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Notes from the Note Girl: Vinyl Flashbacks

Notes from the Note Girl: Vinyl Flashbacks

There’s this great scene in the film High Fidelity when Rob’s girlfriend has just left, and to ease the pain of his broken heart, he decides to reorganize his albums autobiographically.

This is what first entered my mind when I stopped at Mizzou Records at 1013 E. Walnut last Friday. Brandon Kramer has amassed a record collection that would make Rob Gordon forget all about his beloved Laura.

Stacks of albums, more, in fact, than Brandon can count, fill every inch of the room. But Brandon is not a record collector per se. He is interested in filling a niche that’s been empty in this town for a few years.

Tracy Lane and Brandon Kramer look through albums in Kramer's new store Mizzou Records, located on Walnut Avenue next to Ernie's.

For collectors in search of that one elusive record that’s prevented them from having every Beatles album, Brandon is their guy. The collection at Mizzou Records is remarkably diverse. This is far from just a rock collection; he sells comedy albums, children’s albums, world music, classical, pop, soul, country … the works. He tells me he’s still working out how to best categorize the collection for customers’ convenience.

“How funny, I was thinking of that part in High Fidelity when I walked in,” I said. But Brandon is a documentary guy, not so much into John Cusack, so the compliment is lost on him.

Brandon invited me to sift through the piles to get a feel for all that his store has to offer. I found the original soundtrack to the 1964 Walt Disney film Mary Poppins.

“Wow, I had this exact same album as a kid,” I said with a touch of surprise and melancholy upon running across a faint childhood memory I had long forgotten. Not only does Brandon have this album, but he also has multiple copies, enough for everyone in Columbia who might want it in his or her collection.

Kramer runs to get the phone in his new store.

When I moved to Los Angeles after high school, my mom sold my records in a garage sale for $5. Not $5 an album, but $5 for the whole musical library from my first 18 years of life.

When I returned to Missouri three years later and was packing to move to Columbia, I was devastated to learn the fate of these beloved childhood relics. Suddenly, last week, the concept of reconstructing this collection flashed through my mind. As I held the Mary Poppins album in my hands, I began making a mental checklist: Olivia Newton John, check; ELO, check; the soundtrack to Fame, check. Then, I remembered, I no longer own a turntable. Plus, I needed to leave the store to buy back-to-school clothes and supplies for my fifth grader. Perhaps another day, when I have time to envelop myself in that shop for a few hours, I will exit with my childhood collection in hand. Brandon is right; there is a niche to be filled here.

Another interesting part of this collection is that it has a history in Columbia. As I thumbed through the albums, every now and then I saw one affixed with a sticker that said Whizz Records.

When I first moved here in 1990, there were several great downtown record stores. Yes, record stores, literally. There was Streetside Records, which is still going strong, though it’s been a dozen years or so since I’ve seen a record on the shelves there. There was also a great little shop called Whizz Records on the MU campus. I believe it was right about where the MU Alumni Center now stands. Whizz moved over to Tenth Street in the early 1990s and then eventually landed over on Ninth Street for a few of the earliest years of this century. Whizz then morphed into Happy Time Media, and this is where Brandon’s connection to some of these records began.

Lane checks out the artwork on an album cover.

Brandon was a partner in Happy Time. He opted to purchase the inventory from his partner and move to Walnut to open Mizzou Records. Perhaps some of these records were once shelved in a record store on Mizzou’s campus.

That’s what I love about music — the history. I encourage you to peruse the stacks at Mizzou Records and see what it unearths for you. You may find yourself purchasing a stack of your own personal history.

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