vinyl

Great Escape Records – Nashville, TN

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Bot­tom Line: Don’t Go Out of the Way
Price: 2/5
Selec­tion: 3/5
Atmos­phere: 2/5

Great Escape Records has four locations around Nashville, Bowling Green and Louisville. For decades the stores have been dealing records, tapes, CDs and books in the area. The store is the standard 80’s-90’s big box music shop style, this particular location had a large quantity of vinyl, but seemed to be more focuses on games and comics. In the general stacks, there were some decent records, but also a lot of common stuff. The bluegrass section was probably my favorite part of the store, I found a few interesting regional artists.

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They also had a small box (50-80) of “collectable” albums behind the counter. Many of these were Beatles and Zeppelin, and some other interesting stuff. I was happy to find a copy of Hawkwind Space Ritual, the price was good, but not great, about what you would pay on Discogs or eBay. I typically like to buy records in the “wild”, but made a rookie mistake and checked the vinyl and not the sleeve. When I opened the fold out sleeve a few days later, I found it was full of mold and funk. I was a little disappointed to pay top dollar for a record that the resellers didn’t even take the time to clean it up a bit.

I would stop by again, if I was in the area, but won’t go out of the way to make a trip.

 

Lost Weekend Records – Columbus, Oh

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Bot­tom Line: Make a Trip

Price: 4/5
Selec­tion: 4/5
Atmos­phere: 5/5

Lost Weekend Records is located in Columbus Ohio, just north of downtown and near Ohio State University. I love stores near universities because there always seems to be an unpredictable selection of eclectic used albums. The shop is on the ground floor of a big old house. When you first walk in you will find a nice selection of recent arrivals, which appears to be pretty active, there were several nice albums in the boxes during my trip.
The rest of the genre bins are located in a few small rooms throughout the ground floor. There are plenty of records and the space feels cozy but with enough room for several people to dig.
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I have to say the best part of the store is the owner Kyle and a stream or regular clientele coming through the shop. Kyle is very knowledgable about the local music scene and the records in his shop.
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Jerry’s Records – Pittsburgh, PA

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I would bet that every vinyl collector in a 100 mile radius has been to Jerry’s (or at least really wants to go). I’ve made this trek thousands of times, and recently recorded a podcast episode with Jerry.  When you first walk in the building and climb the 1 1/2 story stair case you will be greeted by stacks and boxes of fresh acquisitions and castoffs for the next vinyl giveaway (which contains more vinyl than the entire inventory of other records shops I frequent), turn the corner and enter the main room. This is were the fun begins.
It is amazing with amount of pressure and exposure, there are still a ton of great records to find and explore, but it can also be an intimidating place to dig, with towering walls of vinyl, rooms and secret cubbies, rows and rows of bins, and thousands of boxes of 45’s.
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Here are my tips for digging at Jerry’s.
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  1. Unless you have an encyclopedic memory, I would make a list of some of the more interesting records your are looking for; think of things most other people aren’t looking for.
  2. Expand the genres you look for. The popular genres like rock, punk and soul get a lot of action (though you can still find good records), consider looking beyond the high traffic sections and explore some blues, bluegrass, gospel, instrumental and even comedy. You can find some real gems.
  3. Don’t expect to find the classics. Jerry’s carries all used vinyl at reasonable priJerrys-08ces (typically between $5 – $8) with high traffic, so The Beatles, Clash, Marley, Pink Floyd, Dylan, Stones are going out as fast as they are coming in, and more obscure bands like Joy Division rarely last 10 minutes on the shelves. With that said, you can get lucky if your timing is right, always check the new arrival bins first. You never know what you might find, but usually there is something good, especially mid-week during the day.
  4. Collectables are very limited. Jerry’s does not have a high priced or collectables section, so it is not a place to expect to go and drop $50 to $200 on a rare record. Jerry wants to get music on to turntables, not vinyl into cases. Don’t expect to dig up some rare gem like the Chocolate Watch Band, but the shelves are stocked with odd, interesting and unique records. Spend some time exploring and getting out of your comfort zone.

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Hopefully you find this info useful and get a chance to explore the shop sometime. Every time  I’m in the area I like to drop in an spend a little time soaking it all in, great people and great atmosphere. It is worth the trip, but I would budget an hour at least and possibly four or five.

Additional Information

 

 

Monster Music & Movies – Charleston, SC

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Monster Music is a legacy remaining from an era of large music and film department stores. They do a good job of making it feel like (and maybe it is) a small independent shop. The store carries a large selection of new and used vinyl, along with CD’s and DVD’s.
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The environment is spacious and records are organized into various categories. The used stock had plenty of quality records, but the prices were fair (or a little on the high side for me), so I only looked for records I knew I wanted to purchase – and had a price in mind I was willing to pay. Unfortunately, I did not find anything that fit those criteria.

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The shop has a listening station (need to provide ID to get the needle), so I tested out a few albums that appeared to be interesting, but didn’t find any I could not live without.

I’ll stop back in the store when I visit Charleston again.

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“A” Train – Southern Star Records

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aTrain-backThe A Train band was a complete gamble when I picked it up. I liked the instruments in the band and the photos of the members were intriguing. It was also interesting that Larry Nix at Ardent Records mastered the record.

It turns out that A Train was a regional band from Louisiana in the 70’s – 80’s and had a very active following. This release was on Southern Star records. The band on this release included:

Buddy Flett, Guitar and Vocals
Bruce Flett, Bass
John Howe, Alto Tenor Sax, Flute, Lead Vocals
Chris McCaa, Piano, Moog
Michael Johnson, Congos and Percussion
Alan Toorain, Drums
Joe Spivey, Fiddle

There are a lot of songs about love lost and a few found. This record would make Michael McDonald and Coco proud. The two bookending instrumental tracks are the highlights of the album.

Here is a news reel from 1980 or 1981 highlighting A Train.

 

My Take On the Album Tracks

Time Stops: An smooth instrumental jam, that features a steady bass line and a few mini guitar, keyboard and sax solos. It sounds like an elevator ride in Boogie Nights to me.

Trip on Your Lip: Very 70’s lounge sounding, smooth vocals backed by bongos.

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Baby Please: Kicks off with a ripping sax solo and transitions to a yacht rock vocal. Just Ok to me, but a Big in Japan.

When I Call Your Name: Soft jazz, with lyrics in the same vein as Terry Jacks and Harry Chapin, a great song to watch the sun reflect off of crystal water and reflect on the past.

Lyric highlight: “You are better off without me, cause I live in a jungle and its getting pretty wild”

I Don’t Want to Lose You: It has a nice little guitar then synthed out organ breakdown at 2:30.

When Did You Lose Your Love for Me: An upbeat song of lost love, belted out by John Howe. It features some nice jazz guitar work, filled in with bongo riffs.

Color of Your Hair: A song of love found, oh wait… now it is lost again.

Lyric highlight: “The color of your hair is all the gold I’ll need.” Enter soft piano solo.

Puerto Rican Hotel: Nice keyboard and percussion intro, you can hear a sample in this one. Builds slow and smooth. In my opinion, this song is the best effort on the album. It is all instrumental and the keyboard solo at the 4:30 mark is worth the wait.

$100 Dig in Pennsylvania

A few years ago, Egon, wrote a piece for NPR’s Funk Archeology about picking NYC on $100 a day. He ended up with 5 slices of vinyl for $100 dollars total. I have a deep appreciation for Egon and the artists he has helped to expose, and he is digging a much different level than I am, but I thought on my recent trip across the sparsely populated state of Pennsylvania I would try my own $100 a day challenge.

On my adventure I popped into eight thrift, junk, second-hand and antique stores (which I have mapped out over the years) and 1 private reseller. I have to say it was a much more successful trip than I expected. I ended up with 23 albums, the most I paid was $15 for an LP. Here is what I picked up, they are organized in order of my excitement level:

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Townes Van Zandt – High, Low and In Between ($15)

This is an album I did not expect to find – a mint, or any, copy of Townes on Poppy records. I have been looking for Townes for many years and this is the first one I have come across in the wild, and it was almost the one that got away. I dug it out of a second hand store that had most of their records priced, but there were a few boxes underneath a table that did not have prices. Most of the records in the boxes were junk, but this one was stuffed in the middle.

When I brought the record to the counter, the owner was reluctant to sell it to be because it was not priced and might go for a lot on eBay. Most of the records were between $5-$8 and I had a little pile of other things (listed below), so I offered $15 for the record and with a little negotiation the owner agreed. I was super pumped. The thought of leaving this one behind was heartbreaking.

 

2014-01-26 14.01.44Television – Marquee Moon ($3)

A classic, master piece. A few years ago I gave up hope that I would find a reasonably priced original and purchased a used copy of the 4MenWithBeard’s re-issue. Today, that all changed. This is a beauty.

 

2014-01-26 14.03.29Television – Adventure ($3)

Right next to Marquee Moon, was this prefect copy of Adventure. Finding this style of music at discount prices is rarely achievable these days. It was a bit of luck.

 

2014-01-26 13.51.25Miles Davis – Tribute to Jack Johnson ($5) 
I don’t know an tremendous amount about jazz, especially beyond the icons. This Miles record is very accessible to rock n’ roll converts. John McLaughlin, rips away on the electric guitar throughout the 1st (and only) track on side one, and too my knowledge it is the only album that has rock tones.

 

2014-01-26 13.54.23Bloomsbury People ($10)
This is an album I took a chance on. I thought I recognized the cover, but could not remember it was for good reasons or bad reasons. I liked the psych feel and  have had luck finding psych folk bands on the blue swirl MGM label, so I rolled the dice. The band was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The most notable person in the band is Sigmund Snopek III, who later when on to be a sideman and member of the Violent Femmes.

From the first listen, I’m very happy with the purchase. The album has range, it is difficult to place it in a single category.

 

2014-01-26 14.00.10Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man ($5) 
This is a great album. Everyone knows it. I’m glad I have it in my collection.

 

2014-01-26 13.59.01Here Comes Shuggie Otis ($5)
Shuggie is a master blues-funk guitarist, and this was the only LP of his I was missing from the collection. His father Johnny wrote many of the tracks and played on several backing instruments. Shuggie was 15 when this was recorded.

 

2014-01-26 13.59.24Kenny Burrell  & Art Blakey – Live at the Five Spot ($5)
This is a nice combination. The guitar of Burrell and the drums of Blakey. This is a nice copy on Blue Note.

 

2014-01-26 13.59.47Art Blakey – Buhaina ($5)
Blakey is an icon of jazz. I have been aware of his name for a long time, but never spent a significant amount of time with his work. I hope to continue to add Blakey records to my collection. His drumming is amazing.

 

2014-01-26 14.00.58Hawkwind – Hall of the Mountain Grill ($10)
The last album with Lemmy Killmister, and the influence is apparent. Up until this point, I did not have any Hawkwind on vinyl.

 

2014-01-26 14.01.21Hawkwind – Warrior on the Edge of Time ($7)
The Warrior album is a solid album full of space rock jams, it did not receive a great critical review and Lemmy had left the band, but I still think it is a solid effort.

 

2014-01-26 13.54.55Earth Opera ($5)
I did not know this band, but knew the a few of the members – Peter Rowan and David Grisman. I’m a fan of both, and appreciate their solo work. All of the songs are written by Rowan. I’m expecting a progressive bluegrass – psych folk rock style, but can’t wait to sit down and listen to this record. Both men are mighty young in the photos.

 

2014-01-26 13.53.02Box Tops – The Letter/Neon Rainbow ($1)
This is Alex Chilton’s first album with the Box Tops, unfortunately none of his work is part of the album and most of the material was recorded by session musicians.

 

2014-01-26 13.55.40Miles Davis – Water Babies ($7) 
This material was recorded in 1967-68, but unreleased until 1976 when it was compiled on Water Babies. It features some jazz greats, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter.

 

2014-01-26 14.02.08Tom Verlaine – Dreamtime ($3)
This is Tom’s second solo album after Television collapsed. Good stuff.

 

2014-01-26 13.58.42Lee Michaels ($1)
I’ve been slowly picking up LPs sampled by the Dust Brothers on Beck’s Odelay. (Don’t Want No) Woman is sampled in Hotwax and Novacane.

 

2014-01-26 13.55.18Herbie Hancock – The Prisoner ($2) 
This is an early Hancock on Blue Note. That is all I know about this record.

 

I picked up the following on a whim. They are interesting to me for one reason or another. Most were pretty cheap and I’m sure they will not all stay in the collection.

 

2014-01-26 13.56.11Cherokee ($1)
The cover is interesting, but the record is rough shape. I thought it would be border-line 70’s soft country rock, but took a chance that it could be more interesting. The track “Funky Business” gave me hope.

It turns out, this band was once the The Robbs, the house band for Dick Clark.

 

2014-01-26 13.56.39Batdorf & Rodney ($1)
This looked interesting because of the long haired rockers on the back and Asylum label. I don’t have too high hopes for the record overall.

 

2014-01-26 13.52.34Bobby Bridger ($1)
A folk rock gamble. The inclusion of a 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar and steel guitar intrigued me. This was recorded in Nashville in 1972.

 

2014-01-26 13.51.57Balcones Fault ($1)
This is another record in which I was interested in the instruments, congas, guitar, drums, sax, trumpet, keyboards…. It was also released on Cream Records, which I’m not too familiar with. My only concern it was released in 1977, I’m afraid it might be too disco-y.

 

2014-01-26 13.50.51Woody’s Truck Stop ($2)
Todd Rundgren was in this band early on, but is not on this release. It is blues-rock and just OK. The record was released on Smash Records.

 

2014-01-26 13.53.48Dog Soilder ($2)
The cover was interesting, and I’m somewhat familiar with Keef Hartley. Expecting some OK blues rock.

Gallery of Sound – Wilkes-Barre, PA

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Bottom Line: Stop if Near By

Price: 4/5
Selection: 2/5
Atmosphere: 3/5

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The Gallery of Sound is a throw back, and I’ll bet legacy, independent music store, located in Wilkes-Barre PA. It is a classic “mall” music store with CD’s, DVD’s, records and various band merchandise. When you walk in it feels fairly large and spacious. I would guess at some point the record inventory was completely wiped out, but is now back. The Gallery has a couple rows of used records, I would guess between 3000 – 5000, mainly in the rock genre. It would be easy to flip through all the used LPs in 30 minutes. The selection was a bit common, but the prices were very reasonable. I’m guessing they get better stuff and it disappears quickly. They also had a few hundred new LPs, and I found the best stuff in the discounted new record bin, which contained dead stock from previous record store days.

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I took a chance on Tom Rush’s fourth album Circle Game and Bob Seger’s Seventh album Seven. I’m not a huge fan of either artists, but the hoped the Seger album was far enough away from Night Moves and Against the Wind and the Rush was early enough to contain interesting folk rock. I also picked up a new reissue of The Soft Boys – Can of Bees for $11. Can’t beat that.

Overall, I would go back to the Gallery of Sound if I lived near by, or was driving past the exit (located 2 minutes off Interstate 81), but would not go too far out of my way to visit the shop.

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The Well…. Again

It has been awhile since I wrote something in this space, and with summer winding down it is a good time to gather up some vinyl, a Pumking and prepare for the fall. I made a stop at a local spot, I like to call the Well – it always seems to produce a few great records at reasonable prices. Yesterday was a good day. I don’t want to divulge too many trade secrets, but I picked up this stack for about the price of a tank of gas.

I’ll start things off with the Beefheart. I have been tempted to spend a decent amount at shows for this record in the past, but held out hope that I would find it in the wild for a good value. It is one of last Beefheart records I really wanted to add to my collection. It is a pretty solid record throughout and has a deconstructed blues feel. This is a perfect original Blue Thumb copy.

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I also found a string of punk-heavy rock-glam classics. The Runaways albums have been avoiding me for a long time, I’m glad to add these to the bins. They are not in perfect shape, but play without a problem. The Richard Hell is a classic punk album. I love it, another Sire masterpiece from 1977. If you are unfamiliar with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, they emerged from the early New York CB GB punk scene with the Ramones, Television, New York Dolls and Dead Boys.

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Another album I was really stoked to find in this bunch was an original copy to The Soft Machine’s first album. It is complete with die-cut spinning wheel cover and banned image of the female buttocks on the front and inside the gatefold. This is a master work by Kevin Ayers and the group. I had a seventies reissue of this record, but the original artwork and cover design are impressive and great testament to the beauty of vinyl.

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The final block of records I picked out included the best Kool N’ the Gang record,  Wild and Peaceful, before the band just looked to create hooks and disco rhythms; a few jazz-fusion Lps to extend my jazz knowledge, and the last two simply based on the covers. The Rail and High Cotton I knew nothing about, but could not pass them up at $1. I’m pretty sure High Cotton is bad soft southern rock, but you never know until you drop the needle.

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Obscure Rock Yardsale Finds

I went out with a fellow vinyl friend for a little Saturday morning yard sale picking during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. My expectations for finding good vinyl were pretty low, I find yard sales a pretty competitive source for records, and we were getting a late start to the day (9am). One of the first houses we stopped at was still setting things up in the garage, so I asked the owner if she had any records for sale. Her response was probably the most idealistic response for a record hunter to hear, I mean, if someone asked me what a perfect yard sale experience would be, it would be this conversation:

Do you have any records for sale? 

Why, yes I have some records, but I didn’t even think about selling them. I was a DJ at a college radio station in the early 70’s. 

And the moment of truth.

Would you be interested in selling them?

Well…… I think so, if I can find them? 

I can wait. 

Her husband left and returned with a standard plastic crate of records, and this is when the dilemma between etiquette or competition sets in. I mentioned I was at the sale with a fellow enthusiast, and close friend, but there was only one seat the at buffet I was about to partake in. The Jane Fonda at the front of the crate was disheartening, but a few records in revealed some odd psych records I already had, and after that I started to pick out everything that seemed slightly interesting. Most of the records seem to be from 1969-73, and most are white label promos (if that means anything to you), but the important part is the music solid and off the beaten path. Surprisingly, out of the 100 or so rock records there were only two by what I would call common artists (dylan, neil young, stones, who, boston, journey, mountain……), the rest were smaller, regional or college bands. The husband returned a second time with another box, and my friend had first crack at the box, but their were fewer solid albums, more 78’s and soft jams. Overall, I picked up 39 records and my picker friend selected 5. The kicker is, she thought she had two more boxes of records, but was too tired to go look.

Here are a few of the records I’m most excited about from the pickup.

Mike Heron – Smiling Men with Bad Reputations

This was the only album which has been on my “hope I find someday” list, a Folk-psych record from one of the members of the Incredible String Band. John Cale (of the Velvet Underground and well John Cale) also collaborates on a few of the tracks. The cover is great. I’m a real fan of the Indian influenced track Spirit Beautiful.

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Chelsea – Chelsea

This should have been on my list of “records I’ll never find or can’t afford”, but today I achieved the impossible. It is a rare psych rock gem, released on Decca. The album is solid cover to cover, and has shown up in my YouTube pysch record wormhole adventures. I’m not really a Kiss fan, but I can dig this early Peter Criss effort.

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The Impressions – Keep on Pushing

Early Curtis Mayfield and a classic song. This one was a no-brainer.

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Green Bullfrog – Green Bullfrog

Southern rock with soul. This was one of the famed “super groups” from the early 70’s, pulling in musicians from Deep Purple, Head, Hands and Feet, Procol Harum. You can read a little more about the band on the Prog Archive forums.

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Pollution – I

Strong southern blues rock with a hint of Janis Joplin in the vocals, Dobie Gray can really carry the tunes. There is an interesting cover of Sly Stone’s Underdog on the beginning of side 2. The album artwork is interesting, and I really expected my pysched out jamming based on the appearance. How did they get that mini gas mask on a duck without Photoshop? The Play it Again Max blog has some more information about this record and notes the cover by Gene Brownell won a Grammy.

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Poe – Through the Spiral 

Starts out as gritty southern blues rock, then moves into a few tweaked out pysch odd ball tracks, particularly the title track. There are several songs which feature some heavy guitar in the vein of Urah Heep or Grand Funk. This was one of the first albums in the crate and it started the mass exodus of the LPs from their comfy plastic home into my car.

 

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I also picked up a replacement copy of Terry Reid’s self titled album.

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And here are a few of the other albums I’m really excited to spend some time with.

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Record Shelving

The storage of records is one of the most challenging aspects of building a collection. It was time for me to rethink the way I stored and access my records. For a long time I had a few of the standard tall Ikea shelves, with another built in shelf and a few boxes here and there. I wanted to create something that pulled everything together, and made it easy to sort and find stuff. I also wanted to make sure there was enough space to grow.

I looked around the web for some ideas.

These shelves from the Official Periodic Blog were interesting and had a nice detailed plan for construction.

Record shelves from Official Periodic Blog
Record shelves from Official Periodic Blog

I also watched the Bench Dogs build 100,000 LP shelves in a warehouse, but seeing as I only need space for about 2,000 LPs, I opted for a smaller scale project.

I found the best starting point for me on Dub’s Links Blog.   The shelves were simple and matched the rest of the stained wood in my little cave.

Record Shelves from Dub's Links Blog
Record Shelves from Dub’s Links Blog

I drafted a few plans using Google Sketch Up to determine size and space. Most of the shelves store the records with the binding facing out, but I also wanted some storage which would be designed to flip through the records with the covers facing forward, so I designed some room for crates on top of the long shelf. As I progressed in the design, I made the crates stackable, so I can have one extra and move it side to side on the top. It also makes for easy hauling to events.

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recordShelvesBothBasement

I quickly ran into one problem. The example I was working from used 13 inch wide pine boards, but after checking the box stores, lumber yards and a few saw mills, I could only find boards a max of 12 inches wide (actually 11.75). I decided to go with burch furniture grade plywood, which needed to be ripped into 13 inch strips with a table saw.

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Once the plywood sheets were ripped, it was just a matter of piecing it together. I decided to use dial joints for the bottom row, and built a little make shift jig so the holes would line up correctly in the two boards. The brad nail gun came in very handy for holding it all together quickly.

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Here is the version about 90% finished. It turned out pretty much as planned. I would estimate the total cost at $170, most of it was in the plywood (3 sheets at $50 each), and it probably took 12hrs to prep, cut, build and stain the shelves. You may have noticed my initial sketches had solid boards about every 15 inches, but one sketch and the finished shelves used dial rods in each row. I made the adjustment to try to cut cost, the use of the dial rods changed the plywood requirements from 4 to 3 sheets. It is still extremely sturdy.

2013-05-08 20.38.07

A Psychedelic Pick

UPDATE: I created a brief mix of what I think is the best stuff, you can listen to it on 8tracks

I stumbled across a nice collection a rock and psych records. Included in it were several pretty odd albums, here are a few that I found interesting:

Pidgeon – self-titled on Decca (1969)

The cover is pretty sweet, nothing like a PLT to grab your attention. I found the music to be a bit softer than expected. I’m not sure if this one will hit my table too often, but the cover is sweet. I guess the lead singer went on to back up Bowie, you can find more information about this out of print album at Time Has Told Me.

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The Seven – the Song is SONG the album is ALBUM on Thunderbird Records (1970)

The Seven album is pretty classic 60’s vocal rock group, with a few tracks which could appear on the next Nuggets release. Tell Her No, a cover of the Zombie’s song, immediately caught my ear. It is an up beat number with a strong horn, bongo and keyboard accompaniment.

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The Ceyleib People – Tanyet on Vault (1968)

This is a Vault LP reissue, and heavy psych with meandering guitars.

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The Orient Express – self-titled on Mainstream Records (1969)

The list of instruments in the liner notes leads one to anticipate a indian influenced psychedelic breakdown, and The Orient Express does not fail to deliver. There are a few really good tracks that might put you into a trance. You can read more about the album at Psychedelic Obscurities and Rockasteria.

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Hotlegs – Thinks School Stinks on Capitol (1971)

At first glance I thought this was School’s Out by Alice Cooper. It turns out it is by a band called Hotlegs, a band which I’m now a fan of. The music is rhythmic and folky, with acoustic guitars leading the way. This is the only album by Hotlegs, but the members went on to form the band 10cc.

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Freedom – self-titled on ABC Records (1970)

This looks and sounds like prototypical early 70’s psych rock, the songs are somewhat predictable in structure, but it is a good listen. With a little digging, I discovered the band was made up of a few ex-members of Procol Harum.

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Bull Angus – Self-titled on Mercury (1971)

The Bull Angus is solid heavy driving guitar rock, which could have been a perfect addition to the Rock N’ Roll racer game. It rips cover to cover. I guess if you are putting it in a box it is psych blues with a penchant for prog rock. Think Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad…..

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