The rarest records in the Toronto Reference Library’s colossal vinyl collection

The rarest records in the Toronto Reference Library’s colossal vinyl collection

Eric Schwab manages the library’s stash of 15,000 records. We asked him about some of its oldest and strangest titles

Disconnected
Disconnected

“There are a lot of spoken-word albums in our collection. This one, from 1974, has recordings from poets like Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, John Ashbery and John Cage.”

Red Detachment of Women: A Modern Revolutionary Ballet
Red Detachment of Women: A Modern Revolutionary Ballet

“The Chinese performed this ballet during Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972. My favourite song title is, ‘Forward! Along the Path Crimson With the Blood of the Enemy.’”

Electronic Music
Electronic Music

“There are just a few copies of this 1960s album from U of T’s electronic studio. It’s pretty strange—the first track is just the sound of water dripping.”

Jazz at Massey Hall
Jazz at Massey Hall

“In 1953, the New Jazz Society of Toronto invited five of the greatest jazzmen in the world to play in Toronto: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. It’s a sweet record.”

Music for Subways
Music for Subways

“The performers on this album were the first subway buskers in the city to get licences in 1979, when the TTC launched its auditions for plum locations.”

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