The first phase of a long overdue project wrapped up earlier this month at AM, Then FM world headquarters. I entered all of my vinyl LPs into a spreadsheet. There were a few interesting discoveries along the way.
When I pulled out my copy of “The Beatles” — yes, the White Album — I found an extra copy of “Revolver” tucked inside. Just the LP and sleeve, but no jacket.
There also was a name stylishly written on the lower right corner of “The Beatles” album jacket. My copy once belonged to one Riffat Kamal.
Presented with this little mystery — and I do love little mysteries — I began the search for Riffat Kamal. It didn’t take long to find him, even though he lives half the world away. Google, LinkedIn and Facebook make the world smaller.
We exchanged notes. I told him I thought I had a record he once owned, and that I likely bought it in Madison, Wisconsin, where we both lived during the ’80s.
Riffat Kamal is a cool guy, and he has a cool story. Here it is, in his words:
* * *
“I am delighted to know that my copy of the White Album is in good hands. I had quite a few records back at UW-Madison and I guess this was one of them. I started writing my name on the records when I lived in the dorm there, since I was always losing track of who on my dorm floor was borrowing which LP.
* * *
“I eventually ended up selling my entire collection after switching to CDs, a decision I now regret. However, it would have been too difficult to haul crates of records with all the moving around I’ve done.
* * *
“Wisconsin has always had a special place in my heart, so I am really glad to have heard from you. It is the first state I went to when I moved to the U.S. from my native Pakistan as an 18-year-old. It was the start of an amazing journey that took me to Los Angeles and San Francisco after leaving Wisconsin, and becoming a naturalized American citizen in the process. I now live in the Tokyo area with my Japanese wife.”
* * *
And I am really glad to have heard from you, sir.
I’m not sure where I bought Riffat’s record, although I’m fairly certain it was at Madcity Music Exchange at its original location on Regent Street, just south of the UW campus. Likewise, I’m not sure where I got the following bootleg. Somewhere on the web, five years ago.
“Revolution,” the Beatles, from the widely bootlegged Esher demos (also known as the Kinfauns demos), 1968. Never formally released.
Kinfauns was George Harrison’s home in the town of Esher, Surrey, England, from 1964 to 1970. There, in May 1968, the Beatles recorded many of the largely acoustic demos for the songs that wound up on “The Beatles” later that year.
The finished, more familiar version, of course, is on the White Album that once belonged to a Pakistani kid who was studying thousands of miles from home and beginning what has indeed turned out to be an amazing journey.
Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.