Sunday, 21 May 2017

Can Anyone Lend Me a Time Machine and a Couple of Hundred Bucks?

It's 1971, the year that I began taking tentative steps into my local record shops for the first time, though none of the many outlets in downtown Walthamstow were on quite the scale of the huge Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard. Only last year Mrs S & I caught the excellent Colin Hanks documentary 'The Rise and Fall of Tower Records', which featured many vintage film clips from Tower stores of yesteryear and now yet more fascinating archive footage has surfaced. So journey back with me to a time when the big albums of the day were stacked floor to ceiling - literally pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap - George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass', Janis Joplin's 'Pearl' and Curtis Mayfield's self-titled debut among them. See how many LP sleeves you can recognise.

8 comments:

John Medd said...

A truly amazing film; from the albums themselves, the prices, the smoking in store, the tracing paper credit card machines, the punters, the clothing - just the pure social history of it. Like you say, oh to have access to a time machine.
Here's a minute long bit of footage of Van Dyke Parks shot outside Tower at around the same time - look at the Yank Tanks pulling on to the forecourt!

https://johnmedd.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-unbelievable-truth-with-van-dyke.html?m=1

I was lucky enough to go to Tower on Sunset in 1998. I've been wracking my brain to remember what I bought in there but can't recall. It'll come to me.

charity chic said...

There was a Tower Records in Glasgow for a few years
Pricey but with an expansive range

Alyson said...

An amazing place and a real bit of music history in that there footage. Oh how things have changed. I have over 10k tracks on the computer I'm sitting at right how and it's not even the one we store the music on - BUT not as precious as that small collection of vinyl I would have had back in 1971 when the film was made.

Ramone666 said...

Huge place... I remember buying Aretha's Gold there in the mid-eighties, amongst others I can't recall for the life of me.

C said...

Oh, what a lovely film and snapshot of a time (nice soundtrack too...). That store is huge, never seen so many copies of one title in one place (not even those cheap pressings of '80s chart albums in a certain other place!)

The Swede said...

I actually found it quite difficult to come up with a lighthearted paragraph to accompany the clip because it resonated with me on such an emotional level. Too many years hanging around in record shops I guess!

Brian said...

I have seen that documentary a couple of times. A tale of two films, really. So fun to watch for awhile. The scene about billing "hand truck fuel" was jaw dropping. Then, when things go bad and the banks start butting in, you feel yourself squirming in your seat. Well, if you want a taste of Tower in 2017, it's only a plane ride away... to Japan! I had a pretty decent Tower near my house when I lived in Chicago. There was also a little indie store down the street that dealt only in vinyl, mostly of the used variety. Lean years for that shop, for sure, but it survived and is still open today. Probably chock full of many new releases now. Anyway, the old Tower building is currently home to a gigantic fitness studio.

Rol said...

I must get round to watching the documentary as this clip was wonderfully nostalgic for the good old days of record shopping.

Still, I have to wonder two things...

1) No Health & Safety in those days? That guy carrying the stacks at the beginning would be in serious trouble today.

2) What happened if you accidentally knocked over one of those big stacks of George Harrison LPs? You break it, you bought it?

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