Hard-to-find records spin off the tables at U music sale

by Seth Rowe

Retro music was the hip sell at the University Music Library’s sale of approximately 10,000 records over the weekend. We’re talking way retro.

Beethoven, Bach and Brahms ruled the day in Ferguson Hall’s lobby on the West Bank at the Friday and Saturday sale. The selection also included more recent hits, such as the “Bloomington Junior High School Sounds of 1966” and local polka star Whoopie John Wilfahrt.

A musical recording of Leonard Nimoy – who played Spock on “Star Trek” – was quickly snatched up, and a box of jazz records sold quickly as well. At the end of the sale, all that remained were a few dozen boxes of opera and classical recordings, a Kenny Rogers album and a recording by “Monty” singing the original “Moulin Rouge” theme.

The sale was packed with local artists, alumni and music experts looking for rare records in good condition. Record prices ranged from a quarter to $3, but most sold for $1.

“You can’t find this stuff anymore,” Minneapolis resident Lois Clift said, while searching through the boxes and boxes of records. “I grew up with this stuff and I just love it. If you can’t see it in concert, the recording is the next best thing.”

Clift said when she heard about the sale, she rushed over to Ferguson Hall.

“This was an opportunity not to be missed,” she said.

The Music Library receives several record donations every year, but has not sold its duplicate records in more than five years. Chris Gable, interim head of the library, said he expects the next sale to be held in two years.

The sale proved that vinyl still has many loyal fans.

Shawn McNulty, a 27-year-old painter for the Rosalux Gallery in northeast Minneapolis, said he appreciates the large cover art on old albums. He also said he enjoys the nostalgia of listening to records.

“There’s something warm and inviting about the crackle and hiss,” he said. “I think the albums are how it originally came out. Ö It’s being true to history and the past.”

Clift agreed.

“Now that I’m older and not such a snob,” she joked, “I realize that all kinds of music are related to each other. You can see the influences that the Beatles took from earlier music. Current music is influenced by older jazz and rock.”

Gable said many people have taken an interest in records because of disc jockeys who use turntables to mix different styles of music together. And many influential hip-hop and indie rock artists still release albums on vinyl, he said.

University alumnus Satish Subramanian said he enjoys sampling old records. “It feels like you’re listing to the old music when it came out. I’m not old enough to say I’m nostalgic, but I do have quite a bit.”