Admit it, you have a song, maybe several in fact, that for some unknown reason you just love and every time you hear it you are suddenly happy. It doesn't seem all too important why you actually like the song, only that you do. It doesn't have to make any sense, it can be diametrically opposite to your preferred genre and you can gleefully sing along every time you hear it played. There can be any number of reasons why you should NOT like that infernal song - but like it you do.
For me, one such song among several is "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells. For what ever unknown reason, I've always liked what is perhaps the most famous song from the guys from Houston, TX. Last year I was in a record store and bought a "Drells" CD. I figured Tighten Up would be included. Naturally, it wasn't. Maybe I should have read the list of songs more closely before buying.
When I read Mark Smotroff's January 18 article titled Archie Bell & His Drells Ring Truer Than Ever On 21st Century Reissue, I immediately decided I absolutely needed to add "Tighten Up" to my collection. I had waited long enough. Besides, the review Mark gave about the Music On Vinyl version piqued my curiosity. I suppose I could have ordered a CD from someone like Amazon and gone about my day. Because, however, Mark found this LP version so enticing, I decided I'd give it a try myself. Mark knows his way around music and if this Music On Vinyl version left him so excited, it would certainly be good enough for me.
When I decided to actually purchase the release about which Mark wrote, I felt sure I'd find it quite easily. I imagined multiple places in the US where a purchase could be made. I couldn't have been any more wrong.
Using the link in Mark's article I was directed to Best Buy. They had the LP for sale at a cost of about $50.00 but the delivery was listed as "unknown." (Note: The Best Buy link no longer exists) Well, I didn't want to wait until "unknown" rolled around so I did the next best thing - the Internet.
Upon visiting the Music On Vinyl web site I discovered the company wasn't located just down the street, or even in the next state over. The Netherlands. A place that enlists images of cold weather and a long way from North Carolina. Clearly not someone local. After another Internet search, I found a merchant, actually one of the first listed, called "New On Vinyl," also located in The Netherlands. At the top of their web site they had a picture of a box used for shipping and the following words: "WORLDWIDE SHIPPING." I was a bit skeptical.
I sent them an email asking if, in fact, they shipped to the US. Their prompt reply indicated they did. I found the exact version that Mark reviewed and thought "oh, what the heck, why not?" Cost was listed as €21.95 including tax. The including tax part was especially nice. As I entered my order and shipping information the sub total came up to about €18.00. Why the lesser cost? That's because the value added tax was removed since the product was leaving and not being used or consumed in Europe. I selected a shipping method called "Track & Trace, "the more expensive of the two shipping options. This one allowed me to keep track of the shipping progress. That added an additional cost of about €16.00. So now my cost was up to about €34.00. However, I still hadn't converted my purchase to US Dollars.
Fortunately, the day I bought the LP the Euro was almost dead even with the Dollar. So my €34.00 or so purchase wound up costing me about $35.00. To be honest, I didn't see this as that outrageous a price. Best Buy wanted $50.00 or more and they had a delivery date of "unknown." New On Vinyl indicated that the LP was available in 2 to 4 business days. I've also seen many LP's in my local record store that sold for $30.00 and up. In fact, the last new album I purchased cost $34.00. Plus tax.
After about three weeks the album arrived, shipped in a carton that looked like it was designed to be shipped around the world. It exactly resembled the picture of the box on the web site. There was no damage to the interior of the box and no visible damage to the LP itself. So far, so good.
When I played the album I heard all the attributes Mark described in his review and it immediately made me feel like I had made the right decision. I'll have to admit, however, buying an LP from someplace so very far away seems wildly counterintuitive.
I come from a time when LP's could be purchased most anywhere - the local grocery store, the drug store and obviously any of the numerous record stores in town. It was also a time, long before the Internet, that basically what ever you wanted was available at the place just up the street. At worst across town. In those days I would have never even considered buying something from The Netherlands - nor would there have been any way to do so, short of actually going there, that is.
Time changes many things and now we live in a world where places to buy something are not only close by, they are located on different continents. Any number of products are available from merchants anywhere on Earth and may be purchased with a few mouse clicks on a computer.
In the end, I'm glad I decided to add this album to my collection. As strange to me as it seems, buying from The Netherlands was no more difficult than placing an order with Amazon. The only difference was that the shipment took a little longer. If you can manage the few weeks delivery, there's literally a whole world of music available with no more difficulty than turning on your computer. Best of all, I can finally sing along with "Tighten Up" to my heart's content - vocal attributes, naturally, not withstanding.