” and his orchestra.  Combined cost for 3 perfectly good records?  Less than $1!

* * *

I’m reading John Irving latest book, Last Night in Twisted River.  I bought it at Heathrow Airport in London before we flew home (for some reason I’ve always wanted to buy a book in an airport).  It’s more than 600 pages long and I think I’m just over halfway now.

Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favourite books.  I’ve also read The World According to Garp, which was pretty good.  I got halfway through The Cider House Rules before watching the movie, which spoiled the book (Irving wrote the screenplay).  Since then I’ve been meaning to read more of Irving’s works, but it’s difficult to get into an author’s other work when you’ve read what is possibly their greatest and most endearing book.

Anyway, I charged into Last Night in Twisted River and it has turned into both a frustrating and intriguing read.  On the one hand, Irving seems to ramble about minor, unnecessary details and, in my estimation, repeats too many details, which he often does in annoying parenthetical remarks.  On the other hand, I do get the feeling as I read that this is all building to something and each time I nearly throw the book down in disgust never to read it again, something happens which pulls me back in.

I’ve read some reviews of the book, according to which I could be in for a real disappointment at the end or for one of his greatest achievements in more than a decade.  So it’s a bit of a conundrum.  I’m 340 pages in–well past the tentative commitment stage–but I’m a day away from the start of a heavy-reading semester.  I suppose I could just read it for 20 minutes before bed every night.

* * *

A week ago Sunday night, Olivia fell out of bed quite loudly.  She complained of a sore shoulder, but I poked and prodded her and she did not show signs of pain, so I didn’t worry about it.  The next day she would have occasionally fits of pain, so Dixie took her to the walk-in clinic on the following Monday.  The doctor there poked and prodded her and couldn’t find anything.  He said to come back in two days if her complaints persist.  They did persist, so on the Wednesday, they took an x-ray and discovered that Olivia had broken her collar-bone clean through.

What a trooper!  She barely complained about it.  Dixie was reminded that Olivia’s initials are O.K., which seems uncannily appropriate.

“I severely burned my arm on the firepit, but I’m O.K.”

“I just broke my collar-bone falling out of bed, but I’m O.K.”

O.K. Vandersluys.