Record Store Story

By Paul Moffett

Christmas has come extra-early for record buyers in Louisville with the opening of several new record outlets. And not all of them handling the same stuff, either.

Out in St. Matthews, HMV Records has opened a very large store in the new wing of Mall St. Matthews. For those of you who haven't made the journey, that's in the back of the Mall (considering the Shelbyville Rd. side as the front), toward the Watterson Expressway side.

Open since May 5, HMV will carry all of the major label releases, plus a strong selection of imports, according to manager Steve White. White also said that local recordings will be carried, as groups with product find the store and consign their tapes and CDs.

The store has twenty-three "Listening Posts," at which customers can listen to selected CDs on headphones mounted on racks displaying the CD. White noted that the store does not offer to play a customer's pick on request but does have a 100% return policy for credit.

A "Top of the Chart Wall" displays the latest and hottest, and an HMV Chart will show the CDs selling best in the store. There will also be a regular choice of CDs at 3 for $25.

ear X-tacy, as seen from Bardstown Road

Hours at HMV are 10-9 weekdays and Saturdays and 9-6 on Sundays.

The Highlands has been blessed with a new, larger, location for ear X-tacy, the area's largest independent. Owner John Timmons has moved his store into the Worth Plaza, 1534 Bardstown Rd., just across the parking lot from Mark's Feed Store and just south of Eastern Parkway. The store won't have the from-the-street visibility problem that it had at its previous location. The large ear X-tacy sign on the side of the building is hard for drivers heading south on Bardstown Rd. to miss.

With seventeen listening stations (up from 5 at the old store), more inventory and a new Muze computer database, finding your CD/cassette/vinyl of choice is easier than ever.

The listening stations feature various CDs, including local recordings. The Muze touch-screen computer database searches for music in a variety of ways, including by artist, album title and song title. Like any good database, it also searches for partial phrases. This means that you can look for songs, titles and artists when you only remember part of the name or title. In a quick demonstration, it found several listings for the fragment "Mari . . . ," including three recordings of the song that was being sought.

Muze will also print out the information it finds, along with a handy-dandy order form at the bottom of the slip. (It is a store, after all.)

Store manager Matt James is eager to show off the store and all the new features. With lots more room, ear X-tacy has been staging more live music by performers promoting their recordings.

Up the stairs located in the middle of the store, a smaller room has been stocked with T-shirts and posters. As time goes by, this part of the store promises to develop into something really interesting.

A listening post at HMV

The nationally famous ear X-tacy bumper stickers are still available (of course) in several colors. The first one is free with a purchase and you can buy as many as you want, cheap.

The hours are 10-10, M-Th; 10-Mid., F-Sat; Noon-8 on Sunday. The phone is 452-1799.

Although Timmons owns the largest independent record stores in the area, he is not without challengers for that title. In particular, note the name of Ben Jones of Better Days Records, located at the corner of Bonnycastle Ave. and Bardstown Rd.

In addition to the multi-section Bardstown Rd. store, Jones has opened Better Days West in the Lyles Mall at 2600 W. BRd.way with co-owner Miss Lee Drane. Drane formerly owned Tiff Records.

The store hours are 11-8 M-Sat., closed Sundays. The phone is 774-9909.

He also is a co-owner and silent partner, with Jim Miller, of Second Chance, at 616 Baxter Ave. As the name implies, the store handles used CDs and vinyl, with some collectibles.

Second Chance's hours are 12-8 M-Sat., closed Sundays. The phone is 583-8733. (583-USED) .

Us Vs Them Records, located at 627 Baxter, has been open for a while and caters to the hardcore hardcore. The record selection is unlikely to include many albums that are on the national charts. It's not unusual to find a collection of folks on the side street, trying out their boards.

The hours are 4-8, M-F; Saturday, 12-8; Sunday, 12-6. The phone is 561-8116.

Ground Zero, at 1223 Bardstown Rd., is owned by Ed Lutz and Kelly Cox. Cox was a partner in Moist Records, the indie label whose roster included Southern Culture on the Skids, Metal Flake Mother and Monks of Doom. Cox's Damn Entertainment recently put out a 7" vinyl on the Web.

Ground Zero specializes in alternative underground indie rock of every stripe, with lots of vinyl and it's all real cheap.

The hours are 10-11, M-Sat; 12-8 Sunday. The phone is 485-9717.

Even though most of the new stores are located in the (roughly) middle part of Jefferson County, record fans in the far east end of the county are not without access to the regular and the unusual, even though it looked bleak after Dave Regneri closed Four Seasons Records. Mike Bacayu's Blue Moon Records, 213 Holiday Manor, has been gaining customers since it opened in November.

Bacayu, more well known as former bassist for Kinghorse, has transmogrified into a pleasant, friendly and helpful record purveyor with a passion for Ralph Stanley and collectible Louisville and Kentucky records and paper ephemera (posters, record album art and such). He also sells the regular major label product, but it's plain to see that he's seriously into unusual, arcane and just plain local recordings. Just look at the Elvis posters on the wall and the boxes of local recordings perched by the cash register.

Blue Moon is open Monday through Saturday 10-10, 12-8 on Sundays. The phone number is 423-9654.