Bloor Cinema: ‘All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records’ (Dec 4 – Dec 10, 2015)

Did the internet kill the record store? The answer is more complicated than you might think, as revealed in this lively and fond history of retail giant Tower Records. Until only recently an unmissable destination in cities across 30 countries, Tower Records was a place where minds met, tastes were tuned and, as shown in the film, an unmistakable ethos of bravado and freedom was fostered. Hear from devotees including Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Elton John (who religiously perused Tower Records every Tuesday), employees who rose to management positions after being hired literally off the street and the charismatic and still-loquacious founder Russ Solomon. With an affectionate touch, actor-turned-documentarian Colin Hanks took seven years to tell this story: both an ode to the cultural institutions of record stores and a cautionary tale of ambition.

Co-presented by Sonic Boom.


An Official Selection at SXSW 2015, ‘All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records’ is a wonderful testament to what record stores used to mean to people.  The smell of vinyl, the grittiness of Tower Records employees and bins overflowing with musical gems brewed an excitement that big box department stores today will never be able to replicate.

‘All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records’ is an ode to the behind the scenes characters and early pioneers who were involved in its inception, what it was like to work in their stores, shop and live the Tower Records lifestyle.  It is a true portrait of what it means to work for a labour of love.

‘Going to work at Tower Records was like going to work with family,’ as said by a ‘lifer’ employee.  Staff even in the present day who have long collected their literal retirement watch demonstrate a raw emotion that is emblematic of a love affair that ran deep within their musical veins.

We are exposed to the blow by blow break down of the music industry and why cd’s were one of the many perpetrators to its demise. It is a painful unravelling made up of the best soap opera odysseys.

The intent of loving, appreciating and savouring music at its essence within the lining of a record sleeve, in a tape cassette wrapper which was just housed in a yellow plastic Tower Records bag was like a Willy Wonka wrapper for adults.  Those types of High Fidelity moments don’t happen anymore with iTunes downloads within the comfort of our own homes.  The sentimentality of records shops, like Tower Records, are now etched into our minds as one of a few things we can officially tell our kids and grandkids about.

Even though Tower Records closed on December 21, 2006 there are currently 85 locations still open in Japan.  Who knew?  Relive some of your own wonderful record store nostalgic moments when watching ‘All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records’ whilst softly chanting ‘No music, no life’.


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