Artist: Val Stöecklein
LP: Grey Life
Song: "Say It's Not Over"
[ listen ]
[ listen ]
After leaving Record Baron I headed northward to M&B Record Exchange, which is in yet another Buffalo suburb called Tonawanda, just north of Kenmore. The friendly owner, Bob, showed me around the small store, including a preview of some of the new stuff he'd just gotten in. He even offered me a cold can of Pepsi, which I gladly accepted. I can't picture that ever happening in a record store in Seattle. You'll get "cold" here, but it won't be a Pepsi.
Unlike at Record Baron, Bob has a vinyl listening station at his shop. This 1968 Val Stöecklein folk LP caught my ear; I'm a sucker for the strings. Born in Kansas in 1941, Val was lead singer for The Blue Things before suffering a nervous breakdown while on tour, after which he left the band in 1967. Offered a deal for a solo record by a friend at Dot Records, Val recorded "Grey Life," but then pulled out of an arranged promotional tour at the last minute. The record flopped. He tried jump-starting his musical career a few times after that, both in Kansas and in Nashville, but without success, according to AllMusic here. Val committed suicide in the spring of 1993 at the age of 52.
Along with Val Stöecklein's sad and lovely record, I also found a few other gems in the bins at M&B Record Exchange that made it worth the northward drive. Bob was on the phone when I put this Syndicate of Sound LP on the player. When he finished his call, he said to me, "I noticed you passed on that Syndicate of Sound record, but you should listen to "Rumors" on side one and crank the volume way up." I did that, and now I have that album too. Thanks, Bob!
[ Val Stöecklein: 1941 — May, 1993 ]
[ Bob at M&B Record Exchange ]
[ M&B Record Exchange — Tonawanda, NY ]