Warehouse: songs and stories

This morning, I paid my respects to an old acquaintance.

I say acquaintance, rather than friend, as CD Warehouse and I were never particularly close.

I did, however, like to drop by on occasion, mostly to confirm the LP copy of The Wild Angels Vol. II soundtrack was still — as it had been for years — resting comfortably at the tail end of the selection of used records. (We’re talking the original Merivale and Clyde location here.)

They wanted 10 bucks for the Mike Curb production featuring Davie Allan and the Arrows. A bit steep, I thought. Steep, that is, for a “duophonic” sequel to a less than memorable soundtrack. True, you get killer titles like Cycle Party, Wild Orgy, Makin’ Love is Fun and The Loser’s Burial. Plus, again, Mike Curb! And a promise that several of the tracks have been “thrillingly re-recorded” for the album. In duophonic sound, no less!

When you think about it, the album was a steal at 10 bucks. Maybe I should have purchased it on one of those occasional visits. Had I done so, CD Warehouse might have lived to restock another day.

As it stands, the last store standing will close its doors next month. And while I can’t say I’ll miss it, as such, I’ll acknowledge that the closure of a store that over two decades ago boldly proclaimed that it was all about the compact disc, is some sort of end-of-an-era moment. Not sure what sort. But, certainly, CD Warehouse’s departure is deserving of more attention than, say, Target.

CD Warehouse and I go way back. When that first store opened, I was working down the street at Sam the Record Man. And let me tell you, there was fear and loathing at Sam’s over the new cool kid’s entry onto our downtown Nepean turf. The massive store easily trumped our mall outlet’s selection. Prices were better too. But then, this was Sam the Record Man. Ultimately, CD Warehouse did not put Sam’s out of business; Sam’s put Sam’s out of business, largely through its unstated but defiant we-will-not-be-oversold pricing policy.

And what a store CD Warehouse was, if you liked CDs. Which, frankly, I didn’t. And don’t. But this place was a rabid collector’s dream, initially taking the apparent approach that if it’s available on compact disc, we’ll carry it. Hence, the largest (by far) local selection of Comsat Angels, Hunters and Collectors and Ellen Foley CDs.

Of course, once it became clear that the three people in town interested in purchasing CDs by said artists had already invested in the complete catalog, adjustments were made. But man, for a few weeks there, it was CD Heaven. Or CD Hell.

The price of being on the cutting edge, I suppose.

Like the store’s bold decision to leap onto the digital compact cassette bandwagon. An entire section of the store was briefly devoted to the can’t-miss format that took the sterility of digital sound and combined it with the frustration of having to fast-forward and rewind to find your favourite song. Sadly, Ellen Foley’s albums never made it to digital compact cassette.

Or, should I say, they’ve yet to find a home on DCC. After all, for the next generation of hipsters, vinyl’s got nothing on the digital compact cassette!

Okay, so mistakes were made. But credit where it’s due: CD Warehouse was a decent source for new releases that kept itself afloat for over two decades. And I will carry fond memories of the St. Laurent store, where I scored a series of remaindered Time Life box sets some years back. Louis Armstrong, Ike and Tina Turner, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Jerry Lee Lewis, all presented as only Time-Life can — as advertised on TV.

So there’s that.

Oh, and the Kanata store was kind enough to call when a used DVD copy of Repo Man turned up — several months after I’d asked them to keep an eye out for it. (On the other hand, I’m still waiting for the El Records compilation I special-ordered about 20 years ago. Or perhaps I wasn’t home when they called. Hey, if it’s still behind the counter…)

And so I bid farewell to a store that served its purpose well enough, and for more years than your average cool-kid music shop.

How cool? Head there now and you can pick up an autographed Alan Frew photo for 10 bucks!

What you cannot pick up for $10, alas, is The Wild Angels Vol. II. Oh, it was still there when I visited this morning — marked down to $5, less 40 per cent.

The right price. Finally.

Thank you for that, CD Warehouse. I’m glad that we can at least part as friends.

1 Comment

Filed under Music

One response to “Warehouse: songs and stories

  1. I told you NOT to sell my autographed picture of Alan Frew!


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