Tom Ross: Celebrating indie record stores
Hey Jude, you've got to hide your vinyl record away
April 21, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Randy Staggs stopped into All That Jazz on Saturday and dropped off a big box stuffed with vinyl record albums.
Just about then, Trevor Potter strummed G, C and D chords in succession on his acoustic guitar and broke into a mellow version of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” by the Beatles. I experienced an immediate flashback to 1965.
By coincidence, my little collections of Beatles 45 rpm vinyl records, still in their original sleeves, is on display in our dining room this month.
I originally purchased them at Victor Music in the Hilldale Shopping Center in Madison, Wis. I’m pretty sure I paid 69 cents for each two-sided record. And because my weekly allowance was $1, I could afford to buy singles like “Hang on Sloopy,” by the McCoys, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by the Byrds, and “Keep on Dancin’,” by the Gentry’s.
It was Independent Record Store Day all across the U.S. and Europe on Saturday. Joe Kboudi, who has been selling the hits on vinyl, cassette and CD at All That Jazz since Edison invented the phonograph, celebrated in style. His store at 601 Lincoln Ave. hosted a series of seven live performances by local musicians Matt Hires, Potter, Paul Gephart and Bob Schaeffer, Lianne Mosser and Neil Marchman, Sam Ayer, Todd Musselman and Missed the Boat.
It’s no secret that independent record stores are fighting for survival here and abroad. Some media reports suggest the number of stores has been halved to 1,000 since 2004.
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Kboudi is a savvy retailer who was able to expand his store last year because he has done such a good job of diversifying his merchandise to include clothing and gifts. He’s even selling some newly released 45s by artists, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. His store is an experience you want to return to.
As a youngster, Kboudi purchased most of his records from Silvey Music, just a few blocks away from his parents’ home in San Antonio, Texas.
“We used to go into a little listening room and listen to vinyl records for hours,” Kboudi recalled.
You don’t have to hide the fact from Joe that you frequently download music to an iPod. In fact, many independent record stores were offering their customers free downloads from their Web pages during the weekend.
The Coalition of Independent Music Stores even is preparing to launch its own Web-based download site, thinkindie.com. Independent stores will link to thinkindie.com from their own Web pages and receive a revenue stream when their own customers go there to purchase music.
Times were good in 1965. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” was featured on the Beatles movie “Help,” and I celebrated my 12th birthday by taking a handful of friends to see it at the Orpheum Theater on State Street.
To the best of my knowledge, “Hide Your Love Away” never came out on 45, but I’ve got “Yesterday/Act Naturally” from ’65, “Nowhere Man/What Goes On,” “Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby” and “Paperback Writer/Rain,” all from 1966. “Hey Jude” is hiding somewhere in the house, but I’m pretty certain it’s no longer in the original sleeve.
By the early 1970s, I had long since moved on from 45s to build a collection of 33 and 1/3 vinyl albums.
Unfortunately, I haven’t preserved my collection the way Staggs has.
“I have over 4,000 LPs,” he told me.
Many of them were purchased at Sound Warehouse in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I used to spend a lot of time in there,” Staggs said.
In the box he dropped off at All that Jazz on Saturday were a number of vinyl discs that had never been played – the cellophane on the albums still was intact.
Why would anyone buy a record and never listen to it?
Staggs was such an avid collector that he often purchased two or even three copies of a new release so that at least one would remain in pristine, collectible condition.
As much as he treasures old vinyl, Staggs purchased an unconventional turntable awhile back. It is designed to connect to a computer’s USB port. He’s already transferred all of the vinyl that he really treasures to digital.