Digging Outside the Box

“Digging Outside the Box”
by DJ No-FI
The DMV area is home to a lot of DJs, record stores and record collectors and with a high density of vinyl enthusiasts in such a small area, record collecting can be very competitive.  In order to find the the best records you have to get up early to hit the local flea markets and garage sales as well as have a list local record stores that you visit in rotation.  So by and large record collecting is largely a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  If you are a little slow or a little late, especially around the DMV, the good records will be gone by time you get there. 

The only way to get good records that aren’t marked up by record stores or inflated by ebay are to buy records from people who don’t know what they have.  Thrift stores are great example of this, most Goodwill and Salvation Army records are only $1.  So after digging through hundreds of classical and oldies records you might just find some diamonds in the rough.  But then again if another record collector got there before you did you will just be left with dusty fingers.  It was because of this sort of aggressive nature that early on I learned to use different means to find good records.  I found that by buying large collections of records at very cheap prices you could often find very rare records amongst the hundreds of duds, keep the records you like and then sell off or donate the ones you don’t want.  Estate sales and classified ads are a great source for finding people looking to get rid of their collections.  Often these people are oblivious to the rare records in their collections.  I have on several occasions been able to score collections of several hundred records for about $50 to find records worth three times that sitting amongst the stacks of wax.

As more convienent and accessible forms of media like CDs and MP3s become more popular I can only pray that people continue to sell off their records collections.  Record collections that have been neglected, abused and forgotten.  Because one man’s trash is another’s treasure I find no greater joy than taking a record I found home, cleaning it, putting it in a new sleeve, playing it on my stereo and then possibly including it in a DJ mix for others to enjoy.  Each record in my collection has a story behind it and here are the stories behind my top 3 digs:


[Bruce Haack – The  Electronic record for Children (1969]

I found this record amongst a collection of children’s records I bought from an elementary school.  Children’s records are often goldmines for strange sounds to sample and as I was flipping through the numerous sing-a-long and rainy day activities records this one immediately stood out from the rest.  The album art had a low budget, do it yourself look and it appeared to come from some cult or commune.  The album itself is a mix of early synthesizers, drum machines and narration by Bruce Haack.  Bruce Haack was of course an early pioneer in electronic music whose influence still resonates with musicians.  The label Stones Throw has recently put a reissue of some of Mr. Haack’s later work which is considered proto-techno and hip-hop.


Steve Halpern – Christening for Listening (1975)
I found this album in a collection of meditation and new age records.  There are two versions of this album, one with a bonus jazz-funk cut and one without it.  This is the one that features a stretched out acid-jazz jam that is full of drum breaks.
Gracious – This is….Gracious!! (1971) 

I found this record in a collection of christian records, the irony being that is a psychedelic prog-rock record.  The cover and name of the group must have mislead some church going Christian to purchase it, listen to it once and then file it away because the records itself was in pristine condition.  I can only imagine the the look on their face as they listened to the first track which features a freaky ambient intro that builds into searing rock vocals and all then an all out heavy metal assault.

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