Saturday, January 19, 2008

Record Revolution...

Thanks to Steve for holding down the Good Ship PowerPop almost solo for the past few weeks.

Cool undated article here at about the demise of the independent record store. The money quote comes from Jim Otto at the expense of the Iggles, my favorite bloated rock-and-roll punching bag. Jim owns the Laguna Beach music store Sound Spectrum:

“Record companies have never respected the role independent record stores played in their success, but the bands always did. Now, it seems they’re forgetting us, too.” Lately, Otto is getting a warm, stabbed-in-the-back feeling from the reformed Eagles, who have evidently shifted their allegiance from Walden Pond to Wal-Mart. The band has made its first studio album in 28 years available exclusively through the retail giant.

This article prompted a Proustian moment for me, sending me back to the mid-80s when I lived in Boston. I would spend an entire Saturday afternoon prowling record stores in Cambridge and Kenmore Square and it was always a blast. It all came back: that smell of musty cardboard, the grumpy clerks, not to mention the ever-present dust and grime that made you look like a coal miner exiting a mine shaft when you finally extricated yourself from the store.

Online buying has never been a satisfactory replacement for me as it lacks the same tactile and sensory stimulation that comes from spending hours browsing a well-stocked record store. Luckily, here in the D.C. metro area we still have Joe's Record Paradise, so I can get my vinyl fix whenever I want, but I wonder how long they will hold on.

So, what cool record stores are still around where you live?

For a musical interlude while you are thinking, here's the aptly-named Records with a clip I'd not seen before:


Gummo said...

From the late 70s through the 90s, there was a whole circuit of tiny independent record stores in Greenwich Village that also handled bootleg records -- sometimes stuffed in the racks, sometimes hidden away in back rooms -- and I used to spend the evening of many a payday wandering from one to another, flipping through the racks, looking for some unreleased gem by Dylan or the Beatles to add to my collection. There was also a supporting network of magazines and books that chronicled the latest bootleg releases, which was great, because sound quality could vary from studio perfection to murky last row live recording. It was a wonderful combination of collecting and gambling and it's gone now. Thanks to the internet, I have pretty much acquired every rare or unreleased track by my faves that I've ever wanted, but as you say, the thrill of the chase is gone along with an era that will never return.

steve simels said...

Wait a minute -- where's Saturday Glam Blogging?

Seriously -- I'm still irked by the fact that NYCD, the world's greatest indie record store in my old neighborhood, had to shut down last year.

It's astonishing to me now that there's essentially only one mega-record store in NYC (Virgin, in midtown) and it's not really all that good. Say what you will about the old Tower Records, but when you walked in to that place, you essentially had access to the entire history of recorded music.

steve simels said...

BTW --

That's my absolutely favorite Records song, with the possible exception of "Up All Night." Thanks for posting it -- I hadn't seen it either...

Kid Charlemagne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kid Charlemagne said...


It's coming... I've already picked a suitably cheesy song.

I am still smarting over the loss of Tower Records. There was one literally across the street from where I work-I spent many a lunch hour browsing. Now my only music outlet downtown is a borders and they have really cut back on stock. They used to have a fairly selection, with a lot of imports, but no longer.

Gummo said...

steve --

While Virgin has a great selection of both CDs and DVDs, the fact that you have to wade through tourist-infested Times Square makes it a less than desirable destination....

(I work not 5 minutes from there and sometimes go there on lunch hour -- I'm almost always pissed off by the time I get there....)

return of the plumber said...

Tower really went down hill in it's last few years so I didn't regret their passing all that much. Back in the 90's the 4th Street Tower was truly a musical mecca.

Internet shopping has replaced all the great indy record shops that have disappeared from the Hudson Valley and Northern New Jersey that I used to shop in. While I feel a little weird Internet shopping (you can't physically hold the record in your hand which was half the fun) the ability to preview albums and the incredible selection if you are willing to spend the time hunting makes it all worthwhile.

Steve, remember how great the Sam Goody's in Paramus use to be back in the 60's & 70's before they were bought out by Musicland. I bought the first Procol Harum album and most of my Hollies albums there. Also "After Bathing At Baxters" my first Airplane album.

Hell, actually remembering where I bought those albums say a lot about the hold great records stores held for me.

Cleveland Bob said...

Hi Kid,

Coincidentally enough, the best record store left in the Cleve is called Record Revolution. They've kind of morphed into a nearly exclusively hardcore punk store in the past few years but it's still an authentic record store/headshop.

They used to have a huge basement with tons of used imports and cutout bins where I spent many a glorious afternoon mining for gold.

They even used to host small concerts and events in said basement. I once saw Robert Fripp do his whole Frippertronics noodling thing in there with about 150 other diehards.

Good times...good times.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Clevo Bob,

I grew up in Youngstown and in the late 70s, early 80s we used to make a mecca to RR nearly every month. I also used to shop at Drome Records in Lakewood when it was around. I got all my Pagans singles there.

What was the name of the shop that was downtown? I used to hit that one too.

Cleveland Bob said...


It was on the corner of E 4th and Prospect and was called Record Rendezvous.

Cleveland Bob said...

One last thing. The Internet continues to blow my mind.

Check out this link that has pictures and a recording of the entire Fripp show I was speaking of upthread.

Simply amazing.

cuddlefish said...

Austinites are fortunate that Waterloo Records is still going strong. I get my vinyl at Sound on Sound or End of an Ear. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

what cuddlefish sez (where would we even be w/out W-loo?)


Wait a minute -- where's Saturday Glam Blogging?

not to mention, where's Janis fucking Joplin Birthday Blogging?

MBowen said...

I wish the plumber could have told me about the great record stores in the Hudson Valley...since I moved here 17 years ago, I haven't found much.

TMink said...

We have three used record stores worth a visit here in Nashville. One of them has the largest selection of new vinyl I have seen in 20 years. But there is nothing like the access to product we had before Tower buckled.


Kid Charlemagne said...


What are the names of the stores? The wife and I have been talking about a trip to Nashville one of these days. I'd like to check 'em out!

Slig said...

In the Rochester NY area we had Record Theatre (a small regional chain?) and Fantasy records in the malls and strip malls. The best was the Record Archive, on Mt. Hope Ave., which still exists. More recently, I derive similar pleasure from browing used CD stores, which were excellent and plentiful in my last two stomping grounds, Durham, NC and Madison, WI.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Thanks Slig for reporting in.

Just trying to get a sense of what is still left in terms of indy stores.

TMink said...

Kid C, sorry I missed your question till now.

My favorite of the three used record stores in Nashville is The Great Escape,
1925 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 327-0646

They have a LOT of new vinyl.

Number two on my list is Phonoluxe: 2609 Nolensville Pike
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 259-3500

They know how much some of the old vinyl is worth, so you find less bargains there but still lots of cool vinyl.

The third is called Grimeys, and can be found at Sadly, I have never been there, but I hear that it is nice!

Now if you and yours are down here, I would be honored to buy you an adult beverage. My life is very family oriented now adays, but I know my wonderful wife would let me slip off for an hour to shake your hand and buy you some local craft brewed beer, if you drink that sort of thing.

Let me know.


Kid Charlemagne said...


Thanks so much! I'm keeping this info. I would enjoy having a drink if we are in your neck of the woods, especially microbrew!

Cheers! Kid C.

Jay C. said...

The old stores in Cambridge and Kenmore are closed or closing, with a few exceptions. It's a shame, and it seems like you need to be an independently wealthy individual with money to burn in order to operate a store these days.

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