FILM REVIEW | LAST SHOP STANDING
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.