Zed Records: RIP

It'd be a clich to call Zed Records an institution, but it'd also be true. For 26 years, Michael Zampelli's Long Beach record shop has satiated the aural jones of many a music fan; it was one of the few places—if not the only place—where you could find such items as imported LPs of obscure Swedish grindcore bands, or rare vinyl singles by the Pretenders, Depeche Mode, the Misfits or (insert name of your favorite band here). What's more, Zed's sharp salesclerks actually seemed to know what they were talking about when they recommended something—unlike your average Best Buy worker, they liked the same kind of music you did. But now Zampelli has decided he's had enough of the retail life, which means that unless someone comes along to buy him out—and people have expressed interest—Zed will shut its doors forever by the end of July. You can only partially blame the usual factor—competition from huge, deep-discounting chains and the Internet—that figures in to the shuttering of any much-loved indie store. Zampelli also blames a proliferation of independent, underground-music-specializing record shops that just didn't exist when he opened in 1974. “What killed Zed is that now there's a Zed everywhere,” Zampelli said. “When punk hit, during that heyday, that's what made us. But now punk is everywhere, though it's nothing but nostalgia, like what the '50s used to feel like when we first opened. Now, bands have T-shirt deals before they have record deals. Everything's gone corporate. I have to have enthusiasm for this, but that's not where I am now.” Instead, Zampelli's passions have moved on to other things. Like hockey. Huh?“I have the kind of enthusiasm for hockey that I used to get for punk rock,” he said. “I even dream about it.” Zampelli started an LA Kings fan website several years ago that grew to be so popular that a rival recently made him an offer—one that involves stock options. After his shop closes, Zampelli will devote his time to that instead of the often-grubby life of a record-store owner. Zed's time on Earth will begin winding down this Fourth of July weekend with a big boffo going-out-of-business sale. On Friday, everything in the store will be 30 percent off, with the discount jumping to 50 percent Saturday and Sunday and 75 percent Monday and Tuesday. Depending on what's left, they'll also sell the fixtures and record racks, with the store closing for good by the end of the month. Since word dropped of Zed's demise, Zampelli said he has had a steady stream of customers (including guys with bald spots who remember skateboarding up to his shop as teenagers back in the mid-'70s) coming in to pay their respects, which has gotten on the nerves of his youngish clerks, who've posted a sign in the store that reads NO TALKING ABOUT THE OLD DAYS. Too sentimental for you? Perhaps. “But there's no sadness for me at all,” Zampelli said. “I'm looking forward to the future.” (Rich Kane)

>>> THE IRON-ONS: RIP, TOO On June 17, Costa Mesa pop-punk band the Iron-Ons played their last show. Not ones to go gently into that good night, the three-piece made a lovably maudlin to-do out of it at Club Mesa, replete with a funeral theme and an off-color eulogy delivered by a randy minister who introduced himself as Phil D. Graves. (Get it? Do you get it? Do you?) The assembled mourners—a.k.a. “the crowd”—were invited to pick song titles from the band's seven-year career, written on pieces of paper, out of an urn-looking thing. “See ya! Bye! It was only the past seven years of my life!” spat vocalist/guitarist John Weir into his mic, as a few audience members slunk out the back. Fans need not shed too many tears, though. The band, rounded out by drummer Anthony Guarino and bassist Skip Banwell, plan to re-form and do something new, possibly with a local female singer. “Something different, not just your basic pop-punk,” said Banwell, who plans on switching from bass to guitar. The Iron-Ons appeared on a number of compilations and seven-inches and released the full-length Yeahwhatever on Vegas Records in 1999. (Alison M. Rosen)

>>> ELECTRIC BECK Beck will perform with his full band instead of doing a previously announced acoustic set at Sunday's This Ain't No Picnic fest at Irvine Lake. This makes KROQ's co-sponsorship of the daylong bill just a leetle more respectable, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that out of the 22 bands playing the event, Beck is the only one getting regular airplay on the “world-famous” radio station. Then again, hearing Yo La Tengo and Built to Spill shoved up against KROQ's current all-Limp-Bizkit-all-the-time playlist would be just too weird.(RK)

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