Robert LaSalle, founder of the 10,000-member Facebook group Compact Disc Collectors Cave, is 360°Sound’s latest CD Junkie. A native of New York’s North Country, LaSalle has been collecting CDs since 1984. The 59-year-old now has more than 6,000 CDs in his collection.
360°: What do you love about the CD format?
Robert LaSalle: I fell in love with that shiny little disc because of the superior, robust sound quality and its size. I enjoy the sound of a well-engineered CD. I still have the first CD, .38 Special, that I purchased so many years ago with no hiss or pops or sound loss. I love the portability as well.
I thought it would be a great idea since my wife, Nancy, and I are huge music fans with diverse tastes to do a music history library on the media I enjoy the best – the Compact Disc. I am doing it with just some of the most influential artists. I am trying to do at least 10 of the best-selling/most influential CDs.
I have everything from Bach, AC/DC, Miles Davis, Hank Williams, Sex Pistols, Third Day, The Beatles, Billie Holiday, Donna Summer, Jay-Z, Lita Ford, Bing Crosby. I work off a few lists like Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums and RIAA’s top-selling of all time. I also started a list of top albums with all The Cave members that I keep in the notes section. This helps me to add something that I may have not heard of before.
What are some of your favorite retailers that you buy CDs from regularly?
My favorite shops were independent shops, as well as FYE, which are all gone from the area I live now. Go figure that music companies want to sell more music, but close all major music chain stores. I understand the independent shops not being able to survive the pay-but-own-nothing streaming and downloads. The closest I have now is in Burlington, Vermont. I buy a lot from Amazon. However, when available, I try to purchase from the artists or a CD label directly. Some of what I need are out of print, so I try to hit second-hand shops to check my list. I really would rather go on a hunt to search for a lost CD I need; it makes the hobby fun. I really enjoy buying at live shows in hopes of getting it signed.
Tell us about your decision to start the Compact Disc Collectors Cave FB group and what your goals are for it.
I started Compact Disc Collectors Cave as a place for CD collectors and music lovers alike to chat about their collections with other collectors and lovers of the format. I also started The Cave as a place to help save the CD. The group has opened my eyes and other members to some CDs we had never heard of before, which leads to a CD sale. It’s a place where you can share CDs from all music genres without bias or bullying or apologizing for what you like. I have hopes that the group will help to increase the sale of CDs and prove that so many still have an interest in owning the physical copy of the music they buy. I do a review of the CDs I buy and own as well as a post every Friday showcasing new releases. I will post some sites that sell new CDs so members can purchase from there as well. I also promote checking out your favorite artists’ websites for new releases.
Are there some labels that come to mind that are currently doing great CD releases?
Yes, there are a few. Better Noise Music has been issuing and reissuing some great CDs with great packaging – for example, Five Finger Death Punch and Mötley Crüe. Rhino has been doing a lot of remasters. Rock Candy Records are doing a lot of reissues and rare CDs, adding bonus tracks to help sell a CD that one might already own. Also, The Cave member rubellanremasters.com, as well as eOne have been putting out some good CDs.
I think, beyond the CD, the packaging should at least include liner notes. I do enjoy a poster that is not included as the liner notes. I bought a Joan Jett CD exclusive that included guitar picks. With AC/DC’s latest Power Up box set, you press the button on the side of the box, and it lights up and flashes and plays the opening bars of “Shot In The Dark” from a built-in speaker. Autographed CDs from the artists’ websites are also a great addition.
Is sound quality something you consider when buying particular CD releases?
Yes, sound is a big issue for me, and I love the sound of all CDs. For me, if a CD is engineered by a well-trained engineer, the CD will sound great. Of course, like any recording, it really depends on the engineer. There are some cheap recordings I stay away from, like the Forever Gold series. They do not sound good, and I have had them get stuck in CD players. Target CDs [pressings manufactured in West Germany and Japan and released by Warner-Elektra-Atlantic in the 1980s] are of high interest to most collectors and myself. I only have about 25 targets but whenever I can buy one, I usually do. It’s fun going to second-hand shops with my printed target list and looking for these gems.
Lastly, what do you think of the future of the CD?
I am a little concerned about the compact disc. That is one reason I started the group. I am not sure why, but it seems to me that the music industry is slowing down the sales, and box stores are not carrying CDs. Speak to most Cave members and see how frustrated we all get when we go to buy a CD, even a new release, and it can not be found in a store. I also just found out the band Triumph is putting out a box set on vinyl only. How can CD collectors buy a new release on a format I do not collect or buy?
I do not think the CD will totally disappear; I think there will probably be dedicated places to purchase them. Reports have shown a decrease in streaming and the sales of vinyl and CDs going up, so let us hope that remains the trend. I hope the trend to own a physical copy of something will continue and grow. Again, a lot of this depends on the record labels. However, most do not want to pay $30 for a 10-track CD. We know the sound is great, the collectability is there, just look at the members in the group who love this format. Look at the high prices a collectible CD will sell for on Discogs or eBay.