I’ve picked up half a dozen entries in Time-Life’s Classic Rock series over the past year or so. The year-themed double LP sets serve up a well-curated roster of rock, pop, and soul hits from 1964 to 1969. The there’s very little filler on them and the recording quality is outstanding, making them a handy serialized survey course in the sounds of the Sixties.
The asking prices for the individual volumes tend to be all over the map. Vinyl copies of the later releases can command premium prices, thanks to the industry’s switch to compact disc as the dominant format during the late Eighties and early Nineties.
That said, nearly all of the best installments can be had under a tenner on the secondary market — providing that one isn’t too fussy about sleeve condition. Maybe the mail-order “on approval” crowd was a rowdier bunch when it comes to handling their record libraries, but the sleeves of my Classic Rock collections have seen some serious shit over the past thirty years. Extreme spine wear is common as are split seams and other inexplicable battle scars. It’s bizarre, but doesn’t bother me as long as the media itself is in VG (very good) condition and holds the asking prices down. I’m paying $7.50 to luxuriate in this…
…not to gaze at an Eighties airbrushed interpretation of a mythologized Sixties.
As a result, I was a little surprised when I saw a copy of Classic Rock‘s second 1964 omnibus listed for a very low price and sporting a sleeve in VG condition with a note clarifying “close to Near Mint apart from a little writing on the back.” Writing on the sleeve isn’t uncommon on the these types of comps, as the Classic Rock and slightly less upmarket Baby Boomer Classics series found favor with disc jockeys looking to save crate space. I have a few of these second hand jobbers that sport redlines, run times, and other bits of industry shorthand. If a few pen scribbles mean my saving a tenner or two, I have no issue with that. It was an easy purchase.
It showed up in my front porch a week later. I sliced open the protective mailer with my pocket knife, extracted the album, flipped it over to chose a side to spin, and discovered what was meant by “a little writing on the back.”
That “ANAL” with the courteous, context-providing carat underneath was the only ballpoint revision made by the album’s previous owner. The artiste, having channeled the raw stuff of genius, briefly considered the aesthetic merits of “Hey, Little Cobra(LESS)” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) IN THE ASS” but realized that one should never gild a perfect moment. Better to let it stand alone in its inspired majesty.