Record stores are one of those magical places that breed culture and self-discovery. They attract weirdos, hipsters, fanatics and extremists. Very much like flea market culture, it is unique unto itself and attractive for that reason. Like being a part of some exclusive club, or finally finding a special niche to fit into, the record store experience is an important part of life for the music lover.
Working in a real-deal used vinyl shop was always tops on my list of jobs one could attain without the college degree. The internet is filled with hilarious record store stories and comic books abound with the same recurring setting. Plenty of movies take place in record stores as well, with several forming my generation’s opinions on what they were like, for those of us who lived in small towns and didn’t have access to flesh and blood, brick-and-mortar stores like Euclid Records. Never, though, could I have known to what extent I would leave this store forever changed by the people, the stories, and the sounds that I heard while working there.
These are the 10 records that most shaped my time at Euclid, and I am ashamed to say that I had never had the pleasure of hearing them before my two year stay at heaven on N. Gore.
1. Nick Lowe- Pure Pop For Now People (1978)
Called Jesus of Cool in the UK, this album Nick produced himself (as well as Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True which has always been a favorite of mine, and Graham Parker’s Howling Wind, which is also listed). All the time I spent listening and re-listening to this record to try and get a grip on how I could best describe the feeling I get, and I’m still at a loss. It’s basically this: have you ever felt like you’d been hearing something your entire life but it was also completely brand new to you? Like the basis of its sound is who you were in your past life? “Marie Provost” is the story of Marie Prevost, the 1920’s silent film actress and 1900’s bathing beauty, who actually died of malnutrition and not “the handy work of her little dachshund” as the song suggests. This is probably my favorite cut on the record; proving that you can write the saddest most grotesque things into killer pop songs and make it work.
2. Graham Parker- Howling Wind (1976)
This is Graham’s debut album. Surprisingly, I didn’t come across this record until my last month at the record store, but my liking it so much has tons to do with the fact that it was also produced by Nick Lowe. The stand-out track is “Between You and Me,” which dates from 1975 when it was shopped as a demo to labels by Dave Robinson (future founder of Stiff Records). Catchy as hell with vague but beautifully crafted lyrics. I listened to this one on repeat for a while before moving on to the rest of the album.
3. Lydia Loveless- Indestructible Machine (2011)
Initially I struggled with whether I should put any modern records on the list, but I decided if they left a significant mark on me or my approach to writing music and I discovered them at Euclid, they could make the cut. This record certainly hits all those marks for me, and Lydia has a voice and sound way beyond her years. I initially heard “Steve Earle” on the Bloodshot 13 compilation of songs they sent out as an added value item/giveaway. As catchy and funny and fantastic as this song is, there are even better cuts. “Can’t Change Me” is one of my favorites from this record, but frankly the entire thing is great. Her phrasing on the verses, her killer voice, and the melding of rock-n-roll with country roots and singer-songwriter lyricism had me completely sold from the first listen.
4.Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak (1976)
Besides “The Boys Are Back in Town” I probably hadn’t heard any Thin Lizzy until working at Euclid. It started with my co-worker Jim Varvaris sending me the song “Running Back” and I was hooked. “I make my money singin’ songs about ya, it’s my claim to fame.” From start to finish, it was one of those songs that sounded like exactly how I’d been feeling. After writing an entire album about an ex myself, I was convinced – this was a song I wish I’d written. I think most of my ever-growing love for this record has mostly to do with frontman Phil Lynott’s soft, sexy voice. But it can’t be ignored that the songwriting on this album is also excellent.
5. Jackson C. Frank- Self-Titled (1965)
An extremely beautiful and heartbreaking example of 60’s folk music. I got hooked on this Jackson C. Frank record. Heard it playing on our 200 CD changer upstairs and had to track it down after jotting down the lyrics to “You Never Wanted Me,” my favorite cut on the record. It’s too bad this record didn’t receive a lot of attention, because it matches the soulful lyricism of greats like Bob Dylan in my opinion. It makes me wonder if maybe this record was too sad for the masses.
6. Modern Lovers- S/T (1976)
This self-titled release was compiled from earlier demos. Jonathan Richman was infatuated with the Velvet Underground and it shows. The two chord anthem “Roadrunner” is a stand out track but my personal favorite is “Astral Plane.” My co-worker Bevin threw this one on when it showed up in New Arrival Used CDs one day. She actually found a copy on LP across the street, when a defunct store had an estate sale with a basement full of records for sale.
7. The Bottle Rockets- S/T and Brooklyn Side (Re-issue)
After working for Donna Knott (Donnaland/Hullabaloo) for five years, whose sister is married to Brian Henneman (Bottle Rockets) there was no avoiding the awesomeness that was The Bottle Rockets. But, until the point of this joint re-release by Bloodshot Records, I had only heard “Early in the Morning.” Pairing these two records together could just as easily be called Greatest Hits except The Bottle Rockets are still cranking out great songs and great records to this day. I wore this double disc out so much at Euclid that my co-worker Bevin booby-trapped the CD with a note inside saying “REALLY? You’re listening to this AGAIN?”
8. Suzi Quatro- S/T (1973)
It goes without saying that there were plenty of badass female performers before Suzi Quatro, but being a band leading instrumentalist, fully clad in a leather jumpsuit, she was a game changer for women in rock-n-roll. She inspired and influenced predecessors such as Joan Jett. This record is her very sexy debut, covering songs like “I Wanna Be Your Man” (Paul McCartney). This record is for anyone with an interest in rock-n-roll history, especially anyone with a penchant for badass lady rockers.
9. The Scruffs- Wanna Meet The Scruffs? (1977)
Full speed ahead this record takes off with lyrics that have immediacy, like “Darling, love is a lost cause but we can give it a go.” This is the first record the Scruffs ever released. Often compared to Big Star, Wanna Meet The Scruffs? is a long forgotten record that deserves more credit. Re-released on CD in 1997.
10. The Only Ones- Special View (1979)
A killer power pop band from London, England, this Only Ones CD came in with a collection of rad 70’s/80’s stuff. When I first put it on, opening track “Another Girl, Another Planet” blared over the store speakers. I already had a connection with this song but never knew who originally did it. This is due to my close friend Drew Sheafor, (Old Capital Square Dance Club/Barn Mice) who plays/improvs/covers a lot of tunes and has a like-minded love for power pop.
Molly Simms worked at Euclid Records for two years and is currently the General Manager for School of Rock Ballwin. Molly is also a recording and touring musician and songwriter for her band Bible Belt Sinners and for her solo work as Miss Molly Simms. Miss Molly Simms released One Way Ticket earlier this year along with a video for the single “Can’t You See.” – Thanks for sharing your discoveries, Molly!