L.A.'s Musical Treasure Chest

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I’m about to record an unusual program featuring non-human music…think whales, insects, frogs, and birds. For this show, I pulled out an obscure 1986 LP by composer Graeme Revell called The Insect Musicians. It was my first encounter with this prolific composer, who more recently has been successful in film composing.

What I noticed when pulling out the record was that I purchased it from Tower Records many moons ago. I also will feature a classic Yma Sumac CD, Voice of the Xtabay, which I purchased at Rhino Records in Westwood. The price tags are still on these two, which is why I know where I bought them.

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Like many music lovers, for years I would spend most of my disposable income at record stores. When just a kid, before I knew how to drive, I’d go to the Allegro Music Store in Pacific Palisades to buy 45 rpm 7″ singles. After I got my first car I would go to Adams Boulevard, to stores like Crane’s and Sam’s, for my jazz needs. Later while in grad school at UCLA, I worked at Vogue Records on Westwood Blvd., a really spacious, well-organized store. I also shopped at Music Odyssey, Platterpuss, Licorice Pizza, and the Wherehouse. I visited Tower Records but they only sold new albums. I did like the Sunset Blvd. store because Chuck Greenberg did a great job with world music imports. Also the classical Tower across the street. I also liked Aron’s Records on Highland.

I’m sure there are others like me out there who had to make a Sophie’s choice when you wanted a bunch of records but didn’t have much coin. Many of us vinyl junkies got into radio or music journalism to get free records and not have to spend all our money anymore. Or less of it at least.

Main floor of Amoeba Music. Photo by Sam Howzit (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr.
The main floor of Amoeba Music. Photo by Sam Howzit (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Now that the record business has changed and so many record stores have closed, I am grateful to have Amoeba Music here in Los Angeles (they have two other stores in the Bay Area). And Record Surplus on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. is a great place for record hunters as well. I’m also happy to see all the ads in the Record Collector News magazine for a myriad of small record stores in SoCal and around the country. Most of these independent stores specialize in used records and feature lots of vinyl.  I just read that there is a new Hollywood store called The Record Parlour on Selma Ave.

Stores like these encourage browsing and you never know what treasure you might find. Unlike the big chain stores of days past, these independent stores don’t just sell new product from the big record companies, where you go in already knowing what you want to buy. Browsing the unknown is much more fun.

On a recent visit to Amoeba I took a couple of shots of 78 rpm singles as well as the 8-Track section. How cool is that? See you at Amoeba!

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