Monday, 15 August 2011

Buying records online

Nowadays, I buy quite some stuff through the Internet: compact disks, books and lately, records. Why do I turn to the Internet to get them? Because I know that I wouldn't be able to get them locally. Not in a million years, I won't. Even with postage and handling thrown in, the price differential is sometimes not that much too; so that makes my Internet purchases rather logical and reasonable.

Normally, I'm not particularly bothered about the compact disks or the books. They are hardy; they can hardly get spoilt while being sent over and moreover, they are so common and easily replaced. At most, the parcels may get delayed. But I'll receive them sooner or later.

Records are, however, a different kettle of fish. I never stop worrying about my record purchases until the postman finally delivers them to my doorstep. No prizes for guessing why I worry so much about the records: first, the records are usually old and already out of production, meaning that I may not be able to get replacements soon enough if they go missing; second, I can never tell the actual condition of the records until I inspect them visually; third, the possibility of the records getting warped during the long deliveries from overseas; and fourth, the efficiency of our Customs department to release the parcels quickly. There are other reasons that keep me on edge but these four will do for the time being.

So until I finally receive the parcels, I am always very anxious if I have to wait more than three weeks after the purchase date.

You can then guess my total relief when the postman finally comes around. Nothing is more satisfying than to open the parcel carefully and then reveal the treasure within. I'm always like that; I don't tear open the wrapping like many people are likely to do. It's a pain-staking process, this unwrapping, but always, it is well worth taking all the time.

Recently, I subjected a parcel to the same care. I had ordered it through eBay from a seller in the United States in early July and it arrived less than three weeks later. My heart skipped a beat - no, two beats - as I slowly prised open the flaps. The condition of the record? Almost like new. The cover was very good but more importantly to me, so were the records. No surface scratches, no spindle marks on the labels, and they played well with very little pops and crackles. Of course, I had also subjected the surface to a complete wash to remove dust and static.

I never had the chance to own this three-record set when I was young (maybe I'll write about this later) but now that I do, it's become a cherished treasure. So what are on the records, all six sides of them?

Side One: John B Sebastian (I had a dream); Canned Heat (Going up the country); Richie Havens (Freedom), Country Joe & The Fish (Rock and soul music); Arlo Guthrie (Coming into Los Angeles); Sha-Na-Na (At the hop)
Side Two: Country Joe McDonald (The Fish cheer, I-feel-like-I'm-fixin'-to-die rag); Joan Baez & Jeffrey Shurtleff (Drug store truck drivin' man); Joan Baez (Joe Hill); Crosby Stills & Nash (Suite; Judy blue eyes); Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Sea of madness)
Side Three: Crosby Still Nash & Young (Wooden ships); The Who (We're not gonna take it); Joe Cocker (With a little help from my friends)
Side Four: Santana (Soul sacrifice); Ten Years After (I'm going home)
Side Five: Jefferson Airplane (Volunteers); Sly & The Family Stones (Medley: Dance to the music, Music lover, I want to take you higher); John B Sebastian (Rainbow all over your blues)
Side Six: Butterfield Blues Band (Love march); Jimi Hendrix (Star spangled banner, Purple Haze, instrumental solo)

Yes, you guessed it right. The original Woodstock triple-record set which I missed out in 1971 but now rightfully included in my little collection 40 years later:

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