A nearly FROOT-less endeavor

It’s been raining records around here lately, which is not a bad thing except for my wallet. I managed to score a vinyl copy of Dolly Parton’s 1999 album The Grass Is Blue, due in no small part to Borderline Music in Chicago. Once we get around to working out the logistics, I’ll be getting a vinyl copy of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven on Earth on a gorgeous picture disc. And after what seems like forever, a friend of mine who lives on the east coast found a copy of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation: 1814 in the $1 bin and snatched it up for me. For the record, that album is really her best, IMHO.

But the latest vinyl record that I got took three tries to get, so it almost didn’t happen. Marina & the Diamonds FROOT is on track to be one of my favorite albums of the year – if the Brandon Flowers record is as good as it seems like it’s going to be, Madonna’s going to have to be content with the bronze medal when it comes to my album rankings this year. And that’s assuming nothing else better comes out between now and the end of the year.

Marina’s last record, Electra Heart, wasn’t released on vinyl at all so I wasn’t sure that FROOT would either. There was a FROOT vinyl box set that was available for about 2.5 seconds on her web site before it sold out, with 6 vinyl 45s of the 12 songs on the album, each in a different color of vinyl.

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It would have been cool to have, but ultimately, it was too pricey on the secondary market and I’d rather have the whole album vs. 45s. Probably would have just sat on a shelf unplayed and records are meant to be played, damn it!

Fortunately, FROOT did get a full-on LP vinyl release, including a limited edition “diamond-white vinyl edition” that was not (initially) available in the U.S.  I was going to order one from Marina’s web site, but the shipping cost more than the record, so I ended up ordering it from Amazon UK. That turned out to be a big mistake.

My initial order of the album shipped on March 18, but didn’t arrive until probably the second week of April. Even for shipping from the UK, that was a long time. As it turned out, it took an unintended trip to India prior to being rerouted back to the U.S. and eventually to my doorstep. When it arrived, it looked like every little bit like it had taken a trip around the world. The box, which was surprisingly slim and flimsy for shipping vinyl overseas, was bent and dog-eared. More importantly, the album cover was bent and the record warped so badly as to be unplayable.

So as much as I didn’t want to go through the hassle, I decided to return it to Amazon UK for a replacement.  I had to pay the shipping back, which they said they would refund me up to $12. It cost me $16.75 to send it back, so I took a little bit of a hit. When I got my shipping refund, they refunded me $2.29. At this point, I should have just ordered it straight from Marina’s web site. But I didn’t want to fuss with it any more so I just put up and shut up and waited for my replacement.

The replacement arrived mid-week last week, arguably in worse shape than the one before it. It was bent very badly and the record was warped again. It was playable-ish, but warped badly enough that the needle dragged across the surface of the record on it’s way back to the cradle. Yeah, that wasn’t going to cut it either. My wife, who is an expert at getting results by calling out shitty customer service on Twitter, tweeted photos of it and it didn’t take long for Amazon to get in touch with me. I explained the situation to them. They did not make me return the damaged goods this time – not that it’s really any good to me because it’s not playable and I certainly can’t resell it – and refunded me approximately $18 on my shipping from the previous return. In addition, they shipped me yet another copy of FROOT with expedited shipping.  The third copy arrived Monday in pristine condition, packaged in a much sturdier box and lined with bubble wrap.

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Was it all worth it? In the end, yes. The “diamond white” vinyl is seeing a U.S. release exclusively via Urban Outfitters, but seeing as it’s on back order on their web site and the closest Urban Outfitters store is 3 hours away, I’m glad I don’t have to mess around with that. It’s as visually appealing as it is pleasing to the ear, but really, all the visuals associated with this album have been great – colorful in a way that’s reminiscent of the Sticky & Sweet Tour. I can’t wait to see her live again, because you know it’s gonna happen.

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