VINYL HUNTER GATHERER’S SUMMER HOLIDAY

Being away from home and the comforts of one’s turntable could be considered a golden opportunity to disengage from relentless music acquisition. But for the dedicated Vinyl Hunter Gatherer there is no such thing as a holiday.

There are Op Shops, there are Collectables Emporia and there are markets. The first two are very hit-and-miss affairs. Op Shop yield a low rate of return for crawling in dusty corners on your hands and knees while records in ‘retro’ stores are invariably over-priced. However Ms Connection is not averse to a sortie into the trash and treasure arena, so when I suggested a morning jaunt to the Dromana Drive-in Market (every second Sunday but EVERY Sunday in January) she was happy enough to join in.

Perhaps it is worth clarifying that the Dromana Drive-in Market is not a market where you buy from your automobile. There are no fleets of roller-skating sylphs zooming up with trays of second-hand curios and retro delights while you lounge in your bucket seats a sipping giant cola and munching popcorn. No. This is a trash and treasure market held in a Drive-in. During the daytime.

It’s a Drive-in of the old-fashioned variety with two huge screens facing each other across an undulating gravel field. Having been operating at least since I was a child (and that is a long time, dear reader), there are rows and rows of regularly spaced white metal poles. No longer sporting the metal speaker capsules of yesteryear, they stand like mute sentinels and if you imagine the ramshackle array of stalls packed and gone it would look very much like a military graveyard. Perhaps a mute memorial for innocence lost in the messy back-seat campaigns of late-night teenage-hood.

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Photo courtesy of Dromana Drive-in Market

But on this steamy Sunday morning there were already punters circulating the stalls, examining cushions and haggling over ancient pruning shears. Your correspondent, knowing that time was short, strode purposefully along the rows casting a practiced eye over the assembled wares, nostrils flared to catch the elusive scent of vinyl.

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Friends, I did not return empty-handed.

Not being able to play them, I found myself looking at the covers and thinking. I thought  about Vinyl Connection and the lovely folk I have ‘met’ since starting the blog in May. I pondered the collecting impulse and why I bought half of these albums (most useful answer: because they were a dollar). I wondered about banging out a holiday post and whether I should go back to the Dromana Drive-in for a photo. So here I sit with the Australian Open tennis in the background, sweltering through a record fourth day in a row over 41 C (that’s over 105 F in the old money, folks) writing about records.

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I like Creedence Clearwater Revival. I’ve been intrigued since Form 3 mate Donald Jackson brought Cosmo’s Factory to school and I wondered why one of the men was sitting on a bicycle in an odd sort of lounge. The CCR singles are great and I now know that the albums are damn good too. But I’ll probably not seek out the original LPs on vinyl, so the generously endowed 20 Golden Greats was a welcome find. This one I can listen to just by looking at the song-list; shouting the words of ‘Travelin’ Band’, stomping around (my version of dancing) to ‘Run Through The Jungle’, bellowing ‘I ain’t no Fortunate Son’. Cheers me up just writing those sentences.

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Leon Russell was one of those artists who made a blip on the cardiogram of 70s popular music but never achieved massive success. Born in Oklahoma but relocating his unusual voice and impressive hair to LA, he wrote some brilliant songs which brought significant success to other artists (remember George Benson’s take on ‘This Masquerade’? Heard Jimmy Page’s version of ‘Hummingbird’?). I found myself wondering whether Mr Russell was popular in Lynrydskynrydsville, Delta ladies being much admired in those Southern climes, I believe.

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Now Shaved Fish is a useful compilation. If memory serves, this John Lennon collection was, at the time, the only way you could get a number of the singles – like ‘Power to the People’  and ‘Instant Karma!’– on a long-player. It also has the advantage of providing ‘Woman is the nigger of the world’ without the extensive remainder of the extremely patchy Sometime in New York City. Neat cover art, too.

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A recent passing was that of Phil Everly, who fell to cigarette-related illness just shy of his 75th birthday. With brother Don they cut a clutch of fabulous singles in the late 50s and early 60s, all enriched by those superb harmonies. It is sobering to reflect that by the time this album came out in 1967 The Everly Brothers were essentially has-beens. But their influence lived on in those who breathed in their harmonies, a list that includes Paul McCartney, Barry Gibb and Paul Simon. After reading a little about them by way of memorial (thank you DD) there was no question about grabbing this LP. (If you don’t know the Everly Brothers, get a compilation of the early stuff).

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You cannot beat K-Tel for classy album covers, can you? ‘TV Special’ compilations provide a snap-shot of the pop charts of their time though sometimes the inclusions have more to do with record company deals than actual popularity. This one from 1979 is typically scatter-gun in its range. About half the artists are Australian, which is interesting. I wonder whether K-Tel stacked albums with local artists in other territories too? Anyone out there own a US or UK Full Boar?

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Got very excited for a brief moment when I saw this one for a dollar. Bootlegs have a bit of an aura around them, partly because of rarity value. But alas, the record within is not that of the cover. When I pointed this out to the stall-holder – unsuccessfully trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice – he offered me the cover anyway so I took it. Not sure why.

Having leafed through every LP on the lot I still had a few minutes up my sleeve and returned to the stall where I’d bought the bulk of the albums (yes, dear reader, there were more than those listed above – don’t tell Ms Connection!) and checked out the box of singles. There were some goodies and I hoovered up a bundle in double-quick time for 20 cents a pop. Here is a selection…

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Two Men At Work 45s in picture sleeves. Well, it’s almost Australia Day after all.

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A single by Phil Seymour that I’m hoping is a nice little nugget of Power Pop!

One of the singles from True Colours. Buying this brought to mind Rob Jones excellent blog The Delete Bin. “Listen to this track by Kiwi art-rockers turned new wave hit-makers Split Enz”. I love his jam-packed one-sentence intros.

I have never heard an Iron Maiden track. I think they were part of the NBWOHM (or is that NWOBHM? BHNMWO?) but really, I have no idea. So it took me a while to work out why I bought this single. Eventually it dawned on me that I so want to be part of 1537’s band of Metal-heads. They seem to have such fun sharing secret codes learned via long hours studying Kerrang!. Is owning an Iron Maiden single enough to join the club, I wonder? Would I actually have to listen to it?

Lower Right 7″ answers question D-13 in the Vinyl Connection end-of-year quiz.

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One of these is really a joke. Stay tuned to find out which.

Happy listening. Stay cool.

13 comments

  1. I love digging around like that, it’s like prospecting.

    Ha! owning a Maiden single is a damn good start, you still need some work though – maybe a Metal Makeover? To any TV execs reading, I would be more than happy to front ‘Metal Eye For The Other Guy’.

    Doesn’t Shaved Fish do something annoying like splitting one track in two? I

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    1. Prospecting is a good word. Sometimes you get dirt, sometimes a fleck of gold.

      I’d sign up for Metal Makeover (maybe). I think you would make an outstanding compere, Joe. Maybe you could have victims… sorry, volunteers from different genres. Metal Eye for the Jazz-Rock Guy, for the Country Guy, etc.

      You’re on the money with Shaved Fish. It puts a chunk of Give Peace A Chance at the end as a “Reprise”. But you know, I could still follow the basic narrative drive.

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  2. Nothing quite like digging in a flea market, and the real treasure in your haul is the Split Enz, 45, those Finn brothers were even amazing in their youth.

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    1. Agreed on all counts, Mr 45spin. Nabbed ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ as well.

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      1. “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” was the song that made me realize that this band was for real. When Crowded House came out in the US everybody had no idea where they had come from, but a few years later everyone started going back into the Split Enz back catalog and the rest is history as they say.

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  3. You got some pretty good stuff there! And yes, Leon Russell was/is pretty popular in Lynyrdskynyrdsville. He’s a highly respected songwriter too. Beautiful stuff. My favorite is “Back to the Island”. Gotta go listen to it now. 😉

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    1. Lovely song. He was a respected arranger too. Leon was the MD on the famous Joe Cocker ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour of the US that produced the popular double album. And of course, he produced one of my cherished categories: a live triple album!

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  4. The Prudent Groove · · Reply

    You really can’t beat $1 albums. They turn the usually overlooked into delightful adventures. Have you considered a portable player? I just acquired one the other day. The battery operated model was a must!

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    1. Though I love the image of hunkering down at a dusty flea market to audition a slab of unknown vinyl on a portable turntable, a clinical level of platter fastidiousness make such bohemian moves unlikely. Unless one carries a portable record-cleaning bath too. And a rack for drying them of course…

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  5. “…a blip on the cardiogram of 70s popular music”…..what a great line! I had no idea Leon Russell had written ‘Masquerade’ Some friends of mine saw him perform live at a multi-artist concert in the past couple of years (New Orleans Jazz Fest, maybe?) and said he was a highlight. You probably know that Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Norah Jones recently released an album of Everly Brothers covers (cleverly titled ‘Forverly’); I heard a few cuts and was largely unimpressed: the brothers win. No contest.

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  6. One of my travels fantasies is to attend the New Orleans Jazz Festival. An acquaintance makes it an annual pilgrimage!
    Not surprised that trying to evoke the Everlys was less than entrancing. I read somewhere that, unusually in popular music, their harmony lines are almost all a major third apart, meaning that either part works as a melody.

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  7. […] bad, man”) and the ugly. It’s been tried before and lasted two posts, there has been a holiday edition, even an interstate adventure, but never a commitment to regular ‘in-coming’ […]

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  8. […] When the weather does not shout ‘Beach!’, we visit various towns and points of interest, with your correspondent always on the look-out for Op Shops, markets or other potential sources of vinyl records. Veteran readers have been here before. […]

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