Amoeba Acquires Eclectic Treasure Trove of 30,000 LPs! (Eddie's Record Collection, Part I)

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2012 11:55pm | Post a Comment
If you're an avid record collector or an Amoeba regular then you might have already heard something about the incredibly large and eclectic record collection that Amoeba Music acquired recently  from a private collection in Queens, NY. This collection will be presented for sale to Amoeba shoppers at the Hollywood store starting on July 21st. Perhaps you read the enthusiastic preview of this collection by Amoeba Hollywood's ever-discriminating classical music expert Rubin who, in his four decades of working closely with classical releases, says he has never viewed a collection quite like this. "The most eclectic collection of classical music I have ever seen," he wrote in his recent Amoeblog Huge Vinyl Collection to Hit Amoeba Hollywood on 7/21. Eastern European Classical Gems Galore! 

Beyond the Eastern European and other classical (primarily 20th Century composers) that Rubin addressed, this vast treasure trove of vinyl - 30,000 units in scale - includes lots of different types of music. Among the many other genres that are liberally represented are a whole lot of jazz, an eclectic mix of soundtracks (movies and stage shows from the US, Europe, and beyond), and a refreshingly unique selection of spoken word. Even more impressive is the fact that the majority of these records were never opened, and are still shrink-wrapped and perfectly preserved.

"So much of it is in mint condition and there is just a lot of unusual stuff in there," said Amoeba Marc. "Some of those soundtracks I have never seen those particular issues of them before. Some of the pressings are from maybe only 500 made. In other words, some really rare stuff," added Amoeba Marc who, along with Kent from the Berkeley Amoeba, flew out to Rego Park, Queens to painstakingly dig through the collection over a three day period before deciding if Amoeba needed to purchase it in its entirety for Amoeba shoppers. By day three, they had decided it was an Amoeba must-have. That was the day I joined them to take over the shipping of this collection back to Amoeba on the opposite coast.

"Pretty intense and a very unusual collection," said Kent, "[It's] kind of mind-blowing, strange but rewarding. I have looked at collections for 30 years and that was the hardest one to just get [a feel for]. Marc and I looked at one collection in Burbank back in the early '90s and it was 1.2 million records. They were contemporary soundtracks and people would come down and rent these records from the guy there. And I remember back then we spent two days there just trying to assess that collection. The one in Queens sort of reminded me of that because it was so random in how it was filed. It was total confusion in its order (or disorder). Not the normal collector's mentality. You had classical over here and maybe over there too. And things were not alphabetized or grouped by label and artist. But the more we dug in the more we found that this was an incredible collection! We were finding all this amazing easy listening and jazz and modern classical and electronic. And everything was in such great shape too," noted Kent.

The person who maintained the mint quality of the majority of the records and who built this huge collection in the first place was a guy named Eddie who none of us met but all felt like we knew him after going over his extensive record collection. Eddie, who had been collecting his whole life, died seven years ago at the age of 80. His wife Lola inherited this vast collection that occupied, floor to ceiling, two large rooms of their home. Along with their equally vast art book collection, she needed to downsize so she could sell the place and move into a smaller, more affordable and manageable space. An instantly warm and likable person, Lola (an artist and adventurous spirit) is a colorful character with a million entertaining stories of her own to tell, including her theory on how Eddie got so obsessed with collecting records.

"I wish I had met Eddie," said Kent,"but getting to know Lola over the three days there in Queens, New York was a rewarding experience in itself. She is such an interesting person who has traveled a lot. She's an artist. She grew up in the Bay Area and was a lounge singer. She got into modeling and then into design. She got into transforming bars and clubs into more fabulous places, and in the '50s she was living in Mexico City with her husband who was also in music. She is a most interesting person and I bet Eddie was too!"

In an upcoming follow-up Amoeblog, I will write in more detail about Lola and what she had to say about Eddie's record collecting habits and their life together. I will also write another post on what the cross-country shipping process of 30,000 records entailed. But now back to this unique eclectic record collection.

As Rubin noted of many of the records he pored over in the collection, there were a number of them that he had simply never heard of (and this guy knows his music inside out). I had a similar experience with many of the records when I went to Google them; either nothing solid came up or else I discovered that they were long out of print and never reissued on CD.  Some records from the collection are out there if you look for them, but all too often (at least in the searches I conducted) they are in used condition and are pricey if you can find them for sale. For instance, an online search for the long out-of-print 1970 LP The Poetry of Langston Hughes: Read by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis Hughes yielded only a handful of used condition copies for sale by individuals and asking a lot of money for them.

A great many of the albums have never been re-pressed on CD. Some of them have but it is generally only the CD versions that are readily available. For example the Giuseppe di Stefano Sings Neopolitan & Other Songs album was reissued on CD (as an import), albeit with a slightly different tracking. The LP version from this collection is much harder to find. Then there are many of the albums that have been reissued on CD and it is that digital format that is readily available, not the LP version. An example is Domingo Caballe Milnes McDaniel Pagliacci 2-LP set. Of course, as with any collection, "It's not all collectibles or great," noted Marc. "There's stuff like Chuck Mangione or Mantovani that is not uncommon to find anywhere."

Some of my personal favorites in this collection lurked among the spoken word records. These included some real gems like the album (with booklet) Edward R Murrow: A Reporter Remembers: Volume One: The War Years, and the three LP + manual set of learning Chinese from the Faculty of Peking University - Modern Chinese A Basic Course. Not spoken word, but categorized under jazz/folk/world music, is the album Family Of Percussion by Peter Giger, released in 1976 by the German label Någarå. And it is a totally out-of-the-blue album like this that personifies this collection, one that defies categorization but demands exploring for anyone who is a truly adventurous music fan and record collector. This can be done when Eddie's record collection will be unveiled at Amoeba Hollywood on July 21st.
Check the other Amoeblog posts on this record collection including Rubin's Huge Vinyl Collection to Hit Amoeba Hollywood on 7/21. Eastern European Classical Gems Galore!

Relevant Tags

Vinyl Event (8), Eddie's Record Collection (3), Record Collecting (23), Lola (3), Classical (24), East Coast Vinyl Collection (7), 20th Century Composers (2), Amoeba Hollywood (876)