In rotation: 8/6/19

Devon, UK | New record shop opens in Newton Abbot – and its first customer was famous: Paul Westlake’s passion for music has never left him. An online music business has decided to branch out and set up shop in Newton Abbot. Westlake Audio has had a successful online presence for six years and specialises in collectable, rare and high-end equipment including hi-fi, guitars, accessories, vinyl LPs and CDs. Now owner Paul Westlake has opened a shop in Union Street, where all fresh stock, new and pre-owned, will be displayed before being posted online. And in a bizarre twist, the first customer through the doors was former Pop Will Eat Itself and The Beat drummer, Fuzz Townsend, who travelled from Birmingham to snap up a vintage drum kit identical to the one he’d first played. “Fuzz was amazed to find a kit of that age and calibre and so became our first paying customer,” said Teignmouth-born Paul who has a life-long passion for music and is a keen guitarist.

Paramus, NJ | Remembering Tower Records in Paramus, a wonderland of vinyl, cassettes tapes and CDs: If you had no plan to buy something, you thumbed through the racks, hoping for a surprise. The rabbit hole of its day, Tower Records was a place to get lost and find something. Before YouTube, the music streaming out of the encyclopedic record store on Route 17 North in Paramus opened minds, shaped styles and influenced tastes. Even as records morphed into CDs, Tower Records drew people looking to be stirred by sound. Walking through the red-framed entrance in the early 1990s to get a copy of R.E.M.’s Monster was Bergenfield native and four-time Grammy winner Jack Antonoff. Antonoff, who lived about 10 minutes away, says that “You could just trust stuff” on the shelves. “I’d go there with my parents and they’d be like, ‘You get two CDs,’” he told Billboard in 2014. “It was a really incredible time. There was so much mystery, these things just popping out — Nirvana and Pearl Jam and all these great bands.”

Sutherland, IA | New thrift store opens in Sutherland: …Not only does Negus have several miscellaneous items for sale at his business, he also has quite a collection of vinyl records that he plans to put on display on the thrift store’s main-floor stage. “I’ve 50,000 to 60,000 total at home,” he said. “I’m hoping to get 10,000 to 12,000 up on the stage there for people to go through. “That’s all got to get cataloged and alphabetized,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of high school girls hired to alphabetize them.” Most of Negus’ record albums already are at his business, either in boxes up on the stage or stored underneath the stage. “I’m building the cases for them,” he said. “I figure they hold about 1,000 apiece.”

The Best Turntables for New Vinyl Collectors, According to DJs: …When we chatted with the experts on the best turntables for people new to the world of playing records, each had their own favorites, but they all advised avoiding one very popular, all-in-one record player that comes in a suitcase. “Whatever you do, don’t get a Crosley,” said Prestige, who claims that if you’re serious about your new hobby, you should look for machines with better sound quality (and with needles that won’t “eventually ruin your records”). The turntables below are best suited for those new to playing vinyl, but they aren’t necessarily “entry level,” because even the least expensive of the lot contains quality parts and will last for some time with regular care. Most models on this list contain a built-in preamp, since our experts say that such turntables are the easiest and most straightforward to use. “See how that works, and then if you see yourself wanting something better, you can upgrade slowly down the line,” explains Mike Davis, owner of New York City’s Academy Records.

CLUTCH Bassist Says Music Sounds Better On Vinyl: “…I think that is the nature of the business that we exist in now — is that fewer and fewer people are actually buying physical music, whether it’s CDs of vinyl,” he said. “And it’s up to us as a band to make our music available to people in formats that they choose to listen to. By all means, if you’re somebody who just carries around your phone all the time and listens to music that way, no criticism from me on that end; I wanna make sure that you can listen to our music. But as a music fan, I appreciate the physical product, especially vinyl. It just sounds better… I’m part of an older generation too — we grew up on cassettes — so I’m coming at it from a different headspace than your average 20-year-old. But facts are facts — it sounds better on vinyl.”

Good Rats Record Store Day Reissue A Tasty Welcome On Vinyl, MP3, Tidal Streaming: Writing about a band like The Good Rats is always a labor of love. Especially when its for a vinyl Record Store Day reissue which came out in 2018 in very limited numbers. Who are The Good Rats? They were a fantastic band from the 1970s which should have been enormous but for whatever reason — fashion, marketing, management — they never broke out of the East Coast for the most part. That is not to say they weren’t big there: the band played all the big halls including Madison Square Garden and opened for many of the greats of the day. By the late 70s I remember hearing key album tracks by the band regularly on stations like WNEW-FM in New York (and the occasional live broadcast as well!). Heck, Kiss apparently opened for them early on and they shared stages with everyone from Rush to Aerosmith to Ozzy Osborne.

Carry that weight: It’s a rare day. I have the house to myself and hours to go before call for the night’s performance of “The Tempest.” There’s a ratty corner of the living room that has been bugging me for weeks. It reminds me of a tidal pool, harboring the detritus of our lives, the place to put things. “I’ll deal with it later” has become this corner’s motto. Later has arrived. In this corner resides a Bose speaker perched on a spindly metal plant stand, its wood cabinet sun-bleached and dirty, a glass-topped side table, equally as dusty, and a corner stand with two plants I can’t reach. My guitars and amps are crowded in here, too, but what takes up the most real estate are two long rows of albums. There are probably around 400 of them. They represent a fraction of the collection. They need to be filed away, but our ravenous collecting proclivities mean that the available shelving we have has long been outgrown. But the least I can do is get them upstairs, dusted off and rid of the belly-up flies that found this sunny corner a perfect place to shuffle off their mortal coils.

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