Working day in and day out at a record store, especially those of us spending our time in the used department, one becomes super tuned in to a record's availability. Some of the most desired and asked about records are ones that we simply never see! And of course rarity and the never-ending-hunt are part of the thrill of record collecting, but that's not what we're here to talk about today. No, today we address the exact opposite: today we celebrate those records that are seemingly always sitting on our shelves BUT nonetheless totally rule.
These are records that don't cost an arm and a leg, and that you've got a better than 50/50 chance of walking in and scoring on any given day. These are ones you've probably flipped past many, many times, but we're here to put our stamp of approval on a few of these hidden-in-plain-sight gems. Now, naturally, we'll get into some out-of-vogue genres, but keep an open mind and open ears! Here are some of our favorite cheap and common records we handle here at Sonic Boom.
Pointer Sisters Break Out
This one is just a pure good-time, high-energy, party record! Aptly titled, this was totally the sisters' break out album. This record was loaded with hits (especially after they repressed it adding 'I'm So Excited') and it sold by the boat load. That means you can find it for cheap now over thirty years later, but it still sounds super fresh. You need this to get your friends dancing.
Rod Stewart Never A Dull Moment
This was the follow up to Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod's breakthrough LP. And though this one might lack any track as recognizable as 'Maggie May,' it does perhaps have my personal favorite of his tracks, 'True Blue.' Most the players on here are from Rod's other, more record-collector approved group, The Faces. It has their swagger, that Stonesy barroom looseness, that makes all their music so enjoyable. Usually less than $3.
Christopher Cross Self-Titled
I once dug through our entire dollar bin, getting things organized, and ended up counting what records we had the most of down there. This was the winner. You probably already know how you feel about "Yacht Rock" but if that sort of thing matches your taste, this is a stunner of a record. Great sounding, expertly produced, and with an obligatory Michael McDonald feature. This one is well worth four quarters.
Carole King Fantasy
Fantasy arrived only a few years removed from Tapestry, King's defacto masterpiece. And while it lacked Tapestry's chart-toppers, it's a record with far more groove and soul. Wonderfully played and beautifully recorded, this is an LP fan's dream, sounding amazing start to finish. This is a great chance to discover another side of an artist you already know for only a couple bucks.
Jefferson Starship Blows Against The Empire
Psych fans might just be amongst the most obsessed with the rarity of any given record. But this right here is a totally common record that's as spaced-out and mind-bending as many an impossible to score rarity. The record where Paul Kantner transitioned his project from Airplane to Starship, but this was long before the era of 'We Built This City.' This was a west-coast psych all-star affair, with Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, and many more showing up to make a sprawling, cosmically minded, record that ranges from dreamy psych-folk to druggy rave-ups.
The Isley Brothers 3 + 3
Really, all the Isley's records are great, but it seems we see this one come through the shop most often. Probably one of the most sampled groups in history, it's because they had some of the best grooves in history. 'That Lady,' the lead track here, was the basis for Kendrick Lamar's 'i'. But the whole record is chill. You must hear their ultimately beachy take on 'Summer Breeze.'
Pure Prairie League Bustin Out
Another dollar bin staple here. I could've filled this whole list with unsung and unloved country-rock records, but that's a project for another day. Like a kinder, gentler, Burrito Brothers, this midwestern group built their success around sweet harmonies and a laid-back twang. Great playing, great singing, great song writing, horribly out of fashion, you should give this one a chance if you've got an ear for rural sounds.
Gerry Rafferty City To City
It's too easy to clown on the sax solo from 'Baker Street,' the massive hit single from City to City. The thing is, beyond that moment, this is an excellently produced folk-rock record from salt-of-the-Earth Scottish singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty. All of his records, including those with his previous band Stealers Wheel, are lovely listens, just simply pleasant things to have playing. But also, the sax solo from 'Baker Street' rules.