Earth... The Vinyl Frontier

The Vinyl Tourist Visits
New York's Capital Region

New York State's Capital Region is, naturally enough, centered around the city of Albany, where the State Capitol is located. The nearby cities of Schenectady and Troy, each located about a 20 minute drive to the west and north, respectively, complete what is also known as the Tri-City area.

Once unusually rich in used record shops, the selection has dwindled following the national trend. The recent closing of Central Station due to the owner's failing health was a major loss (that's what happens when you chain smoke 3 packs a day for 30 years). However, Last Vestige continues as a first class source for collectibles.

Be aware that most of these stores are closed on Sunday, so call in advance if your time is limited.

In need of a local map? Try Google Maps.

Finally, if you haven't already done so, please read the Vinyl Tourist's Caveat.

  1. Last Vestige Music Shop
    173 Quail Street
    Albany, NY 12203
    (518) 432-7736

    Last Vestige Music Shop

    The Last Vestige Music Shop is the type of store that record collectors dream about. Brightly lit racks, neatly sorted and alphabetized with lots of obscure goodies and no shortage of vinyl. In fact there is a "Vinyl Only" back room full of 45s, jazz, and exotica which is only matched by the well-stocked front room. None of this even hints at the overstock contained in the store's basement and in owner Jim Furlong's home. But you'll have to ask, since these areas are off-limits to the public. Prices vary, with more common items at below average and obscure and rare pop and rock at the higher end of the scale. Jazz and classical records are priced average to below. Here I found two of Irish singer Mary Black's early LP's on her own Dara label for $2 each, and some rare Doug Sahm material (Rough Edges, Groover's Paradise, etc.) in the $15 range. Check the ad in Metroland for the occational 25% off sale or the local Yellow Pages for a 20% off coupon.

  2. The River Street Beat Shop
    197 River Street
    Troy, NY 12180
    (518) 272-0433

    River Street Beat Shop

    Owner Jim Barrett's newest retail incarnation (he owned the late Positively 3rd Street, a few blocks away) is an airy storefront in Troy's antique district, just north of Russell Sage College. Specializing in the new and obscure, the fare is an eclectic mix with attractive prices. Listeners to Kaleidescope, Jim's long-time radio show on WRPI-FM, know that this is a place where anything's bound to turn up. Live music is in the house on Saturdays; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

    River Street Beat Shop

  3. Andy's Front Hall
    Wormer Road (turn on to Front Hall Lane, 3 miles west of Route 155)
    PO Box 307
    Voorheesville, NY 12186
    (518) 765-4193

    Andy's is a folk-oriented shop which specializes in traditional and acoustic music. The fare is mostly CD's and cassettes, but a few LP's are available, mainly on Andy's own "Front Hall" label. Instructional books and videos, too. Weekend hours are limited, so it's best to call ahead.

  4. Blue Note Record Shop
    156 Central Avenue
    Albany, NY 12206
    (518) 462-0221

    Founded in 1948, Blue Note only sells new records, mainly 45 rpm re-issues, and specializes in jazz, pop, and rock-n-roll. It is not set-up for browsing, however--you have to know what you want and ask for it at the front counter. A cozy anachonism in today's high-tech world.

  5. The Re-Collector
    167 1/2 Jay Street
    Schenectady, NY 12305
    (518) 281-7614

    Nominally a thrift shop on the Jay Street pedestrian mall (off State Street), the stock varies wildly, but the price is always right!

Last Update: October 2010

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