Thursday, December 06, 2012

New record store in town

I think I've crossed a certain threshold in my life. I'm sitting here listening to a Dave Frishberg album that I bought with my own money. I'm really not that big on jazz vocalists, especially one that is so self-consciously witty. But I've always kind of liked "I'm Hip," which is the first song on the album. Buck Bryce used to play this on WYEP back in the '80s when I was in high school, delivering the Post-Gazette and listening to his show each morning.

Speaking of that time of my life, there was a brief period back in 9th grade when I used to get a catalog from a record store in the Bay Area called Rather Ripped Records. It was a BIG DEAL because it always had a mix of new, sealed stuff along with occasionally rare things. There were several good used record stores in Pittsburgh at the time, but getting a list from one in another city had a certain level of intrigue.

At the time I first discovered it, I hadn't fully dove into punk rock and was still heavily into catching up on '60s music that I had missed. As an example, my favorite bands at the time were probably Spirit, Traffic and Moby Grape. (Although I did see the Pretenders that fall.) I think the first thing I tried to order from RRR was something by Iron Butterfly, either Heavy or Metamorphosis. That was already bought so I got my alternatives instead: the Bonzo Dog Band compilation History of... which I still have, and Vanilla Fudge's Renaissance, which even then I thought was pretty lousy, save for "Season of the Witch." On Christmas Eve that year, my second RRR package arrived: Moby Grape's Grape Jam and Talking Heads '77. Exciting times. Some time in early '82, the catalog stopped coming because RRR had a fire and flood and lost a lot of inventory.

The reason for mentioning all this is that last week, Russ - the man who started the store - opened a new shop in, of all places, Lawrenceville, just five minutes from my house. He and his wife moved back here a few years ago to take care of his parents and after selling out at a flea market he opened a storefront. And that's where the Dave Frishberg album came from, as well as a Phineas Newborn album on Contemporary and a couple of CDs.

Strange how things work out. I often think about when I got those albums because it was such a turning point in my adolescent life. There's another elaborate entry about Christmas 1981 on the blog somewhere. And now the man who helped set those memories is back here, in the town I had no clue where he grew up. Funny I never knew that at time.

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