All Things Must Pass
directed by Colin Hanks
starring Russ Solomon, Chuck D. and Chris Cornell
Tower Records was set in every 1980s rock and roll movie, and now the store is the backdrop for its own story. The joint was a Los Angeles icon and a mecca for vinyl junkies off all stripes. The Tower chain was perhaps the biggest record retailers ever, and carried EVERY record in release at the time. Russ Solomon began this journey in dusty 1960 Sacramento then took the leap to a larger shop in the rising San Francisco scene. Soon they were in LA and Japan and functioning as the center of the rock and roll retailing vortex. Success followed success until the whole operation collapsed into a messy bankruptcy in 2006. Over-expansion, changing formats and the digital revolution brought them down, but it was a glorious collapse.
In this fondly reconstructed history director Hanks recreated the happy hippy freedom of working for Tower all the way from the top execs down to guys unloading trucks all night and running off cocaine and alcohol. Tower promoted from within; no one made the executive suite without driving dollies, pricing records and explaining jazz music to the unwashed. Elton John and Keith Richards walked the aisles with the teenyboppers and punks and no one thought twice about it. The place was THAT cool. Rock, gospel, jazz, country, spoken word and sound effects were all for sale at the same consistent $3.99 per disk price; you KNEW what you wanted would be in stock. We hear stories about pop music excess and liquid lunches, and we can see the big wigs start out as skinny kids and age into stocky middle-aged success. This is what music meant to my generation and this is how we got it: flipping through endless stacks looking for a name we heard once on the radio at 1 a.m., or buying something on hope based on cool cover art. CDs do sound better, and Pandora is more convenient, but to this day nothing is as thrilling as pulling out Pee Wee Herman’s first recording and showing to you buddy and brag “I have it on vinyl!” Take a ride on this beautiful reminisces of the acid rock to Hip-hop history. I can still smell that records store mustiness….no, wait, thats MY vinyl collection. Come on over, I have some cool stuff.