Just before the Spring semester started, I was lucky enough to procure one of my dad’s old record players from his collection back when he was studying to be an accountant at Long Beach State. Along with the record player, he supplied me with a collection of some of his most prized records and LPs, including The Carpenters, Kenny G, the Bee Gees, and U2. This was a pretty sweet way to start off my own collection. I knew I wanted some more modern records and a few of my own classics. Where else to search than Amoeba and Rasputin to kick off my years of record collecting?
I had a very specific list of artist’s and albums in mind: Juliette Greco’s self titled record, “Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Section.80,” and Solange’s “True.” I know this sounds specific, but I just assumed that these well known record shops would have these in stock.
My first stop was Rasputin. I quickly made it to the vinyls and started my search. It seemed as though they had a really wide variety of indie, folk, rock, old school rap, old school R&B, and Motown. Artists like Lil 1/2 Dead, LL Cool J, Toro Y Moi, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Young the Giant showed up pretty frequently. Newer records were priced fairly. I saw older records go as low as a couple of bucks, as though they were having a special sale. I did not find what I wanted to, but their international section did prove to be interesting. Although Juliette Greco was no where to be found, I found other French classics such as Serge Gainsbourg and Francois Hardy. Rasputin had a huge collection of music that I did not know (unsurprisingly). And so, I left empty handed.
My next stop was Amoeba, which was pleasant and almost surreal. The store was very well organized into sections by genre. Similar to Rasputin, their collection of Indie, Rock, Pop, and Old School music was huge. I assume that these are the easiest to get a hold of. I reached the rap section of the shop and was surprised to find Kendrick Lamar’s name on one of their little yellow dividers separating artist from artist. Disappointedly, his slot was completely empty. I guess I missed the rush to buy “Section.80” and “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.” But then I struck gold. I found one last copy of Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same” special edition vinyl all for $26. It seemed as though Amoeba had a lot of special edition vinyls; of course they could go from $25.00 to $50.00 really quick, but I still liked that they had the option.
At this point, I was satisfied and decided to just browse. I went over to the Soul section and started flipping through vinyls like there was no tomorrow. I saw it at the corner of my eye towards the end of the alphabet on the artist dividers: Solange. There it was, Solange’s “True.” This record was pretty pricey at $22.00 considering she has less than 10 songs on the album. I was in no position to complain though. I was able to find one of the records I was looking for, and also a gem I happened to run into. Amoeba’s staff was pretty nice while I was checking out, and I walked out a very satisfied customer.
I obviously still had a bunch of searching to do so I asked people walking outside of the shop with me where would be a good place to find the records I was searching for. Many said that if Amoeba or Rasputin did not have what I was looking for, they had no idea where I could look. Maybe I was just too late for some of the records I was looking for and everyone got a hold of everything before I did. It was definitely a possibility.
Although I didn’t find everything I wanted, I learned a lot from the experience. Rasputin is the place I will now go to if I want to discover new and old music. Especially if some of their old vinyls go for as low as a couple of dollars. Amoeba is perfect for finding modern gems, especially because the store is huge and organized very well. According to people I have asked, the popular choice is Amoeba, and I can see why. But Rasputin has a great selection…Conflicted as I am, I’m giving this one to Amoeba. Still, there are definitely other places to find records, like local thrift stores and small shops like Green Apple Books. Amoeba may have won the battle, but it hasn’t won the war yet.
Photo Credit: Kristian George