Thursday, September 4, 2008

America's Most Revered Independent Record Stores

Any list attempting to name the best record stores in the US would necessarily elicit more dissenting opinions than a list of America’s best mothers. People are passionate and particular about their favorite record stores, and any list that doesn’t include hundreds of them is bound to disappoint.

There may soon not be so many to argue over, given the attrition rate of record stores. One store, for example that most certainly would have been on any list—Village Records in California’s Mill Valley, considered by many record collectors to be the best store ever—shut its doors on Sept. 30, ending over four decades in business.

Here, while they still stand, is a list of at least some of the shops across the nation that music fans revere. Count on most of them having daunting amounts of new, used and rare vinyl records and CDs, and a staff that knows more about music than you’d ever want to hear. Stores with particular quirks and qualities are noted.

Atlanta, Ga.:
Ella Guru
2993 N. Druid Hills Road, (404) 325-1350
When a store is named after a Captain Beefheart song, it has a lot to live up to, and Ella Guru doesn’t disappoint, with a vast selection of alternative and rare vinyl and CDs.

Austin, Texas:
Waterloo Records & Video
600-A N. Lamar, (512) 474-2500
This Austin institution has been a vital part of the town’s music scene for decades.

Berkeley, Calif.:

Amoeba Music
2455 Telegraph Ave., (510) 549-1125
1855 Haight St., San Francisco, (415) 831-1200
6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 245-6400
While other stores fade, the Amoeba superstores have become must-see destinations. Hardcore collectors can wallow for hours through their bins, while some come just for the memorabilia displays and free performances (which have ranged from new unknowns to Sir Paul McCartney). Some argue that Amoeba is hulking and soulless, but at least it’s alive.

Cambridge, Mass.:
Twisted Village Records
12-B Eliot St., (617) 354-6898

Chicago, Ill.:
Dusty Groove America
1120 Ashland Ave., (773) 342-5800

Council Bluffs, Iowa:
Kanesville Used Records
530 S. 4th St., (712) 328-8731
Most likely the largest collection of used vinyl in the Midwest, with other 750,000 items.

Encinitas, Calif.:
Lou’s Records
434 N. Coast Highway 101, (760) 753-1382

Long Beach, Calif.:
Bagatelle Records
260 Atlantic Ave., (562) 432-7534

Los Angeles:
Record Surplus
11609 W. Pico Blvd., (310) 478-4217

Nashville, Tenn.
Ernest Tubb Record Shop
417 Broadway, (615) 255-7503
For over 60 years, singer Ernest Tubb’s shop has been as much a part of the Nashville scene as the Opry, and nearly everyone in country music has made the pilgrimage to its bins.

The Great Escape
1925 Broadway, (615) 327-0646

New Orleans
Jim Russell Rare Records
1837 Magazine St., (504) 522-2602
Unlike many other Crescent City musical institutions, Russell’s shop of recorded treasures survived Katrina relatively intact.

Louisiana Music Factory
210 Decatur Street, (504) 586-1094
A bit of everything and a considerable lot of Louisiana-made music of all stripes.

New York City

Bleecker Bob's
118 W. Third St., (212) 475-9677
When Bleecker Bob’s—originally named Village Oldies—opened in Greenwich Village in 1967, “Sgt. Pepper” was a newie. Plenty of the records predate the Beatles, or even WWII, but the store was also one of the first to embrace the punk scene and continues to be abreast or ahead of the times.

Sound Library Records
165 Orchard St., (212) 460-4800
A deeper hip-hop selection than many stores, and a resource for DJs seeking new beats.

Strider Records
22 Jones St., (212) 675-3040

Oklahoma City:
Size Records
8915 N. Western, (405) 607-4805.

Omaha, Neb.:
Homer’s Music
1114 Howard St., (402) 346-0264
Check the website for five other locations in Nebraska and Iowa.

Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton Record Exchange
120 S. Tulane St., (609) 921-0881

Reno, Nev.:
Recycled Records
4930 S.Virginia St., (775) 826-4119
812 N.Virginia St., (775) 322-4644

Bud’s Jazz Records
102 S. Jackson St., (206) 628-0445
You’ll find a bit of everything here, but, as the name attests, this basement near Pioneer Square is packed with jazz.

Easy Street Records
20 W. Mercer St., (206) 691-3279
4559 California Ave. S.W., (206) 938-3279

Ville Platte, La.:
Floyd's Record Shop
434 E. Main St., (337) 363-2138
For 51 years, the world headquarters for Cajun, Zydeco and swamp rock music, no great surprise since owner Floyd Soileau produced and released many of Louisiana’s seminal records in those genres on his Swallow and other labels.

SOURCE—Jim Washburn for MSN City Guides

Laura Roppe - Girl Like This

I raved about Laura Roppe in a recent review of her CD and someone else has taken a liking to Country Music's newest superstar: You go girl! (I don't believe I just said that!)

San Diego’s Laura Roppe is determined to stand country music on its head. Moving back and forth between classic country and honky-tonk styles, Roppe brings a classy, soulful-alto voice that is much more powerful pure than your typical country crooner. On her 2008 debut, "Girl Like This," Roppe unleashes a tidal wave of color and emotion that transcends her genre and raises her to a level that has legs far beyond the bounds of Nashville.

"Girl Like This" is a rockin' country opening that sets the tone for all that is to come. "Mama Needs A Girl's Night Out" is anthemic for young mothers everywhere and sounds like it might be a marketer's dream song. "Free" is workhorse of a song that crosses over firmly into rock and roll. "Little Daughter" will tug at the heartstrings particularly if you're a parent. Also be sure to check out "Ooh La La," "Sing A Love Song" and "Crazy About You And Me."

Laura Roppe is the sort of singer that could be singing most any style of music. The material here even ranges into easy listening/vocal genres at times. Girl Like This is a dynamic and winsome debut that could develop quite a following with the right breaks. Roppe's songs are very commercially viable without being commercial, and Roppe herself is a charming and warm voice. Make sure that "Girl Like This" is on your want list.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Laura Roppe at, where you can purchase a copy of Girl Like This either on CD or as a download.


This Date In Music History- September 4


Two members of Quicksilver Messenger Service were born today in 1946. In San Diego, it's guitarist Gary Duncan. At the Coronado Naval Air Station in California, it's drummer Greg Elmore.

Merald "Bubba" Knight of Gladys Knight and The Pips ("Midnight Train To Georgia") was born in 1942.

Sonny Charles ("Black Pearl") is 68.


Gladys Knight & the Pips were formed at a birthday party for her brother Bubba in 1952.

In 1962, the Beatles recorded their first sessions at EMI Studios in London, with George Martin as producer. Things get off to a bad start when Martin tries to force them to learn Mitch Murray's song "How Do You Do It." When they say they have material just as good, he makes them play "Love Me Do" 16 times. They finally succeed in recording that and five other songs, including "P.S. I Love You."

Disco Inferno! "You Should Be Dancing" from the album 'Children of the World' became the latest Bee Gees single to top the charts in 1976. It is the third single to go to #1.

"Valley Girl," co-written by Frank Zappa and daughter Moon Unit, entered the Top Forty in 1982, where it peaked at #2.

Bobby Darin was riding high with "Mack the Knife." But not in New York, where WCBS bans the song in 1959 following the fatal stabbing of two teenagers by 17-year-old Salvador Agron.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared on Jerry Lewis' muscular dystrophy telethon in 1972.

Today in 1965, the song "Help!" by the Beatles topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

In 1965, the Who stopped by London's Battersea Dog's Home to buy a guard dog. When they come out, the quartet discovered that their equipment van has been stolen. They even took the woofers!

1969- If you tuned into The Tonight Show to see the Youngbloods ("Get Together"), you'd be disappointed. Johnny Carson said, "They complained about the set, the lighting, the sound, the show - everything. So we wiped their noses, told them they'd been in show business a day and a half, and sent them home."

The Animals gave their debut performance in Brooklyn, NY, at the U.S. Paramount Theater in 1964.

To coincide with the release of his second Sun single, "Good Rockin' Tonight", Elvis Presley, along with Bill Black and Scotty Moore made their first appearance at The Grand Old Opry in 1954. Audience reaction is so poor, the Opry's manager, Jim Denny suggests that Elvis go back to driving a truck.

In 2003, nearly 26 years after the death of Elvis Presley, BMG/RCA, unearthed a never-before-heard song called "I'm A Roustabout". The song was originally commissioned and written for the film Roustabout (1964) by long-time Presley collaborators Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell, but was never used. Instead, a completely different song written by the team Giant/Baum/Kaye was recorded for the film and eventually became the title song for both the movie and the album. Winfield Scott found the original acetate in the basement of his New Jersey home and BMG/RCA has said they will add the track to the album "Elvis, 2nd to None".

Kiss released the Soft Rock ballad, "Beth" in 1976. It will rise to #7 and become their only US Top 10 hit.