Last night was the start of the annual book sale of the south of the river branch of Save the Children (does any one else think of a certain Laura Nyro song when they read that? No? Must just be me then). It lacks the renown of the north of the river branch that have held their annual book sale at UWA for yonks.
The south of the river branch book sale is small in comparison and a lot more laid back. Recently they have latched onto the Cannington showgrounds. The hall they use there is spacious and airy, and nothing like the hotbox that the South Perth Civic Centre hall was.
Of course, at these book sales they always have a few boxes of records, and that’s why I was in the line 2 hours before the 6pm opening.
Right in front of me in the line was my main competition for the pieces of vinyl. I’ve never learned his name but for now we’ll call him Nick as he passed the time reading Nick Cave’s recent novel. I had hoped to be a bit further away from him, but oh well.
At 6pm they opened the hall doors. ‘Nick’ and I raced to where the music was at the front of the hall. There was a table with two boxes of records; he took the one on the right, I, the one on the left. His approach was to grab a handful of records up out of the box. It is a lot easier than trying to flick through tightly packed records; still that is the approach I was taking, and yes it is slow. I was not more than a few records into the box, and all I was seeing was classical music and undistinguished James Last trumpet albums, when fate intervened.
A volunteer at the book sale informed us that there were more records around the corner in the foyer as they had not finished unpacking the records.
My arch rival and I gave up what we were doing and sprinted around the corner. I saw a box by the window, while he pounced upon a box against the wall.
Personally I thought I had hit the jackpot as the box that was all mine had large protective plastic sleeves sticking up out of it; the type record aficionados use to protect the album cover. I thought, yes, I’ve got some great finds here surely. Alas, no. The box must have been donated by a former opera buff. There was nothing there for me. Resigned to perhaps no records I slunk over to where my arch rival was on his knees digging up records from out of a long box. I could see there was no space for me there, but I could also determine that I was not missing much. The box seemed to contain nothing but unremarkable readers digest boxed sets of pleasant listening music.
Remorseful, I trod back to where I had first been, to the table in the hall and mechanically started to flick through that first box, the one on the left; I had nothing better to do just then. I didn’t feel like looking for any book bargains just yet, disappointed as I was by not a single decent record.
I trawled past the James Last when suddenly the true contents of the box were revealed. The treasure trove was here all along. Like a fool, I had run away, but like a lucky fool I was the first one to come back. And my arch rival had chosen the wrong box to begin with.
My adrenalin rises once again as I relive this discovery. I pulled out Black Sabbath, Nilsson, James Taylor, the Electric Flag, Hoyt Axton, the Byrds, Rod Stewart, plus a few obscure artists that I had never heard of (The Flock anyone? They were on Columbia and I intend to look them up soon) and a whole mess of various happening hits collections. Right at the back of the box were a few more readers digest type box sets, but I was in such a euphoria I just kept on going through the box till the very end. And wow, am I glad I did. The very last item, an orange brown box set that presented no label on the side was a stone classic. It was the Concert for Bangladesh. The classic precursor to Live Aid, and a hundred other rock music charity events, this was the triple live album of George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan in the early 70’s.
The night was a success on the strength of this find alone. However, it was not alone. Let’s delve deeper into what else I uncovered and brought home. And before I forget let me just add, there was almost nothing else that I wanted in other boxes there that night. I looked and I think I must have had to myself the only decent box there. True I found two jazz albums in the foyer once I went back after my arch rival was gone, but this box on the table was the one.
There was a Byrds Greatest Hits, which I immediately latched onto. I thought, no real surprises would be within, but upon later closer inspection, turns out it was a double album with a Pete Frame rock family tree contained inside the gatefold cover.
Up next, a live Hoyt Axton album recorded exclusively in Australia according to the back credits. If you don’t know who Hoyt Axton is, don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll turn up again in this blog.
Towards the back of the box I found Footloose and Fancy Free, a Rod Stewart album from his blondes period; I would gladly have given it up for one of his Mercury albums, but it still has some strong ballads on it, and hey, it is Rod.
Being a big fan of Mike Bloomfield I was thrilled to find the Electric Flag reunion album, The Band Kept Playing. Buddy Miles and Barry Goldberg are there too of course.
James Taylor in small doses is okay, so I happily picked up Gorilla; it’s got an intriguing cover which might find itself on display in my lounge one day soon.
Further I bought an early Black Sabbath compilation, an early Nilsson compilation (might be early demos I suspect) and a Boomtown Rats album (did you know Bob Geldof was not the original lead singer?).
The Flock and Marmalade were amongst the discoveries, and I’ve taken a chance with both of them, knowing absolutely nothing about them, but they look good. There was also a Duane Eddy (love that twang) and a rock drumming instructional record that I could not pass up. I also picked up about half a dozen hits of the day albums dating from the late 60’s to the 70’s. I always find these interesting with their mix of well known songs and totally obscure “were they hits?”
Up to now I have yet to mention how much I paid for all of these wonders. Each record was a dollar. Brilliant. And I saved some children somewhere too.
I later ran into ‘Nick’ elsewhere at the book sale (I beat him to the music books and picked up a good copy of the Rolling Stone record guide for $6). I asked him how he went with finding records. He said not so well. I kept quiet on how I went; till now.