It was Record Store Day in Fresno, CA., and I decided to try Rasputin’s on Blackstone Avenue. They open at 11am, I got there at 10:40am. The guy in front of me said he’d come here the previous year a few minutes before they opened and was number four. Maybe it was the article in the local paper about the resurgence in LP sales, that spilled the vinyl beans. So we waited.
An employee came by and handed each of us a tiny post-it with our number on it. I asked if they were letting us in-in groups and he seemed to agree, but I don’t think he really knew. In fact, they opened the doors and nearly all 100+ of us got inside.
‘Cept as soon as we did that, we had to wait in another line, inside the store. This line snaked around the aisles. So we continued to wait. At the front of the line were a couple of tables with all of the day’s special LPs. ‘Cept you could only buy ONE item. You had to get back in the line, if you wanted to come back around to buy again. The second time around, they didn’t mind if you bought multiple items.
I wanted a transcription LP by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, but it was gone. So I got my second choice, The Folk Box (Elektra R1 541146 – It’s a four LP, 83 track set, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original release). You don’t know how much these LPs are gonna cost until you get there (no online price info in advance) and this box set cost me $83.99. Yeooouch!
I really like the old folk box sets that are out there, often for just a few bucks. Well, I figured I’d waited in line and I got to the front around 11:40am, so darn it, I’m buying something, pricey or not.
I got back in line for my second time around and the woman behind me said she’d been to another store, Spinners, which also opened at 11am. They didn’t have the LP she wanted, by the Grateful Dead, so she rushed over here to see if she could get it. Unfortunately, Rasputin’s had sold it before she got to the front of the line. She left without anything for her trouble.
Took another 20 minutes or so, I think, to get back to the tables. I picked up two more, Johnny Cash: With His Hot and Blue Guitar (originally Sun LP 1220, now Sun ORGM 2010-$20) and a two LP set, Donny Hathaway Live at the Bitter End 1971 (Atco/Rhino R1 541097 – 180 grams, $30.99). The Cash LP is his 1957 debut with a really cool cover, limited to 3000. There’s a nice, weighty sound to match Cash’s down deep vocals. The vinyl is clean-clean-clean, with nary a click or pop. And it was pressed on beautiful bright blue vinyl!
The Folk Box is compilation of many songs, from many genres of folk music. The recording quality is mostly pretty good, although there is at least one song that sounds like it was taken from a 78 rpm record. A few clicks and pops, but nothing bad. I haven’t had time to listen to it much, but it’s chock full of well-known and unknown (to me) artists and I’m enjoying it so far. There’s a nice 12×12″ booklet with lyrics and illustrations and a 7 inch, 45 rpm record, too. The Last Thing On My Mind, by Tom Paxton, and I’ll Keep It With Mine, by Judy Collins, are on it.
The Hathaway set? CHHHRRIIIIST, it’s freaking good! I recall a hit he had on the AM radio waves in the early 70s but that’s about all. So why buy it? I’d read an article somewhere, many moons ago, about how good this guy really was, and Live at the Bitter End (limited to 4000) proves it. My feet won’t stop tapping.
Just how do you define soul? Probably depends when you were born. For some, it’s James Brown. Others might say Sam Cooke, Aretha or Marvin Gaye. Then there are all the groups that dominated the airwaves in the mid 70s, like the Ojay’s, or Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.
And Donny? Yeah, this guy is right there. The instruments are nicely balanced in them mix and Hathaway’s voice is right out front. No echo as if you’re sitting at the far end of cave. The band is tight. Occasionally, when Hathaway sings loud enough, it sounds like the VU recording meters are red-lining. But they hold, just barely, so there is a bit of occasional distorted edginess to the playback. Given that, there’s a nice smoothness to the overall quality of the rest of the recording. I’d rate this one of the best sounding soul-jazzy live LPs from this time period I’ve ever heard. Whoever remastered this did a good job in my opinion.
The vinyl is pretty darn quiet, although I had some clicks and pops on a few tunes. I noticed it mostly on the quieter ballads. Well worth the bucks, and the wait.
‘Cept there was another line. This one was to actually pay for my hard-fought LPs. By this time, around noon, there was no line for the RSD specials. They’d sold just about all of it. I finally walked out of Rasputin’s at 12:20pm. I’d spent two hours to pickup three records.
This was my first RSD. It was expensive, but after listening, I think it was worth it. I’m happy with my purchases. I don’t know who remastered any of my LPs, but after examining the waveforms of several songs, they don’t look brickwalled (compressed – see my page about this).
I can’t blame Rasputin’s for the lines. They did a pretty good job of making sure everyone got a chance to buy something and there was no chaos or pushing. But next time, I’ll get there at least an hour early, maybe more. So should you!
Got 2 minutes and 12 seconds? Check out a brief medley of tunes from my RSD haul, including the Johnny Cash blue vinyl!