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Record Shopping in Brooklyn

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  • Record Shopping in Brooklyn

    We did a marathon shopping (and eating) binge in Brooklyn earlier this week. We had lived in Brooklyn for years, but don't get back too often. My buddy Max, a pretty serious collector of rock records was visiting from NOLA, and we hit a bunch of good stores- all varied in style, inventory and atmosphere. I will post a write-up in the next day or two and update this thread accordingly. For the foodies among you, there are a few added tips on places to eat- record shopping requires serious nourishment! It was a long, exhausting day.

  • #2
    Hitting a good record store is always an adventure. I always like browsing and finding a little known or forgotten yet significant LP from the 60s into the early 70s. I've found there are good shops in Phoenix, Houston, Oceanside and pretty much every locale I've worked in. You are lucky in that the NYC area has the greatest concentration with the possible exception of LA.

    I always prefer record shops rather than going online as my first couple of disastrous online adventures (which included identity theft) pretty much soured me permanently. For instance, while I will look up cleaning supplies from the Needledoctor, I phone my order in to an actual person.

    And finally, flipping through the stacks is like treasure hunting and a tactile experience, and one can engage in conversation with the proprietor making it a social event.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rust View Post
      Hitting a good record store is always an adventure. I always like browsing and finding a little known or forgotten yet significant LP from the 60s into the early 70s. I've found there are good shops in Phoenix, Houston, Oceanside and pretty much every locale I've worked in. You are lucky in that the NYC area has the greatest concentration with the possible exception of LA.

      I always prefer record shops rather than going online as my first couple of disastrous online adventures (which included identity theft) pretty much soured me permanently. For instance, while I will look up cleaning supplies from the Needledoctor, I phone my order in to an actual person.

      And finally, flipping through the stacks is like treasure hunting and a tactile experience, and one can engage in conversation with the proprietor making it a social event.
      I'm of two minds on this, Rust. Yes, I definitely like the well-stocked used record store. I also like the trend toward what I call "curating"--rather than just having everything mixed up in boxes, or roughly divided by "rock," "jazz," etc. It's not really a "trend" since when record stores were everywhere and sold new records as the mainstream medium, you had slots by band name or artist in addition to genre sections, but the completely disorganized record show approach often throws me, simply because it takes so much time that I lose my mojo after a while.
      I also like shopping on line. I can specifically look for what I want- a lot of it is UK or foreign pressings- and those aren't as easy to come by; if it is a rare collectible, chances are it's going to be on the web in some form- the likelihood of just happening upon it in a local store --if you are looking for something specific- even if not super rare--is in my experience low.
      As to inspection, I find visual inspection of somewhat limited value- if the record is obviously trashed, sure, you know right away it is a non-starter. But so many records sound better or worse than their visual appearance would suggest, that the only option is play testing. I'm actually a little reluctant to play test a valuable record on the sort of turntables usually found in used record stores. I will check flatness that way, though.
      Austin is actually a pretty good town for records, both new and used. (I buy mostly used). I've found tons of jazz, cheap, b/c the younger folks seem to want classic rock.
      Also, a lot of these stores don't seem to differentiate between one pressing and another- that is, you could overpay for a later, bar-coded pressing that sounds sterile, or the same price for the one that has the right mastering, a good plant, etc.
      I've also found that some staff in the record stores have no clue. I mean, none. Maybe they know the newer bands, but ask them about something from the past- I remember walking into one store a few years ago to ask if they had the then new Glyn Johns' autobiography- nobody even knew what I was talking about. (Ironic, since he engineered a lot of the records their clientele seems to buy). It really is hit or miss, I think. Sometimes, you get lucky b/c the store has gotten stock right when you arrive and there's stuff you want. Generally, I found the record stores I hit in Brooklyn to be pretty solid.

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      • #4
        Here's the piece, hot off the press: http://thevinylpress.com/road-trip-b...cord-shopping/

        Comment


        • #5
          Nice article. I haven't been to the state or city of NY in years so no doubt things gave changed quit a bit. Did love the pizza at Totonnos over on Coney, one hot oven.

          I kind of like the less well curated small shops where I've traveled, records separated by the broadest formats as some of my best finds have happened in such places like the A1/A2 stamper CSO Sheherazade for 49 cents. In larger more well trafficked stores similar finds are unlikely.

          I'm not quite the traditional collector either. Eclectic is more like it, there are large holes in my "collection" which may not even be qualified to be called a collection. It's just things I like. Virtually no opera, select jazz pieces only, same with folk, Americana and blues. No Dylan for instance, great songwriter, can't stand to listen to him sing however. A lot of female vocalists. Early rock on up to the spandex era, limited after that. Classic music I'm sort of one and done, I'm not into having every recording extant of any particular composition and have never gotten of the fence about whether Mozart or Beethoven was better, Mozart being more melodic and Beethoven being more bombastic on average.

          Of course that's the fun of it, finding things you like in a scavenger hunt without clues. especially since most the things that I like are not up for reissue and are other otherwise only available as crappy MP3s.

          Yes, quality can be an issue but I am usually satisfied with what I find and given the very low cost on average a dud or two is no big deal.

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          • #6
            I hear ya on bin diving. I'm just lazy. I want to walk into a store that has a box on the counter that says "Bill Hart"
            My "collecting" is really a mishmash too. I bought a crazy amount of records once The Death of Vinyl (TM) was announced, and just kept accumulating- had very little time to listen, given work and travel. For the last several years, I've culled and filled in gaps, bought better pressings of the stuff I care about, and probably most important, got outside my "comfort zone"- to be perfectly candid, a lot of the "audiophile approved" stuff bored me. So, with some help from people more knowledgeable than me, and occasionally, just a dive into a pile of records or music that is entirely unfamiliar- I have fun. You are right, there is so much out there that isn't considered "collectible" that is great- and you can get it pretty cheaply.

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            • #7
              I gave up on bin diving several years ago, as most of it is crap or just the same titles over and over again. However, if I'm in the area and see a shop that sells records I still walk in to have a look. Because of my interest in records I can't truly ignore the temptation entirely.

              I miss Toronto. If you've never been you owe it to yourself to plan a visit. Park your car and walk around to find at least dozen vinyl shops within a few blocks. Most of them as good as the New York shops with knowledgeable staff and great selections. There are at least another dozen if not many more just outside of the city limits. Same with audio shops.......many still remain and are doing well. End of plug for Toronto!

              The key for me on used record buying is getting to know the owner and/or manager and understanding his/her philosophy about how the store is stocked. Whenever I hear an owner bringing in stuff that he/she personally sourced from the UK or Europe my eyes light up. One of the shops used to call me after he landed back home and said I have some shit you're gonna like. I'd immediately check the balance on my CC......

              Thankfully I have enough records, so the lack of great shops in Calgary is not a major concern......but I do miss the adventures and connections at times.
              Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

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              • #8
                Bill, you are my hero! Great write up. I felt like I was along for the day (and yes, I'm green with envy). Nice score. I want the Al Green record!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jazdoc View Post
                  Bill, you are my hero! Great write up. I felt like I was along for the day (and yes, I'm green with envy). Nice score. I want the Al Green record!
                  Thanks, Doc. Those Hi Records sound pretty good, too! I cleaned a bunch more today, and plan to fire that one up tomorrow. I've heard Al several times live- he is one of the best performers alive. When we visited Memphis a few years ago (with my buddy, the Elvis geek), we contemplated visiting Al's church, but there was no assurance that he would be layin' it down. (PS I think you can probably find that record for very little money on Discogs, not to take away from the experience).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
                    ...Also, a lot of these stores don't seem to differentiate between one pressing and another- that is, you could overpay for a later, bar-coded pressing that sounds sterile, or the same price for the one that has the right mastering, a good plant, etc.
                    I've also found that some staff in the record stores have no clue. I mean, none. Maybe they know the newer bands, but ask them about something from the past- I remember walking into one store a few years ago to ask if they had the then new Glyn Johns' autobiography- nobody even knew what I was talking about. (Ironic, since he engineered a lot of the records their clientele seems to buy)...
                    its par for the course nowadays, esp when you have twenty something year olds behind the counter that weren't alive when vinyl ruled, never mind CDs, they grew up with MP3s. I still find myself playing the ignoramus when I'm about to hondle with a knowledgeable store owner. Many times they know just enough to be dangerous, like living Stereos aka "shaded dogs" and Merc living presence records were valuable, once, like 25 years ago...today, not so much. Like you, 2/3rds or more of my vinyl purchases are used. I actually prefer stores that don't curate their stock, crate digging is the order of the day and you better be dressed for the occasion. sometimes i think i'll contract some respiratory ailment like Legionnaires disease from breathing that fowl, dusty air combing through boxes under the bins on the floor - you know the ones i'm talking about I now keep a box of Wet Ones in the truck when i need to get the record store 'funk' off my hands, arms and other appendages that may later come in contact my eyes/nose or mouth. bottom line, a successful outing crate diggin' is physical and dirty work that takes stamina.
                    TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

                    "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                    Comment


                    • JCOConnell
                      JCOConnell commented
                      Editing a comment
                      So true. A lot of these youngsters know nothing of labels, matrices, mastering engineers, etc.

                    • MylesBAstor
                      MylesBAstor commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Personally let them stay ignorant. In the old days, record collectors would open their big mouths about the rare and collectible albums and all that happened were the prices went up.

                  • #11
                    Next time call! This humble Brooklynite would have trailed for the crumbs. Sounds like you guys had a great time. You definitely picked two winners in the restaurant category. The interesting thing about the stores in Brookly is how many are walking distance form my work location. I have taken advantage of this on a regualr basis but am currently on hiatus until I get some storage shelves built.

                    Beau


                    Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
                    We did a marathon shopping (and eating) binge in Brooklyn earlier this week. We had lived in Brooklyn for years, but don't get back too often. My buddy Max, a pretty serious collector of rock records was visiting from NOLA, and we hit a bunch of good stores- all varied in style, inventory and atmosphere. I will post a write-up in the next day or two and update this thread accordingly. For the foodies among you, there are a few added tips on places to eat- record shopping requires serious nourishment! It was a long, exhausting day.
                    Turntable: - 1. Fairchild 750/OMA slate plinth
                    2. Analog Engineering AE-2008 MinusK support.
                    Tonearm: 1. Schroder Custom
                    2. Schick 12"
                    3. Abis SA-1
                    Cartridge: Miyajima Kansui and Premium BE Mono
                    PhonoPre: AprilSound LR, EMIA Strain Gauge, EMIA silver SUT
                    CD: Wadia 860x
                    Server: Innuos Zen Mini Mk3
                    DAC: Computer Audio Design 1543 Mk2
                    Preamp: Bent Audio TAP-X w silver autoformers
                    Amplifier: AprilSound SET50 monoblocks
                    Speaker: Pioneer PAX-30C

                    Comment


                    • Bill Hart
                      Bill Hart commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Beaur- are you referring to the Queen, or Motorino and Milkbar? The Queen has been a favorite since I moved to Brooklyn many years ago. Love that place.

                    • Beaur
                      Beaur commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Bill, I am referring to all 3. I have been to each and enjoyed them. I don't tend to go to the same place all the time especially when it comes to old style italian in NYC but Queen is an excellent choice, have been there many times!
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