Originally published December 8, 2012
In the mid-70’s, my buddies and I would drive to Yonge Street in Toronto – just to buy record albums. We would go every couple of months (when we were “flush with cash”) and would spend most of the day checking out LPs at both Sam The Record Man and A & A Records, which at the time were the biggest record stores in Canada.
First, we would go to Sam’s and check out their featured albums – there would always be a couple of dozen of the latest LPs on display – and all at great prices. We would spend hours searching out the best LPs from our favourite singers/bands and then we’d see what A & A had on sale. Then we would go for lunch, have a few beers and compare notes on what albums to buy. Usually, we would buy about 10 LPs but always at a fraction of the cost had we shopped at Eatons, Simpsons-Sears or at any of the smaller music stores. I still have most of the LPs that I bought from that era – all stored in protective sleeves – to keep them in pristine playing condition.
I remember one particular trek when I discovered that Eric Carmen – former lead singer in the group The Raspberries – had just released his first solo album. They were playing it in the store and I really liked it – so I bought it. About 30 years later, I noticed a copy of the album on CD (from Japan) being offered on eBay. It was at a time when many of the older albums or cassettes were not yet available on CDs – so I immediately bought it (after a frenzied bidding war).
A friend of mine and I were recently discussing music and both agreed that it was always great listening to music via records played on a record player. And that’s kinda funny because when we were teenagers, we had these small record players – and the records were mono not stereo. We would usually only buy singles (45 RPM) because most LPs only had one or two good songs. We didn’t take much care in how we handled our records – and the noises created by the scratches, dust and grease from our fingers were just part of the listening experience. In fact, it was normal to stack several 45’s on top of each other on the player. I remember going to one of my friend’s house to listen to his record collection. We would lay on the floor listening to music by the hour. But that was a different time – before the internet, YouTube, Amazon, eBay and iTunes.
I still love music and have a large collection of records, cassettes, cds and MP3 downloads. But I have never downloaded free music – ever. I have bought some through iTunes but most of my music purchases are on CD. I have transferred them all on both my iTunes library and Windows Media Player. I currently have over 10,500 songs. And although I enjoy listening to music from my iPod – I still prefer to have the CD in my hand – to look at the picture and/or read the album notes or lyrics. The best LPs or CDs always include the lyrics.
And I still like to lay on the floor while listening to music.
BTW, if you’re ever in Toronto looking for a good place to buy records – you won’t be able to find Sam The Record Man or A & A Records – they both went bankrupt.
Too bad – too sad, because shopping for music on the Internet is so lame!