Monday, February 17, 2020

Record Store Tour: Planet of Sound

It took me a bit of contemplating of what is going to qualify as a record store for this mini-tour. There's a lot of places (especially in Winnipeg) that sell records. I came to the conclusion that I would focus mainly on places that sell physical formats of music as one of their major reasons for being in business, and they must have a store that has somewhat regular business hours. Therefore, places like flea markets and thrift stores are pretty much exempt. I'm also eliminating gray-area stores such as Red River Bookstore who actually have lots of records and CDs but mainly focus on dealing in books. It's actually a very fun store to dig through if you have a few hours to waste (due to it being massively unorganized), but they're primarily a used book store.

Today we're visiting Planet of Sound.

Location: 1109 Henderson Highway, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Rating: 7/10

If you blink while driving down Henderson Highway, you'll miss this place. It's sandwiched between a couple other places who's existence I could care less about.

When you walk in, you're greeted by a ton of CD and DVDs, very much like the Entertainment Exchange. This place is also very well organized, clean, and the guy who I'm assuming is the owner was friendly and funny.

This place has a much bigger section of records which was nice. They have some sitting on rails on the wall which double as decoration and advertising. This is where I found the one and only good album I walked out of the store with which I'll get to in a bit.

The first place I headed for was the bargain bin which is located on the floor underneath the records. It's a somewhat inconvenient place to have the shit you're desperately trying to dump, especially if there's some other asshole in your way trying to find another copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. Not only that, there's a ton of stuff in there which took a fair amount of time to go through.

Like the Entertainment Exchange's bargain bin, I had some difficulty finding some true trash for my shitty album find. There was a ton of compilation CDs in there which weren't that bad, and it made me angry to find two albums I searched for years to find priced at a dollar each. But that's how it goes when you're a music junkie.

After the bargain bin, I made my way to the regularly priced CDs.

This LA Guns CD would have been nice to add to my collection, but not for 19 dollars.
(And in case you're wondering, yes, I re-injured my hand)

Here's an album by The Knack which I purchased brand new about three years ago from Dollarama. It's called "Dollarama" because it's not "Tendollarama".

Okay, this is just getting stupid. I didn't even pay this much for my vinyl copy of this album which is much harder to find.

I own this. I paid a dollar for it. Planet of Sound is charging ten dollars. This Ukrainian polka album is easy to find in thrift stores and cheapy bins at the flea market.

I have an extensive collection of vinyl records by The Ventures which are all in very good condition. I have this one on 8-track, but not on vinyl, so I was thrilled to find it here. However upon further inspection, it was just a bit too marked up to spend ten dollars on it. Five perhaps, but certainly not ten. I was a bit disappointed to pass this one up, but If I wanted fine grit sandpaper for my turntable, I'll go to Home Depot.

As you can tell, I'm not excited about 75% of the prices here. The average decent CD was priced around $8.95, and when you can go to a place that sells brand new CDs for $5-$10 each, buying them here simply isn't worth it. You're better off going to Walmart or even Sunrise Records.

However, not all is lost. Here's what I walked out with...

The Good Album: The Tornados - The Original Telstar

Hell yeah! I love my 1960s instrumental bands, and this one just reached out to me and begged me to buy it. The condition is actually better than the Ventures album I looked at, and it was reasonably priced at $4.95. It's not the cleanest, quietest vinyl record I own from the 1960s, but I expected that because it's not mint, and it's from 1962.

This album is upbeat, twangy, fun, and a bit odd. Personally, I prefer The Ventures' take on Telstar, but you have to have respect for the original version. I enjoyed the rest of the album as well. The other highlights are The Breeze and I, Love and Fury, and Earthy.

This is also an interesting album for a few other reasons. Aside from it being part of the beginning of the instrumental rock n' roll movement of the 1960s (which eventually morphed into surf music), The Tornados were a British group. Telstar was the second British song ever to enter the US charts. Also, the band's name is incorrectly credited as "The Tornadoes" on the cover, while the label correctly lists them as "The Tornados".

In case you didn't know, the song "Telstar" was named after the communications satellite which was launched into orbit one month prior. It was the first satellite to transmit a transatlantic TV signal. Telstar died six months later due to space radiation, but it's still currently floating around the Earth rotting away in orbit. (How can you tell I'm somewhat fascinated by satellite stuff?) Incidentally, why isn't there a company manufacturing models of old satellites? I'd be happily dangling them from my ceiling.

The Bad Album: Strong Like Tractor - The Savage Sound

This album has an ape on the cover and pictures of John Deere equipment on the back. There's barely any other information on this album other than "Tractor" being the last name of all three members of the band.

These guys would almost be good if they would spend more than five minutes writing a song. Some of them start out catchy and then they're ruined by extremely stupid lyrics. The other songs are just garbage. The band should have been called "Cow Shit Getting Run Over by Tractor". Personally, I'd rather listen to a tractor, including a non-running one.

Listen to Damage

The Other Crappy Album I Bought: Chicken Soup for the Soul - Yoga

This is miles better than the Tractor album. It's just synth noises with some simple plunky piano parts thrown in. As an instrumental album, it's not as interesting as Telstar, but it's not going to cause me to say "I really NEED to hear that Chicken Soup album!" The last track has one of the creators of this company and/or brand reading something. Wow. Excitement. Is there anything that this faddish brand didn't market? The thrift stores are littered with their shitty books. Surprisingly, the whole Chicken Shit Soup thing is still around.

So the bottom line is, Planet of Sound might be worth going to for finding that odd gem. Other than that, it's a bit too overpriced for my liking.

And in case you couldn't tell, I'm enjoying my record store tour. On to the next!

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