As we stood in the slightly elevated perch of Vintage Vinyl's DJ booth, I asked store co-owner Tom "Papa" Ray if Record Store Day was his version of Christmas morning. He thought about it for a second and said, in his inimitable drawl, "You know, I think I like Record Store Day better than Christmas." Looking over the store, it wasn't hard to see why: Patrons combed through the racks of CDs and LPs, swarmed around the limited-edition releases made specially for annual event, and imbibed free cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It was as if a neighborhood block party had snuck into a retail outlet.
By the time I arrived at the store around noon, many of the limited-run releases had been picked through; VV's Matt Harnish told me that, when the store opened at 10 a.m., a line had already formed around the building. Selections from Bruce Springsteen and Pavement were already long gone. Still, there were plenty of pieces to choose from: Fanboys were digging through the latest selection of Capitol's Radiohead EP and single vinyl reissue series, and 45s from Passion Pit, Ted Leo and the Rolling Stones were hot items. I snagged a 2-LP clear-vinyl version of Neko Case's Middle Cyclone and the Mountain Goats DVD, which features John Darnielle playing through all of last year's Life of the World to Come on stage at Pomona College. (See more photos of covers from Vintage Vinyl's Don't Quit Your Day Job compilation here!)
Vintage Vinyl had arranged for an aural assault on two fronts: bands played under the marquee on Delmar Boulevard, and guest DJs (including yours truly) manned the decks inside. Post-Dispatch pop music critic Kevin C. Johnson curated an informative set of European soul from the Brand New Heavies, Soho and others. My set was a little less focused, hitting on Cheap Trick, The O'J ays, locals Jumbling Towers and Big Star (and Papa Ray validated my belief that Luther Vandross never had a better song than "Never Too Much"). In the two hours I was at Vintage Vinyl, I would estimate that the number of patrons in the store rarely dipped beneath 25 or 30 people; all three registers regularly had lines of customers waiting to purchase some new treasure. See photos from Record Store Day at Euclid Records, taken by Tom Lampe, here
Later in the afternoon, I made it over to Euclid Records to scope their sidewalk sale and see some of the local bands they had performing on their tiny stage. At 3:30 p.m. the store had about a dozen customers and on-lookers in the store and about a dozen more enjoying the sunshine on the sidewalk. I caught the last few songs by Art Majors; its set was loud but focused, and the mix of reedy Farfisa organ chords and stabbing strums at a Fender Jazzmaster landed in the nexus of Clinic, the Walkmen and Joy Division. It was my first exposure to the quartet, but I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing them again. And isn't that what record stores do best - turn you on to stuff you never knew existed? Seems like a good enough reason to celebrate.
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