Are you having second thoughts on dropping $300 on an iPod and spending 99 cents per iTunes download?
Deep down you know that by the end of the month you’ll be broke and have nothing to show besides four versions of the Black Eyed Peas “My Humps,” and a set of white headphones implanted into you head. If you want a cheap way to listen to good music, you may just have to dust off your dad’s old record player.
There’s a certain mystique in coming back from a late night and throwing an Eric Clapton or Stevie Wonder record on the turntable knowing your mom and dad did the same thing 30 years ago. It just seems more appropriate to listen to music of the 1960s and 1970s on the machines meant to play the music well.
While some people are afraid to listen to music using the same technology that their parents and grandparents did decades ago, many true music fans embrace records for their novelty and collecting purposes, not to mention the music’s richer sound.
“Buying an LP is more buying a piece of history, with more money put into the cover and production,” said John Yates from Beautiful World Syndicate, a record shop at 1619 E. Passyunk Ave. The cover art alone on some albums is worth the money.
“When you understand music, you appreciate shopping around the record stores. I don’t like the CD thing, it’s bootleg to be honest with you,” said Dre, who while checking out the LPs at Beautiful Worlds Syndicate scored records from artists Notorious B.I.G., Al Green and a Stevie Wonder record imported from Japan.
“There’s no feeling in it,” he added.
While South Street is the place for music shops, East Passyunk Avenue in the culturally rich Italian neighborhood is making its own mark with stores Beautiful World Syndicate and Record Rendezvous on its 1600 and 1700 blocks.
Going to a record shop is always an education in and of itself and something different is bound to catch your attention each time. Sometimes you’ll try your luck on a dollar bin record and you’ll find a gem.
Or while browsing the aisles you may end up chatting with someone who can recommend an LP worth your money. Some shops also have turntables that they may let you use to check out a record.
The workers and shoppers are there simply because they love music. Richard Marcus, the self proclaimed “record president,” and Cinnie Morgan, the “record goddess,” who co-own Record Rendezvous, said, “We’ve seen half these big groups when they first came out.”
The duo had a shop in Rittenhouse Square from 1967 through 1984, later opening shop in South Philadelphia. Their shop focuses on classic rock while also selling a diverse selection of jazz and folk.
The shop’s variety attracts customers from 15 years old to 70 years old. They have a satisfaction guarantee on all records over 99 cents. Many other shops do not offer this guarantee.
John from Beautiful World Syndicate is heavily involved with the music scene, selling records at the R5 production shows at the First Unitarian Church. He has had many loyal customers follow him from these shows to his South Philly location.
His large shop has rows upon rows of records with several hundred $1 records. The store also stocks a large punk and indie selection. While many don’t know it, new LPs are often produced and can be bought at Beautiful World Syndicate.
Some specialty records like the rare monaural or “mono single-channel sound” edition of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or the first edition of a Beatles album go for $30, but many records in both Record Rendezvous and Beautiful World Syndicate sell for less than $5.
Cinnie the “record goddess” put it best: “You can walk in the shop with $20 and walk out with an arm-full of records.”
Stu Jerue can be reached at email@example.com.