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Here we discuss odd, unusual or rare recordings that I have come across during my many hours of hunting for collectibles in second hand shops, record stores or flea markets. If you have found anything obscure or interesting, please tell us about it and we'll feature it in bargain bin!


"Tone Float" (1970) by Organisation is an album that serves as a very important chapter in the history of electronic music.  But despite this, there are actually very few electronic instruments on the album.  Of course, many of you know that Organisation was the band that would eventually become Kraftwerk.  This was their very first recording, released on the Philips label in Europe.  Apparently it did not sell well, and for years a used vinyl copy of this album was a much sought after collector's item.  It should be noted too that there is little if no indication on this recording of the future robotic sound that Kraftwerk would adopt.  This is weird, improvised, psychedelic music consisting mostly of bongos, flute, other forms of percussion and organ.  It is certainly an interesting listen, and one that all diehard Kraftwerk fans should have.  I was very pleased to recently find this on CD during a trip to Toronto.  I didn't even know that it had been released on that format!  The album was produced by legendary producer Conny Plank.


"The Amazing Music of the Electronic Arp Synthesizer" was released in the UK in 1974.  As the title suggests, it contains songs that were done entirely on the Arp synthesizer.  The brains behind this operation was a gent by the name of Gordon Langford, and he does a great job covering songs of the day, as well as classics from the past.  Included are renditions of The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine", "Aquarius" by The Fifth Dimension, and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head".  This album belongs to that category of album that was so popular between the late 60s and the mid 70s.  At that time, synths were such a new and novel idea, and a bazillion albums were released consisting of cover songs done on synthesizer, trying to capitalize on the synth craze.    Any second-hand record shop anywhere in the world has a few of these such albums on their racks.  Some are very good, while others are silly trash.  This is one of the better ones. I found this on eBay.


"Conquest of the Stars"- Space Project (RCA, 1978)

I was ecstatic to find this odd piece of history in the bargain bin at my local Value Village. First of all, the album cover artwork is what grabbed me. We can see some brave astronaut on an alien landscape, who seems to be approaching a rather scantily clad warrior woman. :) Also of note was what looked like a Super 8 movie camera mounted around the astronaut's neck. I immediately thought "okay, this looks like it would be right up my alley". :)

I slid the record out of the sleeve to check its condition. And voila, my eyes popped out of my head. In my hands was the coolest looking yellow vinyl I could imagine. I noticed this record was released in 1978, and I imagined that it probably had its fair share of synths in the music. For the grand price of less than two dollars, I bought the disc and happily brought it home.

This album is very Star Wars-esque. There are string arrangements, horn melodies and a very cinematic air that sounds like a total knock-off of John Williams. Actually, the music is very well done, and although it may sound dated, it is far from cheesy. There are some cello and oboe solos in the first song, and this actually sounds better than the Star Wars stuff that Meco did in the late 70s. And there is plenty of synth, I would guess probably Moog. And to further add to the curiosity of this forgotten disc, it was recorded in Longueuil, in the suburbs of Montreal!

There is a definite disco feel in the track "Beyond Orion", and "Mission to Lyra" is based on a simple, catchy hook. I can say without doubt that science fiction and comic book geeks who remember the late 70s will love this. This is the soundtrack to a film that never happened!


Pictured above is an old cassette version of a classic album called "Cupid and Psyche 85". This was released by Scritti Politti in the mid eighties. It spawned some Top 40 hits, most noteably "Perfect Way" and "Absolute" (the latter also being a big club hit). Over the years, I have heard members of the musical cognoscenti (ie music geeks) refer to this as a modern day masterpiece. When considering the technology that would have been available at the time, and considering how incredibly intricate and well polished the production is on this, it truly is a great album. This one pops up from time to time in bargain bins. Give it a try! Green Gartside, the man behind Scritti Politti, is still going strong, and released a new album last year to much critical praise.


Who on Earth remembers Gary O? I certainly do! I don't know much about this guy, but he seemed to be rather popular on Canadian radio between 84 and 85. I don't know what bands he was involved with prior to this solo outing, or if he's still making music, but I can say that this album is very good. "Get It While You Can" was a fairly big hit, and I even recall hearing it in the soundtrack of a movie years ago. "Call of the Wild" was also a hit, but for me the best song on here is "Shades of 45", an excellent track loaded with emotion. It sounds like a cross between OMD and Platinum Blonde. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

I also have to mention about another album that I recently got my hands on. You won't find it in any bargain bins, but it's sheer rarity is worth noting. I'm talking about "In The Absence of the Cat" by Tony Carey. This album was recorded by the American artist in the early 80s (see more about him in "Artist Profile"). Apparently he got some studio time, put lots of effort into this, but the powers that be didn't like it and it never got released. Which is a shame, since this is undeniably a masterpiece. It is loaded with sighing synths, abstract lyrics and an intellectual, surreal tone that even brings to mind "Pet Sounds". I was given a copy of this by a diehard Tony Carey fan, and I'm so happy to have heard it. It's a shame when brilliant pieces of work like this get ignored.



This is a cassette that I purchased many years ago, sometime in the early 90s. I actually bought it brand new, yet I felt like discussing it here because a)it's rather rare, b)it's awesome and c) if you see it second hand, get it! This is basically a collection of songs by the great synth punk pioneers Suicide that is composed of half live tracks, and half home studio recordings. I ordered this tape from the now infamous ROIR records, who built an empire on mail order back in the day.

There is such a unique sound to this recording, even unique in comparison to other Suicide recordings. The home studio stuff sounds quite lo-fi and minimal, yet it works. There is no polish's all very blurry, raw and rough around the edges. "Dreams" is a beatifully surreal track, as is "Space Blue". The live stuff is great too. It captures a very brief moment in time when these two brave souls stormed the rock scene with some primitive synths, stiff beatboxes and Alan Vega's piercing scream. It sounds fantastic. Never has a band so vividly captured the dirty soul of New York.

The little essay in the liner notes by the legendary Lester Bangs is also very cool.


I first saw the movie "American Pop" on TV about ten years ago. It blew me away. This is a full length animated film by Ralf Bakshi, the same guy who gave us "Fritz The Cat", "Wizards" and the animated "Lord of the Rings" film.

"American Pop" is great because the visuals are stunning, and the soundtrack is absolutely amazing. The story follows a family that has immigrated to America in the early 20th century, and it follows this family through generation after generation, up until the explosion of punk. The story showcases the important role that music has played in the lives of each generation.

This film proves outright that animation is a legitimate art form. It is intelligent and masterfully executed. I was pleasantly pleased when I found this film on VHS at a local major department store, for the low price of $2.50. I look forward to watching it again and again.