Sunday, September 23, 2012

And you thought you were a rock trivia God !

As a hobby and to simply get rid of a ton of vinyl that I don't need and will probably never listen to again, I've been selling albums on line under the name BadCatRecords ( for about ten years.  

I'm guessing I've sold between 4,000 - 5,000 LPs during that timeframe.  I've sold vinyl to hundreds, if not thousands of customers, including folks living in 40 + countries.    And like any other activities that involves dealing with other people, you run into some folks who stand out from the crowd. 

Sometimes they stand out for their obnoxiousness:
- The nameless band member who threatened to sue me for selling one of his band's records.
- The nameless son of a deceased band member who threatened to sue me for selling one of his father's records.
- The band that threatened to sue me for selling bootleg copies of their CD, even though I don't sell bootlegs and I don't sell CDs.
- The customer who bought an album and wanted a refund because it included the original poster (I suggested he could simply throw the poster away).  Curiously I never heard back from this customer.

Sometimes they stand out because they're so nice and trusting:
- The German buyer who mailed $800 in cash for six albums.
- The Japanese buyer who spent $900 on a single LP that I'd largely slammed in an on-line review.
- The band member who thanked me for a nice review by sending me an autographed copy of a rare poster.
- The electrician who was doing some work on my home and casually mentioned he'd been in an obscure '60s band.  I gave him a copy of the band's LP and he gave me a massive discount on the work he was doing.  Amazingly, he'd never told his children he'd been in a band.
- The grandmother who'd been in a duo that recorded for Columbia and was looking for a copy of her album to give to her grandchildren.

And then there are folks who are simply amazing in their encyclopedic knowledge of obscure music. 

I've always thought I knew quite a bit about obscure bands ...   and then I ran into Ben Blake Mitchner.  (I'll simply refer to him as BBM from here on out.)  I actually met BBM through his father.  The dad was buying BBM a Christmas gift and plunked down some decent money for an obscure psych LP.  I remember thinking that was actually a pretty cool thing for a father to do.  As interesting as the dad was, he’s got absolutely nothing on BBM.  BBM's spent what has to be a fortune buying and selling high end LPs. (In the interests of full disclosure, I've been the recipient of more than my share of BBM's money.) BBM has no interest in popular stuff. That's not to say he doesn't have a keen knowledge of contemporary music - he can discourse at length about Coldplay, Katy Perry, or the latest boy band. That said, his meat and potatoes; his raison d'êtres, are those truly obscure '60s, '70s, and '80s bands that 99.9% of the world, including music collectors, have never heard of - The Affection Collection, Czar, The Organ Grinders, Shape of the Rain ... BBM's knowledge and insight into this world of forgotten and lost bands is simply dumbfounding. BBM seems to have single handedly memorized every fact and figure known to mankind in the realm of obscure rock bands. He can reel off band member names, including when they joined, when they left, what they played, what songs they wrote, where they recorded, where they toured, etc. etc. Add to that, BBM has excellent tastes in music. He can give you song-by-song play lists, including his thoughts on the caliber of each performance. His insight into this musical realm is simply stunning. While I don't often follow BBM's suggestions (his collecting tastes run to the expense end of the investment spectrum while I tend to shop downscale), but on those rare occasions where I've purchased something he's gushed about, the purchase has always proved worthwhile. 

For anyone interested, here's a link to BBM's fascinating blog:

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