I was in Phoenix, AZ last weekend. I hadn't been there in a long time. When did The Valley of the Sun get annexed by California? I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm just saying it.
Close to half-gentrified and half-demolished downtown Phoenix, I was pleased to find Revolver Records - a happy haven of vinyl geekdom. It looked, felt, sounded, and smelled exactly like a record store should. I was also pleased to observe that the store appeared to be thriving - not just with the old weirdos crawling on the floor to peruse the boxes of albums that were tucked into every nook and cranny of the room, but also with younger folks who still care enough about life to practice personal hygiene. I limited my shopping to the upper racks and bought some mid-priced classic-rock comfort food by the likes of John Lennon, the Who, and the second Generation X album that I used to have but lost over time. I've been playing it safe and boring for a while, but the store does stock plenty of the newer stuff that all the hipsters dig. Revolver claims to have over 25,000 records in stock and that looks about right, although most of them have been relegated to the $1.00 boxes on the floor. I didn't want to bother with those because I knew I would end up buying a bunch of crap, but I was forced to. There was a dry-erase board by the front counter with a rock trivia question written on it. The prize for the correct answer was a free $1.00 record. Long story short, I selected a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet copy of "Elvis Sings 'Burning Love' and Hits From His Movies."
Alice Cooperstown is a rock-themed sports bar and restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Yes, it is owned by Alice Cooper and yes, I had to go there. I had no problem with the "Welcome to My Nightmare" chili, which I found quite delicious, but I did have problems with some of the rock memorabilia on display. For example, there was an autographed white Fender Telecaster in a glass case with a plaque stating that it was Jeff Beck's guitar, but if you looked closely at the signature, it looked like "Billy Joel." Another issue was the memorabilia near our table, which were record company certificates commemorating sales or radio play of the dippy Alice Cooper ballads "You and Me" and "I Never Cry" instead of REAL Alice Cooper songs like "School's Out" or "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Other than that, I liked it.
ABQ Record Store Update: I finally made it to Mecca Records. I read some online reviews that said the clerks were rude and condescending. However, I found the clerk to be pleasant and polite. I'll probably go back anyway.
Correction: In a previous posting, I referred to a store called "I Buy Music." The correct name of the store is "We Buy Music." I still don't think it's a very good name.