A record shop isn’t a luxury store. It doesn’t need to be extravagant or offer much in the way of decor or amenities—all you need are stacks of records and music in the background. There is a difference, however, between lacking pretension and lacking order.
Nuggets Records in Kenmore Square stoops a bit below the minimum. After walking by the smattering of DVDs and CDs for sale outside the shop, the front door framed an entrance filled with more DVDs and unfilled shelves—not the most welcoming of entries. After navigating my way right, then left, then right again around a couple of sparsely filled shelves, I found the good stuff: the records.
But there really wasn’t too much good stuff. The selection of classic rock albums from the 60’s and 70’s is quite good, with all the standard artists and bands you might want: Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Traffic and Yes. Venture beyond this, however, and you may find yourself disappointed. A few post-punk classics poked through, like Wire and The Fall, but otherwise the selection was uninspiring.
Despite the many signs asking customers to “respect the alphabet,” the alphabet seemed to have fallen slightly into disrepair. In addition to the general unkemptness, some records had found their way into questionable locations—like the unmistakably New Orleans natives Cowboy Mouth, who were suspiciously placed under “local.”
Even stranger were the stacks of “adult films,” subtly placed above the gaze of children and cleverly obscured by wood blocks. Record stores are in the business of selling things of the past, but some things should probably stay firmly rooted in the past.
The CD section consisted of crates and crates of CD booklets in plastic sleeves; the corresponding disks were actually tucked away safely behind the cash register or in the back of the store. The result was a really unsatisfying tactile experience. Part of the joy of record hunting is flicking through stacks of records and CDs, searching for nothing in particular. You just can’t do that with liner notes in plastic sleeves—it doesn’t feel the same.
Even more disappointing were the many dividers lacking records or CDs. Temper your excitement, because many times you’ll find yourself pushing back a divider—perhaps titled “The Smiths” or “Joy Division”—only to find an empty void where that cool record or CD is supposed to be. Even worse, whole regions of the world were left barren, like the “Middle East” and “German” sections that were completely depopulated (everyone should at least have one Oum Kalthoum record!).
Nuggets would be less disappointing if they stuck to what they do best. The “new arrivals” section, a few crates located at the front of the store, offered an interesting selection of relatively rare or noteworthy records that are probably snapped up more quickly than the general Nuggets population. A bootleg of Jimi Hendrix’s Incident at Rainbow Bridge performance was the kind of ephemera people still want.
Although Nuggets may be lacking in many genres and organization, they do have some truly rare gems and a wide range of rock records. For all of your classic rock needs, Nuggets is a great place to start. But if your taste reaches beyond that, you may find yourself disappointed.