In rotation: 1/14/21

Toronto, CA | Toronto’s Shortstack Records held a record sale in a Walmart parking lot: With most local businesses locked down, they pointedly went where the customers are: a big-box store. Shortstack Records can’t have people come to them, so it went to where there are customers: Walmart. This past Sunday morning (January 10), Toronto record store Shortstack set up outside of the Walmart at Dufferin Mall for a one-hour guerrilla pop-up record sale. They just parked a hatchback filled with record crates in the parking lot and opened it up for people to flip through. As Ontario’s lockdown has dragged on with COVID cases still rising, many local businesses have spoken up about who’s allowed to open and who’s not. While businesses that don’t sell “essential” items like groceries are relegated to curbside and delivery service, big box stores like Walmart have been allowed to stay open. Even with the new restrictions announced today (January 12), big-box stores are held to different rules (though they will apparently face stricter regulation enforcement). “Why Walmart?” Shortstack owner Cal MacLean wrote in the store’s newsletter announcing the pop-up the day before the event.

Vancouver, CA | Vancouver’s oldest independent record store marks 40 years of selling more than top 40: Neptoon Records opened on the city’s east side in 1981. Rob Frith had never before worked in retail when B.C.’s construction industry took a nosedive in the early ’80s and he decided to take a chance selling vinyl to Vancouverites — a bold move considering cassette tapes were all the rage and CDs were on the precipice of popularity. Fast-forward to 2021, and the founder of Neptoon Records is celebrating the 40th spin around the sun of what has become a beloved father-son business well-frequented by locals and tourists alike. The shop, located at 3561 Main St. on the city’s east side, is Vancouver’s oldest independent record store and is run now by Rob and his son Ben Frith. Turns out Rob Frith, who had only hawked albums at swap meets before opening Neptoon’s original location on Fraser Street in Jan. 1981, was pretty good at the retail thing. “I really needed a job,” he told CBC’s The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn with a chuckle.

Denver, CO | Color Red Goes Global and Opens a Vinyl Cafe in Denver: Although guitarist Eddie Roberts wasn’t able to tour last year with his group the New Mastersounds because of the pandemic, he’s been busy expanding Color Red, the Denver-based label he founded in 2018. Over the past year, Color Red has launched branches in Japan and France, released music from acts around the world, started the Roberts-curated vinyl club Rare Sounds, and also has a hand in the Larimer Records Cafe, set to open in Larimer Square on January 20. Since most members of Color Red’s team are musicians, who weren’t gigging because of COVID-19, they were able to ramp up things at the label. Over the first years of Color Red, part of the vision of the imprint was to release a digital single, Roberts says, but at times in 2020, Color Red released five singles a week. “Luckily, we recorded so much music before the lockdown for bands touring through that we still had plenty of content and plenty of stuff that needed mixing and getting out to the world,” he notes.

Hollywood, CA | Capitol Studios Shutters Its Mastering Division: The most visible face of Capitol Studios, 30-year veteran Paula Salvatore, a VP, is also described as taking on on a different, as-yet unrevealed role. The mastering department at the famed Capitol Studios in Hollywood has been shut down, with several employees laid off, Universal Music Group confirmed Tuesday night after word of the closure began to circulate on social media. The recording studios themselves, a tourist site as well as magnet for top recording artists since opening in 1956, will remain open. But Capitol Studios’ mastering rooms, which were nearly as venerated by engineers and producers, will not, as those spaces will be converted into recording studios — presumably much smaller ones than Studio A, where Frank Sinatra used to record with a full orchestra. Said a Universal Music Group spokesperson: “At Capitol Studios, while demand for recording studios remains high, there has been an overall decline in requests for mastering services — to the point where we have decided to close Capitol’s mastering facility and focus on other areas of the recording process that are in higher demand by artists, including using the space to build additional recording suites.”

Loretta Lynn’s ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ For 50th Anniversary Vinyl Edition: The original LP came out in the first week of 1971, following the appearance of its memorable title song. Country trailblazer Loretta Lynn will augment the upcoming release of her new studio album Still Woman Enough, due in March, with a reissue on black vinyl of the landmark LP she references in it, Coal Miner’s Daughter. MCA Nashville/UMe will release the new edition of the vintage 1971 set on February 12. “It feels like it was just yesterday,” Lynn mused on social media. “50 years since I released the Coal Miner’s Daughter album.” The original LP came out in the first week of 1971, following the appearance the previous October of its title song. The autobiographical song became the title of Lynn’s 1976 autobiography (also due for a new edition in February) and inspired the 1980 film about her life starring Sissy Spacek. She won an Oscar for her portrayal of the country star and her humble origins; the film went on to be the seventh highest-grossing picture of the year, and its soundtrack was certified gold.

Limited-edition vinyl from The Cars, Talking Heads, Dire Straits & others being released this month: LPs from The Cars, Talking Heads, Buffalo Springfield, Dire Straits and Genesis are among the New Year offerings from the Rhino label’s 2021 edition of its annual “Start Your Ear Off Right” campaign, which features various limited-edition vinyl discs that will be available exclusively at select U.S. record stores this month. The first “Start Your Ear Off Right” releases hit stores Friday, January 8. Among them is a neon-green vinyl version of The Cars’ 1981 album, Shake It Up, and two Talking Heads records — 1983’s Speaking in Tongues pressed on sky-blue vinyl, and the two-LP 1982 live album The Name of the Band Is Talking Heads, pressed on red-opaque vinyl. The second installment of releases arrives on Friday, January 15, and includes a 180-gram-vinyl reissue of the 1969 Buffalo Springfield compilation Retrospective: The Best of Buffalo Springfield.

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