photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
i feel like i joyously spend an INORDINATE about of my free time running around to small INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOPS in NEW JERSEY, places like STATION 1 BOOKS & VINYL in POMPTON LAKES, VINYL ADDICTION in NORTH ARLINGTON, REVILLA GROOVES & GEAR in MILLTOWN, LOFIDELIC RECORDS in BELMAR, PRINCETON RECORD EXCHANGE in PRINCETON and even JACK'S MUSIC SHOPPE in RED BANK. its all a part of a sickness i believe, a sickness to explore and discover new sounds. i feel strongly that music is a SOCIAL ACTIVITY in nature, as most of the TRANSCENDENT stuff i have come across was through close FRIENDS, FAMILY and knowledgable RECORD STORE OWNERS and CLERKS.
the decade-old documentary LAST SHOP STANDING: THE RISE, FALL, AND REBIRTH OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP (BLUE HIPPO, 2012) really gets at the heart of the matter, providing a BRITISH perspective on the RECORD BUYING EXPERIENCE and its rollercoaster history throughout the decades. interview participants include countless stewards of SMALL RECORD SHOPS from across the island as well as NOTABLE ENGLISH musicians like PAUL WELLER (THE JAM), JOHNNY MARR (THE SMITHS), NORMAN COOK (aka FATBOY SLIM), BILLY BRAGG, CLINT BOON (INSPIRAL CARPETS), RICHARD HAWLEY (LONGPIGS) and NERINA PALLOT. in a sense, the history the RECORD STORE in the UNITED KINGDOM, is one of the environmental, technological and social forces that have disconnected the public from the VINYL LP, the CELEBRATED gold standard of global music collectors and enthusiasts. from early ROCKABILLY and ROCK N ROLL in the 1950s through the 1970s, the industry was on a skyrocketing trajectory to the point that PAYOLA and CHART MANIPULATION became the norm, SMALL RECORD SHOPS being the focal point of such underhanded activities. by the 1980s the COMPACT DISC was introduced and promoted as the new industry standard, with record companies even utilizing INFERIORLY produced VINYL to help push the transition forward. this coupled with SUPERMARKETS cutting in on the action, often with much wider marketshare than NEIGHBORHOOD RECORD SHOPS and at loss-leading pricing schemes, pushed more than 90% most into bankruptcy during the decade. the end of the 1990s wasnt much better as DIGITAL DOWNLADING and PIRACY became rampant and basically killed COMPACT DISC sales, which had been price gouging for nearly two decades at that point.
what saved the LOCAL RECORD SHOP was the return of VINYL as a sought-after CULTURAL ARTIFACT in the age of DIGITAL MUSIC and later STREAMING. STORES also diversified their inventories with RELATED PARAPHERNALIA like BOOKS, TICKETS, INSTRUMENTS and CLOTHING to supplement their revenue. some even use their space for live performances by local musicians. by 2012 when the documentary was filmed, the INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP INDUSTRY was in fairly good shape, with record labels seeing them once again as partners and providing them with exclusive releases and workable margins to help ensure their longterm viability. i can only speak for my EXPERIENCE stateside, but their seems to be a healthy informal mutual support network between these INDEPENDENT RECORD STOPS. you can see such by way of how many EMPLOYEES of the recently shuttered NEW JERSEY cultural landmark VINTAGE VINYL of FORDS, a seminal RECORD STORE that had past in-store performances and signings by everyone from OZZY OSBOURNE, DESCENDENTS, TAKING BACK SUNDAY, ROB ZOMBIE, BOUNCING SOULS, TYPE O NEGATIVE, LESLIE WEST, SLAYER, JIMMY EAT WORLD, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, NEW FOUND GLORY, THURSDAY, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and THE SHINS among many others, still working at the other aforementioned local RECORD SHOPS. that expertise is still valued and HUMAN TOUCH still sought after by STORE OWNERS, which is HEARTENING.
its nice to know that in a world of ALGORITHMS and CURATED PLAYLISTS, there are still ways of discovering new art via ACTUAL, not simulated SOCIAL INTERACTION. for me that is the crux of the RECORD BUYING EXPERIENCE and what differentiates GREAT RECORD SHOPS from their IMMENSE DIGITAL COMPETITION.
photo & text by nacrowe
there was once a brief moment when HARDCORE legend and spoken-word artist HENRY ROLLINS (S.O.A., BLACK FLAG, ROLLINS BAND) had of all things his own cable show on IFC. ever since he left his regular gig at a GEORGETOWN HAAGEN DAZ to join BLACK FLAG on tour, anyone familiar with ROLLINS life narrative is acutely aware that he is not one to say no to an enticing opportunity and with THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW (IFC, 2006-2007) he really took advantage of the situation, lining up interview guests in an INSANE who's who rolodex of ROCK N ROLL's biggest movers and shakers. everyone from MUSICIANS like OZZY OSBOURNE (BLACK SABBATH), PERRY FARRELL (JANE'S ADDICTION, PORNO FOR PYROS), IGGY POP (THE STOOGES), GENE SIMMONS (KISS), TOM MORELLO (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE), MARILYN MANSON, CHUCK D (PUBLIC ENEMY), STEVEN TYLER (AEROSMITH), SERJ TANKIAN (SYSTEM OF A DOWN) and JOAN JETT (THE RUNAWAYS) to FILM DIRECTORS like WERNER HERZOG (AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, FITZCARRALDO), JOHN WATERS (PINK FLAMINGOS, FEMALE TROUBLE), KEVIN SMITH (CLERKS), PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON (BOOGIE NIGHTS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD), PENELOPE SPHEERIS (THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, WAYNE'S WORLD) and OLIVER STONE (WALL STREET, NATURAL BORN KILLERS), not to mention ARTISTS like SHEPARD FAIREY and ACTORS and COMEDIANS like JEFF BRIDGES, EDDIE IZZARD, JOHNNY KNOXVILLE, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, PATTON OSWALT, WILLIAM SHATNER, TIM ROTH and STEVE BUSCEMI among many others.
the impetus for these interviewee selections no doubt was compelled by the many interests of ROLLINS and not whether a major commercial project was in need of promotion. what comes off seamlessly are NATURAL conversations based on mutual RESPECT and ADMIRATION, which is pretty cool to watch. there is no pandering to an in-studio audience or limiting topics for the sake of the fleeting interest of a perceived general audience in tv land. sadly and arguably such INDIVIDUALISM is likely the reason that THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW only lasted two seasons on IFC.
the musical choices were likewise staggeringly GREAT, so attached below are performances by the likes of THOM YORKE, SLAYER, BOB MOULD, DINOSAUR JR, PEEPING TOM, BILLY BRAGG, DEADBOY & THE ELEPHANTMEN, ROBYN HITCHCOCK, SLEATER-KINNEY, DANIEL JOHNSTON, THE STOOGES, PEACHES, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE QUEEN and SHANE MACGOWAN.
definitely enjoy. what a great run he had.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
thank god for AMEOBA RECORDS.
no doubt this series was meant as a way to garner interest in the sheer sea of available for purchase records, tapes, cds, dvds, posters, books, zines and various merchandise at their flagship stores in HOLLYWOOD, SAN FRANCISCO and BERKELEY, but man is it still cool to see what cultural artifacts jazz up influential musicians.
i only went to AMEOBA in HOLLYWOOD once when visiting a childhood friend of mine in nearby ORANGE COUNTY (where i grew up pre-NIGERIA). AMEOBA for me was like visiting MECCA. it was a sacred place, they literally had everything. i remember i got an out-print (at the time) copy of PRINCE's SIGN 'O' THE TIMES (PAISLEY PARK FILMS, 1987) concert film for cheap. really too bad the place closed doors so some asshole could put up some condominiums. just what the world needs. regardless, id put AMEOBA up there with the greatest stores ive ever walked into, which come to think of it, the only one that comes close at the top of my head is the FNAC CHAMPS ELYSEE in PARIS.
anyway, its always cool to hear musicians talk about music, so below are the episodes with SUNN O))), GARBAGE, THE MELVINS, WAYNE KRAMER, DELTRON 3030 (DAN THE AUTOMATOR & DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN), JOHNNY MARR, MASTODON, CHUCK D, BILLY BRAGG and HIGH ON FIRE among many many other notable musicians, past and present.
photo & text by nacrowe
JOHNNY MARR is a singular talent whose legendary partnership with MORRISSEY in THE SMITHS puts him, in my mind, in the highest echelon of songwriting talents that rock music has ever produced. his story could've ended there but he went on to expand his musical vocabulary by pursuing an expansive career that includes collaborative efforts with the likes of TALKING HEADS, PET SHOP BOYS, BRIAN FERRY, THE PRETENDERS, THE THE, ELECTRONIC (with BERNARD SUMNER of NEW ORDER), BILLY BRAGG, KIRSTY MACCOLL, OASIS, BLACK GRAPE, MODEST MOUSE, THE CRIBS as well as a stellar string of successful of recent solo releases.
all that being said, what struck me most from reading his autobiography SET THE BOY FREE (DEY STREET BOOKS, 2016), which deals with him recounting his extraordinary career was his ability to be in the moment. this moment. i cant imagine what it must be like being defined work (however transcendentally awesome) you did as a teenager. for him it was a determined focus and drive, perhaps rooted in his struggling IRISH immigrant MANCUNIAN working-class upbringing, that allowed him to not get caught up in the hype and hysteria of riding such a phenomenal critical and artistic wave so early.
as a fan, i'm always struck by his career choices which always appeared to each be a labour of love and over time he cultivated a following that came with him, which is incredible given that most successful artists are mindful of no alienating their audience. if anything MARR is taking them on the journey with him.
i want to add that MARR's voice as a writer is very direct and deliberate and this has to be one of the better written autobiographies i have read in recent years. perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise given the literary aspirations of his work over the years and the quality of project collaborators he has sought out. i wouldn't expect anything else but quality in his writing.
as NOEL GALLAGHER is apt to saying with regards to MARR, "dude is a fucking wizard." by all means, check out his work if you haven't and down the road after a lifetime of enjoying his music, consider reading his excellent autobiography.