Monday, December 11, 2006

Tower Records finds

In the DC area there are a generous five Tower Records locations to pick over (it was six until last year, when the Annapolis branch closed), and with prices now 60-70% off pop/rock discs, there are still some serious finds to be had.

I've got a lot of nostalgia for Tower; for a music obsessive growing up in the record-store-deprived suburbs in the 80s and 90s, a rare visit to a deep-catalog mecca like Tower was a big event, especially in the pre-internet age, when one never knew what unheard-of compilation or import single would magically be waiting in the racks. My tastes and my access to shops changed, and Tower became an overpriced corporate behemoth.

The feeling I get trolling the aisles like a vulture is that of nostalgia not just for Tower but for the collector's age, when dropping $12 on an import single with one bonus track was no big deal. You loved the artist and wanted the music, but the fact that this was the only way to get the song (in digital format, at least) made such ridiculous purchases fun. To see that Tower still had thousands of import singles it likely won't be able to give away confirmed that no one does this anymore; even for those who still purchase CDs, it makes no sense to pay inflated import prices for single bonus tracks these days. It's one more symptom of the end of collector culture, which was always at least half the fun. The internet has removed all the foreplay; there's not much anticipation, just instant gratification, and that is something worth mourning, I think.

Anyway, here are some choice finds from the Tower blowout, all purchased for around $6-$7.

Kevin Coyne, Pointing the Finger/Politicz: The Cherry Red Albums 1981-1982. Coyne, the ultimate eccentric British songwriter known to several dozen people in the US, passed away in 2005, leading Cherry Red to reissue this comp with new liner notes paying tribute to one of his final concerts at a small dinner theater in the UK. Now, if whoever owns the rights to Coyne's debut album Case History is reading this, it's going for $500 on Amazon.

Gillian Welch - Hell Among the Yearlings. Acony Records marketed this release with a sticker on the plastic lauding this record as "A Dark Classic of Acoustic Slowcore". That this was seen as a viable marketing strategy warms my heart.

What have you picked up at Tower?

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