The Vinyl Tourist Visits Arizona
Featuring Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa
Sunny Phoenix and the adjacent communities of Tempe, Mesa, and Scottsdale are located in the appropriately named Valley of the Sun in central Arizona, in the southwestern United States. If you're in this area, there are several record stores and one outdoor market worth visiting.
In need of a local map? Try Google Maps.
Finally, if you haven't already done so, please read the Vinyl Tourist's Caveat.
- Tracks N Wax
4741 North Central Ave.
This unpretentious store, with the dancing mice painted on the window, is a record collector's dream. Filled almost entirely with vintage vinyl, this is the place to go for just about every category. The store is especially strong in soundtracks, comedy, Jazz, pop vocalists, and older rock. Condition varies, but the price is usually right. I found an original Spike Jones' Dinner Music For People Who Aren't Very Hungry for $10 as well as Sir Douglas Quintet's The Tracker for $6. Very strong in 45's, too.
- Stinkweeds Record Exchange
12 W Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
This is what record stores used to look like (well, almost). Stinkweeds is a roomy store with rows of new LP's and 45's as well as CD's and cassettes. With the exception of re-issues of classical and other vintage albums, they appear to stock virtually every new LP and 45 currently in print. Of course, this means their strength is in techno, house, new wave, etc. We picked-up new wax by El Vez, the Trashwomen, and Dick Dale
plus a CD of the Shallow Grave soundtrack, featuring Leftfield. Strong selection of used jazz LP's, too. Check-out the Middle Eastern food next door.
1056 South Country Club Drive
Imagine a Border's or Barnes & Noble which only stocks used books as well as an excellent selection of used LP's and sheet music. At Bookman's, I found a nice selection of exotica (original pressings of Mystic Mood Orchestra's One Stormy Night, Henry Mancini's Greatest Hits, Arthur Lyman's Taboo, etc.) for about $5 - $10 each. Lots of half-speed remasters for reasonable prices, too. Big, bright, clean. Good picks in all categories. Check their website for other area locations.
- Rockzone Records
2155 East University #104
Tempe, AZ 85281
In January, 2007, Rockzone bought out the entire inventory of Rockaway Records and moved (along with most of Rockaway's staff) to a new location. They boast an inventory of over 20,000 new and used records in all formats, including 78s. New LPs are put out every Friday and prices start at a remarkably low 50¢. In their previous incarnation, I found bargains in several test and audiophile recordings: M & K's Bottom End LP and an Angel 12-inch 45rpm LP of Stravinsky's Firebird by Giulini and the CSO for $7 each. You may want to bring earplugs--when we were there, the staff was playing a CD of sound effects at over 100db.
- Memory Lane Out Of Print Records
1940 East University Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
Memory Lane is a long, narrow store jammed from floor-to-ceiling with collectable LP's and 45's. The selection is particularly strong in pop and rock records from the 1950's, but prices reflect their collectable status. There's also a large assortment of modern vinyl, but here the prices simply don't make sense--$12 for 70's and 80's rock records that you can find anywhere else for $4? I did pick-up a large group of Pérez Prado 45's that were fairly priced, however.
Memory Lane Update: Since this review was originally written, I've been able to purchase some fairly obscure material through the mail (out-of-print Mary Black imports, Allen Ginsberg's Ginsberg's Thing on the Douglas label, etc.) at prices that were better than my in store experience suggested.
- Revolver Records
918 N. 2nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004
While I haven't personally visited Revolver Records, their MySpace site mentions that they stock over 12,000 records, including 5000+ that sell for $1. The latter also features a video tour of the store.
- Arizona Hi-Fi
10 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Primarily a high-end audio shop, there is a selection of new vinyl to be found here, too.
- El Mercado, The Great Southwestern Swap Meet
Southwest corner of 35th Avenue and Buckeye Road
Saturdays and Sundays Only!
And now for something completely different... Every weekend, 1,400 vendors, almost all of whom appear to be slightly homesick Mexicans, set up stalls in El Gran Mercado, 40 acres of asphalt in the heart of southwest Phoenix. Most of the stalls feature clothing, hardware, and religious objects, but scattered in between the piñatas are a dozen or so music dealers. The format is 99% CD and cassette, the tunes are 100% Mexican, and the price is a uniform $10 per disc. It's worth the trip just to stroll up and down the aisles and pretend you're south of the border, if only for
a few hours. Ever wonder where you could buy a faux leopard-skin jump suit for the señorita in your life, or an automatic transmission for him? This is the place where you can find them side-by-side with the latest tunes on Ciudad México's Top Ciento. Continuous live music and home cooking are also featured.
Last Update: January 2012