Archives for posts with tag: Fresno

The Roots of Confidence in Craig Harline’s Way Below The Angels Compared

craig harline 02

Craig Harline, author and professor, courtesy Craig Harline

“Up there pounding in shingles on the bishop’s roof, I started having visions of missionary victory too, even more than of persecution. I saw myself converting whole crowds of grateful people who would – I could hear it – utter my name in reverential tones…” – Craig Harline, Way Below The Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary , pages 11 &12 on early thoughts prior to leaving for Belgium.

While looking at BYU football stats online for Jonny Harline known not only for the last minute play beating University of Utah in his senior year but also for his rock guitar prowess, I decided to check out and see if there was a Fresno, California connection. The Harline family was as synonymous as The Cleveland family through the many years I spent growing up with my Aunt Quevene, Uncle Clyde and baby sister after my parent’s mid-air collision death in 1966 in Livermore, California.

craig harline way below the angels

With a little online research, I found that his father was the same Craig Harline I remembered from Fresno, California who was a few years older than me. Craig and his sister Vickie were well-liked and this was well-deserved as they were inclusive and always seemed to have a positive attitude. I found out that he was an author and had recently published Way Below The Angels (Eerdmans Publishing, 2014) which talked about his own missionary life experience. After seeing a few YouTube interviews about the book, I decided I needed to check it out for myself.

Growing up in the same Fifth Ward [local church unit] in Fresno that Craig Harline grew up in was always a challenge for a gangly, not that coordinated individual, like myself, who was so worried about damaging his hands and not being able to play guitar that I always was a little protective of my digits and held back in the youth Basketball pick-up games before the youth meeting.

The emphasis on sports was a little overwhelming because I could handle myself in gym class at school but playing with Craig or David Harline as well as Larry or Craig Cleveland [older brother, Steve Cleveland went on to coach Fresno City College, BYU and Fresno State]was like meeting up with some NBA players in a summer practice session. I knew they were running plays but I had no idea of the language since my afternoons were spent practicing guitar or going through my record collection for riffs or song ideas. I started working near full time at Senor Taco near Blackstone & Shaw in Tenth Grade in order to pay for gas and Levi’s jeans and that ended my participation.

There was no shortage of things to do growing up in my local church in Fresno, California. Although we had a great full size wood slat basketball court as well as a great softball field out back, we also were exposed to the arts and a lot of speaking engagements.

We had a first rate Boy Scout program spearheaded by Brother [adult reference in Mormon culture] Busby, who came off as kind of a post-military type and later, Brother Morgan who placed great emphasis on achieving merit badges. I even got my Music merit badge from Val Hicks, who was the one time vocal coach for The Osmonds and was now a Music Professor at Fresno State.

I got together one time a few years ago with Brian Hayes, Jeff Hayes and Brian Nolan who had all grown up at one time or another in the Fresno Fifth Ward and we got into a lot of Fresnan speak, very loud, connecting words and all fighting to get into the conversation. One of the wives spoke up and said, “Can you guys quiet it down? Do you have to talk so loud?” Jeff Hayes’ response was, “It’s Sister Bowen’s fault that we all learned to “PROJECT”!” We all laughed at that one because it was true. Sister Bowen was the Musical and Drama Director for the local church and she took it seriously. We put on some spectacular 24th of July productions where I even got to play electric guitar early on.

 I would rate knowing the Bowens right up there with other Fresnans Dennis Morrison [guitar player extraordinaire, whose mother, Voni Morrison co-wrote “Act Naturally”] and Gary Lomprey who was the first serious guitarist I ever knew personally.

My first attempt at a garage band was in Jason Bowen’s bedroom with Jason on drums, Todd Bowen on bass, Brian Nolan on guitar and me trying to fake lead guitar. It wasn’t at all great in any way other than the fact that one has to start somewhere and Sister Bowen must have somewhat approved at our attempt to make some noise or she would have shut it down.

Fresno was a serious music town. People from the outside might kind of chuckle, but I lived through it. I wanted so bad to be a serious musician but found that so many people I met were so far ahead of me that I couldn’t figure out where to fit in until I left Fresno when my Uncle Clyde got transferred right before my senior year in High School.

I remember the great Jazz drummer Louie Bellson playing with the Hoover High [Craig Harline’s alma mater as well as my Fresno experience] Jazz Band at a music store opening when I was in Ninth Grade. Music was so serious in the schools that getting into the music program at Fresno State seemed to be like playing in The Tonight Show Band at that time.

Craig Harline in Belgium

Craig Harline Bellbottoms2

I kind of wished I was a few years older because Craig Harline and his peers at church managed to pull off a pretty decent band. One of them was Tom Davis, who was playing drums ever since Elementary School. I knew Tom since I was in First Grade. My Uncle got along with his Dad and I wanted to be a drummer when I was a Cub Scout.

One time, Tom Davis talked me into ditching with him from a Cub Scout trip that was supposed to go to a museum or something. I was probably eight years old. We headed to his house because his parents were gone. I was hoping to play on his drum kit but we ended up racing around on his Go-Kart. Unluckily for me, my Uncle Clyde saw us walking along the road and when I got home, he tanned my rear and I was grounded for a while.

Anyway, at this church dance, Craig Harline was wailing away on the family’s Wurlitzer or Hammond organ, while Tom Davis played drums, Don Freeman played guitar and Steve Standing played bass through one of those tall Fender Cabinets. They jammed on Santana, Deep Purple and some other stuff. They sounded really good to this Ninth or Tenth Grader.  Craig was playing through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet. That was the first time I had ever seen one of those. What a mind blowing experience for a kid like me who had been seeing bands jam since I was six years old in San Jose, California watching Count Five go through “Psychotic Reaction” in a neighborhood garage.

Craig makes mention of his “Scripture Chase” skills that came from showing up at 6 AM in the morning at the church and studying scriptures and Gospel concepts from 9th through 12th grade. It was one of those rights of passage I think even more so growing up in Mormon culture in the Seventies.  We actually had a lot of fun, especially prepping for “Scripture Chase” [finding a scripture with a clue in a hardbound copy as fast as you can, based on 40 or so scriptures given out to concentrate on for that school year] while listening to the church propaganda concept album Like Unto Us which was a vinyl-side long piece that was something in-between Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” and The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin.” It was some kind of a trip-hypnotic piece with the church’s okay that was distributed throughout the church to keep us quiet during study time.

Elvis Presley was impressed with this set up after barging into Ed Parker’s kids’ class in the early hours in the L.A. basin when Ed Parker [Body Guard, Father of American Karate] dropped off his kids. Elvis couldn’t believe that High School age kids were actually studying scriptures for fun before school. Elvis commented later to Ed Parker that he wanted to raise his daughter, Lisa Marie in the Mormon Church. That happened in 1977 and Ed Parker wrote his comments in a book  about his friendship with Elvis shortly after his death. The book was approved by his father Vernon before it was published.

If this was not enough of a balanced upbringing, we church going LDS Fresnans had our own Welfare Farm where we would prune in the dead of winter and later harvest with steak knives taken out of the kitchen drawer the precious Thompson Seedless grapes that would turn into raisins and sent worldwide through the church welfare program like a communal upstart version of Sun-maid Raisins.

Craig would come with his father, Brother Harline, once a month to my house for many years when I was a wee lad doing what they call home teaching. This visit was also used to back up what principles and doctrines my Uncle Clyde was trying to teach me while I was growing up.

It was a difficult situation because I was extremely mad about my parents passing away and having to grow up with my Aunt and Uncle, who never smiled at me, never hugged me or never told me I was a good looking kid. My Aunt Quevene continually stressed how mad she was that she had to raise my Dad who was her youngest brother while her sister got to go out and now she was stuck raising me.

I always felt uneasy at home and somehow I was supposed to understand the benefit of church rules without the joy. It was like, this is the rules of society and you are a second tier member of this Church and Society. I hated the vibe I got from the whole situation and spent many hours brooding and trying to figure out if my Aunt and Uncle were going to kick me out when I was sixteen or after I got out of high school.

My younger sister, who was only 2 ½ when our parents died was always looking for acceptance from my Aunt and Uncle and many times joined in on letting me know what a misfit I was.  My baby sister and I are now really close and look back on those times for what it’s worth

I wanted out as much as possible: Outdoors, maybe run away to L.A., travel to Berkeley for real on weekends, skateboarding in Capitola, anywhere besides “Home”.

One of the lines church members would use when they found out my parents died when I was young was “God must have had a special plan for them and needed both of them” which was somehow supposed to make me cheer up but it ended up making me upset. God decided we didn’t need parents that knew what we needed or who we were, he needed them instead, well fine; I think I’ll just do whatever the flip I feel like then. It took me many years to develop my own relationship with God.

Craig Harline, according to my young naive view, came from one of the perfect Mormon nuclear families where the parents are involved, encouraging and help to develop self-worth. I really wanted that but felt more empathy for the kids that ended up in a lot of trouble and often were roaming around on their own.

It was against this background that Craig and I had different starting points leaving on our missions. This is what led me to read and review a missionary memoir that was published almost two years ago. Knowing that Craig had that strong background of success in the home and at school, I wanted to know about his mission experience.

The great thing about Way Below The Angels is that it is not just a time line travel text but Craig opens up his thoughts, thirty years on, reflecting how he felt, both positive and negative about possibly the biggest paradigm shift he made in two years.

The first few chapters show how awkward learning the language and culture was in pre-online web search days. This was the Seventies and the most that could be learned about Belgium before actually breathing the air was a few pages in an Encyclopedia Britannica, playing a fake “Dutch” game and learning Flemish from returned church missionaries that were attending Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho looking for a wife.

Craig realized that he was going to stick out like a sore thumb with a strange (by Seventies standards) CIA-like haircut in a day and age when the Alpha Male was Joe Namath with his shoulder length hair and “Broadway” style. Not only that, but the plain white shirt worn every day “branding” would lead to such a recognizable sub-culture that the South Park creators would make a mint on Broadway lampooning missionaries in Book Of Mormon The Musical.

Craig Harline writes in such a way that you could see his own confusion in the differences between the perfect culture of the Fresno, California Fifth Ward with a bonus high scoring sports super star additive and the mainly Catholic, centuries old ways of the Belgian people. Craig throws in enough Flemish translated directly back to English, as well as handfuls of “Flip” and “Fetch” [Mormon missionary swear word replacements] to realize this is not going to be an easy ride. The early descriptive of travelling by bicycle through different shades of cold, damp and gray villages make the beginning of this pilgrim’s journey more like Chinese Water torture than the film The Best Two Years.

Craig’s beginning purposes were a balance of wanting to return the conquering hero, get taken serious by a Mormon girl to be marriageable material and thinking that there would be multitudes of Dutch people that would remember him somewhere between John the Baptist and Captain Moroni.

Expectations, whether real or imagined, were intense. It was enough to cause health issues.

As Craig goes back and forth between Seventies era Belgium and modern era reflection, he reserves the right to speak with plainness just the way he thought about things when he was a teenager. This makes for a truthful recollection rather than a filtered after thought and I found myself saying, “I totally get it, I was there myself.”

The developmental arc flows from the pre-mission “cool one” life to the bewilderment of becoming self-aware in Belgium to the summarization of a grown man with tons of life experience realizing that he was one of many that not only had a similar experience but also had the same consequential “nightmare” where he is called to go back and serve again on a recurring basis. This is similar to the dreams of finding one’s self back in high school because there were still courses to complete. It was this incompleteness that led to going over the past and sorting it all out. Craig felt it may be possible to get rid of the “ground hog day” recurring dream by finally putting it all to rest.

In the last act, Craig finally has several epiphanies that help him sort out himself and what he should do while he was there and what he should work on, which was really nothing at all. It was really about self-discovery and trusting one’s own gut feeling even to the point of admitting when he was wrong that finally brings peace and a connection to the Divine.

Craig finally realizes the beauty of this foreign place both in the scenery and the people.

He recognizes the goodness in people no matter where they are in life and seems to really get the benefit of growth and maturation in the second year before returning home.

The real question of commitment is answered not by how Craig views himself, but what he actually does after he returns home.

Craig Harline, after leaving the mission field in Belgium, goes onto earn a Ph.D. in European History from Rutgers University and becomes a Professor of History at Brigham Young University, teaching courses that reflect his own wanting to look at the big picture about The Reformation, The History of Civilization, History on Film as well as The History of Christianity.

Craig’s academic world has allowed him to travel back to Belgium several times and deepen the ties that began as a big question mark with many of the people he met from all walks of life.

In looking back at my own time as a missionary in Venezuela, I would not have left in the first place at age 22 if I didn’t realize it was all about losing myself in service to others. Between my own religious self study and the prodding of a really good Bishop, I thought I might find my own self-worth by getting out of my own messed up world.

While Craig had several expectations and aspirations going in, I had none. I had no idea about the how, what, when or why. I had sold everything I had of any worth post-college age including several valuable guitars and pieces of gear and a Chevy Van to offset the cost.

Whereas the benchmarks of success: Leadership and Baptisms seemed like they should have been quickly attainable, or so,  Craig thought, in truth it created a painful soul searching situation. On the other hand, I was rather shocked by my success and leadership abilities that manifested during my own two years away from “home”.

Craig had discovered a path in his education when he got back home that has led to some great continued experiences that really show the depth of his commitment to the part of himself that he left in Belgium.

I still had to face an unknown future with better family ties. Somehow, the mission commitment I made greatly improved the relationship I had with my Uncle Clyde. He had gained a respect for me by what I did rather than what I said.

When I got back home, I tried College for a while but finally just left on my own for Southern California and started building my own self-awareness outside of missionary life which took several years.

I even found myself going back to playing guitar and dealing with Uncle Clyde on that issue again. Only, this time I had an answer pop into my head when he gave me a scowl and said he couldn’t believe I was out playing guitar again-letting me know what a waste of time it was. I just said, “Go talk to my friends. If they tell you I don’t know what I’m doing or I am no good, I’ll quit playing guitar.”  Somehow, that ended the discussion once and for all.

I wish I could go back to Venezuela. I did to try to connect with the people I met there with very little results because of a very bad postal system. Just like Craig remembers the Orange Roofs as he flew into Belgium the first time, I remember how beautiful Barquisimeto was and getting my first Cuatro.

craig harline 01

The details that Craig Harline puts into Way Below The Angels will put you in a place and a mindset that is not only the 1970’s but is timeless in Mormon culture and is not that much different than what others go through on their journey to realize their own personal gifts and abilities that help to leave their own mark on the world.  It is a great read and very honest soul searching on the meaning of life that anybody can relate to who is very self-aware.

This memoir has won several awards including: The Juvenile Instructor – 2014 Best Personal History/Memoir, 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award GOLD Winner for Religion Mormon History Association – Best Memoir 2014, Association for Mormon Letters 2014 Finalist: Best Work of Creative Non-Fiction

Craig Harline is a well-known author in religious history circles having written several books including, Conversions: Two Families Stories From the Reformation and Modern America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), Sunday: A History Of The First Day From Babylonia To The Super Bowl (New York: Doubleday, 2007) and Miracles At The Jesus Oak (New York: Doubleday, 2003).

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN
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tower records movie

The Belcourt showed a few screenings of the documentary on the once great record outlet; All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall Of Tower Records which documents the once billion dollar music retail chain while trying to gain some understanding as to what happened to the great mothership of deep catalog outlets.

Tower Records Fresno

Tower Records Fresno, 1978, The Fresnan

So many of my teenage years were spent going to and deciding what to buy at the Fresno Tower Records location after opening in the mid 70’s next to a brand new Pacific Stereo store. While I waited for the “everything-in-the-store-for-the-same-low-price” sale that came every so often, I would go through every bin of vinyl as well as the eight tracks, cassettes and reel to reel releases.

I knew where everything was. I learned during the screening that Elton John has me beat. He knew where everything was at the Los Angeles store which dwarfed every other location back in the day.

I remember the day they opened at the strip mall on Blackstone. They had a rock trio on the back of a flatbed truck in the parking lot blasting through Orange Amp Stacks. They were playing ZZ Top covers. They sounded great and that was the first time I had ever heard or saw Orange Amps.

One time, they had a Wet T-Shirt Contest out in front and I was little embarrassed because a girl from my Drama class at Hoover High School who was 16 and posing as “over 18” won.

van halen women and childrenI finally got to the Sunset location in Los Angeles when I was down in the area with the Snow College Jazz Band in 1980. I purchased a copy of Van Halen Women and Children First on cassette for the car while we drove around Southern California.

After I moved to L.A.in 1984, I avoided going into the store for fear of spending my entire paycheck. I mainly would just drive by to see the big cover art displays and signage. I saved my dollars for the occasional purchase at a local record store in Costa Mesa, California because of my tight budget at the time.

the smiths how soonI noticed every store was different. It was like every location had its own vibe and bands they would push. I saw how big The Smiths were in Orange County at the Mission Viejo / Lake Forrest store near my work. The Smiths had their own display rack of every single they ever made.

ramones sheenaTower Records in Buena Park had a lot of Punk Rock and obscure Ramones stuff.

I actually made the trek to Tower Records when I lived in Birmingham, Alabama after seeing that there was one in Nashville, Tennessee. By the time I moved here in 2008, it was either gone or on the way out.

I remember FYE was there for a while but they never had the deep catalog of Tower Records.

the cretones

The last thing I bought from Tower Records Nashville was a Russian 2 CD set of the Best of Angel. Angel was difficult to find on CD. In fact, there are a lot of things that never were released on CD that were at the top of my list. There has never been a CD release of The Cretones Planet Records catalog. The Cretones were kind of like Elvis Costello & The Attractions if they lived near Joni Mitchell’s house in Laurel Canyon. In fact, three cuts made it onto Linda Ronstadt’s “new wave” album Mad Love including the title track.

There-in lies the rub: the turning back to vinyl for music lovers of all ages. I now own The Cretones first two albums in pristine quality for a few dollars as well as a couple of 7 inch singles.

The big question is how did Tower Records grow into a billion dollar business only to file for bankruptcy a few years later? They try to answer that question in the last fifteen minutes.

They talk about not selling singles. The youth quit coming and that meant death to future development business. The seven inch and twelve inch singles had the artwork and some exclusive B-Sides and mixes prior to the advent of YouTube. A CD single was not worth a dime. It still isn’t.

The other one was the price of a CD. The list price and average price was exorbitant. The actual cost of manufacturing was much less than vinyl so while this was to cover some marketing and the cost of promotional videos, much of this was a cash cow for the record companies and retailers that actually made the record business bigger than the film business in the Nineties.

The beginning of the end was Napster and file sharing. Lars Ulrich [Metallica] was right. At the time, he was demonized by other bands and his own fans for suing downloaders. If the record companies and bands had lined up behind Lars and took the whole file sharing scheme on in court and stiff fines were imposed for stealing music maybe the industry would not be where it is today.

It is missed opportunities like that which eventually drove the once gigantic Tower Records to be liquidated by its own creditors. It is hard to believe that every time a Tower Records opened up, there were hundreds of people lined up at the door much like an In N Out Burger joint opening is today.

The big chains are all gone and the small Mom and Pop shops and segmented Indie start up stores have taken their place. This is a mere ghost reflection of what sales figures were less than twenty years ago.

herb alpert whipped creamRecord buying was a part of almost everybody’s life whether it was Mom and Dad buying Herb Alpert & The Tijuana BrassWhipped Cream and Other Delights or some stoner blasting an 8-track of Black Sabbath Vol. 4 from a 1969 Chevelle SS with a 396 and tuck and roll interior.

Everybody was building their collection, a physical collection that was where friends and party goers gravitated.

Songs and records were a framed reference for friends, loved ones and events that transpired through the time space continuum. It was not background fodder or best of song lists in Pandora or Spotify.

There were jobs involved in the music business; everything from retail clerks to buyers, distributors, manufacturers, advertising and so forth. There are thousands upon thousands of jobs that are gone.

The one bright spot in the documentary was how Tower Records founder, Russ Solomon pushed to get a store open in Japan after a couple of investors came forward. He was met with a lot of resistance but pushed forward and in 1980 opened in Sapporo, Japan. As the business de-construction Managers came in, Tower Records was forced to sell off the Japanese division. Tower Records Japan exists to this day with 85 locations.

The implosion of the music business story begins to show a real personal toll as the story of Tower Records is told from the very beginning to the aftermath by Russ Solomon and the key players, some of whom breakdown telling the story of the final days of the once renowned Retail Giant.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Celebrating Nashville Vinyl store finds and stating digital pundits are all wrong!

courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

If you haven’t noticed, collecting vinyl records is becoming a huge thing among all age groups in Nashville. United Record Pressing has become so backlogged that they are expanding into another space. Record Store Day is like a city wide holiday with bands playing all day long at Grimey’s, The Groove and Fond Object.

*many hyperlinks go back to vinyl videos*

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

I caught the bug a few years ago after getting an original copy of Jerry Lee LewisBreathless” on 7 inch Sun Records while going through Bee Branch Arkansas on the way back from Branson, Missouri that I found at a vintage and junk shop.

I didn’t even have anything to play it on, since I have not owned a turntable since 1988. I even sold off my collection which was really large and deep and full of imports in the late eighties for practically nothing. I know I wasn’t the only one to do that.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It wasn’t until I started buying some vinyl over at Third Man Records that I finally bought a turntable and the venerable receiver and speakers to go with it. It all started on Craigslist where I went through two old well-heeled Marantz and Sony Receivers that burned out after about a year each. The JBL near field monitors and home theater Subwoofers that I located have stood the test of time. I went through one Sony turntable where the line level pre amp fried before going back to Amazon and settling on a reasonably priced yet better sounding Audio Technica turntable. The Sherwood receiver I purchased through Amazon has specs right out of 1990 with 100 watts per side and has a great protection circuit that has stood up for two years.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Ever since that has been resolved, I have been able to concentrate on collecting. Most Collectors are going for the twelve inch 33’s and prices are increasing. I do have a paltry 100 or so “long-play” twelve inch records but I really wanted to hear the sound of the seven inch [45’s] records like I remember.

Post Sex Pistols, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Just like 16 bit CD’s and 24 bit hi-def, analog has some rules to tone and bigger mid-range. Twelve inch 45’s are a whole other thing entirely that became popular in the eighties but I’m not going there. Let’s just talk about seven inch records. Although 12 inch 45’s are best known as dance remixes from the 80’s, my first experience was a French Sex Pistols release of “Anarchy In The UK” on that format in 1978 at a Punk Rock shop in Santa Cruz, California.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Seven inch records could be made with more bass and increased output without worrying about the needle skipping on the record. The 45 mix often will be a lot different than the album mix. The flip side or “B” side may be a song that is not available on a record. The mix may be different in other countries. I remember owning a French Polydor copy of Jimi HendrixVoodoo Chile” where the mix had been cranked up and the guitar sounded like you were standing with your ear up against the grill cloth. I used to play it for friends back in the eighties and watch their jaw drop.

The Beatles used to release songs either on albums or on seven inch singles. Eventually the singles showed up as a collection like the Hey Jude album or the double gatefold red and blue albums.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In my own collection, there was a huge difference between the album cut of The Rolling Stones’ “Get Off Of My Cloud” where Brian Jones’ snaking lead notes were pronounced and the single where Keith Richards’ crunchy rhythm guitar is cranked up and really drives the song playing off of Charlie Watts’ snare. It made the difference between good and great.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

The Sweet talked about how when they found out that “Fox On The Run” was being released as a single, the members of the band went in and completely remixed the song with a much harder edge akin to Motley Crue than the album version. Sweet did this behind Management and Producers backs. They knew what it should sound like and took things into their own hands. They got everybody upset and mad even though the record did well. I’m glad that Sweet did that.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Another good thing about singles is that it was formatted for AM radio where three minutes was the goal and there were limitations to time versus physical size. While some edits were a little annoying some were appreciated if you just wanted to groove and not go into a “space-out mode” like the deleted bridge in the single version of “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. Not to mention, if you haven’t heard Led Zeppelin on seven inch like original cuts “Living Loving Maid” or “Black Dog” than you are in for an experience full of Bonham’s snare cracks and home stereo speakers that will turn into a Jimmy Page Marshall half-stack.

As far as actual tone, I read all the garbage between vinyl and analog buffs and digital hi-def die-hards and it really comes down to whether you like a lot of high frequency stuff that only dogs can hear in a world where a computer doesn’t recognize playing on top of the note or stretch tuning and changes the actual information as well as removing all the bits of sound that define a mid frequency instruments’ personality versus a couple of snaps or crackles and something that sounds very dynamic, alive and in your living room.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

You can take the test for yourself. I own a copy of Bob Marley: Legends on CD and a new old stock copy of “Is This Love” by Bob Marley & The Wailers. I did a side-by-side. The most important aspect is Bob Marley’s voice. If you only heard it on CD, you would never recognize the grit and air that make up his actual voice texture. They are gone in the digital realm. While digital is supposed to be more accurate, it actually sounds like a comical cheap imitation.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Another side by side would be Parliament’s “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk) regarding the groove aspect. Not only does the vinyl single sound thicker and richer in the mids but the sharp edged funk of a tight group gets lost in the digital conversion as the numeric digital world has different numeric values for different frequencies and the groove of all the instruments locking together becomes nothing more than a cool drum pattern with a bunch of instruments that seem to clog undeniably slightly loose at every juncture. The true groove is gone in the digital realm.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

One more major complaint is what digital did to Duane Allman. I own digital versions of “Layla” and Duane’s slide sounds sharp and out of tune thanks to digital algorithms. If you listen to the vinyl album or single you’ll notice Duane is playing on top of the note [not out of tune] and it gives a lift to the mood at that point in the song. It is absolutely beautiful. Too bad Duane didn’t know that computers were going to make his slide out of tune and unlistenable.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Okay, enough of my own observations that seem to defy the logic of quantized digital junkies. If it is all about sounding “real”, “in your living space” and with a wide sound field then that needle dragging through a frequency groove like a work of art is the way to go. If you like snappy eighties style keyboard loops and auto tuned vocals then the current state of shared files should work for you just fine.

My Mother's favorite before she passed away in 1966, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

My Mother’s favorite before she passed away in 1966, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

When I started collecting, one of my friends here in town thought I was going to just go back and buy everything I used to own. I did go after some of that but there were a lot of things I missed growing up and there are songs that did well regionally here in Nashville and are readily available as opposed to many songs that I was into growing up in California.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

For the most part, I grew up in Fresno, California from the last half of 2nd grade through my junior year in high school. That time spent in Fresno meant that my tastes are eclectic, all over the place and really just defined by musicianship, groove or originality.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

If I had to define Fresno during the seventies by five groups, it would probably be Tower Of Power, Supertramp, The Tubes, Sly & The Family Stone and Buck Owens. My personal taste goes way beyond that, but those would be five groups that anybody who grew up there would say, “Oh yeah, for sure they were big in Fresno.” I can name a song by every one of those bands that I liked as well as anybody from Hoover High School Class of 78 could as well.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

You could add any horn band like Chicago, Malo or Blood Sweat & Tears. The biggest cover band was called March Hare [scan of Fresno City College school newspaper circa 1978, see page 4 , article on group called Windfall for more on March Hare members]. They had a full horn section and could play just about anything popular at the time and got paid the most money. They had a four piece, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards group called Spare Hare for a fraction of the full band cost.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

My own personal taste ran the gamut of Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Funk, Jazz, Punk and so on. I even liked some Country although it really was my parents’ music at the time. To give you an idea, I listened to Judas Priest, The Ramones and liked Power Pop like Raspberries and Pezband but my dream gig would have been to play guitar for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1977.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

If I tried to collect everything from my past, I would be in deep for years and years.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

There are particular records that I look for such as the three dominant records I remember from my earliest days in San Jose before my parents died in San Jose, California. I have purchased the trio. The Rolling Stones “Get Off Of My Cloud” was the first record I purchased at age 6, by myself, after my mother said I could pick something out. It is still one of my favorites. The other two were San Jose regional records that went onto the national charts, The Syndicate Of SoundLittle Girl” and Count FivePsychotic Reaction.” I did get to watch Count Five practice two blocks away from my Orchard View childhood home back when.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Just about any War single reminds me of Fresno, especially “Me And Baby Brother” which is in my 400 plus and building singles collection.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In the mid-seventies, I was really into what was modern metal or Hard Rock at the time and singles like UFO, “ Too Hot To Handle” found in Louisville, Kentucky as well as Sweet flipside “Burn On The Flame” remind me of my early band years playing guitar.

As far as collecting goes in Nashville, the biggest amount and the most variety of seven inch records would go to The Great Escape on Charlotte Pike. Pricing is really reasonable. There are loads of $1.00 singles as well as collectables that for the most part are not over $10-a-piece. They put out their new inventory every Thursday and it is kept in bins by date if not in any kind of alphabetical order.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Record Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Record Collection

The Great Escape in Madison may not have as big a selection but will usually have different records then the ones found at the West Nashville store. The best thing to do, regarding The Great Escape, is to sign up for their email list and get notification when records will be off 20% or when they have their sidewalk 25 cent sale including the Bowling Green, Kentucky location.

I usually go for the 25 cent sales including Bowling Green, Kentucky and start digging around. It is important to go with no preconceived notions. It also helps to have some in-depth knowledge of decades of music. They used to have 10 cent sales but I don’t think that will be around again.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Examples of things I have found at 25 cent sales include a radio copy of Pat MethenyNew Chautauqua” which I never knew was released as a single until I found a brand new old stock copy at The Great Escape in Madison. I also found a brand new old stock seven inch copy of “Taboo” by Arthur Lyman. I remember “Taboo” from my Dad’s twelve inch long play records. He had installed a built in system in the living room and this was Hi-Fidelity recording. It was meant to show off frequency response and clarity but it would now be categorized as Lounge Music. It would fit in with a Martin Denny collection. I don’t think any of these records sold well in this format but it is so cool to have them on seven inch.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In Nashville, there are a lot of radio copies around that ended up in retired DJ collections as the format declined and now they are all over town. A rule of thumb on seven inch radio copies is that in the 50’s and 60’s they actually spun the record numerous times and there can be a lot of wear on a very popular record and little wear on a record that did not take off.

In the 70’s and 80’s, AM radio used a tape cartridge similar to 8 track tape and would record the cut to be played multiple times on tape till it wore out and then would re-record on a new “Cart”. It is possible to find near mint radio copies from the 70’s and 80’s. I have found a few. My gem is a radio copy from the late 60’s of Big Brother & The Holding CompanyPiece Of My Heart” where Janis Joplin’s live performance rings clear and gives a front row seat of her performance. It gives me the chills. I paid less than $10 almost two years ago at The Great Escape.

Apple Records from Portugal, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collecton

Apple Records from Portugal, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collecton

Although it is easy to find several Excello record titles in Nashville, I have yet to find any of the three Marion James “Nashville’s Queen of The Blues” singles that were released here locally after years of searching. I guess I will have to resort to Ebay.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

There is no problem finding all the Country you want, especially mint new old stock copies of deep catalog Artists. I don’t know enough about that to make an educated guess. I do have Patsy ClineI Fall To Pieces”, plenty of Buck Owens and some Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson singles are plentiful even on the smaller labels as he was really popular in Nashville as a songwriter. A good place for deep catalog new old stock Country would be Lawrence Record Shop down on Lower Broadway although I did find a Wreckless Eric single on Stiff Records as well as the previously mentioned Bob Marley copy of “Is This Love” at Lawrence Record Shop.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

With current interest in Muscle Shoals, Fame Records can be found easily and I definitely look for Candi Staton and other Jimmy Hall produced gems. The Great Escape on Charlotte Pike usually has plenty of Fame Records along with all things Beatles and Elvis.

Since Nashville was a big hub for actual Music “Business”, there was manufacturing, distribution, recording, management and publicity that all had copies of material. There were warehouses and backrooms of vinyl that never got sold that now has found its way into used vinyl stores all over town. It’s not all Country either.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

While Grimey’s would be ranked number one for new vinyl in town, as far as used seven inch records, it’s best to go the to the Grimey’s Too [Preloved Store] and go through the two boxes on the front desk. That would be the most recent purchases. I recently found a radio copy of Blind MelonTones of Home” by doing just that. I was surprised to even see a vinyl radio copy release from 1992. I found a vintage radio copy of Judas Priest’ “Living After Midnight” as well for $1.00.

Grimey’s does stock the largest selection of local label seven inch releases. It is possible to buy a new record from GED Soul along with Infinity Cat and Third Man Records all in the same trip.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

The Groove is great for new vinyl but also has a decent stock of used seven inch vinyl. Because of its East Nashville neighborhood location, they have quite a few used copies of Alternative and Punk bands from the 90’s to the present day. If that is a specific thing, this would be a great place to check out. For me, I’m primarily looking for 60’s and 70’s but there usually is an 80’s record worth getting every time I stop by. This was the only place in town that I saw a single by The Jam. It was an import. I am looking for stateside releases since they are even harder to find.

Fond Object is an interesting place. This started from the owners’ own private collection, I believe, he was based out of Austin so, this store has a lot of late 80’s and 90’s Punk. Fond Object had stuff that probably was never available in Nashville in a retail used vinyl store. They actually had a copy of The Sex PistolsPretty Vacant” American release on Warner Brothers but they wanted $20 for it, so I passed hoping to get at a place where it would mean nothing like Lawrence Record Shop.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Third Man Records has just about every Third Man seven inch release in stock at any given time at their company store. My favorite non-Jack White single, Dan SartainBohemian Grove” was easy to find. Dan Sartain with Matt Patton [Model Citizen, The Dexateens, and The Drive By Truckers] on bass was part of the Birmingham Scene when I lived there. Third Man has been releasing a few Sun Records seven inch re-releases as well. The Raconteurs cut “Old Enough” with Ricky Skaggs still has never been released on vinyl at the home of the world’s fastest record.

Infinity Cat opened up their office to visitors with new vinyl behind United Record Pressing after having numerous fans show up at the door wanting to say “hi” on their visit to Nashville.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

That’s about it for seven inch records, except for, maybe the occasional find in an antique mall. After all, most of these records would be considered antiques.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It’s always worth checking out the local shop when you’re out on the road. I stopped by Rasputin Records in San Jose when I was out in California recently and found the Record Store Day release of Junior Kimbrough and The Black Keys both doing “Meet Me In The City” [Fat Possum] which was impossible to find here after they were all immediately snatched up. Hill Country Blues is well known in Nashville, but the single had little value in San Jose, California. Apparently, the locals are clueless about Junior and there was a stack of copies available.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It was also easier to get a copy of Simo’s single through Amoeba’s website in California.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN