Get a Musical Blast from the Past

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BY PAULA HUMERICK

Like millions of others, I love the portability of my iPod, but confess that I really miss the tactile pleasure of sliding an LP out of its sleeve and putting it on a turntable. Remember when half the fun of listening to the music was pouring over the album cover? Well, there’s a store for that.

Rick Alper. Photos: Paula Humerick

On Burbank’s Magnolia Blvd. is the vinyl-seeker’s oasis: Atomic Records. Run by brothers Rick and Steve Alper, this shop is a destination for buyers and sellers alike. “We are constantly acquiring new collections,” said Rick. Of course, this means that the inventory is constantly changing, which is what makes a visit to their store so much fun. The appeal to the ‘regulars’, as well as the first-time adventurer, is looking for that one great find.  Got tunes you no longer want? Atomic Records buys and sells used vinyl, cds and dvds.

The inventory covers most categories, from classical to comedy to folk to jazz and soul, but rock and roll dominates the center aisles. Lose your copy of the B-52’s? A former roommate disappeared with your Bonzo Dog Band? Want to introduce your Lady Gaga offspring to Grace Jones or Lene Lovitch? Atomic has you covered (no pun intended). Sure, you can find Jerry Lee Lewis on-line, but picking up one of his original albums and holding it? Priceless.

CDs, vinyl, buy, sell.

There were soundtracks: movies, stage, television (The Avengers – yes!). Do you have the original soundtrack album for “The Magic Christian”? Atomic Records did the day I visited, along with the original motion picture version of “Man of La Mancha”. (Peter O’Toole sings!! Who knew?)

The jazz collection revealed not only the greats – Cannonball Adderly, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman and others – but also lesser-known players like Jaco Pastorius. The comedy section had a wealth of Bill Cosby and Jonathan Winters, but the real jewel was “Greatest Hits of the National Lampoon” with the before-they-were-famous voices of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and other now-familiar names.

Vintage posters.

Upon being asked what prompted the opening of the store, Steve  said. “When your hobby turns into a nightmare of boxes and boxes…” I asked each brother what record, personally, had been a “find.” Each told of a collection sold to them by a Los Angeles resident, whose husband had been a jazz musician.

“There was an album by Charlie Parker – Parker himself had drawn all over the cover, over the original artwork. This woman remembered him doodling on it while at the house,” said Steve. “There were also 78’s by Robert Johnson,” added Rick, “one of which, there are only a dozen known copies.”

Atomic Records is located in the Magnoia Park neighborhood of Burbank.

It is impossible to visit the store and not have a personal “never-thought-I’d-see-that-again” moment. Sneeringly tossing aside “Accent on Youth,”by the Harry Simeone Chorale (one could just hear some 60’s-era recording exec saying “they need a more modern sound”), I uncovered “Second Thoughts” by McKendree Spring, a folk rock band that had provided the soundtrack to my college sophomore year. Instantly, I was nineteen again.

Sometimes it’s good to have a blast from the past.

Atomic Records 3812 West Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505 (one block west of Hollywood Way) (818) 848-7090 Store hours: Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. noon-5. www.atomicrecordsla.com

Paula Humerick has worked for car dealerships, printers, art galleries, lobbyists, software developers, investment bankers and LAUSD.  She’s still deciding what she’s going to be when she grows up.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.