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April 16, 2009

Record Store Day Celebrates Vinyl Mongers

One of the greats: Reggae was born in Randy's record store and studio in Kingston, Jamaica

by John Oseid

In the 80s, I used to lose myself for hours at Paris music chain Fnac, where salespeople allowed shoppers to take records out of the sleeves and listen to the music, right there. If it weren't for those record heads, I would never have discovered great Gallic rockers (no, that's not an oxymoron) like Charlélie Couture.

Looks like others (Norah Jones, Chuck Berry, and Paul McCartney, among them) dig vinyl, too: On April 18, a thousand retailers worldwide will host in-store performances in support of Record Store Day.

The industry promotion reminds me what a great part of the travel experience record browsing is. Endangered as they are, plenty of shops in the world have survived the download takeover, and they still serve as discovery zones for knowledgeable staff and music lovers. Not long ago, I rushed past a great looking little vintage record shop perched on Lisbon's perilously steep Calçada do Duque stairway on the way to a show. I had meant to return. I hope it's still there. If you have a favorite record store--be it devoted to jazz in Tokyo or Toronto, hard rock in Belgrade or Adelaide--I'd love to hear about it.

Rest assured that vinyl still rules. As saucy singer Shelby Lynne sees it, "You can't roll a joint on an iPod."

More music:
* If you're attending California's famed Coachella music festival this weekend, look for the Record Store Day tent, which will sell 7" singles cut especially for the celebration by the likes of Tom Waits and Franz Ferdinand.
* The Record Store Review lists international record shops.
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world


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