The line at the record store

Posted: April 20, 2006 in Metal News & Commentary

I go out and buy new albums on the day of release, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid back in the early ’80s. There has always been something special about being one of the 1st in the door of the local record store and scoring that highly anticipated new album by your favorite band. It has always been like a trophy, the culmination of months, if not years, of waiting. The feeling is exhilarating that you are one of the 1st people to have that album.

Back in the day, new release day was a big event…..

- There was always a line, sometimes you even got a number.
- The record store might have a special opening to buy new albums from big name bands.
- The same people were always there. It was a sense of community, a common bond.
- Some stores would play the album while you waited.
- There were never enough copies, some people got shut out. There was always just enough to almost supply the demand. Those who didn’t get a copy were destined to a few more days of tortured anticipation, guaranteeing a return visit to the store.
- You could pick up the new posters, patches, buttons, and other assorted goodies for the new record.
- You cut school or you cut class.

When I went to the local shop this past Tuesday for the new Dio, there was no crowd, no line. I walked in, went to the New Album Rack, saw no Dio album, and found out they sold the only copy they had minutes earlier. The only copy they had! This a totally different scenario to the release day of Dio – Sacred Heart way back in 1985.

Being in grammar school, it was tough to get out of class without being noticed. I remember that a few of us stashed our bikes at a friend’s house and, when the bell rang for the start of the day, we took off. We got to the local store just before opening and there was a long line. Here we were, these little 12-13 yr. olds in catholic school uniforms, waiting in line with long-haired, denim-clad high school dudes and chicks. Everyone who was anyone in the local scene was there because it was an event. You had music blaring, good-looking girls, maybe you’d get a whiff of some bud…..it was like a first concert. It was the scene I always wanted to be a part of. The next day at school we told the tale. We were the envy of the rest of the guys when we all pulled out a Sacred Heart cassette, it was our medal of honor.

I remember a midnight opening of the local Strawberries Records in 1992 for the release of Def Leppard – Adrenalize, which was released the same day Bruce Springsteen released Lucky Town & Human Touch. I had a number in the first 20 to get in at midnight but I was there hours earlier because it was an event. Everyone I knew was there and they all didn’t buy an album, it was the place to be.

Sadly, it all faded away. The last time I had to wait in line was for KISS – Unplugged. With the KISS reunion gaining momentum, I joined a dozen or so KISS freaks at another Strawberries to grab my copy. Not the event I was used to over the years but the comraderie was still alive!

I miss those days…..

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Comments
  1. Yeah, those were the days. I actually worked in the “heavy metal” section of a record store in Copenhagen, Denmark for a while (around the time the early VH albums came out). Man, people were fighting over the copies we got in. We usually made piles next to the cash register of new albums so we could serve people faster. Today, as you noted, most of the stores I frequent don’t even have copies of new stuff available. It’s the Internet plague … I also buy most of my stuff online today just to avoid leaving stores in frustration – and that way I add my little brick in the wall that will eventually shut real world music stores down.

  2. Metal Mark says:

    I was actually thinking of this same topic and put a question about it on my blog. I lived in a smaller area so there weren’t normally lines and I usually got what I wanted. I still miss big displays and it being an event. I remember buying new Iron Maiden releases in the 80′s and the stores having big diplays everywhere. I remember going to buy Metallica’s And justice for all on the first day and there was a huge banner outside the store. It was almost as big as the store’s own sign. Then this past fall I went to buy the new Helloween and the record store decided not to get a copy of it the day it came out. Even though I had bought the last three Helloween albums at this store the day they came out.

  3. Volkher – Glad you’re back in action. It’s sucks when you frequent the same stores, usually get what you want, and then a trend begins where you can’t always get what you want (thanks Mick!). Luckily we have the Internet and some fine retailers. 10 years ago, I used to take a Saturday and hit a dozen shops, now it’s 2 or 3.

    Metal Mark – We had a CD shop (2 Guys CDs) that was the perfect place to buy albums. I started going there in the mid-90s when I found it by chance and I stayed loyal until they closed their doors 4 years ago. I was friendly with the staff and I was able to get almost anything I wanted thru this store. There were times I would go up to the counter with my treasures and there would be a box with my name on it with CDs that the staff new I’d like 1st crack at. I miss those days…..when a trip to your local record store turned into an afternoon’s journey.

  4. [...] I remember going to Strawberries Records & Tapes in Pawtucket, RI for the special midnight sale. Adrenalize was released the same day as Bruce Springsteen released both Lucky Town and Human Touch albums (check out my post from April about this night) so the crowd was pretty big. It was an event, maybe the last of such events as the musical climate had changed. Like I mentioned, if this album was released in ‘80/’90, Def Leppard have another HUGE hit and mega-sales. During the Seattle/Grunge/Nirvana wave of music, a release from one of the biggest Hard Rock bands of all time got lost in the shuffle (if you want to call 5 million shifted “lost”). This album began the decline, albeit a successful start to the decline. [...]

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