A few weeks ago, Siberia held a record raid and if you didn’t make it, you either have no interest in vinyl, you were trapped under a rock or you drank too much the previous night. No matter what the excuse, you missed out on some great vibes, wicked people and crate upon crate of vinyl from numerous vendors and personal collectors. With records of every shape, size, color and genre, the record raid and other similar events are a great way to get out and meet new people while digging for those few new (or old) records to add to your collection. I’m always interested to see what other people are listening to and what they get most excited about. There were a couple of kids arguing over a Dillinger Four EP and I saw more than one person bent over portable turntables to scan their selections on a tiny speaker before purchase. It’s always nice to see how dedicated and ceremonial people are about their crate digs.
Crate digs are about a couple different things for me and I’m sure that other people have their own rituals. First off, I try to look for labels or artists that I’m already familiar with. This is especially helpful if there isn’t a listening station available or if you forgot your Fisher Price at home. Secondly, I always check to see what kind of condition the record is in. Sleeves aren’t terribly important to me but they can be a good preliminary indication of how the previous owner treated the vinyl inside. Most used vinyl will have a bit of wear depending on how much it’s been played and how it’s been stored. Older records tend to be a bit dirty but can usually be cleaned up pretty well; all of these can be bargaining tools if you’re into a good haggle. It also helps to have a good idea about what it is you’re looking for as well as where you’re looking. The record raid, for example, had copious amounts of punk, hardcore and metal and I gather that’s because those genres are represented in and around that venue. That’s not to say that they didn’t have a veritable smorgasbord of other genres. I saw everything from Halloween sound effects to UNLV’s Straight Out tha Gutta and everything in between. Personally, I took home a few 45s by Miles Davis, Mongo Santamaria and Cannonball Adderly. I also found the soundtrack to Bladerunner but sadly had to pass on it because it was in terrible condition. Perhaps I’ll find a better copy at another dig. That’s another great thing about it, people are always getting rid of vinyl. Whether it’s at a garage sale or a thrift store, you never know where you’re going to come across that one record you’ve been trying to find for ages.
It would seem that as time goes on, we get busier and busier in our day-to-day lives. We have less time to do things we enjoy and one of those things for me happens to be digging through a room full of records. This time around, I was fortunate enough to have the day off and no other plans which afforded me the luxury of taking my time. That may be the most important advice I have: take your time. You’re much more likely to miss that diamond in the rough if you allow haste to trip you up. I’ll leave you with a perfect example. While digging through the 45s on one of the tables, I asked the proprietor, Steve, if he had any dub or funk. He recommended that I check out his store Euclid Records since it was only a few blocks away. I took his advice and after perusing the different sections of the store for a while, I happened across a box of 45s along one of the walls. I glanced down and there was my diamond, Amen Brother by the Winstons. I immediately brought it to the counter to inquire about the price, already grinning ear to ear. My dreams then became reality when the clerk, after examining the vinyl, said “ninety-nine cents.” I quickly paid, almost sure that he would change his mind and increase the price when he realized that he was dealing not with the 33 year old man in front of him; but rather the excited child that had awakened inside by merely finding this record at such a price. I’m sure most of you can relate to this on some level or another and I know that other serious diggers know exactly how I felt on that Saturday afternoon: like a kid on Christmas morning. Let me know if any of you stumble upon a copy of Think (About it) by Lyn Collins, that’s next on the list.