Record Store Review: Play it Again Records, Bethlehem, PA.

Maybe college towns are the only place in the world where rock and roll matters anymore. Yet, in my experience, even if the music is widely available in so many different ways, the only bands that seem to thrive in college towns are those lame funk-jazz-fusion garbage, made by white-kids-from-suburbia-who-hate-that-fact-and-want-to-run-away-from-that-life-as-fast-and-as-far-as-they-can. . . Uh. . . Kids.

According to their excellent website, Play it Again Records opened up in 1981 as a one-stop shop for nearly every genre of music, but seems to have gained primarily a focus on punk and related genres over the years as well (and I must mention their website specifically for being so clean and well maintained as the clerk told me they post certain special goodies on the website separate from the storefront, if you’re into looking harder for stuff as I do). As such, it not only sports a great variety of genres and material, but having extremely high integrity of quality as well, not to mention organization. There’s four sections of vinyl: new releases, used records, new records, and a small section dedicated entirely to rare and collectible albums. In addition, a very healthy selection of indie, classic rock, garage, psych, international, and jazz as well.

Grade: B+. I must admit that I did not spend as much time in the store as I should have to give it such a high grade, but such a level of dedication is obvious, from the organization to the layout. It’s why I can overlook the strange dust that covers the store (seriously, dust specs in a new release section — how odd!). But it’s also a beautiful hang-out kind of place, that’s made for music lovers. Then again, I love any place that you can’t tell what’s for sale and what’s strictly for decoration.

I picked up The Remains’ reissue (from Epic/Legacy), Sundazed’s “Garage Beat ’66 Vol. 7: That’s How it Will Be!”, The Vipers’ “Outta the Nest!” (yes, this is probably from the bootlegged, illegally distributed release, but damn it, I’ve been DYING to have this record ever since a friend dug it out of her mom’s collection), and the Black Lips’ “200 Million Thousand” — yes, like most things, I’m late to the party on this one. Pretty intense album. Really intense. To a point where it’s not fun, but still artistically fulfilling.

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