The Pleasure of Buying Bad Records

    Issue 43

    One doesn’t generally expect a bargain at a Brooklyn flea market. After all, if it were any good, some hipster would have gotten it before I even got a chance.

    Hope springs eternal. I bought two LPs from the mustachioed proprietor:

    The first one, with correct capitalization included, was called:


    The second one had the far less attractive title of:

    PRAYER MEETIN’ (love the trailing quotation) and it’s from Jimmy Smith as well, “with Stanley Turrentine”.

    I’m here to tell you that the DON GARDNER TRIO featuring JIMMY SMITH PLAYS STRANGER IN PARADISE IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE AND HOBO FLATS … BY THE WILSON LEWES QUARTET is the single worst record I have ever heard in my life. It is worse than my Arnold Palmer golf LP. It is worse than the Cock Sparrer boxed set someone gave me, but only because I’ve never had the nerve to play any of those records.

    DGTfJSPSIPIASTTALAHFBYWLQ was such a bad record that I threw it out. I threw it out because I didn’t want to accidentally play it again, and didn’t want someone to say, “you know that record that’s so bad, I don’t believe you, please play it for me,” because then I’d have to play it. And because it is so much worse than you expect, I’d rather let you have the hope that maybe I’m exaggerating.

    But I digress.

    The other record, the record with the trailing quotation, THAT record is a gem. I’m listening to it now. I’m going to listen to it all day, in fact. It’s bluesy and light without being easy. It’s got depth and tension and lyricism. It’s the work of two professionals doing their work. It’s got Jimmy smoking a cigarette back when that was cool, not stupid. I mean, you can’t hear him smoking, of course, but he is smoking, and you can hear it.

    My Volta speakers are using every ounce of their 101 db efficiency to deliver precisely what the artists intended.

    And if I hadn’t been sort of randomly buying records, I never would have heard it.

    And if I hadn’t survived DGTfJSPSIPIASTTALAHFBYWLQ, I no doubt wouldn’t have appreciated this record quite as much.

    This, of course, is what we have to fear from the MQA/Tidal/every-record-ever-recorded future. Abundance has its price.

    No buyer’s remorse means no buyer’s delight.

    (Originally published in Copper #7)

    [Note: try as I might, I couldn’t find the cover image of the Don Gardner album Seth mentions. As a next-best I present Colonel Sanders’ Tijuana Picnic. Yes, they really released it.—Ed.]

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