Our final stop was not far from Repo Record. I picked this store to end our jaunt because they had a reputation of being a place with a lot of 7″ singles. My friend Ron had been turning his attention to the smaller format in recent years, so I felt he might find something to his liking there. I had not been there before, but I had been anticipating basically a place for Ron to shop. Their online rep seemed to point heavily to “beach music,” a regional music scene that has lasted from the late forties to the present. It’s sort of the US equivalent of a hermetic soul scene like “northern soul” is in the UK.
The small shop was crammed mostly with 45s. As I expected, there was almost nothing here to call my name, but Ron began looking with an open mind. Most of what I want on 7″ single are specifically UK import pressings from ’78-’85. When faced with a building full of US 45s, my mind goes pretty much blank. Then I remembered one specifically US 7″ record that I needed: the Mercury US 7″ edit of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” I bought the UK edition mail order years ago because I need to own all three of my “seminal singles.” I later discovered that the UK 7″ edit is not the same as the US 7″ edit of “Autobahn,” so that book was not yet closed.
I do have to admit that the store’s method for filing singles was inspired; one wall of the store had filing cabinets where alphabetized records dwelled! An inspired take on a common problem. And one which would protect the records from light and dust, on the face of it. When I opened the cabinet in the “K” drawer, I then saw that it was a wasted effort; almost all of the records for sale had neither sleeves, nor pricing! Double bummer! And no Kraftwerk, either. But Ron was having better luck with US promo Leonard Cohen 7″ers making him very happy. Still, with no prices on the merch, one gets into that uncomfortable squint zone where you take the fistful of records to the owner, then he squints at them [while sizing you up] and gives you a price off the top of his head, which doesn’t help if you want to put a few things back afterward to hit your price comfort zone. Give me record stores where each record is clearly priced, please! I don’t have the stomach for these mind games.
As Ron was getting some feedback, I continued to bounce through the files, to pass time. I actually found a single record that I did want! A US promo of “All Around The World” by Robert Palmer from the “Explorers” OST from 1985. It’s a fun, non-LP cover of the Robert Blackwell rock and roll number that seems to have slipped through the cracks of Palmer’s career. This copy has the generic sleeve to protect it, but when I inspected the record, I saw that the surface had been damaged any way. C’est la guerre.
Ron managed to get a few 45s of note but after 40 minutes or so it was time to make a bee-line to some dinner before we went our separate ways. Charlotte was a strange city to buy records in. Mainly because of one factor that united most of these stores, but that I had not mentioned until now. While each store varied wildly in their vibe, style, and content, there was one wildcard that the first three stores all shared. Namely, that this seems to be quite the American city to find a lot of Stranglers records and CDs! The first three of these stores had reasonably fat selections of Stranglers material. And The Stranglers are not a band that I typically find a lot of releases for, in spite of my enthusiasm for their albums. Repo Record went so far as to have the 3D lenticular LP of my favorite release of theirs, “The Raven.” Fortunately, this has been in the Record Cell for over 20 years, but still…! There are only 20,000 copies of that floating around. It’s not a record one sees on any sort of regular basis.
That Charlotte was the city where I finally saw Hugh Cornwell play a concert in late 2013 leads me to believe that somehow, it is a hotbed of Stranglers fandom for some possibly arcane reason. Does anyone out there have any insider information to help account for this? PM me. That’s what the contact form is for. Meanwhile, I was happy that I managed to pay for the day with the milk crate of no longer needed vinyl I took with me to Manifest Discs. Though my original budget would have sufficed, there are many things to spend that money on instead. The experience has re-awakened me to the fact that many of the records I want to unload that aren’t really worth the effort of selling online and shipping out might be better sold to used record stores instead. My final conclusion is simple; the next time I find myself in Charlotte, I really must just cut straight to the chase and head for Repo Record to the exclusion of any others. Shopping in that store was such an unmitigated pleasure that was its own reward.
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