Saturday, July 30, 2016

College Tour = Record Store, Pt. 1

So the time has come for one of my children to start looking for a college. This means lots of traveling around to visit schools and, as we all know, any college town worth its salt is going to have a record store or two. In the spirit of carpe diem, I will do my best whenever possible to incorporate a pilgrimage to a music den on these treks. So far, so good, as we did our first tour today, at the most excellent Williams College, and I was able to include a visit to Toonerville Trolley Records after lunch (and ice cream from Lickity Split, of course!).

Toonerville is a lived-in store, packed with more vinyl and CD's than could easily be reviewed in one visit. Most everything is priced between $8 and $15, with several sale sections that are cheaper and some unusual finds that are pricier. Their personal taste was evident from the get-go, with sections for Progressive Rock, Space Rock, and "Unclassifiable" right up front. The free jazz blaring from the great sound system was also a clue. 

I wandered around a little to get the feel of the place, flipping here and there, seeing what would pull me in. I eventually was moved to search very comprehensively through the jazz section, hoping at the very least to find a copy of El Chico by Chico Hamilton, which is much desired by my Off Your Radar colleague Davy Jones. No luck, Davy, but I did manage to score a very nice original pressing of John McLaughlin's Devotion. Who knew Alan Douglas had his own label? This is from 1970, when McLaughlin had just left Miles Davis but hadn't formed yet Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was a transitional, but still fiery, time for him and I'm eager to hear what he cooked up with Larry Young (organ), Buddy Miles (drums), and Billy Rich (bass). 

I made my way around the store, finally ending back up front to investigate that progressive rock section. Even though it was small, there were some very intriguing items in there, including Univers-Zero's UZED from 1984, which I've actually never seen in physical form before. It was $50 but taking a picture was free - as is listening on Spotify. The same cannot be said for what I found next, a pristine copy of Listen Now!! by Phil Manzanera/801. As its from the peak of British art rock (1975-77) and Eno is on it, my hopes are high. The proprietor was surprised to see it, too - he had just sold a copy the other day and hadn't realized there was another one in stock. 

Even if you don't have college-age children there are many reasons to visit Williamstown, such as The Clark, the college's own art museum and the Theater Festival. If you have an interest in the outrĂ© - or jazz and R&B, for that matter - make sure you stop your trolley at Toonerville next time you're there.

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