Thursday, June 7, 2012

Birmingham Record Collector's June 2012 Newsletter

Next Meeting - Sunday, July 8th - 2nd Sunday


Thanks to club member Ray Edwards for his entertaining talk about his days in the radio business including being a DJ and program manager over the years.  From finding a love for the business as a 6th grader at a party where he just happened to be the one who changed the records for the others to building his own 'radio station' at his house to answering the phones for TC (Tommy Charles) while Tommy was doing his show, and for those who knew Duke Rumore, having the chance to be at the radio station and getting to watch Duke do his show.  Lots of great memories and fun.  Thanks for sharing, Ray.


One of the fun things about being in a club such as ours is the opportunity we are afforded to hear such a vast variety of recordings that other members have collected over the years.  At this month's meeting we will once again have one of our members bring some 45's for us to hear and enjoy.  David Bryan, a charter member of BRC, will be providing the music at our June meeting and I have heard from some that there's a chance that the music David shares will be things we all may have never heard before.  I hope you can make this one.  Where there's vinyl, there's fun and fellowship.


Our annual record & CD show is fast approaching.  Saturday and Sunday, August 18th-19th.  Be sure to sign up to volunteer for one or more of the many opportunities there will be to help.

At our July club meeting we will be labeling and stamping the postcards that will be sent out to our attendees.  Over 2000 postcards to prepare for mailing.  Be there and help.

Howard Baer

I don't share Johnny Cash's fascination with trains, but I do like many of his records, mostly his early Sun and Columbia releases.  Everybody knows that he gained national fame in the early 1970s with his own network TV show.  I lost interest in his recordings after that.

Cash co-wrote some great rock n' roll songs (Get RhythmHome of the Blues, many others) - yet he was not a rock n' roll singer.  His vocal range was much too narrow and his vocal delivery was too slow for rockabilly and rock n' roll. 
But Johnny was a real troubadour who drew deeply from folk, country and pop.  Born dirt poor in Arkansas, Cash grew up with less than even his Sun records label mates who came knocking on Sam Phillips' Memphis door.   Johnny had some intangibles that some of the others lacked, however.  He was a sharp observer of life and people.  He wrote simple, plaintive songs that were well constructed, and he delivered them well.  "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" is a good example.  That song would be next to impossible for anybody to pull off today without it sounding hopelessly old fashioned and corny, and it could have easily come across that way in 1957: pretty small town girl goes to Hollywood, finds fame and fortune, but leaves it all behind to return to and marry the poor boy who truly loves her - he works at the local candy store, no less.  But when we listen today to Cash's sincere, honest vocal, it still sounds good.  So does every one of Johnny's Sun 45s.  Johnny had his biggest national hit many years later with the novelty record that most people still associate with him, "A Boy Named Sue".  That record sounded silly when it was first released and it still does.  It is not worthy of comparison with any of his Sun 45s.  The commercial success of "A Boy Named Sue" once again proves that there is no accounting for public taste.
Cash left Sun for Columbia records in the early 60s.  It's interesting that as sorry as Columbia's R&R division was in the early 60s, its C&W division under Don Laws was excellent.  During this time Columbia had many very good C&W songs cross over to the pop charts, delivered by a great roster of stars led by Cash, Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton.
 Three of Johnny's early 60s Columbia releases are especially good.  "Ring of Fire" is the best remembered, still appearing on many compilations.  It introduced the Spanish horn sound that was so appealing and pre-dated Herb Alpert's long and successful run.  But I like Johnny's record "The Matador" much better.  Here the Spanish horns fit the song to a T, and the lyrics are especially good.  Cash, as the great matador, has to go into the ring for one more great performance, even though he knows that his true love has left him.  He is showered with the traditional roses after he vanquishes the bull, but he knows that the roses his lover wears tonight are for another man.  Nevertheless, the great matador knows that the show must go on, so he bravely and with nobility gives the crowd the blood sport they crave.  "Understand Your Man" is also a personal favorite.  This song seems to anticipate the "I am woman, hear me roar" business of a few years later and makes a pre-emptive strike against it.  Cash cuts his woman no slack as he leaves and he doesn't let the door hit him on the way out.  In some of the harshest lyrics heard on radio during this time, Cash tells his misunderstanding woman to "lay there in your bed, keep your mouth shut while I'm gone, don't send your kin-folk to give me no talkin', leave all my clothes to the Salvation Army and everything else I leave behind."  Most of all, he's tired of hearing that "old familiar cussin' moan".  "Meditate on it" are his last words to her - he's gone.  Take that, Helen Reddy.
 Two other good ones from this time are " The Rebel-Johnny Yuma " and " The Ballad of Ira Hayes " which tells of the famous Native American who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima. 
 Cash became a huge advocate for prison reform when he gained national notoriety around 1970.  He cut highly acclaimed live albums at Folsom and San Quentin prisons.  For all of his outlaw image, I once read that there was no evidence that he ever had to spend even one night in jail himself.  I'll leave it to Cash's biographers to prove  that he did or didn't serve time in jail or prison.  Cash had his share of troubles and problems, but it would not be accurate or fair to label him as a criminal - he was anything but that.  He had a sincere empathy for people who were down on their luck.  He shared this positive character trait with the great Hank Williams, Sr. 
 About the only negative thing I can say about Johnny is that I never heard a good record released by him from the early 70s on.  He became a witnessing Christian and released a tremendous amount of gospel music, together with a large amount of secular music during the latter portion of his life.  I may have missed some good records, but I never heard anything nearly as interesting and arresting as his unforgettable Sun 45s and his early Columbia 45s.
 Cash's daughter, Rosanne, and his step-daughter, Carlene Carter, became quite popular recording artists in the early 80s.  I like Carlene's records better than Rosanne's.  Carlene cut possibly the two best records of 1980 - the wistful " Old Photographs" and " Do It In A Heartbeat ".
 Johnny Cash became very wealthy with his " House of Cash " music publishing company that I suppose contains his entire catalogue, together with thousands of other successful songs, though I'm not sure if his early Sun compositions are included.  The poor country boy from Arkansas, who showed up in Memphis nearly 60 years ago with little more than a guitar and the shirt on his back, left quite a legacy.  The man in black was quite a man indeed.


Last month part 1 of an article discussing the resurrection of vinyl sales was used in the newsletter.  Here is part 2.  Thanks once again to Robert Benson for giving us permission to use his article.


The Collectible Factor and Availability of Vinyl

Most recording artists are also fans of other artists' music; they own vast and eclectic record collections. Sometimes finding rare and collectible vinyl created by artists who have influenced their own music and whom they admire can be just as satisfying as creating and recording their own music. They also delight in finding rare vinyl of their own music. In fact, John Lennon was an avid record collector and amassed quite a collection of Beatle's bootlegs.

Buying and selling records is big business. Besides the garage sales, flea markets and yard sales, online auction sites such as eBay sell millions of records. It is reported that eBay users buy and sell six vinyl records each minute (or an average of one every ten seconds) totaling more than three million records each year. Some records still maintain their value decades after their initial release and have sold for thousands of dollars. It's been reported that the album that is bought and sold the most in the vinyl format is the Beatles' "White Album." Other acts such as Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, among many others, are highly sought after and still command top dollar for specific releases. Soul and jazz music, along with classic rock, are always in demand. Additionally, online giant Amazon is committed to expanding their 'vinyl section' offerings to include thousands of music artists. Major electronics chain Best Buy has also begun selling vinyl records, making this decision after conducting a test in 100 of their stores and discovering that vinyl records were more popular than they anticipated.

There is also a lot of vinyl support in such musical genres as hip-hop, punk, and heavy metal. "Indie" music is now being pressed into colored vinyl, limited edition releases, and picture discs. These are the future collectibles and sometimes sell for higher-than-average prices. The online community has responded as well with literally thousands of web sites dedicated to the vinyl format. Many music artists are making sure that they give their fans a choice of music formats, with vinyl appearing to be taking the lead.

Then there is the actual physical aspect of going out to your local record store and buying a record. Browsing through bins of used vinyl, anticipating the new releases and rushing to the store to get that new record from your favorite band is exciting and pleasurable. The downloading generation has discovered the tangible benefits of vinyl and records sales are soaring across the country. Yes independent record stores have been closing at an alarming rate, but the shops that do stay open are flourishing. Paul Russe, the manager of Off The Record, an independent record store in San Diego, is encouraged by the future of the independent record store.

"I think there will always be record stores," Russe stated. "Otherwise, it's like saying there won't be any bookstores because everything in print will be a digital download. Digital is just a convenience. And anyone who loves music will always gravitate toward record stores."

"I've always marveled at every new generation of 15-year-old boys who go to the Doors vinyl section and say, 'Wow, an original Doors LP!' "related Marc Weinstein, founder of Amoeba Music, the three-store chain whose Hollywood branch is among the largest independent retail record stores in the U.S. "Major labels should have capitalized on this years ago."

"By the end of 2008, over 50% of our business was in new vinyl, which amounts to millions of dollars a year," said Matt Wishnow, founder of the New York-based online music retailer And there seems to be no end in sight.
The Vinyl Experience

In our age of iPods and MP3 music, playing a record is almost a ritual experience. There is the physical interaction between the person playing the album, the music itself and the machine. Playing a record can be a communal event where the music is shared with friends and family. But it is not only the music that intrigues the masses. Add unique and compelling album cover art and deluxe packaging, and a whole new generation of vinyl record lovers can share in this phenomenon.

Going hand-in-hand with the increase in vinyl record sales is the increase and availability of turntables. Nationally, turntable sales shot to over 500,000 last year compared to 275,000 in 2006. Record players and the paraphernalia that goes with them - styli, cleaning tools, vinyl records and even the old-fashioned amplifiers - are making a comeback. Manufacturers of turntables have given the consumer a plethora of options to choose from, from the very affordable unit to some that cost thousands of dollars. Students in colleges around the U.S., as well as globally, are now beginning to consider a turntable in their dorm room one of their necessities.
The Perks

Many recording artists are not only releasing their new material via vinyl but in digital format for those who choose that medium. Many records may come with a certificate for a free Internet download, which can sometimes be a bonus cut that may not be included on the record. It also allows the music to be portable, and the consumer can choose between the alternate formats. As the demand for vinyl continues its upward climb, so to will the affordability of the records. Many mainstream releases via the vinyl format are competitively priced, allowing for more units to be sold. Add to this the already flourishing used vinyl record market, where a music lover can pick up an LP for under five dollars, and we have a new vinyl model that will flourish for decades to come.

Will vinyl records regain their dominant position in the music industry that they once held? One can only guess, but with CD sales continuing to plummet and more and more music lovers discovering the value of vinyl, this historic audio medium will not fade away anytime soon.

Robert writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates the Vinyl Record Collecting Blog at

It's time to come "HANGOUT" with Larry and The Loafers. This Friday is another second Friday night monthly Show at The Cedars Club on Greenspings Ave, just follow the signs. Come early on June 8th starting at 6:00 with free dance lessons taught by Chris Bailey and Dance Instructors from Bailey Dance Studio. Chris will also provide music for Line Dancers when the Band takes breaks between play sets.  Followed at 7:30 with Good R & R music for your Dancing and Listening pleasure. Great (dance ready) Hardwood Floor, good food and reasonably priced Bar. Tickets on line $10.00 or at the door $12.00. Please look at to learn more about us. You have seen in person or heard about the Fun everybody has at this show with Larry and The Loafers. Don't miss it, great new memories are made there. For additional Info call 205-261-8397.


Atlanta, GA - Atlanta Record Show.  Sunday, July 29.  Marriott Century Center, I-85 & Clairmont Rd.  Exit 91.   10AM - 4 PM (EST).  $3.  404-861-3496.

Birmingham, AL - BRC 28th Annual Record & CD Show.  Saturday & Sunday Aug 18 - 19.  Cedars Club.  301 Green Springs Ave South , Birmingham, AL 35205. 9 AM - 5 PM Saturday, 10 AM - 4 PM Sunday.  $3. 

Allentown, PA - 27th semi-annual 45 & 78 RPM only show.  Saturday Oct 6.  Merchants Square Mall.  1901 S. 12th St.  Allentown PA, 18103.  10AM - 4PM.  $3.  610-530-7606.  8AM early admission, $10.

Allentown, PA - Lehigh Valley Music Expo.  Merchants Square Mall.  1901 S. 12th St.  Allentown, PA 18103.  9AM - 4PM.  $3.  610-530-7606.

Austin, TX - Fall 2012 Austin Record Convention.  Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Oct 26 - 28.  North Austin Event Center.  10601 N. Lamar (formerly Crockett Center).  10 AM - 6 PM Fri & Sat. 10 AM - 5 PM Sunday.  $5 admission. Friday is early admission only for $25 .  This covers everyday.  Saturday early admission begins at 8AM.  512-288-7288.

***New record shop in town.  Club members Ray Edwards and Jack Wilson have opened a record shop in Gardendale called Birmingham Records.  The address is 1103 Main Street - Gardendale, AL 35071.  Open Monday - Saturday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM.  205-837-0596.  Drop by and see the guys and see if they happen to have that hard to find record you have been looking for.  Good luck, guys.


Tom Blair & His West Coasters
'Rock It'

See ya,


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