A few weeks had passed since my last crate digging outing. In fact recent trips had been restricted to a simple trawl of the local charity shops and ‘crate digging’ could be considered a rather grand term for such jaunts. The itch needed to be scratched last weekend with something a bit more serious. The trouble is there are limited options in my neck of the woods. I live in quite a large city by UK standards so you would think there would be some choice, but it goes to show that the physical pursuit of vinyl – as opposed to the e-pursuit – is getting more and more difficult. My feeling, from tales told in the blogosphere, is that there are still plenty more options in the USA.
Anyway, hereabouts there are only four outlets I can think of dedicated to the noble art of selling second hand vinyl. One of these has by far the most stock, but I have visited it a few times in the past and always been disappointed. I stride towards the shop full of enthusiasm but, somehow, instead of feeling that rush of anticipation as I walk over its threshold, I’m always overcome with a feeling of indifference. Why? Any number of reasons could, and do, apply I think. The sheer volume of records is initially daunting. There is a predominance of albums, and I am currently enjoying a renewed and extended romance with the 45. I know these guys have been in business for a long time, so presumably they know their stuff and bargains will be few and far between. A lot of the stock, especially the 45s, is sorted in alphabetical order but not by genre. They are also crammed tightly into their boxes so making quick riffling difficult, and believe me quick riffling is preferable as there is a lot of dross to cut through. During previous visits soul and funk as a genre seem to have been almost completely absent.
OK, enough reasons. So what of my latest visit? This post can’t be all bad news and general grumpiness you’re thinking? Well, I experienced the familiar ennui as I walked in. I decided to head straight to the back of the shop. It’s almost a separate room and tends to be where the more expensive and individually priced stock is, but I figured it’s also where any soul and funk might be. Ennui was replaced by hope as I found that a dedicated section of soul and funk had been set up – no 45s, all albums, but never mind. There were at least six boxes so eager now I dived in. Initially hope retreated – all were priced at £5 and everything appeared to be commonplace or albums I already had, and multiple copies of lots of items. Then halfway through the third box I pulled out a copy of The Ohio Players 1976 album “Contradiction”. Not rare I know, but I used to love that album. I never had my own copy but had taped it off a friend’s copy all those years ago and the tape has been well played down the years. But the really magical thing about this plum I had just pulled out was that it was still sealed. I ran through the rest of the boxes but didn’t find anything else that justified the asking price (although I did find another still sealed copy of “Contradiction”). I handed over my £5 and left happy and with a spring in my step clutching my still sealed Ohio Players.
On getting home I then agonized over whether or not to remove the cellophane. I carefully slit one side so I could get the record out – I’m not completely mad I do actually like to play my records as well as look at them! But then the question - do I go further and remove all the cellophane? The Ohio Players were of course famous for their mmm…‘hot’ album covers, which were all gatefold. This one was no exception, so in the end the agonizing didn’t last too long, the cellophane had to come off! And there it was, the sleeve and record as fresh as the day it was sealed in cellophane some 31 years ago (assuming it’s a first press of course, and that’s what I’m happy to believe).
The music in the grooves still sounds fresh too. Here are two tracks from that record, beautifully pop and click free, recorded from only it’s second ever play.
Opening a still sealed record after 31 years is a bit like entering a time warp. As a bonus
It just so happens that “Contradiction”, teamed with “Honey” is released on a digitally remastered CD on 4th June. Go get it.