Defend your Record Store Day purchases!

Categories: Longform

Ken Hamblin
Record Store Day is all about showing the love for your favorite bands by hitting the shops and making a purchase. Westword decided to hit the checkout lines at Wax Trax and Twist & Shout and put people on the spot. Hey, you! You just bought a bunch of stuff from the record store. Show us the goods!

Ken Hamblin

Spencer Madison,
Originally from Massachusetts, now living in Denver.
Shopping at Wax Trax

Spencer was surrounded by friends and proudly showing them his purchases. He had bought more than 20 used vinyls from a wide range of artists and genres. When he's not speaking to Westword about music, he's a bartender at Sputnik speaking to customers about music.

You're shopping today at Wax Trax. Are you a longtime customer or a first-timer?

Absolutely, since before I moved to Denver. Probably since 1988. It's great to see independent record stores still out there. I remember as a kid, I would travel to the next town over. I grew up in a small town, and there was a record store there -- Main Street Records in Northhampton, Massachusetts. That's how I got my start listening to music of my own, not my parents' music. It was like an education.

Were you into bootlegs?

No, not so much. The best bootleg I've ever had was a Sex Pistols bootleg. It was an import release. It was a horrible, horrible recording, really grainy, and some live recording of the Sex Pistols. I never had a chance to see those guys.

You bought a lot of records today. How many would you say? Fifteen?

Fifteen or twenty pieces of vinyl today.

We've been asking people what's in their bag, but I think we should do this a little differently. Pull out one record at random and let's see what we come up with.

Just one, eh?

We'll do a few, but it seems like you've got a smorgasbord of music, so just reach in your bag and let's talk about one of your picks today.

Oh, what's that? What's this right here? Cheap Trick, Live at Budokan. I mean, if you're gonna have a Cheap Trick album, you should have this album.

I have to ask you to defend that. What was going on with this album that makes it the definitive Cheap Trick?

This broke Cheap Trick as a band in the US. Cheap Trick had been recording for a while, but they were huge overseas, and not so huge in the United States. Releases from this album came out, and suddenly they were gigantic.

That's got "I Want You to Want Me" on it?

It does, absolutely. There's an album version (of "I Want You to Want Me") but it's not as fun. Unfortunately, in some cases, engineers get ahold of records and it just takes all the soul away.

And this harks back to the day when a live album actually could break you out commercially.

Absolutely. I can't even think of musicians now that would be broken live. When you think about things like the Grateful Dead and Phish -- people that have to be seen live. But now, who? Katy Perry live? You can't see Katy Perry dancing with fifteen other people (on a record); it's just a show now. I've heard that the amount of talent that an artist has is inversely proportionate to the number of background dancers they have.

Can I have you pull another one out?

Here we go! Prince, 1999. Whose parents thought it was a good idea to let us listen to this when we were like thirteen years old? They had no idea what Prince was saying to us, and look what happened. We got a whole generation of crazy-ass people.

There's a penis on that album cover, but it took me years to realize that there is also a vagina.

How could there not be?

I was a child, so I hadn't seen any vaginas.

I hadn't seen my own vagina at that point.

Was this something you needed to add to your collection?

It was something I needed to add to my collection on vinyl. It's all over my computer or whatever, but I had this on cassette when I was a kid. I had a record player, but records were already on their way out when I was a kid. On cassette, sure, played the crap out of it. Probably went through two or three 1999 cassettes. This one has been loved, it's got some tears. Unfortunately it's incomplete, No picture sleeves, but for eight bucks...

A really complete one is probably gonna run you about fifty bucks.

That would be my guess.

If you had to pick a track off of this album...

"Baby I'm a Star"

That's on Purple Rain.

You're right -- that is on Purple Rain. That was not good. Let me refresh my memory.

I have my favorite from 1999, which is "D.M.S.R."

I almost said that...ah! "Let's Pretend We're Married"...go all night.

Now, I've heard that song is about sex.

I don't know how it could be; I don't know how it could possibly be. I don't know how any Prince song could be about sex. It's all about God.

Next album!

Oh, yeah, here we go. The English Beat What is Beat? I don't have any English Beat on vinyl anymore.

Do you remember that time in the '80s when this music first came over to America?


Have you ever owned a scooter?

I have never owned a scooter; I've always been a motorcycle guy. I had a moped -- does that count?

Were you a child?

I was a child. I never owned checkered Vans, though.

Anything else you'd like to say about the English Beat?

It was a style of music that I had never even come across. Like I said, I'm from a small town in Massachusetts. If I was listening to music on the radio, it was Aerosmith and the Cars. We had no idea what ska music was. We had no idea what reggae music was, unless your parents broke out a Bob Marley album. And then to hear the Clash, and then to hear ska music, and real ska -- that was thanks to these guys and the Specials.

So can we go for one more?

Let's hit the bag and see what we got. Ahh, Billy Preston, Wildest Organ in Town.

The unofficial fifth Beatle. Are you aware of the urban legend that John Lennon actually didn't want Billy in the Beatles because he would have upstaged them all?

He would have definitely gotten upstaged by Billy Preston.

Died broke, unfortunately. But this is a jazz release, isn't it?

No. This is a covers album.

That is something that's always fascinated me. Back then, new artists were known to release an album of other people's material first.

Well, yeah, nobody wanted to hear your crap -- they wanted to hear you do people's crap they liked.

Billy Preston, there's a million reasons why, but give me one specific reason.

There's just so much funk in there. It oozes sex without having to ooze it. Where Prince is like: "This is my pelvic area, why don't you look at it," Billy Preston is coming at it from a different angle.

One of the best smiles in music, and easily one of the best Afros when he grew his hair out.

Him and Bootsy Collins, although I was looking at some Commodores albums in there, and there were some crazy good shit going on those Commodores albums.

Ken Hamblin

Andrew, Brandon & Alex
Fort Collins, Littleton, & Greeley
shopping at Twist & Shout

These three guys displayed great courage and didn't hesitate when asked to show us the goods. We could only hope that their musical taste was equally valiant. We started out with Alex, a precocious young man with a sizable stack of new and used vinyl.

Did you come out specifically for Record Store Day?

Alex: Yes we did, and it was pretty cool!

Was there something specific you wanted to pick up?

Uh, I didn't know what there was until I got here. I got this Dio record that they made specifically for Record Store Day. So it was pretty nice!

Let's take a look! [Just then a random passerby sees the record and shouts: "Ronnie James Dio!!! I saw him in concert once! Sweet!!! He's a very short man...or was..."]

Okay, the Dio find is dope. What else do you have in your bag?

Um....Black Sabbath; nothing crazy, some Bad Company... [he tries to shuffle quickly past a brightly colored sky-blue 12" issued by Sugar Hill Records] Ummm....

Hold up, wait a second, what's that on Sugar Hill Records? know...I like....some...various things.

So let's capture this for the record: That is West Street Mob, Rock the Party. Now, that's some serious old-school hip-hop, and you're obviously a huge One Direction fan based on what you bought, so I'm trying to understand how we go from Ronnie James Dio to West Street Mob.

It's the cream of the crop, right? So I like a lot of metal, but I like to hit the high notes on other genres, as well.

Brandon, you didn't buy anything?

Well..I had some stuff but my card was declined. Bummer.

Credit card or debit card?

It's a MasterCard -- credit.

Oh, okay, so you had no idea; you just rolled the dice.

Yeah, no idea. It's a bummer.

So what would you be standing with here now, had your card not been declined?

I would be standing here with a Flogging Molly and a Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

So does Record Store Day mean anything to you?

Well, I just love music, and vinyl is awesome.

Forgive me. but you look young. How old are you?

I'm sixteen.

Last but not least...

Yeah, I'm Andrew. I got a bunch of stuff. Everytime I come I gotta get Genesis!

Something from Genesis, or the same album?

No,no. Something from Genesis: Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins -- anything.

So you don't make a distinction; you love both the Gabriel and the Phil Collins Genesis?

Yes, love it all. Every single time I come to a record store, gotta get something Genesis.

If you had to call a favorite Genesis album...?

Oh...The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, easy.

Okay, and what was the big hit off of that?

Big hit? I have no idea.

I don't think there is a big hit off that.

It was very conceptual, so it's not really (from) the pop days. Before the pop days, definitely.

What else did you get?

What else? I got Rush, Farewell to Kings; I got the Dire Straits, the Echo & the Bunnymen self-titled.

Is that original or reissue?

I believe it's an original, because it was only like five bucks or something. But it's in really good condition. And I got Streetlight Manifesto, Everything Goes Numb.

I was going to try and embarrass you, but I think that's awesome.

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