Volume 5: Backbeats

“Please turn off your cell phone” is the first thing you see when walking into Backbeats, a fantastic record store inexplicably placed in downtown Rantoul. The cell phone embargo sets the tone for the shopping experience you’re about to have, and it certainly put a smile on my face. Backbeats, I think, wins the prize for the most comfortable shopping experience. All of the good records are boxed and on tables, meaning less achy knees. Maybe one of the best parts about the store is that no pricing gun is used. That’s right — owner Don Boskey (father of well-known CU alum DJ Bozak) uses Post-It notes to price albums, which is so great that I couldn’t even believe it. No more carefully trying to peel off a price sticker only to have it rip a chunk from the cover at the last possible second? Sold. All of the non-dollar-bin records are also sleeved, which is another nice change from most record stores. Oh, and he actually prices things fairly.
If all of this sounds great, then take note of these hours and make some plans. The store is open on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On top of records, there is a large selection of books, and some CDs and DVDs (and VHS!), but the vinyl is the gem. There is some really fantastic stuff just sitting there waiting to be found. And if what you’re looking for isn’t out, if you’re nice about it, Don will probably head to the basement to look through the rest of his stock (which includes a ton of 12” stuff that will soon have its own section). I picked up the nicest copy of the Stones’ Exile On Main St. that I’d ever seen, along with a Peter Gabriel “Shock the Monkey” 12”, a nice copy of Tupelo Honey, a copy of Stop Making Sense to replace mine that had gone missing, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass box set and, best for last, a copy of Gator Alley’s It Takes Time. I wanted to buy so much more, but I stopped with those and four or five others. But I’ll be back.
Backbeats is located at 122 E. Sangamon in Rantoul. The easiest way to get there is to hop on Route 45 and head North. Route 45 is Cunningham Avenue in Urbana, which some of you might not be familiar with since it’s not on the way to or from Chicago, but I assure you it’s there — just one more exit east past Lincoln Avenue on I-74. Or you can always let autopilot take over and go I-57 to the Rantoul exit. Take cash, as there is no credit card machine at Backbeats.

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