REVIEW – I have watched and reviewed hundreds of thousands of movies. Some movies made a momentary impact, some movies made me think after I turned it off and some movies made me want to revisit it again. No documentary or film in my life hit me harder than “All Things Must Pass”, the documentary about the Rise and Fall of Tower Records. Tower Records to me for so many years was my home. I would drive three hours every Friday night after I got off work, and stay in New Orleans till Sunday and do nothing but shop at Tower Records on 408 North Peters St. Talk about the greatest block on planet earth, you had Tower Records right beside it Tower Video and then Tower Magazine Store. (eventually you would have the Virgin Records beside that) The date will never escape me June 8th 2005, and Tower was playing The Killer Hot Fuss record and the song “ Jenny was a friend of mine” was playing when I made my purchase and left, which would be the last time I would ever go into that store again. Hurricane Katrina would hit New Orleans and take out the whole block, and it was around the time that worldwide the store chain was closing stores. My dad was my best friend; I loved that man more than anything else on this planet. I did not take his death half as hard as I did the closing of Tower Records. Like Elton John said in the documentary, “it was just sad, heartbreaking and for a music fan it was the end of an era”. The documentary opens with the story of how Tower Records came to be. In 1941, Russ Solomon’s dad owned Tower Drugs.
His father ever the visionary was carrying more than just drugs in a drug store and eventually music would come into play. When they bought their first albums for 3 cents and then turned around and sold the whole lot for 10 cents each a new vision was shaping and taking form. To turn this concept to a worldwide chain that in 1999 grossed a billion dollars is truly the dream, to watch that billion leave and file bankruptcy in 2005, is the bitter reality. The motto at Tower Records was “No Music No Life”. The documentary also talks to the people who were involved with Russ and part of the family known as Tower Records. All Things Must Pass also covers each decade pretty fairly, and talks about how this music store concept went from a West Coast chain to such a phenomenon. Tower Records were very revolutionary as a place that really presented music in almost a way that a grocery store will have so many brands and aisles to get stuff from. To get what this store truly meant, you had to be a serious music collector. I could tell you stories of people like Trent Reznor, Phil Anselmo, Kim Gordon all shopping at the store and not one person bothered them, they felt at home to be a music fan and not some celebrity. The last 20 minutes of this documentary is the most heartbreaking and yet amazing part of the whole film. To see people who been there 30 years plus talking about the stores closing and losing their jobs before the closings, it was truly heartbreaking. When you see Russ Solomon in Japan where Tower Records still exists, it was such a feel good moment. That moment caught on film to me is a moment that should be cherished. This documentary also covers the trends and how music always seemed to invent itself and prosper. When disco was in, was a horrible music recession that saw MTV, Compact Disc and an album that would get the ball moving again Michael Jackson’s Thriller as being its saviors.
Today, sadly enough, there are no saviors. Music is dying more and more each day where companies like Best Buy and Walmart really only cover the current chart toppers and you really have to look for a mom and pop store in the middle of nowhere to even understand the concept of collecting music and even owning music. I am not truly sure as to why Napster happened and what really caused fans to sour on the music collecting experience. It could be blamed on record label greed I assume. Like this documentary said, “why sell the popular cd single of the big hit for 1.00. Make them buy the 14.99 record.” This documentary to look at the inside of the store had me crying, I was in tears with all my memories of shopping every week at the store. Sometimes spending all my check and having to do without food for a day or two till my next check, and then doing it again and again. I even had my own mailbox there, they knew what magazines I bought and what cds I would be interested in. I have watched every music documentary, hundreds of world history ones, current events and also the future ones. This is the greatest music documentary ever made. I must have watched this three times in the period of one day just to relive it over and over again what this store meant to me. I want to say Russ Solomon thank you for giving me a reason many times to want to live, a store that knew about music and was so radically different and also to love music and not feel ashamed to admit it. Tower Records was not a store, it was a religion. All Things Must Pass but some memories will go to sleep with us when we are resting underground when all is said and done, thank you Tower Records for some of the greatest memories in my life.