Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ten years after she began singing professionally, in a West Coast production of "Finian's Rainbow," a very different Odetta Holmes reached a career "tipping point" in New York with with a solo concert at Carnegie Hall, accompanied only by Bill Lee on bass, on April 8, 1960. The album from that concert, Odetta at Carnegie Hall, is a bona fide classic in the history of folk music, Vanguard VRS 9076. The concert was a benefit for the Church of the Master, Reverend James H. Robinson, Minister, whose choir, directed by Theodore R. Stent, M.D., was known not only for spirituals but for performances of difficult classics such as the Brahms Requiem. At the time of this recording, the popularization of folk music was in the hands of a few people who had recognized its mass market potential. One of them was Odetta's, and later Bob Dylan's, manager, Albert B. Grossman. Another was Harold Leventhal, with whom I had the pleasure of visiting, in his midtown Manhattan office in the mid-1990s. Mr. Leventhal recorded the concert featured on this vinyl album, which we have one copy of here at moneyblows books & music.
Odetta's obituary appears in today's New York Times. She was a great singer, influencing everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Tracey Chapman.
If you are in the Durham, NH area this Saturday morning, we are having a barn sale featuring record albums for about $2, all genres. Here's a link to the craigslist ad. If you go to our home page, the address is published at the top.
The folk music movement, for all its faults, blanketed the growing American middle class and spoke deeply to a select few who spearheaded the civil rights movement, the peace movement, and other bastions of social justice. Almost fifty years later, our country has scarcely progressed except in small pockets of influence. Odetta had hoped to perform at Barack Obama's inauguration. He will have to do with someone else. Presidents have no shortage of people who can help them. Some things never change.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What have we here then? Oh, just a little fun inspired by a site sent to me by a reader. Check it out: While we're doing this, another link I'd like to share with you, it's the vinyl search for Finally, they have a page you can search vinyl records from and it works pretty good. If you try to search for vinyl from any other amazon search page, it's almost futile. But this link will give you vinyl almost every time: Try amazon vinyl search.

Finally, how about one more link? We're going to sell some vinyl in the barn this weekend, so for more details check out our craigslist ad. Let me know if you need directions to the barn. We'll be offering albums, singles, 78s, you name it, most for $2 apiece. Probably some good sleeveface fodder!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I saw an ad in the New York Times that said "old bestsellers are affordable first editions." The advertiser was offering less than a half dozen "old bestsellers" for $50. This is a blatant deception, clever as it is. The books they refer to as "old bestsellers" had first editions numbering in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. They are by reputable and popular authors and are easily available online for 99 cents or less.
It's hard to give a sucker an even break, so I won't try.... other than to comment: clearly shoppers are upset to the point of killing store employees in a mad rush to find a "bargain." They don't stop to think that even the "bargain" may be vastly overpriced. Yes, some kind of unspoken covenant about shopping has been forever broken. Yes, the internet (initially a project of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency) had something to do with this. But, shopping really turned into a religion about the time the "consumer" movement gained traction back in the 1960s. As the movement grew--- industry and government regulation, "consumer"-directed advertising ("citi never sleeps" etc, which once referred to early ATMs)-- a notion formed, that it was not nice to exploit consumers with all their buying power. The effect of the movement has basically been opposite. Intelligent consumers have turned into chumps, to the extent they will knock over a Wal*Mart temp employee on their way to buy something that they don't understand the value of.
There was a variation on the "consumer" movement that started building in the early 1970s, the medical version of it was called HMO or PPO, etc. This was the idea that the consumer had the right to harness America's vast health care assets not just to cure problems, but also prevent them. Gee, guess what happened? Screwed again. Guerilla shopping didn't come out of nowhere. People are mad. Dine 'n dash is considered a game. Let's face it, if a restaurant operated like a hospital ER, you'd be paying for that meal the rest of your life. Unless you were flat broke when you got there, without a pot to piss in. Of course, the restaurant wouldn't serve you but the hospital would, the ER has to, the government says so. They pay the bill so the hospital won't kill you, at least not that day.
I digress. Where I'm going with this is, you're being overcharged, OK? You can't do much about it. At moneyblows books and music we have sold online since 1997. Almost everything we have is hard to find elsewhere. But, thanks to the internet, even hard to find stuff is easy to find. So, we have to price appropriately. We are still in business because we are self financed. Our prices reflect reality because our existence is month to month and a bank doesn't own us. There's no merit or virtue in this, other than, you can look for something, find it and buy it, at our store, without any more fear than any other transaction, and maybe even less, since we don't have a line of angry people outside.
Hey, what else can I say except, Shop Here! Or , if you want to find us on amazon, or abebooks, or gemm, or netsoundsmusic, or musicstack, or choosebooks, or biblio, or zvab, just ask and we will send you to the right place. If you want to use a search engine to find us, just type moneyblows. You will find us out there. You may even find some other funny stuff which we have no control over. People like to fantasize about money blowing in the wind. But let me tell you, in the last 11 years, people have bought stuff from us that is now worth more than they paid. We believe in collectible books and music and have plenty of it ourselves that you'll never see offered for sale. OK, I've rambled on long enough. C'mon in and enjoy the selection!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Money At Rest

We must do our part in lowering prices, so we have an unbelievable coupon deal for customers from today (Nov. 23rd) until the end of December 2008. When you are filling in your order, contact us for a code which will give you Half Off! And, whether you use the coupon or not, if your order totals $25, we'll throw in free shipping. That's at only. We've recently put up some DJ quality stereo 45 rpms for $2.75 each.
Willie Nelson
Quiet Riot
Billy Joel
Petula Clark
KC and the Sunshine Band
Orchestra Manoeuvres in the Dark

Bette Midler
Murray Head
Paul Simon
Little Richard
Mickey & Sylvia
The Miracles
Rosanne Cash
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
The Clash
Stray Cats
Bob James
Robert Plant
Meri Wilson

If you act quickly and use the coupon you could get all these 45 rpms (most of them stereo 7" singles) shipped to you free for around $30 total. That's a heap of value, and an example of what's available all over for lovers of vintage music items, replacement record needles-- and, coming soon, thousands more music and books!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hi, it's me from moneyblows books & music. As life catches up with original creation, we find that that the term "money blows" is being used by various innocent bloggers and other internet denizens. Many people do not realize that the term "money blows" was coined and copyrighted by none other than myself. I am not opposed to granting permission for "fair use" of this term, although I certainly did not create the economic conditions which make it so apt. I do recall, when discussing my creation of this term with someone on a bus in Chicago in the late 1990s, they asked me if it related to some kind of prosperity philosophy. Isn't that ironic, as they might say on NPR. Or, if it were proposed as a question, which many NPR interviews use to frame their comments, I might respond, "absolutely." I do "absolutely" own the term "money blows" or "moneyblows", whether expressed in one word or two words, and anyone reading this or not reading this needs to ask my permission for its use.
It really doesn't matter how you are using it. I am currently using it for my collectibles business, for moneyblows books and music. It is completely appropriate because the value of collectibles is as elastic as the value of money. But even if you are using the term to relate to money, you still need my permission to use the term "money blows" or "moneyblows" or anything like it. My attorney tells me to contact him if ever I have any problems with people thinking they can use this expression, but I told him, hey, I'll give permission if folks only ask. So, let me know if you have any questions. I should mention, some variations on the expression, I do not own. I do not own "honey blows", for example. Or "money knows," which you should use with abandon. Or "money flows," as google suggests without any particular justification. Think for yourself, and use any expression you want, but in any language, ask me before you use "money blows" or moneyblows". Thanks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

We have been gradually rebuilding our storefront where you can shop conveniently with us at
A quick run-through of the categories we've currently populated on the site:
10-in. vinyl records includes just a few items, never has been a big category for us. But, I should note a few very special items in this category: a Jazz at the Philharmonic Vol. 3 which is rare by any standard, featuring Al Killian, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. And, something from the 1960s, published by Scholastic under the direction of the National Gallery of Art: Music of the Shakers. It's got some pretty incredible songs and performances on it.
The next category is called 12-in. singles. Also a small category consisting of mostly dance singles.
The next category is 45 rpm vinyl records. These are the "big hole" singles, and we have quite a few in all musical styles. To find the single you're looking for, best to use the Advanced Search and enter the artist or title.
We also have 78 rpm vinyl records for advanced record collectors who like to dig deep into vinyl history. There's some great blues, jazz, and r&b here, a smattering of pop and country, and it's also best to use the Advanced Search and enter the artist or title.
Our biggest music category by far is LP vinyl records, with thousands of rare and collectible albums, and also some copies of albums that are very popular, including rock from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. This is the "bread and butter" category that put the "music" in our store title. An interesting piece of trivia, is that we were the first dealer to offer vinyl records on You can imagine that before amazon starting offering their site to anyone with a few records to sell, we pretty much owned the category of vinyl records in the early amazon "zShops." (zShops was the "z" in amazon's "everything from a to z.") Likewise, before we pioneered the category of records on amazon, we were a books-only ecommerce outfit.
Other categories: we have some audio CDs & tapes. Once again, a very small category, but with some very distinctive and hard to find jazz and classical items. We were also a pioneer in offering record replacement needles online, and you may find this category very helpful, for we have needles and cartridges not only for many vintage players, but also to replace the needles found on some inexpensive common turntables sold today at places such as Radio Shack and online from Audio Technica. Under the growing category of music history we currently have some rare copies of The Clarinet magazine, and Etude Magazine, both of which are music teacher type specialty publications. We have many more publications to add to this category, so keep an eye out if you are interested in music-related publications. Another popular category is vintage sheet music, not just for collectors but also for musicians who seek the rare verses to important tin pan alley tunes, or original arrangements or chords. Finally, we are building back our books and magazines category, starting out with the very popular Architectural Digest periodicals that have become such big sellers for us.
So, that's a rundown of the current categories, and watch for more every day!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Autumn day in 2008, books & music going strong!

In the previous post, we gave links to URLs where moneyblows books and music can still be found. I'd also like to announce that the shopping cart is being rebuilt and you can find it (in its current state) at
It's been quite a ride as we tried to work with our hosting company of 10+ years to restore our previous storefront. To any of you with shopping cart programs, you already realize how difficult it is to back them up, as so many of the pages seem to be controlled by scripts. So our elegant and content-filled storefront was essentially lost to the ages while the tech support people at our hosting company stalled the inevitable demise by making empty promises, leading us to think we might be restored.
In all of our dealings, we take a long-term approach, and we suffer fools gladly. It doesn't help business, though. Nor have other occurrences in the wider world. It's a good time to remind our readers that collecting books and records is not only enjoyable but lucrative. As Warren Buffett recently pointed out, the value of the dollar in the near term is a big question mark. As demand for things like oil goes down, prices have gone down. At the same time, the socialization of banks will play out in the rescuing of real estate developers with their questionable assets. This will probably prolong the recession rather than hasten its demise. We're not economic experts, but I can report that the value of our own collectibles is only increasing, not decreasing. Another virtue of the "long-term" approach is, there's little desperation unless you feel it in sympathy with your fellow man.
If you enjoy our posts, read some of the past ones and you'll learn a lot about why moneyblows books & music can help you find what you are looking for.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Books and Music on the internet

Today marks a new generation for moneyblows books & music. We are hibernating the address for awhile, ditching the virtual "storefront" in favor of stashing our stuff in the internet bazaar. The web storefront has become a standard feature of e-commerce, helping us grow our world market. There's a special place in our hearts for the aggregators who host premium services such as moneyblows books & music. We trundle around in America past, giving new life to old flea market treasures. We have been at this for ten plus years now, so we have learned a lot about stopping the advance of old age in collectible books, magazines, and records. We anticipate what someone might want and maybe we have it when they come looking. The internet is great for that.
So, here are links to some of the places you can still find moneyblows books & music, while our legacy address of is being re-purposed.

To our wonderful customers for record styli, we eagerly await your feedback on our new approach to self-service record stylus ordering. Please use this link to browse through pictures, and then just call us when you see the one you want! Here's the link:
And, while promoting a picasaweb album, might as well also point you to album covers we have recently posted:
Let us know if you like to shop for record styli this way. Moneyblows Books & Music was the first internet only store to enable self-service stylus selection, so we have done our part to get some old turntables rolling again. Viva vinyl.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A story and a side note


I was sitting around at my brother's record store, in the shadow of the White Mountains, listening to some blues.
"Is that Gatemouth Brown," I asked.
"You're close," said the bro.
"T-Bone Walker."
"Close. next generation. Swingmasters."
"I was gonna guess that."
"You were scared to."
"No bad notes, that's for sure."
The phone rang.
"Yes, ma'am, we'll be right over," my brother said after listening for a minute.
He locked up the shop and we hopped into my 1987 Volvo 240 wagon with the graffiti all over the headliner.
A couple miles down the road past some mountain vistas, my brother pointed, and we pulled into the driveway.
A nice lady came out and Harlan introduced her to me. She led us down the hatch way into a dank cellar.
All around, there were boxes of old vinyl records. She gave us the tour.
"There's these," she said, pointing to some dank mildewy boxes.
"Those over there." We took a peek at the frayed dust jackets of tag sale detritus. Beethoven box sets. Stereo demonstration records. Old 45s.
Squeezing through the cramped aisle of the tiny basement, a light peered from the distance.
Harlan said to the lady, "can I show him that?"
We followed her toward the light. The dank smelly boxes gave way to some tidy shelves. The shelves had records on them. Ones that didn't smell.
The doorway to a little office was creaked open. That's where the light was coming from.
"This was where he worked," she said.
Until he dropped dead of a heart attack while skiing, she went on. Her late husband was pretty close to retiring from his teaching career. This was his lair, where he sold and traded records by mail order. His great hope was to retire, and then spend full time transferring his massive record inventory to the internet for sale at collector prices.
We tiptoed into the brightly lit office. Not a hair was out of place. I looked straight ahead at the shelf opposite me, just above eye level.
I reached for a record album that was displayed up there.
"This!" I hope I didn't startle the lady.
"I used to vacuum the floor to this record!," I said, startling myself.
By way of explanation, I said, you know how loud a vacuum cleaner is. Well, I would play this record even louder than the vacuum cleaner. It changed your whole perspective on mundane household tasks. Made you feel like you were in a widescreen epic film instead of chasing dust mites on the floor.
"And...."I climaxed, opening the box to show the booklet accompanying the record, "the liner notes are by my good friend, Michael H. Price."
This was none other than the rare limited, annotated reissue of The Big Country soundtrack, by the estimable composer Jerome Moross.
You could have heard a pin drop.
My brother Harlan let out a big gasp.
"We were just listening to the Swingmasters Revue," he noted accurately.
I put the record back up on the shelf.
We all looked at each other.
"I guess we better finish this job," somebody said.


Side Note: has been down for all of August and our hosting company hasn't been able to get us back up yet. We apologize for the inconvenience

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Digital vs. analog for vinyl record buffs

Analog recording-- which is the source of most used vinyl sold at moneyblows books and music-- can be thought to essentially reflect the Victorian scientific imagination, in which sound is mechanically inscribed, rather than digitally encoded.

By contrast, the pitch, tone color, and loudness of a digital playback starts out as binary numbers intelligible to computer circuits. In other words, the presence or absence of an electric pulse (“1” or “0”) is detected and digitially converted in the original reproduction.

The waveform of the sound, as a human might hear it at this point, becomes a representation of the audio frequency, possibly encompassing more than half a million bits per second. For more than a quarter century now, this torrential bit stream has become audible when a digital recording is played back.

It all begins when a musical waveform is "sampled" at least 40,000 times per second. Each sample represents a point in time as the music unfolds. Then, the height of the sound wave at each of these 40,000 sampling points is numerically expressed. Together, these two factors accurately describe the sound wave so that it can be recorded as a series of numbers.

In playback, those numbers are fed into a device called a digital-to-analog converter which produces voltages corresponding to each number at precisely defined points in time. In this way, the digital signal is reconstituted as a waveform.

Once it is digitally encoded, the music’s fidelity is undisturbed—whether it’s on vinyl or CD, or played via a computer's own file or an internet stream, theoretically makes no difference.

A moment of digital silence—or an analogous very faint pianissimo, is preserved without tape or vinyl noise. An explosion of musical loudness needn’t be intentionally (though expertly) distorted for the putative convenience of the end user, or the delicate constitution of a record stylus.

In a digital recording, bass response is extended from 30 to 20 Hz to encompass the very lowest notes of the musical spectrum. Frequency deviation over the entire range from 20 to 20,000 Hz is reduced from ± 2 db to ± 0.5 db, resulting in clarification of tonal timbres and textures thanks to greater linearity in the crucial overtone range.

Dynamic range, i.e. the maximal span between loud and soft, is enlarged to 90 db, closely approximating the natural loudness range of live music. Distortion at maximum loudness shrinks from the traditional norm of 1% to an amount too small to be measured, resulting in the added clarity of loud passages. Finally, flutter and wow - those marginal wobbles of pitch that cause a sense of false vibrato in some conventional recordings - also reduced from the usual 0.050/0 to the point of unmeasurability.

A vinyl record, though, remains the manufactured product of its Victorian heritage—a representation of the musical waveform in inscribed (actually stamped) grooves. It’s necessarily imperfect compared with computer playback, and presents the listener with a Hobson’s choice of whether one should listen with digital ears or analog ears.

Ears are the definitive equipment for listening. The ultimate choice of digital or analog, I think, is cryptically (though oddly appropriately) laid out in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” when (I’m paraphrasing here) Uma Thurman asks John Travolta, “Do you spend your time listening, or waiting to talk?” Travolta hesitates for a moment and says, “I guess I spend most of my time waiting to talk…. But I’m working on listening.”

In listening there invariably is background noise, whether or not it disturbs the foreground intent. A truism of hearing loss is that the two eventually blend, so that the person suffering some auditory loss will say, “I can’t hear you,” particularly in a crowded room.
Using this standard, I don’t mind listening to the background noise in a vinyl record, until it gets so bad I might say to the music, “I can’t hear you.”

Digital techniques can fix that, too. People buy HD TVs so that can get better resolution of a lousy show. The greatest invention of modern culture, television, is about to be bumped off the analog spectrum as of February 2009. You are already being asked to give it up.

I have VHS tapes and records to play. Judge for yourself who is better equipped-- the digital only consumer, or the one the one who admits the imperfections wrought by Thomas Edison when he lit the known world.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

R.I.P. Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley made page one of the New York Times, Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Both there and on page B1, times critic Ben Ratliff wrote insightfully as suggested by the page one headline, "Bo Diddley, who Gave Rock His Beat, Dies at 79." Here's what we have in our store:

1959 maroon checker single

1957 maroon checker single

La Bamba soundtrack with Bo Diddley on it

Black label Go Bo Diddley on Checker

1958 black label on Chess debut album

It was what we called the Bo Diddley Beat and it does have a sibling resemblance to the Latin clave. The beat can be found in songs from then til now. As a founding father, he was revered by many rock'n roll fans, musicians, and students of popular culture. Like Chuck Berry, he brought a different kind of rhythm/lead guitar to the fore. Here's the times obit from 6/3/08.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Makin' Tracks by The Fivepenny Piece

Like finding a needle in a haystack, sometimes we don't fully appreciate a treasure we have in our online store-- until it's SOLD! I remember never taking a second look at this album, with its early 1970s hairstyles and the group posing in front of a big steam locomotive. Folkies posing in front of trains-- well, it just didn't stand out. Then we sold it and by tomorrow it will be gone; but thank heavens we dropped the needle on this baby!
If you, like me, often wonder how such immense musical genius can go unrewarded by the consuming public, you would like this vintage 1973 album too. And, you might like the group, which does have a website. The group is called The Fivepenny Piece, or just Fivepenny Piece, and the album we have/had is called "Makin' Tracks." The music speaks for itself, and rather than bore you further with my take on it, I will just reproduced the liner notes, by a fellow named Peter Pilbeam:
"Fivepenny Piece, a coin value 5np, which could equally well stand for 'five nice people': Lynda and John Meeks, Eddie Crotty and Colin and George Radcliffe who make up one of my favourite groups. I've been listening to them for a while now and, having heard this, their latest LP, I think it can be described as definitely one for your collection.
Our Fivepenny Piece has three faces, and all are here. For example, Side One begins with Lou-Lay-Lye, words by Colin Radcliffe and music by John Meeks, a combination of talents that occurs throughout any program by Fivepenny Piece. In contrast to this plaintive song, the nonsense lyrics of Land of the Musical Telephone have distinct overtones of Edward Lear. Lynda, with assistance from John and Eddie, sings about Winter Sun and then, again in complete contrast, Eddie holds forth about those ever-popular evening classes where gallons of Homemade Brew are made.
Emerald Dew brings Lynda and brother John together again with thoughts similar to those you must have had on a summer's morning, whereas John's The Old Tyrant bemoans the cold of winter. The tempo quickens with He Willy Nilly, the man who lives in the warm, warm sun and then we are at the end of Side One with The Journeys of My Mind; but don't despair, there's more on the other side . . .
. . . beginning with The Time is Now, in which our three vocalists take an inward look at themselves. A Gradely Prayer is one of three dialect songs included in this album; Eddie takes the solo part. An old Lancashire prayer provided the words, which still make a lot of sense.
The Passing of Today poses a question for all of us as members of the human race, whereas in The Day of the Rain John tells about . . . - but I'll not spoil the end for you. It's comedy time again folks, with a brand new song from our prolific pair, as Eddie complains I'm Henpecked! Last song but one is Rembrandt; it tells how that famous Dutch painter ended his days. Leaving you on a happy note, which is the way Fivepenny Piece always leave me, we have another nonsense song, a catchy tune with lyrics to match in See-Saw Song.
I can't leave these notes without mentioning the sympathetic backing of Colin and George on guitar and bass guitar; to me they help tremendously in the enjoyment of all these songs. Well, there it is, all "homemade brew" (to pinch one of their titles), and if this is your first experience of the music of Fivepenny Piece, I guarantee you'll come back time and time again to this disc and fifteen songs that are different. In this day and age that's saying something!"

A few other quick notes before I send this album out to the lucky buyer: A couple of familiar British musical stars are credited: Kevin Godley on drums and Alan Parsons as recording engineer (along with Dave Fleming.) Producer was Bob Barratt. The front cover photo was taken at the Dinting Railway Centre, Glossop, Derbyshire. The label is Columbia / EMI and the record number is SCX 6536. If you ever see this record in a bargain bin, don't let it escape your clutches!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Record Store Day, April 19, 2008

According to an industry association, tomorrow, April 19, is "Record Store Day," celebrating the fast-fading breed of retailers who sell hard copies of digital music as well as the more specialized product of analog hard copies, otherwise known as vinyl records. Actually, the latter are more than "hard copies," they are actual music reproductions from performances captured on acetate, wire, tape, or more recently, hard drives.
According to an article in a national newspaper, record stores are closing at a record pace. For whatever reason, today's music consumers plug themselves into their digital sources rather than physically engage in playback activities. The most common exceptions to this rule are DJ's, who maintain the culture by spinning records and adding some twists of their own.
At moneyblows books and music, our storefront is complete virtual, but we agree with what performer Regina Spektor had to say recently about record stores: "They have their own art form." Anyone who read the book or saw the movie "High Fidelity" is familiar with the all-knowing record store clerk, who can still be found in big urban centers and strategically located stores such as the Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey.
Former record store employees are now a big fixture on the world wide web, using their knowledge to sell records all over the planet from their home offices. Where we write this blog from-- in New Hampshire-- the online sellers are often former record store know-it-alls, such as the guy who calls himself "wingo" on ebay. Another longtime online seller, up in Conway, New Hampshire, actually opened a physical location in 2007, a gutsy thing to do in a declining business. Yes, he is struggling to stay open, working part-time at a convenience store selling lottery tickets, since he has figured out what people in his market area really want to buy. Yes, there are a few record buyers, and they know where to go-- to his store on Main Street, in a quaint old building with a brick storefront, and they know he has irregular hours, and they know to make an appointment if they're really serious about buying-- or, more often than not-- selling the records they haven't played in years.
As I celebrate record store day-- our online store does indeed fall into Regina Spektor's definition of an "art form," I think of how record buying began for me. It wasn't record stores! I remember browsing through all the records every week at Birnbaum's Furniture on Main Street in New Britain, Conn. They all had list prices of $3.98 or so-- too much for a guy saving up for a bicycle with his paper route money-- but at least you could see what was coming out from week to week. Then there was Warren's Music on West Main Street-- he is still there, I saw him last week standing like a mummy in front of his cash register, same as in 1962, where the 45 rpms were kept in neat bins, from 67 to 98 cents each, and Warren would shoo you away if you were just browsing. That was a true record store and it was not for the faint of heart.
The affordable records were at Woolworth's, also on Main Street in New Britain. From the 1960s until the 1980s, a half hour spent in Woolworth's could yield any number of treasures from the 99 cent discount bin. This is where I cultivated record browsing; no one at Woolworth's cared how much time you spent in their bins. Then, as downtown New Britain fell victim to white flight, strip shopping centers flowered in the suburbs; just as disposable income began to come more freely to a young teenager with a paper route, a summer job in the tobacco fields, and the occasional garage band gig.
We started our after-school sessions at Sears, the anchor store at Corbins Corner, which had several price points for records, using color codes. Then we moved to the Neisners discount store, which had the kind of stock that Woolworth's had pioneered-- records that were out of date by as little as a couple months.
As indoor malls took over the shopping addicts from strip centers, the creature called a "record store," flowered in the form of chain stores too numerous to mention-- all gone now. Frankly, most of them were boring to a young person conditioned to treasure hunt for records. Their neat classifications and rapacious pricing took all the fun out of record shopping. In the long run, those stores paved the way for CDs.
The next big record store in my life was Record Town in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a family run cubbyhole on the campus strip on University Drive, with a know-it-all owner who would give you an informal Ph.D in popular music, but an unspoken rule was, you had to buy something; he didn't stay in business by either talking or listening. It was there I learned about some of the great Texas artists in jazz, blues and r&b, and later played with the owner's son in the blues band that formed my own playing style on tenor sax.
The family-owned operation couldn't afford too many discounts, though. They specialized in service, getting you anything you wanted in the Schwann catalog if it wasn't in stock. By this time, it was back to Woolworth's, which still held court in downtown Fort Worth. And, you never knew what department store might try a discount record bin for awhile-- the medium was fading fast and "unwanted" vinyl treasures got cheaper and cheaper.
Finally a person has all the records they need. Already having an online bookstore, I added records to it. And, record needles, in honor of the wonderful product line that accompanies records from Warren's to Record Town. You would never find record needles at a discount or department store; the provenance of my own stock is Radio Shack stores which discontinued the items in the mid-1990s.
What makes us stick with records? Things like this: today I have an order for Bob Dylan's album "Self Portrait." A little research reveals that the buyer is ordering from Italy.... a little more research reveals he is buying up every copy of this album he can find.... a little more research reveals that some sellers are refusing to sell to him, thinking he is a scammer because of ordering so many copies....a little more research suggests he is driving up the price of the Bob Dylan Self Portrait gatefold album.....a little more research reveals that..... he's a Bard College art professor working on a sculpture constructed out of these gatefold album covers!
That kind of thing happens more often than you might think in the strange world of record selling.
Even stranger is knowing that probably no one, or certainly a very few, humans will ever lay eyes on this blog entry. In that respect, it makes me not much different from the spectral portrait I viewed last week, standing on the sidewalk on West Main Street in New Britain, Conn., peering through the window at Warren's Music Centre. Standing at the cash register, his hawkish chin and prominent nose in clear profile, staring straight ahead at the wall; it's Warren himself.... waiting for a record buyer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ferrari in the news? If you have a Ferrari, you probably make your own news. Ferrari owners, true to their income brackets, are a clannish lot and have long reported their doings in publications not only authorized by Ferrari, but also through owners clubs and the king of all Ferrari publications, Cavallino.

In the bigger world of grand prix motor racing, Ferrari is also a force. Recent "racy" news stories have quoted the legendary Ferrari champion Jody Scheckter, who won the Formula One world driver's title for the marque in 1979.

Perhaps not content for Cavallino to solely report on Ferrari activities in the glossy magazine world, the car company announced in March 2008 that they will partner with Conde Nast to co-publish a quarterly slick beginning at the end of September at the 2008 Paris Auto Show.

That's a nod to the longstanding authority of Cavallino among Ferrari owners, who collect scarce copies of the magazine and have driven back issue prices up continuously for almost a quarter century. In our store we now have some selected back issues from 1984 to 2006. We also offer the Ferrari tribute publication from the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and Ferrari Concours d'Elegance International Meet in 1984. Also, Testa Rossa Number 3 (covering the retirement of Jody Scheckter); and Ferrari Market Letter Volume 31 Number 11 covering the 2006 Mille Miglia.

To see any or all of these items, click the links above or type in "Ferrari" or "Cavallino" in our search box. All the items come from one collector who hasn't owned a Ferrari in a while. Why do some of them seem so scarce? The scarcity derives from so many Ferrari collectors being the "buy and hold" types. Chances are, any of these publications you buy from us today will resell for more in the days and months to come. It's certainly not a promise or even a suggestion, but if past history holds true, scarce copies of Cavallino almost never go down in price. If you would like to compare prices, we suggest going to Cavallino's own website, where they also provide back issues and pretty much set the market price for them. Happy racing!

Monday, March 17, 2008

If the "60s" means anything to you, it might be because you're pushing 60, and also grew up in the "1960s." We have just databased dozens of Boys' Life magazines from 1960 through 1966, now offered in our store. If you'd likely to quickly cruise through some examples of the table of contents of this magazine, here are links to 1966 and 1964-65. Many other TOCs are provided in text form with the listings for the individual issues. Boys' Life Magazine was a repository for both some of the most famous and most obscure contributors that people admire. Now, when you search Norman Rockwell on our site, you will see not only Life and Saturday Evening Post covers but also Boys' Life magazine covers. When you search Isaac Asimov, Pearl S. Buck, Margaret Mead, you will now see some of their Boys' Life Magazine contributions in the search results on
Science fiction, prehistoric fiction, cartoons, photo features, and how-tos all intermingled with essential Boy Scout propaganda messages, such as wearing your uniform as often as possible, owning as many accessories as possible, and working your way up the ranks so you will be ready for athletic or military society, or even higher education, as fate will have it.
In the time frame of these issues, the table of contents page changed its layout around three times. The back cover soft drink ads morphed from 1950s activity scenarios to 1960s image advertising (show a huge bottle). There was nary a hint of impropriety or rebellion within its pages, and pleasing authority was considered more important than pleasing a girl. The magazine contains hidden gems for those willing to look, such as multi-part adventure stories and interviews with luminaries such as Yogi Berra and Willie Mays, and photo features by Ansel Adams and Philippe Halsman. Many collectors have gotten hooked on Boys' Life Magazine; one has even indexed all the "Think and Grin" and "Daffynition" entries that refer to the Beatles ("What do you call longhair music? Anything by the Beatles.")
Having added this Boys' Life Magazine selection to our store, we feel the sense of ennui that accompanies the fatigue of having worked very hard on something profoundly useless. Reason enough for a new merit badge.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Listening to a gramophone used to be an irksome business. Nowadays, however, it is possible to be altogether as absorbed in a fine piece of music.... as one would be in the concert hall."
Frank Swinnerton wrote the above in 1923.
"At last an orchestra really sounds like an orchestra; we get.... what we rarely had before-- the physical delight of passionate music in the concert room or opera house."
Ernest Newman wrote the above, about the advent of electrical recording, in 1926.
"Of greatest significance is the replacement of a conventional stylus with a laser beam that scans the record, thus eliminating not only end-of-side distortion but also the friction that generates record wear."
Mortimer H. Frank wrote the above in 1983, about the advent of CD playback.
Since the early 1980s, other things have also changed. Broadcast radio. Music in popular culture. What the eye sees when it hears music. Sheet music. Big hole records. LP records, tapes, CDs. The recipes for making the music: playing an instrument....turning on a radio....spinning a record......popping in a CD. The recipes for care of the artifact.... keep it clean.... put it back in its container..... etc. etc.
Now, similar to when the music industry once deemed the CD would replace the vinyl record, and with popular demand for live music performances less than ever, computerized music is flourishing in its newly miniaturized form, as bits and bytes on inter-networked computers and computer-like appliances. Freed from the irrelevant fetish you hold in your hand-- that record album, that digital storage disc-- music can just be its wonderful invisible self and show off its variety, its border-crossings, its moods, glow,the genius of its practitioners-- and never mind the business model that required garish advertising packages to attract the attention of store buyers. Internet radio in particular provides listeners with amazing tools for understanding and organizing their music listening.
A steady stream of new stuff can pour into the consciousness of anyone whether they are traipsing to a subway stop, sitting in a corporate cubicle, killing an infidel enemy or sending ringtones to friends. Music lovers can travel light while they behold the heaviest sounds.
In this light, alas, a collection of vinyl represents a time past, imbued with the values that attach to your sense of nostalgia (or not.) Lately in the store we have been adding dozens of sheet music songsheets and folios ranging from the late 1800s to around 1950. The often garish covers of these piano/vocal scores might promote the song, or feature the show the song appeared in; maybe even the stars of a film or musical theatre production. The illustration styles reflect the times. People had pianos not iPods. 78 rpm players, not hi-fi's. Radios, not televisions.
We've also put up a few Mosaic Records brochures. These lovely magazines from the 1980s and 1990s were the periodic catalogs of the company run by Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Lourie. The lovingly and discerningly packaged jazz reissues on the Mosaic label incorporated both respect for the originals and the added value of care and significance. The brochure catalogs contain helpful discography information and intelligent articles about the featured artists.
Both examples of ephemera in our store-- songsheets from the early 20th century and reissue catalogs from the late 20th century-- reflect a certain place and time in the dissemination of popular music. Although we do link to amazon mp3 catalogs in our online store, we will always specialize in the older, advertising/artifact encumbered music media. You had to be somewhere to play it on the piano or spin it on a turntable. You couldn't just be anywhere to select your own music, as is possible today. The transistor radio (1960s) provided a glimpse at what we now can experience as exactly the music we want, anytime we want it. Still, I don't know when I'll stop reading the back of an album cover, probably never!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Couple of quick notes on the store's newest LP additions:
King Henry and the Showmen spawned a tradition of tight Pocono-area bands, from Pennsylvania where jazz and polka have deep roots. A Walt Solek album, Hanky Panky, has a great version of I Had But Fifty Cents, which Robert Crumb could have heard in his childhood, since it ended up on his Cheap Suit Serenaders album from the 1970s.
You can act against George Raft in "They Drive By Night" thanks to this record which lets you do various scenes opposite Raft.
Has there ever been another country concept album like The Game of Triangles? In this curious package, Bobby Bare, Norma Jean, and Liz Anderson look at love life from three sides now.
We're very excited about spicing up the collection with latin styles. Trombone Jazz Samba by Bob Brookmeyer, and The Best of Los Paraguayos, are just hints of more Latin to come.
Russian culture gets a nod with The Don Cossacks and Balalaika Favorites; the latter was an early state of the art Mercury Living Presence disc recorded live in Moscow with American gear and technology. Speaking of those pesky Russians, you ought to hear Stars for Defense, one of the Office of Civil Defense propaganda recordings from the Cold War. And speaking of the Cold War, Slim Pickens was great in Dr. Strangelove and he's also great on this eponymous album.
Like to polka? Type in Jimmy Sturr in our search box. Or Eddie Blazonczyk, or Walt Solek.
Jazz item of the week is Red Norvo Trio / Cal Tjader Quartet on respective sides of this Jazztone release, Delightfully Light

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The latest group of additions to our store reminds me of something a friend said once, "I think of you guys as a flea market." Not a high compliment, but the term once signalled no lack of variety, in the sense of "5 & 10"or "general store" and indeed.... moneyblows supplies a general store of music from the 1950s through the 1980s, the same stuff that was available then, only older.
They say you can't be a storekeeper and a collector at the same time, and being a storekeeper is first with us. But we secretly hope many will be buried in our grave with us like the treasures of the great Egyptian Pharaohs (don't need a pyramid, just a record turntable and a decent stylus).Knocky Parker, King Henry and the Showmen, Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra, Slim Pickens, Judy Holliday, Red Norvo, Pinto Colvig and Susannah Young.
Why do we thrive on the minutiae of pop music variety from the 1950s and 1960s, when the world seems to falling apart? Judging by our customer base and the world map posted in our mailroom, the variety of music is exceeded only by the variety of enthusiasts. From our Texas roots to our New England fullfillment center, which opens onto a hay field covered with snow, we like to keep the memories moving!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Early part of the winter here has been occupied with our store digesting an interesting record collection from an estate.
Among the bargain classicals about to be offered are a Turnabout disc of Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto and Clarinet Concerto, Joseph Deak and Paul Pazmandi, with the Philharmonia Hungarica.
Swingle II, love songs for madrigals and madriguys, by the creative arranger from the 1960s, Ward Swingle,including electric piano, harpsichord, and ARP synthesizer.
Music minus one piano accompaniments for solo violin-- great for practicing to composers from Schumann to Schubert to Faure to Grieg. Music Minus One Violin, Joseph Seiger, piano.
Boston Pops and Arthur Fiedler Concert in the Park, a wonderfully parklike 1963 set.
Rare album by Zino Francescatti, consisting of encores on early Columbia Masterworks with Artur Balsam, piano.
Used Jazz LPs are best picked up for a tenner or so at garage sales, but if you're looking for the occasional rare item, or heavy hitters playing together, these are from our new under-$20 batch: Dark of Light by Norman Connors, Giants with Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hackett, from 1971; Loud Jazz by John Scofield, Portrait of Thelonious by Bud Powell, David Chesky Band and others. I highly recommend both Sergio Mendes on The Swinger from Rio, and The Songs of Percy Faith played by the Lansdowne Jazz Group.
In the same price range we have some freshly collected Sinatra Capitol medallions: Come Dance With Me!, Come Swing with Me!, Sings the Select Cole Porter, and the Reprise issues Strangers in the Night and That's Life. That gets you Sinatra backings by Billy May, Ernie Freeman, Nelson Riddle and the Ray Charles knock-off sound of Ol' Blue Eyes' "That's Life." Just type "Frank Sinatra" in the search at our store.
What a pleasure it is to offer a selection of American polka records from the 1960s and beyond. You'll recognize some artist names: Dick Rodgers, Walt Solek, Larry Chesky, Dick Pillar, Lil Wally, Eddie Blazoncyk, Joe Twarog, Jimmy Sturr (got lots of his!), Ray Henry and many others. Just type "polka" in the search at our store.
This record never lasts long in our store: One Stormy Night by the Mystic Moods Orchestra. The best sounding thunder and rainstorm ever on vinyl, brilliantly set to music.
Finally, a mostly NM batch of Disneyland Records and a few Buena Vistas: Best of Disney Volume 1 and 2; Merriest Songs, Merry Christmas Songs, Mickey, Goofy, It's a Small World, Larry Groce, and many more. All nice copies from the 1960s and 1970s and each under $20. For these and much more used copies of Disney records, articles and books about Disney, etc. , just type "Disney" in the search at our store.
It is with deep regret that we bid farewell to our white label Vee Jay Beatles 45 rpm promo, which is the biggest Beatles item we've sold since the holidays, when rare Beatles were being bought as gifts. Thank you forever John Paul George Ringo.
Also thank you Santa for the 1916 windup Columbia Graphophone. Any advice on needles?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twelve inch vinyl LP records, with their album lengths, their generous graphic packages, extensive credits, historic value, and great playability provide a wonderful window on the eras when they dominated music sales.

From the days when television was emerging on the scene and fighting for the hearts and minds of children, there were live animal dogs in Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, animated dogs in Huckleberry Hound. There were the amazingly hidden musical talents of Bonanza TV’s original cast. There was the famous bird Woody Woodpecker.

If that weren’t enough animals you could find more in the Stories of Uncle Remus. Music just came naturally to the Guest stars of the Hee-Haw Show. Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland holds a special place with many fans of the 1950s and 1960s, when it sold many color TVs.

You may wonder why vocalist Artie Wayne puts a picture of Anita Ekberg on his album cover. Wonder again at Ronnie Deauville Smoke Dreams and Reid King, Tommy Andre, New Wave.

Back to the 1960s, who remembers the 1967 Boston Red Sox Impossible Dream? And Songs that made Johnny Cash famous, on the original Sun label.

Moneyblows’ extensive jazz holdings are graced by the additions of Mezz Mezzrow, Frankie Newton, and Rebecca Parris.

Collectors of gospel and r&b will appreciate the Dixie Hummingbirds on Peacock; , the extremely rare Clyde McPhatter Live at the Apollo. Also Maxine Brown’s Greatest Hits.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It will soon be 20 years since F. Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco, led Wall Street out of the October 1987 crash into what was then the largest leveraged buyout (LBO) in U.S. history. Black Monday 1987 had harmed many stock values, and highly publicized tobacco liability litigation was also hurting RJR Nabisco.
Johnson, nicknamed "The Pope," made a $75 million sweetheart deal with his directors, according to the then-bestseller, Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar.
Everyone on Wall Street looked for a way into the deal. First, investment bankers who saw the huge cash flow from the company's tobacco arm. They and many others would reap huge fees associated with the restructuring of the company. The prize, such as it was, would go to Kohlberg, Kravis,Roberts, and the money that blew around the eye of the storm amounted to about $20 billion.
It seems like a long time ago now, and some of the characters in the story (which was made into a Hollywood movie) are still around. The bestselling book is a reminder that business history can provide some swashbuckling reading, and our store has an interesting section specializing in business history.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ruth Wallis has just passed on at the age of 87, noted in one newspaper obituary as "singer-writer of risque songs."
Records by this great singer/songwriter/pianist have passed through my hands with great frequency, always getting a turntable play before being tossed into the curb pile.
Not because the music's not good, mind you.... how could there be a bad "Hopalong Chastity," or "Dinghy Song." If you like Nellie McKay you might like the less intellectual, more bawdy, and perhaps equally indefatigable Ms. Wallis.
The reason we've sold only a few is that most original Ruth Wallis vinyl is of the "well-loved" variety-- bumped and scratched around as if playing host to too many a happy party of adult humor aficionados in the 1950s.
Instead of dropping acid and listening to Jefferson Airplane, these young parents of future hippies were drinking manhattans and listening to "Johnny Has a Yo-Yo," and "Stay Out of My Pantry." Ruth Wallis was actually banned in Boston. She put out her own records. And, she sang and played as well as any jazz or cabaret artist; her music and voice are appealing even without the constant double entendre. If you find any records by her, give them a listen. As a start, here's one available right now!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Photos taken around 8 a.m., looking south with the Davis burial ground to the far right. Jan. 2, 2008. If you have GPS you can plot this location precisely from a satellite in the sky.

Last year I was in Texas on Christmas and New Year's, so this year in New Hampshire was different. I find how much more traveling one can do in New England than even in Texas. When there was a visit to be done in Texas, it might be from 3-6 hours driving, one way. Turning most day trips into 2 day trips. And gradually eliminating them from consideration, so one could stay home longer. Up here in New Hampshire, a state with the entire population of our metro area alone in Texas, a day trip has to receive more careful consideration. There are a lot of visits to make ranging from 1 1/2 hours driving one way, to 5 hours driving one way. There's even one very important visit (our son) who could be reached by driving 6 hours each way-- straight into Manhattan, where's there's no parking.
You get the picture. A different matrix for visits.
Two of those potential visits dropped out of consideration this holiday season. Predictably, it was the two longest ones, 5 hours to Roxbury, NY and 6 hours to Manhattan. There were other visits of the 1 1/2 to 3 hour variety.
On New Year's Eve day a spontaneous dinner date was arranged over in Dublin, NH about 20 miles from the Vermont border. We made some brownies to bring, packed some champagne and drove from the farm near Dover along Rt. 125 south and 101 west. Driving from the seacoast "microclimate" to the Monadnock area "microclimate" was a visual feast of clouds, mist and whiteness in varying shades, punctuated by intersecting the "Queen City" of Manchester, NH.
New Year's Eve found us perusing an eccentric curator's collection of books, weapons, musical instruments, playing Booker T.'s "Hip Hug-ger" on vintage keyboards, watching Dick Clark drop the ball, and then listening to The Band and the Best of the Animals on CD. Driving back east, early the next morning, the clear Monadnock sky, peppered with clouds full of boding, gradually transformed itself into an ocean mist gleaming with sunrise. Beyond, the ocean might be 20 miles further to the east, but the effect causes this decidedly inland part of New Hampshire to exaggeratedly be called the "Seacoast" region. I think it also is part of "Southern New Hampshire," which looks a lot more like northern Massachusetts, except refreshingly sparser, than the rest of New Hampshire.
On the next day, in the middle of a dangerous blizzard, I ventured north to return a guitar to someone who had left it at the house over the holidays. About 55 miles up the Spaulding Turnpike from Rochester, the storm hit with a vengeance and, for quite awhile after that, traffic moved at 5 mph, wending around other cars which had run off the road, hit each other, or hot dogging just to see if they could pull out of a skid. I welcomed a chance to vigorously roadtest the 1995 Celica beater I was driving. This has been among the most reliable cars we have ever had, and the mileage economy has just encouraged more driving. But, I had never put it through the paces that the Spaulding presented during this terrible snowstorm, which, as it approached the "Seacoast" area, added rain to the mix and caused brakes and windshields to ice over. Having made it through that, with roads barely treated in the respective jurisdictions along the road, I wouldn't hesitate to take out the low-slung, standard transmission, mostly fiberglas Celica again. It's a real trouper. The guitar is back to its home and so am I.
If you drive in New Hampshire during this type of weather, do not expect clear sailing on the roads. Each driver must work together with the other drivers so that everybody gets where they are going. I did have moments when I thought the miles-long line of cars might be spending the night on the Spaulding. Congratulations to the powers that be, for making sure things keep moving!
Top viewing over the holiday season included Ghost Dog, Jim Jarmusch, Forrest Whitaker, etc.; Coffee and Cigarettes, also Jim Jarmusch; the Werner Herzog film about Tim Treadwell; the "mockumentary" of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. And just yesterday, "Legally Blonde" with Reese Witherspoon. A good dose of samurai and stardust was the fitter counterpoint to this state full of retail campaigners this week. It is so comforting to be debating the fate of the free world. We never got to do that much in Texas. What did you do over that strange time when the calendar changes but Christendom stops dead in its tracks?