Monday, 10 June 2013

Panning For Charity Shop Gold

(£150) Record Collector RRPG 2014
Nothing increases the pleasure of adding a rare vinyl treasure to my collection like getting hold of it on the cheap. This eventuality seems ever less likely when my local Cancer Research Shop thinks that a copy of Phil Collins' No Jacket Required LP deserves a price tag of £15 - I kid you not! I can't think of any scenario in which an album as ubiquitous as that could demand that sort of money (unless there's a twenty quid note tucked in the sleeve.) However, overpriced Phil Collins albums not withstanding, I did have a spot of luck three years ago when I stumbled into a charity shop on a morning when someone had clearly chosen to offload the carefully selected LP purchases of a misspent youth. My heart pounded in my ears as I flipped through classic after classic from the late 1960s and early 1970s. These weren't reissues either! Part of me feared that it was all a set-up, some kind of a candid camera stunt: no sooner would I carry the LPs to the till than their presence in the shop would be revealed as a honeytrap to get cheap laughs at the expense of this gullible vinyl junkie. Of course I wasn't thinking straight as it would have made for terrible TV. Amongst the 26 LPs I skipped home with that day were two copies of the Rolling Stones' Between The Buttons, a hologram-covered Their Satanic Majesties Request, a mono Beatles For Sale, a pink Island label copy of Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief,

(£150) Record Collector RRPG 2014

a first pressing of Tommy by The Who, Donovan's A Gift From A Flower 2LP box set, a first pressing of Nick Drake's Bryter Layter and, most excitingly, a beautifully-preserved, mono, first pressing of Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (worth £700 according to Record Collector's Rare Record Price Guide).

(£400) Record Collector RRPG 2014

(£700) Record Collector RRPG 2014

At a quid a throw, I'm obviously going to hell if I ever sell any of these and don't make a charitable donation. The same shop, five months later yielded first-press Led Zeppelin, Free, Hawkwind, Family and Quintessence LPs. Since then, nothing more thrilling than a Mrs Mills Hammond Party album.

The trouble with being a vinyl junkie is that, like all junkies, I'm always looking to revisit the perfect high. I had started to think that the serendipity of discovering rare records in the land of scratched Des O'Connor LPs was a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated, piece of good fortune. I figured that I could add it to a bottle of reflux-inducing tombola-prize Pomagne and a £5 scratch card win to my back-of-a-postage-stamp list of good luck moments. I seem to remember scraping away at the winning scratch card on the hard shoulder of the M1 while waiting for National Breakdown to rescue me and my terminally ill VW Scirocco, so strike that one from the list of lucky moments. However, Lady Luck has smiled on me once more, or rather, my dogged perseverence has paid off, because a few weeks ago I scored a near mint first pressing of Dark Side Of The Moon (easily identified by the solid blue triangle on the record labels and the A2/B2 matrix), in a West London charity shop for a tenner.

(£500) Record Collector RRPG 2014
Perhaps this comes across as smug and boastful. It's not intended that way. The point I'm trying to make is that collecting records is like panning for gold: you have to have the patience to sift through endless run of the mill dross in order to stumble upon these little treasures. In the end, the music's what really matters, but hell, I do love the thrill of the chase!

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