Record Stores, Then & Now – Highlights from the 4/11 Rock and Roll Revisited

Up Front: It’s Friday!

Meet Katie Bouman, the woman who discovered the black hole everybody’s talking about.

Wikipedia Isn’t Officially a Social Network. But the Harassment Can Get Ugly. Via @NYTimes

Answers to yesterday’s advertising slogan quiz:

 “Come Alive – You’re in the Pepsi Generation”,
“Where’s the Beef?” Actress Clara Peller for Wendy’s“,
“You can be sure if it’s.. Westinghouse”,
“Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch”,
Brylcreem – A little dab’l do ya”,
Eastern Airlines – Number One to the Sun”,
“Oh the disadvantages of.. Benson & Hedges 100s cigarettes”,
“That’s a speecy, spicy meatball. – Alka Seltzer”,
“What sort of man reads.. Playboy”,
“9 out of 10 doctors..recommend aspirin for their patients with headaches”,
Mr. Bubble – So clean, your mother won’t know you.”

Today in History:

1947 Jackie Robinson becomes the 1st African American in major league baseball.

1964 The Beatles set another music industry record by having 14 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100.

1966 NBC-TV aired the series finale of ‘Hulabaloo,’ with guest performers Lesley Gore, Peter & Gordon, the Cyrkle, and Paul Anka.

1966 In Hollywood, Buffalo Springfield made their live stage debut at the Troubadour nightclub.

1967 While flying back to London from California after attending the Beach Boys’ aborted ‘Smile’ recording sessions, Paul McCartney wrote the song ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.

1973 During a low point in their popularity, the Beach Boys appeared at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia where fewer than 3,000 tickets had been sold for a venue with a capacity of 16,000. One of their supporting acts was the still unknown Bruce Springsteen.

1976 The first commercially available Apple computer, later known as the Apple I, was released.

2007 Apple announced that the iTunes Store had sold more than two million movies.

2013 Comedian Jonathan Winters died at age 87.

2014 Singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester, a symbol of the anti-war movement when he moved to Canada in 1967 to evade the U.S. military draft, died of bladder cancer at 69.

Happy Birthday to:
1925 Ethel Kennedy (Bobby’s Wife)
1932 Joel Grey (Jennifer’s Dad)
1935 Richard Berry (Louie, Louie) (d. 1997)
1939 Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman – Mary Hartman)
1947 Peter Riegert (Boone in Animal House)
1966 Mason Reese (Underwood Deviled Ham)

Today’s Quote Worth Re-quoting: “There are only two kinds of people in this world. The realists and the dreamers. The realists know where they are going and the dreamers have already been there.” ~Robert Orben

Record Stores, Then & Now

As we’ve moved away from vinyl and CDs, it’s easy for some of our former favorite tunes to slip from consciousness. When they pop up on a soundtrack or in a documentary, it can re-energize our interest and we go back to the “record store” to grab a fresh copy.

When I was a kid, that record store was Liberty Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It felt like the help there was more interested in selling the classics, but they stocked enough of the newer stuff to at least feed my growing addiction. It took awhile for me to realize that the way-cooler Discount Records  was just down the street. They had the MC5 album behind the counter for adults-only purchase. Liberty Music would never have considered carrying that one.

The rack-jobbers who filled the 45 bins at our box stores, didn’t compare to authentic record shops like Harmony House and later, Sam Goody & Tower Records. Those were inconveniently far from my house and it wasn’t until I got my drivers license that I began to make weekly pilgrimages to fill out the faves I was hearing on the radio.

Places where the hits are front and center for sale are few and far between these days. The retailers have ceded that space to iTunes, Amazon Music and the digital marketers, one time pariahs of the Record Industry Association of America, and now a primary revenue stream. These are the new “record stores” and they are increasingly selling more and more classic rock.

In the digital realm, everything old can be new again, with a little awareness on other media platforms. Bob Berry pointed out in an email to me yesterday that The Seekers, who had a brief prime with “Georgy Girl” and “I Know I’ll Never Find Another You”, are back on the iTunes charts, after being featured on the Australian public broadcast network’s Australian Story. The same goes for Mötley Crüe, who got some new lifeblood after the release of their biopic, “The Dirt”. And Queen who’s digital sales have been fired by the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film.

The earliest example of a sound track rekindling interest in rock and roll is perhaps George Lucas’ “American Graffiti”. We had that double LP in the oldies bin at WVIC and spun some of its tracks, 16 years after they were first on the charts.

In every era, there is timeless talent that creates an enduring tapestry of work. In the digital world, it’s easier than ever for them to circulate their wares. The Moscow garageband, Leonid and Friends, who we have featured in this space several times, is one who has taken classic Chicago tunes and sharpened them up for new audiences.

Once upon a time, we would flip through our 45 collection, the color and content of the labels jogging our memories. I sold nearly all of my collection during our last downsizing. But not before making sure everything important was digitized.

After reading the article Bob shared about the Seekers, I went back to my own digital library and pulled up, “I Know There’ll Never Be Another You”. That lead me to “I Can Make It With You” from the Pozo-Seco Singers, The Forum singing “The River is Wide” and a rabbit hole of records, each listen firing another dusty synapse in my memory to reveal more treasures from the past.

And just like the record stores of old, we may go to iTunes in search on one thing and end up buying a couple of others. The big difference is that purveyors of vinyl were loath to let you listen before you bought. With just about every record imaginable available on YouTube, tasting the fruits of the artist’s vineyard is simple. And purchasing them is one click away.