Opening earliest that morning, the Record Connection in Ephrata, Pennsylvania was first on the itinerary. Hidden in a quiet strip mall in Lancaster County, this indie record store opened in 1985 houses a remarkable inventory--providing a history of the music industry that should be a lesson to its executives. Artists were once given time to develop a following and find their sound. Today, pre-packaged products are foisted on the public as the "latest thing," even if they have nothing new to give us. But here at the Record Connection, we have a time capsule of an age when music was good, and artists were in charge of their own sound.
Racks and racks of records fill three rooms, in addition to the room overflowing with CDs. The "pop" room contains music from nearly every top-40 artist from the 1950s into the 1990s. In search of Donnie (and Marie) Osmond albums, 10 different records surfaced, priced at $3 or $4 with one $8 selection. Other finds included the 1984 comeback album from Slade (known for misspelling song titles, such as Cum On Feel the Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now) titled Keep Your Hands off My Power Supply and the relatively obscure British act Charlie's 1979 release Fight Dirty. Another room gathered soul, blues, and country, in addition to a small grouping of hard rock. Little records--once known as singles or 45s--populated the last area.
Friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff readily assisted in our search for that lost classic. Minutes from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Record Connection's only drawback is that it's hidden away in Amish country. For those vinyl fanatics looking for great-condition discs from the pre-CD period, this is a must-find shop.
A few dozen records placed into the milk crates, hatch closed, and the Juke was heading east toward the City of Brotherly Love. Even with freezing rain, the Nissan competently sailed across Interstate 76, otherwise known as the Schuylkill Expressway. A turn up the Vine Street Expressway leads to the Ben Franklin Bridge and then New Jersey, but exiting the highway before the bridge gets our music-loving travelers to the next stop.
Destination number two was A.K.A. Music on North 2nd Street, Philadelphia's
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