GOLD DIGGER: MORRICONE AND ME

Mark O’Shaughnessy

I've always been attracted to soundtracks/movie music/TV themes/cinema soundscapes etc. and it's always been a very rich and interesting vein for we ‘miners of the black gold’ - endless spoofing and investigation to be done. It’s not an area of record collecting that I've touched on yet within these pages so I thought we'd have a look at one of my more intriguing hauls within this month's column... As is often the case, a lot of my best collection finds come from out of nowhere, the most unexpected places...read on: It was a fairly mundane Thursday morning in Resolution Records in July last year when an impeccably-dressed and well-groomed elderly lady entered the shop and asked: “Are you the proprietor?” Well, my heart sank....no offence to ladies of a certain age but these four words normally signal the offer of bagfulls of dodgy Easy Listening LPs, Classical collections and Reader's Digest box sets... groan. I recovered quickly and answered “Yes madam, I am the owner”. Next came the other question I get asked most days: “Do you buy these things?” I paused, collected myself and said “Yes madam, we buy in each and every day, what have you got to sell?” Now, say what you like (and most of my fellow shop owners will back me up here) a LOT of what we get offered is utter, utter dross and I can honestly say that we reject more than we buy, right? Most people's records have been stuck in some cupboard, loft or garage for years and years - they often only come to people like me when people want to reclaim the space...we can be more like a recycling service sometimes tbh...no joke.... She went on. “My deceased husband was a huge film buff - he died 3 years ago and I now need to clear out his music and memorabilia collection. Have you heard of a composer called Ennio Morricone? He was particularly fond of his work - Lalo Schifrin too...” Well, my ears suddenly came to life and my alert radars went to full power mode. Did she just mention Ennio Morricone and Lalo Schifrin within the same breath? I think she did....wow! We chatted for a few more minutes and she told me that during his lifetime, her husband had amassed a large collection of vinyl soundtracks/cassette tapes/books/posters/VHS videos/CDs/DVDs - and - they had all been sat in her loft untouched for all of that time...OMG! I took her address and arranged to go round there that very evening, it pays not to shilly-shally at times like this. She'd previously mentioned the local auctioneers (boo! hiss! my arch-enemies) so I needed to get there in double-quick time and make her an offer she coudn't refuse (get me and my Godfather references....!) Did I mention that it was July? It was a red-hot day already and as any record dealer worth his salt will tell you, one of THE worst places you can store vinyl ever is in a loft. Why is that I hear you cry? Because heat rises and warpage/heat damage is inevitable. They'd been sat up there for three years folks, I hoped and prayed that they'd been stored correctly or they would be in a bad way by now.... I got round there nice and early - I had a feeling that this could be a tricky one - and it didn't disappoint. Huge house, 6 or 7 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, long drive - the works....I knocked the door and was promptly let in. The ladder up to the loft was so long that it was in two sections - not a good time to be a short-arse! I clambered up the very rickety ladder - two-tiered - double jeopardy, and as soon as I pushed the ceiling-hatch back the wave of heat hit me like a train. Stale heat too - you know that heat which has been sat there trapped for month upon month - oh dear.... There ahead of me were 3 stand-up shelving units - nice and neat I thought - but what do they hold? Records stored vertically - spine out - professionally correct - I allowed myself to hope...I reached across - scattered left to right were cassette tape holders, CD racks, poster containers and stacks and stacks of books - a veritable treasure trove...I barely knew where to start! Naturally, the vinyl was my main concern and, boy, were there some beautiful soundtracks in there. As I took them out one by one, I simply couldn't believe what I was seeing - over 75 ORIGINAL Ennio Morricone soundtracks. One I quickly spotted was Ennio's 3 figure-valued "Escalation" LP, mega-rare - all Italian originals - all protected in heavy-duty plastic sleeves - and as I said previously - all correctly stored...30+ ORIGINAL Lalo Schifrin soundtracks, "Murderer's Row" was in there - soooo hard to find - with it's distinctive yellow sleeve, immaculate shape - all correct American issues too - all immaculate. 15-odd Quincy Jones originals - yes, including "They Call Me Mr Tibbs" lovely UK / UA issue - pristine....oh joy...! Stunning item too... I gotta admit here and now that I was literally pouring with sweat as I went through those shelves, it was dripping off me. I was desperate for a cold drink, even a quick waft of fresh air would have helped - but there was *no way* I was going anywhere until I'd looked through each and every item in that loft...which I'm sure all of my fellow excavators will fully appreciate. It was past 9pm before I'd satisfied myself that I'd looked into every corner, nook and cranny in that huge loft and I was finally ready to dare the comedy ladder again. I sat the lady down at her walnut kitchen table and told her that I would need to come back next evening with a colleague to carefully excavate the contents of the loft, and, I tabled a four-figure offer for everything right there and then! The last thing a professional dealer would do in a situation like this would be to under-offer for fear of angry refusal / physical ejection from the premises - there was no way I was letting this one get away. My offer was graciously accepted and the deal was done. I went round next day with a (tall) colleague and we emptied the loft in a coupla hours - whattahaul! Some of the soundtracks from there are still on the wall in RR - they truly are visually stunning and half of me wants them not to sell. The cassettes too were humungous - just beautiful and as for the posters!?! Well, that's another story..... It would be crass of me to say just what kind of return I got from these artefacts (and still am) but I can tell you that it was the best haul of Movie/TV music I've ever ever had. And - as the Italian saying goes: 'mai guidicare un libro dalla copertina' Google translate is your friend.




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