Housing warehouses and offices, Music Direct's Chicago-based facility is big. In normal times, different departments work in separate parts of the building, and music plays everywhere. Our music buyers play new releases, reissues, and even old cassettes. In the warehouse, different music – ranging from hip-hop to pop to the occasional death metal album – fills the air. The sales office listens to its own picks. Our photographer has diverse tastes. And in my office, I play the type of stuff I've been writing about. Then there's the headphone crowd – people so deep into their work that they sit all day with 'phones on their heads, staring at their computer screens.
My point: Everyone in the building is a music lover. And while everyone doesn't always agree about the merits of their coworkers' choices, we have a rule: You play both sides of every LP, and then it's someone else's turn to spin a platter. In other words, democracy at its finest. With this system, I've been turned on to records I would never have come across on my own, and I've also been stunned by the lack of musicality on some records. But when I walk around the building, hearing music everywhere, all I can think is that it really amounts to what Music Direct is all about. The music that runs through the veins of every individual on premise reflects our spirit. No matter what you like to play, we all want to experience exactly what the artist intended us to hear. In the best fidelity possible.
Today, two of our sales consultants write about artists and albums that have touched them. Brian Lickel came aboard recently and quickly gained a nice following. He possesses a deep love for music and gear, and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Our second contributor is Mark Schneider. You may have read some of his posts before. He has been home playing a ton of vinyl and really enjoys sharing his listening experiences. His piece today is very personal. I am grateful for both of my colleagues' help and hope you enjoy their writing.
Do Make Say Think You, You're a History in Rust
By Brian Lickel, Music Direct Sales Consultant
One late afternoon, in an old hi-fi shop at which I used to work, a group of strangers strolled through the door holding guitar pedals. After a friendly exchange of pleasantries, they dropped the pedals on the counter and asked, "Do you guys do anything to fix these?" I politely told him we don't repair that kind of equipment, but after being informed it was just making crackling noises, I quickly grabbed my can of trusty contact cleaner and got to work. As I was spraying them out, the new customers let me know they were in town for a gig and trying to get up and running by the evening. They were members of a band, Do Make Say Think, a group I hadn't known. To thank me, the group put me on the guest list. That night, I heard some of the best live music I experienced in a long while. A Canadian ensemble with connections to Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think built most of its songs with atmospheric guitars and laid-back accompaniments. Thanks to my handiwork, the guitars all sounded great!
Flash forward to our current quarantine. Thumbing through my stacks of LPs, looking for the right music for the moment, I stumble upon the group's You, You're a History in Rust. LPs can be transportive: The moment I touched the spine, I was taken back to that evening in the shop when I first came across the troupe that would become a personal favorite. The music on the album features long instrumental passages that let your imagination wander before vocals return and a colorful palette of sounds fills the air. I recommend grabbing a copy. I also recommend keeping a bottle of contact cleaner handy, just in case.
Frank Sinatra (and Other Oldies) on Mother's Day
By Mark Schneider, Music Direct Sales Consultant
My mom loved Frank Sinatra's singing. When she and my dad were not at a social event dancing, they were at home playing a Sinatra LP and dancing with each other. I was able to buy them a pretty nice stereo system years ago, and now I have that system back at my home. The turntable has been resurrected with a new Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge and plays through headphones in my home office. This is the room from which I am working throughout the pandemic, and where I wrote this copy. The speakers are in my kitchen, and I am currently putting my parents' LP collection on Discogs.
I am telling this story because of the recent Mother's Day event and the approaching Father's Day. Both of my parents recently passed away. Having some of their favorite stuff in my home helps me connect with their memories and all the love they gave me over the years. It's amazing how even holding some of their favorite LPs makes me feel closer to them.
They had it right. Music was part of their lifestyle and was their lifeblood. It meant so much to them. They loved the stereo I bought for them, but probably more for the fact that it came from me rather than for any fidelity it produced (and it did sound pretty good). For them, it was simply an appliance that allowed them to enjoy their music.
There's a stack of Herb Alpert and Baja Marimba Band LPs, along with a bunch of Sinatra LPs, waiting for a ride on my record-cleaning machine. Some new Mobile Fidelity inner sleeves will complete the restorative treatment before they're alphabetized and co-mingled with my collection (not sure why I put this off for so long). I'll play them on their old ‘table first, which seems like the right thing to do. Not sure if I will smile, cry, dance, or have all those reactions. But isn't that the point of all this music anyway?