Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook
If you haven’t grown up by age 50, you don’t have to
Saying that record stores were the Mecca of my youth is an understatement. Even though I mostly bought cassette tapes when just a wee lad, I arrived in life still early enough to be baptized by the tantalizing sound of my parents vinyl collection. When Compact Disc first hit the market I was enthused to find out what laser beams could do for my ears. Turns out, not much. I remember listening to my first CD and thinking, I don’t like this. Purchasing another CD is something I wouldn’t do again for another seven years. Not to say I wasn’t impressed by the format. It’s just that everything I was impressed with about the Compact Disc had nothing to do with music. To dry, too clinical, too something; and it kinda hurt. In pre-adulthood that opinion changed with my fascination of car audio. It’s amazing how quickly you can max out your first credit card on buying Compact Discs.
Today we are at MANIFEST DISC in Charlotte, North Carolina nursing hangovers with caffeinated donut store swill, and thinking about our journeys home. In my company are Leon Shaw, the man ultimately responsible for this hangover and founder of Audio Advice right down the street. Joining us from lands farther away are Michael Fremer of Analog Planet whose flight out to New Jersey leaves in a three hours. Lastly to join us, the mysteriously spry and exuberant David Solomon of Peachtree Audio. I pity David, for his drive back to Atlanta as it will be scattered with wildfires, smoke, and the setting sun along the way.
On to the digging
I’m here to buy one record, a British funk group’s self titled debut album Cymande (1972), an album that I first heard at Capital Audiofest, thanks to Sean Casey of Zu Audio. A fantastic-sounding and truly groovy album that would surely smell of cannabis if found in the used bin. Always the sign of a well-loved record.
Leon and Michael, I am sure, are more or less sifting through records they already own multiple copies of. Reminiscing over the where, when, and who of many classic recording sessions and concerts. Michael is teaching me all the things I’ve ever wanted to know about vinyl, but were too afraid to ask. I don’t exactly feel like the fourth horseman, here so I quietly assign myself to the duties of holding the solitary shopping basket for the group. Might as well make good use of myself while soaking up the free technical and history lessons. Nothing is more disabling to a purchaser than holding onto an intended purchase while looking for more purchases. Me? I’m enabling.
David: Should I buy this record?
Me: Why wouldn’t you?
(I’m an enabler in this regard as well.)