Crossroads Records, Portland

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Some CD and cassette action for fans

Crossroads Records 8112 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206 (503) 232-1767

Ratings:  Very Good All Genres, Jazz, Alternative, Folk, heavy on Rock. WARNING: There are 50 vendors selling out of this store. Good choices, but a lot of them.

Crossroads Records is one of the better vinyl shops in Portland. When other stores send you there to look, it means that’s where some of the employees may go to shop. Mainly a lot of used selections and some good rare finds. I say rare as in 1960s to present. Many music dealers sell out of this shop,(50 +), so they are always combing the highways and byways looking for great music deals. Check often. Here’s the rub: There are 50 different vendors, and 50 different styles of selling.

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Rock heavy store, also check the uppers for collectables.

Pros

Singles are fairly organized, but as you walk in you will notice the 45 heap as well. This means another mans trash is your treasure. The other 45s are by genre, but not always listed by bands. You will need to dig through quite a few crates and boxes. 12 inch singles and EPs are with the LPs, or for some vendors in their own bin. There are a lot of Indie label singles available, some new. However, that is just one vendor’s 45s. Check all sections and look below. Below can be very disorganized. But if you love a dig, you can for hours and may find some gems that are often overlooked.

CDs and Cassettes: Yes, are plentiful and fairly well organized.

Hit up the JUST IN bins first of course, by vendor. Then check the genre for your band in the main isles. You may want to check on Discogs while you shop, the band you like may have been in several genres (rock/folk) over it’s lifespan and if you don’t find it in one area, it may actually be in another.

>>>>>How To Survive Crossroads Records

Since you have a massive selection, you need to think on the level that yes, it’s a collaborative. It’s a bit more organized than the huge swap meets, or 50 small record shops under one roof. That said, here’s the store’s break down and how you can plan to work that to your advantage:

  1. There are many rows and a vendor can be one whole row or more. So that means each vendor has their selection organized the way they want it. This means you must adapt per vendor. Each vendor has their box style, for example row of bins the same, same labeling, one vendor. Some are good about putting a name at the front, some it’s by box and color. Some are very good at labeling for alpha or band names, some label sparsely. And some have their idea of where a artist may need to be, that isn’t what you think should classify that artist or band. Once you like a vendor or the way they do their small store within a store, you know where to go for future visits.
  2. Start from the front of the store or the back and work it, row by row. Plan your first visit to be mostly figuring the bins out by vendor. Also, if you know you are mostly a Jazz fan, you can comb all rows and boxes underneath labeled Jazz. You obviously know what you want. The same for Alternative/Indie. Pretty much all vendors have Rock.
  3. Strongly advise you look for the same artist/band in all vendors. Example: I found 3 different copies of U2’s October in various states. The best copy or collector’s copy really worth having will be behind the counter, so if you are really that into the best, ask. But if you want playable but with best no-scratch surface, you will need to go through all copies and go from there. Also, look above as best copies for each vendor are sometimes there (cover).
  4. Bring a microfibre cloth and solution. They don’t supply you with cleaner to try the records out.
  5. Keep in mind you may pay more than a brand new 180 vinyl if the copy in hand is first release, as you would expect. But if you are on a budget and patient, you can find a copy that has been well kept, or even one that was a recent rerelease and someone has sold back.
  6. Ask. If you know you have certain recordings you must have, or prefer to just be really focused, ask the counter people which vendors tend to have X. If they don’t have you specifics, they can tell you who may carry it at another shop.
  7. If you are into really old collectors records, 1920-1950 vintage, there are a few vendors that have some, but the stock may not be out. They may have their better collections as an appointment only situation, or know someone else that collects like they do. Hopefully this is a good networking connection for you.
  8. Take a friend with you. You like to geek on the records anyway, so have a friend come along. They know you and if they bump into something you may like, they will let you know. Or you find records they like. It’s a classic record geek time well spent with a friend.

Cons

Fairly decent listening table, but it’s a one table store and no place to sit. You will have to wait your turn. However, the equipment is in better shape than in some record shops, at least there isn’t packing tape all over the tone arm head holding it on (as of this review).

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Many different vendors, so check all the genre sections.

Respect The Vinyl and Respect the Customer

imagesLike many of you, I have to resort to buying vinyl online at times. Oh, the horrors. Yes, please cringe. Why? Well, I no longer live in San Francisco where I had both SF and Berkeley to cruise record shops before giving up. And while many records have been re-released on the lovely new 180 weight, I really miss some of the collectibles I once had that got stolen, misappropriated, damaged, or had to be sold out of desperation due to housing crisis (GRRRRRR). I had UK issued and some Japanese issued records, and damn it I miss them.

Slowly over the last year I have had to keep watch on services like Discogs and occasionally eBay. Cringe again. You try very hard to read all the reviews on a seller, see if other people have had a good experience. You are desperate. There is a rating service, M/M+ (Mint) for perfect, nearly perfect. You are hoping that the people selling the items are looking at the scales and description and are at the very least honest. But this is highly subjective as one person may have completely different standards than you do. A record shop may have thousands of records, buys and doesn’t clean them before restocking, or may be really good about it and looks very carefully at everything they sell. You hope that people will disclose a slight tear in a sleeve.

Sellers, If You Want a Good Reputation and to Sell More…

If you haven’t figured this out yet, many collectors are buying for that cover just as much as the hopefully the well cared for vinyl. Of course, there can be many versions of the released single, and someone may want them all. But we like them as clean as possible, given that some are 30 plus years old. And if it’s damaged, or scuffed with wear, it should be disclosed. If the label on the record is damaged, labeled wrong, that should be disclosed. Yes, some of these are collectables, sometimes bad batches get out and they can become quite famous and some people collect them, I read something about a run of Factory label’s Joy Division issued records that some people collect, where the black and white side labels are switched. While this is a flaw, depending on the band, it may actually become a collectable. But all of this should be disclosed.

You should also package the records in a box designed for shipping records. Someone is paying for Mint or as near perfect as new, having it arrive dinged up and shredded is a bad thing. We can type, we can make complaints. It can get ugly. And we will tell other people who also collect.

Then There is Really Messing Up The Order

My case in point this week. Three days back I received a record, very late, from the UK. The postal employee looked at me and said, “I hope that your record is not damaged. I haven’t seen that poor of packaging with a record in a long time.” My wame began to get that very bad, sinking feeling. It was a favorite 12 inch single from the eighties. I had been patient about finding a good one, in Near Mint Condition. I got the poorly packaged thing home. I found my hands were shaking a bit. I opened it. What looked like what had been Near Mint Condition cover even, had had all corners dinged very badly. There was a gouge on the back of the glossy cover. And then I realized it was the band I liked, but the wrong 12 inch single. Not that I didn’t want to have this one, and had hoped to eventually get this one as well. But it was the wrong 12 inch single, and the one that arrived had been damaged. I then looked at it and noticed that the label on the one side was creased at the plant. Oh, and the label hadn’t been centered. The record was drilled right, but not the label.

Arghhhhh!!! I went to Discogs and looked up the vendor. I looked on their web store and sure enough, the record that had just arrived was still listed on their store. The one I had purchased was not. There was no disclosure about the creased label, which is sad because the label itself is part of the spark of this particular single. Sadly it plays well. But there is no mention of any of that on their site. And of course, more to the point, I didn’t get the one I had ordered.

The Responsibilities of Complaining

Discogs and eBay have their buyer beware warnings and complaints systems. You have to try to contact the seller over a series of days to give them a chance to fix the problem. Okay, it’s several days later, still no response. There is a grinding of teeth. I don’t like being angry and a consumer freak over this, and I too have made some mistakes. But there needs to be some way to remedy this. I also cringe at how many other unsuspecting people are purchasing at this very moment.

I also feel very bad about the otherwise unfortunate, miss-formed thing that did show up. Like I have to keep it now as an adopted 12 inch single that came from the island of misfit records or something. A Curiosity.

For All Those Careful Conservators and Sellers

If you are a kindly one, who loves your own vinyl collection and likes to share with others and send off beautiful gems to the happy collectors around the globe, we salute you. However, there are always mishaps in shipping, no matter how careful you are. Please ship the way you would like someone to ship to you:

  1. Separate the inner sleeve and record from the outer jacket and pad or repackage separately.
  2. You can put the inner sleeve with all the cool artwork and lyrics separate and the record in the sleeve, with a generic paper or plastic liner. The nice inner picture and lyric sheet one doesn’t get slit in transit.
  3. Ship in a box made for shipping records. They make them. Yes they cost money, but you can figure that into your cost build. And depending on what country you are from, you may even get these boxes through your post service. Think of it as insurance policy so that you don’t have to refund if record gets shattered in transit.

We happy consumers like to give squishy, good reviews if you make us squee with delight. We will give fabulous review credo, tell you your shipping style rocked, what worked with the shipping, and friend or favorite you in the online store we buy from. This means you get a repeat customer. If you get those, you get good, constant cash flow as we also tell other people. It should all make sense.

Remember, please do not forget to disclose even the slightest imperfections. You may rely on the ratings system, but we really want to know what we are getting. Please don’t ask us to look at the Discogs or eBay generic rating. That is not really a good picture.

Where to Go From Here?

So now I look at the sad, now more damaged 12 inch of one of my favorite songs and just sigh. I will have to actually buy a copy of this hopefully not damaged from some other vendor after spending an hour combing all their reviews. Sigh. It looks like really I will have to buy two from another vendor at this point, because the one I was to have gotten in the first place still hasn’t shown up. Misfortunes of a Lapsed Vinyl Goddess.

Update: I finally did hear from the vendor after I lodged an official complaint. They had been away. Is there not a system in Discogs where you can alert customers that you are closed for a time? I tried to get them to cancel and refund. No response.

2nd Avenue Records PDX

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2nd Avenue Records 400SW 2nd Ave, Portland OR 97204 503-222-3783 11-8 pm

Ratings: Good, mostly new vinyl

This grand dame of record stores is starting to show it’s age, but still has great things to offer to Portlands vinyl crowd. Heavy on the rerelease vinyl, you will not find a lot of retro or used records here, unless you are looking in the 45s. The store carries rock, Reggae, the Country and International sections do have some used to choose from, especially the country.

What this shop is known for, memorabilia and tee shirts, lots of band shirts and boxes of badges from bands. These are all reproduction. Ask for anything rare or collectable. Very heavy on the new vinyl, multiples.

Cassette fiends, you will have to dig a bit. They have boxes of them.

What’s nice is they actually have taken the time to sort out and have band labels and dividers for singles. Much of the singles are reissues, but there are a few used and some rare. However, if you are looking for that fun find in used, you had better try one of the other shops in town.

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Why Didn’t They Play My Song? And What About Their Politics?

There seems to be a growing trend in concert goers that THINK they own the show. The experience is their personal right to have the perfect show and evening. The band is playing for them alone. The culture of selfies and preferred venue placement at the front of the stage has ruined many shows. I don’t go to these kind of shows, where you pay extra to be closer to the band. I think a show should be a moving and free thing, where everyone has the chance to get close to the stage. I also don’t think the audience is that entitled. It’s a mutual trust relationship between you and the band, a reciprocation of band and audience. There is respect involved.

What Happened to MY Song?

We have all been going to gigs for years now. You know the ritual. For weeks before the show, you play all the bands albums and 12 inch singles. You remember and practice all the lyrics so that when your song is played, you can belt it, baby.

The concert is going great, the band are mostly playing new stuff you may not know so well. They have been touring for 3 months in the US and Canada, 20 cities. You sadly are on the West Coast and one of the last places the band is playing. Sometimes that means the band is pretty exhausted by the time they get to your town.

The concert is nearly over. They have played a few of their hits, but not really that anthem you have been waiting for. Then it’s over, and they didn’t play it. You leave, people are grumbling about it. “They didn’t play our song.” Then take to Twitter for a shit parade on how bad it was that their song did not get played.

Back when I was a kid and going to punk shows, the audience would start throwing things. And sometimes the band was the one that started throwing things, because the audience was rude. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t enjoy that experience, didn’t at the time. I just wanted to dance. I certainly don’t want it happening now.

Stop whining. The band has had to play 20 cities and sometimes 2 shows per city, maybe 3. That could be 40+ shows. Plus any appearances on TV and in Record shops, and any festival they may have added on to. They have played their whole catalog of whatever music is playable to an audience. What does that mean? Not every song translates well to various venues, or especially outdoor concerts. Sound is always key, and depending on the place it’s being played in and the sound quality of that hall or venue, and equipment, some songs will not translate well. The music may become distorted, if really audible at all. An audience of 20k outdoors is no small feat. Certain songs just won’t do well for an outdoor gig.

After the band has played a few cities, they also need to change up their sets. Some bands will stick to sets and make small changes, the musicians really prefer to keep to a set. Others are notorious for changing the set to fit the venue or area, which can be good for you. In the US that translates to from state to state, East Coast, West Coast, the tastes of the audience are reflective of the place they are in. They are still fans of the band, but it’s a local custom to react differently than say in San Francisco. If the band is traveling through Europe, and you are traveling and lucky enough to catch them there, they may have experience with a German audience and how they like their concerts, and in Spain or France, it’s a whole different thing with their cultures. There is a lot to consider. Just enjoy the show and experience.

Music and Politics

Some bands are flexible, some are not. Irish Punk or hard metal groups will probably not have patience for this: You getting up to the stage and requesting songs, like they are a wedding DJ. I have seen this at shows and just cringe. Some bands are good about how they handle it. You may get a serious confrontation if you get obnoxious about the music you want to hear. Bands still can throw things at audiences just as audiences sometime throw things at bands. There is always someone who tries this, and probably your ridiculous friend. Stop them.

I have seen some interesting ways song requests or political conflicts were handled by bands. Some very well done, diplomatic, and some right back in the persons face. There is also the possibility of band members talking about politics, something they may support as a band, or talking to the crowd about something that happened locally. I have heard some idiot in the crowd get confrontational with them. Bad idea. There have been shows that have been cancelled half way through because someone got into it with the band, and the band members decided to stop the show. And that was really not fair to the band and the other 1000 or more people there besides that one person.

Kindness Does Matter

Please be a responsible fan and an adult. Yes, I was sad I didn’t get to hear my song too, but there was probably a good reason for it, they were just tired of it after 40 shows. You would probably hate doing it that many times if you were playing it. So, play it on the way back home. Send them a responsible Tweet, “Great show, had hoped to hear (blank), but you guys are probably tired of it by now. But I really like your lyrics for that one.” Be good about it. Don’t make the band not want to come back. And don’t bash on Twitter about it. And if you are really, really nice about it, they may Tweet you back.

Clinton Street Record and Stereo PDX

Clinton Street Record and Stereo 2510 SE Clinton St Portland, OR 97202 (503) 235-5323

Rating: Okay

This wee store is a slim sliver of a place, with one third dedicated to used stereos and the rest a huge collection of vinyl and cassettes. Problem is, the signage and organizing of the bins is very hap hazard and not a lot of real gold in them hills for records. Now it’s true with all shops that depending on who got there before you, things can be wiped out. This place is a bit of a jumble. So you need to make it one of your shops you hit on your once a week troll.

Now there are those of you that love to just dig, and will search for hours. Than this is your place. Some of us don’t mind digging, we just like a little better clue which direction we are going in when we do it. Not such a good place for that. So if you don’t have patience for disorganized, don’t frustrate yourself.

Basics: Hip-Hop, some international, Jazz, Gospel. Very little punk or new wave. Rock was okay, heavy 70s early.

Listening Turntables at front, two set up with stools. These are in good shape as are the headphones.

Listening Booths, That Snug Beauty of the Past

download.jpgYou never know what you will take for granted. I have a terrible pet peeve about record shops. You have to have a playing table and headset that is not trashed available if you sell used vinyl. Why can’t people respect equipment? Bring back the days of a listening booth or serious listening tables. So much disappeared in the late 1980s when CDs became the preferred mode of recorded transport for your tunes, prior to iPods, and ancient ritual of the record store was phased out, the Listening Booth.  I say bring it back. People will flock you your store if they see you are serious about providing the space, even if it’s stuffed in the corner. Make it appealing. Make no mistake, people are going back to vinyl and music store experiences, downloading is convenient, but shops are tactile and Nana is taking the kids to the record shop.

This magical listening place was where you could take the records you wanted to purchase and listen to them before buying. Some stores had the playing version, and gave you the sealed version. Others let you listen to the one you were buying to make sure it was pressed correctly before you left the shop. It was a ritual, a small cell like in a confessional box and you could listen to them. But with the CD explosion at the end of the 1980s, and the medium being near perfect out of the case, and many people with portable players, less people were buying vinyl, and many of these banks of booths disappeared.

I have been lamenting the loss in these last few years of such a beautiful, claustrophobic cubicle, of sound. A place to set out all the records you want to buy. Since we have gone from just buying new vinyl to buying old and rare editions, it is essential to have a good place to listen for any damage, because you can’t bring it back.

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Most large record shops had at lease one or two rows of these booths at the back of the shop. They were very common in larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris. Nowadays, you have a small setup near the record counter with a player that is usually falling apart and filthy records and no cleaning  supplies. I recommend brining your own record cleaning tools when you go shopping. I find it very sad that most of the record shops have very poor equipment for you to listen with, but I supposed you can’t blame them. Back in the day, people knew how to respect vinyl and treat it well. These days people do not seem to respect equipment. They treat it like a toy.

What’s the answer? Set up your record shop with at the very least two working turntables, if not four. People will not want to wait in queue to check their records and may leave some records behind. I have seen this happen. If one breaks down, you have the others. Even a wee stool would make people happy. Bring back the listening experience in the store, you will get repeat customers if you do.

Now and places with good listening booths or tables to try before buy? There are a few around. Do you have one in your town? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Phonic Records in London, England has a row of good turntables and headsets.

Public Possession, Munich Germany has rows of turntables to listen on

Rush Hour Amsterdam Clean well lit place for vinyl and CDs, quality listening turntables and headsets

Creekside Vinyl in Creekside Vinyl 1a Monks Granary Standard Quay FavershamKent ME13 7BS Record cleaning services, listening area with good tables and headphones. New and used, all records graded.

Rough Trade New York New store with booths. Newer vinyl and CDs, won’t find used here. But great space.

Rough Trade London East London location, good selection new, used, listening space.

Love Music, Glasgow 34 Dundas Street, Glasgow, United Kingdom G1 2AQ 

Worlds Best Record Shops rated

Best Record Stores on the West Coast

Best Record Stores in the UK

Everyday Music PDX

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Everyday Music has three locations:

Main store is at 1313 W Burnside St 97209 Portland, Oregon (503) 274-0961 Huge selection of vinyl in the west storefront, most genres available, no international or indie. Some Jazz. Listening turntable has seen better days. Digged in the bins for the week by day, I found a really good Doors record for great price, barely played. Not a good import section. The rare items were very limited. But a place you just have to swing through once a week or so to rummage.

Sandy Boulevard Location 1931 NE Sandy Blvd. Portland OR 97232 503.239.7610 Mostly CDs, some vinyl

Beaverton Location3290 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. Beaverton, OR 97005