Friday, July 26, 2013

Wax Houses, Pt. 1: ZZZ Records

I have to travel about 2-4 times a year for work, so I've decided to hit the most prominent used record stores in every town I visit. Every time I do, I'll cover it here. My first trip? To exotic West Des Moines, Iowa.

There, I found ZZZ Records. I'll start with a gripe: I purchased the Shaft soundtrack here, only to get home and open it up and find Black Moses. That's a great album, but it's not the Isaac Hayes album I wanted. This means whoever is taking in new records isn't even looking at the labels. This overall sense of shoddiness extended to stacks of uncategorized vinyl, haphazard decor, and a sense of it being more of a flea market than a collector's store.

That being said, I did come away with a decent haul: Physical Graffiti (one of two Led Zeppelin albums I consider essential), complete with all the original overwrought packaging; the first two Huey Lewis & the News albums (the first one is relatively unknown, borderline punky, and may be their best); Herbie Hancock's Jazz Africa, and Cheap Trick's At Budokon, among others.

The real treasure here, though, is one of my new favorite albums, a classic I'd never heard: Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren. This double-album, packed with four sides of diverse music ranging from sugar-sweet pop to bombastic rock to out-and-out weirdness, makes me wonder why Rundgren didn't become the biggest pop star of the 1970s. It's worth a post in itself and will probably get one here eventually. I listed to all four sides twice in a row one night, exploring all the subtleties (and there are many). This is headphone music for recording/songwriting geeks at its finest. A real winner, and worth the trip. I'm actually kind of embarrassed I'd never heard it before, but if there are still great classic rock records out there that I've missed, I guess that bodes well for the future.

So, while it may be a bit dingy and disorganized (but after all, I'm spoiled by having one of the best record stores in the Midwest right here in Kansas City, which sets a very high bar), ZZZ Records is worth a visit, and from the word-of-mouth I got about it, is fairly highly regarded by many Des Moiners.

That Black Moses in my Shaft still rankles, though.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Seann, This is Nate with Zzz Records checking in. Thanks for the great write-up. I'll take the blame for the Isaac Hayes mistake... I'm the one who cleans and prices all the used vinyl, and I must have completely missed that one. I've actually got another decent copy of "Shaft" that came in recently. Get us your address and I will ship you a replacement copy. (My email can be found via our regular store website, or just give us a call.) Otherwise, we can give you a credit for the next time you happen to be in Des Moines.

    Thanks again,
    Owner, Zzz Records