Ray Ahn. Australian artist, and Punk Rock innovator with a frenetic right hand, great hair, and neck of Linda Blair elasticity. These physical endowments allow Ray not just the apex position as bass player for the widely loved Hard-Ons, but perfectly poised to storm the gates and find the greats in record stores around the world.
Ray, humanoid tome of recorded music knowledge. It's the kind of shit that will go entirely unappreciated until lightning strikes and someone desperately needs to know which month in '83 KISS finally ditched Casablanca for Mercury Records. I find great comfort in people like this. People who dig deeper, people who insist on the importance of each and every spec in the spectrum of their 'favourite thing'. For Ray it's records.
I mean there's a lot to the guy obviously, his identity is kinda kaleidoscopic with the chaotic colours of Punk Rock, comic art, classic cars and tourbus KFC, but at the core of his character, an LP spins....and he could probably tell you which pressing, from which region, and at which era the thing was released just on the audial picture alone. He's a full blown fucking guru, and he likes to shop! Here are his Top 5 Record Stores.
Taguchi Shoten, Kokura, Kyushu, Japan
I've spent a hell of a lot of time at Taguchi Shoten in Kokura. On each occasion I left the store with a minumum of 50 LPs. This place is CASH only. They are willing to deal. The place is TINY and they store their records upright, library style. I had to spend a lot of time with my neck at sharp angles to be able to read the sleeve spines. It's a fascinating teasure hunt. Flick through 20 Captain and Tenille LPs till you get to Tres Hombres by ZZ top Japanese pressing for a couple of bucks. Leave the store covered in dust. Drop records off at the post office to mail em back home, then go straight to a chiropractor. My kind of store. Low rent. Work up a sweat, buy records by the kilogram, get lung cancer
Time Bomb, Osaka
This is not a record store, it is a time tunnel. It is a museum.
'It is the Smithsonian institute of rock-fuckery.'
500 buck Yardbirds rarities reside down the street from 2 buck nu-metal cultural abominations. Chat with your financial guidance officer prior to going to the store. Kidneys come in pairs and they fetch good bucks if you feel like continuing to live using only one of them, in the future, it will finance your MC5 Spanish pressing with the alternate version of "Shakin' Street". Incredible. A trip to Disneyland
Now sadly closed. Time itself killed it, and nothing else. This was a place where second-hand records came to die, or in happier circumstances, re-housed to households of crafty cunning budget conscious record collectors i.e. not very nice people. If rows and rows of AC/DC and punk rock original pressings for about a third of what orthodox stores would charge is your idea of a good time, this was your place. The whole world was throwing records away at the time and they threw them here. At one stage I had six copies of "Never mind the bollocks here's the Sex Pistols". All acquired at Ashwoods. all for a few bucks each. Seagulls at the landfill. Nostalgia sucks unless we are reminiscing about Ashwoods.
'The owner was grumpy beyond words. I loved it.'
Illogical and inexplicable record store, a tiny tiny hole in the wall. Set in Croydon Street, in residential zone. A corner store, OK. A milk bar. May be a laundromat. But a hodge podge record store whose inventory followed no rule, nor rhythm. The term "filing system" had not been invented in this time and space vortex outpost.
'And to top it off, the store was closed 80% of the time.'
I found rare USA pressings of the Doors there. Records by the Undertones. The Boys. UK Subs. US pressings of Janis Joplin. All about 50% off retail. All either NEW or in perfect condition. Then...my classmate Andrew Parker, whose residence was actually ACROSS THE ROAD, managed to get part-time work there. His job description. Stand behind the counter with his hands in his pockets. Talk to one other human in five hours. He'd call me. "Please come in. I am dying". "I'm on my way. Mum gave me some money". We'd hang out and play records. I'd leave three hours later. "Where does your boss get all his records from?" I'd ask. "I don't know.." Andrew would reply. "I don't even know his name"
Lakemba TV and Radio, Lakemba
On the thriving multi-cultural metropolis that is Haldon street Lakemba lived a small family run Stereo/TV store. The record department was an afterthought. After all, immediately upon buying a first home stereo system, you wanna rush out and buy some LPs to blow the speakers up. The person in charge of maintaining stock was the daughter in her early 20's.
'She was bookish and weird. She had INSANE taste in music.'
I one day bought Dead Boys debut LP there. Instead of letting me just pay for it and disappearing into the street throng, she hadda let me know of Genya Raven's involvement in the record as a producer and this touching little monologue included a synopsis of Genya's career thus far. JESUS! Then, the next week when I ventured into buying the debut LP by the Dickies, a similar discourse occurred, who woulda thunk it? You go to buy a record one Saturday mid-morning and you come home with the knowledge that the lead singer of John's Children, whose line-up included Marc Bolan at one stage, produced the Dickies! Thanks for the ever-flowing stream of unsolicited detailed information lady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved that shop, and I loved her