It's already a few years old but since a lot of people might have missed it first time around, and even if not, thought it was time to now post here on the Amoeblog the short but most enjoyable 22 minute documentary film on Music Man Murray in the West Adams district of LA following many years in Hollywood. Like the record store that bore his name music man Murray Gershenz, a former opera singer, was truly a treasure. Sadly both are no longer with us. The store closed two years ago and Murray died last August of a heart attack at age 91. But in his rich lifetime Murray was a passionate lifelong record collector whose vast personal collection would have put many self-respecting crate diggers/collectors to shame. In fact it got so large that half a century ago, following 25 years of simply collecting records, when he counted approx half a million pieces of vinyl in his collection, he decided to open his record store to unload some of these records, as well as stay close to records. As well as running the store in more recent years he had a more lucrative second career as a bit-part character actor in TV shows and movies. As such Murray appeared in such recent film and television productions as The Hangover, I Love You, Man, Mad Men, The Sarah Silverman Program, and Modern Family. But in the film above, lovingly directed by Richard Parks, the ever likable Murray plays himself doing what he loved most in life- being surrounded by records and music.
Promoting one's logo and style has always been a concern if not a priority of any creative business, especially the music business. To have your record store or record label's graphic sensibility out in the world is like a tag, a notice that, "we exist righteously", and "take a look at us, we are cool and you want to be part of this!". What better way to do this than to attach your graphics onto the outside of an LP's inner sleeve living in eternity with the record snugly inside. Or, to have the store's bag carried out onto the street by your loyal customers with your logo beaming out at the universe. Now that's promotion, or perhaps simply an affirmation of being in the moment.
Here is a 10-year collection of various record store and record label's logo and graphic style across the eras, mostly committed to an LP's inner sleeve, and some retail shopping bags inclusive, logos singing raucously or whispering of the quality within. With trends and budgets shifting moment to moment, this collection becomes a small guide to the attraction of it for everyman's taste. What do folks think will look good? How will they remember our business? As I deal with old record collections and their ephemera daily, it's always a wonderful gift to have an exotic sleeve pop up from accross the country, or even the world. Records have always been a universally traded entertainment, and it's becoming more so by the month now.
So, this Record Store Day, sit back and find your favorites within the trove of typographical time. Just browsing these photos fills me with hope.
Click on any image to start a slideshow.
Photographs of sleeves and bags by RICK FRYSTAK
As Tuna noted, a lot of contemporary punk acts like to release their music first on cassette (another popular old format thought to be long gone), followed by a 45 single release, and then followed up with an LP.
In addition to the 45's sections at each of the three Amoeba Music stores (Hollywood, Berkeley, and San Francisco), you will also find a wide variety of 45's on the Amoeba online store. New additions for this week alone include Swedish rockers The Hives' 2004 single "Walk Idiot Walk / Genepool Convulsions" new for just $4.98, which (like all the 45's from Amoeba.com) SHIPS FREE in U.S. Nice!
A couple of months back in New York City at the WFMU Record Fair, I ran into the folks from Discogs who had a booth distributing info. I have known of Discogs for some time now as a go-to, reliable website and database of some of the most exhaustive lists of nearly every release out there (including lots of electronic and hip-hop). With just under 5 million releases listed on its site, Discogs provides a wonderful resource just a click away with its seemingly endless lists of recordings and releases (including promo and rare non-label releases). Discogs is owned by Zink Media Inc. and based in Portland OR. I followed up with Discogs staffer Corey Burmeister to ask him some questions about what the site does overall, the music that it covers, its history, and where it is going.
Amoeblog: When did Discogs come about and when it first formed did it envision becoming what it is today?
Corey @ Discogs: Discogs was the result of Kevin Lewandowski's love of electronic music. It was started in 2000, and he had no idea it would get this large.
Amoeblog: I understand that users upload content on releases but what percentage of that data has to be edited? I have heard of folks not putting in upper case when it is supposed to be that way etc.
Corey @ Discogs: The database is built and edited by our users. I don't have the percentages off hand, but the number of submissions that are not edited after they go into the database is small. We believe in a process of continual improvement, much like the way open source software is developed. Get the data out there, get as may people to see it as possible, and let them update it to make it more correct or to enrich the data.
"You had me at that 1922 Oakland Chamber of Commerce record!" - I told the curator MAC upon first glancing the above historic record oddity - a free phonograph record issued by the East Bay City's Chamber of Commerce back in the 1920's to encourage residents from nearby San Francisco as well as other faraway locations to relocate to Oakland, CA "where California's promise is Fulfilled." This rare record was one of approximately 200 equally engaging and odd discs on exhibit during the recent WFMU Record Fair in New York City.