Criminal Records does not care about your criminal records. That’s because Criminal Records is one of Atlanta’s best record stores, which also happens to be really good at puns. Based in the alternative—and quickly-becoming-hipper-and-hipper—neighborhood of Little Five Points, Criminal Records has been serving the area since August 1989. The sizable shop sells vinyl, CDs, DVDs, comic books and graphic novels, pop cultural gifts, and more, in addition to hosting frequent in-store sessions with local, regional, and national touring bands.
During my brief stint in the A-T-L in 2012, Criminal Records became my second home. I paid them visits (and cash money) on both good days and bad, to celebrate occasions and commiserate with friendly faces and knowing songwriters when times were tougher. And when I wanted to buy a record for a friend after I’d left town, the staff at Criminal Records provided some of the most personal customer service that still sticks with me more than four years later.
After some time away, I reached back out to the team at Criminal Records for their thoughts on which five records everyone should own on vinyl. Luckily for Vinyl Me, Please readers, they involved their whole team in this list, which offers diverse and personal accounts of some of the records that matter most to this kind, Southern-hearted crew.
Eddie Parsley, Buyer
Artist: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Album: Damn the Torpedoes
**Reason: **The fall of 1979 was pretty special to me: I had just graduated high school a few months earlier. Fall had always been my favorite time of year, and this was the first year I wouldn’t have to be in a classroom at 8:00 AM the day after Labor Day in my entire life. I had a terrific girlfriend, a 1975 Camaro, and my entire life ahead of me. I still remember first hearing “Don’t Do Me Like That” riding around on a sunny fall day coming home from work. “Catchy tune,” I thought to myself. And then, the DJ played it again, and I was singing along before the song came to an end. My next stop was Seaco Music in Sumter, SC—the closest place for me to buy tunes. I’m not sure I listened to another record for months. Tom seemed to be speaking to me about life and the world, and the band just couldn’t be beat. I still never tire of giving it a spin, and it was a major factor on deciding whatever I did with my life, music would always be a huge part of it.
Malissa Sole, Marketing Director
Artist: Prince and The Revolution
Album: Purple Rain
Reason: I'm not sure how on Earth I convinced my mother to take me to the cinema to see Purple Rain, but I did, and thus began my life long love affair with the film's soundtrack. Purple Rain, with its multiple layers of guitars, keys, synths, and drum machines stirred all kinds of emotions in my tender young heart. Prince and The Revolution managed to make me feel alive in a way I had never known before and I was hooked on the experience. "When Doves Cry" could very well be my favorite song of all time, but the longing in his falsetto in "The Beautiful Ones" will forever bring me to tears. Each and every track seems better than the one before it. Purple Rain is truly a masterpiece.
Julian Delgado, Store Manager
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Reason: As a young child growing up in Cali, Colombia, my home did not have much past the requisite shrine to the Virgin Mary. At the centerpiece of this shrine, an ornate statue of the Madonna sat upon a 12" black round disc, which I later discovered to be Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. The record was placed there only for aesthetic value as it reflected the Mother Mary's visage when candles were lit. I never knew where it came from as a record player was considerably beyond our means. Years later, when my family immigrated to the United States, I remembered the record and sought it out. I eventually became quite enamored of the album because of its raw exposition of relationships skillfully elucidated through pop-rock mastery, but also because the mere mention of the band name and LP title transported me back to a simpler time where life was not constrained by the unavailing quest for happiness through material possessions.
Alice Kim, Night Shift Custodian
Artist: Tim Maia
Album: Tim Maia
**Reason: **You know the feeling you get after eating spicy food? Suddenly your taste buds rapidly tell you there's an exciting explosion about to happen in your mouth. It gradually reaches the rest of your body making the pores of your skin release a slow feeling of chill and heat at the same time. It awakens your senses and you can't help but to reach for another spoon of it. The first time I heard Tim Maia I had the same reaction. I was living in Brazil and was about five or six years old. Both of my parents had fallen asleep on the couch that night with the TV still on. They would have never guessed that in the midst of their dreams and tired bodies, I was about to fall in love for the first time. Tim Maia was on TV that night. His soulful vocal range and charismatic performance flushed my brain with dopamine and gave me my first chills. I was all in. I'm still all in. The track "Voce" is one of my favorites.
Geoffrey Bartlett, Shift Manager
Artist: Depeche Mode
Album: Music for the Masses
**Reason: **Depeche Mode's 1987 album Music for the Masses stands out to me for several reasons. On a personal note, listening to the songs on this record helped me accept my reality as a gay teenager growing up in a repressive environment: "Never Let Me Down Again," "Strangelove," and "Behind the Wheel" were all quickly internalized as odes to the unrequited attraction I had for my best friend at the time, and accepting that that my love—albeit strange and different—was real. But for Depeche Mode and the music they represented, this album was a continuation of the sharp turn taken from the radio-friendly synth-pop of the Speak & Spell era and into a darker, more introspective direction. That lyrical and thematic foray renders Music for the Masses understandably relatable to anyone who's ever felt like an outsider, a sentiment inherent of the title of the album itself.