All Things Must Pass
'All Things Must Pass' is a documentary that explores the rise and fall of Tower Records, and its legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.'All Things Must Pass' is a documentary that explores the rise and fall of Tower Records, and its legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.'All Things Must Pass' is a documentary that explores the rise and fall of Tower Records, and its legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.
Colin Hanks documentary examines the growth of this record chain from its early years from founder's Russ Solomon's dad's drug store where he had a section which sold records.
Russ took over the business in the 1960s, starting in the west coast and moving to the east coast and then internationally to Japan.
As is the case, these heady years of the counterculture was a supposedly drug and drink fuelled hazy party for the staff (it always seem to be the case with maverick start ups.) Live hard and party hard was the motto. The staff I saw in the 1990s seemed to be mainly bored teenagers on minimum wage.
At the turn of the millennium Tower Records was valued at $1 billion. Their seemed to be no end to its success and they were determined to sell albums, preferably CDs.
The impact of online shopping was a body blow. The Apple Store allowed you to buy singles you wanted for 99 cents. Tower Records wanted you to buy the whole album for an ever increasing price and their online servers was on AOL.
Even worse the young IT savvy consumer could now get music for free from Napster and other torrent sites. Combined with the company's debt laden expansion, choppy waters awaited them.
The documentary interviews key staff from the early days as well as the man himself Russ Soloman who comes across as a charismatic maverick. We also get to hear from musicians such as Dave Grohl, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen about their joy in visiting the Tower Record stores, browsing, talking to aficionados. Elton admits he spent a fortune in their shops.
The documentary was a bit messy, in fact a little overlong. We see a former executive being fired by a new management team and how Russ took him out for a meal after a Christmas party which bought him to tears. I wanted to know why he was fired, why he could not get another job, what happened after he went for a meal with Russ and then the same executive turns up later on when the attention shifts to the company's declining fortunes.
In fact seeing some of the staff being interviewed I was impressed how they managed to become so big, it seemed to be more by serendipity than design.
- Jun 22, 2017