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Tower Records


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My first Tower experience was the one on Sunset; subsequently I spent time at the New Orleans, Union Square, Atlanta Tower Records locations.  Even had one here for about a year.  We're talking decades of purchasing too much recorded music, so my memories tend to be more generally personal than specifically musical.  

I do have three memories, suitable for general consumption, surrounding the Atlanta location.  First, I saw Todd Rundgren patiently trolling the racks like anybody else.  Second, I spent a long hour at that Tower with nothing to show for my search until I discovered the "Avant-garde" section.  Third, my younger brother once interrupted my trolling to show me a record he had found-it seems that he made up a fake hardcore band that he called The Bloody Stools (even writing their imaginary theme song "F*#% You We're the Bloody Stools."  He held up his find and it was, in fact, a record by The Bloody Stools.  There is no idea so terrible that someone else won't try it.

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5 hours ago, Brad said:

I used to visit the Tower Records store by Lincoln Center in the City, probably in the late 90s or early 2000s. Think some of my purchases was bop from PD labels like Cool ‘N Blue Records. 

I remember going there in the late 80's as the LP era was fading out in favor of CDs. The vinyl inventory kept getting smaller and smaller.

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My first CD purchases were some Blue Note cutouts of classic titles from Tower Records in Philly in early 1988.  I didn't even have a CD player yet.  The thought of missing out on those BN titles drove me to finally jump into the format.    My first non-BN CD was also purchased there, Teena Marie's "Naked to the World".  Amazing music, and I still have that CD 32 years on.

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I used to go to Tower in Portland. The store moved around a bit, but I remember at the beginning of the 90s when cds finally occupied more space than LPs. That's when I made the switch--later than many, of course. The last time I went to a Tower Records was in Kyoto Japan. They're still in business there, of course. Bless the Japanese' hearts--they still like physical media!!

 

 

gregmo

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38 minutes ago, mjazzg said:

The best thing apart from the selection about Tower in Piccadilly Circus is that it was open until midnight. That meant post gig, and more dangerously, post pub shopping trips - bound to loosen the wallet and expand the 'I can afford this many' criterion. 

That was a great selling point for all their stores!

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6 hours ago, gmonahan said:

Bless the Japanese' hearts--they still like physical media!!

I guess I should do ancestry.com - maybe I'm part Japanese!

5 hours ago, Late said:

Agreed! Many times I stayed right up until midnight browsing the racks. I remember buying my first Herbie Nichols album at the Tower on Sunset some time around midnight.

Me too.  I would go to a church meeting or visit my girlfriend (wife since 1993) in Philly, then go down to the store on South Street afterwards.  South Street was empty that time of night, and I could literally park right in front of the store.

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Like others when I visited NYC I would go to the Tower Records in the Village and particularly the Annex.  Not far from there was Other Records (?), which is now closed.  

When we visited Tokyo about 7-8 years ago, my wife and daughter went to Disneyland-I went to the Tower Records store in Shibuya: https://blog.discogs.com/en/digging-in-tokyo-tower-records/.  That was great. 

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7 hours ago, cliffpeterson said:

Like others when I visited NYC I would go to the Tower Records in the Village and particularly the Annex.  Not far from there was Other Records (?), which is now closed.  

When we visited Tokyo about 7-8 years ago, my wife and daughter went to Disneyland-I went to the Tower Records store in Shibuya: https://blog.discogs.com/en/digging-in-tokyo-tower-records/.  That was great. 

It was called Other Music.

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9 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

Documentary about Tower Records made a few years ago: 

 

My wife and I saw this in a theater here in DC when it first came out (not even on a documentary film fest or anything - it just ran here for a week).

Very enjoyable, and highly recommended viewing. Even my wife liked it!

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Tower Records Austin, Texas employed my best friend Dave Laczko for nearly twenty years. For most of those years he was the Jazz and Classical buyer. I met him over a row of Miles Davis cds and we've been friends since.

I especially enjoyed shopping there Saturday mornings. My late first wife's private nickname between us was "Sleeps Til Noon." I would have a nice breakfast and shop there and visit and then get back home with brunch just in time.

I especially remember Dave and I attempting to secure copies of the Japanese version of the Plugged Nickel material, and the disappointment that the store did not receive any of the allotment scheduled for them. And working with Dave to get every release in the Savoy series of reissues by Denon. And I remember meeting a few artists there either at special appearances or just shopping.

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Tower in Piccadilly Circus was also a magnet for me. In my final decade of work as a college lecturer (the 90s) I was always quick to volunteer to visit students on central London work placements as it meant an expenses covered trip to Tower for me. Judging from the number of guys of mature age browsing with briefcases many of those afternoon visits must have been work related. Probably it was you each time, Sidewinder, or maybe you were at Mole. :D

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3 hours ago, BillF said:

Tower in Piccadilly Circus was also a magnet for me. In my final decade of work as a college lecturer (the 90s) I was always quick to volunteer to visit students on central London work placements as it meant an expenses covered trip to Tower for me. Judging from the number of guys of mature age browsing with briefcases many of those afternoon visits must have been work related. Probably it was you each time, Sidewinder, or maybe you were at Mole. :D

Bill - the same afternoon guys with the briefcases at Tower were also inmates at Mole I think. You still see them in Ray’s. :D

Only caught the tail end of the 90s Tower Piccadilly, although I did make the odd visit from overseas earlier on. Quite often it was during late night transits through the West End after attending a gig or having a beer or three !

Edited by sidewinder
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21 hours ago, cliffpeterson said:

I went to the Tower Records store in Shibuya. That was great. 

Thanks for posting that blog link to Tower in Tokyo, Cliff. In case anyone missed it above, here it is again:

Tower In Tokyo

According to the documentary (Colin Hanks!), there are 85 Tower Records stores in Japan. Those stores broke off from U.S. ownership in 2002. Tower closed in 2006.

Who else here has been to a Tower in Japan? Didn't the Shibuya store actually have its own in-house label? I know there are obis around (for classical at least) that say something to the effect of Tower Records Employee Pick. Something like that. Anyone here have one of those discs?

The 9-story Shibuya store:

Tower_Records_Shibuya-768x1124.jpg

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I was in one Tower store in Tokyo, probably the one in Shibuya.  I'm sure I picked up a couple of things, but there was a smaller music store in the neighborhood where I picked up a few more CDs (probably mostly BNs not available in the States).  I didn't take detailed notes, however, and have forgotten the actual purchases.

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I lived near Sacramento in my formative days, so probably started shopping at Tower around 1967.  I still shop at Tower in Kansai and Tokyo area...frankly more for music-related books and magazines than for the recorded music they sell these days.  After then closure of the US stores, I still shopped in Colombia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand,  Whatever the condition of the business and physical location, it was a small touch of "home". 

On 2/26/2020 at 5:22 AM, bresna said:

I was once told that all Japanese CD stores sell their wares at list price price. Is that true?

I can't swear to it - my ability to read Japanese is almost non-existent - but Tower's prices are as high as any place I have seen.   And the selection runs absolutely mainstream.

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3 hours ago, BeBop said:

I lived near Sacramento in my formative days, so probably started shopping at Tower around 1967.  I still shop at Tower in Kansai and Tokyo area...frankly more for music-related books and magazines than for the recorded music they sell these days.  After then closure of the US stores, I still shopped in Colombia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand,  Whatever the condition of the business and physical location, it was a small touch of "home". 

 

Where was Tower in Colombia? Bogotá? (I'm interested as there is a Colombian in my family.)

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7 hours ago, BeBop said:

 

I can't swear to it - my ability to read Japanese is almost non-existent - but Tower's prices are as high as any place I have seen.   And the selection runs absolutely mainstream.

That was all true at the Tower near me for the last year or so they were open.  And they had also stopped publishing the Pulse magazine.  They became useless.

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