Posts Tagged ‘Record Stores’

Rasputin Music

26 May 2010

Rasputin Records was founded in 1971 and over the years has lived in several storefront locations on Telegraph Avenue near the Cal-Berkeley campus. Its original location was in what is now Blondie’s Pizza, a couple of blocks towards campus from its current spot at the corner of Durant & Telegraph. Rasputin Music, as it’s now called, is just a block away from Amoeba Records, and together they form the best one-two punch of record stores that I’ve seen anywhere in the country.

I originally intended to do a joint post of both stores, but people spend so much time fawning over Amoeba (justifiably) that I decided to give Rasputin the spotlight here. Most of Rasputin’s LPs are located in its basement, which is one of my favorite rooms to shop for music in. I’ve picked up some essential albums here, including affordable used copies of Never Mind The Bollocks, One Nation Under A Groove and Sticky Fingers, to name three of several hundred. Here are a few pictures from one of my happy places…

[roll over for captions – click to enlarge photos]

Supersonic Wax: A Look Inside 6 Seattle Record Stores

1 May 2010

The P and I recently snuck up to Seattle for a quick visit. I took one day of our trip to bomb around town and check out some of the recommended area record stores. Here’s where I went and what I saw…

Bop Street Records * 5219 Ballard Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 * (206) 297-2232 *

[click to enlarge any image]

The skinny: Bop Street is one of the great record stores in the entire country. Owner Dave Voorhees founded it in 1974, and his current stock consists of more than a half-million used records that fill room after room of the main floor and basement of this gigantic store. I walked in shortly after they opened and Voorhees came out from behind the counter, commented on my Dusty Groove t-shirt, and offered to give me a tour of his store. Sweet! While waving me behind doors spray-painted EMPLOYEES ONLY – KEEP OUT, he regaled me with story after story of his time in the music business and the rock stars who’d come in to visit and signed their name on his wall. The whole thing added up to one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in any record store. Toss in the fact that Voorhees is moving his store a few blocks away over the next few months, and I felt lucky to have set foot in this configuration of this store when I did…

Of interest: The basement of Bop Street is bigger in itself than most record stores, and was crammed with $3 albums (I believe this was a temporary sale) that would cheaply fortify any classic rock collection. This store is so big that it is absolutely overwhelming. Voorhees told me that members of Radiohead had recently spent an entire 8-hour day shopping there and it’s easy to see how. Unfortunately, this was the first store I visited, and I only had an hour or so to spend. Next visit I’ll budget more time…

Bonus points: One could easily spend an hour just checking out the graffiti and autographs that run along the wall on the main floor, as well as the mural along the back wall. But huge bonus points to Dave Voorhees for making my visit so memorable. I’ve never had a record store owner act like a better host than he did. Thanks to him and his amazing store, this is as close as I’ll ever come to visiting Willy Wonka’s Record Factory…

Key purchases: Harvey Mandel – The Snake (LP), Bobby Bland – Call On Me (LP), Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons (8-track), Bop Street Records t-shirt


Easy Street Records * 20 Mercer St. Seattle, WA 98109 * (206) 691-EASY *

The skinny: Large store that features a mix of new and used vinyl and CDs. Easy Street has funky decor and the vibe of an independent store that’s been around for awhile…

Of interest: The vintage flyers along the back wall are definitely worth a peek. This store also has an LP Club which entitles members to a free LP after buying 15 records, and features a strong Local Music section…

Bonus points: For their listening stations, which were made from vintage pay phones. Very cool…

Key purchases: James Brown – In The Jungle Groove (reissue LP), Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (LP), The Beatles – This Is The… Savage Young Beatles (used LP), Record Store Days (book)


Jive Time Records * 3506 Fremont Ave N. Seattle, WA 98103 *

The skinny: Small, well-organized shop that features used vinyl. This shop couldn’t have been more than 500 square feet, and they do a fine job of fitting in the maximum amount of LPs without making the store feel cramped.

Of interest: Very good $1, $3 and $5 bargain bins…

Bonus points: Super-friendly staff. Neat, clean store. Cool colors and logo. Loved the dog + record player in their front window, complete with a “Jive Time” record on the turntable…

Key purchases: Cactus – Cactus (LP), Various Artists – Sound Explosion (Ronco LP)


Sonic Boom Records * 1525 Melrose Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 * (206) 568-BOOM and 2209 NW Market St. Seattle WA 98107 (flagship store) * (206) 297-BOOM *

The skinny: Very clean, roomy store that has an industrial modern feel. New and used LPs and CDs, although their selection of new LPs and CDs far outstrips their used bins. I visited their Capitol Hill store, and it’s my understanding that their flagship store in Ballard is the one to see. Next time…

Of interest: Good selection of new vinyl. However, everything was $3-$5 more than what I’d pay at my local Amoeba Records (I’m spoiled that way, but still…) so I didn’t buy any new albums. I did find a beat up but very playable copy of Here Are The Sonics!!! and a thrashed but playable copy of Neil Young’s On The Beach, so good things can be found in their used bins…

Bonus points: For the aforementioned used LPs – good finds both…

Key purchases: Neil Young – On The Beach (used LP), The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics!!! (used LP)


Holy Cow Records * 1501 Pike Place #325 Seattle, WA 98101 * (206) 405-4200

The skinny: Small used LP & CD store located in the catacombs beneath Pike Place Market. In spite of the signage out front, this store has plenty of records for the size of its footprint. Staff was very helpful and friendly and made an extra effort to help my cousin Chris find an album he was looking for…

Of interest: A pretty decent $3 LP crate. The fact that you get to visit Pike Place market on your way to the record store is pretty cool…

Bonus points: For The Sonics poster hanging above the Funk/Soul section that trumpets “The Sonics In Glorious Mono”…

Key purchases: Mance Lipscomb – Vol. 4 (used LP)


Wall Of Sound * 315 E. Pine St. Seattle, WA * (206) 441-9880 *

The skinny: Small, stylish, spare, eclectic record shop. Good vibe and an unusual selection of records – not the place to go if you’re looking to beef up your Led Zeppelin, but it’s the perfect place to find that Krautrock album you’ve been searching high and low for…

Of interest: Nice selection of posters on the wall that were on sale for reasonable prices. I might have been in the market if I didn’t have an airplane ride between me and home…

Bonus points: For having interesting $2 and $3 bins – one of which had the album my cousin Chris was looking for (the self-titled album by the fusion/funk/disco band Chase)…

Key purchases: Public Enemy – ‘Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos’ (12″ Single), Chase – Chase (used LP)

Further reading: Seattle newspaper The Stranger tracks the financial health of area music retailers.

Inside The House Of Records

29 June 2009

House Of Records | Eugene, OR

Eugene, OR is known as Tracktown USA, and it’s definitely one of the leading track & field cities in the world. It’s also noted as: 1) the home of the University Of Oregon (Go Ducks!), 2) the birthplace of Nike, and 3) a cradle of hippies and anarchists. But just off the eastern edge of the UofO campus sits one of the best record stores in the whole wide world. The House Of Records is, as its name indicates, an old house that’s been converted into a record store, and it’s the place where I first started buying vinyl as a broke college kid so many years back. Many of the same folks who worked there 20 years ago are still behind the register – albeit with a bit more gray in their hair and crow’s feet around the eyes.

Last July The P and I were visiting Eugene and we made a stop at the House Of Records. We arrived just after they’d opened, so there was nobody in the store. The clerk gave me the OK to shoot some photos of the store, and so I did. Here’s a quick peek inside one of my favorite record stores anywhere:

House Of Records | Inside

House Of Records | Vinyl Section

House Of Records | Detail
[click to enlarge]

House Of Records | Easy Listening

[House Of Records business card, from the early-90’s…]
House Of Records | Business card, circa 1992


29 October 2008

Grooves Vinyl Attractions is an old-fashioned record store where cds need not apply, and LPs, cassettes and 8-tracks are all the rage. This colorful shop sits at 1797 Market St, at the foot of both the Castro and the lower Haight. Even from the outside it’s easy to tell that this is a great store, and all those brightly colored LPs beckon the helpless record-buyer like so many bugs to the zapper. There aren’t many record stores left in the city, but this is the best one that’s not called Amoeba (which is a mythical beast beyond comparison anyway).

Grooves is a medium-sized shop stuffed with the inventory of a much larger store. Vintage poster art and collectible records line the walls (the current display is devoted to political and presidential records). There’s always good cheer in the air here, with excellent music on the sound system and employees involved in smart, mild-mannered discussions about musical minutia.

If there’s one (oh so minor) drawback to this store, it’s that the overflowing stock can be somewhat intimidating. Fortunately, the staff is helpful to a fault, and not above answering even the most elementary questions.

When I was in last week, Kelly (who functions as something of an assistant manager) was helping a hapless customer who was obviously new to “Rock & Roll”. It was pretty awe-inspiring to watch a seasoned record store employee patiently introduce another adult to both AC/DC (for the record, High Voltage, along with a stirring explanation of the importance of Bon Scott) and The Kinks (Greatest Hits) without flinching or descending into sarcasm. Meanwhile, Ray (the owner) was running around like a chicken with his head cut off – filing albums, changing the store music, cracking wise, and generally keeping the atmosphere light.

If The Muppets had run a record store, I’ll bet it would have felt a lot like Grooves.

Here’s what I picked up:

The Rolling Stones * Jumpin’ Jack Flash (45rpm)
Lightnin Hopkins * Lightnin’! (2-LP)
Howlin’ Wolf/Muddy Waters/Bo Diddley * The Super Super Blues Band (Checker LP)
Robert Nighthawk * Bricks In My Pillow (LP)
Pete Seeger * Clearwater Classics (2-LP)
Thad Jones & Mel Lewis * Live At The Village Vanguard (8-track)
New York Rock Ensemble * Freedomburger (8-track)
Chuck Berry * Back Home (8-track)
Count Basie * Afrique (8-track)

101 Music

15 October 2008

This little record store is tucked away amongst the bars and coffee shops of North Beach in San Francisco. Nearly every square inch of 101 Music (1414 Grant Ave) is packed with LPs, 45s, CDs, cassettes(!), posters, instruments, doo-dads and gimcracks. In terms of ambience, this is your prototypical record store from Central Casting – the kind of place where record geeks like myself enjoy hanging out and just breathing in the rarified atmosphere.

101 Music has an above average selection of bootleg LPs (along the righthand side as you enter) and the owner keeps a pretty good stash of additional bootlegs behind the register (or at least he has when I’ve been in), so be sure to ask if you’re into that sort of thing.

Barry White holds down the soul section

Barry White holds down the soul section

On the downside, this store is generally overpriced, with most LPs falling in the $10-$20 range, including a lot of stuff you could pick up at Amoeba or Rasputin for $2.95. That said, there are relative bargains to be found in their blues, folk, and reggae sections, and those bootlegs ($25-$100) are by no means overpriced.

PT Barnum would call me a sucker, but I drop twenty bucks every time I set foot in this place. I like bargains as much as the next guy, but I also like having places like this to visit, and 101 Music is one of the very last record stores in downtown SF – believe it or not.

[If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to visit their sister store/annex, 101 Basement – around the corner on Green St…]

Windy City Wax, Part II

30 July 2008

I was in Chicago the weekend before last, drinking copious amounts of booze, eating too much food, and generally acting like a Roman emperor. Of course, sizable chunks (pun intended) of the weekend were set aside for running around with my buddy Furr to visit some of Chicago’s finest record stores. In addition to our usual stops (Dave’s, Laurie’s, Dusty Groove, and 2nd Hand Tunes), we made a point of checking out a couple of new (to us) record stores. Here’s where we went:

Dead Wax Records

3819 N. Lincoln – Chicago, IL * (773) 529-1932

The skinny: Not the world’s greatest selection, but a very nice space that’s got a fantastic vibe. Record stores like this are the reason I enjoy visiting record stores. Good music on the PA, friendly clerks (thanks Wilbur!) and nearly every format you can think of for sale. Many more records than cds, which is the way it should be, if you ask me. I struck out on the records (Furr found a nice stack), but I foraged for some excellent 8-Tracks in an overlooked bin under one of the record cases.

Of interest: The small book section up front has a comfortable easy chair that seemed like a fine place to sit and read. If we hadn’t been on a schedule I would have done exactly that.

Bonus points: For the big colorful sign (above) in the rear of the store, as well as the general ambience.

Key purchases: Sly & The Family Stone * Fresh (8-Track), Mandrill * We Are One (8-Track), The Bonzo Dog Band * The History Of The Bonzos (8-Track), Pre-School Fact and Fantasies (8-Track), Roy Ayers Ubiquity * Vibrations (8-Track)


Permanent Records

1914 W Chicago Ave – Chicago IL, 60622 * (773) 278-1744 *

The skinny: This store features a great mix of old and new vinyl and compact discs, a fine music mag section, and a handful of books on all topics. The well-lit, modern layout makes it easy to browse, and the employees were outgoing and helpful. I will definitely include this in my regular rotation of Chicago record stores from now on.

Of interest: Of the four places that I priced a particular new release on vinyl, Permanent was the least expensive. Just saying…

Bonus points: Zaireeka the store cat! This was the first record store I’d ever been in that had its own cat, and she was quite a charming ambassador.

Key purchases: August 2008 issue of Mojo, Beck * Modern Guilt (LP), The Rolling Stones * Sticky Fingers (LP – Spanish pressing with the intended original cover art), M. Ward * Transfiguration Of Vincent (LP), The Family Tree * Miss Butters (original LP)

5 Great Independent Record Stores

20 April 2008

The first annual ‘Record Store Day‘ was held yesterday to raise the profile of – and provide a shot in the arm for – struggling independent music sellers. Music stores across North America took the day to celebrate the culture of buying and selling records, and draw attention to their financial plight. More than 1,400 independent music stores have closed in the US since 2003, and that number only figures to grow in the coming years. For those of us that take record stores for granted, it’s hard to imagine that one day they might be a thing of the past.

In the spirit of yesterday’s festivities – and because on this blog every day is record store day – here are five of my favorite independent record stores…

Amoeba Music - photo
AMOEBA MUSIC – San Francisco [pictured] & Berkeley, CA – Both of these stores are so massive and all-encompassing that it seems like they sell every record in existence. The selection is so large that I’ve actually experienced brain-freeze at the Berkeley store – wandered around befuddled and left without buying anything. It’s Disneyland for music fans.

In business since: 1990 [Berkeley store]


House Of Records - photo
HOUSE OF RECORDS – Eugene, OR – This converted 3-bedroom house full of music sits off the east edge of the University of Oregon campus and has one of the least generic/corporate interiors of any music store in existence. It gets bonus points for being the record store where I bought my first LPs in college, and it still gives me that thrilling ‘High Fidelity’ record buzz.

In business since: 1971


2nd Avenue - outside
2nd AVENUE RECORDS – Portland, OR – 2nd Avenue stocks a vast number of CDs and t-shirts, but the real draw is their staggering selection of LPs, which features many hard-to-find new releases, re-issues, and original nuggets. If you like vinyl, this store can be dangerous.

In business since: 1982


Dave’s Records
DAVE’S RECORDS – Chicago, IL – Dave boasts more than 40,000 LPs in stock, which is amazing considering that his store can’t be more than 200 square feet. ‘Most records per square foot’ would be a reasonable motto for Dave’s, but they already have an even better one: “CDs – Never had ’em, never will.”

In business since: 1983 or so


WATERLOO – AUSTIN, TX – Waterloo is less record store and more community activity center. It’s been voted ‘best record store’ in the Austin Chronicle reader’s poll every year since its founding, and always features both up-and-coming and well-known artists at in-store events. With more than 6,400 square feet of retail space, Waterloo has the space to offer a large selection of both LPs and CDs.

In business since: 1982


And five defunct record stores that I wish were still kicking…

RECORD FINDER – San Francisco, CA


DJANGO’S – Portland, OR




“You can’t roll a joint on an iPod – buy vinyl!” – Shelby Lynne


More on the first annual Record Store Day:

New York Times: ‘Record Stores Fight To Be Long Playing’

NPR: ‘High Fidelity Memories on Record Store Day’

The Edmonton Journal: ‘Record Stores Get Their Special Day’

A Tale Of Two Record Stores

21 January 2008

Saturn Records - sign

Last weekend the P and I took a few moments to stop by the former home of Saturn Records so we could peer in the windows and remember what used to be. As fate would have it, the one-time Saturn Records is now a vintage clothing store. I have nothing against haberdasheries per se, but I liked Saturn better when it was a music emporium. And it was a true old-school record shoppe that primarily featured LPs – including classic rock, jazz, blues, and lots of great bootlegs. Every inch of wall space was covered in valuable, rare, and humorous record covers.

One day a few years back, the P and I were in Saturn, when she asked me what she should be looking for. “The John Phillips solo album” I told her, and turned back to the racks, trying to decide between a couple of different Leadbelly LPs. She returned not two minutes later with a copy of this ultra-rare (and incredibly good) album that was tagged at just $1.99. The P and I have received many hundreds of dollars worth of listening pleasure from that one great find.

Saturn was also the establishment where I had a true “High Fidelity” record store moment. Checking out one day, I happened into a fierce debate between the owner and two employees about the relative merits of the Los Angeles bands Love and The Doors. They couldn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion, so they asked my opinion on the matter. When I told them I thought Love was overrated and the Doors were underrated (through over-familiarity) there was much muttering and eye-rolling. Saturn’s employees were extremely passionate about music, and they knew their stuff. I always enjoyed walking into that store, and it pains me that I’ve done so for the last time.

Saturn Records - window


Groove Yard - outside

Just a few blocks away from the former home of Saturn Records sits the Groove Yard. This store specializes in vintage jazz albums, with a smattering of blues records and international music. This is the kind of record store that any fan of music should visit. Simply flipping through the ‘new arrivals’ section is like visiting a jazz museum. With pristine, original Blue Note albums and good-as-new copies of classics by all the heavy hitters, Groove Yard provides the kind of shopping experience that doubles as an educational epiphany.

Owner Rick Ballard is gregarious and knowledgable, and just as happy to suggest a good album as he is to discuss Chicago record stores or his past as a record distributor. When I asked how business was going, he had good things to say, citing a recent San Francisco Chronicle story about his store, and noting that his monthly newsletter reaches more than 2,000 people. Talking to him, it was easy to tell that this was exactly what he wanted to be doing, and that he wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

As we chatted about this and that, I flipped through the record bins, finding Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer (a Liberty/Blue Note reissue), and a Ben Webster LP (The Horn) that I hadn’t seen before. I also took a spin through his Latin music section, coming up with a Willie Colon LP (The Hustler) and an original-issue Fania All-Stars album (Live At Yankee Stadium, Vol 1). But more importantly, I walked away with the feeling that record stores might survive into the future, as long as guys like Rick Ballard are behind the counter, doing what they love to do.

Groove Yard - inside

Groove Yard: 5555 Claremont Ave * Oakland, CA * (510) 655-8400 *

Portland Rocks: 5 Great Local Record Stores

28 December 2007

The P and I travelled more than 9,000 miles in the last week – from Oakland to Rhode Island to Atlanta to Portland, OR and back to Oakland. We had multiple flights delayed and cancelled, slept in airports and on planes, and finally made it home around 3am last night. During our brief stay in Portland, I set aside some time to visit a few of my favorite local establishments and buy myself a few well-deserved holiday gifts.

Here’s where I went and what I found:

2nd Avenue - outside

2nd Avenue Records

400 SW 2nd Avenue * Portland, OR 97204 * (503) 222-3783

The skinny: Quite simply the best record store in Portland. This place is a dangerous establishment for any music fan on a budget. My friend Tim refuses to set foot in here because he knows his wallet will take a serious hit every time he does. Incredible selection of new and used vinyl, along with ample new and used discs, and an impressive selection of music-related t-shirts. An absolute must-see for any music fan visiting this city.

2nd Ave - inside

Of interest: The new vinyl. This store regularly stocks albums on vinyl that I didn’t even know had been released in that format.

Bonus points: Store employees always cut the credit card number off every store receipt and destroy it on the spot. Very thorough.

Key purchases: Jay-Z * American Gangster (LP), DFA * The DFA Remixes, Chapter One (LP), Gang Of Four * Entertainment! (reissue LP)


Crossroads - outside

Crossroads Music

3130 SE Hawthorne, Portland OR 97214 * (503) 232-1767

The skinny: This giganto store combines the inventory of 35 different dealers, who all work on a consignment basis. This gives Crossroads wide and deep cross sections of different genres in a way that few stores anywhere can match. Mostly used vinyl, but if you poke around you can find every format – LP, 4 track, 8 track, cassette, cd, and beyond. The staff is very helpful and friendly, a must in a store this large and diverse. You could spend 8 hours here and barely scratch the surface of what’s in stock. Another essential destination for any music fan who finds themselves in the Rose City.

Crossroads - inside

Of interest: The vintage electronic equipment throughtout the store that included a veritable museum of turntables, 8 track players and more – all for sale at reasonable prices.

Bonus points: For the selection of posters that covers every inch of the ceiling in the front room, and the impressive selection of vintage cardboard promo displays behind the front counter.

Crossroads - ceiling
[yes, this is the ceiling…]

Key purchases: Robert Goulet * Greatest Hits (4 track tape), The Small Faces * Rarities (LP), Westbury “Stereo Amplifier / Eight Track Stereo Tape Player” * mint condition (see below)

Westbury - 8 Track Tape Player


Everyday - outside

Everyday Music

1313 West Burnside, Portland OR * (503) 274-0961 [Flagship Store]

The skinny: Independently-owned local chain that features new and used CDs and vinyl, and a wide selection of genres. The environment inside is rather sterile, and reminiscent of a large-box chain, but don’t be fooled – there’s great stuff and good bargains to be found here. Also, their selection of new and used LPs is much more impressive than I had remembered.

Everyday - inside

Of interest: Be sure to check out the cool record promo posters – from all eras – that are up all around the store.

Everyday - Promo Poster

Bonus points: For the employee who nearly did a jig when I asked him to help me find the new Battles album. “That’s my album of the year!” he said, pointing to himself with both hands. He didn’t find the album for me, but his enthusiasm was totally appreciated.

Key purchases: Black Lips * Good Bad Not Evil (used CD), J.J. Cale * Rewind: Unreleased Recordings (CD), Bright Eyes * Cassadaga (CD)


Jackpot - outside

Jackpot Records

203 SW 9th Ave. Portland OR 97205 * (503) 222-0990 *

Jackpot - inside

The skinny: Jackpot’s inventory is two-thirds new and used cds and one-third new and used vinyl. Used discs are priced from $5.99 to $9.99, and new discs generally range from $13.99 to $17.99. Their ingenious yet simple filing system uses two different colored sleeves, allowing shoppers to quickly discern used from new discs.

Of interest: Great signage around the store. This shop is relatively new, but looking at their logos and signs, you’d think they’ve been around forever.

Jackpot - signage

Jackpot - sandwich board

Bonus points: The store has reissued the Wipers’ classic LP Youth Of America on their Jackpot Records label. Awesome!

Key purchases: Wipers * Youth Of America (reissue LP), Dan Deacon * Spiderman Of The Rings (CD), Justice * (CD), one size XL Jackpot Records t-shirt


Powell’s - outside

Powell’s Books

1005 Burnside, Portland OR 97209 * (503) 228-4651 *

The skinny: Yeah, it’s a bookstore, but it’s HUGE! It stands to reason that any bookstore large enough to have a ‘Lesbian Mysteries’ section (trust me) probably has a great section dedicated to books on music, and Powell’s doesn’t disappoint. Their ‘music’ section is larger than many small-ish bookstores.

Of interest: The 33&1/3 series of books has its own display, currently featuring a ‘buy two get one free’ deal.

Bonus points: The local music ‘zines in the magazine section are worth a browse.

Key purchases: Domenic Priore * Smile: The Story Of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece, Patrick Humphries * Nick Drake: The Biography, Jeff Chang (editor) * Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

Lesbian Mysteries
[told you so…]

Windy City Wax: 5 Great Chicago Record Stores

7 November 2007

Dave’s statement

Some people like to go on safari in Africa. Others enjoy hiking Mount Everest in the dead of winter. I personally dig spending my vacations checking out the record stores in cities all over the country. From Boston to New York City to Portland, OR to Austin, TX to Louisville, KY and beyond, I’ve spent a fair amount of time – and received a significant thrill from – poking around the dustiest record shops in all the land. Considering that they’re disappearing at roughly the same rate as the polar ice caps, I figure I’d better see ’em before they’re gone.

The P had to be in Chicago on business this week, so I tagged along to soak up some of the (cooooold) Windy City vibe, eat some great food, and hang out with my buddy Furr. He and I spent all day Monday and Tuesday running around town searching out all the record stores we could. Forty-six LPs, three 8-Tracks, one cd, one t-shirt, one totally awesome piece of of glass painted to look like the cover of Pyromania, and $647.92 later, here’s what I learned…

Dave’s Records

Dave’s Records

2604 Clark St. – Chicago, IL * 773-929-6325

The skinny: Dave’s is one of the greatest record stores in the world. This very small shop is stuffed wall-to-wall with vinyl of every genre and vintage. While some stores will pack their racks to the point that you can’t flip through them, Dave gives you just enough elbow room to get around. His friendly, knowledgable staff are happy to answer even the silliest of questions, as Furr and I proved. These people know their stuff, so you’re not likely to find many bargains, but if you don’t mind paying, you can walk away with some great stuff.

Dave’s - inside

Of interest: No cd’s here – vinyl only.

Bonus points: See above.

Key purchases: Reverend Gary Davis * Harlem Street Singer (original Prestige/Bluesville LP), GZA * Liquid Swords (reissue LP), Magnolia Electric Co. * Trials & Errors (LP), DJ Shadow * The Private Press (LP)

Dave’s piece of the pie: $173.20


2nd Hand Tunes

2nd Hand Tunes

800 Dempster St. – Evanston, IL * 847-491-1690 *

The skinny: Rumor had it that this shop had folded, so Furr was overjoyed to find out that it was still around (it’s where he bought Ozzy albums during high school). Most of their stuff is priced from $5.99 to $9.99, with some rare stuff priced higher. Furr swears by their dollar bin, but I didn’t have time to look. Next time…

Of interest: Their wall of rare/super-expensive vinyl is impressive to behold. From Beatles rarites to oddball Metallica eps to rare pre-Credence Clearwater Fogarty, it’s a veritable museum wall of great LPs you’re not likely to see often.

2nd Hand Tunes - inside

Bonus points: Best… business card… ever.

2nd Hand Tunes - business card
[card has a real 45-adapter/record-spacer attached – 3D!]

Key purchases: Motorhead * Bomber (white label promo LP), Undertones * All Wrapped Up (original LP), Germs * GI (reissue LP), Cocteau Twins * Treasure (original LP)

2nd Hand Tunes’ cut of the cake: $156.30


Dusty Groove

Dusty Groove

1120 N. Ashland Ave – Chicago, IL * 773-342-5800 *

The skinny: DJ-oriented shop that specializes in rare funk, soul, jazz, and hip-hop. Again, not too many bargains here, but if you’re willing to kick down, you could walk away with almost any album within the mentioned genres. The room is well-organized and brightly lit, and filled with albums that are fun to look at – browsing here is a pleasure to the senses.

Of interest: An amusing, if somewhat suspect, dollar bin.

Bonus points: To the two employees who kicked me down a free record bag even though I was $18 short of the prerequisite two hunge (they combined my order with Furr’s and gave it to me on the technicality).

Key purchases: Black Sugar * Black Sugar (LP), Sonny Clark * Sonny’s Crib (original Liberty/Blue Note LP), The Coup * Not Yet Free (12 inch single), The Last Poets * This Is Madness (original LP)

Dusty’s piece of the action: $182.85


Jazz Record Mart

Jazz Record Mart

27 E. Illinois – Chicago, IL * 312-222-1467 *

The skinny: Old-school shop specializing in jazz of all styles and eras. Includes a smattering of blues, and an impressive international music section. The owner of the store founded the Delmark label, which – coincidentally – specializes in jazz and blues releases. It is one of the longest running independent record labels in America.

Of interest: Before they became famous musicians, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite worked here.

Bonus points: The signed and framed t-shirt bearing a loving inscription from Iggy Pop that hangs in the back of the store.

Purchases: Muddy Waters * Mud In Your Ear (original LP), Billy Strayhorn * The Peaceful Side (original Solid State LP), Willie Colon * Crime Pays (the lone CD purchased on this trip)

JRM’s payday: $26.13 (the total reflects the big pile of jazz vinyl I have yet to listen to, and nothing to do with this great store)


Laurie’s Planet Of Sound

Laurie’s Planet Of Sound

4639 N. Lincoln Ave – Chicago, IL * 773-271-3569 *

The skinny: More than a record store, Laurie’s has tchotchkes of all kinds (I seriously debated buying the New Kids On The Block water bottle for a buck, but finally passed), a healthy DVD section, and a mid-sized offering of vinyl. Buyer beware: Laurie has a strict no-return policy, and some of the records are pretty beat up. That said, if you look carefully, you can find some good stuff in good shape. Better yet, skip the old vinyl and check out the impressive selection of brand new LPs.

Of interest: The LiteBrite™/Dark Side Of The Moon display that was titled ‘Brite Side’ – awesome!

Bonus points: For the amazing write-ups that were attached to some of the albums. Here’s a snippet from a card taped to Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum: “Blown out scuzz-sludge. Beautiful destruction. The air is cottage cheese.” Laurie, you can write on my blog anytime!

Key purchases: The piece of glass painted like Pyromania, ESG * A South Bronx Story (original LP), Screaming Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends (reissue LP), Sparks * Kimono My House (original LP), Sly & The Family Stone * Greatest Hits (8-track)

Laurie’s take: $109.44

Pyromania glass
[gunter glieben glauchen globen…]


Check out the second part of this post here