Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by Russ Fischer
The idea of nostalgia for a record store is probably not even a thing for audiences under a certain age, but to anyone who sought out new and unusual music and all the cultural attachments that came with it, the best Tower Records locations around the world, from Los Angeles to new York, London, and Tokyo, were regular stops.
Colin Hanks documents the history of Tower Records in the documentary All Things Must Pass, and he’s scored a great lineup of interviews to bring that history to life. Tower was the place a bunch of my weirdo friends found jobs in the ’80s and ’90s, just as Dave Grohl says; it was the place to find Japanese imports of weird jazz records, supporting Elton John‘s assertion; it was, as others in the film will tell you, a place where the employees usually knew their stuff.
The All Things Must Pass trailer is a good introduction to the film; check it out below.
Like a lot of people who were into music in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, I have great memories of Tower Records. I tried to work at the one in Harvard Square at one point and was brushed off because I didn’t know much about the post-Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy work of Michael Franti. (I didn’t regret it at the time, and I don’t now.) But it was the chain store that felt like an indie, with a lot of surprising stuff buried in the stacks.
Tower even had a good in-store magazine that featured weird stuff like comics from up and coming cartoonists such as Adrian Tomine, and good writing on movies and music. I got turned on to Peter Jackson when an issue featured some early gushing about Dead Alive, if I remember correctly. Losing things like that was a bummer; it’s something that the internet replicates to a certain extent, but doesn’t really replace.
Trailer via Apple. All Things Must Pass opens on October 16.
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Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that’s not the story. All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic company’s explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.