a.k.a. Used Books & Records

In the late ’80’s and ’90’s my mom ran a bookstore / record store called a.k.a. Used Books & Records. She and her partner took care of every aspect of the store: they traveled all over the West Coast buying books, records, & comics, built home-made tables, shelves, and racks for the merchandise, and painted / made every sign they hung in the store. It was a huge undertaking; almost every waking hour involved something with “The Shop,” and my first job was helping them out in the store. It was a formative experience; the three things I seem to value most in life are books, comics & records.

Eventually they went out of business. There was just too much work to do, not enough money coming in, and few places a pair of lesbian business owners could turn in the small, closed-minded town of Cottage Grove. Eventually they sold the business, except for the Records, which the new owner was not interested in. Ever since, my mom has had the back-stock from The Shop in storage.

Every so often she would kick down a few Records here or there, and then we eventually fell into a regular routine: she would deliver to me a box of Records that she didn’t want, and I would keep anything I was interested in and dispose of the rest for her. It was a fair deal, as I got free records for a little amount of work, and she was rid of a box that was cluttering up her house.

Yesterday I got the most recent delivery when my sister and brother were passing through town. These boxes of records are always very well picked over by the time I get them. Occasionally you’ll find a gem here and there, but on the whole, you are better off selecting for reasons other than the music contained within. I now have the complete Moody Blues collection; aside from looking at the album covers, however, they remain unplayed.

Here are a few selections that came in yesterday’s shipment:

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House
Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House

I collect Halloween Records and music, but so does everyone else that has any good taste. Thus, there are certain ones that I’ve been looking for, but have never managed to get. My roommate laughed at me when I found this one, because I actually gasped audibly and quickly began pouring over the liner notes. This record is the Soundtrack to The Haunted House in Disneyland, and is one of the earliest Halloween “Scary Sounds” Records around.  Side A is a series of scary stories, while Side B is a collection of scary noises and sounds (Screams, Animals Howling, Doors Creaking, etc.) I can’t wait to put this next to Sounds To Make You Shiver and A Night In A Haunted House.

Robert Gordon & Link Wray
Robert Gordon & Link Wray

Robert Gordon was the primary mover and shaker behind Tuff Darts, a little-known band in the NY punk scene. Robert went solo and started playing with Link Wray (yes, THE Link Wray), and recorded a few albums of covers with Wray as the primary guitar player. Gordon led the East Coast rockabilly revival in the late ’70’s, but without any original tunes on this album, nor the promise of the full power of Link Wray coming to the forefront, this can’t possibly be as good as, say, actually listening to a real Link Wray album instead. Why my mom had this or knew about it is still beyond me. (My guess: this album is most notable for Gordon & Wray doing a cover of the Springsteen hit, “Fire.” )


As allmusic.comis quick to point out, this is ELP’s “contractual obligation” record with Atlantic, and thus, is all you need to know about this album. I would contend that you should also know that all three of these men have their shirts unbuttoned to some degree, are all wearing gold chains, and have hairy chests. I would also assert that you should know that Side B consists of one, 20-Minute long suite that is broken up into four parts, and was also released in 1978. Aside from that, I don’t think I ever need to know anything else about this album, or even listen to it, for that matter. It’s the little pleasures in life…

Al Hirt
Al Hirt

Al “He’s The King” Hirt released this “Dynagroove Recording” in 1967, and was (apparently) available in both Mono & Stereo. The back of the album shows Al playing trumpet, next to his name inside of a crown logo, above the phrase, “Al Hirt – A man for all girl watchers.”

Which is funny, because I have always been looking for the perfect man to compliment my girl watching activities, and now it turns out that he recorded a soundtrack for me to do this by, too. Will wonders never cease?

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