The last few weeks have seen more than their share of casualties buying online, so I thought I might share some of these, to allow fellow collectors to experience vicariously the misfortune of others. They call it schadenfreude, such a good word that it has been adopted in English in its native form, though strictly it refers to the more extreme gloating over others misfortune. But hey, feel free to gloat, gloating is ok with me.
Funny things, humans. Faced with someone else’s misfortune, we all seem to get a twinge of pleasure – perhaps a sense of relief that it didn’t happen to us. On the flip side, possibly the same or worse has happened to you, and you can trump my tales of woe with your own story.
1. The frequent-flyer record
The music on this record Joe Harriot’s Free Form, had travelled half way round the world and back. Musicians Joe Harriott and Shake Keane came originally from the West Indies to Great Britain, where they recorded this record for the American Riverside-owned Jazzland label, who released it in the US. I found the original US pressing being sold by a seller located in the Middle East. The condition read optimistic enough to bid, and a week after winning it arrived back in England, posted from Holland.
There’s that moment when you hope for the best, mount it on the turntable, to sit back and enjoy..
Up to three scratches each revolution in counterpoint to the time signature, almost a highly advanced polyrhythmic tempo rubato vocabulary, some enthusiasts of the avant-guard might say.
Result: full refund on record, a loss on postage, but I get to keep the record.
2. An original “Blue Not.” Nice label, shame about the vinyl.
It’s a Blue Not, not a Blue Note: no plastylite ear, as claimed. Here’s what the seller said in his description:
“BLUE NOTE 4054 ORIGINAL NOT A REISSUE – MONO DEEP GROOVE. THIS HAS VAN GELDER IN THE RUN OUT GROOVE & NEW YORK ON THE LABEL VINYL IS HEAVY & GLOSSY & IN EXCELLENT CONDITION PRESSED ON HEAVYWEIGHT VINYL WITH GROOVED BLUE NOTE LABELS Text on labels reads: BLUE NOTE® 33? MICROGROOVE LONG PLAYING BLUE NOTE RECORDS INC • NEW YORK USA The symbol of an ear is inscribed into the run out grooves of both sides. The track duration does not appear on the release. MATRIX: BN-LP-4054 A BN-LP-4054 B. THE RECORD IS HOUSED IN THE ORIGINAL FRONT LAMINATED THICK CARD COVER w/ PASTED ON BACK PANEL – ORIGINAL INNER SLEEVE INTACT Text on cover reads: High Fidelity”
From the description on Ebay I reckoned it as a Blue Note second pressing from the NY years( 1962-6) using up stock label inventory. I was wrong but then so were the other twelve bidders, who pushed the price into three figures.The Blue Note corporate inner sleeve would have been the giveaway – a 1966 end of series inner, which is often found on the first wave of Liberty reissues, which is what this turned out to be:
The claimed presence of the ear put everyone on the wrong trail, as did the inaccurate description as “Deep Groove” which (my) photo clearly demonstrates is non-DG. There probably wasn’t an NY reissue, hence the old stock label inventory inherited by Liberty was a late 47 West 63rd, with R trademarks, circa late 1960/1961, possibly the original release.
I don’t think this was a malicious attempt to mislead. Getting the ear and DG wrong and going into writing about it wouldn’t be very clever.
Result: A straightforward “Item not as described” case, backed up by an LJC super stealth photo was responded to by an immediate offer of refund. As it happens, these Blue Nots, or Van Goghs, are sonically a delight, it’s an RVG master, mono, almost certainly an All Disc Roselle press for Liberty 1966, and an original first press jacket from stock inventory, there’s a lot to like. A very big discount was agreed.
3. An original Blue Note, nice record, shame about the cover
An original mono Blue Note BLP 4127 Kenny Dorham “Una Mas” Here’s how it looked on offer :
The original vinyl was shipped to me with a Liberty or United Artists stereo later sleeve, as illustrated below.
I’m not entirely stupid, despite the occasional lapse. The seller had cropped the jacket photograph in such a way to conceal the 84127 stereo information at the top of the cover. You had to know a lot to do that. Or may be just an innocent mistake? A query to the seller showed there was no original cover – that’s how they acquired it, and yes they would offer a complete refund if I wanted to return the record.
Result: another tricky situation. It’s a great record, I wanted an original press, the vinyl plays perfectly, still very desirable, just the wrong cover. A price adjustment was negotiated, I carry on looking for a cover.
There were other minor annoyances too – the stereo that turned out to be “electronically rerecorded to simulate stereo” and the audiophile 2x45rpm that consisted of two copies of the second record, but that is just the rough and tumble of buying records. More than a few have been better than expected, and 90% are exactly as described. It’s not a bad result overall, it won’t put me off. A straight “Not as described” shot back to the seller backed up by visual evidence of the shortcoming has always delivered a satisfactory resolution.
There are so few physical shops left, and even those that do exist (I was told by one insider) move the better stuff that comes their way through a circle of dealers and favoured buyers. Whatever you think of the online market, it’s not like there is a much of an alternative.
In any event, I tend to be an optimist. If something “bad” happens, my mum’s folk wisdom kicks in – handed down to me as “there is always something good comes out of something bad“. I genuinely believe that, though there are days I think the opposite is probably true as well.
Like everything, it’s all down to how you look at it, and I think on balance I think it is better to be an optimist than a pessimist, despite this timely reminder to the contrary on a recent birthday card, thoughtfully chosen by my daughter:
Smart girl. She seems to have inherited her dad’s sense of humour too.
If you would like to share any of your experiences buying records on-line that others might benefit from, comments are open, but please keep it anonymous, as I have. Ebay have a strict rule about not putting disputes into the public domain and I don’t want you getting into trouble..