Last Sunday, bright and early, I packed the car with six crates of records, a box of CDs, another of 45s and a sandwich and drove off to the Box Hill Record Fair. It’s something I’ve been doing fairly regularly for quite a while. About fifteen years in fact. This realization made the sunny morning just that little bit duller as I surrendered myself to another Sunday sitting in a cavernous hall behind a trestle table packed with boxes, hoping to sell a few discs.
Right from the off I did not have a good feeling about the commercial outcome of the day. The line of die-hard collectors waiting for the doors to open was as thin and straggly as their hair. The day I waved goodbye to promised to be an early-Spring corker; what sane person would spend it digging through tens of thousands of dusty LPs?
But no-one is really sane in the world of music tragics and at least I had my mate for company. He’s loyally fronted up as helper for ages now.
We learned early that attempts at conversation are doomed to discourse interruptus:
“So, BB, what do you think about Fripp getting the band back toget-“
“’Scuse me. Got any Elvis 45s?”
Still, with a trusted lieutenant to hold the fort I do get to wander about – ostensibly to stretch my legs but really to search out records for myself. Though I can report that minimal sales (ie: income) works as an effective prophylactic to profligate buying.
Here are a few vignettes from the day…
A neatly presented mid-50s chap in a smart jacket over a crisp navy t-shirt is leafing through my crates.
“Do you have any David Sylvian?”
As a matter of fact I do: a good condition copy of the wonderful Gone To Earth that has ended up in my Fair boxes as I’ve purchased a cleaner copy for myself. Double album, gatefold sleeve, $12.
“Yep.” I point at a box. “Somewhere in here should be a copy of Gone To Earth. Terrific album.”
“Yes it is,” he confirms. “That’s the one I want. I’ve been looking for it for ages.”
He pulls the target album out and examines the cover intently for a minute. Then puts it back and walks off without a word.
Faded Kiss t-shirt stretched over ample waistline, dishevelled hair, shorts, long black socks, chatty sort of bloke with a couple of LPs jammed under his arm as he sifts through the records on my table. I offer him a carry bag for his prior purchases mainly because if I were a record I wouldn’t want to nestle into that armpit. He gives me a cheery grin.
“Got any Budgie?”
“’Fraid not. Three-piece heavy rock band. Probably some here somewhere…”
I wave my arm to embrace the entire hall in a friendly but ultimately useless act of encouragement. But help is nearer at hand. Also at the table is a stocky red-bearded bloke sporting a Tom Baker style woollen scarf.
“Budgie!” he says, “Great band!”
And they’re off. Trading Budgie stories and sharing their enthusiasm for an obscure Welsh band most people have neither heard of nor listened to. My mate says quietly, “This is what Record Fairs are about”. We grin.
I’m not the only ‘trader’ who wanders around looking for stuff to buy. Most of the sellers are also collectors (bet that shocks you!) who recycle their takings into each others pockets. Some of the records also go around and around in a way that Chuck Berry would certainly be amused by. A trader buys an LP from me by Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich. It’s a kids album by a local entertainer (and a puppet; you work out which is which) who later had a very successful Saturday evening variety show on Australian television. The ostrich was part of the adult TV show too, as I imagine you were wondering. He became cheekier and a little ruder as he got older. That’s the bird, not Daryl. He was always rather sweet.
Anyway, this chap buys my album for $5. Later in the day I see it at the front of one of his crates with an upgraded price sticker. Commerce, entrepreneurship. Gotta love it.
As predicted, it has not been a bumper day for Vinyl Connection. When I get home there will be no rolling on the lounge-room floor flinging handfuls of cash into the air, just unloading a bunch of crates not appreciably lighter than the morning. So by three o’clock, home is what I’m thinking about. The fair nominally finishes at 4:00 pm but frankly, I’ve had enough of this dingy mausoleum of obsessive acquisition for one day.
A Russian guy is painstakingly going through my mate’s box of compact discs. Although CDs are far from hot items at present, these are really interesting albums in the off-the-beaten-track progressive and jazz realms. Quite collectible really, as you rarely see this stuff around. BB has priced them very competitively. So much so that I extracted a goodly handful for myself before we even got to the venue!
So this guy is minutely examining the CDs, asking my mate about the artists and the music. He likes ‘experimental and noise’. BB is generous and extraordinarily patient in his answers as I pack up around them. Eventually, as the wooden table is clear but for BB’s box, the Russian decides on a rare imported two-CD set by an obscure progressive artist. It’s $12 for the two discs but he wants to haggle. Sigh.
I didn’t buy much myself. (The CDs from my friend don’t count as Record Fair purchases, OK?). But the couple of LPs I did get were welcome.
Buggles – The Age of Plastic (1980)
Part of the Vinyl Connection vinyl buy-back program. Love the polished techno-pop of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes and really pleased to get a “Clean Clean” copy of this as I have a memoir story to weave around it sometime.
The Someloves – Something or Other (1989)
An album of glorious power pop by an Aussie band who deserve to be much more well-known. Terrific songs by Darryl Mather and Dom Mariani… really chuffed to get this on vinyl. It’s spinning now and lifting my spirits with gorgeous melodies and chiming guitars, completely overwriting dusty halls and crate-scrabbling Sundays.
Listen and smile.
Got a recent purchase that really delighted you? Please share!