Saturday, March 10, 2012

Books: Record Store Days

Record Store DaysRecord Store Days by Gary Calamar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book details the trials and tribulations of the great American institution, the record store. I collected vinyl records for a long time before finally selling a few years back because the apartment was getting too crowded with boxes of LPs. Recently I began dipping a toe in the water again, picking up an inexpensive USB turntable and browsing the used bins at the remaining stores in New Jersey: The Princeton Record Exchange, Vintage Vinyl and Jack's Music Shoppe. I caught the bug early on: The Schenectady County Public Library had a diverse record collection available in the 1980's and I then graduated to my first great store, The Last Vestige in Albany. It was in the middle of a crappy neighborhood, but the store was a world of wonders and the LPs and CDs that came in and out of that store were hard to believe. Moving to New jersey, I found the long lamented Izzy's Records, where my friend John worked and turned me on to some great music. The other three stores I mentioned continue with greater or lesser success. Internet downloading and the popularity of movies and DVDs replacing shelf-space formerly held by music is taking its toll. But enough about me, I should probably talk about the book. The authors really do begin at the beginning following the development of musical reproduction from the Victrola and 78 rpm recordings through the heydays of the 1950's - 1970's and then the eventual fall from grace with the introduction of the compact disc in the 1980's. The book has a cautiously optimistic conclusion however, siting the revised interest in vinyl records especially by younger fans who aren't satisfied by the vaporous nature of the digital music file. This book was light fun reading, the the main narrative often interrupted by sidebars with anecdotes from musicians, collectors and store owners. The do celebrate the DIY spirit of independent record stores over corporate chains (most of whom are gone now anyway.) Anyone who is nostalgic for liner notes and album art and the idea of watching the record spin 'round and 'round are encouraged to check out this book. Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again -

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