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FAME Review: Brendan Toller - I Need That Record! (DVD)
Brendan Toller - I Need That Record! (DVD)

I Need That Record!
The Death (or Possible Survival) of
the Independent Record Store

Brendan Toller

MVD Visual - MVD5020D (DVD)

Available from See of Sound.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

My God, I never thought I'd see a DVD this cool and this needed, never in my life did I think that. Brendan Toller and MVD have done the vinyphilic public a service by making and presenting this geeked-out rapturous paean to collectorism, mom 'n pop shops, music, and the counter-culture. If you, like me, are a collector upset with the death of the small-time neighborhood record shop, this is the entablature of, and ode to, a large part of your free time and life over God only knows how many years. As someone whose house looks like a collision between a record shop, art store, and book outlet, and who spent quite a sizeable part of his life hunting for good music and art, I'm down on my knees, thanking the God I most fervently don't believe in that someone made this lo-fi way righteous documentary. And I'm not the only one, as I Need That Record! made it to eight big international film festivals, including Raindance (in total, 25 auteur fetes altogether hosted it).

O brother and sister sonic addicts, do not for a moment think we are totally bereft, as the cavalcade of famous names (Glenn Branca, Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Noam Chomsky, etc.) and complete unknowns (the record shop owners and customers also interviewed) are similarly enmeshed in the fever, as groundling and peasant as you and I, and just as consumed. Hell, in your peregrinations, you may even have bumped into one of them without knowing it. I used to talk to Quentin Tarantino at the old Video Archives in Manhattan Beach. He was just a clerk, even despite Reservoir Dogs being in release, until the lucky bastard hit it big with Pulp Fiction, quit, and then bought the entire friggin' store for his private library…depriving me and the entire locale of the best video rental shop ever.

Well, around the country, over the last so many years, 3,000 non-chain music shops have gone out of business as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and various mega-corporations have commoditized everything in creation, horking the environs of more than one venue to themselves. Ah, but don't imagine this is a CBS docu-drama, not at all. You get to hear the foul-mouthed and disarmingly honest Glenn Branca—an avant-garde guitarist now pretty much antiquated and neglected—give you an insider's view on what it's really like to be a "star" (a status he hates). Frankly, as someone who, over the last two decades, spent a lot of time reviewing a-v and progressive musics, I never was much impressed by the guy's work but now love him as an anarchist critic. Then there's Mike Watt reminiscing on his many episodes in SoCal record shops and Thurston Moore in his perpetually laconic mode revealing that he lived for two things: 1) to tour and 2) hit record holes around the country.

The film's raison d' être lies in a survey of various owners who found themselves going out of business because of the predatory tactics of the big-box brick and mortars, then it migrates to the Joe Everydays who loved the whole concept of record shops as social phenomena, and then arrives at the doorstep of the glitz crowd, including Chris Frantz of Talking Heads. More, when the main feature's over, there's over two hours of lengthy straight-out one-on-one talks uninterrupted by exterior narrative. Yow!

Scions of MTV, Madonna, Barry Manilow, and others are going to rush past this gem, I have no doubt about that. Such zombies are incurious and thoroughly blank to the fact that such odd fetishism occurs in an aesthetic, rather than commercio-psychotic, vein, but for those who have beatified the disease, lived in elegant obsession, I Need That Record! is a Communist Manifesto, a Constitution, the Babylonian Codex of arcane knowledge and confraternity. For that hermeticized dimension of starry eyed art consumers, this flick is indispensable, one-of-a-kind, and a grail. In short, You Need This DVD!

Besides, where else are you going to hear America's #1 radical, the new Socrates: Noam Chomsky, anarchist supreme, when asked what his favorite rock record is, grin and reply "I'm an old-fashioned conservative"? Nowhere, my friends, nowhere.

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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