Last Thursday night was pretty special. The original Los Angeles Sunset Avenue Tower Records location was brought back to life for one evening of music to celebrate the release of All Things Must Pass a new documentary from director Colin Hanks.
I remember going here in the late 80s and early 90s; though, I spent more time at Tower Records when they opened a location in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. Though, if I’m being honest the return of a major chain record store is a weird thing to celebrate. Places like Tower Records were great for getting anything common, but most of my time spent at record stores was done seeking bootleg concerts, hard to find imports, and used vinyl.
To bring us all back to the days pre-iTunes and digital everything, the event planners came with a few bins of vinyl you could browse through and put on a record player. I heard a few people asking their friends if they had record players. Most said no with only a couple people saying they still did. I have one at home and cheaper one in my office I listen to often. The physical experience of looking at records in a bin is so dramatically different than browsing iTunes. It makes you feel as if something is lost. That something is discovery. Album covers are advertisements to catch our eyes and hopefully our ears.
Gibson was one of the many sponsors and had a few stations with rows of fabulous guitars. Unfortunately, no bass guitars were around so I played a couple like a bass. The Les Paul guitars are just amazing. The sound is incredible and made me want to run out and buy one and start lessons, but I recently picked up my bass guitar and am getting reacquainted with it though that’s another story for another time.
There was a full stage out in the parking lot that eventually filled with Eagles of Death Metal who turned out to be far more tame than their name. They were great though and my only wish is that they were selling their latest record on vinyl at the event. Oh well, I’ll to find it somewhere other than a temporary Tower Records. You can see some more of the event since Eagles of Death Metal came with drones to film the show.
The film is what this was all about. The premier took place earlier that night which I did not attend, but I did have access to the film and watched it a couple weeks ago. It’s definitely worth seeing especially if you remember the days of music stores instead of a few CDs sitting in a bin at Starbucks or some bins of vinyl at Whole Foods.
I didn’t realize Tower Records was family owned from its birth to its death — it’s not entirely dead as there are some stores Internationally. I came into the film thinking why do I want to watch a movie about a mega store? I always went to the small record shops or Amoeba which still exists, and I still stop at, down the street from last Thursday’s event. After watching the film, I came away with a respect I wasn’t expecting. There’s an interesting story here and Tower Records was ran by some real characters.
Check it out. Whether you lived during the time of record stores or want to understand what life was like pre-iTunes and MP3 players. It’s still a story about music, a real love of music.
For all things All Things Must Pass check out the website and trailer.
All Things Must Pass – Official Trailer from Company Name on Vimeo.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the private event and given access to the film for free with no compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.