Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Round Again Records - Providence, Rhode Island

Round Again Records - 278 Wickenden St. Providence, RI
 If Analog Underground is the new kid on the block on the Providence record store scene, Round Again Records is almost defiantly old-school. Round Again has no Facebook page. Round Again barely has a webpage. It's been in the exact same location since 1979.

All of which might give you the wrong idea. It may be old-school, but Round Again is not some musty-smelling hole in the wall. It's extremely clean and everything is exceptionally well-organized (alphabetized by genre). There aren't piles of records sitting on the floor, and nothing makes it to the racks that is in questionable condition. I hardly bother to inspect records before buying them at Round Again because they are always in excellent condition and very clean (a Nitty Gritty record vacuum sits prominently on the counter).

Steve, the owner (and only person I've ever seen working there), clearly knows his records. He knows what's an original pressing and what's not. He knows whether a mono copy of an Elvis Presley soundtrack is more sought after than the stereo version. He knows if there's an alternative cover that increases the value of a record. From the limited interactions I've had with him, it's clear to me that Steve works really hard at what he does, and that's why Round Again has survived in the same location for over thirty years while other shops have come and gone. And if he isn't ready for the brave new world of social media, he is one of the most trusted sellers of LPs on eBay, and deservedly so.

Selection is excellent and varied. Round Again is a great spot to hit if you are looking for 50s and 60s Jazz Records, but there is also a robust selection of Rock, Pop, Folk, R&B, Country, Classical, and Soundtrack LPs. But don't go in looking for the latest indie buzz band's limited-edition flexi disc, cause it's not there. Prices are fair. (During one of my recent trips, I scored a still sealed original pressing of NRBQ's first album for only $10.) Wall items tend to be pricey, but I have no doubt Steve could sell them on eBay for at least what he asks for them in store. Round Again also carries some nicely refurbished turntables and other vintage stereo equipment, and like the records he sells, all of the equipment is clean and appears to be in excellent condition.

If you live anywhere near Providence and love records Round Again is well worth the trip. And when you're done shopping for records you can go get amped up on caffeine across the street at the Coffee Exchange. I seriously doubt Round Again is doing anything to celebrate Record Store Day, Steve strikes me as more like a Festivus kind of guy.

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