Meridian Industrial


2021-05-27 | G. Michael Dobbs


As you will see in this month’s Go Local, June 12 is National Record Shop Day. Are there still record shops in this streaming world? I’m happy to report, “yes.”

I think it’s marvelous that vinyl is still alive, not only with new releases but with shops that have inventories of used vinyl.

What I’ve noticed is with every technological change, there are recordings, movies, and more left behind.

Not all vinyl recording were converted to CDs, not all CD content is now available on streaming. With each change, movies or recording are lost, so to speak.

Buying records was a past-time for many, many Americans of my generation. Here is the way it worked: you listened to a Top 40 station (this is the first term I’ll use that may requiring younger people to Google) on the radio and then you would seek it.

Songs were sold as “singles,” with the hit song on one side and another, perhaps lesser song on the other.

If you really liked a performer or band, you might then run the risk of buying an album on which that hit single was included in the hope you would like the other songs.

The other component of this process would then be seeing the artist in person as performers would tour and make personal appearances to “support” the record and gain new fans.

It worked fine for decades.

I bought my first single in 1967. “Bottle of Wine” by The Fireballs, a one-hit wonder band, which I bought at Sears at the Eastfield Mall and my mom did not approve. She didn’t care for the lyrics about drinking.

I still have it.

I believe my first album was one by The Ventures, the largest selling instrumental rock band in American music. I know I still have that.

Going to a record store was like embarking on a treasure hunt. You go to the store, flip the albums in the just released section and then seek out either the kind of music you liked or the bands/performers you liked.

You would flip through the stacks of albums looking for something you missed or something new.

Going to a place that sold remainders or used records at reduced prices was also fun. I acquired most of my comedy albums that way. People forget that comedy albums were big business. Recorded live, these records captured performers at their peak and today serve a history of stand-up comedy.

Yes, I still have them.

I have two turntables in my house and yes, I still play records. It’s not just an exercise in nostalgia. They remain part of my home entertainment options.

It heartening to me that vinyl records, which for a time were standard things to find at tag sales, are undergoing not just a revival with new music, but are now being treated with respect by collectors.

So turn to page 39 and plan a record-hunting day on June 12. As you can see there are record stores throughout the Pioneer Valley and into northern Connecticut. I hope you find either a treasure of your youth or a discovery

- G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

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