Friday, December 08, 2006

PDX Vinylist Scores Record Gold--Rare Velvets Acetate

Nothing really to add here, other than some guys get all the luck at garage sales, but since the Velvet Underground are one of my very favorite bands ever, and it really IS a pretty amazing find, here's a story from today's O about Mississippi Records owner Eric Isaacson and his eBay gem:
At about 8:30 tonight, the eBay auction of an early, ultra-rare acetate record by the Velvet Underground rock band will conclude, and Isaacson, owner of Mississippi Records in Portland and the selling agent for the record, will know for sure how high the bidding reached. Its price tag of $151,000 at midday Thursday looked, shall we say, promising.

The object of so much online auction desire is unprepossessing. The record has little more than the band's name, the name N. Dolph and a few numbers written on it -- in addition to the date, 4-25-66.

The date intrigued Warren Hill, a Montreal resident and a friend of Isaacson's who'd stopped at a Manhattan garage sale serendipitously on the way to an art museum in the Chelsea neighborhood.

The Velvet Underground didn't release its first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico," until early 1967. Though the record sold poorly at the time, both the album and the Velvet Underground became hugely influential in the history of rock, particularly in the development of punk and new wave.

Hill bought the record that's now on eBay and two others for 75 cents each in September 2002. "I thought it might have been a test pressing for a bootleg or something like that," he said. "I definitely thought it was unusual, I just had no idea what exactly it was."

"We listened to about 10 seconds, then I ripped the needle off. I realized it wasn't anything I'd ever heard from them (the Velvet Underground)," Isaacson said. "We put it away very carefully and paced back and forth for a while."

The acetate was an earlier, rawer version of the Velvets' first album. Six of the songs were the same as the versions on the released album -- but the rest of the acetate differs to varying degrees.

A bootleg that appears to have the same songs as Hill's record has been circulated, but its sound quality is far poorer and its source is unknown. Hill and Isaacson believe their acetate is one of a kind.

After various attempts to sell the record, Hill and Isaacson finally decided to eBay it. From the first bid of $26.24 on Nov. 28, the price zoomed into the thousands within hours. The record broke the six-figure barrier Dec. 3.
The actual eBay listing is here; as of this writing you've got just under 4 hours to make a bid that will top the current $155,501.00. The description that goes along with the listing has an extensive bibliography about the disc and its origins, including an article written by Issacson for the collector's mag Goldmine. Here's to the inevitable renovation/expansion of Mississippi Records! (Or immediate closure, I guess...would YOU head back to work after scoring 150K in a single act of profit?)