Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brown and Brown Present: Dave "Cactus Cowboy" Rose

It's very exciting to announce that several collector features will be posted in the upcoming weeks. To kick this off we have Cactus Cowboy, a fellow poster on the International Record Collectors Guild.
His collecting experience spans over 20 years, and as you will see, the diversity of the cuts in his collection are both impressive and mind boggling.

What do you collect and why?
I've been collecting records since the late 1960s. My Aunt Margie got me started in December 1967 when she gave me two LPs as Christmas gifts: The Beatles "Revolver" and The Rolling Stones "Between The Buttons." For a ten year old kid, it was a fantastic gift. "Tomorrow Never Knows" just about blew my mind. My parents were into Baroque era Classical music and Soundtracks, so it was a real thrill to own my own Rock albums. With limited funds, I began buying 45 rpm singles, collecting various Motown. Bubblegum, and British Invasion records. Like most households, we had a radio, and my early exposure to music was a mix of my parent's records and listening to the hits of the day on AM radio. What appealed to me about collecting records was the chance to listen to "B sides" of singles and lesser known album tracks, which never received radio airplay. As I entered my teens and started earning money from delivering newspapers, cutting lawns, and shoveling snow, I started buying LPs on a regular basis.
It seems that Stones and Beatles are among most peoples 'firsts'

How big is your collection?
My collection exceeds 20,000 records, roughly 12,000 LPs, 5,000+ 45s, and 5,000+ 78s. All genres of music are represented, spanning 1902 through 2011, although I own very little Disco, Soft Rock, Smooth Jazz, and New Country. The bulk of the collection would be roughly equal parts Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Classical, with lesser amounts of Folk, Blues, and Country Western. In the Rock genre, I have sizeable collections of Prog Rock, Punk, and Metal. I also own 250+ prerecorded Reel-To-Reel tapes, 1,000+ cassette tapes, and 1,000+ CDs.
The collection is large enough to provide endless variety of choices for listening, yet not too large to be overwhelming.
If the term 'Man-cave' ever needed a photo to accompany its definition - this would be the shot!

Explain your storage/display techniques.
My studio is a converted two car garage with 600 square feet of floor space. I have 190 running feet of homemade shelving for LPs and 80 running feet for 78s. The LP shelves are floor to ceiling and with ten foot walls. I use a library style ladder to access the two upper rows. The walls of the studio are decorated with various posters pulled from LPs along with picture discs and colored vinyl. Two strips of moulding attached to the wall allow a display of album covers that's easy to change as the mood dictates.

Tell us about an odd record in your collection.

I'll give credit to my friend Tony (aka Fireflite) from New York City for this one. It's a "Special Columbia Advertising Record" that he found and sent to me, for my collection. It features an advertising pitch for the new Columbia "Double Disc" (two-sided) records on one side. The other side is Henry Burr singing "Good Night Little Girl Good Night." In the early days of 78s, all records were one-sided, so the Double Disc was an innovation about 100 years ago. Other oddities in my collection include a three inch 78 which actually plays, sixteen inch radio transcription discs, cardboard picture discs from the 1950s and various homemade records dating back to the late '30s.

The odd 78's in Cactus' collection are most impressive !

What elusive gem are you still looking for?
Although I'm not a fanatical Elvis collector, I'm always looking for any of his first singles, either 78 or 45 rpm, on the Sun label. I've yet to find any in decades of crate-digging.

How do you keep track of what you have/need?
Discs are arranged alphabetically, by artist. All Pop, Rock, Blues, Folk, Jazz, and Country Western LPs are grouped together. There are seperate sections for: Classical, Christmas, Childrens, Comedy, Hawaiian, World, Soundtracks, Various Artists compilations, and Miscellaneous. With a collection of this size, a mis-filed record may 'go missing' for upwards of six months before I find it again.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to catalog and detail records in the collection, with notes regarding condition. I also have a "Wants List" that I'll bring with me when visiting record stores. I've got a good memory of what I own and usually know whether I've got a particular record or not while I'm out crate-digging and spot something interesting.

Discuss your stance on using the Internet for collecting? Are you only using Ebay, or a combination of stores and online?
The majority of my records were bought used, at yard sales, thrift shops, antique malls, or through buying collections. I've bought several collections/accumulations that were in the 1,000+ quantity range. One especially nice find was 1,200 free Classical LPs from a public radio station. Of the 1,500 new LPs I've purchased, the vast majority were from record stores, with smaller numbers bought on-line. I do not buy through Ebay. I've had great experience buying and/or swapping records with friends on the Record Collectors Guild forums, and I prefer dealing with knowledgeable collectors as opposed to taking chances with Ebay sellers.

Do you have any routines surrounding listening?
I've been primarily a collector of LPs, and my normal routine is to play side one followed by side two. With 45s and 78s, I like to have a session, spinning dozens of discs over the course of a few hours. I like the ritual of pulling records out of their sleeves, placing them on the turntable and watching the needle hit the groove. In comparison, playing MP3's on an Ipod just seems so dull, lifeless, and un-involving.
My routine and approach to music has changed since I started doing radio shows about six months ago. My normal way of listening (play an entire album all the way through) is now shifted towards what's going to work well on radio. So I'm now more focused on identifying particular tracks on an album as opposed to viewing it as a whole.

Cactus has a different turntable set up for each speed 45, 33 and 78!

...and a Cartridge for all occasions!

Are there types of covers you look for, or is it all in the grooves?
I'm definitely interested in the cover artwork and liner notes and it's a big factor in collecting. There are albums I buy primarily for the covers, for example those featuring "cheesecake" photos of alluring woman. Covers can also give a clue to the music contained therein. A band photo showing four long-haired hippies along with psychedelic artwork suggests it may be heavy 'Acid Rock.' Outer space or fantasy covers indicate a possible Prog Rock gem. Sneering hoodlums on an album cover might promise wild Punk Rock music. I also look for obscure labels and private pressings. Anything unusual gets my attention.

Do you have a long-term plan for your collection?
Enjoy it for as long as I'm able to. I hope to still be spinning records thirty years from now. I've got a friend and fellow collector who's in his early '90s. He's still playing his Jazz LPs and continues to buy more records through Ebay.
One long term goal is to completely catalog all my records with notes regarding condition. When I pass on, my heirs will at least know what's there and have the means to market and sell them, should nobody in the family want to keep and maintain the collection.

What is the longest you looked for a record before getting it? How did you feel once it was in your hands?
The Beatles "Blue Box" is comprised of their original fourteen albums, as released in the U.K. It was sold in the late 70s. At the time, it was pricey and I decided not to buy it as I already had most of their U.S.A. Capitol releases. But I always wanted a copy. Nearly thirty years later, I finally found an affordable used copy of the Blue Box locally, for fifty bucks. It was great to finally find it. The quality of the vinyl is superb, easily the best sounding Beatles records I own.

What’s your all-time favourite record, regardless of value or rarity?
Favorite? That's a tough choice! I'll go with Pere Ubu's debut full-length release "The Modern Dance" on Blank Records 001. It was released in the late 70s, during the height of the Punk Rock era. It's not strictly Punk as it incorporates a mix of genres, with a distinct experimental slant. When I bought it, it was strictly on the recommendation of my friends at the record store, "Ya gotta buy this one Dave, you'll love it." "The Modern
Dance" had great impact the first time I heard it and I love it to this day, never tiring of hearing it. Aside from that record, I've got many more favorites in a wide range of genres.

What is the saddest record story you know.
In the early '60s, RCA Victor decided to demolish a large plant in Camden, N.J. Four floors contained countless thousands of master recordings. Many were wax and metal masters dating back prior to use of recording tape. Although a small number of collectors were given access and they rescued what could carried out, the vast majority of the material was destroyed in the demolition and bulldozed into the nearby Delaware River. The loss of those priceless recordings is a very sad chapter in the history of RCA Victor.
When I play any of my hundreds of Victor 78s I can't help but think that I'm holding an irreplaceable piece of history that must be preserved and cherished. Visitors seeing my collection invariably describe it as a "library" or an "archive." That sense of preserving history and the great joy of discovering wonderful music from bygone eras are two of the prime motivations in my collecting.

Cactus sent me so many fantastic pictures - Enjoy!

How often do you see 16" Transcription discs?

Note the numerous Herb Albert - I know another collector
who is wall papering their room with this gem!

Thank you ever so much, Dave. As always, your insights on the hobby are most appreciated. Over the years I have taken many chances on LP's of his recommendation. A magnificent collection!

Please visit Dave's Website - He runs an audio transfer company.

Up Next - Brown and Brown Present: Barrie Bryant!

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