Known Johnson

December 13, 2006

Return to Tower

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 5:44 am

Truth be told, it wasn’t my last trip to Tower. In fact, I have to admit that I’ve hit Tower a few times since then as the clearance sale went up and up. I really didn’t expect much else to tempt me, but as I read more and more testimonials about Tower excursions in these final dark days revealing previously hidden gems, things apparently brought out from deep within storage, I had to go back. And go back again. And then again. And so I’ve managed to hit Tower at least once a week or so, it seems. But, from what I read, this week is truly it – most hints point to Tower’s doors closing by the 17th, or no later than the 24th. Judging by what I saw today, I don’t know how they could possibly last much longer anyway.

Despite having a cold, Alissa alerted me to some potential gift items that I knew I had to check out first at Tower. I had to pick up Amanda at her grandparents’ house, which is right by one of the two Arizona Tower locations anyway, so I left a bit early. I really figured I’d be in and out – surely by now there could be little to tempt me, right? Oh how wrong I was . . .

I quickly found that while the gift items in question were nearly gone (one was found – a whopping $4.80 after 70% markdown from the normal $15.99 price,) there were plenty of self-gifting items available. At 70% off, this was not the time to debate – just buy it if it was deemed interesting. It would be gone, guaranteed, if I opted to pass on it. And so I did buy, within reason – picking up a copy of Kenny Garrett’s latest album, the Grammy-nominated Beyond The Wall (and now I have to add this to my list of deserving nominees that bumped Bill Frisell’s latest album out of the running,) Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Josh Ritter’s The Animal Years (a seriously fantastic album that I wish I’d jumped on when it came out back in March when I saw it getting all the accolades – only so I could be more familiar with it to place it on my year-end best-of list because it is that good,) a Liars CD single for the album track “Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” from their seriously warped and fun Drum’s Not Dead (fans of Can, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Animal Collective must check this one out,) and Son Volt’s Austin City Limits DVD. I did get burned on one item, however, and that’s The Move’s Message From The Country – bought on a sort-of whim because I’d heard something off this album at some point and really liked it . . . but I have no idea what or why I liked it because I certainly don’t now. But for $5, it didn’t feel like such an awful plunge to take – I can sell it off for that much and there’s no harm done. But for $36 total (including the gift-CD) it was a really rewarding day of music buying.

That said, I was struck by a little bit of sadness in recent days as I realized that, with the passing of Tower, we here in Phoenix lose one of our last deep-catalog resellers. Having recently been shocked by the massive reduction of Borders’ music section (seriously, it’s no more than 25% what it used to be,) it’s obvious that local music sales are simply drying up. Tower is simply the last of the big name stores. From here on out it’ll be indie chains like Zia Records and true indies that we hear about and use locally, but probably with the same frustrations that I’ve turned to Amazon to solve: little back-catalog stock. Tower’s prices are what ultimately destroyed them, but there was something so comforting about walking in and seeing CDs older than the current release in the stacks – that’s something that Zia Records should be the place you’d naturally think of relying upon, but instead they’re just as bad as Best Buy (actually, Best Buy frequently has better older stock than Zia, sadly. Zia seems to be relying solely upon trade-ins for back-catalog material.) So while I gleefully search the shrinking aisles of Tower for cheap gems, it’s with the knowledge that this may never happen again.

While it’s sad, it’s hard to say no to the bargains and hard to not feel the thrill of those bargains. As I read on one site, you better take advantage of it – “you only get to take part in the death of the record industry once.”

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