Decades of crate digging have turned up many valuable gems for next to nothing. (Remember we are not about a precious commodity like gold which has a price set by a huge relatively transparent market––record prices fluctuate tremendously, and condition is paramount.) Some of my favorites:
"Korea Blues/Everynight About this Time," Fats Domino original Imperial blue label––this is apparently the first Fats record to be issued on 45 (a few earlier tunes were reissued on 45, but the r'and b' maret was behind the much bigger pop market in switching to the 45 from the 78) and in mint condition it could sell for $800. Mine is no where near mint, but I only payed a quarter at a thrift store here in New Orleans, and I value it as a piece of local history.
"I Can't Help Falling in Love/Rock-A-Hula Baby"; Elvis Presley RCA Compact 33 stereo single. I think I paid a nickel for this one about 30 years ago; obviously there is nothing rare about the songs, but the format is highly collectable (a 7" 33 rpm small hole single in stereo) and carries a high book value. Someone recently failed to sell a mint copy on eBay for $3,500. Mine is more VG-- than mint, and Elvis collecting ain't what it used to be, but I could probably get a few hundred for it.
LATIN GOES SKA Skatalites on Treasure Isle. This a fantastic ska compilation from Jamaica that I picked up for $.50. I'm not sure if I have the first or second release of this lp, but it is clearly from the early to mid 60's and worth quite a bit. But I would never sell it; it is probably the most charming record I own.
ALEKBU-LAN "LAND OF THE BLACKS" Mtume Umoja Ensemble on Strata-East. Mtume is a percussionist who started out playing with Miles Davis and than in the 80's had some r'and b' hits. In between in the early 70's he put together an Afrocentric ensemble of notable "new music" New York musicians. Strata-East was a musician owned (Charles Tolliver and Stanley Cowell) label formed from the same self-determination principles as the music. (Gil Scott Heron recorded some important releases on the label.) This is a beautiful, funky 2 lp set in mint condition I picked up at a record sale held as fun raiser for community radio station WWOZ in the early 80's. I probably paid a dollar. It is probably a $200 record, but again I'm not selling.
TODAY'S YOUTH, Little Janice, Pzazz. I picked a sealed copy for $.50 just on a hunch, since I had never heard of her. On the very amateur looking cover, a young black girl in amazing striped trowser sits holding a cheap electric guitar--very groovy late 60's look. The sound is Motownish soul, the Little Janice has a very winning plaintive singing voice. I just learned it was produced by Paul Gayton, a legendary band leader in New Orleans from the jump blues era (early 50's) who by then had relocated to Los Angeles. A sleeper of a record valuable to the "Northern Soul" set, but again I'm keeping it.