Austin is live music capital of the world. All along Sixth Street, a host of venues—both beloved and famous in their own ways—can be spotted by the lines trickling outside them and the sounds coming from within them.
But of course, a town known for its live music scene must have a record store (or multiple) to bolster that community. Waterloo Records serves as that conduit for Austin. I spent a ton of money at Waterloo on that trip, too.
A sprawling cavern of a space, Waterloo Records is one of those record stores that carries pretty much anything musically-related that a customer could ever want. They have a rich vinyl section, a cheap CD section, shirts, branded merch, pins, posters, tchotchkes, and swag. They promote all the local shows at all the aforementioned venues and more, plus, they also host their own in-store sessions.
Holding so much weight in Austin’s music community, we checked in with Waterloo Records’ Bill Jeffery. A long-time music buyer at the store, Jeffery’s choices are strong, leaning heavily on classic, yet somewhat underground rock. But, as he writes, “I have to say, it was really hard to sacrifice some of my favorites for this!” In particular, he laments leaving out Guided By Voices and Lou Reed picks, but notes that it was, “probably for the best especially in Reed’s case, as I would make an argument that Lulu is truly a great record!”
Read on to learn which five albums he thinks everyone should own on wax.
Five Essential Records to Own on Vinyl
Buyer, Waterloo Records
Artist: David Kilgour
Album: Here Come The Cars
Reason: David Kilgour is one of the many of my favorite artists from New Zealand. Almost all bands from New Zealand that I like are on the great Flying Nun label. This music truly carried me through the ‘90s. This is Kilgour's first solo album in between The Clean’s reunion records. As much as I like later Clean records, clearly Kilgour was saving his good songs for this one and later (like the equally brilliant Sugarmouth) solo outings. To me, as far as pop music goes, all roads lead to Kilgour! This album has great hooky, hypnotic songs like "Spasm" and "You Forget," but also simple sad songs like the title track.
Artist: Gary Numan
Reason: As a kid with a healthy appetite for music, but not enough wealth to meet the demands, my place to buy records were in the "cut out" bins in mall record stores. For those unfamiliar, "cut outs" were extra pressed up records that bombed when originally released and were sold wholesale with a corner cut through "cut out" companies for dirt cheap. So basically, I started my collection with un-wanted vinyl! I had Telekon way before I ever even heard Pleasure Principle! What a great deal for $1.99! There is nothing as catchy as "Cars" on Telekon; instead we get "I Dream Of Wires" (which Robert Palmer covers this one). This album also has the classic "I Die You Die," and the album eventually became the soundtrack to the beginning of my new wave period in high school.
Artist: Nick Cave
Album: The Good Son
Reason: This one is important to me because it’s my first Nick Cave record. A friend of mine played me the song "Lament" and that was it for me. Of course, I got everything with Nick Caves name on it after that (including The Birthday Party). In an interview I once read with Cave, he listed some of his influences and there were quite a few, but the two that stuck out for me were Scott Walker and the ‘70s-period Elvis (because in Nick’s words, “That’s when he was at his most honest). The Good Son is really his first album in which strings contribute a big part to the song structure. Songs like "Lament" and "The Ship Song" are so beautiful.
Artist: Throbbing Gristle
Album: DOA: The Third and Final Report Of...
Reason: DOA: The Third and Final Report Of... was my first true "outsider" record. These guys were groundbreaking. Today they sound almost tame compared to all they bands they spawned. However, "Hamburger Lady" was, and still is, one of the most frightening songs put to wax, especially when you know what its based on (research it, it’s not pretty!). While the band often get credit for starting industrial music, beyond its own label called Industrial Music, the comparisons to today's bands called from that genre stop there. To me, they are a very important band that paved a bloody, noisy, and yes, at times dancy path for others.
Artist: David Bowie
Reason: My last record to choose has to be Bowie's Heathen, mainly because after his passing, I kept hearing and reading posts that his final record, Blackstar, was his best record in 20-30 years. Its’ like all those records he made in between never happened! I will say that 1987's Never Let Me Down was a low point, but starting out with 1995's Outside, he started making good records again. So although I think Blackstar is brilliant and a great last record for his career, Heathen needs to be re-examined, if for just two reasons—the songs "Sunday" and "Heathen (The Rays)." The latter song hints that Bowie was already thinking death was around the corner. I still well up every time I hear it!