Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Vinyl Record Day!

Yes, it's that time again. Tuesday August 12th is Vinyl Record Day, corresponding with the day that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph way back in 1877. Once again, JA Bartlett of The Hits Just Keep on Comin' has organized a blogswarm, including many new participants, this year. Each participating blog will feature a tribute to vinyl of some sort. It is our pleasure at It's Great Shakes to once again take part. Be sure to check out Mr. Bartlett's blog throughout the day tomorrow for updates on all of the festivities.

One of the things that I love most about collecting vinyl is that I never know what I'm going to find. Listening to records that I love is great but it's really only half the fun. Not being one to sit at home and shop for records online, I head out into "the wild" on a regular basis in search of 45's. Sometimes I come home empty-handed but the anticipation of finding something cool and unusual constantly drives me to keep looking.

Collecting singles, there are literally more great records out there than anyone could amass in a lifetime. And it sure is neat to finally run across something that I've been hoping to find for a long time. Perhaps even better though, is finding something completely unknown that looks like a good record. It happens all the time and probably will continue to happen, if I keep collecting 45's for the next 20 years.

The number of records out there that are completely unknown to me is staggering. There's just something about finding an unknown record and coming home to plop it on the turntable. Often, the results are disappointing. But occasionally I strike gold. There's nothing quite like discovering something new and great that only cost a dollar or sometimes even less.

Last Friday, I made a trip to Cape Girardeau, MO, one of my favorite towns to look for records. Cape Girardeau is situated on the Mississippi River, a little over 100 miles south of St. Louis. It's about a 75 mile drive for me. It's become a favorite because of the many antique malls on the riverfront.

Antique malls are no guarantee of records. There are several right here in my hometown and I haven't found anything significant in them for over a year. But I've had really good luck in Cape Girardeau. The first time I was there was a hot summer day, last year. I found records just about everywhere I went. Since then, I've been back three times, including on leap year day, when I found two big boxes of 45's crammed for of goodies in one shop.

Since then, things have dried up a bit. Most of the shops haven't replenished their record stock since my first trip there. In fact, it seems that one particular vendor, who's set up in a couple of different malls is the main source for records. Even then, my trip last Friday had me going through a whole lot of records that I'd seen before.

I did manage to find about 20 records that I wanted, not a bad day. Included were several discs that I'd never heard of before. Taking chances on unknown records is pretty painless when the price is right. Here are some examples from last Friday's haul, with mixed results.

Count Yates - Chimpanzee (Regis)

I pulled this from a three for a dollar box and it was the most intriguing record I found because of the artist name and song title. I'd never heard of Count Yates before. It turns out that he was a member of a 50's group called the Premiers that recorded for the Dig label. His only other record as Count Yates seems to be "At The Soul-In" on the New Bag label, a three figure northern soul disc.

Here's one case where the record doesn't disappoint. In fact, this is a pretty good companion piece to Bert Convy's "The Gorilla" that I just found on my California trip. Maybe an all simian mix is in the offing?

The Collection - A Little Game She Plays (J.E.K.)

Yeah, yellow vinyl! Although I don't make a point of collecting colored vinyl, I picked this one up because it looked to me like it might be garage rock. It's not but I guess you might call it a near miss. The era certainly sounds correct. Check out the opening notes to "I Can't Help Myself" at the beginning.

There's a Kennett, MO address on the label. Joe Keene wrote, produced and published the record. It was also undoubtedly his label. A quick search indicates that Keene is still around today. He's apparently written lots of songs and even had his own recording studio.

I have no idea who was in The Collection or if this was their only record. There are a couple of other singles by bands called The Collection but I have no idea if they're the same outfit. Anyway, this leans more towards pop than garage but the beat isn't bad and there is some organ running throughout. An example of a record that isn't anything too special but interesting, nonetheless.

Bert Bryant - What'll Happen To Me (Mis-Tal)

Here's one that I almost left behind, having pegged it as country. Maybe I decided to grab it based on the Jackson, MS address. An awful lot of records like this, pressed on small labels, are out of Nashville. It turns out that one side of this is country but "What'll Happen To Me" is a rocker. It's nothing spectacular but pretty good.

There's absolutely no listing for this record on the net. Not too surprising, considering it probably hails from the mid to late sixties and has little, if any collectible value. I've been able to dig up nothing on Bert Bryant. A search for writer/arranger Oree Philyaw produced a single hit, a listing for a Mobile Homes dealer in Kosciusko, MS.

So, that's one day's record hunt, with a little look at some previously unknown records. The results were pretty good, as these things go. Once again, I want to wish everyone a happy Vinyl Record Day. And thank you to JA Bartlett for inviting It's Great Shakes to take place in this year's blogswarm. Be sure to check out the other participating blogs.


rockinrollin said...


Anonymous said...

I hope that my digging trip proves fruitful this weekend. Enjoy the new scores and I'll be sure to talk with you soon.

Peace and blessings.

Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas said...

The constant surprises are such a rush. It's like a never-ending treasure hunt.

Devil Dick said...

The number of records out there that are completely unknown to me is staggering. There's just something about finding an unknown record and coming home to plop it on the turntable. Often, the results are disappointing. But occasionally I strike gold.

Indeed, sometimes the chase is in fact better than the catch but man o' man when you hit paydirt isn't it all so worth it....???

jb said...

The thrill of the hunt, and the capture, is what it's all about. Logging on and ordering something is like shooting a tethered animal--not sporting at all.

Thanks to both you and Brian for participating in the VRD blogswarm this year.

Darcy said...

Damn! I missed vinyl record day and I was going to take part this year. I've been too busy this week.

Love reading your digging tales. The thrill of the chase is indeed every bit as good - if not better - than the catch.

I've noticed my obsession is now extending to album sleeves. Last week I bought a sleeve with no record in it just because I liked the artwork (well I guess you class it as cheesecake). In fact I got it for free in the end, but I was willing to pay for it! I think I have now accepted I have an addiction.

I just wish I could say digging in the UK is as exciting as it seems to be in the US.

Todd Lucas said...

Well, digging can be exciting but there are also lots of thimes when I come home with virtually nothing. Yesterday, I went on another long jaunt to a couple of small towns where I've had reasonably decent luck before. Came home with exactly four records that looked interesting enough to pay 50 cents for. Ended up that none of them were very good, including a promising looking one by the Frosted Shake 5.

melody said...

Todd, I have tried to reach you about the 45 my dad oree philyaw wrote. I would love to listen to this guys version of the song. thanks, Melody

Todd Lucas said...

Melody, I can send you the sound file via e-mail, if you'd like.

Todd Lucas said...


Send me an email at and I'll get the file to you.