The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Record Collecting #3

7-1-08 Record Collecting #3

Towards the end of 1970, I was trying to go to the hippie record store in downtown Long Beach (“Licorice Pizza”, 131 W. 5th Street) as often as possible – whether my dad took me down there on a Friday afternoon and let me look in the record store while he went and “did his banking” – or I learned to catch the bus near my house and take it downtown. I think it was in December of 1970 that I first saw LP’s on the Vertigo label, from England – at the Licorice Pizza. The first two I saw were by May Blitz and Uriah Heep. The hippies who worked in the record store there liked me – and they offered to play May Blitz for me. It’s great hard rock – a power trio, a la Cream! And I loved the pen ‘n’ ink LP cover, by Tony Benyon.

The economics of the day were thus: I could do chores around the house, such as take out the trash, mow the lawn etc – and I would be paid for these activities. I also was known to scour the alleyways near my home for returnable soft drink bottles – at the time, worth a whopping 3 cents each, when returned to the liquor store “for the deposit”. I was also given “lunch money”, which I didn’t always spend on lunch. If all of these things occurred simultaneously, I just might’ve had enough cash for an LP – remember me mentioning the bargain bin at the Thrifty Drug Store? Most new U.S. LP’s were either $2.98 or $3.98 at the local hippie record stores – and import LP’s were usually a dollar more – yikes! $5 and change for an LP! That’s a fortune! Double LP’s (and boxed sets) could only really be considered as potential birthday presents or an Christmas gifts (think: the “Woodstock” triple LP or the George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” triple LP boxed set). If you carefully monitored the local ‘discount houses’, it was possible to get new LP’s somewhat cheaper than the hippie record stores.

Upon mentioning ‘discount houses’ – I am reminded of childhood memories of being left to my own devices in the record departments of Cal Store, The Treasury, Gemco, Zody’s, White Front, The “Big A”, May Company, J.C. Penney, Woolworth’s, Dooley’s Hardware…in addition to Morey’s Music on Pine Ave. in downtown Long Beach – but why would one go there instead of the nearby hippie record store? To buy clarinet reeds!

So, I have to scrounge to get the money needed to buy records. I could ask my dad to buy me records – and sometimes he went for it. I think the only thing I can remember him balking at was the British copy of “Electric Ladyland” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience – if you are familiar with the cover, I think you’ll understand why he didn’t want to buy it for a 10 year old! I loved the bargain bins – because records were super cheap there! I remember when mono LP’s were going out of style, you could buy any mono LP at Woolworth’s for like…$1. I got Bob Dylan “Blonde On Blonde” for $1 – new / sealed (in mono, with the original interior photos!).

And every once in a blue moon – Wallach’s Music City sold their demonstration LP’s for $1. Most of them were beat-to-shit, from having been ‘auditioned’ in those little listening booths. But not everything was beat up – if the girls who worked there hated something, they were quick to toss in the $1 bin, so they wouldn’t have to look at it anymore! (As was the case with “In The Court of The Crimson King”!).


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