I'm not a fan of hyperbole, especially when it comes to records. The “rarest” record of the moment might be one that boxes of it are waiting to be released back into the field. Some of the best “insert-genre-here" albums might be misunderstood by entire generations, and what’s regarded as “the best record of all time” by one person might be seen as a pedigreed relic with little historical importance by another. Such terms get even more watered down when they aim to describe record collectors. Lofty phrases like “deepest,” “best-schooled” and “the Alan Lomax of…” get liberally attached to everyone from hobbyists to the life-long obsessed. The result is hyperbolic noise, which is a shame, because what is there left to say when it’s actually true? There is one person I’ve met about whom I feel compelled to say: Geoffrey Weiss is, to me and to many, the world’s best record collector.
Before commercial radio, before the first 78s were pressed, if you wanted to hear music, your best bet might have been to find a church. From rural chapels to urban cathedrals, from hymns to spirituals to chants, church and music have always gone hand in hand, made common not by genre but by purpose.
Next to the music itself, is anything more beloved about a record than its cover art? From 45 picture sleeves to LPs, cover art plays a prominent role in a record’s reputation and legacy. Entire books and websites have been devoted to cover art, and in some cases—think Abbey Road or A Dark Side of the Moon—an album’s cover is possibly more recognizable than its music. We put records in frames and hang them on our walls, we print posters and t-shirts out of them, and most of us will admit to buying at least a record or two based entirely on its cover. Indeed, if it were not for cover art, Dust & Grooves might not exist.