Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#672: I'm all about Value

Prices for books & music -- I Don't Get them.
Because I'm a low-budget guy, I'm constantly looking to expand my musical & reading horizons on the cheap. & I can't TELL you how much GREAT stuff I've found at (this is not a commercial) Amazon.com for A PENNY plus shipping. You probably wouldn't believe me anyway.
The abundance of this Cheap Stuff convinces me that Billy Joel was right when he sang in "The Entertainer" that "If I go cold I won't get sold, I'll get put in the back in the discount rack, like another can of beans." When it comes to music & books, goodness & price have nothing to do with each other. You know how many 5-star books & CD's you can now get for a penny? More than you'll EVER read or listen to....
Of course your mileage may vary, but the more expensive stuff often makes no sense to me, the massive amount of money people ask for stuff & expect that Some Fanatic Out There will pay. I'm not that fanatic.
For instance:
David Sancious and Tone's 1976 jazz-rock/prog classic TRANSFORMATION: THE SPEED OF LOVE. Excellent album in places, with cosmic musical themes & synthesizer riffs that are GUARANTEED to mess up your body-rhythms -- plus one gorgeous solo piano piece. Got my vinyl copy back in 1979 for $5.99. Awhile back someone was selling a used copy on Amazon & asking $250! Yes, this album will Change Your Life -- but not THAT much.
SOME sanity has obviously dawned on sellers out there: You can now buy a used vinyl copy of TRANSFORMATION for a totally reasonable $4. But if you want it on CD, the price starts at $80. No.
But that's just the start of the insanity. Sancious' previous album, the not-as-startling or life-changing FOREST OF FEELINGS, is available on vinyl for a fairly reasonable $8. But if you want the CD, it's gonna cost you $455. & it ain't worth it, folks.
More weirdness? Sancious' follow-up to TRANSFORMATION, 1979's disappointingly average jazz-rock-pop TRUE STORIES, is $516.80 for the CD. THAT'S INSANE. I got my copy 4 $5 a couple years ago & was disappointed with it THEN. The released version of the album was messed-with by Arista Records, who pleaded with Sancious to come up with something reasonably commercial rather than the four 9-to-15-minute instrumental suites he'd originally planned. If I could hear the album he'd ORIGINALLY intended, I MIGHT pay $500 4 THAT....
(By the way, if you'd be willing to buy a copy of TRUE STORIES for $500, PLEASE drop me your e-mail address or phone number in the comments below. I've probably got some other high-priced stuff around the house you might like as well....)
Another example: Cromagnon's 1969 brain-damage "classic" CAVE ROCK. My blogging buddy Crabby sent me a copy of this last year when I was musically bored, & it shocked & disturbed me to the point that I'll never play it again. But a few months ago, folks were asking $50 for the CD. You can have MINE for $50 right now!
Here again, some sanity has prevailed: Currently you can get a copy of CAVE ROCK for $5. But if you want it on vinyl, it's gonna cost you $26. Ghod knows why you would want it at ALL, but again, if you're interested, drop me a note below, etc.
I understand Rareness. I'm OK with that. If sellers want to ask from $190 to $400 for a copy of Dan Matovina's WITHOUT YOU: THE TRAGIC STORY OF BADFINGER, there's nothing I can do. I know the story, but I'd love to learn more, & reviews indicate Matovina got all the ugly legal (& other) details down brilliantly & with a lot of sensitivity. Copies of the book also come with a CD of music, outtakes, interviews, etc. I'd love to read/hear it. But not for $190....
Ken Sharp's OVERNIGHT SENSATION: THE STORY OF THE RASPBERRIES used to be pretty high-priced, too. Now it's a mere $40. & there's not even any gut-wrenching tragedies in that story.
Ten-plus years ago, when I was a lot stupider about this Internet ordering stuff than I am now, I once paid $140 for an original Warner Books paperback copy of Jack Ketchum's horror novel THE GIRL NEXT DOOR -- supposedly The Ultimate Horror Novel, & very rare at the time. (Verdict: Four stars, but it won't Change Your Life.)
& of course, Ghod got me back, because 3 or 4 years later, Leisure Books reissued the novel for $3.95. & it's gone through a couple more printings since then. Lots of Ketchum's books tend to grab high used prices because they appeared only briefly as paperback originals. Out on bookstore shelves & newsstands for a month & then Gone Forever....
Not so long ago, I paid $95 for a copy of Sid Smith's excellent IN THE COURT OF KING CRIMSON, & I was more than satisfied with it. I think it's the best, most detailed book we'll get about that band until Rockin' Bobby Fripp writes his memoirs. Prices for it have gotten a little better -- you can now score a used copy for $59. But a new, updated version is reportedly Coming Soon....
Again, I understand Rareness & how that might boost prices. Grobschnitt's Krautrock classic ROCKPOMMEL'S LAND -- which features one charming 3-minute popsong called "Anywhere" & a 20-minute title track, & which I've been looking for another copy of since 1978 -- is now available on vinyl for a mere $26. But if you want the CD you're gonna have to pay $90 to $117. Why?
Deep-voiced & whimsical British prog-rocker Kevin Ayers' rare import-only outtakes collection ODD DITTIES will run you $40 on vinyl, but from $18 to $103 on CD. But he also has a best-of with most of the ODD DITTIES songs you Need To Hear -- & it's only $3.
A copy of John Coltrane's ASCENSION on vinyl is $120. I saw a copy awhile back in a used record store for $75. But you can still get GIANT STEPS and A LOVE SUPREME for less than $5 on CD. & they're worth it.
Gentle Giant's rare imported GIANT STEPS best-of -- featuring a couple songs you can hardly find anywhere else -- is $13 to $26 on CD, $15 to $52 on vinyl. The Giant's equally rare & import-only PRETENSIOUS best-of -- a better selection -- is $45 on vinyl.
Probably none of this stuff will ever make sense to me. The seller's motto is Whatever The Traffic Will Bear. I still Don't Get why people (and Capitol/EMI) ask such outrageous prices for Beatles albums that have never gone out of print....
But tonight while browsing for outrageous prices I found a vinyl copy of Space Art's A TRIP IN THE CENTER HEAD -- the best, most memorable synthesizer album I've ever heard, & I haven't heard a note of it since 1982 -- for only $9.98, & I am gonna GRAB that sucker.
Happy hunting....

1 comment:

R S Crabb said...

That David Sanctious and Tone 1976 album you speak of, I saw for a dollar at HP Books over the weekend although the shape of the LP is not all that great. And speaking of Badfinger, Without You I found for 6 bucks a few years ago and picked it up. Anything you wanted to know about Badfinger can be found in that book but mine didn't have the extra CD and other assorted crap that would inflate the price a bit. ;)