Were this a blog that carried with it an army of devoted readers, I would apologize for writing a college football blog once again. However, I don't really have that problem, so if nothing else, I hope you like college football too.
Now on to more important matters, namely locating obscure music relics for one's own personal collection. I suppose this subject is tangentially related to the previous blog regarding now hard-to-find records, although less specifically directed.
Let me also preface (is it still a preface in the third paragraph?) the fact that I am in no way discovering this before anyone else. Here I submit my inferiority to the hard core collectors who have spent the past 35 years amassing piles of rare trinkets and mementos of bands that only played one show ever in Cody, WY, before disbanding and joining other bands that never did anything, except that one of them played in a band that played with a band that used to play shows with the Shins when they were still called Flake and living in Albuquerque. One of those people I am not.
So what I was really wanting to say before I wasted your time above, is that I have come to believe that 7" vinyl records are the new best thing when it comes to finding cheap and even sometimes rare releases.
Why are they the best? Well, there's a few reasons.
1. They are often poorly sorted, and hard to go through in record stores. The 7" bin is usually a jumbled mess, and given that most are not even in a cardboard case, they are a huge pain to go through. This makes it all the better when you find something good.
2. They are typically in poor condition, most often only in a generic record sleeve. You can't quickly flip through them, and so most people don't bother flipping through and reading every single title.
3. They are largely not in high demand. Judging from the 7" record bins, the height of production for them was mostly the 80s. Yes, you will no doubt find TONS of Huey Lewis, Kenny Loggins, Peter Gabriel, and hopefully some Kenny Rogers. I think this factor may be one of the driving forces behind why you can find good 7" records if you look long enough, because most people aren't willing to sort through a ton of Rush albums to find one copy of the Reejers 1995 7-inch (explained later).
4. They are largely useless, given that you can't really just put a 7" on and listen to it for half an hour. More along the lines of, put the record on, listen to one song, maybe two, and then get up and either flip it over or put a new record on.
5. They are CHEAP! You'll often be able to find them for 49 cents to a dollar, maybe more or less in some places, and maybe a bit more expensive if the record store has recognized it as something of value.
A word of caution, however, at least, as far as your excitement goes. The 7" vinyl was apparently the favorite medium of reissues for record companies for some a number of years, so if you find a Buddy Holly record for 99 cents, you've probably run across such a reissue. However, often the records themselves don't even have a date on them, so it can be hard to tell. I recently found a copy of Dion and the Belmonts' "The Wanderer," almost certainly a reissue, but still a great song.
So, while you are unlikely to come upon an untapped goldmine in the 7" record bin, you've got a good chance of finding some pretty cool stuff for really cheap. In addition to good older finds, you've also got a pretty good chance of finding limited pressings of newer 7" vinyl from indie bands.
Case in point, I recently found:
The Reejers - "Coffee Grounds / Same Key" - (This is one of Nick Urata's early bands before he started DeVotchKa)
Tom T. Hall - "It's Rained in Every Town Except Paducah" - I'm a sucker for West Texas related memorabilia
Jimmie Dale & the Flatlanders - "Joe Blon" - see above
The Sparkles - a reissue of various early releases - see above again
Michael Martin Murphey - "Wildfire"
Deathray Davies - "They Stuck Me in a Box in the Ground, Pt. 3" - a bit newer of a release by a great Dallas band.
And when you really, really want a rare 7", it's not out of line to search ebay for some good finds, as 7" records tend to be limited run and don't get re-pressed when they go out of print.
In other news, Thrift Store Cowboys' house almost burned down. Here's the KCBD story with more links to video. Luckily no one was hurt, so hopefully it won't take too long to get back on their feet after this.