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Edward McKay’s Used Books + More | Greensboro
The third store I selected was Edward McKay’s Used Books + More, which is sort of an all-used Media Play® type of place. That means that used books, CDs, records, DVDs, and video games [along with pop culture tchatkes] are bought, sold, and traded for. There are currently three Edward McKay’s in North Carolina; in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro. There is a very similar store in my town of Asheville, NC called [confusingly] Mr. K’s Used Books, Music, + More. I think it may be one of those Snyder Pretzels/Snyder’s Of Berlin Pretzels type of situations. At any rate, these places can have good stock. I have on occasion gotten some amazing things at my local Mr. K’s that staggered belief [US promo CD of the unreleased in the USA “Black + White 050505” by Simple Minds, for a start] and just as many times, wasted an hour there to leave empty handed. It comes down to the luck of the draw, really. I thought it would be time to investigate one of these other regional used media stores instead of “straight” record stores.
What hits you straight off with this store is just how many books there are for sale there. One must navigate dozens of narrow aisles of countless books before emerging into the music sale portion of the store. Fortunately, the space there is not so cramped, but the bins are filled “spine to left” which means… that’s right, a lot of pawing through the bins rather than scanning spines optically. Having just scored a Prince 12″ earlier, I had the [still] relative lack of Prince product int he Record Cell on my minds, but it quickly transpired that they had none. But the “P” section still yielded paydirt when a scarce 1999 Robert Palmer album turned up for “we almost pay you” prices. I want a full Palmer solo discography and I’d never seen the “Rhythm + Blues” album anywhere else, other than the web.
More fun abounded with The Psychedelic Furs. I recall when the clumsily-titled “Here Come The Psychedelic Furs: B-Sides And Lost Grooves” made its appearance over 23 years ago. I hadn’t sprung for it at the time since I was in a snit over the B-side “* * * *” being left off of it. These days, it would have had to have been priced at $20 or more to keep me off of it! I had not seen a copy of that in at least 20 years and the asking price was certainly fair at $5.50. Speaking of pricing, I noticed that pricing here was assiduously “market-value.” Everything seemed to be priced according to the going rate. If it was an OOP title, expect to pay a premium for it here. What hath Discogs.com wrought? Given that I shop there quite a bit, I can’t complain, ultimately.
While visiting with my friend Tom the day prior, we had been playing music from his Media Server O’Hits® and I was crestfallen that over the years I had only a single Groovie Ghoulies CD to my name. As we enjoyed their cover of Sonny Bono’s “Laugh At Me” from “Fun In The Dark,” I was struck by how I’d dropped the ball on his suggestion to buy any Groovie Ghoulies 20 years ago. That first time I grabbed “World Contact Day” and the… nothing! This was great über fun pop-punk! As if to show me atonement for my musical sins of omission, there was a copy of the title for sale right there and I didn’t miss my chance this time. When the universe sends a message, it’s best to listen!
I saw a wonderfully intact CD of Lou Reed’s “Set The Twilight Reeling.” That all blue jewel box must have cost Warner Brother’s a pretty penny but the effect was worth it. This was a disc that was Grammy® worthy for its design. If you see a copy in the bins, inspect it. It’s cool. I’m always up for another Lou Reed CD in the Record Cell, with the exception of “Metal Machine Music,” of course! Speaking of which, I saw that there as well! Only it was not a CD. It was on Blu-Ray, which we don’t worry about. As I pondered the implications of 24/96 5.1 mixes of 16:01 long recordings of just feedback, I turned over the case and looked at the back of the disc [see below]:
Now that was funny! I shared the joke with my wife. For the record, I recently bought “Hudson River Wind Meditations.” I’ll report back with my findings once I play it.
I’m always up for whatever Dexter Romweber’s putting down. The man is like a god of Rock + Roll music. From the moment I first heard him; a 16 year old teen, he sounded like a grizzled 50+ year vet of Rock + Roll. His first performance I caught in 1985 seemed like something dug up from 20 years earlier. Now that he is 50 years old, he’s still making beautiful, frightening, emotional music. I saw him on the tour for this album last September, but the gig was in advance of the album’s release, so I could not buy it at the merch table. Don’t you hate when that happens? I caught up with it here, this being the first time I saw a copy.
Finally, my wife pointed out a Saint Etienne title I didn’t have in the “new arrivals” section. Priced very right, I might add. I am always up for some Saint Etienne, though their discography is so massive, with many limited editions I’ll never hold a hope out for actually collecting the band. I’m content to buy things when i see them and leave it at that. Their oeuvre has been fairly consistent even as the sound has mutated over their career.
While the wall proclaimed vinyl and CDs, the shiny silver discs dominated. 95% of the stock was CD-based. I was shocked by this, but maybe I should not have been. After all, all of the growth these days was in new, 180g vinyl at [very] full price. Used vinyl is getting ejected from store space right and left these days in lieu of the more profitable new pressings. Now that I consider it, the almost complete lack of used vinyl may be down to that trend. I was fine with Edward McKays’ having primarily CD stock. It reminded me of the 90s when a trip to CD Warehouse could yield nice findings.
My wife and I spent a nice afternoon in Greensboro, doing some shopping, which of course, included round spinning things that made sounds! Just a few hours away, there are cities where one can go and spend all day searching for and buying interesting music at fair prices. From sublets in a hookah shop to huge places that seem like Greensboro’s answer to Amoeba, there is still interesting used music for sale out there with my name on it. Possibly yours, too.
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