1985 also brought affordable compact disc technology. I bought my first when Radio Shack was liquidating their first model for the then low price of $500! But the discs themselves were still a rare occurrence on the Orlando scene. I recall seeing about a dozen or so [imports] in the best stores pre-1985. Eventually, the right stores carried decent imports and I bristle at the thoughts of all of the titles I didn’t buy [but wanted] at the time that are now 2 decades OOP and beyond my reach! But CDs in 1985 were a waiting game. The industry first had to fulfill their commitment to provide all of the Phil Collins fans with their precious discs first before the likes of my favorite groups would hit the new format. Remember: there were initially THREE CD pressing plants in the world at that time. Tears For Fears made news by being the first act to release a CD n the same day as vinyl for their hit “Big Chair” album. Speaking of TFF, when my friends staged a road trip to Tampa to see them on tour in 1986, we made the pilgrimage to the legendary Vinyl Fever, touted by my friend Elisa. It more than lived up to the billing and for many years, any trips to Tampa made time for a trip to VF! It was a superb record store at a time when superb record stores were peaking and did not know it.
I soon began the regrettable trend of trading in vinyl for credit at stores where I could get CDs. A lot of these items I would later re-buy, at least when I purchased again the prices were really low! Around 1986 there was an amazing store in Orlando that was ALL CD up in Altamonte Springs, north of Orlando. My friend Tom and I would go there every payday and squander our meager paychecks on the delightful import discs to be had there. They only lasted about two years [I wish I could remember their name – was it Digital Sounds?] but a good 30% of my early collection of CDs came from there at that time. I vividly remember getting a UK import of Tracey Ullman’s 2nd album, “You Caught Me Out” there only to have a CD so riven with data noise that it sounded like a helicopter had bee mixed into the final product! When held up to the light, one could see thousands of pinholes in the reflective plating on the disc – far beyond what the error correction circuits of the players could handle! I remember examining all of my CDs looking for pinholes in the plating and the first disc I had ever seen without any was Kraftwerk’s “Electric Cafe” pressed by JVC in Japan – late in 1986. It hurt to trade that back to the dealer knowing that there was not another to buy. Heck, to this day I have never seen the vinyl on that album – which I had been looking for for a few years already at that point. Fortunately, in the early 90s, our friends at the German label Repertoire released that and many other Stiff label discs on CD, with ample bonus tracks to boot!
1986 also saw my first real trip out of state for musical purposes. Fave band OMD were opening for The Thompson Twins [not exactly favorites at this point in their career] at the famous Fox Theatre in Atlanta so I road tripped there with a friend. Since the show was on a Sunday. we stayed an extra day just to buy records at Wax & Facts in Little Five Points. I only had about $100 to spend and food was overrated, so I brought home some John Foxx, Virginia Astley and Mari Wilson records instead! It was a real trip to get Mari records in a store since I had amassed a large collection through mail order only. Effective, but hardly fun or tactile! Yes, I would soon make the move to full time Goldmine subscription just for the ads. But that remains for another time…
To which Brian replied:
Just to expand a bit on Jim's very accurate overview of Orlando's record scene - I was here in the 60s and bought almost everything in department stores like J.C. Penneys, J.M. Fields, and for some reason Singer Sewing Machine stores. The first true music store I can remember was Bill Baer's in the Winter Park Mall. Every Top 40 single! Listening booths! And of course TVs and Hi-Fis. Then came the original East West Records in Winter Park which was the first store that I remember that sold nothing but records and tapes. And finally a quick shout out to "Steve's Southern Music" which had EVERY domestic 45 released whether it charted or not and ALWAYS with the picture sleeve. Much appreciated!!
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Thanks to Brian and Jim for this wonderful appreciation of Florida record stores!