The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How did I used to find out...

2-11-09 How did I used to find out about new music?

First and foremost, my family. I could always talk to my brother about records – or to my two sisters. My parents had records too – but…I couldn’t really talk to my dad about “new” music.

At around age 12, I could talk to the hippies that worked in the hippie record store, downtown. They would play me LP’s I asked about: “What’s this sound like?”.

Every so often, my mother would bring me a music magazine – after visiting a big newsstand at Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles – something like Creem or Circus. I think my brother might’ve brought Billboard magazine into our home, and I could look at it, too.

Apart from the hippie record store, I also visited Wallach’s Music City, in nearby Lakewood. I could pick up their “chart” and pour over it. My brother had a big stack of those 8 ½” x 14” goldenrod charts!

Maybe it was when my dad took me to Hollywood to look for import LP’s that I eventually found Melody Maker, Sounds and New Musical Express. British music newspapers! I read and re-read those papers constantly – looking for clues! Look at all those new bands! I wonder what they sound like?

Eventually, I came to try and hear new music on the FM radio – maybe circa ’70 or so. That really wasn’t much help – I eventually found decent FM radio about ’72 or so – where I could hear neat stuff on KPFK-FM (90.7 Pacifica Radio) – after midnight!

My parents would travel to Europe – and bring me back Ciao 2001, Rock et Folk, Oor and other exotic European music magazines. And I continued to buy Melody Maker or the NME whenever I could find ‘em.

I started regularly going up to record stores and swap meets in L.A. around ’75 or so – whenever I could get someone to drive me there! My brother, my cousin, my friends…

Hanging out in record stores, and – eventually – working in a record store, one got to hear whatever else was on anybody’s agenda. Nascent punk rock, a bit of electric C&W, some Italian horror film soundtracks etc.

I also met some people who facilitated my experience: other record collectors, music enthusiasts – even people in the music business. Travel also broadened my listening experience – To Europe in ’79, NZ in ’81…Japan in ’94 etc.

Early 80’s: Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood had something exotic: Japanese magazines! Music Life, Ongaku Senka etc. I worked at first a record distributor, then a record importer – and finally got to see lots of release schedules about 1980/1 or so. By then, I was after RAM ( = Rock Australia Magazine ) and Rip It Up (from NZ).

The 80’s roar along and we get internet in the 90’s. These days, I receive several email newsletters from mail-order companies and a few local indie record stores. And my razor sharp friends will usually alert me to stuff of interest (such as a Nov. ’08 A Certain Ratio CD that I haven’t yet found! Thanks, Bob!).

Thanks to Tony H., Wes O., and all the usual cast of characters: Brian, Jim, Chas etc.


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