Last weekend I took a trip to Atlanta for several days to help a friend celebrate a 50th birthday. He flew in from Canada for this and many of his friends from all over converged on Atlanta for the occasion. It was rare for me indeed since this would only be the second time I was ever visiting with the creator of the Ronkanefiles blog. Ron’s a high holy man of record collecting so it was imperative to set aside a day of crate digging in virgin territory for the guy, who’s never shopped in the Southeast before! Also of note was the presence of another mutual friend being accompanied by his teenaged son who has developed a vinyl habit since I last saw him four years ago! You can’t make your son love your hobbies and interests, but when it happens… you run with it!
Wax N’ Facts
Naturally, we began the jaunt in Little Five points at ground zero for record geeks, Wax ‘N Facts! Ron was a fan of Pylon and Method Actors, so he was looking forward to finally meeting semi-legendary owner Danny Beard, whose records he used to purchase during his record buyer days at other shops on the West Coast. There’s always goods to love at WNF and this time was no exception. What was significant this time was that my music shopping budget was the tiniest it’s ever been on a trip to Atlanta. I had a spare $30 to blow on music. I would play my cards close to the vest for certain!
I did find some lovely things there. “The Live Rise Of Richard Strange” in a Canadian Ze/Quality pressing was an item that I was extremely ready to find! Richard Strange has only a pittance of albums, and I have none of them… until now! Just last week I’d been listening to the three Richard Strange cuts that I have from his ’80-’81 period and wished that I had more. This was basically a 1980 live version of his first solo album, which was released in advance of the studio version…which followed in 1981! Strange made no other albums that I can determine, only the odd single here and there. I can hardly wait to remaster this one!
I also picked up the gold mirror sleeve variant of Simple Minds “Alive + Kicking” for a pittance. Not their best material by far, but the sleeve was in great shape and it looked better than it sounded, so why not for $2.00? Of greater importance was the one Shriekback 12″ long missing from my collection; “Mercy Dash!” Finally, I got the UK promo-only LP from The Wonder Stuff called “Waffle & Maple Syrup” that I’d known about for decades, but I never saw a copy of before. At $2.00 how could I say no? Particularly when it had unique material that appeared nowhere else like the band’s cover of PWEI’s “Inside You?”
Criminal Records is a stone’s throw away from Wax ‘N Facts in Little Five Points and the two stores are pretty different, so there’s not much stock overlap between them. They probably have a good symbiotic relationship, though I’ve since read that the store almost closed last fall due to debt load issues but apparently the “Save Criminal Records” campaign has worked out. So far. I bought a lot more last year when I was there. Today I wouldn’t be motivated, but Ron scored a few underpriced gems; always welcome, that! The Record Crew spent about 45 minutes there. On the wall behind the checkout, someone pointed out to me a framed copy of the scarce US only Simple Minds compilation “Themes For Great Cities” on Stiff America records that had been autographed by Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill! Holy relics indeed!
Our next stop was Fantasyland Records in Buckhead. I picked up quite a few nice things here the last time I’d visited. The large rooms had much to browse with music and movie memorabilia in addition to spinning discs of all kinds. I found two CDs that called out to me. Soft Cell’s “Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing” remix album and the new Joey Ramone CD that had recently been released. I also bought the buttons describes in an earlier post. That tapped out my music budget en toto, so from here on out I was just a spectator. Others did the buying this time.
The Record Crew was en route to Wuxtry in Decatur, when to what to our wand’ring eyes should appear but the Book Nook we were planning to pass up. Well, since we were right here we’d might as well investigate! I’ve been to the large Book Nook location but not this satellite location in Decatur. Like Criminal Records, there were far too many comic book and geek magnet tchatchke’s here for my taste, but I suppose it’s what record stores have to do to survive, although calling this or Fantasyland “record stores” is a bit of a stretch. These places are like little indie versions of Media Play stores, if I may invoke a ghost of the 90s. A little bit of everything to attract your dollars. The vinyl was not bad and I skipped the CDs after a cursory glance.
The Wuxtry in Athens is something of a major league store. It’s always on any “best record store” lists compiled by “those magazines.” [you know the ones] As much as it pains me to agree with them, I can’t dispute that status. How would this satellite Atlanta [Decatur] location fare? Though my money was gone, there was probably a higher density of primo goods packed into a smaller space than I’ve had the pleasure to be among in a long time. Best of all, it was not so small that our contingent of…ten were in each other’s laps. I should mention that we had many ladies from our group join up with us for this leg of the record buying jaunt. So it wasn’t all spittin’ and cussin’. I saw a very fine selection of “Rock 12 Inch” singles here, and best of all, there were no other kinds of 12″ singles there to differentiate from! I saw some nice things I would have liked to have but didn’t actually need, so I was a good soldier and stayed true to my travel budget. Ron found an ancient Jefferson Airplane single from 1967 with PS in great condition for a fraction of its West Coast price. Not my cuppa Joe, but still… not the sort of thing one sees on a regular basis.
I knew I was in a good place when the aforementioned Rock 12″ section had a Stephen Duffy 12″ right up front. Anywhere you can buy Duffy vinyl is probably the right place to be in. I saw the 12″ with PS of this record. My copy is in a generic UK Chrysalis sleeve but that’s all I found back in the time of its release. I also have the UK 7,” which has a very different sleeve, but right now isn’t the time for me to be buying $3.00 records just for their covers, even if they are designed by Peter Saville! Wuxtry certainly impressed, and the next time I find myself in Atlanta, I certainly hope that I have some cash to spend there, since it’s a store about on par with Wax ‘N Facts, judging from this first exposure. Atlanta certainly still has the record shopping action, even in 2012. But for how long? For… how…long? I suggest shopping now and regretting later since the continued viability of these stores is no longer a given.
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