Yes, I’m still here. Or, rather, I have returned.
Where have I been, you ask? Where haven’t I been. (Here, mostly.)
For this blogger, September was a month of hiking around Great Britain. And by hiking, I mean taking trains and taxis to the nearest pub. Good times.
I’ve been to the UK and Ireland a number of times. This visit, however, was different. This time, my lengthy wait in line at Canada Customs was unencumbered by the challenge of carrying dozens of LPs on or about my person and simultaneously trying to maintain good posture. Past returns have occasionally been marred by diversions along the dreaded red line that leads to a private audience with a humourless official.
To be fair, those have tended to be relatively painless, usually ending with a puzzled expression on the face of Mr. Customs Man as he ponders why anyone would spend money on the items in my carry-on bag. It’s always fun to observe that look of “These can’t be worth much” upon an officer’s face. In retrospect, they were usually right.
True, there was one awkward occasion at Dorval when, after claiming to have $400 worth of goods (the maximum allowable at the time, coincidentally), I was asked whether there were any valuables in my luggage. “Oh no,” I said. “It’s mostly records. Nothing more than five dollars.”
“Over there,” he gestured. What followed were several minutes of enduring questions along the lines of: “Why did you claim $400 if you have only five dollars’ worth of records?” We parted friends. Just.
But, again, this time was different. In 2014 — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — I returned to Canada after more than three weeks and several visits to record stores, carrying but three records. And that includes a 45 — so, really, more like two and one-sixth records.
It could have been four. I had intended to pick up FKA Twigs‘ remarkable bringing-R&B-back debut LP. But, well, it’s available here in town… for less. I do wish I’d purchased it over there, though, as it would have turned a dearth of record purchases into a spectacular illustration of quality over quantity.
See, I am pleased to have snapped up gems like The Shadows’ Greatest Hits (Including three tracks in electronically reprocessed stereo!), Kenny Everett’s The World’s Worst Record Show (With three Jess Conrad tracks!) and John Musy’s Dansez le rock steady 45. FKA Twigs would have rounded things out nicely. A dandy start to a record collection, if only a modest increase to mine.
The World’s Worst Record Show?
Well, back in the day I was a weekly fixture on a local morning radio show, spotlighting some of the highlights of the lowlights from my record collection — Mr. T, Mrs. Miller, The Shaggs, that sort of thing. On more than one occasion, co-host Sandy Sharkey introduced me as the man with the “worst record collection” in Ottawa. Au contraire, I countered. I prefer to think of it as a rich tapestry: the good; the bad; and, yes, some ugly. Sure, I own three Telly Savalas LPs (plus a 45), but, uh, I also own A Love Supreme and Double Nickels on the Dime. So there.
Just don’t ask me which ones I play more often.
But back to those three (let’s say four, as the thought was there) additions to a perhaps uneven collection. It occasionally occurs to me that for all the thousands of great and good records I’ve invested in, it would not be difficult to build a more impressive record collection with as few as three or four records. I mean, sure, I’ve got some gems, but were I to put my musical excess up against a newbie whose collection consists solely of, say, The Patsy Cline Story, Daydream Nation and Fear of a Black Planet… well, that’s a way better collection than mine. I want that collection.
Quality over quantity.
So yeah, I could have picked up more items during my overseas hike. But sometimes it’s good to quit while you’re ahead.
And believe me, as I go over my collection in preparation for a few bouts of DJing — a good way to justify having all these records doncha know — I can see that I have rarely quit while I was ahead.
Lesson learned? Doubtful.
Which is OK, as I’ll need to rely on quantity as well as quality for my return to The Record Centre tomorrow (at its super-cool new Wellington Street West location, right next door to the old location. Saturday afternoon, I’ll be responsible for providing a suitable soundtrack for shoppers. Can’t do that with just three records.
Of course, should you wish to drop by, you can expect to hear all three of my new acquisitions. Good thing I have plenty more, though. One can only enjoy Nervous Norvus and John Musy so many times. I guess.
Again, it’s a rich tapestry.
Now, which Telly Savalas record should I bring?