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  1. #1
    Stainmaster Finch Platte's Avatar
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    Well, it appears I'm not the only one...

    Wayyyyy ahead of my time.

    The economy may be in shambles, but the Bay Area has entered a bull market for fans of Bruce Springsteen solo albums, obscure punk rock bands and the Van Halen/Sammy Hagar years. If you haven't looked in your local used-record store bargain bin in the past six months, it's time for a visit.

    It's difficult to explain why there are so many more great deals now than before our 401(k)s imploded - we only know it to be true. To prove this point, five Chronicle arts writers and critics spent an afternoon at their favorite local record stores (plus one memorable trip to Goodwill), picking up as many great albums as possible for less than $20. Look for our finds accompanying this column.

    A few years ago, a music lover could spend an hour looking through the clearance sections at Amoeba Records or Rasputin's and come away with one or two decent albums. Last week, during the first 10 minutes of combing through our local bargain bin, we found Lou Reed's "Transformer," Rush's "Moving Pictures" and enough copies of "Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream" to wallpaper a bathroom with the CD art. (We're holding out until we find a clearance rack filled with Asia's "Alpha." It will go so much better with the tile.)

    Bargain-bin shopping in an economic recession can be demoralizing. It's insulting to find half your record collection priced at $1.99 with a no-return policy. ("Jar of Flies" by Alice in Chains on sale for two bucks? Has the world gone completely insane?) Another bargain bin downside: the look of disappointment that the cashier gives you when she sees two Queensr˙che albums and "Kid 'n' Play's Funhouse" in your stack.

    But once you stop taking the rock-bottom prices personally, bargain-bin records become a sound investment. Is there any doubt that buying up every available copy of George Michael's "Faith" would have been a way better place to put your money in 2008 than Circuit City stock?

    And yes, we've heard of a little thing called iTunes. We like to buy music online, too. But until they start selling songs for 23 cents apiece - the average per-song price for our $20 spree - we'll keep visiting the bargain bin.

    What was your greatest bargain-bin find of all time? Discuss this and more today in the Poop, the Chronicle's parenting blog and pop culture emporium. sfgate.com/blogs/parenting.

    Jesse Hamlin, staff writer
    The record store: Streetlight Records in Noe Valley (3979 24th St.; www.streelightrecords.com). The store liquidated its inventory - 30 percent off all used CDs - and closed its doors Saturday, but Streetlight's three other Northern California shops are still in business.

    Miles Davis, "Ballads" ($5.57): Catalog compilations of ballads or love songs can be a bore, but not with Miles, whose tart, soulful sound sighs, jabs and sings on these tracks. Whether strutting through "Bye Bye Blackbird" for a live crowd at San Francisco's Blackhawk in '61 or ruminating on "Basin Street Blues" with Gil Evans' orchestra the next year, Miles is the man.

    "Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster" ($6.27): A tasty 1959 saxophone blowing session pairing the luxuriously rich and bluesy sounds of Webster's tenor and Mulligan's baritone (with the peerless Jimmy Rowles on piano). Blues, ballads and standards from the masters of melody and swing.

    Herbie Hancock, "Head Hunters" ($5.57): Still a killer. Thirty-seven years after Hancock cut this trailblazing hit - mixing funk grooves, electric textures, jazz solos and African percussion - the music still makes your head spin and body move.

    Joshua Kosman, music critic
    The record store: Streetlight Records in the Castro (2350 Market St.; www.streetlightrecords.com)

    Rossini, "Armida," conducted by Claudio Scimone ($8.95): The day's top score (in two senses): A full-length masterpiece of Rossinian tragedy, sung by a gold-star cast of Cecilia Gasdia, Chris Merritt, William Matteuzzi and Bruce Ford, at a bargain-basement three bucks per act.

    Arnold Bax, Tone Poems, conducted by Bryden Thomsen ($2.95): The English composer's ingratiating nature pictures, all woodland glades and bosky dells, are going to strike many listeners as too precious, but some of us can't get enough. Here are four of them, handsomely played, for a pittance.

    Gustav Mahler, Fifth Symphony, conducted by Eliahu Inbal ($3.95): Not anyone's first choice for Mahler, but at these prices, it'll do just fine.

    Meredith Willson, Symphonies 1 and 2, conducted by William T. Stromberg ($3.95): Yep, the composer of "The Music Man" also wrote symphonies, which turn out to be tuneful, sentimental charmers. And how can you resist these two, subtitled "A Symphony of San Francisco" and "The Missions of California"?

    Reyhan Harmanci, staff writer
    The record store: Aquarius Records in San Francisco (1055 Valencia St.; www.aquariusrecords.org)

    Tibetan and Bhutanese Instrumental and folk music, Vol. 2. ($9.99): Aquarius employee Irwin (who hosts a great show on KUSF) led me to this album - it's just the kind of used record that you won't find in other stores. Has a lovely, melancholy tone.

    Okay, "Huggable Dust" ($1): Slightly hidden near the front of the store are the dollar bins, where many promo CDs end up. Who needs cover art when you can get Bay Area's Marty Anderson's newest album full of haunting, lo-fi pop for less than a Muni ticket?

    Blackalicious, "Blazing Arrow" ($6.98): Awesome 2002 album from the Sacramento-born hip-hop duo of Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel. Sounds great coming from the car stereo.

    Mithras, "Worlds Beyond the Veil" ($1): Can't really vouch for the music, but the cover is great: looks like a mossy Stonehenge, only on another planet. Trippy.

    Aidin Vaziri, pop music critic
    The store: Goodwill (820 Clement St.,

    (415) 668-3635).

    Barbra Streisand, "Guilty" ($1.19): Of the hundreds of Streisand records clogging up the three measly racks here, the Barry Gibb-produced disco one was the only one worth salvaging.

    Elvis Costello and the Attractions, "Get Happy!!" ($1.19): This didn't even have the actual vinyl in it and it was still the best thing they had in the whole store.

    Joni Mitchell, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" ($1.19): Despite the preponderance of poetry, jazz and African rhythms, a worthy companion to "Blue."

    The Isley Brothers, "Winner Takes All" ($1.19): Four sides of opulent slap-bass funk. What kind of person would part with this in the first place?

    Yes, "Fragile" ($1.19): Not only does it contain prog-rock classics "Roundabout" and "Long Distance Runaround," but gave me a free contact high.

    The Style Council, "Introducing the Style Council" ($1.19): Score! The import copy of Paul Weller's foray into blue-eyed-soul for less than $500.

    Joan Baez, "Farewell, Angelina" ($1.19): One buck for four Dylan tunes and an Avedon cover shot? A bargain.

    Sade, "Diamond Life" ($1.19): Her debut album and, more important, the one with "Smooth Operator." That song alone is worth at least $1.29.

    Various artists, "Family Portrait" ($1.19): Sixteen tracks from the A&M Records roster circa 1968, with Burt Bacharach, Claudine Longet, Sergio Mendes, Phil Ochs and Herb Albert. Horny!

    Michael Sembello, "Maniac" ($1.19): The single from the "Flashdance" soundtrack, with an instrumental version so you can make up your own Weird Al-style lyrics.

    Bob Dylan, "Nashville Skyline" ($1.19): Dylan goes country with a little help from Johnny Cash. Kind of a rip-off, actually, considering that it's 19 cents cheaper at Amoeba. I had to spend the rest of the budget on a tub of industrial hand sanitizer across the street at Walgreens.

    Peter Hartlaub, pop culture critic
    The record store: Amoeba Records in Berkeley (2455 Telegraph Ave.; www.amoeba.com)

    Public Enemy, "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" ($3.99): Not sure how this groundbreaking 1988 album ended up in the bargain bin. Maybe Flavor Flav's reality-show antics are hurting the P.E. stock?

    Lou Reed, "Transformer" ($3.99): Who in their right mind would sell this album back? If I ever have the choice of giving up Lou Reed's post-Velvet Underground masterpiece or watching my home go into foreclosure, I'm living in the Subaru.

    P.J. Harvey, "Rid of Me" ($3.99): The "Exile on Main Street" of crazy depressed chick music. Can't believe it cost less than a McDonald's Extra Value Meal.

    Mark Eitzel, "West" ($2.99): If my wife ever dumps me for her personal trainer, this is the album I'm going to play over and over and over and over ...

    Duran Duran, "Decade" ($1.99): After purchasing the depression-inducing combo of Harvey and Eitzel, the musical methadone of "Hungry Like a Wolf" should keep me from jumping off a bridge.

    George Michael, "Listen Without Prejudice" ($2.99): Michael's second solo album is vastly underrated. Now I have two copies - one for the house and one for Jazzercise class.

    Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, "Music for the People" (Free): The Amoeba people threw this one in for nothing because four of my picks had red "clearance" tags on them. I still think I got ripped off.

    This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


  2. #2
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    In the last few months, I've bought a stack 18 inches thick of records at $1 each at our local Half-Price Books. My standards are low when paying only a buck. Picked up some classics like "Julie Is Her Name" by Julie London and some fluff like "99 Luftballoons" by Nena. The best find of the bunch? Hard Drive by Art Blakey.

  3. #3
    Close 'n Play® user Troy's Avatar
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    I'm also noticing the drop in used prices. Last week I found these 3 CDs at Rasputins for $5 each:

    Zappa/Mothers- Freak Out (dated and kinda cheesy psychedelia, I much prefer the 70s and 80s FZ catalog)

    Mercury Rev- Deseters Songs (I loaned my copy to someone years ago and have been meaning to replace it. Some good songs)

    Robin Trower- Bridge of Sighs (solid Hendrix inspired wankery with a decidedly 1974 progrock bent)

    Yes, there are currently some real bargains to be had.

  4. #4
    Stainmaster Finch Platte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    I'm also noticing the drop in used prices. Last week I found these 3 CDs at Rasputins for $5 each:

    Zappa/Mothers- Freak Out (dated and kinda cheesy psychedelia, I much prefer the 70s and 80s FZ catalog)

    Mercury Rev- Deseters Songs (I loaned my copy to someone years ago and have been meaning to replace it. Some good songs)

    Robin Trower- Bridge of Sighs (solid Hendrix inspired wankery with a decidedly 1974 progrock bent)

    Yes, there are currently some real bargains to be had.
    What's cool about the Rasputin's here is that I'll see something that I'll waffle on when it's $1.95 or 2.95, and then not get it. Later, I'll see it in the firrty-cent bin & snag it.

  5. #5
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    My name is JRA and I used to post here...

    I hear you loud and clear my friend.
    I've been ramming thru used CD sections quite a bit.
    Picked up about 20 CD this last 2 weeks for a bit over $100. Not bad at all.

    Badu, Roxy Music(2), Soloman, CAN, Immortal, Guggenheim, Bjork(4), Gruff, the Bloody Bros.,Dizzy, Legend, PUTS, Thievery Corp, Beastie, Plant&Krauss, Talib, King Crimson, etc.

    I've decided to purchase more CD than LP. LP still rules on acoustic music though.

    PEACE OUT!!
    JRA

  6. #6
    _ Luvin Da Blues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I hear you loud and clear my friend.
    I've been ramming thru used CD sections quite a bit.
    Picked up about 20 CD this last 2 weeks for a bit over $100. Not bad at all.

    Badu, Roxy Music(2), Soloman, CAN, Immortal, Guggenheim, Bjork(4), Gruff, the Bloody Bros.,Dizzy, Legend, PUTS, Thievery Corp, Beastie, Plant&Krauss, Talib, King Crimson, etc.

    I've decided to purchase more CD than LP. LP still rules on acoustic music though.

    PEACE OUT!!
    JRA
    Hey Mo', slumming today? LOL Good to see yer avatar 'round dis parts again.

    What's ya think 'bout that Plant/Krauss disk? I've tried a few times to get thru it but to no avail.
    Back in my day, we had nine planets.

  7. #7
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Jaybo!!! Whattup?!

    Good to read from you brotha. Stop by more often...CAN? Thievery Corporation? Plant & Krauss??

    This is Hiro, right?
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  8. #8
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luvin Da Blues
    Hey Mo', slumming today? LOL Good to see yer avatar 'round dis parts again.

    What's ya think 'bout that Plant/Krauss disk? I've tried a few times to get thru it but to no avail.
    Hey there LivingdaVidaLoca,

    Honestly? I've only listened to it 2wice, but find it to be pretty horrible. Some tracks are just dreadful.... I'll give it another spin in about a month or two. Will see if I can enjoy it under a different light.

    JRA

  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    Jaybo!!! Whattup?!

    Good to read from you brotha. Stop by more often...CAN? Thievery Corporation? Plant & Krauss??

    This is Hiro, right?
    BobbiDiggable!

    How you been? Still kicking what you kick, ay?

    CAN? been loving it for years ma'an.
    Thievery Corp? somewhat new to me, but you shouldn't be surprised.
    Plant&Krauss? I think I need to get back to what I'm use to......JAZZ!!

    Hiro? Oh yes yes.
    Still working 60+ for 40 pay, just complaining less.

    JRA

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