The Case of the Elusive Record

Do ya’ll know about Record Store Day? Well, at this point, if you are a music maniac, vinyl collector or regular purchaser of music, you probably do. I remember our first Record Store Day – about five or six years ago. We were drawn in by the promise of live music, free food, and especially, activities for kids. If one of my favorite artists has a project on the horizon, my calendar is usually marked to cop the release. However, when we attended our first RSD I wasn’t trying to cop anything in particular. It was a Saturday and we were free from work and wanted something to do as a family. You can see how that live music – and more importantly the free food – was a huge draw (hey, we have two boys who eat like men…). Anyway, we were at a local record store enjoying the outdoor events when I decided to go in have a look around (wife’s translation – make at least 2 purchases). I don’t recall what I ended up getting but I do remember that it was only one item. When I rolled out of the store with 2 big bags, my wife assumed I had been up to no good and had put some frequent flyer mileage on our debit card. Not the case. See, as part of RSD there are tons of freebies and exclusive releases. My bags were filled with stickers, magazines, free compilation CD’s, flyers and so forth. As such, Record Store Day #1 was a success. We’d be back the following year.

Now that the allure is obvious, you can see how this RSD thing has really taken off and attracted hoards of music-loving peeps. After several years of going in and preparing myself for the surprises that would be available, I finally got a working braincell that urged me to get proactive with this RSD shopping. So, this past year I got on THIS website and hipped myself to the coming attractions.  There wasn’t too much that grabbed me but there was one release by CSC Funk Band that I desperately needed for my collection.

Which is a cover of this Gang Starr classic…

Off of what is probably my favorite Gang Starr album. If you don’t have it, get it!

“But, back to the lecture at hand…”

The CSC Funk band recorded two tracks as a tribute to Gang Starr and the late, great GURU. On the RSD site it said, “Limited pressing! Tell your local record store you want one!” Already this Record Store Day was gonna be unlike any other. This year I had a specific mission, aside the the lure of freebies (although, most of the past freebies had been passed over to friends and my little brother). I needed a stratagem to ensure my success. Step one – call local record stores to check and see if they were going to have any in stock. I called the three that I frequent the most. Store #1 was getting two copies in. Store #2, one copy. Store #3, two copies.

By the way, here’s what the other side of the record sounds like:

Which, of course, is a cover of this…

“Well, that’s not too many copies but surely I’ll be able to get one of’ ’em.” The morning of I set my alarm, took my time getting ready, and set off on my quest. I decided to take my chances at the record store where it all started years ago (Store #2). You see, in the past we had taken our time getting there, usually timing our arrival with whatever special events were going on. I had yet to be there when the doors opened. But, for good measure, I decided to arrive 15 minutes before opening. On the way I passed Store #1 with its lone copy and noticed a nice size throng gathered out front. “That’s weird. I didn’t realize so many people tried to make it when doors opened.” Well, I was in for a surprise. When I got to my destination (with a mere 2 copies) I immediately realized I had left about half an hour too late. The parking included a nice power walk with a winding line that met me half way between the car door and the record store door. “What the, what? Where did all these people come from? I’ve never seen this many people at a Record Store Day!” So I’m waiting in line with a bunch of unshaven hipsters and grimy, unbathed record collectors, most of whom where smarter than me in at least one aspect – they had coffee in hand (I had planned to go after). As I festered in line I debated getting back in the car and hitting up Store #3. A very questionable move considering they had the same number of copies in stock and by the time I’d get there, doors would be opened. So I waited. And festered.
When I finally got in there the place held about two times the capacity that a fire marshal would probably allow. The line wound around the store in a figure eight. Did I mention grimy and unbathed folks that were pushing the limits of acceptable hipster cliches? I actually grabbed a few other records and was going to settle on those but then I came back to my senses and got the hell outta dodge. On the way out I said what up to a DJ who’s a local legend…he looked happy.

So, I got back in my car, cursed the hipsters and their record collecting and bumped some more Gang Starr as I rode back to the pad.

As I said before, though, I have to pass by Store #1 on my way back to our humble abode. “Should I give it a try?” I decided I still had a little fight left in me and pulled in. The parking lot was far less packed than I had seen it an hour or so ago. Not a good sign. I went in, had a look around. Nothing. Still not ready to throw in the towel, I approached a store manager, asked him about the release I was searching for and crossed my fingers that there might still be one somewhere. He typed away on the keyboard as I described the record I was looking for. He became more and more interested as I explained that it was a funk tribute to Gang Starr put out by Fat Beats Records. He said that it didn’t show in the computer that they had even received a single copy. As I was heading out, again defeated, I bumped into the same local-legend DJ. We shared our adventures of the day and, come to find out, he was on the same mission – although he wanted double copies of the same record. Greedy bastard (just kidding!).  Anyhow, he was successful at Store #2 and had just come back from Store #3 where he came up empty.  I still wasn’t done, though. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I have friends that knew I was on a mission for that record. One was on the lookout in our sister city while another was keeping an eye out in California, where it was still an hour behind and there might be a chance.  Day one ended and the mission that I chose to accept was not a success. Win some, lose some.

I spent the rest of the week listening to Gang Starr classics and cuts by the CSC Funk Band, like this one…

Exactly one week later, I was on the north end of town for some reason and decided to stop by a record store in the area to dig through some crates (not for anything in particular). I dug for about 20 minutes without much success and started to leave, when on my way out I noticed a section of vinyl under a sign that read “Record Store Day Releases.” “Hold up. That was last week.”  So I went up to the counter and asked the manager what was up with the display. He informed me that those were the left over records that didn’t sell last week and that they had gotten a late shipment on a few of them. *hope*
You know what I had to do, right? “Can you check and see if you have any copies of the CSC Funk Band on Fat Beats Records?” He had never heard of them or the release. However, he was showing that there was a copy available at their sister store (Store #1, the one where the store manager seemed especially interested in the release). I hightailed it down there. Giddy.
I got there in record time ready for the Hollywood ending to my epic tale. When I walked in, I immediately ran into the same manager I had spoke to the week before. Before I could say anything he said, “Hey, I remember you. You were looking for that CSC Funk Band record. Thanks for putting me on to them, I’ve been listening to them nonstop. That record you were looking for is amazing.” I informed him that that was the reason I was there. He gave me the look that one gives to crazy people who ask for the same thing over and over well-knowing the answer. Disregarding the look, I explained that his equivalent at the other store had said there was a copy here in his store. He eyed me suspiciously and went to check the computer. I watched for any reaction or sign of confirmation as he stared at the glow of the monitor. And then it happened, a raised eyebrow, a smile, a glance up at me and a reaction that people have when they know the jig is up.
Hey said, yeah, that I was right. Apparently, the copy had arrived late and had just been put on the shelves a day or two before. He went to look for it while I watched and waited. After a minute or two I got antsy and started going through the racks looking behind all of the new releases, hoping to find it before he did. I was starting not to like or trust this guy.
And then it happened. He found the record. He was on his haunches flipping through some indie rock records and didn’t know that I was watching when he came across it at the back of the stack. He turned around smiling and then stopped when our eyes connected. As he walked toward me I got the sense that he was going to try to not sell it to me. Slowly he approached staring at the record, flipping it back and forth a few times. “Man, you’re lucky.”
He walked me over to the counter, allowing me to bypass the short line and opened a new register. “I can’t believe we had it.”  Yeah, me either. I just wanted to pay for it and get out before anything went awry. He asked how I’d be paying and I said debit, already prepared to swipe my card. He paused, stared at the back of the record and then said what I had been expecting him to say, “…yeah, I don’t think I’m going to sell you this.”
If. Looks. Could. Kill.
We endured a moment of uncomfortable silence before he broke it by saying “Just kidding.” He said it but he didn’t mean it. The handover was the longest 2 second tug-of-war ever. In any case, I prevailed. I purchased. Exited. And didn’t feel any real sense of relief until I was 2 blocks away from the store. I couldn’t wait to get home and show wifey.

Like Batman, I never let one get away. Bwahahaha.

See you at the next Record Store Day!

*********Epilogue*********

Friends, unfortunately not all stories have a happy ending. Well, this one could have…if I had ended it there. But there’s a bit of a tragic twist to this tale. You see, a week or two following the celebration of my victory there was an…um, accident…an accident involving a 6 year old and my coveted prize.
My son has seen and heard records being cut up a thousand times over. He’s got an itch for the scratch. He likes it, just like his old man. Unfortunately, he doesn’t exactly understand the science behind it. For us, even if we’ve never done it, it’s obvious that you pull the record back and forth with your hands. Well, see…I left the CSC Funk Band record and another recently purchased gem on the decks, unattended. And my son…*sniff*…he uh…well, he grabbed the tone arm and began dragging it up and down across the surface of the records trying to produce the sound he’s heard on countless Hip Hop tracks. The result – a nice deep scratch right across the radius of each of those albums. The record isn’t completely ruined but it isn’t in Mint condition anymore, that’s for sure.
Well, it’s the journey not the destination. Right? …yeah.

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