I went to the Leamington Record and CD Fair on Saturday, and was a little underwhelmed. I’ve been several times before but I wold, more often than not, go every six months or so, I’ve been to the last three and the frequency is quite possibly the issue. There was less for me to get excited over and a lot for me to get a bit miffed over. I don’t buy records to own something that has a different coloured label or a fantastically rare catalogue number, I genuinely don’t care. I go there to find records that I can play that are less than the £20 needed for a re-issue on 180g vinyl.
I did find a few things but I came way from there with most of my money still in my pocket, and I made the mistake of buying something (for £3.50) that I already had, not for the first time, which suggests that since I bought the first one I haven’t listened to it and begs the further question, do I need either of them?
So what did I buy? Well, I bought these (album titles are links to Spotify):
‘Mind Bomb’ by ‘The The’ – £5
‘The Seer’ & ‘Steel Town’ by Big Country – £2.50 each
Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell – £1
Jose Feliciano by Jose Feliciano – £2.50
My Life in the Bush Of Ghosts by David Byrne & Brian Eno – £5
Coldsweat 12” by t The Sugarcubes – £4
Street Legal by Bob Dylan – £3.50 (and the one I already had)
If you were counting that’s 7 vinyl LP’s and a 12” single for £28.50, which is lovely, although really it’s 6 with the duplicate, but I should be more positive about it, I did get some things I wanted, so that’s good. Where I get frustrated is with some of the stall holders who have albums that, to my mind, are massively overpriced. Now this may well be because I don’t want to play £150 for a record that I can buy re-pressed at 180g for £20, but also because some of these albums are there month after month after month and never sell, and probably never will at the level they are asking.
An example is The Beatles and The White Album. I can buy a perfect copy for £25. It’s not 40 years old, it doesn’t have pops and crackles, the cover isn’t worn nor are the corners dinged. A perfectly playable copy in perfect condition. I picked up a copy for £8 and thought, well I’ll have that, even though it looked a little tired. I had misread the label, it was £80 and had no indication anywhere on it as to why. I didn’t buy it, obviously.
I know there are collectors out there who want rare items, but I just can’t quite grasp why. If I have an album that I bought for £5 from a second hand bin and somebody else has exactly the same album but with different colour label that is supposedly worth £200, so what, if you put it on a turntable it will play exactly the same songs, and that’s really all I care about. And why is it worth £200? Surely this is theoretical as the prices should be driven by supply and demand. It’s only £200 if somebody is willing to pay that much for it and judging by the number of high priced records I see over and over again, the vast majority of people are not prepared to pay.
I do understand that there are some items that do command higher values, such as Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan from 1963 that featured 4 tracks deleted from subsequent releases is purported to be worth $35,000. If those 4 tracks are not available anywhere else then I get that, but if they have been released elsewhere, why that much money?
Ringo Starr’s own copy of The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album in fact) from 1968 sold for $790,000, presumably because it was numbered – No.0000001. If you want to listen to it on vinyl then spend £25 on a new one. It’s madness!
I get nostalgia, and have paid a little bit more for something simply because I once owned it, or wanted to own it, sometime back in the past and now have the opportunity and resources to get myself a copy, but that has its limits from a price perspective. As an example, in 1979 I was rather taken by the song ‘Bang Bang’ by B.A.Robertson and had the 7” single. I really wanted the album (I was 12 years old, don’t judge me!) in the way that somebody that you does, I obsessed over it, but never actually bought it. I saw a copy of the album at the record fair and it was £6.50 but I wouldn’t pay it, because it simply isn’t worth that much to me, it was at one point, but not now, it would have to be £2.50 maximum for me to buy it, and I realised some time ago that B.A.Robertson was crap, which was a big influencer on my decision. Now, if I knew that the album was worth £60 I would have bought it and immediately stuck it on Ebay, but I would never be the one paying £60 for it.
There are a number of albums that I know are rare, such as a lot of the Krautrock stuff that came out in the early 70’s which is not currently available elsewhere, if you want to listen to it you might have to pay £100 for the privilege, I understand that, but if it was re-released then the re-release would do, or even the ability to stream it on Spotify as it could quite easily be crap. This happened with Tago Mago by Can, which is an album I adore. An original copy sells, on average, for about $110 (£70), I could have paid that for it but, instead, paid £19 ($27.50) for a re-release and am extremely happy with it, why wouldn’t be? It’s brand new!
At the record fair one of the stallholders was telling me that his colleague once had original copies of the first 15 Elvis Presley singles, which he sold for a couple of hundred pounds several years ago, when now they would be worth thousands. It was entirely meaningless to me. I had an original copy of ‘Return to Sender’ by Elvis when I was a kid and I played the damn thing until it was almost worn out, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. Had I kept this 1962 release in pristine condition it would now be worth somewhere in the region of £1.50. I had a lot more value out of it than that and didn’t have the hassle of keeping it perfect all these years.
I do sound like I’m moaning a bit, but I genuinely can’t get my head around paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a vinyl record, even though I love them, I could buy a couple of very nice houses for that. Perhaps somebody could explain it to me.
I’ll leave you with what might appear to be an odd choice for me, but I do really have rather eclectic tastes: