Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Winstons 'Amen Brother'

About ten years ago, I was in a charity/thrift/op shop (dependent on your locale) in the Fishponds area of Bristol, when I came across a rather interesting LP with a Moog logo on the cover.

Essentially, it appeared to be a demonstration record, presumably designed to accompany the purchase of a Moog synth.
Subsequent research leads me to believe was the1967 Moog 900 Series modular synthesizer demo record, which is demonstrated here:
To cut a long story short, I was pretty broke at the time and I thought that the price tag on it (5 pounds) was excessive and as such, I didn’t buy it.
For the ensuing decade, I have never, ever been able to forgive myself for making that mistake. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that record has haunted both my waking life and on occasion dreams ever since.
However, I have learnt that it was an important mistake for a young record collector to make.
If you collect records and you see something that you want, it’s important that you don’t let your rational-self take control of the situation and talk you out of the purchase.
Effectively, if you decide that the main format that you're going to buy is vinyl, then if you come across something that you want that's new; it’s usually a (fairly) limited edition. If you come across something that you want that's vintage... Hesitate and a copy may never never cross your path again.
Herein lies the rub: If you're a record collector, then your motto must always be 'carpe diem'. (
A few weeks ago, I checked the new items listed by one of my favourite vinyl sellers on Trade Me ( (For the uninitiated, Trade Me is like a New Zealand-centric version of Ebay or Gumtree).
New Zealand has fairly slim pickings on the charity shop/op-shop/thrift store records front. I can only speculate that due to the high cost of importing records based on the geographical isolation of the country (and accordingly their high retail cost) that most records are sold back to collectors stores rather than thrown out to charity shops.
As such, I watch Trade Me pretty closely and was very excited to see a single (45 RPM 7-inch) by The Winstons, called “Colour Him Father” come up on his listings. I wasn’t familiar with the release but had an awareness of The Winstons based on their legendary status as a source of a very popular drum break.

I then clicked through to find further information about the single before having a heart-fluttering, adrenaline racing moment that only record collectors will understand when I saw the name of the B-side.
The flip of the single is called “Amen Brother”. (If aren’t familiar with why that’s important, watch this:
I’ve bought a few tunes off of this particular vendor over the last couple of years and have developed a fairly good rapport with the bloke. I had immediately decided that the 7”(which based on both my passion for drum & bass and soul music) belonged in my collection. It was a righteous desire – it belonged with me.
Most of the tunes I’ve bought off him in the past have cost between $3 and $5, a couple $10 at the outside. As there wasn’t a ‘buy it now’ price on the auction, I emailed him and asked if he’d consider putting one on. (I figured that if he didn’t know what the record was, but knew I wanted it, I might have to part with $20).
I received a disappointing response from him that a) he didn’t have a clue what to suggest as a ‘buy it now’ price and that b) the sale had five registered watchers anyway.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only collector to realise the importance of the B-side.
I resigned myself to a couple of days discomfort until the auction closed and set myself a limit of $50. So as to not inflate the auction ahead of time, I didn’t bid until two minutes before the auction closed.
A bidder had opened at $3.00 five minutes out. Another had countered and the bidding quickly escalated to $10. I put an auto-bid of up to $50 on.
I sat back and waited. About 10 seconds later, I had a horrible moment of panic when I remembered the Moog record.
My internal dialogue went through a process of self-justification, where a second auto-bid of $150 was quickly weighed against a queasy sickening feeling every time I heard the ‘Amen Break’ for the next decade.
The remaining minute and a half passed.

To my enormous relief, the bidding closed.
To my enormous surprise, it closed with me as the winner at a sale price of just $10.50, less than 10% of what I had impulsively committed to spending.
Sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you.
But don’t forget, sometimes you eat the bar.
I am a muso and record collector. This is the on-going story of my ever-growing collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment