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Vinyl-heads’ rejoice as vintage record-store spins memories of a groovy past

By: M.V. Moorehead

February 23, 2008   

Today’s teens and 20-somethings have little if any memory of the days when music was the product of vinyl phonograph records, their sounds produced by placing a needle into minute grooves cut into the record’s surface.

This latter-day technology, replaced by tape and ultimately CD players in the ‘70s and ‘80s, now seems almost as quaint and remote as the Victrola must have seemed to those of us who bought vinyl LPs and 45s in the earlier decades of the last century.

Yet like most old technologies, vinyl records still have their loyal devotees who refuse to give them up. There remain a great many collectors and buffs who passionately insist that the sound quality of vinyl records is without peer; that it has a richness that the cold, sterile digital recording heard on CDs just can’t match.

Such vinyl-heads will find a happy haven at Rockzone Records (“...where Vinyl Lives!”) a handsome used-record-emporium located at 1721 E. Warner Road, at the southwest corner of Warner and McClintock. Rows and rows of cases hold stack upon stack of records ranging from classics to curios, any one of which may give the boomer-era music fan a blast from the past. Presiding over them all is proprietor Steven Wilkinson, a local musician and music lover.

Wilkinson, however, is not himself a fanatical member of the vinyl cult. “I wouldn’t call myself an aficionado, or an audiophile,” he admits. “I like both vinyl and CD.”

He recognizes the qualitative difference between the two formats, but observes:

“I like CDs for the convenience, but CD is sort of a flat, bombastic sound. Vinyl has always had a warmer tone to it...A lot of it is a matter of opinion, but a lot of it is a matter of your ear.

“I’m a musician, so I can hear sharps and flats, and I can hear the difference between vinyl and CD. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason in this tide of MP3s and whatnot, vinyl has been extremely hot in the last few years.”
Still, Wilkinson notes, Rockzone Records is so friendly to digital media that it offers disc-repair services for CDs, DVDs and video games, while you wait.
Wilkinson worked at the store that became Rockzone before purchasing it himself, when it was a location of now-defunct Rockaway Records. Rockzone purchased Rockaway’s entire inventory in January of last year.

“The store has always had a rock basis,” says Wilkinson, who names Kiss, the Who, Black Sabbath, Queen, Thin Lizzy, ELO and Alice Cooper, among others, as favorites. But a stroll around the store reveals everything from jazz to movie soundtracks to stand-up comedy.

The store also serves as musical hotspot in its own right.

“Sometimes we have bands in to play an acoustic set,” says Wilkinson. Most recently, Swedish “sleaze rock” quartet Vains of Jenna performed in-store earlier this month.

Wilkinson remains an active musician himself, performing in cover band The Cradle Robbers, which plays venues like O’Kelly’s in Mesa, Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee and the Blooze in Phoenix.

Wilkinson explains the group’s name thusly:
“It’s a bunch of old guys, and if young girls want to see us and drool over us, that’s OK. I’m the youngest guy in the band, and I’m 40.”

Rockzone Records buys, sells and trades. For more information visit or call (480) 964-6301.



Photo by David Stone


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