Joy Spins Eternal Saturday, April 22, for Vinyl Lovers Everywhere. Record Store Day 2017 Rolls into Your Town

alan By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted April 19, 2017)

Your mission this week, and not nearly an impossible one, is to compose your want lists and check them twice and, what’s more, map out your travel plans for Record Store Day 2017, happening in your town, and yours too.

Record Store Day (RSD), 10 years young this year, is the vinyl fan’s national holiday and quite the occasion for a big group hug. Taking place Saturday, April 22 at independent record stores worldwide, it’s the place to be to snag special RSD exclusive platters, fill in holes in your collections of archival and current artists, and meet with fellow vinyl hounds to talk shop, if by “shop” we mean, and we do, the musicians we love and, by the way, which albums and artists are in your top 10.

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Trax on Wax’s Gary Gebler

Trax on Wax, located in beautiful Catonsville, Maryland (also known as Music City), is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. Owner and vinyl guru Gary Gebler has participated in eight Record Store Days; he’s seen it all. In the following exclusive interview, Gary talks about how more mainstream artists have become a part of the annual celebration, Elton John’s status as the first worldwide Record Store Day Legend, the ongoing and increasing popularity of Big Star, and that familiar record store smell:

elton john 17-11-70What’s on your Record Store Day list this year? How about an extended vinyl version of Elton John’s famous, early live album, 17-11-70, with six never-before-heard songs and a newly-remixed version of “Amoreena,” a bonus track included on the CD reissue of the album back in 1995? How about The Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction album from 1966 in mono on 180-gram vinyl? Zombies fans will want to snag a copy of a special 45–on pink vinyl, no less–pairing a previously unheard version of “A Rose for Emily” and the version of “This Will Be Our Year” that everyone knows and loves.

Whatever your desires, an indie record store near you on Record Store Day 2017 will likely be able to fulfill them. Our hearts are with Trax on Wax; we hope yours are pledged to support your favorite local independent record stores, wherever they may be.

Happy hunting and spinning!

Learn more about Trax on Wax by clicking here.

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Record Store Day 2015: Crazy, Man. Crazy Good.

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Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland

by Alan Haber

It’s after lunch on this sunny Saturday, sometime after the regular crowd shuffles in to the various quick- and long-stop eateries along Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland. A woman, probably in her late thirties, maybe her early forties, walks carefully around the tight corners and through the narrow walkways separating the fully-stocked shelves and displays populating Objects Found, a neighborhood antique store within which shiny, happy jewelry pieces and Elvis Presley collectibles sit happily side by side in nooks and crannies and behind glass doors in crowded cases.

patsy-cline-crazy-45-label-sized-for-web-storyThe woman, looking here and over there, but not too far afield, is hearing the songs played through the store’s audio system, and they are coming one after the other and, what with her looking for just the right item or items to bring home, wrapped in tissue paper and put in bags at the counter, it is hard to distinguish one song from the other, but as if by some magical means, one song catches the woman’s ear and burrows into it. “Crazy,” the woman sings, “I’m crazy for feeling so lonely.” Whether she knows it or not, the woman is singing something approaching a duet with Patsy Cline; the woman matches Patsy word for word, perhaps not exactly in meter or in key, but she is right on the button with her.

“I’m crazy, crazy for feeling so blue…” All the while, as the melody flows through her, her face never betrays the feeling; she knows the song, has lived with that song for at least a time; maybe she heard it when she was growing up or discovered it at a friend’s house. Maybe she heard it on the radio, on some country station or oldies outlet. It doesn’t matter; she knows that song, and the act of singing it as she is shopping for something to cherish, however large or small, means that she cherishes the song, too. And then, as “Crazy” fades into another song that perhaps doesn’t strike a chord with her, the woman stops singing and moves forward through the store; a ring or a doll that looks vaguely Victorian is calling out to her, the way that music, the way that particular songs call out to people and burrow in and, really, what can you do about that other than sing along?

spot's-watering-holeThere was a lot of singing along, mostly, probably, silently, and tapping of feet at the famed Catonsville depot for vinyl records old and new and newer still on this Saturday in April, round about mid-month, just after tax day–a beautiful day, with the temperature rolling around the 80-degree mark; a day when even Fido could cool off with a tasty drink; shirt-sleeve weather delighting passersby and record geeks and music fans and folks who love the oldies or the latest hits or some kind of thing in between; people both young and older; people whose high-end sound systems can blow the roof off of their houses and their neighbors’ houses, and people with entry-level, all-in-one turntable systems; people for whom only the finest vinyl pressings will do and those who aren’t quite so fussy.

happy-birthday-golden-recordAll of these people are gathered at Trax on Wax in Catonsville, Maryland at about 11:30 in the morning, gathered together as one like-minded group, even if they don’t know it, snapping up the special Record Store Day releases and thumbing through the stacks that house upwards of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 albums, give or take. Even a stack of old Golden Record 45s and other single delights shines brightly with one entitled Happy Birthday on top; the record inside of the brightly colored sleeve, depicting a kids’ party complete with lit candles on a festive cake, has part one of “Happy Birthday” on the a-side and part two on the b-side. The record, which advertises on the back of the sleeve other Golden Records–“3 Little Golden Records on a 45 RPM EP – 6 Songs and Famous Littles on Both 78 RPM and 45 RPM”–features the song stylings of the Sandpipers and Mitch Miller and his Orchestra and is from about 1960, when it could be had for a measly 29 cents. The Famous Littles were priced slightly higher in Canada–35 cents, to be exact. “Ask for the Fabulous Golden LP records, only $1.98 ea.” You could get a lot for so little back in the day.

But these Golden treasures, stacked on the floor in the back of the store, were only the tip of a very large iceberg; rock, pop, jazz, specialty, soul, comedy and just about anything you could want ruled the day and lined the shelves. Special Record Store Day releases were displayed on the walls to the left of Trax’s entrance.

trax-on-wax-full-of-customersAmidst the Record Store day chatter, you could probably hear people saying, “Hey, there’s the Sly and the Family Stone live album recorded at the Fillmore and never released until now!”, “Man, I love the White Stripes!”, or “Those Kinks EPs look rather tasty!” And “Do you have–” Well, that was probably the number one question asked of Trax on Wax owner Gary Gebler and his manager Jeff Ball and the other knowledgeable, passionate-about-music-just-like-you folks working that day. It was a day all about family; it was a day all about people who like the feeling they get when they are around other music and vinyl fans, people who grew up with the sounds of music and carried those deeply-set feelings through adulthood and people who just discovered the joy of holding a record album in their hands, of looking at people-sized artwork and included posters and stickers and full credits that tell you who played what and twiddled the knobs in the studio.

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(Left to right) Vinyl collector and music fan David Harris with Trax on Wax owner Gary Gebler

It was a day about the extended family of vinyl hounds and casual music fans converging on the little store that does in Catonsville, and, really, it was a day of getting together and turning each other on to some band or singer or spoken word artist who really rings the magic bell time and time again. It was a day of joy for  David Harris, a collector of records played on fine audio equipment who knows what’s what, who is like a moth drawn to a flame when color pressings are in his sights; a man who lives and breathes music and for whom vinyl is a way of life–a man who talks about his favorite records and vinyl finds and lights up with such strength that he could probably power a city like Las Vegas, if such a thing were possible.

For David Harris, vinyl is king, as he explains in the following interview:

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Longtime music fan Gwen Mister shows off the special 180 gram mono edition of the Doors’ Strange Days album at Trax on Wax

The first 45 that Gwen Mister owned was “Shop Around” by the Miracles (actually, by the Miracles featuring Bill “Smokey” Robinson, as the credits read on the Tamla single label). Gwen was at Trax on Wax looking for Record Store Day releases such as the 180 gram mono pressing of the Doors’ Strange Days album, which she found and proudly shows off in the picture at left.

shop-around-tamla-45-resizedIn a perfect world, if you looked in the dictionary under “dedicated music fan,” you would probably find a photo of Miss Mister. A retired accountant, who used to study the violin and loves Diana Ross, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, Grace Slick, Bonnie Raitt and, perhaps most especially, John Lennon, Miss Mister is a gracious and dedicated music fan, as is obvious by listening to the following interview:

In a perfect world, and this world of vinyl hounds and fans of Diana Ross and fans of just plain good music is about as perfect as it gets, every day would be Record Store Day–that is, a day to visit local, independent record stores to visit with the staff, talk to the owner, greet the day with a new vinyl find and pledge to come back again soon now, you hear?

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(Left to right) Trax on Wax Owner Gary Gebler tells Alan Haber that Record Store Day 2015 was a great day

For Gary Gebler of Trax on Wax, Record Store Day 2015 was as perfect a day as he has had the pleasure to experience. Listen to Gary wax poetic:

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Frederick Road, Catonsville, Maryland

On April 18, 2015, a sunny day, a beautiful day along Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland, at the center, the hub of vinyl experience for vinyl hounds and music fans who know what’s what and what’s up and what to look for in a sea of treasures, Record Store Day shone. It was a crazy day, a great day, a day that will stand among other days that came before and will come after. This day, this quite sunny and spectacular day, will be remembered by the people who were there. These people will play their records and think back to this day, and next year, around the same time, they will hope for sunny skies still, but really, really, it’s all a state of mind; every day is a sunny day when the music is playing and the beat, ultimately, will go on.

*     *     *     *     *

Trax on Wax, Your Vinyl Destination in Catonsville, MarylandTrax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.

peanuts-cruiserThe Peanuts Crosley Cruiser is the official turntable of Pure Pop Radio.

Click here to download our app for listening on the go with Android and iOS devices!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Pure Pop Radio’s Countdown to Record Store Day 2015: Thursday

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With just two days to go before Record Store Day 2015 commences at your local, independent record store, it’s time to get down to it and, well, confess: Turntables? I’ve had a few.

This week, I’ve been looking back to some of the reasons why I fell in love with records, and how that love has fueled my ongoing obsession with the 12-inch vinyl wonders of the world. Today, I find myself waxing nostalgic about some of the turntables I’ve had in my life. Turntables that have been pushed to their limits. Turntables that were able to play records at 78 rpm, which came in handy when listening to Moby Grape’s “Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot,” a track on the group’s 1968 Wow album that played at 78 rpm. Turntables on which you could set the speed between the actual speed settings so you would be able to rock Beatles records back and forth to uncover clues to Paul McCartney’s death. Turntables like that.

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The Garrard 40B

The Garrard 40B was an entry level, three-speed turntable that seemed, for a time, at least, to be the go-to model for kids in my Long Island neighborhood. It seemed as though every kid had one. We played our 45s and our LPs on this gateway to the world of music that we were constantly discovering. It took a licking and kept on ticking. It was a reliable performer that did the trick time and again. It was what we had for a time, and we loved it.

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Not the Symphonic model described below

Then there was an all-in-one model by Symphonic (not the one depicted above, but sort-of similar) that had built-in speakers on either side of the turntable, which folded out to the front. Maneuvering the speed lever between settings, you could rock a record back and forth, slowly but surely, when trying to discover the various audio clues that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Paul McCartney was dead. This was a handy (not official) feature, allowing my friends and I to go deep inside The Beatles, aka the White Album. Backwards clues? No problem. Not surprisingly, I fried one of these units doing the rocking thing. Thankfully, my father was tolerant and understanding when it came to me asking–begging–him to buy me another one. Good times.

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The Stanton STR8-20

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The ION ITTUSB

Today,  I can use any of three turntables to play my records. The Stanton STR8-20 is the top model in my main rack; the ION ITTUSB allows me to record needle drops on my main computer. But the Peanuts Crosley Cruiser, purchased on Record Store Day 2014, is the official turntable of Pure Pop Radio. I mean, just look at it:

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The Peanuts Crosley Cruiser

Today, as was the case yesterday and the yesterday before, there is no activity finer than bringing the needle down on a great record, getting the volume just right (pumping for the driving stuff and not-so-pumping for softer sounds), and plopping down on the couch–comfort is key–for an immersive listening experience. Holding the cover–taking in the majesty of the art, reading the credits (“Oh look, it’s Robben Ford on guitar!”), and checking out the inner sleeve–is beyond important. And singing along? Well, naturally.

Tomorrow, I bring this week of vinyl memories to a soft landing, just in time for Record Store Day 2015 to greet your Saturday. What joy!

– Alan Haber

Trax on Wax, Your Vinyl Destination in Catonsville, MarylandTrax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.

peanuts-cruiserThe Peanuts Crosley Cruiser is the official turntable of Pure Pop Radio.

Click here to download our app for listening on the go with Android and iOS devices!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Pure Pop Radio’s Countdown to Record Store Day 2015: Monday

record-store-day-2015This coming Saturday, people of all ages, whether they be short or tall, wearing glasses or contacts, dressed in blue jeans or suits and ties, driving their cars or riding in buses, college age or of a certain age, wearing long hair or short or in-between, partial to loud dress shirts or rock ‘n’ roll tees, rockers or jazzers or popsters, will be converging on independent record stores across America and various locations abroad.

It’s almost time for the vinyl fans’ annual pilgrimage to Mecca–the local or faraway or somewhere in-between record store that caters to them in a way that online shops can not; places where you are greeted with a smile by the owner or a knowledgeable staff member who can answer questions about a particular release almost faster than you can ask them; places where the new mixes with the old and all releases, regardless of genre or age, play nice with each other.

springsteen-record-store-day-2014record-store-day-ramonesMost people likely have their eyes on the prizes pressed by both independent and major record companies–special releases and items created for Record Store Day that bring out-of-print releases back to life, gather previously-unreleased tracks (such as last RSD’s Bruce Springsteen album), or simply celebrate the occasion with style (this year’s Ramones Crosley Cruiser turntable, the sequel to last year’s Peanuts model).

Record Store Day is a fun day–a day to meet other music fans, swap stories about favorite platters, soak up the vinyl atmosphere, and spend lots of money; one in which everything goes and favored releases go out the door at record speed.

Anticipating Record Store Day 2015, I’ve been in a vinyl state of mind that has gotten me in the mood to visit past vinyl purchases and think about where and why I bought them. If it’s true that every picture tells a story, record albums speak volumes. And I’ve spun a few albums in my time.

Freddy-McCoy-albumfreddie-mccoy-autographOne I probably haven’t spun since the late sixties is an album by jazz vibraphonist Freddie McCoy, who spent time with my father, a trumpet player, in the 440th band at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where I was born. Flipping through albums on a random shelf, I found a copy of McCoy’s 1968 Prestige records release, Soul Yogi, which contains covers of Brian Wilson’s “Pet Sounds” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus.” Signed on the cover in pen by McCoy with a dedication to my father, the album, which I forgot I had, has brought back some wonderful memories. I’m thrilled that I found it. Check out McCoy’s inscription above right.

Our-Best-to-YouAnother album, a Columbia Special Products release from 1967 called Our Best to You, was a favorite record I got from a Columbia promo man who lived across the street from a friend of mine when I was growing up. Hits by the Cryan’ Shames and the Byrds stack up against Moby Grape’s “8:05” and Aretha Franklin’s “Sweet Bitter Love” for a fun spin. I somehow lost or misplaced my original copy; I was able to acquire another last year from the great record store, Trax on Wax (see below). This was an important record for me, because it came near to the start of my vinyl and music obsession. I about wore my copy out.

captain-kangarooThe first vinyl album I owned was a soundtrack recording by the cast of the kids television show Captain Kangaroo, which ran for more than 30 years on CBS television. I distinctly remember it being delivered to my house on a day when I was home sick from school. It was the greatest present I’d ever been given; unfortunately, I don’t have it any more, and I don’t remember which specific title it was.

soupy-sales-sez-do-the-mouseBut I do remember the second album I owned: Soupy Sales Sez Do the Mouse *and Other Teen Hits. I knew the words to every track on that record. I drove my parents crazy, running around the house singing “The Mouse” and “Pachalafaka.” “They whisper it all over Turkey,” I’d warble, trying to sound like Soupy. Crazy days! I don’t have the original album my father bought for me, but I do have another copy I bought a couple of decades later. Another prized possession that brings back great memories.

mighty-groundhogsOne more memory for today: A 1972 album by the Mighty Groundhogs, released on United Artists Records, featuring full comic strip art drawn by none other than super artist Neal Adams. I don’t remember how I heard about this record–I probably just found it in a used record shop and bought it because of the cover and package art. Pretty sweet, then and now.

These are just some of the vinyl memories I’ve been thinking about the past few days, leading up to the week-long countdown to Record Store Day 2015. We’ll be at the official record store for Pure Pop Radio, Catonsville, Maryland’s Trax on Wax, on Record Store Day, celebrating with fellow vinyl and music fans. We can’t wait.

Tomorrow: More vinyl memories as we continue counting down to Record Store Day 2015. See you then!

– Alan Haber

Trax on Wax, Your Vinyl Destination in Catonsville, MarylandTrax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.

peanuts-cruiserThe Peanuts Crosley Cruiser is the official turntable of Pure Pop Radio.

(All album photos, except for American Beauty, were taken by ace Daily Planet photographer, Janet Haber)

Click here to download our app for listening on the go with Android and iOS devices!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes