This is an excerpt from an article that originally ran in issue #558, December 14, 2001. Enjoy.
By Cathy Bernardy
Never accuse John Gould Jr. of dabbling. Not involved in record collecting until this past May, he currently serves as steward over more than 200,000 unplayed records, mostly 45s from the late ’80s to mid-90s. It’s enough records to fill a semi-trailer, front to back, top to bottom and just barely be able to close the door.
One day in May, he just happened to be out to lunch with a friend of his, who suggested that Gould tag along when he went to look at a golf shirt. While at the store, his friend said, “with a curious smile on his face” to the store owner, “‘Why don’t you show John the record collection?’” Gould said.
His curiosity piqued, he followed the man down a maze of dimly lit hallways back to the warehouse. “It was like a movie,” he said. The ceiling fans rotated in slow motion, shards of light pierced the windows, and “the smell of years gone by was hanging in the air…. We turned a corner and I found myself face-to-face with a mountain…. It was kind of a dreamlike situation.” The possible result of a distributor going out of business, the shrinkwrap still remained on 23 pallets of at least 70 boxes apiece sent from the record labels. “I was in awe. It was a collection of every major artist in every major category…. My brain went ‘tilt.’ I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t speak.”
The Georgia businessman had received the records as payment of a debt a few years back. After receiving the records, the businessman had spent six weeks cataloging what was there but had to stop. Gould reported him saying, “‘I gave up and went back to running my business.’” He told Gould that he’d always wanted to do something with the records, but he eventually conceded that he would have to get rid of them in order to expand his business into the warehouse space.
Gould, a musician who on the phone with Goldmine found it impossible to name just one favorite band, had played keyboards in local bands in the Northeast during his teens–late 20s in the early ’80s, and he still performs in a rock band at his church. (“We really praise the Lord with a lot of power and might.”) At the sight of the boxes of records stacked to the rafters, all he could think was, “How can I get my hands on the funds?”
Finally he decided to call his younger brother, Tom, owner of The Gould Group, which is a human resources firm in Albany, N.Y., that places people in jobs from management and sales to engineering, finance and the cement industry. In a day or so, the collection was purchased. Tom took it on his brother’s recommendation and made the business deal sight-unseen, which he said was against the recommendation of his better half. “It sounded a little out there,” he admitted. However, he added that a person doesn’t have to be a hobbyist to appreciate what was stored in that warehouse. “I recognize if you have something that’s mint or near mint, that’s something special.”
Turning the pallets of boxes into orderly rows of shelves took four guys four days, eight hours per day. The almost 1,500 boxes of records are currently stored in seven shelves 25 feet long and eight feet high. Many of the boxes of 200 singles contain eight smaller boxes of 25 records apiece, though MCA boxes contain 300 singles apiece.
“I found myself in the record business so to speak,” John said. “I bought the Goldmine Price Guide To 45 RPM Records and called Tim [Neely, the author] the next day…. “I’d be lost in the dark in the woods without you guys. I have a nice little library of Krause Publications [titles] now.”
Neely, author of the new Standard Catalog Of American Records 1976-Present, said that the laws of supply and demand will apply to the sale of these records. Generally, the more time people put into selling a collection, the more return they will see. Warehouse finds of large quantities of single records can decrease the value of individual pieces while the stock is being sold, but he said it depends to whom the collection is being marketed.
“[The early 1990s] is a period where a lot of the general public seems to think that records ‘died.’ They disappeared from the Wal-Marts and Sam Goodys of the world, so as far as they knew, they disappeared entirely…. Those records that have disappeared from the distributors are the ones most likely to move….
….The Goulds’ purchase includes colored vinyl, picture sleeve 45s, jukebox- only singles and reissues (complete with pages and pages of title strips), promos and even a few albums — about 10,000 or so, brand-new as well. There is a small amount of material that has been played, from the collection of a DJ (and some not played from that collection), as well as a smattering of new 45s from the late ’60s and early ’70s. Being singles, the material from the late ’80s and early ’90s could be quite collectible. That was the time when chain stores stopped stocking vinyl, and labels reduced the amount of 45s pressed for singles. Many contain B-sides or alternate mixes not found on any album or at least any vinyl album. (Sometimes bonus tracks would appear on the cassette and CD.)
“It’s unique in its scope of artists, the sheer size of it and the fact that these have never been played,” he said. “It’s really hard to name an artist that we don’t have.”
The first time Tom saw the collection, “My thought was, ‘It’s going to take a long time to count.’” Since the Gould brothers acquired the collection in May, it’s taken an average of two people six to eight hours a day at least two days a week to count and catalog them all. That’s about 800 work hours so far. John found that the initial cataloging was almost perfect, except where boxes were mislabeled. However, the spreadsheet index of the records stopped at O, and some boxes hadn’t been labeled — and thus counted — at all.
“I’d call Tommy back and say, “’I found another 6,000 records [that weren’t on the spreadsheet],’” Gould said. He estimated that an additional 22,000 records hadn’t been represented on the spreadsheet…..
…..Tom said he was also pleased to find out that the records’ condition was all that the seller had said. In all his time with the records, John reported that he has only found two that were broken. Besides a little dust, there is not even a fingerprint on any of the records because any handling of them has always been with gloves.
“It’s like finding an unopened vault of treasure,” he said. Though he said that it’s going to be difficult to let it go, it was purchased as a business venture. But how appropriate it is that a load of records might help him fund his dream of having his own recording studio.
Gould said that they are prepared to sell it in pieces over a couple of years, but for a limited time they will take offers on the entire collection.
Here’s a sampling of the collection, a snapshot of the era:
Blind Melon: “No Rain”/Tones Of Home’
Garth Brooks: “Learning To Live Again”/ “Walking After Midnight”
Charlie Louvin And Roy Acuff: “The Precious Jewel”/ “Buried Alive”
Paul McCartney: “CMon People”/ “Down To The River”
The Proclaimers: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” / “Better Days”
Big Country Hits
Alabama: “Born Country”/ “Until It Happens To You”
Garth Brooks: “The Dance”/ “If Tommorow Never Comes”
Alan Jackson: “Chattahoochee”/ “Mercury Blues”
Reba McEntire: “You Lie”/ “That’s All She Wrote”
Restless Heart: “Bluest Eyes In Texas”/ “Familiar Pain”
Randy Travis: “If I Didn’t Have You”/ “I Told You So”
Travis Tritt: “Can I Trust You With My Heart”/ “A Hundred Years From Now”
Richard Marx: “Right Here Waiting”/ “Wait For The Sunrise”
Milli Vanilli: “Blame It on The Rain”/ “Dance With A Devil”
Mr. Big: “To Be With You”/ “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind”
New Kids On The Block: “Step By Step”/ “Valentine Girl”
Roxette: “The Look”/ “Silver Blue”
Sir Mix-A-Lot: “Baby Got Back”/ “Cake Boy”
Oh, what a great song that was
Black Crowes: “She Talks To Angels”/ live video version
Tom Petty: “Runnin’ Down A Dream”/ “Alright For Now”
Bonnie Raitt: “Something To Talk About”/ “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble: “The Sky Is Crying”/ “Chitlins Con Carne”
Whitney Houston: “The Star Spangled Banner”/ “America The Beautiful”
Bon Jovi: “Bed Of Roses”/ “Lay Your Hands On Me”
Guns N’ Roses: “Don’t Cry”/ alternate version
Poison: “Unskinny Bop”/ “Swamp Juice”
Slaughter: “Fly To The Angels”/ ” Desperately”
Warrant: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”/ “Sure Feels Good To Me”
Oh, I remember that, now that you mention it
Taylor Dayne: “With Every Beat of My Heart”/ “All I Ever Wanted”
Information Society: “Think”/ “Think”
Saigon Kick: “Love Is On The Way”/ “All I Want”
Spin Doctors: “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”/ “Two Princes”
The Two Live Crew: “Banned In The U.S. A. “/instrumental
The Simpsons: “Deep, Deep Trouble”/ “Sibling Rivalry”
While many of these listed here were popular songs, collectors of particular artists or charts might be interested in some of the singles that didn’t chart so high and thus weren’t around stores as long, if at all.
For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• Download Goldmine’s Secrets to Buying & Selling Records: Pay Less and Make More (Webinar Recording Download)
• Get a book on the complicated world of auctions: “The Everything® Online Auctions Book, All you need to buy and sell with success – on eBay and beyond!”
• Check out a download of the Top 50 Vinyl Records
• And click here to check out the latest album price guides from Goldmine. They’re worth every penny!