Monday, October 27, 2008

The Record Ranch

Sick of eBay and the problems that are associated with this online giant (and there are many)? I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Celeste who has just launched The Record Ranch. Let's explore this up and coming website:

The Record Ranch

New Online Venue to Cater to Music Lovers

written by Robert Benson

The global economy is in shambles. Ask people involved in the music industry and they’ll probably tell you that their industry has likewise been affected. But there is a bright spot: the renewed interest in vinyl records.

Taking advantage of this vinyl revival is eBay veteran Chris Celeste. He believes that eBay should not be the only major online marketplace where people can go to sell records. In fact, utilizing his years of online experience, his experience working in a ‘mom and pop’ record store in the 90’s and his entrepreneurial drive, Celeste has decided to launch his own online auction site:

The goal of the Record Ranch is to have an auction web site that will serve record and music collectors better than any current site and give music buyers and sellers a safe, trusted and reasonably-priced place to do business. Although the Record Ranch could never replace your neighborhood record store, what it can do is cultivate a friendly, vibrant venue that is driven by both knowledgeable sellers and music fans worldwide.

I spoke with web site owner Chris Celeste about his new site and what consumers can expect from the Record Ranch:

Tell me more about the decision to create the site.

“The seeds for a music-only niche auction site were planted a few years back,” said Chris. “I was quite turned off after participating in some music category restructuring discussions with eBay. I guess I naively assumed that the people that managed the categories had some expertise in their respective categories. From then on, I envisioned a site that served collectors and sellers of just music items; sort of a DIY, by collectors-for-collectors type of concept. Fast forward five-plus years and countless ill-researched site ‘tweaks’ at eBay later; it was clear that the time was right to finally take the plunge. Luckily I have a few guys in my corner that have really helped out.”

How many people are involved in the site (do you have partners)?

“There are essentially three. It's me, a web developer and a designer. All three of us have been music junkies forever. The other two play in bands and are also great at their trades. It works quite well.”

Obviously you love vinyl, but what is it about records that make them your format of choice?

“For me, vinyl equals great memories and great sound. I grew up in a household full of records. I remember the record covers of my youth like it was yesterday. When I was old enough, it seemed logical to fill my house full of them too. I have a ton of CDs too, but it's not the same. They're digitized and they collect dust. Vinyl is just a better experience all around,” explained Chris.

You are now in direct competition with eBay; -what will make your site different than this retail giant?

“Well, for starters, The Record Ranch is a manageable venue,” suggested Chris. “EBay is not a manageable venue at this point and compulsive buyers and sellers of music suffer. Quality buyers and sellers are leaving or have left. Their (eBay’s) solutions to issues are never logical, and it's obvious that the folks managing the site have never bought or sold (or shipped) anything collectible in their lives. Did I mention categories yet? While The Record Ranch's format is quite similar to eBay, the way the site is run is much different. Having people running the site who know their trade is obviously a good thing, especially when addressing buyers' and sellers' concerns.”

“The Record Ranch's format is very similar to eBay, but finely tuned to the needs of music collectors. The pricing structure makes it a more affordable venue, especially for casual music sellers who can't qualify for eBay's Power Seller discounts. Basic listings are free. Enhancements such as subtitles and featured space on the home page can be purchased to spice up listings. Sellers also have the option to open a store free of charge. The final value fees are 4% for sold items up to $100, 3% for sold items between $100 and $200 and 2% for sold items over $200. Sellers may choose to accept payment via diverse methods, including Google Checkout, PayPal and checks/money orders.”

“The Record Ranch is made up of “rooms.” There's a CD Room, a 78s Room and so on. Each room's genre subcategories were created with the obsessive fan/collector in mind. For example, if you're a collector of rockabilly 78s, there is a rockabilly subcategory in The 78s Room. This ensures collectors of a certain specific genre of music will find exactly what they're looking for much more quickly.”

Where do you see vinyl in, let's say, ten years from now?

“I think it'll be the same in 10 years as it is now or where it was 10 years ago. Digital media will change and evolve and its proponents will proclaim the death of vinyl once more, only for vinyl to survive and flourish.”

When did you start collecting (I assume you are a collector) and do you have a special stash for personal use (meaning records you would never sell)?

“I guess I realized that I had the collector bug in me in high school when I was the guy who wasn't OK with lending out records. I adopted the "I'll be happy to tape it for you" mantra back then. As for a special stash, it goes in waves I guess. I've definitely parted with records and regretted it years later. I guess there are some records I've kept for years that aren't exactly rare, but hold special meaning for me. I guess that would be my special stash.”

As a record collector, I am excited to find a new alternative in which to buy records for my collection. Creating a ‘mom and pop’ online venue is just what the record collecting community needs. Let’s hope that the corporate giants in the field welcome this newcomer, because I am sure many vinyl record buyers and sellers will.

eBay time saver- nice site to visit!

I found another interesting site, this should be of help to all of us who cruise eBay for collectible and rare vinyl records- I am trying to contact the person who runs it to get some more information, but for now, check it out:

The specifics from the site:

"What I’ve done is formulate pages of ebay listings which show the rarest and also the cheapest rarities from a range of major artists. They all display on one page so you can see which mega rarities are going under the hammer and one the same page, keep an eye on any records that appear to be slipping through unnoticed. Saves hours of ebay trawling and if you just have a spare ten minutes, gives you a change to nab either a special rarity or a bargain record! And, of course, it’s completely free to use."

Cover Story- Bob Dylan

As always I want to thank Michael Goldstein at for the exclusive rights to reprint this interesting cover story:

Cover Story Interview - Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks",

with photography by Paul Till

Subject: Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, released in 1975 on Columbia Records, with cover photo by photographer Paul Till.

Back in April, I wrote about the making of the cover image for Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming. Shortly afterwards, I received a nice letter from Kevin Odegard, a writer-musician who had written a book titled A Simple Twist of Fate that provided the complete story of the making of another classic Dylan album – 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. It seems that there were a number of stories floating about concerning this recording, and Kevin’s book, which features interviews with many of the people who worked on the production (including Kevin), served to provide the details (and dispel the rumors) that had kept fans of this album guessing for years.

While I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the recording – I’d suggest that you track down Kevin’s book for an in-depth account – I can tell you that it seems that this album was the one where we “got to know” more – as best as we could determine from his songs’ lyrics, which can be a bit allegorical - about Dylan and his state of mind following the breakup of his marriage to his wife Sara.

Backed by an excellent studio band, Dylan’s songs of loneliness, anger and heartbreak all come together in a recording that, according to many critics and fans, represents one of the best in his long career. The double-platinum album reached #1 on Billboard’s pop charts in the U.S. (and #4 in the UK), while the single "Tangled Up in Blue" topped out at #31 on the Pop singles chart.

As it turns out, the making of the cover image also has an intriguing story, so to help create this unique Cover Story, I asked Kevin to provide some additional content (see the section following the main Cover Story interview) while I sought out and then interviewed the creator of the iconic cover image – Ontario, Canada-based photographer Paul Till – to learn his story about “the making of” that fascinating snapshot. The story is particularly interesting in that – in the days before Photoshop – it was the “art” of photography and experimental film processing that produced one-of-a-kind images like the one we’ll talk about today. Read on…and you’ll then know…the REST of the Cover Story…(my apologies to Paul Harvey!)

In the words of the photographer – Paul Till

I was 20 years old at the time, and had been doing photography for about three years and had been using a darkroom for a year and a half or so. I loved the darkroom and learning and using various darkroom techniques. I was also a big Bob Dylan fan, and so when the 1974 tour was announced, there was a mail-in “first-come first-served” process for getting tickets to his show at the Maple Leaf Gardens. I took my letter down to actual post office where their post office box was and ended up with quite good tickets. I was directly stage right a few seats from being obstructed by loudspeakers. I was relatively close to the stage, but not really close. I photographed the 2nd of Bob Dylan's two concerts in - I think it was - January of 1974. I'd never photographed a concert before.

The camera I was using was a screw-mount Leica III which dated back to the 1930's. It was my dad's - he'd bought in London, England in 1945. I had a fast normal lens for it, but not a telephoto, so I borrowed a Canon 135 f3.5 lens from the father of a friend of my sister. Anyhow, I shot about a roll and half of 35mm Tri X - the standard 400 ASA film of the time - and tried to figure out the exposure. I pushed the film to about 1600ASA (ASA is the same as ISO. but that's what it was called then). I don't recall if I did the darkroom work to make the cover image in the Fall or Winter of 1974.

At the time, I was doing a lot of darkroom manipulation of photographs as well as hand-colouring them. I was very familiar with Bob Dylan's music and I felt that the combination of darkroom technique and hand colouring echoed the old/new dichotomy of much of his work, as well as the notion that it echoed the (sometimes slapdash) off-handed power of his words and music.

Here's how it was actually made - The negative was enlarged in the darkroom onto another piece of film in such a way that just Dylan's head was on it. This would normally result in a positive image on the film which, if you printed it onto a piece of photo paper, would give you a negative print. However, I solarized this piece of film (that is, re-exposed it to light) as it was being developed. This partially reversed the image and also gave it the distinctive line between what was dark to start with and what has made dark by the solarization. Technically, this technique is actually called “the Sabbatier effect”, and the lines are called “Mackie lines”. This resulted in a quite dark and low-contrast piece of film to make a print from. I had to use the very high-contrast grade 6 Agfa Brovira paper to get a print with enough contrast.

I made a bunch of these and hand-coloured them using Marshalls photographic watercolours (they are a dye that sinks right into the emulsion of the photographic paper). I do recall that I was selling 5X7 hand-coloured prints of the cover image and the entire image for $5.00 in the Fall.

In the fall of 1974 I sent Bob Dylan some of the photos. I sent in at least two images- the one that ended up on the cover and a hand coloured version of the entire image. I had gotten his office address out of Who's Who. I hadn't done any work for the label or act before, so the artist and management were completely unaware of what I had done. It's my understanding the Bob Dylan saw the photo and thought that it was great, but I don't know where that understanding came from. I really didn't get any feedback about the image. I would have been pleased just to get a letter back!

All of this photography was done as a ticket holder. I've seen Dylan in concert quite a few times since then but he's been very restrictive about photography. Cameras are not allowed, and many times press photographers aren't allowed as well. A year or so later I made a photograph at the Rolling Thunder Revue concert in Niagara Falls, New York that was then used on the cover of the Bob Dylan Songs 1966-1975 songbook (see below).

I also photographed Bob Dylan in 1978 (from way, way, way back in the crowd), in 1979 (it was, I think, the “gospel tour”) where I got some good photographs and got as close as I ever got with a camera to Dylan, and then again 1981 (also from pretty far back, but it was a great concert.)

When I finally did hear Blood on the Tracks, I thought it was a great record and that the photo worked great with the music as well as the art direction of the cover. That being said, if I ever get a good seat again, I'll probably put some tiny digital camera in my pocket and...

About the photographer, Paul Till (with an intro in his own words) –

After the Blood on the Tracks photos, I figured that I'd be a professional photographer. I went to community college and have been a photographer since then. I did a few record jackets in the 80's - some people may have heard of the Canadian band "FM" as well as the electronic solo artist "Nash the Slash" – and I photographed some of the early Toronto punk scene. Since 1981, I've been a freelance photographer for Toronto's Now magazine ( and these days shoot for them once a week - almost all live music. I've done a wide variety of commercial photographic work as well as having many photo shows with a variety of subjects and using many different techniques. My most recent show is "First 3 Songs (no flash)" which ran beginning in May (and probably through the summer) at Industrial Storm at 1099 Queen St West in Toronto. It features large prints of manipulated concert photographs, most of them combining multiple images, through physical collage or digital techniques.

Personal Data

Born: June 17, 1953, London, England and immigrated to Canada in 1957


Paul was educated at the University of Toronto and at Humber College in Toronto, where he received a diploma in Creative Photography in 1977 (he also has teaching credentials, teaching ESL classes and classes in photography/advanced darkroom techniques).

Photographic Specialities

Live concert photography, low light photography, infra red photography, photojournalism, location photography, photograms, panoramic photography, archival processing, black and white and colour printing, pinhole photography, and camera construction.

Selected Exhibitions

1 Person Shows

2008- First 3 Songs(no flash), Industrial Storm, Toronto
2007- Toronto Buildings Gardens and Statues, Industrial Storm, Toronto
2006 - North American Buildings, Gardens and Statues, Industrial Storm, Toronto.
2004 - Buildings, Gardens and Statues. South Hill Home, Toronto.
1999 - Paris Panoramas. See Gallery, Toronto.
1998 - Actual Photographs. Arcadia Gallery, Toronto.
1997 - Some Neat Stuff. Arcadia Gallery, Toronto.
1990 - Some Neat Stuff. Latcham Gallery, Stouffeville.
1985 - The Magic Show. Gallery 44, Toronto.
1983 - The Secret History of Aircraft. Cameravision Gallery, Los Angeles.
1983 - Photographs of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The Mecene Gallery, Toronto.
1983 - One More River to Cross, Boats and Monuments, Gallery 44, Toronto.
1982 - The Secret History of Aircraft. Sacks Gallery, Toronto.
1981 - new/gods/sing. The Print Finishing Gallery, Toronto.

Group Shows

2005- The Official Bob Dylan Exhibition, Proud Gallery, London, U.K.
2004 - Now and the 80s. Thomas Fisher Library, University of Toronto Archives, Toronto.
2003 - Toronto Grid Works. York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront, Toronto.
1996 - Now Photo Show, Ryerson Gallery, Toronto.
1994 - Toronto After Dark. The Market Gallery, Toronto.
1991 - Black and White and Still Blue. Community Gallery Habourfront, Toronto.
1990 - 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Gallery 44, Toronto.
1989 - 4 Canadian Photographers, Canon Gallery, Amsterdam
1985 - Living with Lead. Gallery 44, Toronto.


Paul’s works are featured in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, City of Toronto Archives, Forum Research Inc., the University of Toronto Archives, and in many private collections in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

To see more of Paul’s work, please visit his website at

To see more Bob Dylan-related works in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please follow this link –

Extra bonus content from Kevin Odegard (from his book, A Simple Twist of Fate) -

In 1974 Bob Dylan wrote, recorded, reconsidered, and then re-recorded the best-selling studio album of his career. Blood on the Tracks was composed as Dylan's twelve-year marriage began to unravel, and songs like "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Shelter from the Storm" have become templates for multidimensional, adult songs of love and loss. Yet the story behind the creation of this album has never been fully told; even the credits on the present-day album sleeve are inaccurate. Dylan recorded the album twice-once in New York City and again in Minneapolis, with a rag-tag gang of local musicians, quickly rewriting many of the songs in the process. For A Simple Twist of Fate, the authors have interviewed the musicians and producers, industry insiders, and others, creating an engaging chronicle of how one musician channeled his pain and confusion into great art.

The book has, since its publication in 2004, held up factually, and nothing has been challenged or singled out as inaccurate. Critically, it has been received as a book primarily for hardcore Dylan fans and musicians. My emphasis on technical aspects of the studio experience (microphone makes and placement, guitar types etc.) has been singled out as overly obsessive by pop and literary writers, and praised by trade and music journals. However, this information is exclusive to our book, and I am happy to accept that kind of hit. Andy's analysis can be florid in places, overwrought in others, so that can be judged as "subjective". The opinions and quotes by the musicians in the book have been praised by all involved; everyone in the book was quite happy to have been portrayed accurately. There have been inquiries about a theatrical adaptation for this reason.

Following the book's publication, Bob made comments relating to the book - and Blood On The Tracks in particular - which hint that he may refute or rebut the autobiographical, 'divorce' theory we have put forth and supported in the book. Bob says 'one album I made back then' has been interpreted by others to be autobiographical, when it was actually inspired by and based on a series of Chekov plays. According to family sources, we will hear more about this when Chronicles II is published.

All of the members of the original Minneapolis studio band (Chris Weber, Bill Berg, Billy Peterson, Peter Ostroushko, Gregg Inhofer and myself), along with Eric Weissberg from the New York sessions, gathered on March 3, 2004 to play a sold-out concert at Minneapolis' Pantages Theatre, "Blood On The Tracks Live." This triggered a series of college and auditorium shows over the next two years, including induction of the Minneapolis band in the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame on May 23, 2005. We played “Dylan Days” in Bob's hometown of Hibbing in July of 2006, and may reunite again in the future.

--- Kevin

Kevin can be reached by email at

His book can be purchased at
Text copyright 2004 and 2008 Kevin Odegard – All rights reserved.

All images featured in this Cover Story are Copyright 1974 and 2008, Paul Till - All rights reserved. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2008 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( - All rights reserved.

Top 5 eBay Vinyl Record Sales

Week Ending 10/25/2008

1. 45 rpm- J D Bryant "I Won't Be Coming Back" / "Walk On It" Shrine 108 - $10,230.00 Start: $0.01 Bids: 15

2. LP - Michael Jackson "Thriller" LP White Label Ecuador - $3,000.00 Start: $3,000.00 Bids: BIN

3. LP - Michael Jackson "Thriller" LP White Label Ecuador - $2,500.00 Start: $2,500.00 Bids: BIN

4. LP - Michel Legrand "La Piscine" Soundtrack Japanese Pressing White Label - $2,351.00 Start: $225.00 Bids: 21

5. 10" - Amos Milburn "Rockin The Boogie" Alladin - $1,900.99 Start: $99.99 Bids 18

One of the rarest Northern Soul 45's tops the list this week, J D Bryant's Shrine 45"I Won't Be Coming Back" appears on the Top 5 for the first time, getting a healthy price at over $10.2k. This sale demonstrates that its not just rarity of the music that gets the big bids but rarity of the item. The songs on this 45 are available on Shrine compilation CD's and reissues, but in its original issue this is a rarest of rare record.

Identical records occupy the next two spots. Ecuadorian pressings on white vinyl of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" LP sell on Buy-It-Now's for $3k and $2.5k respectively. Issued from many 70's & 80's hit albums, these colored pressings from South America (there have been Columbian pressings as well) got on the Top 5 numerous weeks last year, but these are the first ones to show up in many months.

In the #4 spot, a Japanese pressing of a Michel Legrand soundtrack bids past $2.3k. A 10" record takes the #5 spot, an Amos Milburn piano boogie record selling for almost a dollar over $1.9k.

SOURCE: as always, I want to thank Brian at for this interesting data

Classic Rock Videos

Crystals - He's A Rebel

Album Cover Art

We are all the way to the #2 position on the list of the most controversial, weirdest, best and worst album covers (as put together by their staff):


2. Scorpions: ‘Virgin Killer’ – The image of a naked prepubescent girl on later editions of ‘Virgin Killer’ was replaced with a cover featuring a picture of the band due to the controversy it caused.

The original cover art for the album depicted a naked prepubescent girl. The image was designed by Steffan Böhle, who was then the product manager for RCA Records. Francis Buchholz was the bassist for the band and, in an interview conducted in early 2007, recollects that the model depicted on the cover was either the daughter or the niece of "the guy who did the cover design." The photograph was taken by Michael von Gimbut. The band's rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker offers the following description of the circumstances behind the album cover.

“ We didn't actually have the idea. It was the record company. The record company guys were like, 'Even if we have to go to jail, there's no question that we'll release that.' On the song 'Virgin Killer', time is the virgin killer. But then, when we had to do the interviews about it, we said 'Look, listen to the lyrics and then you'll know what we're talking about. We're using this only to get attention. That's what we do.' Even the girl, when we met her fifteen years later, had no problem with the cover. Growing up in Europe, sexuality, of course not with children, was very normal. The lyrics really say it all. Time is the virgin killer. A kid comes into the world very naive, they lose that naiveness and then go into this life losing all of this getting into trouble. That was the basic idea about all of it.”

In a separate interview, Schenker also notes that he thought the cover art was a "great thing" and that he had "pushed the band to really stay behind it" as he felt that people would "think differently" when they looked at the lyrics and realized that the cover art was only being used as "a symbol of the lyrics." The band's former lead guitarist Uli Jon Roth notes that the cover art of the "old Scorpion albums" were "usually done by other people." He has since expressed regret over the original album cover.

“ Looking at that picture today makes me cringe. It was done in the worst possible taste. Back then I was too immature to see that. Shame on me — I should have done everything in my power to stop it. The record company came up with the idea, I think. The lyrics incidentally were a take-off on KISS, whom we had just supported on a tour. I was fooling around and played the riff of the song in the rehearsal room and spontaneously improvised 'cause he's a virgin killer!' trying to do a more or less way-off-the-mark Paul Stanley impersonation. Klaus immediately said 'that's great! You should do something with it.' Then I had the unenviable task of constructing a meaningful set of lyrics around the title, which I actually managed to do to some degree. But the song has a totally different meaning from what people would assume at first. Virgin Killer is none other than the demon of our time, the less compassionate side of the societies we live in today — brutally trampling upon the heart and soul of innocence.”

The cover generated controversy and was replaced in some countries with an alternate cover art depicting the band members. It would not be the last time that the band attracted controversy with their album covers. Their next album Taken by Force originally featured cover art that depicted "children playing with guns at a military cemetery in France and some people found that offensive." Their 1979 album Lovedrive featured a "bizarre artwork" that depicts "a woman on the back seat of a car with bubblegum over her breast." Both covers were replaced by an alternate design.Vocalist Klaus Meine explains that the band's penchant for controversial cover art stems from a desire "to go over the edge" and not "to offend some people or make the headlines [as] that would be stupid."



2. Xiu Xiu: 'A Promise' - Here is what Gigwise had to say about this choice cover: "A baby doll. A naked man. A bed. Three items that should go never together but, worryingly, all feature on the cover to Xiu Xiu's 'A Promise'. Whatever possessed this band to have this cover we'll never know – it is one of the most disturbing things we've ever seen. Even for a band that is famous for writing lyrics about such topics as AIDS, suicide and other morose subjects, this cover takes some beating in the weirdness ranking."

Thank god for the orange box, that is the only good element to the cover.



2. The Coup – ‘Party Music’: Again, Gigwise has a cover that is repeated (#7 controversial) , I would think with all the creative album cover art that is out there, they could have done a bit more work and found a better cover for their list and put it in this spot- very disappointing to me.

Here is there reasoning: "Released in June 2001, just before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, The Coup touched a raw nerve with their album cover depicting The Twin Towers being bombed. Okay they may not have forseen the true events three months later – but despite this, there’s little doubting it’s in very poor taste."



2. Uriah Heep: ‘Very Eavy Very Umble’ - The album cover that single-handedly taught young children in the early seventies not to rifle through their Dad's record collection. So scary, they issued an alternative cover in the United States. I am not sure which one of these covers made the Gigwise list, but they both are scarry, aren't they?

Very 'eavy... Very 'umble is the debut album of British hard rock band Uriah Heep. It was released in the United States as Uriah Heep with alternate sleeve artwork, and with "Bird of Prey" in place of "Lucy Blues."

The album was generally panned by the mainstream critical press upon its release, although it has since been acknowledged as an early classic of the heavy metal genre. The most famous criticism came from Rolling Stone magazine reviewer Melissa Mills, who began her review, "If this group makes it I'll have to commit suicide. From the first note you know you don't want to hear any more."

The original vinyl release was a gatefold-sleeve, featuring David Byron on the front sleeve, almost unrecognisable beneath the cobwebs.