Um, with thousands of square feet to use any way they like, mostly for calendars and coffee mugs, the ginormous Barnes and Noble in Downtown Seattle has decided to make its move. And this is it… this sad little display, a cardboard box/shelf thing with the tiniest offering of vinyl records possible, smaller than your grandmother’s got, and less cool. (Your granny was into The Clash and Pearl Jam in real time. She’s still got the first pressings you’re secretly praying she leaves you in her will. Pretty rad, your granny!) What is B&N thinking here? “Those young people, they’ll find this tiny little box of whatever vinyl records by the only artists whose names we can remember, that’ll do it!” More vintage stuff than new stuff, that’s for sure. And all mostly $29.99 per LP. Right. Amoeba has nothing to worry about.
One of the best Indy record shops in Indiana, Neat Neat Neat, in Ft. Wayne. Maybe one of the best in the Midwest. The dude who runs the shop has a beautiful, working, Edison “Diamond Disc” player. He also has a special connection to Third Man Records and regularly finds ways to stock some of the treasures of the label.
I was in the field, on the road in Indiana and Ohio collecting field recordings. I had heard about a small record shop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, called Neat Neat Neat, but had never been there until this trip. I popped in and found this copy of the vinyl Cream Box, the band’s historic 2005 reunion performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Having just watched the documentary, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” I had Cream and the madness of art on my mind. A great film and a great boxed set, though out of print and, sadly, hard to find. If you’re in the Ft. Wayne area, stop by Neat Neat Neat. A well curated shop, and some very nice Third Man vinyl.
From Jackpot Records in Portland. My very own “Jandek Box” from this year’s Record Store Day treasures. Jackpot is the official label licensed to reissue LPs and CDs of the mysterious and illusive Jandek (Corewood Industries). These days, very few of Jandek’s more than 70 LPs are available on vinyl. But I live in hope.
Jandek’s music is illusive. Outsider. Experimental. Ethereal. And pioneering. Check him out. And be sure to watch the documentary, “Jandek On Corwood” (Unicorn Stencil Productions, 2004). If you love mystery, this man is your artist.
This book by Travis Elborough, The Vinyl Countdown: The Album from LP to iPod and Back Again (Soft Skull Press, 2009), is a fascinating account of the journey of vinyl records, from their heyday, all the way through their fall and rise again. It’s interesting to think that for several decades the vinyl record was more or less unchanged as a medium for delivering music. It intrigues me because without having to think about the technology, having one set form like the vinyl LP, and especially having to think about and learn new technology, were we freer to think about the music itself? The vinyl record kept the learning curve down as far as how to play and enjoy your music. Today, of course, there’s almost a new device every few months, or a new online system, for listening to, or buying and playing, music. If you’re one of those people who abandoned records, you might like to go back for a while by reading this book. The artifact of a vinyl record still amazes me. The gate-fold sleeve. The liner notes and artwork. The vast array of colors of vinyl today. It’s really fun just exploring the new generation of vinyl records from the creative Indie Music Record Labels today. This book is an excellent introduction to the history and journey of the vinyl record.
On Brick Lane, by Rachel Lichtenstein, is a great book about the part of London where Rough Trade East record shop operates. It’s a part of London that’s constantly changing. A perfect place for a shop like Rough Trade East. Not as easy to find as you might think. I had to wander around a while before I spotted it. But the three hours I spent in the shop buying records, talking to staff, and sitting in the cafe area with a coffee looking over the huge stash of records and books I found was a perfect morning.