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I went back.

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I had no real good excuse to go back to the 50-cent bin at Allentown’s Double Decker Records.

But I went anyway, leaving roughly $10 in their coffers and walking out with another pile of secondhand (maybe even third- or fourth-hand) goodies.

I didn’t get any of the country or gospel stuff that turned my head the first time I went … mainly ’cause I couldn’t find any of it.

Instead, this latest batch is roughly equally split between Seventies mellow gold and classical.

Here’s the latest. Cheer or throw stuff as you choose:

101_1391To Be True, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass: A former No. 1 album on the R&B charts (for the week ending May 10, 1975), and a marvelous showcase for the finest voice Philly soul ever produced. Of all the stuff I bought, this got played first.

101_1393Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John: In 42-plus years of my existence, this is the first Elton John album I have ever owned. A few months ago, something brought me to a YouTube video with the entire album, and I listened to it all, thinking, “Y’know, this is pretty damned good.” Have listened to Side 2 since I got it home and my opinion has not changed.

101_1394There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon: Forgetting that I will probably receive my parents’ vinyl copy of this in a month, I gave in to a whim and bought it. I hadn’t heard the full album from start to finish in many years. Put it on again last night and I thought it was solid, if a little too polite and well-groomed in places. (I had an incorrect memory that “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” went double-time at some point, the way “Kodachrome” does. It would have been better that way, methinks.)

101_1397The Marblehead Messenger, Seatrain: Double Decker Records had two Seatrain albums, neither of which included the band’s one semi-hit, “13 Questions.” I’d read about them, and something in their style (Wiki called it “roots-fusion”) sounded appealing, plus I’m a sucker for anything Massachusetts, so I figured this was worth a shot. (Also: Produced by George Martin.)

101_1398I’m In You, Peter Frampton: The second album on this list to stall at No. 2 on the U.S. album charts. I have written in the past (not in this space) about my deep fondness for the title track. As for the remainder … well, it was 50 cents, and in good shape. And Stevie Wonder and Ritchie Hayward are on it. I’ll listen at some point.

101_1400Beethoven: Christ on the Mount of Olives, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra: From Frampton, to this … let’s play Segue Fever!
This record looks like the feel-good hit of the season, doesn’t it? Its aura of suffering and seriousness helped draw me in. This just looks like the sort of cultural work I need to chew on, and can only aspire to be worthy of and to understand. I feel like maybe I should drag nettles along my forearms while I listen.
(I do know that the Philly Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy was a force to be reckoned with; so whatever I think of the music, I’ll at least know that it’s being conducted and played about as well as it can be.)

101_1402Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Leopold Stokowski and the New Philharmonia Orchestra: Thanks perhaps to early exposure to EL&P, this is probably my favorite classical piece. And even though I’ve got CDs of Vladimir Horowitz playing it on solo piano and someone heavy (George Szell and Cleveland, maybe?) playing the orchestral arrangement, I’m still up for an additional version.
The bonus jam on this elpee is something called The Engulfed Cathedral, which sounds frothy and danceable.

101_1405Charles Ives: Symphony No. 1 and Three Places in New England, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra: All the stuff I said about Ives in my first crate-digging expedition still applies. And hey, there’s Ormandy and the Philadelphians again. Not sure why I haven’t spun this one yet … maybe during dinner prep while I’m making tonight’s spring rolls?

101_1406Various and sundry by Britten, Elgar and Schoenberg, Victor Desarzens and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra: It looked interesting and  curious and sorta modern-ish, and it was 50 cents. If it sucks I’ll frame the cover. (The classical music industry has provided lucrative work for all manner of artists over the decades, hasn’t it?)

101_1408Camille Saint-Saens, I can’t read the rest of the bloomin’ cover but it’s a bunch of preludes for organ: I like pipe organ music.

101_1410Moments, Boz Scaggs: I read a contemporary Rolling Stone review of this that said it was a pretty good record, so I thought it was worth a shot. (I’m vaguely interested in what Boz was doing in the wilderness before Silk Degrees made him a superstar.) Features the studio version of “We Were Always Sweethearts.”

101_1413Bombs Away Dream Babies, John Stewart: The popularity of the single “Gold” (with help from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks) lifted this one into the Top 10 on the LP chart in the summer of 1979. “Gold” is the only song I know, but I was in a mellow-gold mood, so I decided to give this a chance.
And really: Put a white guy in a white suit with a white Les Paul against a white background, and you’ve pretty much got the ultimate visual representation of mellow gold, haven’t you? If the music on the album is half of what the cover photo promises, it ought to be an easy ride.

101_1416Compositions by Bartok and Hindemith, Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: What were we saying a moment ago about classical music providing extensive opportunities for graphic artists? I assume the two gents on the cover are Bartok and Hindemith, and not, say, Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. This one promises to break up the mellow gold nicely.
101_1418Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony Orchestra: I’ve been meaning for years to try to work Bartok onto my dance card. Robert Fripp, who I consider one of the most creative and interesting guitarists to reach mainstream rock notoriety, has cited him as an influence. With a world-class orchestra playing, I figured it was worth a shot.
101_1420Beethoven: Emperor Concerto, Glenn Gould, Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra: We heard from Stokowski and the ASO the last time I went digging for vinyl. Here they are again, this time in the company of the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
“Will he ever get away from this highbrow shit and back to pop?” you ask. Well…
101_1422Chicago 13: This album — Chicago’s first LP without any hit singles at all, I believe — is so bad it’s almost legendary. I thought I had gotten away from buying bad music just to make myself laugh, but I guess not, quite. Features “Street Player,” the dance mix of which I enjoy unashamedly. Can’t wait to hear the songs where Peter Cetera sings in a lower register.
101_1423The Pretender, Jackson Browne: Another YouTube special; I found myself a while ago listening to the entire thing online and thinking, “Hey, this is much more accessible than Late For The Sky, and really is pretty good, except for the mock-flamenco Mexican-restaurant nonsense of ‘Linda Paloma,’ which I would instantly and invariably skip over if I owned my own copy.”
Well, now, I do.

101_1426Living and Dying In 3/4 Time, Jimmy Buffett: I have a dear old friend — one of my truest and longest — who introduced me years ago to both the first Ramones album and Blood On The Tracks, which gives you some idea of his eclecticism. In recent years he has become fond of Jimmy Buffett, so I figure I’ll check it out myself and see if there’s anything to it. (I made sure to find an album from Buffett’s earlier years, before he turned into a franchise.)

101_1428Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 and Karelia Suite, Alexander Gibson and the London Symphony: I have lit’rally no idea why I picked this up. We’re almost done, anyway.

101_1430Feels So Good, Chuck Mangione: The third album on this list to stall at No. 2. The title just about says it all, doesn’t it? Dunno why Betty got rid of her copy, but I’m glad she did.

What I didn’t get.

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At some point soon I’ll fill you in on what I picked up earlier today, when I went vinyl-shopping for the first time in lit’rally years.

(It was a hoot; I picked up about 10 albums for $10.07. The damage could have been much worse.)

Instead I’ll write about the stuff I didn’t buy that sticks in my head, the way things manage to do even when you’ve pawed through hundreds of records.

Chuck Mangione, Fun and Games: Skipped right past this one in the 50-cent bin. Probably should have considered it, as it has Chuck’s 1980 Winter Olympics theme tune, “Give It All You Got.” Also contains a song called “Pina Colada,” which I know nothing of but sounds like it might contain the distilled essence of 1979. Speaking of which …

Rupert Holmes, Partners in Crime: I like “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and “Him” well enough, as turn-of-the-decade earworms go, so I’ve wondered what a full LP of Rupert Holmes would sound like.

I took out the inner sleeve today (also in the 50-cent bin), read some of his lyrics, decided his writing wasn’t that enthralling, and put it back. But I still sorta wonder, in a reduced way, what a full LP of Rupert Holmes sounds like.

The Sounds of the 1970 Liberty Grenadiers: I might be fudging the title a little bit. Assuming the cover was accurate, this was a recording of the 1970 edition of the marching band from Liberty High School here in Bethlehem.

Such things must have been popular that year: I have a copy of a similar, locally pressed record that captures my high school’s 1970 concert and jazz bands in action.

I’ve never listened to more than five minutes of that record, and I wouldn’t listen to more than five minutes of the Liberty Grenadiers either. So I have no idea why this record sticks in my head. Just as a local curio, I guess.

The Best of Porter Wagoner, Vol. 2: I’ve concluded that the high points of country music are lost on me.

But I still aspire to appreciate them, at least a little bit. It is quintessentially American music, after all. And my dislike for country is based in part on city-boy (well, suburb-boy) disdain and superiority, which is never a positive personal quality.

There was a raft of ’60s and ’70s country records in the 50-cent bin (Merle Haggard’s I’m A Lonesome Fugitive was another), and I thought I should pick one up and camp out with it and get my arms around my personal Country Problem once and for all.

Maybe some other time.

20 Rockin’ Originals: I don’t actually need a copy of this Fifties compilation album. The excellent American Graffiti soundtrack and a Chuck Berry greatest-hits collection ably fill any need I might have for greasy kid stuff.

No, this one sticks in my head for its cover photo — a “glamour shot” of a blonde with a football jersey and a weird, tongue-lolling, vaguely glassy expression. It made me think of drunken teenage indiscretions, and of high-school football players swapping gossip in the locker room (“Give Carol Ann a glass of wine and she’ll do just about anything.”)

Quickie oldies compilation albums are supposed to make you think of rockin’ good times, not of the complicated psychological needs and weaknesses of teenage football players and the girls who service them. I can’t explain how my mind works, except that it runs some weird routes sometimes.

(Google Images indicates there’s an alternate version of this album cover on which Carol Ann is hiking her football jersey up above rib level — and no, she’s not wearing Under Armour. See, it’s not me inserting the sexual subtext. I’m just a good clean all-American boy who likes crates full of vinyl.)

Ferrante & Teicher Salute Nashville: I’ve riffed on Ferrante & Teicher in the past as the epitome of easy-listening cheese … without actually owning one of their albums or listening to more than 30 seconds of any of their songs. Scarcely seems fair or honest, does it?

If I’m gonna get to know The Grand Twins of the Twin Grands, though, it ain’t gonna be through their Nashville album.

Richard Pryor, That Nigger’s Crazy: Almost bought this one just for the street cred, but it was pretty well worn down.

(There was a classic Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe album there, too, that would have been mine if it didn’t look like Ondrej Nepela had performed his short routine on its vinyl surface.)

The Cash Family Singers: Gospel music has been able to penetrate my godless soul a tiny bit more than country has. A gospel singer who’s really giving it up (as opposed to showboating) hits a particular nerve that’s hard to ignore.

The gospel I’ve heard has all been performed by the best-known acts in the business, so I can’t gauge the odds that a local/small-time gospel group could hit the monkey nerve.

But for 50 cents, I could have found out with any number of records, including this one.

Google does not turn up a Cash Family Singers discography, just a sparse list of references going back 40 years. This record was probably a small-time pressing sold off a merchandise table outside a congregation hall somewhere.

Its mysteries are not for me to uncover.

Not unless I go back …