April 4, 2014

Adventures in vinyl-hunting for practical reasons, part 2

In an earlier post I confessed a major sin: I have always bought vinyl records for practical rather than aesthetic or Romantic reasons. Namely, there's a lot out there that is not easily available on CD — finding it is hard or expensive.

I dropped by a Half-Priced Books today to comb through their rock/pop records, and found five things I've never seen in real life on CD, for under $15 including tax. You can't go wrong for under three bucks a pop.

1. Scandal's self-titled debut EP, with "Goodbye to You." It was never released on CD. Two songs are on a Patty Smyth compilation that I have on CD, and VH1 did release all of them on a CD compilation — though given the date, I'm sure it was a victim of the loudness wars and had all the dynamic range compressed out of it. In fact, the Patty Smyth compilation sounds a bit hollow itself, and it's from the mid-'90s IIRC.

2. Missing Person's album Spring Sessions M, with "Words," "Destination Unknown," and "Walking in L.A." It was released on CD, but I've never seen it in at least five years of regular combing of used record/CD stores, nor could they order it from their distributor. I'm guessing the CD is out of print, as it's going for $40-$50 on eBay.

3. A Flock of Seagulls' self-titled debut album, with "I Ran" and "Space Age Love Song." It was released on CD, but I've never seen it, and on eBay it's $10-$20 used. The LP is going for about that as well, so I got an even better deal today.

4. The Motels' album All Four One, with "Only the Lonely" and one of the coolest album covers ever. As with #3, it was released on CD, though I've never seen it, and is going for $10-$20 used on eBay.

5. After the Snow by Modern English, with "I Melt with You." On eBay there are CDs going from $5-$10, which isn't bad, but they also say that it's rare. Short supply doesn't always translate into high prices if there's little demand for it. Can that be, though? It's only got one of the most iconic, catchy, uplifting songs of all time on it! Up until now, I'd been listening to it on the CD soundtrack for Valley Girl.

Come to think of it, I don't believe I've seen any CDs by these bands in the wild, not even a greatest hits, although most of their hits can fairly easily be found on multi-group compilation discs. (I might have seen something by the Motels, but can't recall.)

They had a copy of the first two Duran Duran albums, the self-titled one and Rio. I'm sure I'll continue to like those albums more than any of the five that I bought today, but I still passed on them. I've already got them on pre-'90s CDs that sound great (not guaranteed to be in a used CD rack, but not hard to find either). I'll eventually get around to buying duplicates on vinyl just for the different sound, but there's still so many more records to hunt down of things that are damn near impossible to get on CD.

I also passed on some more pop-y choices that I probably shouldn't have, and may have to return to pick up tomorrow: Belinda Carlisle's debut album Belinda, with "Mad About You," and Jane Wiedlin's album Fur, with "Rush Hour." Two or three songs from Belinda are on a greatest hits of hers that I've already got, but I've never seen anything by Jane Wiedlin on CD, not even her one hit on a compilation.

Usually the discussion of vinyl centers on music from the '60s and '70s, before CDs were available. But you'd be surprised how much killer '80s music is hard to find outside of the record crates, at least the entire original album rather than the hits on a compilation.

If it was major enough, they probably released it on CD — perhaps following up with multiple re-issues if it's that important (like Graceland by Paul Simon). But if the band was remembered as a one-hit wonder, then probably not. The heyday of New Wave from '82 to '84 came just as CDs were being introduced, so it was far more likely to have been released on vinyl and perhaps cassette. That's the place to look for it, then.


  1. The last few times I've been in Half-Price Books and perused their vinyl section. Makes me think of you. I don't have a record player though, but if I found something like a really rare Depeche Mode, New Order, or The Cure record, I might just snap it up.

  2. That's one caveat: if it has hipster appeal, it will probably be long gone. The Smiths, the Cure, REM... I'd forget about that happening! But you could probably find them all cheap on eBay from a mass seller and get a shipping discount.

  3. Go for Wiedlin's eponymous debut if you see it. It's good. 'Fur' isn't. I've had 'Fur' on vinyl since back in the day, and, even at the time, my friends and I recognised it was a dud. Grab the 'Rush Hour' single, you won't miss anything.


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