5 Records for Under $5

WORDS BY HELLY MANSON ('19)

Two Sundays ago, I went to the WESU record fair and checked out some of the vinyl they had on sale. I chose 5 random records for $5 or under. My choices were purely impulsive in that I chose the records based on the aesthetics that attracted my attention and interested me. I then went on to listen to them as a kind of experiment. Here they are:

Donzelli Group- Donzelli’s group (1974) $4:

This is a lounge pop album from an Italian group. There is little to no information about them on the internet, let alone on the album sleeve. The top search for “Donzelli Group” on google is an Auto Service company. From what I can tell they only made the one album, an amalgamation of covers and original songs. Shame, kind of. It’s ok. My grandparents would like it, I guess.

The Furious Five- Step Off 12-inch (1983) $5:

I like how the cover depicts a multi-colored road to a kind of “Emerald City”. The fact that it says “Sugarhill” on it (a highly regarded hip-hop label of the 70s and 80s), should have been a big enough clue that I was buying something special. Here’s a brief old-school rap lesson for everyone who is as ignorant as I was: Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five actually coined the term “Hip-Hop”. This 12-inch is seminal and as someone who is not super familiar with hip-hop, I feel unworthy of owning it. The song “Step Off” is awesome. It features the 80s synthesizers we all pretend to hate and lyrics like “Chaka Khan let me rock you, let me rock you, Chaka Khan.” Listen to it.

Bill Nelson- Banal 12-inch (1979)$4:

I had heard a little Bill Nelson before, but I chose this particular EP because I was very interested in the origins of 60s/70s décor featured on the front cover. I regretfully cannot find anything about it, anywhere, but I really like the music and especially the song “Banal”. The guitar solo at the end of it has reignited my love for new wave.

Johan Dalgas Frisch- Symphony of the Birds (1966) $1:

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The title of this record is very apt. To put it briefly, the album is pretty much recordings of singing birds from Brazil, played over “man-made music” (acoustic guitars and so on). The clerk at the record fair told me it was “funky”. I realize now that he might have been warning me. Wins the award for the weirdest thing in my vinyl collection.

Ramsay Lewis- Ramsay Lewis Golden Hits’ (1973) $4:

The sound of this album did not capture the sort of chaos I expected from looking at the muddled, detailed artwork depicting a complex musical machine. It was boring as hell if I’m honest. Ramsey Lewis, a jazz pianist, has received 3 Grammys in his career so I felt like I should have liked it. I didn’t.