Variety Is the Spice of Vinyl (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Records are a great entertainment value. Most of Half Price Books used LPs are priced between $3 and $8, and we have thousands at $1-2 clearance prices. We also have great prices on our new vinyl.

But enough about great prices. Let’s talk variety: The wonders and oddities in every genre that a music-lover like me can find in a record bin are endlessly alluring. From R&B to C&W, from techno to disco, from doo-wop to bop, there’s a great world of music to be discovered and uncovered on vinyl, and all in endlessly fascinating packaging.

My vinyl playground is the Dallas Flagship store, and here’s a potpourri of records that recently captured my attention there. They’re all above our average LP price, but they’re all above-average records.

Prince

Prince – Fury
2006, Universal Records MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
As we approach the anniversary of his untimely death, let’s start with the consummate genre transcender, Prince, who bridged R&B, pop, rock, funk, soul, dance and psychedelia to become one of the most influential (and enjoyable) artists in popular music history. “Fury” is a cut from Prince’s 3121 album, his comeback to the top ten of Billboard’s Albums chart.
Near Mint—$30

HomerJethro

Homer and Jethro Fracture Frank Loesser
1953, RCA Victor LPM 3112, 10”
You may well expect the show-tunes of Broadway songwriter Frank Loesser to be uncomfortable on the playlist of a comedy-bluegrass duo. Loesser himself wrote in the liner notes, “They have shot at my eight little targets with great humor and characteristic skill. I guess the joke’s on me but I love it.” This unlikely mash-up doesn’t disappoint. Homer & Jethro do their thing on “Once in Love with Amy,” “On a Slow Boat to China” and other Broadway classics. The songs seem quite at home in the novel setting.
The record and cover (and the music) have held up very well over the past 64 years—$20

LavernBaker

LaVern Baker Sings Bessie Smith
1976, Atlantic 50 241, German pressing in gatefold cover
Okay, it may make more sense for an R&B chanteuse like LaVern Baker to cover Bessie Smith hits than for Homer & Jethro to cover Frank Loesser. On this reissue of her 1958 album, Ms. Baker pays homage to the great Ms. Smith, but makes songs like “Gimme a Pigfoot” and “Empty Bed Blues” her own. “Give the piano-player a drink because he’s bringin’ me down!”
The record is in Mint condition, and the silver cover shows only minor ringwear and scuffs.—$12.50

Weezer

Weezer – Weezer (the “red album”)
2008, Self-released, 2 records in gatefold cover
The group was not happy with the sound of the record Interscope released, so they pressed up 2,000 copies themselves. This collector’s item features fourteen songs on two discs, with band-members’ notes and comments on the songs—a treat for Weezer fans—included on the LPs’ inner sleeves.
Near Mint, except for a 1-½ inch split at the top of the back gatefold panel—$100

And here’s a find from our Mentor, Ohio, store:

Tupac2Pac – Me Against the World
1995, Interscope 92399 1, 2 LPs
Tupac Shakur has just been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility. This, his third album, was the first ever to debut at #1 on Billboard while its creator was in prison.
Near Mint, $150

Also, a curiosity piece from our Garland, Texas, store:

AttilaAttila – Attila
1985, Back-Trac P-18808 (reissue)
You know Billy Joel as the smooth pianist/vocalist who turned out pop hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s. You may not want to know that he was in a hardish-rock duo called Attila in 1970 that produced this, their only record, which Allmusic critics picked as one of the worst albums of all time. That alone makes me want to own it! (To say nothing of that wacky cover!)
Mint LP in a Very Good+ cover, $30

And how about a one-of-a-kind record from our Westerville, Ohio, store?

SmashingPumpkinsSmashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream, signed by the band members
Caroline 1740 1, two orange-marbled records in gatefold cover
The orange-marbled version of this album is a treasure, but this copy also just happens to be signed by Billy Corgan and the other members of the band.
Near Mint, $300

I could go on and on, but it may be better for you to just pop into your nearest HPB and see what’s lurking in their record bins. And if you’re interested in buying any of these LPs, just contact me—the Buy Guy!

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