Friday, June 18, 2010

Tower Records


Tower Records

I miss Tower Records stores. There were a ton of them in California, and we used to go to a lot of them. The last time I was in a Tower Records store, it was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Before that, it was in Tokyo, Japan. We all of the Towers went out in ’06, it made me really sad – though I didn’t totally realize it at the time.

We used to go to Tower Records in Sherman Oaks, CA (in the Galleria) after dinner, sometimes. It was a good evening event, stroll on in, check out the new imported CD Singles, see what’s on sale. The big one at 8801 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood was always fun – I had been going there ever since it opened in the early 70’s. As a youngster, I was lucky enough to have gone to San Francisco with my Dad – and actually patronized the 2525 Jones St. (Columbus/Bay) location before there were any Towers in the L.A. area.

I distinctly remember going to Tower in Anaheim, CA – in search of Can LP’s. They seemed to have them all – German pressings, even!

What music will I hear in a Tower Records tonight? Godley & Crème? The “Monkey Chant”? Some hard-core nonsense? C.M.U. “Space Cabaret”? I certainly heard a lot of new (to me) stuff playing in Tower Records.

And then there were the glorious outlet stores – the one at 3rd & Townshend in San Francisco or the one on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. I bought an absolute ton of stuff at those Tower Outlet stores! ‘New” import CD’s for $3.99, $5.99…

I also remember how much fun I used to have at the Berkeley, CA Towers in the 80’s – the large ‘spoken word’ section, all the jazz…before there was ever an Amoeba in sight!

I also remember visiting Tower Records in London – it seemed expensive, and all I remember buying were PAL 8mm tapes! (Frank Zappa, John Martyn etc.) – and, of course, the glorious 5-story Tower in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan! Now that’s a great record store. I remember meeting somebody in the basement café at that Tower. And it’s still there! (The Tower, maybe not the café).

And I guess there is a Tower Records website that somebody bought the rights to – nothing to do with Tower Records, as I remember it. And Russ Solomon opened another record store in Sacramento, CA – “R5 Records” I think it’s called. Never been out there to check it out, as yet. I wonder if it’s any good?

Tower Records was a serious retailer of new music. Chances are, they would have had pretty much whatever you were looking for – I bet they still do in Tokyo! The tiny Kuala Lumpur Tower Records was OK, I bought an “Island Records” NTSC DVD there – my last purchase from a Tower Records.

I really miss the California stores that Tower Records used to have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've only shopped at the Tower in Atlanta and Washington D.C. As always, it was a major, major experience to be in a store that had so much of what I badly wanted. And as I aged, that was an experience that got more and more rare as the music I loved became less and less fashionable. Not so at Tower! My last visit to a Tower, in late 2006 in Washington D.C. was as impressive as always. I was there for a seminar (Edward Tuffte!) but made the time to pop off for a visit to Tower.

Even in their death throes, the store was packed with delights I was frantic to get. As usual, it was a case of adhering to my slim budget that provided the most challenge to me; certainly not in finding music to buy. The staff there especially won my heart with their tasteful displays of what I considered to be very major post-punk albums. It was the one time that I saw The Associates held up as a beacon publicly. The fact that it was what I consider their best album (Fourth Drawer Down) was icing on the cake!

The D.C. Tower was something I always took time to visit in my three visits to that city. It never let me down. I'll never forget the time in 2002 (with Charles Martin) as we visited Tower the day after spending literally hours in Yesterday & Today Records. At Y&T I was amazed to find the long-sought-after 3rd New Musik album, "Warp." The very next day at Tower I found the Japanese-only CD of same with a host of relevant bonus tracks!