Back before the Internet days, we used to hunt down rare albums via crosstown visits to obscure record shops. Nowadays, with Amazon and eBay and online third party retailers, this experience never happens anymore, since you can source whatever you need digitally, either immediately, via YouTube, or virtually, purchased through one of the aforementioned online retailers with global reach.
Well, it almost never happens anymore. Imagine my surprise when I found out that local guitar virtuoso Daniel James released a funky prog rock album back in May with his band Brass Camel. Their Facebook page says it’s available at three uber-cool Vancouver indie record stores. In vain I sought to find a digital download online, so I happily saddled up, just like in the goode olde days, and made the one-hour trek into town to buy this rare prog album that cannot be bought online (not even from those three Vancouver retro retailers) but only in person, at a record store that is actually a RECORD store (i.e., with wall-to-wall vinyl in plastic collector’s bags).
Man, what an experience. I hadn’t felt the thrill like this since I was a teenager waiting outside a record shop waiting for it to open. Sure enough, I arrived today in Vancouver fifteen minutes before opening time, and I had to stand out on the sidewalk peering in the window, as the lone employee inside pointedly ignored me. In an age of instant downloads, does anyone ever feel such excitement these days? I was getting a total kick out of this happy retro vinyl buyer’s experience, and my only regret was that I was going to be buying the album on CD when the store opened, since there is no vinyl release yet.
The record store dude unlocked the door promptly on the hour. Suddenly a second employee magically appeared out of nowhere on the sidewalk and slipped past me into the store as the glass door swung open. I had to cool my heels another minute as employee number one put out a sidewalk sign and then he finally let me in. When I asked for the Daniel James Brass Camel CD, he had never heard of it. But he eventually found it in a basket of CDs filed alphabetically in envelopes behind the counter. Then he had to walk across the store to find the empty gatefold CD jacket on a shelf, and next insert the CD from the back-counter envelope, and — voila — sell it to me. And get this, which was the ultimate thrill to cap the experience: they only had one copy in stock, and my long trek had paid off big time, with me capturing the last disc left! Oh man, what a thrill. Brought back so many good memories of hunting down rare albums back in the glory days!
Well, I am happy to report the album was a great pleasure to listen to all the way home. I will follow up this post with a review of the progtastic DJBC album soon. For now, I just wanted to let you know that the magical experience of hunting down the Holy Grail of Prog is still alive and well in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Prog on, chillun!