As I stumble into my late 40s I can feel the body aches uncoolness setting in with every passing minute.  BUT… no matter how old and uncool I get to these young whippersnapper generations… I have, at least, lived through the time when music stores were abound, and our music was in a physical format.   Sure, I understand the importance of instant gratification and convenience of music downloads, however, I also understand the experiences that everyone is missing out on.  For us old folks, we’re not just missing out on the experience, we’re missing them.  Just as much as we miss our big wheels, our banana seat bikes, and having to go to an arcade to play video games (THAT only cost a quarter to play).   

Granted I spent my teens and most of my music buying years in a fairly small town.  Panama City, Florida, which back then was a town of about 35,000 in a county of about 120,000 people, and yet SOMEHOW, it was able to support MANY music stores.  Our mall alone had two… Camelot Music and Record Town.  Then there was Turtles not too far from the mall in a strip mall, that later became Blockbuster Music.  There was one on the beach, CD Now, I think, they were a good one because they would special order you anything you asked for… imports, indies, just about anything… and this was before everyone had the internet.  I would get my Pianosaurus tapes there, and they were the only one who could get me anything Paganini.  Then there was a place out on the beach for a bit called Concert Concepts, they were really loaded down with pretty much any rock/metal/punk you could want.  BUT they had odd hours, and didn’t seem to last that long. 

You see, what kids today will never understand was that music stores were what we had instead of chatrooms.  You could go into the record store and find your future buddies right there in whatever section music you like.  There wasn’t any judgement, or competition, or criticizing, if you were in the Heavy Metal section, all the other dudes in jean jackets, long hair, and ripped jeans would talk music and bands with you til your ears would bleed.  Not only that, but it was your music news headquarters.  You could find out if there were going to be any concerts in the area, when bands were releasing a new album, and a lot of them had trading boards, where you could advertise music stuff on it too.  Pfffft who needs the internet?  Wait, YOU DO… You need it so you can read this…. or just go down to the local music store, I’ll staple a copy to the wall.

Not only were record stores social hubs, but they were the art galleries of our day as well.  Back in the day, bands could lure you into buying an album that you had NO IDEA how it sounded, just by having an amazing album cover.   Or they’d lure you into their fold with super cool posters over in the poster rack, or the t-shirt designs to make you the coolest dude at the bus stop or arcade, or bad ass patches and buttons for your kick ass jean jacket.  But these days, all you need to do to get people attracted to your music is pay bots in China to leave good reviews on your soundcloud profile or something.   I mean just look at this….


This is one of those examples of where the album cover did the music justice, Iron Maiden was always a surefire bet on having some amazing artwork, but Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is just about perfect musically as it was visually.  But if you never heard of the band, you knew that there had to be something to this, and if not, you at least got something cool to look at.  Iron Maiden’s art was just MADE for black light posters too.  MAN!!!

See kids?  The stuff you miss out on because there’s no need to go down to the record store?  I’m so glad I grew up with this stuff.  But another good go to for some serious album cover art was King Diamond.  Although his album “The Eye” will always be one of my favorite albums, and in my top 3 of concept albums, behind only Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Final Cut, his amazing falsetto voice sort of gives me ear fatigue if I listen too much, but he never gave me eye fatigue.


I mean come on, you’re thinking you want to buy some new music, but you don’t know who this King Diamond was… but don’t you get really curious about the story of Abigail?  You didn’t have google to just check out sound samples on, or Youtube some of his stuff, or read reviews on… this was the day of flying by the seat of your pants on your music purchases.

Megadeth was always a great source of art too, which reminds me too kiddos… because of this whole artistic pull that bands had, they’d have mascots… you can see Vic Rattlehead here working with an alien on this album.  Anthrax had Not Man, Overkill had Chalie, Iron Maiden had Eddie (as seen holding his own stomach in the album cover, and a hatchet in the poster), Motorhead had Snaggletooth (or Warpig), and Misfits had the Crimson Ghost.  They appeared on their album covers, posters, music videos, and many times, poorly drawn on brown paper bag book covers in school.

Then the absolute best part of this experience, was when you got home, and you got to your stereo, put the record on, the cassette in, or the CD in… and you kick backed, opened up the album art, read the lyrics along with the music, read the liner notes, the thank yous, the credits during the solos… finding the inside jokes that the bands hid in there… and you just became totally immersed in the moment… audibly, visually, mentally you became one with the band for 45 minutes.  

Or you say “Well this sucks” and you trade it to your friend for something else.

Now don’t get me wrong, I too, LOVE being able to download just one song that I like from a band, and checking out the whole album on Amazon before I take the plunge.  BUT…. BUT…. the bands I REALLY love… and there’s only a few these days… I will buy the digital copy and the physical copy, just so I can relive those days in the 80s and 90s, of going through the whole album, and reading, looking at pictures, and just escaping life for 45 minutes.   It truly is a wonderful experience, and it won’t even make you fail a drug test.


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