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Sunday
Mar132011

March 14, 2011

Bleecker Bob’s Records / 8:45 pm
Greenwich Village

One of the many things that the internet is killing is the record store. Most people download their music now, thereby eliminating the middleman, the record store. It’s too bad, because I’ve always loved hanging out in record stores and flipping through albums. There’s not that many left in Manhattan, so I thought I’d start spending every Sunday visiting record stores that are still left. Tonight’s destination is one of Manhattan’s more famous record stores, Bleecker Bob’s in the heart of Greenwich Village (though ironically, it’s not on Bleecker St.) It’s been featured in films and in an episode of Seinfeld.

Here we are, Bleecker Bob's records in Greenwich Village.

Let's go inside and check it out.

John was minding the store this night and I asked him to pose with one of his favorite albums. He chose the "Velvet Underground and Nico," which was a nice pick, seeing that the first nightcap video on the blog was the Velvet Underground. John has worked here for twenty years and has seen everyone from Keith Richards to David Bowie to Rick Rubin to Frank Zappa walk through the door. Speaking of Zappa, the owner, Bleecker Bob is Godfather to Zappa's daughter, Moon Zappa.

Okay, let's take a look around Bleecker Bob's.

Here's some posters and records in the front window.

Boxed records are labeled and stacked up on one another behind the counter.

John Lennon's last single, "(Just Like) Starting Over" hangs next to an early Beatles album on the VJ label.

A wall of vinyl.

Separated at birth moment: The cash register at Bleecker Bob's...

And the cash register at the Mars Bar.

I love all the hand-lettering in here.

Yes! Cheap Trick! My heroes!

Cool Little Steven promo poster. Note the cassette offering! That's a great album by the way, Dino Danelli drums on it.

Johnny Thunders and Jayne County, would've loved to have seen that show!

Rachel Sweet! I had this album back in the day, I wonder what ever happened to her?

The very first album I ever bought was "The Best of Herman's Hermits." That's what I love about record stores, all the memories that start coming back.

There's a nice crowd in here on a Sunday night and that's good to see.

Irony at its finest hour. The punk rock section behind "Guitar Heroes!"

Here's the Jacksons with many of their influences stacked behind them.

John's a regular in the store and here he is posing with one of his favorite albums, Cream's Disraeli Gears.

A poster of The Clash hangs on the wall.

Records to get you "in the mood."

Some vintage rock 'n' roll magazines and newspapers.

And on the way out, time to play, spot the MAD card. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Bleecker Bob's
118 W 3rd St. (Between 6th Ave. and Mac Dougal St.)
212-475-9677

Further reading: TV.com, New York magazine, Turntabling and NY Times.

--------------------------------------

Record Store Memories
The first record store I ever hung out at regularly was the one in the mall in Louisville, Kentucky. My family lived in Louisville from 1963 to 1969. In 1965 my brother Jim and I traded a box of bubblegum cards to a neighbor for a Dave Clark Five 45 rpm single, titled, “Catch Us If You Can,” and we became vinyl junkies from that moment on.

I believe Louisville was one of the first cities to have a mall. When our family went there, we’d all split up. Everybody went to their own stores of interest and my brother Jim and I would go and hang out at the record store which was located smack-dab in the middle of the mall.

We couldn’t afford to buy records often, but we loved flipping through the albums and picture sleeve 45’s in the store and talking to the kids that worked there. We thought they were really old, but looking back there probably wasn’t anyone on the staff over 18-years-old at the record store. They all got a kick out of the fact we were just kids (we started hanging out in there in 1965, I was seven and my brother Jim was nine), but we really were into music. Especially The Beatles.

One day we were talking to a lanky kid who worked there and my brother Jim asked him who Chuck Berry was. We had seen his name via song credits on Beatles and Rolling Stone albums and wondered who this mysterious songwriter was.

I remember the kid laughing and telling us that Chuck Berry was to the Beatles, what the Beatles were to us. He said Chuck Berry was a big influence on the Fab Four. We were confused and he told us to go to the “B” section and we’d find some albums. We dutifully went and studied some of Chuck Berry’s albums. I can’t remember all the Chuck Berry albums they had in stock, but I do remember looking at one called, “St. Louis to Liverpool” and “Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits.”

It took about three months, but my brother Jim finally saved up enough money to buy “Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits” at the record store. I remember that kid behind the counter giving us an all-knowing smile as he took my brother’s money, letting us know we were doing the right thing.

We went home, put it on our parents fake-wood console stereo and immediately became Chuck Berry fans. We also learned about Bo Diddley, Phil Spector and Little Richard in that record store, among others. I’ve never bought anything from iTunes, but I can’t imagine it’s the same experience at all.

------------------------------
Some Things I Did Today
Cursed the idea of Daylight Savings Time.
Opened a Twitpic account.
Ate some Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Beefaroni.
Read a feature article about teen sensation, Justin Bieber in Rolling Stone.
Paid my bills.
Drank two bottles of Dasani Lemon Water.
Got a haircut.
Flipped through the new Best of New York magazine.
Read the Charlie Sheen story in that issue of New York magazine.
Felt bad about wasting more time reading about Charlie Sheen.
Checked Charlie Sheen’s Twitter page.

------------------------------
Nightcap

I've got no kick against modern jazz,
Unless they try to play it too darn fast.

ARCHIVES

Reader Comments (31)

"Some Things I Did Today
Cursed the idea of Daylight Savings Time.
Opened a Twitpic account.
Ate some Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Beefaroni.
Read a feature article about teen sensation, Justin Bieber in Rolling Stone.
Paid my bills.
Drank two bottles of Dasani Lemon Water.
Got a haircut.
Flipped through the new Best of New York magazine.
Read the Charlie Sheen story in that issue of New York magazine.
Felt bad about wasting more time reading about Charlie Sheen.
Checked Charlie Sheen’s Twitter page."

Marty, I LOVE Dasani Lemon Sparkling water! - Great choice!

I love how you felt bad about wasting time reading about Charlie Sheen then checked his Twitter page - LOL

By the way the "Mood Music id perfet...it's Tiki Music you know... see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlAs33h8i3I&feature=related

Enjoy!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Susie

@Tiki Bar Susie: Dasani Lemon Water rules! Thanks for the tiki link, great music! I'll send you an email later today, have to get ready for work now.

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

I haven't made the foray yet into Charlie Sheens Twitter account. I'm a little afraid.... But I do like record stores. But I like book stores more- and I hope ebooks don't do to book stores what mp3's have done to record stores.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzRocks

I love record stores and it's sad they're dying. Long live Bleecker Bob's! I like the hand lettering in there too, you don't see that at Best Buy!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

I HAD that Herman's Hermits Greatest Hits album! It disappeared years ago when I sold off all my vinyl when I needed money to eat. When I lived in Minneapolis, our version of Bleecker Bob's was called The Electric Fetus. I think it's still there...great place to check out the vinyl and/or buy a cool little hash pipe so you could get ripped while listening to your favorite tunes. Marty...do you remember cartridge snobs at all? Guys who'd brag about having the most expensive cartridges for thier high end turntables? Haven't run into one of them in decades. By the way...while at tv.com, check out jawsthecabbie's profile, I've written 30 pages of T.V. show reviews over the past two years.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Those old record stores,,,this one, Bleecker Bob's looks like time stood still. A great place to hang out,,,glad to see Neil Young represented, and Nico with VU, well I can tell you my favorite song there, its "Femme Fatale" and she could sing so beautifully that I wish singers today had that much heart, (some do). For those that do not know Nico,,,she was German born, and a model, singer, and rather bohemian in her style, a heroin addict in her later years, was trying to quit drugs when she fell off a bicycle and had severe head injuries, she was around 50 yrs old when she passed.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl

GREAT post today! Having spent decades foraging through RECORD STORES, I love this stop on the journey. I did hit Bleecker Bob's (and a few others) over the years when I spent time in New York. I loved comparing what they had and what I owned. (yes, the are still a few thousand LP's in my collection) "You can have my vinyl when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers" Once again a great stop Daddio!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

By the way, Marty, one of the first reviews I ever wrote for tv.com was of the Simpsons, how the writing went downhill as the animation got better...and I did it in song to boot. I re-wrote the lyirics to Green green it's green they say' and my review generated so much hate mail from the fans of the show that they yanked it. Mouahahahahahaaaa....

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

LPs are the same diameter as halos, happy coincidence or design?

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercp

@SuzRocks: I love bookstores too, I need to start documenting them as well.

@Barfly: Best Buy sucks, long live Bleecker Bob's!

@Jaws: Cartridge snobs! Ha! I DO remember those assholes! I sold my Herman's Hermits album along with about 5,000 others before I moved to NYC along with everything else I owned. I'll look for you at tv.com!

@Al: I didn't know Nico was dead. That's a great album.

@"Boris:" I knew you'd like this post, Daddio!

@cp: I'd like to think it's a little of both.

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

I remember my first visit to bleeker bobs..
and i remember what I bought.
Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites..
a couple years later I'll visit and buy another Nikki and a import Japan album.
Love that place.
in fact I can tell you what I bought at most vinyl stores on the east coast as they were special treats for me to visit.and I wrote it all down.. savored it like a fine wine.
both of the record stores in the town i grew up were chains. Tower and Rainbow.
I miss vinyl shopping.
We have an antique store in town that has a whole basement full of Vinyl.. I go nuts.
new obession is soundtracks.
Thank you Marty.

Havent tried Dasani lemon water..I drink Lacroix.. its sparkling..keeps the voice clear while DJing:)

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGidgie

Oh man, I've been to Bleecker Bob’s record store. And it is totally-super-awesomeness!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

@Gidgie: I've never heard of Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites. Must Google now!

@Meleah: It's a classic New York records store. I hope it never closes.

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

man those cash registers do resemble each other...they may very well be related...damn i remember my first album buy—was living deep in the heart of dixie...early sixties...came strolling home w/ a ray charles lp...man caused a true uproar and the flak i got from my "opinionated" kinfolk...like it was yesterday—many others pieces of vinyl have come and gone since then...but i still have the first lp i bought when i returned from across the pond and once again many pieces of vinyl have come and gone...still got couple...memories sumtime suck...

I do a lot of curiosity buying; I buy it if I like the album cover, I buy it if I like the name of the band, anything that sparks my imagination. I still like to go to record stores, I like to just wander around and I'll buy whatever catches my attention.
Bruce Springsteen

rr

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

@MAD INRE to R. Sweet: Take a close look at cousin Shelly

http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/NbGKJrjpJorqcefalpNyIkkBo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1300231073&Signature=j00wV4F8KdXNdvLLZUn0YV6h%2FSY%3D

"Sweet bought Madonna's former home, Los Pavoreales, selling it in 2010 for $4,895,000."

I think she did OK.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercp

Small world, another reminder of your non-date with Moon. There was a lot of nudity back in the record cover days. I don't think those would fly with edited cd's. Times they have changed. Wow Little Steven has been working the bandanna look for quite some time, I didn't realize.

I wish I was cool enough to be into records, but I'm not. I do remember when my mom married my step-dad and going through his records. My sisters and I wore out his Wings - Band on the Run album. And then we moved onto his tape collection and wore out the same tape. Damn we loved that album.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari

Hey Marty - great post! You have to check out the Record & Tape Center on 5th Avenue & Ninth (Brooklyn). Hanging in for over 40 years - a classic. A couple of photographs here:
http://onemorefoldedsunset.blogspot.com/2011/01/record-and-tape-center-still-firmly-in.html
Plus, there are some classic old-school bars practically on top of the place.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteronemorefoldedsunset

@rr: Records and record stores can open up a floodgate of memories, that's for sure!

@cp: The link doesn't work, can you shrink it and send again, I'm dying to find out how Rachel Sweet has all that dough!

@kari: I really lke "Band on the Run" too. I think it's the best solo Beatle record.

@onemorefoldedsunset: I'm going to go check out your link now, thanks for sending it!

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

always thought
"imagine" was the best solo effort...

rr

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

@rr: Imagine's great too, but I like "Band on the Run" a little better. Now that I think about it, kind of a toss up between the two.

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Oh crap, I see what the internet did there.


new link: http://28.media.tumblr.com/NbGKJrjpJorqcefalpNyIkkBo1_500.jpg

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercp

This is Awesome! I'm glad you decided to go colour. What brilliant record store. Tey're still out there in abundance...you've just got to know where to look. Fucking rad.

@cp: Holy shitballs! I Googled her after seeing your link. I had no idea she had done all that stuff! I bought the first record (it was on Stiff Records, the punk rock/new wave label in England) and never knew what happened to her after that record. Nice investigating!

@Clacky of Bunt's Downunder: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it, mate! Hey, I tried to leave you a comment in the "Ask Me" box at your blog last night, but the box didn't show up. Do you know what's going on?

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

No idea, mate. I'll be heading over there later so I'll see if I can ask myself a question....
probably something along the lines of...."what's that stain?" or "why does it hurt when I pee?"

@Clacky: I just found the "reply" feature there and I'll comment using that. P.S. I hate it when it hurts when I pee! That's always scary!

March 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

@Clacky and Marty; "I don't want no doctor to stick no needle in me..."

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Jaws: Ha ha ha!

March 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

Zed: "200 bucks and I can't pee on you, huh?"
Zoe: "No."
Zed: "Geez!"

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercp

I used to spend all of my time (and money) in record stores. If they made an air freshener that smelled like the albums when you tear off the shrink-wrap, I'd be a lot happier in my car.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: Truly a great aroma!

March 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMarty After Dark

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