Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why I am not at all upset about the closing of Bleecker Bob's House of Golden Oldies Record Store


On Saturday April 13th Bleecker Bob’s record store closed its doors after 46 years. The location will soon be taken over by a frozen yogurt shop. Frankly I could not care one bit. Bleecker Bob’s is probably one of the worst record stores I have ever been to.


First of all they had one of the worst record store staffs. Bleecker Bob’s staff would not even look at you when you walk in the door. Then when someone did strum up enough nerve to ask a question they were met with the minimum amount of a response as possible, always delivered in an obnoxiously demeaning tone.

Even though the “holier than thou” attitude displayed by Bleecker Bob’s staff is a record store employee stereotype I greatly tried to dispel during my days as a record store owner outside of Baltimore, I could probably disregard it in order to pick up some new or long sought out records. The only thing is Bleecker Bob’s had the worse selection of music of any of the many record stores located in New York City.

Even though the rock section had some bigger named acts written on the dividers, try finding most of those acts actually in the bins. With the exception of some of the extremely big named band, what was usually found was an act somehow connected to that band. But even then it would usually end up being a “Limited Edition European Promo” pressing or some other title only a completest could possibly want.

Picture Courtesy of Turntabling.net
Even if you did manage to find something you were looking for, you just knew the record would be extremely overpriced. Bleecker Bob’s had the most ridiculously high prices around. In 2003 after reading an article about the 60’s garage band The Count Five in a collection of writings by rock critic Lester Bangs, I was set on acquiring a copy of their "Psychotic Reaction" album. I found a copy at Bleecker Bob’s in far from mint condition. With creases over every edge, dinged corners, a few spine splits and even a rip where the original price tag had been located, Bleecker Bob’s price tag displayed across the albums cover read $75 dollars. I soon located a copy elsewhere for much less. Today, ten years later, the record can still be picked up for around only 40 bucks.

Picture Courtesy of Flaming Pablum
The CD section was even worse. The rock section had a very small random selection of titles, heavily made up of badly recorded “European Import” bootleg live discs. The separated New Wave, Punk, Kraut rock etc. sections had a small amount of totally random titles, most of which were inaccurately placed in the category Bleecker Bob’s chose to place them.

When the store’s closing was announced, huge amounts of people took to the web declaring how much of a tragedy it was to be losing such a long standing historic New York City institution. I am one of the biggest offenders when it comes to being upset when something historic or traditional in New York City becomes closed or torn down, only to be replaced by something more cold and modern. I still get a little irritated when I think about the old Penn Station that was torn down and replaced by the dirty crowded structure which stands there today, asking myself “Why would they have ever had wanted to do that”. And that was ten years before I was born. This time I ask myself, “How did Bleecker Bob’s hang on for so long”.

People say one of the things that killed Bleecker Bob’s was online music markets. I think this is entirely not the case. During the early 90’s so many Saturdays were spent taking the train into the city and hitting all the record stores before going to see shows at CBGBs and other New York City clubs. Even back then, long before iTunes or even the internet altogether, Bleecker Bob’s selection was very sparse, leaving me wondering how the store was still able to survive.

Picture Courtesy of Tripwithmarty.com
So to Bleecker Bob’s “Golden Oldies Record Shop” I say "Good riddance".The next time I go record shopping at the nearby Generation Records where whenever I go there I chat with a clerk for twenty minutes about  everything from Australian noise bands to mutual people we know in punk bands, or House Of Oldies where when I first moved here the clerk held a copy of the Bo Diddley’s  “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” 45  until I found a job, or Rebel Rebel Records where I watched a clerk stunned and impressed by the knowledge of The Beatles recorded history by a fourteen year old kid that was shopping there, or even Bleecker Street Records where they may not be the nicest people, they do keep a steady flow of new merchandise and a large stock of used CDs to browse through, I will definitely make time during the day to enjoy some nice refreshing frozen yogurt.