This record store in Chicago has a ‘do not buy’ list of albums to avoid at all costs. What would make yours? Let us know on NME.COM.
I don’t actually disagree with this list from a musical perspective, but I would like to point out that there’s a pretty disproportionate number of lady singers being singled out here. Be more subtle, record store dudes.
Also: what year is this? Somebody is very bitter about the 90’s, lol.
And although it could be nothing, that doesn’t mean I’m not side-eyeing the fuck out of k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge being highlighted.
On the one hand, I’m guessing the context of this isn’t so much a music-snob jerkoff jamboree as it is the fact that used record stores tend to get a lot of the same artists/titles that they eventually get overloaded with and subsequently have a hard time selling because it’s both omnipresent and out-of-favor. (The mid-late ’90s had a sort of Unholy Trinity: Monster, Dookie and Cracked Rear View.) The prevalence of ’90s artists says a lot in that context — aging X’ers/Y’ers who tend to move a lot, need extra spending money and/or tend to go digital more readily have to constitute the vast majority of this glut, and when supply outweighs demand this sort of rule set tends to be handy. If this was posted in a used LP store in 1982 you’d best believe Herb Alpert and Vaughn Meader would be all over this.
That said, who gets to define “2nd tier hip-hop” or “anything Pitchforky”? Why the aforementioned suspicious highlighter usage? How are the Eagles on there twice? (I know it is every music snob’s sworn duty to hate the Eagles, but seriously.) And if you’re so inundated with Boz Scaggs and Macy Gray CDs, wouldn’t you have learned how to spell their names by now?
Yeah I look at this list and it’s just raw capitalism. These stores are desperately trying to stay in business, and if they buy CDs from these artists, that is less likely to happen. If you spend any time at all in record stores you get a sense very quickly of what no one pays money for. Virtually all of these CDs are on sale at Amazon for $0.01, and it’s hard to compete with that!
(Edit: Ha, I didn’t even realize this was from Laurie’s! My favorite record store in the world, great people. Two of the people who, I am guessing, have set the rules re buying are women, they’ve been involved in the Chicago punk scene, most assuredly not “record store dudes” at this place.)
Piling in behind Mark and Nate here, with the exception of the “everything Pitchforky” (seems like that would be stuff that, in the short term anyway, would sell okay, and practically speaking, there really is no way to define “Pitchforky,” given that the site praises or has praised everything from Kanye to the Decemberists to Burial to Eat Skull), this does seem to be a practically driven list.
I’ve encountered this trying to pare down my vinyl collection, and in particular shed some of the stuff I spent ten cents on in high school. Seriously, take a copy of Paradise Theatre, Point of Know Return or End of the Innocence to a vinyl-focused store and try to make a reasoned argument to the person behind the counter that they should take it, and give you money for it at that. Heck, I like Monster, and I wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole if I’d been running a counter at a used CD store in the late 90s.
I’d be willing to bet they have direct experience with every artist singled out on the list sitting in a bin for ages, the price slowly dropping until it makes the store no money. The focus on the 90s makes tons of sense—I think Nate pinpointed why.
Yeah, I keep seeing friends picking this list over for taste policing, sexism*, age-ism, etc., on the part of the store employees, but, odd categorizations aside (“2nd Tier Hip Hop,” “everything ‘Pitchforky’”), I think it tells us much more about buying and selling habits of customers, as well as industry trends during the peak years of the CD format.
Even some of the surprising inclusions like the Grifters and Mary’s Danish might be the product of the ways in which labels pushed certain artists during the era. Used CD stores in the ’90s were chock full of promo copies (complete with ‘do not buy or sell’ label) that college radio DJs and student newspaper employees like me couldn’t wait to unload for beer money. As good as those albums might be, the sheer number of copies that hit used stores probably more than met the relatively small demand of Grifters and Mary’s Danish fans, and the stores were stuck with copies that just sat for years.
I am somewhat surprised that this store uses a written list like this rather than a database for individual titles. In 1995 or so, I bought Replacements drummer Chris Mars’ second solo CD from a used place. I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t the ‘Mats completist I thought I was and tried to sell it back to the same store about a year later. They wouldn’t take it, since they had it on record that the last time the CD had been in stock, it sat on the shelf for about 2 years before someone (me) bought it.
* I don’t want to get into this too much, but is the male-to-female ratio really that disproportionate? If you count actual artists on the list only and not categories, I think female solo acts and female-led bands constitute less than 1/3rd of the list (not sure if that’s more or less than the percentage of female artists who are popular at any given time). The highlighted entries are curious, but, to be generous, it could have been an employee pointing out something notable about customer habits.