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.


  1. Additional "oh, what a shock!" records.

    Boney M - Night Flight To Venus
    Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown
    Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
    Rugby Songs albums (the one wit the slightly more "grown up" covers than the Top Of The Pops albums)

    and not forgetting the plethora of James Galway, James Last and Richard Clayderman

    1. Someone was asking £12 for a copy of Sat Night Fever at today's boot sale. And a tenner for Grease - bonkers! Other sellers were asking 50p or £1 and still couldn't shift them...

  2. WTF is a boot sale?

    1. Are you in the US? It's like a big garage sale, I suppose: