Archive for October, 2009

Great Obscure Music on Vinyl LPs

October 31, 2009


Recently, I got about two-thirds of the way through sorting out my collection of vinyl record LPs.  I’ve been accumulating this music since I was a teenager and I’ve got quite a few old “records.”  A lot of them, I got for free or for very cheap.

My wide-ranging musical tastes add to what I’ll listen to and what I’ll keep.  Blues and  jazz are big favorites.  But I love much of the twentieth century pop music including show tunes, tin pan alley, oddball novelty tunes and some country and western.  In this, I go way back.  I love a lot of music pre-1950, even pre-1920.

I enjoy some movie soundtrack music.   I love much world music including gamelan, reggae and much from Brazil and Africa.  I keep trying to broaden my horizons, to hear new stuff.

Then there’s the vinyl version of “books on tape” with  authors or actors reading “classic literature.”  Most of  my “non-musical” vinyl is humorous.  A few favorites include the Firesign Theatre, Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce,  Richard Pryor and Monty Python.

I try to listen to classical music now and then.  My tastes lean toward the more modern or “avant-garde” but I try to give everything a listen.

It’s always fun digging out good music that I haven’t heard in a while.  Eventually, I’ll decide what to get rid of.  For now, I’m just enjoying the listening.  There’s plenty of great obscure music on vinyl LPs.  Examples include the Insect Trust, Kaleidoscope, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jesse Fuller, the Holy Modal Rounders, Herbie Nichols,  Peetie Wheatstraw, Odetta, Captain Beefheart, James P. Johnson, the Jungle Brothers, Memphis Minnie and Esther Phillips.

Then, there are all the people who were really popular in their day but are obscure now.  There are also those who were unpopular in their day, but have solid reputations now, whose work has stood the test of time (at least to some degree). 

Digging for good music is part of digging good music.  Some of us refuse to be “spoon fed the latest hits.”  Some popular music is wonderful and some far less so.


The needle floats in a vinyl ocean.  Sometimes it dances.  Sometimes it skips.  The sharp point rides the grooves and sends out music, singing and talking.


I’ve listened to music over the computer, but haven’t really got into downloading music or I-pods as yet.

Vinyl, of course, isn’t very portable.  But that doesn’t stop thousands of DJs from carting turntables and crates of records.

I find good music on the radio, rarely.  I still listen to CDs and cassettes as well.  They have their good points and their bad points.  Cassettes are great for taping your own music and interviews with people.  I used to make the wildest mix-tapes: like thirty songs about rain, songs about food or dreams or insanity or animals.

There’s great music on 78rpm discs that never made it to vinyl.  There’s great stuff on vinyl LP’s that never made it to cassettes or CDs.  I don’t think everything’s really available for download or on the internet but I’m sure there’s a lot there too.  Music, music: dig deep!

The “modern LP” arrives:


How to listen to music? One opinion:

Photos of music-carrying mediums: