Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrating the Record Store

The 4th Annual Record Store Day occurs on Saturday April 16. In an era of dwindling outlets to purchase music, it's important to celebrate and patronize those independent record stores that have been so near and dear to many. Here's a paragraph from the website that aptly describes the festivities

"This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, djs spinning records and on and on. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day is now celebrated the third Saturday every April. "

To many music geeks(I consider myself a proud member of this club), the record store was a place to talk music, learn about music, berate those with bad taste and be berated by the ultimate taste makers. The movie High Fidelity (starring a young John Cusack and a younger Jack Black) captured this experience perfectly.

The conversations, friendships and music that occurred in many local record stores had a big influence on my youth. I remember spending many a Saturday at the Harbor Mall in Fall River combing the bins of Paperback Booksmith. I started this strange habit at the ripe age of 11. My mother would go to Bradlees and leave me at the store knowing it would keep me occupied for a couple of hours. It was around this time, I met the manger of the store Clem Brown, Thirty five years later, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Narrows. Another employee of Paperback, Herb Tracey is a great friend and volunteers at the Narrows. I can still remember the day, I waited in line a couple of hours to buy the new Rolling Stones record Black and Blue. The sheer excitement of holding it and rushing home to put it on the turntable and reading every inch of the liner notes.

Another great Fall River record store was AC Records and Comics located on Pleasant St. It was run by a guy named Dennis(can't think of his last name). We called him Pacino, as he was a dead ringer for Pacino in Serpico. I met alot of great people there who really knew music, no more so than Pacino who turned me onto Muddy Waters, The Band and the beginnings of Punk Rock. This place was pretty wild, adult beverages and girls also filtered into the mix. I still see Dennis at Narrows shows as well as some of the other hanger ons.

Once I got my license, it opened up new opportunities. The early 80's was my punk rock faze and their was no better punk rock record store than Thayer St. Records in Providence(later home to In Your Ear records). The guy who ran this was an imposing character with many piercings and a German Shepard by his side decked out in a spiked collar. Entering this place was whole new world to me, the Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks etc.

The next pilgrimage was Newbury Comics on Newbury St. in Boston. This was the original store. (Newbury Comics is a participant in Record Store Day). The lovely Aimee Mann worked the counter. This was when she was in the group Young Snakes. This was the big time with experts in all genres and a bevy of Boston rockers handing out opinion's and dissing the whole LA punk scene

Today, Newbury Comics is one of the last bastions to purchase music. Another great local store is In Your Ear in Warren. Chris Zingg runs the place and is a real expert in all things recorded. They are also participating in Record Store Day. Here is the link to the Record Store Day http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home So I call on all my audiophile friends to go out and celebrate Record Store Day, make a few purchases and support what has been such an important part of our lives


  1. Sunset Records on Route 6, North Dartmouth, MA was the first used record store that I latched onto. I can picture the store’s layout, owner, and adjoining stereo store. Google tells me there is Sunset Records in Somerset, MA. I wonder if it is the same outfit?

    Another interesting place was on Mineral Spring Avenue in North Providence, I don’t recall its name, but we referred to it as the “Mafia Store” given it’s location and unconventional way sales were rounded off and the fact that no sales tax was collected. This place was more of a discount record store rather than used records store. Low prices and album covers marred by cut or drilled corners was this place’s trademark.

    The pursuit of recorded music has changed. The listening experience has changed. Storage has changed. I now manage hard disk space and .mp3 files. However, my philosophy has not changed. I find music I like and I listen to it over and over and over again.

  2. Absolutely fascinating stuff about Paperback Booksmith at the "famed Harbour Mall. I was the actual owner of the Franchise there. My name is Gerald Ryack. Clem managed my record department.I opened it in 1971 and closed it in 1988. I am now in Wisconsin after several job transformations over the years. I like to say that the store was on the cutting edge of bankruptcy as it hardly made any money although I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Clem and I would argue about what category to put Elvis in, rock n roll or "easy listening." :) Clem and I still exchange Christmas cards after all these years. When back in New England a couple of years ago, I decided to again visit Harbour Mall and I can see why I never succeeded there. I still have my turntable and records and many cutouts (records with the corner snipped off so they couldn't be returned to the companies). Thanks for appearing on the web...a true trip down memory lane.