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The Return of Lunch Break Lacquer (Boston Edition): Inhabiting Planet Records

At my old job I used to work in the London borough of Camden. Right next door to Camden is London’s Soho. There are all kinds of used record shops in Camden and Soho. During lunch I would head out of the office…not to eat, mind you, but to visit some of the nearby used vinyl vaults. Hey, I have my priorities. Food…vinyl…vinyl…food…I’d eat vinyl if I could taste the music. 

Whenever I made one of these lunch time record runs, I would write a blog post about it. I called it: Lunch Break Lacquer. It is about time we trotted out that segment again. 

I’m in Boston for work this week. I am staying in Harvard Square in Cambridge. I usually stay in this same hotel when I visit Boston. Harvard Square is full of activity, nightlife and good bars with great beers on tap. Everything I need is within walking distance: gym, bars, sushi and, best of all, Planet Records…a used vinyl joint. 

This is one of my first stops as soon as I check into my hotel. I arrived here Sunday night and by the time I checked in and ran over to the shop, it was closed. Crap. Plan B: get a ridiculous amount of takeaway sushi and watch the Eagles vs. the Redskins back at the hotel. Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow is here and today I decided that I would drop by Planet Records at lunch time; a perfect opportunity to post a Lunch Break Lacquer update…U.S.A style.

Planet Records has been in Harvard Square for almost 30 years. They also have an eBay and Amazon shop; convenient, but nothing beats flipping through vinyl bins. I flipped through bins for close to two hours today. I found some buried treasure, too. I am curating a vinyl collection that focuses on two things: breadth and album quality/vinyl listening worthiness. I want to have a variety of albums that are either classic, multiple listen albums and/or albums that are great vinyl experiences. 

I think I covered that criteria for the most part. Here is what I picked up today. 
  • Astral Weeks, Van Morrison: I have the recently released, “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” version of this classic; it breaks my mind every time I listen to it. I had to get the original studio version…long overdue. (I just paused from typing to put this on the headphones. Damn, I love this album…cue the chicken skin). I am seeing Van on the 24th of October at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Can’t wait to hear his pipes fill that palace. 
  • More Real Folk Blues, Sonny Boy Williamson II: I always check the blues section of any vinyl vault first. I have a “list of finds” with a number of blues albums on it. This one by Sonny Boy wasn’t on it, but nonetheless, it was a no brainer. Sonny Boy…original Chess pressing…the blues. Yep, had to be done. 
  • J.Geils Band, J.Geils: Hey, I am in Boston…gots ta buy some J.Geils. Actually, I have made it a tradition to buy at least one Boston band used vinyl when I am in town. This album cooks with gas. It has so much raw energy, you could power a small village with it. There are two bands that I would have loved to have been in: early Geils and The Band. 
  • Leon Russell and the Shelter People, Leon Russell: this is the guts-balls of Ol’ Leon. If he was a cow, this would be his prime cut.  
  • Easy Tiger, Ryan Adams: I am Ryan Adams fan. I’m not a fan of all of his schitzo-efforts, but I think this album ranks near the top of his heap. Halloween Head is a sick track.
  • Trans, Neil Young: When I was here last, I almost bought this from Planet Records. I have been thinking about it ever since. Now I don’t have to. I love the album cover. The name of my macbook pro is “Syscrusher“. Yes, I am a fool. Neil is fucking cool. 
Speaking of Neil Young and Trans…have you ever seen this video of Neil & Devo slashing and dashing through “Hey, Hey, My, My”. NO?! Buckle up ’cause the ride is about to get treacherous. This is 9:53 of some sick shit. “This is a story of Johnny Spud” and Devo and Neil tell it like it is. The story of how this came to be is cool, too. Devo thought Neil was an old fart…Neil showed them otherwise. Listen to Neil just hammer that riff into submission. YES!


So, all these albums for less than $40. Not bad, eh?  Believe you me…the damage could have been significantly worse. I put a half a dozen more of these black beauties back on the racks. Not too worry, I’ll be back for more. 

I am sitting in the window of my hotel room typing away. It is raining. The neon lights of the street below are reflecting off the puddles. I am halfway through Astral Weeks. Life is good.


17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Judd Marcello #

    The 3rd pic in the set is cool…not because it shows off the used vinyl, but because it shows off the extremely ugly hotel bedspread. Fuck, I should have pulled that off the bed before I put the records on it. That 20/20 episode still haunts me.

  2. Luke #

    I just listened to that Sonny Boy album at the gym. I put it on accidentally as I was going for the Howlin Wolf one. The one on my iPod has a different song list than the one you linked to. I got this one: decided to listen to it anyway. I got to “Help Me” and it made me relies the last time I heard that tune was in 2001 in Kauai. Taj Mahal sat in with BB King to sing it. At that time my life was completely falling apart and I was in complete despear. Felt like me life was over.I always loved the live version of the tune that Van Morrison did. I had it on vinyl and hadn’t listened to it in ages.Anyway, at the gym I came completely unglued hearing this song again. I left and drove off to another parking lot and put it on repeat.Crazy how this tune bridged experiences almost ten years apart and just cut through so much and with so much clarity. I could recall vividly what I was going through and what I was thinking and how thrilled I was when Taj walked out on the stage. Thinking that I could just grind through all the shit that was going on.I am in a much better place right now and am totally grateful that things have turned out way better than I ever envisioned. And faces of people kept coming to my mind of family and old friends and new friends that came into my life and stuck by me.And I am further amazed by the power of music to just cut through the highs and lows of our lives. And give you the reassurance that you can make it through and its worth it…Thanks for the post, Judd. Sorry for the term paper…

  3. Judd Marcello #

    @OzzyBeef I am always amazed at the connections I make through music as well as the “cut through”. I’m a believer too, brother. Glad we can share and cut.

  4. Swapmeet Louie #

    First off, “I’d eat vinyl if I could taste the music,” made me literally laugh out loud!There’s a place out here called Rhino Records that reminds me of Planet Records. Love that joint.All that for $40? Not bad, not bad! I’ve got some of those on CD, but I have that Geils band album on cassette tape, of all things. My oldest brother bought it and I snatched it up when he wasn’t looking. I wonder if I still have that somewhere.Digging this Lunch Break Lacquer series. Let me ask, though… if you went there on your lunch break and spent two hours flipping through vinyls… how long is your lunch break? And I dug the music in the video, but that mask FREAKED me out. Lifeless doll-like masks scare the living shit out of me, even ones singing Neil Young.

  5. Judd Marcello #

    @TheFrontloader SML: heh heh…my schedule is my own, so I can spend as much time necessary for quality flipping. That mask is a bonafide freak-out. It looks like it needs it’s meds.

  6. horring #

    Cool Sonny Boy story, Luke! There is always an eventual upside to having da blues and you nailed the essence of that fact. I also love Sonny Boy’s “The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues” uber set. Some of the most astonishingly emotional harp playing I’ve ever heard. “Trust My Baby” blows me away every time. Real folk blues indeed!

  7. Luke Harris #

    @horring I will have to have a closer listen to “Trust My Baby”. Its pretty classic that there are three records call “The Real Folk Blues”

  8. Luke Harris #

    Found some more info on “The Real Folk Blues”. Not a coincidence at all, they were compilation albums: thought it might of been blues artists trying to out-do each other “no, this is the real folk blues right here…”

  9. Judd Marcello #

    @horringbone @ozzybeef Yes, this series was done by Chess. They did a “fist” & “more” and then coupled them on one set (oh, consumerism). Have you checked out the others? Seriously, the Muddy/Wolf And John Lee are stark, stellar and so damn real…no bullshit. Check them out!

  10. Judd Marcello #

    @horringbone @ozzybeef Now you’ve both gone and done it. I just created a playlist called “Real Folk’s Blues” that has all the Mud, Wolf, Hook & Sonny Boyy II in it.

  11. horring #

    Just after moving to the States in 1990, I signed-up for the Columbia House “10 CDs for $1” intro special. John Lee Hooker’s Real Folk Blues was one of my ten. The Muddy version was then ordered in my first month. Sonny Boy’s uber set a bit later. The others I will go get now!

  12. Judd Marcello #

    @horringbone @ozzybeef “I’ll Be Around” by Howlin’ Wolf on “More RFB” is worth the price alone. If I was the chick he was singling about…I’d be effing scared. I lock my door whenever I hear this. This ain’t no love song…

  13. horring #

    Just grabbed Howlin’s uber set! And the “I’ll Be Around” track is just as scary as you say, Juddster. His vocal is scary at the best of times, but combined with that lyric. Man oh man!

  14. Luke Harris #

    Complete RFB / More RFB for Muddy, John Lee, Howlin have been commandeered to join the Sony Boy! Great idea with the megga play list, Judd. I have done likewise, only raised it with the Howlin and Muddy London sessions. Wonder if I can listen to only 1 playlist for a month?

  15. Judd Marcello #

    @ozzybeef Now THAT is a challenge worth taking on. I am betting you are up to the task. Love the upping of the ante you took on. Great albums there, too…

  16. Luke Harris #

    I added Fathers and Sons to the mix because I felt like it fit too. The tunes that were strung together this morning blew my mind.I love how they mixed these old records. It makes you feel like you are in the room with them. On tunes like “Sitting on Top of The World” it sounds like the piano is in the back of the room or in another room. And he is just playing his arse off…

  17. Judd Marcello #

    @Ozzybeef Nice. I did the same thing last night. This sure as hell feels “Real”


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