Tower Records Documentary Review Essays

“Everybody in a record store is a little bit your friend for 20 minutes or so,” says Bruce Springsteen in Colin Hanks’s breezy documentary “All Things Must Pass,” an examination of the ill-fated trajectory of the Tower Records empire. To anyone who has ever savored a chat with a record store clerk about nuggets in a pop artist’s catalog, the sentiment is familiar. This movie makes you appreciate anew the one-on-one social dimension lost in the music industry’s headlong switch to digital downloads.

Russ Solomon founded Tower as an extension of his father’s pharmacy in Sacramento. Riding the 1960s pop explosion, the store opened a branch in San Francisco. Later, its Sunset Boulevard outlet in Los Angeles cemented its popularity among pop stars: Mr. Springsteen, Elton John, Dave Grohl and David Geffen attest to its value to recording artists in general and to themselves personally.

Under Mr. Solomon, an avuncular, encouraging and epicurean leader, and his colorful assortment of longtime executives, the chain expanded: to New York, London, Asia, South America. It weathered the late-1970s music business recession and bloomed at the dawn of MTV. Mr. Solomon’s early embrace of the CD format prompted another peak. But the overextension of the chain and debts to creditors proved its undoing, in addition to the arrival of the Internet and the resurgence of the single over the album format The last Tower outlet in America closed in 2006.

Yet all is not lost: The movie doesn’t address the rise in vinyl’s popularity, so maybe there’s still hope for the local record store.

All Things Must Pass

  • DirectorColin Hanks

  • WriterSteven Leckart

  • StarRuss Solomon

  • RatingNot Rated

  • Running Time1h 34m

  • GenresDocumentary, History, Music

  • Movie data powered by
    Last updated: Nov 2, 2017
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Tower Records founder Russ Solomon is an avid art “accumulator.” Since founding the famous record store in 1960, Solomon has accumulated a massive collection of art by some of the Sacramento region’s most celebrated artists, including Gary Pruner, Jerry Silva, John Battenberg, Tony Natsoulas and John Varda.

Russ Solomon and Tony Natsoulas joins us to talk about a showing of Solomon's art collection at Blue Line Art Gallery in Roseville.

His collection, which is being billed as the “The Russ Solomon Collection” will be exhibited at The Blue Line Art Gallery in Roseville through Saturday April 4. Solomon and some of the featured artists will be at the gallery for a public reception Saturday, March 21 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. 

Gary Purner


John Battenberg


Jack Ogden

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