Record Store Day, The Record Alley & The 9 Lives of the Vinyl Record

By | November 27, 2013 at 1:54 am | No comments | Columns, Feature Stories, Music

By Mario Lalli

On November 29th, “Black Friday” as it is known in the retail industry, Big box stores will be offering “crazy” discounts with people camping outside on the side walk to get the steal on the deal. TV’s, video games, computers, cell phones, ipads, if we consume it, Black Friday is apparently the day to buy it. Department stores will be left in shambles from frenzied consumers digging for the deal that will stretch their holiday dollar.

This Black Friday is special though, because every independent record store is celebrating Record Store Day. For better or worse, it’s the busiest shopping day of the year, and once again Record Store Day will be helping indie record stores be part of it—with special exclusive releases from some of the most popular artists in almost every genre.

The resurgence and survival of the vinyl record as a sustainable, tangible format for music lovers to fetish, collect and enjoy for generations, is a beautiful thing in this ever growing digitized, down loadable culture. Music, movies and products suggested by algorithms generated by our searches and purchases via the web is a reality we all live in and I’m not saying that YouTube hasn’t turned me on to some really great music & visual art that I would have never discovered otherwise. However, there is something about the longevity of the vinyl record that gives me hope that we (the hopeless music fanatic at least) will always protect it and support it.

Reinventing the wheel and popular format trends:

1877 gave way to the “Phonograph Cylinder”. Then the Gramophone (closest ancestor to the modern turntable) was introduced in 1895. The 1930’s gave us “reel to reel magnetic tape”….from here to 1948 when the”vinyl record” hit the scene there were several new methods of recording and playing back sound invented, but the vinyl record opened the doors to the mass consumer and the phonograph industry responded with affordable easy to use record players. From large furniture cabinet like component systems to small portable suitcase sized units…the world of recorded music was ours to explore. The Edison, Victor (and, later, Columbia) companies defined and dominated the production and early distribution of recorded music. This formative time of establishing nationwide networks of vendors and retail outlets–our nation’s earliest “record stores”–was one of rapid growth for the music industry. But this was to change with technology and cultural shifts in entertainment mediums. With television being the biggest culprit, we all know what influence that had and still has to this day, how many hours of our attention it consumes. It tells us how to dress, who to vote for, what to eat and drink, what to drive and occasionally, actually entertains or even educates us.

In 1906 there were 25,000 record dealers, a total that would be cut to 7,500 fifty years later, and to below 3,000 a half century later.(Vinyl History.com)The implementation of music charts were dedicated solely to vinyl, and an increased output of films (largely independent), and television or radio programs were also dedicated to the vinyl record and culture.

The revival has sometimes been considered a part of the greater revival of retro style. However, many sales in vinyl are of modern artists with modern styles or genres of music. Furthermore, many vinyl buyers are significantly too young to remember vinyl being a main music format, being in their teens, 20s, or 30s.

I remember very well the local record store and the magic there within. In Palm Springs there were two that changed my life. The RECORD ALLEY, which opened its doors in 1978, was where I bought my first KISS record, Aerosmith, Mountain, Black Sabbath, The Seeds, Jimi Hendrix, ZZ Top, then in the early 80’s all the punk treasures that we would discover, Ramones, DEVO, imports like the Damned, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Crass, Bauhaus… L.A., San Francisco and O.C. bands like X, Black Flag, Adolescents, the Minute Men, the Dead Kennedy’s ….we couldn’t wait to hit the bins…scoring the Who, Pink Floyd, Ram Jam, The Plasmatics, Iggy Pop, Frank Zappa, Motorhead….it goes on and on ….records still on my shelf to pull down, play and gaze upon the awesome art work and read the liner notes like they were written just for me. Try to download that! The good news is most records newly released or reissued come with a “download code” or even a CD version packaged right in the record jacket. So you can listen on your ipods, phones, computers etc., but on the shelf is that collectible, tangible record… a piece of history.

Hats off to Jim & Shelly Stephens for keeping the music coming since 1978….through records, 8 tracks, cassettes, CD’s and back again….congrats man for hangin’ in!!!

Come down and celebrate Record Store Day starting on Black Friday
72840 Hwy 111 #171, Palm Desert, California 92260 in the Westfield Shopping Mall
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH 10:00AM – 6:00PM

The RECORD ALLEY has special live performances planned all day and specials on all the cool stuff they offer. Check out the line-up of local perfromers: Mikey Reyes (Soul Opus/ Mikey Reyes Acoustic Movement), Gene Evaro Jr. (Evaro), Shavaughn Evaro (Evaro), Josh Heinz (Blasting Echo), Johnny Elsewhere, David Macias (Machin’), Michael Keeth & Martin Barrera, Joe Dillon & Scott Brooks (Hot Beat Pussy Fiend), Giorg Tierez & Frank Michel (Burning Bettie), Rob Lawrence (Sol Jah Rock).

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