Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Car Boot Sale & Charity Shop Perennials

As vinyl fans we've all seen them.  Aside from the endless popular classical, light opera, stage musicals and Jim flippin' Reeves, there are many rock and pop LPs that crop up in charity shops and at car boot sales time and time again.  These are the big sellers that have fallen out of fashion over the years with little hope of reappraisal, and languish abandoned, seemingly nailed to the inside of the record box.  Let's have a look at some.

Dr. Hook - A Little Bit More (1976) & Sometimes You Win (1979)

Dr. Hook scored six UK top ten hits during their career, including two each from this pair of bestselling albums.  Both LPs made it comfortably into the top 20, meaning that once their brand of soft-rock disco and nauseating balladry fell out of favour, countless copies eventually made it into jumble sales and charity shops throughout the land, since when I have resisted all impulses to purchase one, even though When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman is of course awesome.

These guys got their hooks into the record-buying public over here.

Melanie - Candles In The Rain (1970)

When singer-songwriter Melanie Safka stood in for The Incredible String Band at Woodstock when, allegedly, they refused to go on in the rain, she couldn't have dreamed that she'd go down so well that this, her third album [which includes Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) inspired by the experience] would race to no. 17 in her home country the following year.  It got to no. 5 here in the UK, which is probably why I seem to see at least one copy every time I go to a car boot sale.  My partner used to have it and I can confirm it's a fine record indeed, one of the most memorable tracks being her cover of Ruby Tuesday.  Great voice, ace production and musicianship - get it if you see it.

Candles In The Rain - also featuring the Edwin
Hawkins Singers.

Barbra Streisand - Guilty (1980)

Twelve million.  That's how many copies of this were sold, apparently.  Barry Gibb co-produced this Grammy-nominated behemoth for Babs, and he and his brother Robin wrote the bulk of it with some help from Maurice and producer Albhy Galuten.  The single Woman In Love topped the charts the world over and no doubt drove album sales, but the title track is my favourite song of all on this beautifully produced, multi-platinum-selling album.  Definitely not a guilty pleasure!

Baz is hoping Babs' foundation doesn't rub off
against his outfit.  She's thinking the same thing.

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing (1975)

Rod's solo albums are easy to find at boot sales and chazzas, at least round our way. They usually turn up in large groups, as if someone has just replaced their vinyl collection with CDs or just really gone off him all of a sudden.  These groups always harbour Atlantic Crossing and it's worth spending a pound or two on if you spot it.

The album is split into sides dubbed 'slow' and 'fast', Side 1 consisting of Faces-like rollicking bar-room tunes full of swagger and soul.  Side 2 is equally as good with its heartfelt ballads including a nice cover of This Old Heart of Mine.  Also, Sailing is right at the end, so you can lift the needle before it comes on without having to put it back down again, which is a result.  Certainly an album to rescue from the bins.

I can't decide whether this cover art is really great
or really bad.

Paul Young - No Parlez (1983)

This is the daddy of UK charity shop vinyl, the ultimate perennial that seems to stick to the shelves like something unpleasant sticking to a blanket.  Paul Young, backed here by the Fabulous Wealthy Tarts, released this debut album of pop-soul in 1983 and it stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks, eventually selling near to a million copies and going triple platinum.

Many a school disco slow-dance was had to its no.1 single, a cover of Marvin Gaye's Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) in 1983 and the both this single and the album represent the peak of his career.  I always feel a pang of guilt whenever I see it in a charity shop, as in a moment of clumsiness I managed to scratch a copy belonging to my eldest sister, although she never seemed to notice.  Like the rest of the country I imagine that by then she'd moved on from this excellent but now abandoned album onto popsters new (probably bloody Duran Duran).

My, Paul, what a shiny suit you're wearing!

Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston (1985)

This was Ms. Houston's debut album, released two years before the equally originally-titled 'Whitney' from 1987 and has sold 25 million copies worldwide, making it the best selling solo debut of all time.  Here in the UK it got to no. 2, explaining its status as a car boot sale perennial.  Aside from the excellent singles, however, it's padded out with inferior, rather formulaic material, and even the wonderful Teddy Pendergrass fails to lift final track Hold Me out of the doldrums.

Whitney - saving all her love for Bobby Brown.

Leo Sayer - Endless Flight (1976)

No.  Just no.
Leo receives a prostate exam from God.

Electric Light Orchestra - Discovery (1979)

Who doesn't like ELO?  Jeff & Co.'s music is some of the most feelgood pop ever recorded, and along with 1977's double Out Of The Blue is ubiquitous at boot sales.  It spawned five successful singles and remained at no. 1 in the album chart for five weeks, knocking ABBA's Voulez Vous off the top spot.  Recently I saw three copies of it at just one boot sale, but that's nothing compared to the next record on the list.

"I predict unemployment in the immediate future
of the string section..."

The Carpenters - The Singles 1969-1973 (1973)

Heaven knows I've listened to 2000's CD collection Carpenters Gold enough times, but although I've seen dozens of copies of this 12-track singles compilation from 1973 over the years I've never thought about buying it.  It graced many a living room in the 70s, having sold 7 million in the US alone and spending 17 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the charts over here.

A quick read online reveals that it includes some different mixes and a few re-recorded vocals, but more interestingly "newly recorded bridges and transition material so that each side of the album would play through with no breaks". No-one loves a good segue more than me (non-stopness rules!), so I'll definitely be picking up the next decent copy I spy at future boot sales.

A dull cover hiding sparkling contents.

ABBA - pretty much every album

All of ABBA's studio albums and the seven compilations up to Love Stories in 1998 were released on vinyl.  They sold by the truckload and usually sellers can't give them away at a boot sale.  During the mid-90s ABBA craze (no doubt partly down to Muriel's Wedding) you couldn't go to a party without hearing ABBA Gold and I'm sure I wasn't alone in suffering ABBA-fatigue for many years afterwards.  This is why it was only earlier this year that I succumbed to a minty copy of The Singles: The First Ten Years (1982) for a quid, which I'm now able to thoroughly enjoy, along with its lovely glossy gatefold jacket and colourful inner sleeves.

Benny and Björn punching well above their weight.

Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture (1978) & Saturday Night Fever OST (1977)

These two records ruled 1978, selling millions worldwide (no doubt allowing John Travolta to purchase a nice new jumbo jet or two), so a handful of each are never far away at a boot sale or chazza.  I've never had the urge to own either, but given the choice I'd go for Saturday Night Fever for the groovesome K-Jee by MFSB.


Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Paul and Art's final studio album of beautifully crafted pop, gospel and folk-rock reached number one the world over, hung around the charts for years and is currently no. 51 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  Of course I have it, and so do you.  You probably also have the even-more-bestselling Greatest Hits which came out two years after they'd split and which is an equally common sight at charity shops up and down the country.

Put your thumb over Paul's face - go on.

So what are the future second-hand perennials?  The supply of old vinyl is of course finite and at car boot sales is now being outnumbered by a tidal wave of unwanted CDs ultimately destined for landfill, the ones I see the most being those by Blue, Robbie Williams, S Club 7, Steps and the like.  Beyond that?  Well, you can't sell old mp3s, and streaming is the fastest-growing format right now - according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, revenue from streaming services went past the £660 million mark in 2013, a rise of 51% on the previous year.  (How this translates into artist income is another matter of course.)

As far as vinyl LPs are concerned we can probably be safe in the knowledge that in 30 years' time, like post-apocalyptic cockroaches, once-cherished copies of Elton John's Greatest Hits and Lionel's Dancing on the Ceiling will still be for sale at boot fairs and charity shops everywhere for our grandchildren to discover.  And then probably call "Vinyls".

Do please feel free to add your chazza/boot-sale perennials in the comments.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

It's what's in the grooves that counts

Many soul albums, particularly those of the 1960s, contained a couple of great singles padded out with filler tracks.  Also, the explosion of soul during this time meant that due to the sheer number of records being made, many artists only released one or two songs before disappearing from view.  This means that often, soul music is best consumed via the compilation.  I've picked up some of the more popular ones at boot sales over the last few weeks.

Everyone with a working pair of ears loves a bit of Motown, and I got volumes Three and Six of the Chartbusters series for a pound each:

Motown Chartbusters Vol. 3 (1969)

Motown Chartbusters Vol. 6 (1971)

As well as being stuffed with super choons, Volume 3 includes some bewildering sleevenotes from DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman, while the rear cover of Volume 6 pictures an amusing look ahead at the Motown Revue in 2008:

Also for a pound was this Motown double:

Motown Dance Party (1988)

The cover art simply screams "1988!", and from that and the description "Specially sequenced for continuous dancing" you'd be forgiven for thinking that the album is some monstrous Jive Bunny-esque cut-up mix that butchers the songs in order to run them all together.  Thankfully this is not the case at all; the tracks are just edited a bit more closely together, with each one fading in proper Motown fashion before the next kicks in - perfect for a dance party in fact!

Next up, again for £1 is a Ronco Teleproducts album called Black Explosion:

Black Explosion (1974)

As well as selling kitchen gadgets like the Veg-O-Matic, Ronco put out budget compilation albums which it advertised on TV, much like its competitor K-Tel.  This particular record is a great all-round collection of popular soul licensed from Stax, Atlantic and Philly Groove among others.

Also from Ronco, also bearing the legend "As seen on TV" and this time bought for 50p is the soundtrack to the 1977 movie Black Joy:

Black Joy (1977)

Black Joy was a British culture-clash comedy about a Guyanan living in 1970s Brixton starring Norman Beaton, the late star of 80's sitcom Desmond's.  I've never seen it, but the soundtrack is terrific, featuring 22 tracks of 60s and 70s soul, reggae and R&B.

I've already included songs from some of these comps in the Car Boot Vinyl Diaries cloudcasts, which you can find here: so dip right in - there are six episodes to date that include all kinds of music gleaned from car boot sales and charity shops over the years, featuring rock, pop, soul, disco, folk, blues and more.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Super Summer Giveaway - final part!

This summer Car Boot Vinyl Diaries has already given away a classic pop album and a wonderful rock LP.  In the third and final part of the Super Summer Giveaway you now have the opportunity to win a timeless soul record.

From his run of 1970s classics (Music of My Mind up to Songs in the Key of Life), at no. 24 in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time, I give you the outstanding Innervisions...

Stevie Wonder - Innervisons (1973)

The record is in excellent car-boot condition with no pops, sticks or skips and is a must for any collection.

To enter simply fill in the contact form at the top-right of the page with your name/pseudonym, email address and the words 'Stevie rules' in the message field, and click 'Send'.  The draw will take place at 9pm on Sunday 3rd of August and I can only post to a UK address.

Good luck!

Episode 6 of the CBVD Cloudcast now online!

The newest installment of the Car Boot Vinyl Diaries Cloudcast has been uploaded to Mixcloud.  It showcases lots of my boot sale and chazza vinyl finds including The Doors, Chic, Sonic Youth, The Monkees and lots more, including a fantastic long song at the rear end of the show for The Boot of Loot.

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, 14 July 2014

10 Top Tips for Car Boot Vinyl Hunting.

Thinking of going to a boot sale this weekend?  Looking for vinyl records?  Then pay attention at the back, and no chatting please.

1.  Check the forecast.

"I can't stand the rain..."

Like all outdoor events, weather conditions have a huge influence on the success of a car boot sale.  If wet, sellers will be reluctant to turn up; in some cases the event may be cancelled altogether.  If it does go ahead in wet weather it's likely that goods will either be covered with plastic or blankets and therefore difficult to browse, or they'll just be plain soggy.  Keep an eye on your local forecast the day before - remember, this may be updated through the day and can change drastically.  Also check the event's website/Facebook page if they have one.

2.  Comfort.
No, that's not the T.A.R.D.I.S.

Don't have more than one cup of coffee before you leave.  If the boot sale you're headed for is sizeable, it's likely that you'll be there for a couple of hours or more and the portaloos provided are never pleasant.  Take a drink with you unless you like manky coffee served in polystyrene, and dress for the weather, taking sunglasses, hat, jumper or whatever may be required.  Some antibac handwipes or gel are also a good idea, especially if you decide to grab yourself a snack while you're out.

3.  Get there early.
Easy like Sunday morning.

Check the opening time of the boot sale and get there as early as you can.  Record dealers know this and will be there first thing, often as stallholders are still setting up before the official start-time.  This is poor etiquette unless your livelihood depends on it, so just arrive as near to the start as you can to find the best vinyl pickings.

More and more people are getting back into the joys of vinyl or discovering it for the first time, so there may be a bit more competition for the records you like.  There's nothing worse than being two minutes behind someone who's getting armfuls of great records. Once I was just behind a guy who walked off with about ten fantastic albums for a pound each - I know this because I stood behind him while he searched through the box, my heart sinking each time he pulled an LP out...

4.  Money.
"Dirty cash I want you..."

Take plenty of change!  Most vinyl records are usually £1 or so, so a handful of these coins are a good idea.  You'd hate to have to go without a great record just because the stallholder is unable/unwilling to break that twenty you withdrew from a cashpoint on your way there.  I like to carry an emergency fiver or two as well, just in case there's something irresistible out of my usual Scroogey price range!  Don't bother taking valuables such as cards, and also cash you don't intend to use.  Pickpockets exist and things get lost.  Just take your car boot money and leave anything else at home.

5.  Bags & pockets.
Papa's got a brand new bag.

Keep your change handy in a pocket or loose in an easy-to-reach handbag compartment to save scrabbling about for it later.  You want to keep your hands free for flipping though boxes of records, so put your 'phone in a secure pocket.  If you need to take other items, use a bag with a long strap that you can wear across you body, keeping it in front of you for security's sake.  A bum bag is ideal for carrying valuables if you're hip enough to pull off that look.  I am not.

Don't forget to take a strong, lightweight bag for carrying records.  A square plastic carrier bag is ideal, as is a cotton tote bag.

6.  Looking for records.


If it's records only you're looking for, you'll be able to get around much quicker.  Many sellers display them in crates on the ground so these are easy to scan for as you walk along, but don't forget to check table-tops and look for small piles on blankets.  Once you get your eye in, you won't even be fooled by boxes of magazines/prints from a distance.

There'll often be a lot of rubbish to look through, but a gem can be found in the unlikeliest box of crap, so do search through the Engelbert and Mrs. Mills regardless.  Occasionally, someone's Nana will have had a mad moment and bought a Beatles record on a whim, so keep at it!

7.  Etiquette.
"How do you do!"  "No, how do you do!"

Good manners are everything, so take them with you when you're vinyl-hunting.  A popular stall can get crowded, but wait your turn and don't loom directly over someone's shoulder while they look through a box.  Stepping back and discreetly checking out the contents as they flip will save you some time as well as some bad vibes.  If there's a row of crates and someone's blocking them, a polite "Mind if I squeeze in?" will get you a long way, and you might even end up having a rewarding chat with your music-loving neighbour.

2016 update: Refrain from 'researching' records on your smartphone as you go through a box, as this holds up other diggers and is very bad form.  If you must check Discogs to see how many millions you might make on that warped copy of the Beatles Blue album, take it out and step aside to look it up.  In essence: don't be that guy.

8.  Check the record!
"All that scratchin' is making me itch..."

In every case, get the record right out of the sleeve and give it a good once-over.  Take your shades off if you're wearing them, and hold the disc into the light to check for damage. Additionally, check that the record in the sleeve is actually the right one, as I've been caught out before (although sometimes this can turn out well).  Some light scratches may not be a problem and play fine, but avoid anything more lest it muck up your stylus. If in doubt and it's only 50p, take a chance but play it with a stylus reserved for 'dodgy' discs.

9.  To haggle or not to haggle.


We all like to get a bargain, but when is it acceptable to try and haggle?  It really depends on the type of seller and the asking price.  A record dealer will normally be happy to strike a deal if it means shifting some stock, and will often throw in a record you've been humming and hah-ing over for free if you're purchasing some others.  A private seller having a clearout will also be happy to get rid, but if everything's set at a pound, he might think you're a bit cheeky for trying to haggle him down.

The wiggle-room on price is in the condition; pointing out some damage to the record or sleeve might get you some pennies off, or even pounds if it's a sought-after record.  The main thing to remember is don't take the mick - it's a boot sale after all, not a Moroccan souk, and it's a good idea to preserve goodwill for future encounters.

10.  Enjoy yourself!


At the end of the day, car-booting is supposed to be pleasant, so don't take it too seriously. Have fun, enjoy the walk (and hopefully the weather), chat to stallholders and fellow vinyl-hunters and if you come out at the end with a few good records - or even just one GREAT record - then your weekend morning has been well spent.

Go home, put the kettle on, clean your finds, drop the needle and..... RELAX!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

New Cloudcast online - Episode 5

The fifth installment of the Car Boot Vinyl Diaries Cloudcast is now up on Mixcloud, featuring some hand-picked treasures from the boot sale collection including some Joni, some Van, a bit of ABBA and loads more besides, not to mention a totally groovesome long song for The Boot of Loot!

It should keep you entertained/distracted from work for an hour, so I hope you enjoy it. xxx

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Winner of Super Summer Giveaway Part 2

All the names were put into a fetching hat, and the winner drawn at 9pm.  Congratulations to Vulpes Vulpes, who wins a car boot sale copy of Santana's Abraxas on original 1970s vinyl!

Look out for the third and final Giveaway, coming soon....

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Do Ya Wanna Funk?

Sylvester (from You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) video).
Glamorous Queen of Disco Sylvester James Junior was best known for his hit You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), which began life as mid-tempo gospel song.  Producer and friend Patrick Cowley remixed it into the version we know and love, which reached no.8 in the UK in 1978 as well as being a huge club smash on both sides of the Atlantic. This and the single Dance (Disco Heat) come from the album Step II, where he was ably assisted by Marth Wash and Izora Rhodes aka Two Tons o' Fun; his larger-than-life backing singers who went on to become The Weather Girls.

The album went gold, and represents the height of his success although he went on to release a further seven albums before his death in 1988 from AIDS-related complications.

Last year I picked up a copy of Sylvester - Greatest Hits in a 3-for £1 at a car boot sale along with Kate Bush's The Kick Inside and Chic's Risqué.  Not a bad way to spend a pound!

Sylvester - Greatest Hits (1983)

This hits package was released in 1983 on Fantasy Records and features three songs per side, each side mixed continuously for a "Nonstop Dance Party"!  Side 1 is my favourite, consisting of Do Ya Wanna Funk, Dance (Disco Heat) and of course You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real); a real Hi-NRG workout!

You can hear all glorious 17 minutes of this in the Car Boot Vinyl Diaries Cloudcast Episode 3; a Disco Suite Special where Sylvester is sandwiched between two other wonderful classic disco sides mixed by Tom Moulton and Giorgio Moroder:

It should keep you frugging round your living room for the best part of an hour so don't forget to take on some fluids first!