Adventures in Record Shopping (Little Rock)
Finding a few gems in Arkansas…
Last weekend my family celebrated the 90th birthday for my grandmother in Little Rock, Arkansas. In preparation for the trip, I looked up record stores in the area and stumbled on a few options to visit following the party.
The store that appeared most interesting was Arkansas Record-CD Exchange. I had prepared my wife and two kids for the shopping experience and as soon as we walked into the store my wife said, “Well, this is going to be expensive.”
The store is situated in a strip mall and can be easily missed if you are not paying attention. Even though it’s opened for business, when you approach the store it still looks closed and I had a mild Clark Griswold moment before realizing they were actually open. Also there are instructions on the door about what you cannot wear or bring inside. It’s common to have these instructions at record stores but upon entering you immediately walk into a purple stanchion rope that you have to lift off the pole in order to enter. I didn’t ask but I assumed this is perhaps where they have people wait who may not abide by the dress code?
Whenever I visit a new record store I get immediately overwhelmed. During this period of inaction I am scanning the store, looking around and trying to figure out where to start. While I was standing there the owner Bill asked me if he could help and I politely said no, assuming I could figure my way around the store. I was wrong. I spent way too much time going through the wrong sections of the store. I was distracted by the LPs on the floor which is what I’m looking through in the photo above that my wife took (notice my two kids looking at trading cards in the center of the photo). There were CDs and LPs mixed in the front of the store which I found confusing but I managed to scan through most.
And then I found this:
When I stumbled on this hallway I let out a mild gasp and told my family to come look. Bill explained, “I would have told you about this sooner but you told me you didn’t need any help.” As you can see, there isn’t much room to maneuver and when another shopper was back here you had to dance around each other to find what you’re looking for. Behind me is a ladder used to reach the albums on the top shelf. It was amazing. My only complaint is that the store mixes in new with used vinyl in this hallway so multiple times I thought I had found something special only to realize it was a brand new sealed reissue. But I did manage to find a stack of LP’s that are perfect for my collection listed below.
I own original copies of Licensed To Ill, Check Your Head and Hello Nasty but not Ill Communication. I was excited to find a copy of this green version of Ill Communication which supposedly came with a sticker that read, “ “Limited Edition Colored Vinyl Beastie Boys’ Format Of Choice” although my used copy did not. It reminded me of the first time I bought this album…I didn’t have enough money for the CD so I purchased the cassette and it was green, just like this LP. I wish I still had that tape but it was eaten my car’s tape player years ago.
I actually found two versions of Soundgarden’s Screaming Life EP, one on orange vinyl and the other on blue. I decided to pick up the orange copy.
While shopping the punk section I found this OG version of Lifetime’s Hello Bastards released in 1995 on Jade Tree Records.
The final album I picked up was for pure nostalgic reasons. In 1999 I moved to Los Angeles for a college semester to intern at a record label. It was the inaugural Belmont West program and I jumped at the opportunity to go out west and intern at non-country labels (as during my college years those were nearly impossible to find in Nashville). I decided to intern at Capitol Records full time on Mondays and Wednesdays to look good on my resume but still had time to intern in the afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was a huge fan of crank!’s releases and emailed them to see if they would be interested in having me intern. They said yes and I had a blast working there in the afternoons two days a week. My main job responsibility was to pack orders for their online business, Saul Goodman. During this time they were coming off releasing albums by Fireside and the Gloria Record and were gearing up to release the Sunday’s Best album, Where Are You Now. I remember driving with the guys who worked at the label (all three of them) to see Sunday’s Best play with Appleseed Cast in some warehouse in L.A.
All of this to say, when I find crank! releases I have a hard time passing them up. I probably overpaid a bit for this Boy’s Life LP but to me it brings back fond memories. The album’s sleeve is screen printed and not a glue pocket. The original lyric sheet and crank! catalog flyer were included as well. This was crank!’s fourth release as you can see above with the crc-004 catalog number printed on the back of the sleeve.
One more thing about my internship in Los Angeles…when I mentioned above that I owned the OG versions of Check Your Head and Hello Nasty by the Beastie Boys, it’s because Capitol gave me those LP’s from their label stash which were just collecting dust on the shelves in their promo closets.
I had picked up a green Sensefield 7 inch and at the last minute decided to put it back. Bill was eyeballing me and told me to just give it to him because he had them alphabetized. I pointed to the box where I had pulled the 7 inch and showed him I was putting Sensefield back in the S section and he still grimaced. It was then I realized he had each 7 inch further alphabetized under their respective letters. At first this seemed like an extreme organization method but I remembered Bill has been in his store for over 30 years…what should I expect? I look forward to visiting Bill’s store again when I have more time to shop.
As we were checking out at Arkansas Record-CD Exchange, Bill told me to also check out Been Around Records, just about fifteen minutes away. We rushed over there, all the way knowing we still had to get on the road and drive back home to Nashville that night. Upon walking in you see the walls lined with shelves of records by genre then alphabetical order. The floor is packed with CD shelves and on top of the CDs there are piles of records that I assume are to be filed or possibly left behind by a shopper who changed their mind at the last minute. We did not have time to go through this store but I did eye a copy of Licensed to Ill and pulled it down to investigate it when my wife shot this picture. I will spend more time at Been Around on our next trip back.
Finally, and most importantly, happy 90th birthday to my grandmother!!!!