Friday, April 20, 2012

Record Store Day Preview

Record Store Day is tomorrow.

Here’s my super-duper wish list that will go largely unfilled:

1.) The Knack – Live In Los Angeles 1978 A red/yellow speckled 10” vinyl account of the live prowess of this shit-hot power-pop band.
2.)  Mastodon/Feist – “Commotion” b/w “Black Tounge” The most unusual pairing for R.S.B. in a split 7” that is both intriguing and potentially awesome.
3.)  The Flaming Lips/Mastodon – “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton” Just the idea of Mastodon covering the Lips’ original on the flip has got me a bit hot ‘n bothered.
4.)  Mike Watt & the Missingmen/The Chuck Dukowski Sextet – “Sweet Honey Pie” b/w “My War” I can already hear Watts’ voice, but I’d like to gander Dukowski’s take on the Black Flag gem.
5.)  The Mynah Birds – “It’s My Time” b/w “Go On And Cry” What’s this? A single featuring the band that Neil Young and Rick James were in? Give it to me baby!

This year is unique as I’ll be able to fly solo for the first time ever. Typically, I’m tethered to the children (or wife) which impedes the nostalgic feel of a time where I could go to a store like The Record Collector and spend the better part of two hours digging through the bins.

None of that in 2012, and while I don’t think I’ll be part of the initial rush, there is part of me that wants a running chance at some of those titles above. The Record Collector remains the last man standing, and this year is kind of special as it’s also the store’s 30th anniversary.

The story of the Record Collector can be found here, or at least a quick look back at the salad days as well as some surprising thoughts about Record Store Day from owner, Kirk Walther. He admits that he was kind of embarrassed when the music lover holiday was first announced five years ago.

From the Little Village article: “When the idea was first conceived, I was quietly embarrassed,” Walther said. “To me it simply magnified the fact that record/CD stores were in their death throes because of internet competition, and that to have a ‘special’ day glorifying a failing entity was self-defeating.”

I think I get that, and I kind of felt the same way. It seemed like a last-gasp effort, but thanks to those that were envolved, the focus shifted on getting people back into the experience of going to a record store. Then they began to offer things that focused on the other aspect of record buying, like the visual art of the product and the phyiscial act of actually holding the record or absorbing the liner notes.

Just the idea of it all is psyching me up.

I’ve spent a large amount of time in record stores. I remember those moments of being in a record store, feeling the pressure of being there with someone who doesn’t appreciate the entire experience as much as you do. You see that they’re ready to go, and you’re not even to the “E” section yet.

I’ve been there looking for nothing in particular, only to stumble across something that you’ve been searching for a very long time. That moment of elation, knowing that anything else you may find is just gravy.

I’ve also been there when you’re searching for a sound, and the employee behind the counter points you in just the right spot, handing you that record you’d never heard of before it becomes the thing you couldn’t take off the record player.

Walther’s been that guy for me, providing me with an impressive hit-to-miss ratio in his recommendations. When you consider the number of emotional connections that he himself initiated with the records he’s handed to me, I think I owe him more than one visit a year.

That’s something I’m working on, because I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad moment in a record store.

Even when the store employees acts a little snarky-which Walther and staff could be at times-it’s critical to let that pecking order run its course and it’s just as important to be able to grow a thicker skin when you find yourself in front of some eye rolling of a clerk who doesn’t share your appreciation of the Scorpions.

Twenty-five years ago, The Record Collector was in this tiny upstairs location, cooled by two window air conditioners that felt marvelous on sweltering Iowa summers. It was cramped. It was perfect.

There were two guys who worked with Kirk, a big haired dreadlocked dude who’s name I’ve forgotten and Mike Sangster, veteran of legendary Iowa rockers The Hollowmen and later of Head Candy, a band who once appeared on MTV’s 120 Minutes. Sangster could be a real prick, but the bands he was in were really awesome, so what can you do? Sometimes I’d bring in some nifty radio items and if Kirk wasn’t there, his other two employees would differ an offer, leaving me hanging.

But I kept coming back, because every time I left the store I was sure to have something that I liked. I’m sure the same will hold true tomorrow.

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