Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record Store Day

It's Record Store Day. "Record Store" means a business that sells records, CDs, DVDs,  lots of music-related stuff. To be honest, I haven't set foot in a record store in years. Once-a-year I bought a few records at the huge WFMU record fair in NYC, where sellers from all over the country have tables, but I've skipped that for the past the few years, & when I did attend it was mainly to work at a WFMU table, & I allowed myself only an hour or two max for personal browsing. I got a bigger kick from observing the customers; what caught their eyes, what they bought,what they put back in the boxes.

Record Store Day has quickly grown into a large industry event. 700 stores participate. There are special releases - some by popular groups & artists, live in-store performances.

I did put in some time working in a great record store, Harmony House, when I was twenty. I didn't work there for long, around 9 months, but it was where I soaked up a basic education in classical music & to some extent world music, which was then a much smaller, rarified area. Later, I worked for awhile in a less interesting store in New Brunswick that was more focused on selling sheet music to Rutgers music students.

In a Facebook poll, "Where did you buy your vinyl in Elizabeth NJ?, I added McCrory's to the poll & voted for it rather than the two prominent record shops. From the mid 80's to early 90's  McCrory's (a Woolworth's type of chain) usually had a very cheap & often outstanding bunch of cut-out  bins where I picked up literally dozens of cool records for 50 cents (& less), including old Stax records, Parliament-Funkadelic, Miami Sound stuff, even some jazz. Every few weeks I'd drive over from nearby Linden & see what I could find to feed my radio shows. At the prices, just one good song on an album made it worthwhile. It was a good time for cut-outs. CD's were pushing out vinyl, & MTV, rather than expanding popular tastes, was shrinking them to video mega hits, so record distributors were emptying their warehouses of old product.

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