I can’t call it a CD store, or a music store, these hallowed places will always be called a record store. Growing up in the early to mid ’80s, there were a few good independent record stores I could get to on my bike, and some decent chains that I would convince my mom to take me to while she went off and shopped.
One of the best pre-teen memories I have is going food shopping with my mom. In Seekonk, MA, a new shopping center went up with a supermarket that had the best selection & prices. Problem was that everyone went there on a Saturday morning and food shopping was a 2 hour event. That didn’t bother me because I always left mom to her grocery list while I ran to the other end of the plaza to Good Vibrations.
Good Vibrations was a small national chain that was prominent in the RI/MA area in the early ’80s. I had only been to one before, in Foxboro, MA, and that was only by chance. Now I read Circus & Hit Parader, and I was glued to MTV, but my real knowledge of Rock/Metal was absorbed in 2 hours every Saturday.
It was beautiful. Cassettes on the right, vinyl in the middle, posters & mags at the back wall, and these new inventions called CDs on the left. Promo posters adorned the walls with everyone from Led Zeppelin to KISS to Steve Miller to Mercyful Fate. They played albums over the sound system if you wanted a preview and they had awesome sales and coupons. For a kid with an allowance, price was important. I used to get $20 a week but I had to earn it with a list of chores. I knew that I could buy a rock mag and 2 albums every week on the shopping run if I didn’t spend anything during the week.
I would check out the cassettes first, this was what I bought. I thought they were superior to vinyl (I know all of you are shaking your heads. I was 10, what did I know?) because you couldn’t scratch a cassette. After looking at every letter and the sale displays, I would pick out what I would eventually buy. I would head to the posters & mags next to get those mags that weren’t sold at my local CVS. I always looked at the CDs quickly. Who cared about CDs? They were new and you had to have hundreds of $$$ to buy a player (I wish I could go back in time and see those out of print gems I brushed aside that I would kill for now). On to the records…..
Good Vibrations had awesome vinyl, they had every new release, every picture disc, every album by every artist. First thing I’d do is check my favorite band: KISS. Who knew what treasures I could find? The 4 solo albums? Creatures Of The Night with the original cover? Or the elusive Music from The Elder? On to the Metal section, letter by letter. After that, the Rock section, letter by letter. Back then, the Rock section had Asia alongside Foghat next to Journey before The Who. There weren’t as many genres as there are now. So I would flip through and look at the covers, look at the back, and file it in my memory. The artwork, the band pictures, the song lists…..it all became embedded in my brain. And I wanted it all!
But I only had $20. I wished I had a job so I could blow my check every week on music.
Mom would come in and say it was time to head home, her shopping done and ice cream melting in the car. Of course, “Time to leave, honey.” meant 5 more minutes to me…..I had to go grab the selections I’d picked out and then pay for them. Good thing Mom always came in to get me because a 10 yr. old had no concept of state sales tax.
1 mag & 2 cassettes was $18 ($3/7.50/7.50) plus 5% tax. I always cried poor to Mom for the sales tax, which she always had in her pocketbook. A shrewd move on my part because the 2 bucks I saved each week could get me an extra cassette at the end of the month.
*** Just a quick note: I tried this with my Mom recently. Crying poor for sales tax cash works when you’re 10-13 yrs old, it’s a non-sell at 33. Mom has a rough estimation of how much I owe her, with interest, for all that sales tax. ***
My Saturday morning was over. I would read my new mag as I rode home just dying to play that new Motley Crue tape, or that ’70s KISS album I didn’t have. The thrill of the hunt over, I would leave Good Vibrations every weekend with good music (hopefully), a little lighter in the wallet but definitely richer in the mind.