Best of Silicon Valley 2001 - Readers' Picks

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[whitespace] Streetlight Records store
Spin Again: Used CDs, tapes and albums find new life at Streetlight Records.

Readers' Choice:
Music Mecca

Best Used Record Store

Streetlight Records
980 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose; 408.292.1404

THE DAY Streetlight Records puts the new Britney Spears album on for a spin may well be the day hell freezes over. Oh sure, it's on the racks for those customers who sheepishly slink up to the counter--shamefaced and cheeks blazing--with some mumbled explanation about it being a gift for their, uh, niece. But for Streetlight to taint its reputation for discriminating taste and canny insight into the underground by actively backing Billboard's mass-marketed major label hit machines? That would be just plain blasphemous.

Used record stores stand as houses of worship for music zealots of all faiths--be it jazz, blues, country, folk, hip-hop, R&B, opera, electronica, international, reggae or some strange experimental fusion in between. And for hip consumers with a burning hunger for anything and everything outside the mainstream, Streetlight's varied collection of new and used music is like manna.

Just walking into the vast warehouse is enough to induce a sensory overload. Rare and collectible record albums with tantalizing cover art are strung throughout the store like laundry hung out to dry in the summer wind. A person could spend hours rifling through the eclectic assortment of records in the Vinyl Frontier or digging for gold in the bargain bins. Nearly every genre of music, from Punk/Indie to Gothic/Industrial to Christian/Gospel, is represented in the islands of racks loaded with CDs. Display posters of rock's many icons and rebels stretch around the high reaches of the building, and a motley assortment of movies and documentaries--including cult classics, anime and boxed sets--line the walls. In the center of it all sit banks of listening stations, generally stocked with whatever lauded discs happen to be hanging out on the CMJ charts.

Still, there's nothing like discovering a local diamond in the rough or spotting a genius new band before everybody else does, and Streetlight's knowledgeable staff gives the store's customers the chance to do just that. After nearly 20 years in San Jose (and closer to 30 in San Francisco), Streetlight has built up some hefty credibility by supporting indie labels and may have earned even more respect because of its willingness to support homegrown local performers. The store gives notable locals prime real estate in a bin at the front of the store and sporadically releases compilations that feature local and regional bands. Music aficionados from all walks of life can surely agree: Streetlight offers a little slice of heaven--take-home style. SQ

Best of Silicon Valley 2001 Table of Contents

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From the October 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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