Tower Records: Where the Good Stuff Was


(via purple clover)

by Charles Paikert

I’m not usually big on nostalgia, but record stores?

Oh, baby.

My first was Walt’s Record Shop on South Salina in downtown Syracuse. I was in grammar school, and that was before malls, when people still went shopping downtown. Walt’s wasn’t even a great record store, but it had a better selection of LPs and 45s than Woolworths or Grants.

If you liked rock and roll, a record store was a gateway drug. Everything was there! You could hold albums and singles in your hands, look at the covers, read liner notes, smell the vinyl. Records were real, tactile objects, which you brought home, put on a record player, heard the pop and hiss of the needle as it hit the disc’s revolving grooves on the turntable and then—bam! loud rock music filled the room before your parents told you to turn it down…

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The Most Beautiful Record Stores in the World

(Reprinted from Flavorwire)

Regular Flavorwire readers will know that we’ve had great fun over the last year or so surveying the most beautiful examples of some of our favorite places to spend time — libraries, bookshops, coffee shops, and various others. But now we’re setting ourselves a real challenge, and tracking down some examples of an institution that doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when you use the word “beautiful”: the humble record store. The thought of record shopping more often invokes images of teetering crates of vinyl than it does architectural elegance, but that isn’t always the case. Click on through for some of the most beautiful record stores in the world.


Rough Trade East – London, UK

Rough Trade is a success story for record stores in the 21st century, a shop that shows you can make a go of selling actual physical records so long as you know your niche and your audience. The original Rough Trade is in west London, but it’s their flagship store in Brick Lane — opened in 2007 amongst dire predictions about the death of records and the music industry in general — on the other side of the city that’s a particularly pretty piece of architecture, all glass and open space.


The Thing – Brooklyn, NY

Beauty is a subjective thing, of course, and there’s just as much ramshackle appeal in the dusty crates of Greenpoint icon The Thing as there is in the graceful space of Rough Trade. This place is the archetypal record geek’s paradise, a maze of unlabeled vinyl that has some strange internal logic that makes no sense to anyone who doesn’t work there.


Nova Audio – Mumbai, India

Mumbai is a pretty great city for record shopping — the bustling warrens of Chor Bazaar and the host of street stalls in the city’s Fort district are home to all sorts of esoteric vinyl, and occasionally you’ll stumble across something completely amazing — but you’d rarely describe its record shops as “beautiful.” A notable exception, however, is Nova Audio, where proprietor Sushil Anand sells a variety of LPs and will also clean your old vinyl for you if you ask him nicely.


Tower Records – Tokyo, Japan

A throwback to the days when big record stores ruled the retail roost, the Japanese arm of Tower Records survived the great Tower meltdown of the 2000s and remains Tokyo’s biggest and swankiest place to buy music. Perhaps one day there’ll be a reason for megastores like this to exist again; for now, it’s interesting to visit and step back into the 1990s.


Tsutaya – Daikanyama, Tokyo, Japan

In the 21st century, though, if there’s a big architectural budget to be spent, it’s most likely to be spent by shops like Tsutaya, which follows the Borders model of selling music, books, magazines, DVDs, etc. under one roof. This beautiful store in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district was designed by architects Klein Dytham and is apparently tailored for over-50 “premier age” customers (which probably makes sense, since they’re the only ones buying physical media anymore.)


Spacehall – Berlin, Germany

Or, in fairness, that’s not entirely true — if there’s one demographic who can be counted on to continue investing in vinyl, it’s DJs. And which city in the world has the highest concentration of erudite DJs per capita? Why, Berlin, of course — the city’s electronic music mecca Spacehall is four floors of vinyl that encompasses pretty much every genre you can think of, all housed in a space that’s as coolly elegant as you’d expect.


Batucada Records – Oslo, Norway

To be honest, we’re not entirely sure whether this place still exists, but its graceful design and sense of space definitely warrants a place on this list. Its designer describes it as “a conceptual record store… where the customer can take their time and be offered a holistic sense, not just records.”


Euclid Records – New Orleans, LA

What were we saying a while back about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? Depending on your tolerance for hot pink, Euclid will be either a thing of brazen charm or one hell of an eyesore… but, either way, it’s an iconic, distinctive exterior and one that you’re not going to miss on a trip to the Bayou.


Mazeeka Samir Fouad – Cairo, Egypt

One of our few regrets from our Flavorwire expedition to Egypt last year is that we didn’t get the chance to visit this venerable Cairo institution, wherein one can find all manner of rare Arabic vinyl and other exotic treasures. (We’re guessing that Awesome Tapes from Africa would lose their collective shit here.)


Amoeba Records – Los Angeles, CA

And finally, what could be more beautiful than the biggest damn record store you’ve ever seen? No trip to the West Coast is complete without a visit to Amoeba, a shop that seems to prove that rumors of the music industry’s demise have been highly exaggerated. For now, at least.

“We Stomped On The Quality of the Art of Music”: 20 Record Stores Weigh In on Vinyl’s Return

(Reprinted from Paste Magazine)

The emergence of vinyl fans among a generation that didn’t necessarily grow up with it left some scratching their heads, but its success is undeniable. Vinyl records, which some thought had taken the same forgotten route of 8-tracks and laser discs, are the one format that’s seen an increase during a notable slump in record sales. With artists like Arcade Fire, the Black Keys and the Beatles leading the vinyl march, the format is here to stay, at least for a while.

We asked record stores across the United States what they thought about the return of the waxy, black format. Here’s what they had to say:

(excerpt follows)

Terry Currier, Music Millennium: Vinyl Records are one of the greatest inventions ever made. They’re the purest form of sound of any format of recorded music that has been introduced to music fans. The industry did a big disservice to music fans by forcing vinyl out in the ’80s. Not only the great quality of sound but the get quality that went into many of the packages.

Vinyl was treated more like art than the CD and especially more than digital downloads. You interface with the packaging much more with a 12″ × 12″ than you do with a 5″ × 5″ cover of the CD, thusly you learn much more about…the music you are experiencing.

…We are a society of convenience and because of that we stomped on the quality of the art of music. Vinyl may not be the salvation of the record industry but this new renaissance in vinyl is here to stay.

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