During in the last week of February, we actually traveled to Akron, Ohio to visit family. We had not been there [or really, anywhere] since the pandemic but with 91-year old in-laws, no longer making the yearly pilgrimage to Florida to “winter” and visiting us on the way, something had to give. So masked up whenever outside of our car/hotel room we got there and managed to spend quality time with my wife’s parents, and most of the other family members living there. That accounts for the recent lack of postings, but at least I was able to edit the Tommy Frenzy interview while away and get that up and running; a herculean task, but so worth it.
While there, our brother-in-law told us about The Bomb Shelter; a huge mid-century antique mall that had our names writ large on it. The place opened in 2011, but we’d only visited Akron in 2015 and 2019, and no-one had told us about it. Our home is like a time capsule from 1954, and as much as Rock music had brought my wife and I together, so did antiquing. In fact, by the time we wed, my wife rented space in an antique mall and had reached that point where an aficionado became a dealer. That ended in 2000 when a senior was ripping a ceramic out of her hands at an estate sale, and when we moved away from Central Florida, there was little money/space for that sort of thing. But we still will occasionally look and see what’s out there. My wife was definitely interested, so we went.
THE BOMB SHELTER
As you can see from the exterior, the atomic-kitch paradise of The Bomb Shelter was hitting all of my buttons. But the enormous building complex was packed with tons of amazing goods. I imagined that prop buyers might have kept them afloat and I’ve seen that Netflix has been a steady customer. All of this was of interest to me, but once we entered the main room near the checkout, I saw the “record store” area within so I had to investigate while my wife made the rounds [looking for a better butter dish for our home, actually].
A caveat. I’ve been hitting antique malls for 30+ years. Seeing records in them is a not uncommon occurrence. How many records have I ever bought in an antique mall? That would be virtually zero. I did once buy a “Dark Side Of the Moon” NZ SQ-Quad pressing in the late 90s for resale – the price was good! I don’t think the dealer knew what the “SQ” logo on the cover meant! But without fail every record for sale in an antique mall has been seriously overpriced by dealers who don’t have any clue. Trashed Beatle albums especially get my bile flowing freely as dealers with their Sacred Beatle Relics® believed that records pressed in the millions were “collector’s items.”
So I looked at the goods that I could reach, since, as the cutline above revealed, there was a fashion shoot happening in front of the record racks! The lower area of the bins was marked $1.00. A dollar bin, in this vinyl bubble day and age??!! I glanced down and saw that there seemed to be some 12″ singles in there. I rarely see the beguiling discs anywhere, so I looked in the dollar bin first. Then I started freaking out.
The first thing I saw in there, and rather quickly, was the second US Rough Trade album; precisely the sort of goods I snap up in a heartbeat in the last 30 years. And that first row yielded further delights! I saw a Hazel O’Connor 12″ of “D-Day” and I’ve never heard Hazel O’Connor to this day [being a Toyah fan there didn’t seem to be much point] but for a dollar, I sure would be now! I was now getting positive feedback form these dollar bins. There was no way I’d leave without seeing every disc in this place!
I was about a third through the dollar discs when my wife came by and said that there were too many “kids” here [she was right] and she was heading for the car. I told her that I’d try to keep it brief but was getting a lot back from the dive so far. Truth be told, I was actually copping a buzz from the experience. Let me state that for the last decade, this has not happened much at all. Record stores have become a somewhat repellent place for me as almost everything they are doing [eliminating any singles and CDs, reducing used LP stock, increasing new LP stock, filling the commercial space with things that are not music, etc.], is exactly what I do not want from them. Yet here, in this antique mall, I was having a bin dive that was among the best I’ve had this century; especially for the price of one dollar per disc! This was the take from The Bomb Shelter.
There were so many want list items in this group that I would have gladly paid much more than $1.00 for! I had just about given up all hope in finding the holy Sweet Pea Atkinson album which was in effect a Was [Not Was] album with only Sweet Pea singing! I’ve been pining for the Afrofuturistic charms of Mandré for ages now [having not heard him in 40+ years], and I need any Cameo 12″ single I can get my grubby mitts on. The John Foxx and Freur 12″ers I already had, but for a dollar, I now own two copies!
I like the first album Jody Watley solo era, and “Still A Thrill” was her sultry finest. That’s a 12″ I would really like to hear. I also had her first two 1984 UK-only solo singles on my want list and “Girls Night Out” was a Bruce Woolley co-write/production so there’s that! I never expected to see them in the US. Ever.
The last time I bought a Nona Hendryx single it drove home how I need as much of her oeuvre as I can manage to find! And heads up: this single was written by “Joey Coco.” Similarly, I buy every Kid Creole + The Coconuts releases I find as basic policy. August Darnell is a genius. Any promo only 12″ers from 1981 are a high value thing with me. As for Floy Joy, why do I only find their records in Ohio? Is there something in the water?
I have many CD-3 singles from Neneh Cherry, but not “Buffalo Stance!” What a classic single that was. It’s one of those records I can never tire of. And finally, Amii Stewart’s cover of “Knock On Wood” was one of the top synthetic records of the high-disco era. Possibly the closest competition for “I Feel Love.” I’ve not heard it since it was on the charts, so I’m looking forward to a revisit. For a dollar, I’d be crazy not to.
After grabbing 18 discs for $10 dollars, I notice that the general stock had some nice things showing up front. Have I ever seen China Crisis prominently displayed in the bins before? I say thee, “nay!”
I had seen the US “Visage” dance mix EP in the dollar bins… after a quick flip through the “U” section for any Ultravox goods [merely US copies of “Vienna” and “Rage In Eden”] the thought went to seeing if there were any other Visage records here…including the one I’d actually need to buy! I found another copy of the Visage US EP [with hype sticker] priced for more than a dollar. I should mention that the main stock was largely priced at $4-10 per disc. In other words, prices I was down with in these, the end times! That is exactly my comfort zone for impulse buying records to listen to. I bristle at spending a small fortune, and for the most part, these records were priced in line with my expectations in buying used records. Which is to say that records in The Bomb Shelter were a highly unusual record shopping experience for 2023!
Flipping through the “V” section next coughed up Visage’s “Love Glove” 12.” It’s been 20 years at least since I saw one of those. Then I happened upon it. The one Visage record I had been hoping against hope for: The US second pressing of “Visage” from 1981 with the white cover!
It was $40…not cheap, but not really expensive for this pressing. As the graph below shows, one of these will set you back a few. I remember having my eyes pop out when Polydor re-issued the album in 1981 with this cover following on the Visage dance mix EP’s inroads made into the New Romantic resistant American market. But in 1981, the notion of buying another copy of a record for the sleeve variation was not yet viable to me. By the 90s when this was my m.o. these records were long gone. I was just thrilled to think of this here and then see it! Of course, with that cover, it had some ring wear, as do most copies of that other New Romantic classic, “Journeys to Glory.” I’ve been looking for another pressing of that for 30 years now but with the flat, embossed cover, they’ve all been trashed copies. Worse than this was.
I didn’t look at much else in the full-price bins as my wife was waiting in the car, so I paid for my 18 records and got change from my $20! Even the anniversary sale at local Harvest Records where they price records for a dollar in their basement had ever yielded this much delicious wax from the want list. And it’s been a long time since that had happened.
- Rough Trade: For Those Who Think Young – The Boardwalk Entertainment Co – NB 33261-1 – US – LP – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Hazel O’Connor: D-Days – Albion Records – 12 ION 1009 – UK – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Jody Watley: Still A Thrill – MCA Records – MCA-23747 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Jody: Girls Night Out – Mercury – Merx 196 – UK – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Jody Watley: Don’t You Want Me – MCA Records – MCA-23785 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Mandré: M3000 – Motown – M7-917R1 – US – LP – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Les Rita Mitsouko: Andy – Virgin – DMD 1134 – USP – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Freur: Runaway – CBS – TA 3693 – UK – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Sweet Pea Atkinson: Don’t Walk Away – Island Records – 90007-1 – US – LP – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Nona Hendryx: Baby Go-Go – EMI America – K 060 20 1981 6 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon – Sire – PRO-A-1064 – USP – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Ryuichi Sakamoto + Jill Jones: You Do Me – Virgin – 0-96495 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Nyam Nyam: The Architect – Situation Two – SIT 37T – UK – EP – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- John Foxx: Stars On Fire – Virgin – VS 771/12 – UK – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Floy Joy: Friday Night In This Cold City – Virgin – VS 848-12 – UK – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Cameo: Candy – Atlanta Artists – 888 193-1 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Amii Stewart: Knock On Wood – Ariola Records America – SW 50054 – US – LP – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
- Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance – Virgin – 0-96573 – US – 12″ – The Bomb Shelter/$1.00
Suffice to say, I have a second place to check out when we’re in Akron, but that other store was coming up next.
Next: …Silvery Disc Bliss
Sounds like a fine dig indeed! I treasure my 45 of Knock On Wood but have never seen or heard the album. Let us know how it is. I recently went to RR Records in Lowell, MA and barely scratched the surface of their 20,000+ stock. Strategic searching did score me a copy of I Scare Myself, a lost Compass Point All-Stars godson by Barry Reynolds for $4.50. Fun!
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Jeremy Shatan – You remind me that I’ve had the Barry Reynolds album for five years now without bringing my stylus remotely close to the surface. Sigh. But “Knock On Wood” is 6:10 long on the LP. It was edited for 7” consumption.
Hahaha! How big of a backlog are we talking about?
Jeremy Shatan – I’ve got 36 year old laserdiscs I’ve yet to watch. Probably a third of my vinyl has not been played; given my m.o. of sitting on it until I’m ready to digitize it. Which has been my m.o. since 1992. Even a few years before I got my first Digidesign card! If I ever get to retire it’s going to be heaven.
Jeremy Shatan – Just to let you know… I played side one of “Knock On Wood” last night and while the single remains super entrancing, the rest of side one, which I couldn’t even finish, was past-its-sell-by-date Production Disco of the worst stripe. In spite of her strong vocals, the team let Ms. Stewart down there. The other “hit single” on the LP, “Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven,” was particularly egregious. I could not will myself to finish the track. When I bought this I was aware that I was buying it for the long version of “Knock On Wood,” and I made my peace with that fact for the modest price of entry.
Yeah, I was afraid of that. To be honest, I sometimes prefer the single versions of disco tracks, like Love Hangover is much better in its 3-minute-plus incarnation than the album version – but I’d like to hear the full-length Knock on Wood!
Jeremy Shatan – The only six minute version of “Love Hangover” I’ve ever heard has Billy MacKenzie singing it… and it’s fabbo! It’s been 44 years since I heard any version of “Knock On Wood” by Amii Stewart so I can only claim that the long album cut played like a 12” single.
It took me many years to find a (reasonably priced) copy of the Sweet Pea record as well. He and his W(NW) cohort Sir Harry are my favorite soul singers.
Michael Toland – Sweet Pea Atkinson was my favorite Soul Shouter ever. There was never enough of him on the Was [Not Was] albums for my taste! How I need that second solo album of his as well…but I never see it.
Juxtaposing Sir Harry Bowens with Sweet Pea was a genius move from Was [Not Was]. Like wrapping brickwork in silk.
Get What You Deserve is absolutely wonderful – much more traditional than Don’t Walk Away, and all the better for it. Except for the title song, which has rapping and an electrobeat! But it was easily one of my favorite records from that year.
Agreed on the Sir Harry/Sweet Pea combo – the Sam & Dave of the post 60s.
I’ve actually seen Sir Harry and Sweet Pea in action, but not with Was (Not Was), alas. But they were Lyle Lovett’s backup singers for years.
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Michael Toland – I figured with the Blue Note branding it would be a “traditional” sound from Sweet Pea. I’d listen to that man sing the phone book!
SWEET haul, my man!
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Nice finds, Monk! I’m oddly obsessed with reading/hearing about other folks music purchases. I miss music retail so much, but there’s no undoing Amazon, iTunes, downloading, streaming, etc. I do have a special annoyance for the vinyl revival, as I’m a dedicated CD guy and the (few surviving) shops are all about vinyl and have tiny (or non-existent) new and used CD stock. Guess I’ll have to sit down and wait for the inevitable CD revival.
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Taffy – It warms the cockles of my heart to hear of your love for CDs. I hear you! But damn! You hit the nail on the head of my increasing irritation with the modern record store! Wait until you read today’s post! It’ll put wind in your sails. I never thought I’d sail into my golden years with records plentiful and CDs all but banished from the kingdom.
I love your record shopping repoarts and even though I don’t buy vinyl that $1 bin sounds like heaven!
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SimonH – Even finding a dollar bin in 2023 is a feat. One with records you want to buy? Miraculous!