Whatever one’s logical (or illogical, given the crazed nature of many LP fanatics) conclusion, vinyl is again becoming a very popular musical form. And Phoenix has a plethora of vinyl-buying options, new and used, from antique shops,
Here's what I've come up with, ranked from worst to first.
10. Bookmans Entertainment Exchange
With stores all over the Valley, these two book mongers, despite the quantity each stock, seem to sell vinyl only as happenstance. It feels as if people just bring in the vinyl to unload since they’re selling their books, and don’t really care what they get for it. That’s why Perry Como and Lawrence Welk albums rival REO Speedwagon’s Hi-Infidelity and the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits as shelf fillers. If you're patient, diligent, and determined, you can find the occasional rarity or oddity. (My last score was Chelsea’s self-titled 1970 debut featuring Peter Criss before KISS for one-fifth
9. Tracks in Wax
If you dig hard enough, some gems will appear at nice prices, particularly in the jazz, oldies, and Latin sections. But you have to sift through the plethora of commons no one wants: George Benson, Herbie Mann, Sergio Mendes, far too many children’s albums and soundtracks, mainstream rock, and, heaven forbid, Kenny G. Do take a gander at the aptly named “unexplainable” boxes. There's some quirky stuff in there. It’s also worth a slow walk through to check out the posters on the ceiling and albums lining the walls. There’s plenty of
8. Asylum Records
It’s loud in Asylum. If you’re looking for metal, hardcore, or something heavier, this is the place to shop. It’s well-stocked with similar cassette and DVD offerings too — the Valley’s best selection. There’s plenty of rock too, and particularly hard rock albums, but also some marginal titles filling the newer Mesa location. A little thinning of the herd is needed. The condition of the vinyl here, well, let’s just say there were many rougher pieces. Sadly, even beat-to-hell Beatles albums are marked way up, and even common rockers — $2 LPs at best in so-so shape — were pushing $6 and up. Admittedly, I didn’t look at everything — it was too loosely organized. A few divider cards for specific artists, then a bulk card for the rest of that letter. This makes it too frustrating to dig hard. Avoid the world section too, as it’s packed with non-world easy listening and whatever doesn’t fit easily somewhere else. Give the store a once-over, and on repeat visits, stick to the new arrivals section. Asylum is filled with lots of cool memorabilia, like a museum to metal, with a giant KISS stand-up, signed drum heads, guitars, picks, posters, and other eye candy. Let’s not forget the cat, too. I think he runs the show.
7. Zia Records
With five stores spread across the Valley, Zia has perhaps the greatest trove of vinyl when all combined —everything from classic rock to hair metal to punk and indie-rock, modern soul to disco to outlaw country. Given the volume, if you're willing to dig enough, there are treasures — used and new — to be found here. In-house buyers make up for the basic used wax, with tasty reissues ranging from obscure ’60s acts to modern pop-punks and alt-country stalwarts. Best of all is the world section — one of the coolest in Phoenix. Handpicked crazy psychedelic oddities from places as diverse as Iran, India, Turkey, Asia, Brazil, and any number of African locales fill the bins. There is also a decent selection of jazz (again, good reissues), funk, DJ offerings, and some box sets (check out the clearance bins for steals), but with such a large inventory, you have to look hard to find
Stinkweeds definitely has the best indie rock, indie folk, and