I’ve had a lot of rare records pass through my hands since I bought my first LP in ‘63, but usually I keep the really expensive ones moving.
I do get a certain amount of pleasure from holding something super rare, but I’ve never been well heeled enough to countenance keeping many of them. I have sold my whole collection twice. I sold most of my rare punk singles (pre-eBay, bummer) to keep a roof over my head for a year, and have weeded out as many as 1,500 records in a single day to pay various bills. Right now I guess I have somewhere upwards of 30,000 records, but I really don’t know. For me the pleasure was as much in the finding as the hoarding.
The best thing I ever got in a rare record trade was a Volvo station wagon, which I got in 90 for some psych LPs.
The most I ever bid (and lost) was $2,300 for an Ornette Coleman test pressing. The most I ever actually paid (in cash) was $1,000 for Sun Ra’s Black Mass.
Here are some off my personal favorites.
“Sex Drive” – Necros – worth $1,200
This was the first record Touch & Go put out. It was limited to 100 copies. I managed to swap Barry Hennslere for the one unspoken-for copy of the one with the Sex Pistols sleeve in the early 80s.
Bulldozer – Big Black – worth $500
They gave this a metal cover. Only 200 were made and most were lost. Steve Albini had the idea of doing this special edition of the second Big Black record, packed in an acid-etched galvanized steel cover, but they weighed a ton, and somebody made a mistake and shipped most of them off to fulfill a regular order for them overseas.
Pound – OST – worth $300
This was the soundtrack to a Robert Downey movie and it never actually got released as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, this is a very pleasant and smutty rendering of music and dialogue from the film that Downey made between Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace. Why it was pressed onto LP I could not say.
“Ballad of Hollis Brown” - Wizz Jones – worth $300
This is just a cool, rare early UK folk single with a non-LP B-side.
Town Hall Concert 1962 test pressing – Ornette Coleman – worth $1,500
This has a silk-screened cover and, as such, is a very nice piece to hold in your hands. It was done as a preview of ESP’s dive into the jazz world and comes with a nice letter to reviewers and writers and whatnot. My friend, Jimmy Johnson, gave me this as a birthday present in the late 80s and has regretted it ever since.
“Six & Change” – Pagans – worth $600
This is probably my favorite US punk 45. There were only 200 pressed and it was one of the first singles everybody was looking for in the first days of punk.
Demos acetate – Pearls Before Swine – worth $2,000
This is on loan from Tom Rapp, but I keep hoping he forgets I have it. It’s got songs from the first Pearls’ LP and some choice covers.
Inside / Outside – Charlie Nothing – worth $300
I have the only copy I’ve ever seen of the 2nd LP by this genius primitive sax and hand drums player from Berkeley. His first LP on Takoma is cool, but this is beyond that. It has an aura of smoke so heavy it makes your eyes sting.
“Sex Boots Dread” – Rinka – worth $1,000
I have the only copy of this 12” you’re ever going to see outside of Jamaica. It’s from the early 80s and it’s about Rinka coming out of the closet and and getting into heavy toasting about the pleasures of anal sex. Larry Clark used it for a club scene in the movie Bully.
Byron runs the Ecstatic Yod record and book shop (yod.com), writes a column for Arthur magazine with his bud Thurston Moore, and is known as a music guru guy who you would kill to sit in his living room and have him play records for you all day.
This story is over 5 years old
The Music Issue