introduction to rather rare records

Estimated reading time is 4 minutes.

MY INTRODUCTION TO WRITING RECORD REVIEWS was for my high school newspaper in 1969. Like most nerds with cool record collections given a pulpit, I wrote condescendingly about the artists and music that my classmates liked. I remember damning Glen Campbell and dismissing Cream’s farewell album. I don’t really remember saying anything nice about anyone.

Then, everything changed. In 1970, I found Paul Williams’s book Outlaw Blues, a collection of his writings from Crawdaddy magazine. Williams didn’t write negative reviews—he wrote about the music and the records that he loved and how they affected him.

My response to his take on rock music was, “Wowie zowie, baby! I’m only writing about what I like from now on!” I have tried to emulate Paul ever since.

At Rather Rare Records, you will find articles about music plus information on collecting records.

So, here at Rather Rare Records, you will find very little condescension or even sarcasm. You will find articles about the music and the records that I love and how they affect me.

Forty years later and I’m convinced that people want to read what I write about what I like about the music of the ’50s and ’60s, and so we find ourselves here at Rather Rare Records.


Introduction: photo of shelves and stacks of 78 rpm records.

What is Rather Rare Records?

While the name sounds like a place that sells old records, it’s not. Rather Rare Records is a collection of articles about music and the records where that music can be found and heard—and collected.

All the articles here are by me.

Most of my articles cover ’50s and ’60s rock & roll—you know, the music that was so great they didn’t have to invent a ridiculous term like “classic rock” to sell it.

You will also find articles for record collectors, including lengthy discographies and up-to-date price guides. Even if you haven’t a collector’s bone in your body, you should be able to enjoy most of these pieces.


Stereo8 Peanuts Buying2

What about me?

It’s fairly common to have an “About” link on the navigational menu of most sites taking you to a page explaining the writer or business to the reader. There’s some info about me up there on the menu, but if you want to know a thing or two about me personally, click here.

If you want to know something about me professionally, at least with regard to records and collecting, click here.

If you need to know more, there’s a section for comments on every page and post on this site. Just go and pick one and ask whatever it is you want to know. But be wary: I have been caught embellishing a tale or two about myself in the past.


Introduction: photo of of a mess of 45 rpm records.

Who is this blog for?

Well, I actually don’t visualize some ideal reader, but most of my articles are written with collectors in mind. But really, just about anybody can read most of what’s on Rather Rare Records.


Stereo1 Crumb 600

What an introduction!

You knew I had to find a place for this photo, as it’s all the “personal branding” I’ve got out there on the wonderfully wacky world wide web. I can admit that it is almost five years old, and since then I’ve lost my hair, my teeth, my knees, my short-term memory, and my once-svelte boyish waist.

In their place, Wholly Grommett in His infinite wisdom has replaced these losses by increasing my ability to cry during chick flicks.

If you have suggestions or questions for me here at Rather Rare Records that you do not want to be posted publicly, this is the place to post them. Finally, if you have a collection of records or related collectibles that you want to sell, please let me know as I might be interested in buying them!


Introduction: cover of Neal Umphred's book ROCK & ROLL RECORD ALBUMS PRICE GUIDE from 1985.

My books for vinyl junkies

There are eight articles on this site explaining the various books I published for record collectors. These posts provide additional background information on me and my career. They are best read in the following order, which is roughly chronological:

•  O’Sullivan Woodside’s Rock & Roll Record Albums Price Guide
•  O’Sullivan Woodside’s Elvis Presley Record Price Guide
•  Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (1st edition)
•  Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (5th edition)
•  Goldmine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide
•  Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Jazz Albums
•  A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Record & Memorabilia Price Guide
Blues and R&B 45s of the ’50s Price Guide

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is a turntable playing an LP record. Taken by Bob Clark, I found it on Pexels. It is titled “Photo of Vinyl Player” and was uploaded on June 3, 2018, where Bob posted it for anyone on the internet to use freely! Bob Clark has a collection of 79 photos on Pexels; to see them, click here.


Introduction: photo of tonearm/cartridge/needle playing a record on a turntable.

PREVIOUS FEATURED IMAGE: This photo of a turntable for playing a record was the Featured Image of Rather Rare Records for several years. I found the photo on one of the free photo sites but did not take down the information to credit either the photographer or the website that posted it. It is this photo that readers will find as the default featured image on this blog’s pages (which are different than posts when using WordPress).



4 thoughts on “introduction to rather rare records”

    • Too bad the record companies couldn’t pool their resources and compile an album of the best versions of Chuck Berry songs by other artists from the ’60s. My first three picks would be the Beatles’ ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC, the Stones’ AROUND AND AROUND, and Elvis’s TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS.

  1. Hello Neil,

    I have a question about the rarity of a certain record I’ve acquired recently: Wes Montgomery’s Easy Groove from Pacific Jazz. I have found a white label promo record and simply cannot find anything about it online. It doesn’t have a sleeve and, after cleaning would probably be graded a VG + or VG. 

    I would appreciate your insight and expertise in learning more about this record. 

    Thank you for your time.


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