Old Rare New: The Independent Record Shop

January 01, 1970

(Black Dog)


The rumors of the demise of indie record stores have been
greatly exaggerated: That’s the underlying premise of Old Rare New, an essay/photo book that both mourns the passing of
those musty hole-in-the-wall shops no longer with us and celebrates the
resilience of those who’ve hung in there. The book’s dotted with images of
storefronts, overflowing LP bins and drool-inducing pics of rare record sleeves
– there’s also a handy directory of British and American collectors shops –
alongside passionately penned contributions from deejays, journalists,
archivists and musicians.

Wearing all four hats at once is Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley
who reflects upon being initially smitten by the visual allure of his father’s
records (“They seemed mysterious and important. The coloured labels had me
hooked.”) and, later, the thrill of discovering colorfully-named establishments
like Beano’s, Bonaparte’s and Rough Trade. Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, in a
lively Q&A, drops her guard completely when she reminisces about shopping
expeditions and her most beloved finds. Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham, Billy
Childish, Joe Boyd and others serve up similar anecdotes.

The best essay is “My Life In Record Stores: A Cautionary
Tale” in which rock critic Byron Coley chronicles his journey from wide-eyed
pre-teen to savvy collector to store clerk to operator of his own business, Massachusetts’
Ecstatic Yod. The whiff of recognition is profound when Coley summarizes where
we’ve been, how we got to the current state of affairs, and why doomsday
predictions are premature:

“There is nothing quite like walking into a strange little
record store and finding a record you’ve been after for so long, you didn’t
even remember you wanted it until you flipped through the bin and saw it. There
is no similar charge available online, and it can’t be gotten from a CD. There
is something unique to vinyl and little stores and the people who live to breathe
their air… As long as there are any of us, independent record stores will never

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