Retro Records: Six of the Rarest, Coolest, and Weirdest Records from the Collection of Revival Records’ Billy Siegel
unique discs, from Bon Iver to the Beatles
“I feel like if you’re going to have an album, you need to play it, no matter the price,” said Billy Siegel, owner of Eau Claire’s Revival Records. “Music is for listening, it’s not for sticking on a shelf somewhere for nobody to see or hear. Play it.”
Since its opening in 2009 on Clairemont Avenue, Revival Records has been Eau Claire’s favorite independent record store, selling over half a million albums in its 11 years of business. Now located at 128 S. Barstow St. in downtown Eau Claire, this vintage music lover’s paradise sees hundreds – sometimes thousands – of new and used records pass through its doors every week.
Some albums, however, have remained in the cozy shop as part of Siegel’s personal collection – deepening the family man’s love for music, collecting vintage items, and maintaining a tight-knit sense of community through fondly remembering music of the past.
Here are six albums that have endured in Siegel’s collection – records of great personal or financial significance to the local businessman and music aficionado.
“Music is for listening, it’s not for sticking on a shelf somewhere for nobody to see or hear. Play it.”
Original Pearl Jam Vs.
Back in the ’90s, Siegel routinely visited the popular Eau Claire record store TU Trax, located on Water Street. Some of the first vinyl records he ever purchased were by Pearl Jam, his favorite band. And – to this day – he has managed to hold onto the first pressings of hard-to-find grunge albums such as Pearl Jam’s sophomore release Vs.
“When I first started collecting vinyl, I only collected them for the covers, because I didn’t even have a turntable at the time,” Siegel said. “I collected grunge and hair metal back in the early ’90s, and they’ve remained my two biggest musical loves.”
Autographed Bob Marley & the Wailers
Prior to Revival Records’ opening in 2009, Siegel amassed the original 400 records that made up the store’s initial inventory through purchasing, trading, and taking in donations of records for years on end. One of the records Siegel got in his dealings was an original Bob Marley record signed by the man himself and his band, The Wailers. This copy of the album Rastaman Vibration is now more than 40 years old, as Marley passed away in 1981.
“This is one of my prized possessions,” Siegel said. “One of the first albums I bought when I got a turntable was Bob Marley, so it means a lot to me.”
First-Ever Mötley Crüe Pressing
Eighties hair metal rockers Mötley Crüe have amassed millions of fans through decades of chart-topping hits, even grabbing the attention of new legions of fans, thanks to their Netflix biopic The Dirt and their upcoming stadium tour with Def Leppard and Poison. Motley’s debut album Too Fast for Love is an early ’80s staple, but the original pressing of the album is insanely difficult to come across.
Prior to Elektra Records unleashing the album to the masses, Mötley Crüe released a small number of copies, with slightly different artwork, on their original manager Allan Coffman’s label, Leathür Records. Too Fast for Love is the only album ever released by the label, and only a few thousand copies of this version were made. (The album would go on to sell millions worldwide).
“This is super rare,” Siegel said, “and it took me so long to find one. I got this all the way back in 2007, and I’ll always hold onto it.”
The Beatles’ ‘Butcher Cover’
Considered the most popular band of all time, The Beatles and their memorabilia have endured for more than 50 years.
One of the most elusive vinyl records The Beatles produced was their mid-’60s U.S. compilation Yesterday and Today. The cover photo of the band may seem mundane to most, but it hides a gruesome secret: The image was pasted atop the original cover due to the grotesque nature of the original artwork, which featured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr posing with dismembered dolls and internal organs – a shocking sight for folks during an admittedly less scandalous era.
Copies of the record were quickly pulled from store shelves and their covers were pasted over. If you’re careful, however, you can peel off the more politically correct cover and find the “butcher cover” intact underneath. Siegel said this record has special significance to Revival Records, as the South Barstow Street location used to be home to The Beatles-themed shop, When I’m Sixty-Four.
“This is the holy grail for fans of the Beatles,” Siegel said. “I don’t need to say much about it, because so much has already been said. It is really hard to find, and it will only get harder to find over time.”
C.A. Quintet, Trip Thru Hell
Every so often a gem will find its way to you randomly and suddenly, as if by fate. C.A. Quintet’s 1969 psychedelic rock masterpiece Trip Thru Hell is an elusive find for even the most serious of collectors. Legend has it that only around 500-1,000 copies of this Minnesota Band’s album were pressed, leading the secondary market to demand up to $2,000 for an original piece in mint condition. The album was among a pile of donated albums Siegel received, but the donator didn’t leave a name, phone number, or any contact information. Without anyone to give it back to, Siegel kept it.
“This is the holy grail of psych albums,” Siegel said. “I don’t know who brought it in. I don’t know how to contact them, and I don’t know where it came from. It was just lying in the middle of a bunch of classical albums, so you find some cool things in odd places sometimes.”
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
When people think of the Eau Claire music scene, the first thing to come to mind is – often – Bon Iver.
The band’s second album, Bon Iver, skyrocketed Justin Vernon and his bandmates into superstardom, garnering them multiple Grammy awards and sold-out shows across the world. When the album first came out in 2011, Justin Vernon signed a handful of copies for Revival Records – something Siegel won’t forget.
“I thought it was fitting to include this album because it was just the 10-year anniversary of the in-store signing we had for this album,” Siegel said. “A customer actually told me that Justin (Vernon) had put my name in the liner notes of the album. It was a very nice gesture, and one I’ll always remember.”