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1. Winning at a game of “Hair or Scratch?”
You pull a record out of the inner sleeve.
“OH SHIT! It has a sodding great SCRATCH on it!”.
***You blow on it*** - the scratch flies off the record!
“OH SWEET MOTHER OF FUCKERY IT WAS JUST A BLOODY HARMLESS HAIR!!!”
2. When an old sticker comes off a record sleeve without leaving a mark
I’ve written a whole blog post about sticker removal, but in short – not all stickers are made of the same stuff, and the same goes for record sleeves. Here’s a winning combination of a laminated record sleeve and a low-adhesion sticker that came off seamlessly after three and a half decades stuck to this copy of Sgt. Pepper.
3. When it turns out there’s something special about a pressing and you had no clue
I recently pulled out a Canadian pressing of The Police’s swansong album Synchronicity. I cleaned it and put it on the deck and it sounded phenomenal. Mastered by Bob Ludwig, it’s an album that never sounds bad, but I dug around and found that most copies of the album were pressed here on high quality KC-600 audiophile vinyl which has a translucent purple hue when held in front of a strong lightbulb. Sure enough, this was one such copy.
4. Finding more “stuff” than you’re expecting in an LP
It’s nice when a record has what it’s supposed to in it: the right inner sleeve, lyric insert, poster, whatever. A merch order form or a fanclub application is always a nice surprise. Once in a while a record will have more stuff in it than it’s supposed to. I recently pulled out a copy of U2’s Live Under A Blood Red Sky LP which felt a bit heavier than it should. Sure enough it had an unplayed copy of The Unforgettable Fire in it as well! Or that time four years ago when I bought a rock and folk collection in the UK which included a copy of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. I pulled out the inner sleeve and THREE copies of the postcard landed on my lap!
5. When a skip isn’t a scratch
The sweet relief you feel when a record has a skip but it turns out to just be a tiny piece of detritus in the grooves that dislodges easily with a carefully-placed fingernail, leaving no trace that it was ever there.
6. Dated inner sleeves
It probably doesn’t matter to a lot of record dealers, but I’m a stickler for correctly dating the pressings I sell, and when it’s not a first pressing, I rely on the clues provided by the matrix numbers and etchings, label design and subtle differences to the sleeve. Note: the dates of reissues is the area where Discogs is most useless...it's a minefield of other peoples' bad guesses. My secret weapon is that sometimes UK pressings come in dated inner sleeves which can really make the difference to determining when a record was manufactured. This late plum Yes Album I acquired recently was pretty mystifying until the inner sleeve stepped in with the info I was looking for – December 1971.
7. When records reach their destination in lightning speed
I pride myself on the speed of my local delivery. I once showed up at a customer’s doorstep with his order less than fifteen minutes after he’d placed it on the website. But when I’m using Canada Post, the speed of the delivery is completely out of my hands. Which is why it’s a magic feeling when they exceed expectations. I sent a shipment of records from Toronto to Quebec two days ago, and the astonished customer emailed me that he’d received them less than 48 hours after I sent them!
8. Finding free records
OK, this doesn’t happen very often, but once in a blue moon the vinyl gods chose to smile down on you and shower you with their blessings! A few years ago I’d just dropped my kids off at school and was returning to my car when I stumbled upon this pile of LPs somebody left on the sidewalk, mostly in great condition. That was a good day.
9. Wait, there’s more!
When Discogs tells you the vintage LP you just bought should come with a special insert or poster you didn't know about, so you check back in the sleeve and there it is waiting for you!
10. Stumbling on a holy grail record
Of course this isn’t unique to record dealers, it’s the unifying goal of every crate digger on every Saturday afternoon in every record emporium in the world. The truth is that when I became a record dealer 25 years ago, I realized it wouldn’t serve my bottom line to keep a collection of rarities. I consider all my stock to be “my collection”, and I’m happy to sell them in the hope of replacing them, selling them again and, well, you get the idea. The irony is that the records that are in my “collection” (part of it is in the first photo you see under my logo when the website loads) seldom get played because I’m almost always cleaning and grading new stock. But once in a very long while I'll be digging through a crate in the back of a dusty British record shop and a record will stop me in my tracks. Usually something I’ve wanted for years without being prepared to pay a fortune online, never imagining I’d find it in the wild. Sometimes it’s something from the early 90s that I didn’t even consider had been released on vinyl until I was holding it in my hands. This was the last record it happened with, and it was MINT.