At one time, not especially long ago, the discovery of a well-stocked record store -- and let's continue to call them that, despite the waning of wax -- was cause for ecstatic celebration. Today, with the dizzyingly vast resources of megastores and the Internet, finding a CD is more a problem of superabundance than of scarcity: There's so much product, you need a guide -- or at least a MusicHound
volume -- to negotiate the store's mazelike terrain. Vintage Vinyl, as its anachronistic name attests, came of age when records were harder to come by, when a search engine was the car motor that carried you from store to store in pursuit of a Dylan bootleg, an out-of-print Django Reinhardt LP or a Clash import with two must-have songs cruelly deleted from the American release by the heartless corporate bastards. What Vintage offered then and now wasn't breadth but depth -- deep knowledge of the music it carries. Other stores give steeper discounts or stock more titles in greater numbers, and Vintage can frustrate you with plastic dividers that offer the tantalizing promise of a Magic Markered artist name but lack a single accompanying CD. Vintage, however, inevitably provides surprise: the obscure, the experimental, the outlandish, the provocative material that would baffle the clerks at Borders and Best Buy. And even if what you eventually purchase is available on Amazon, clicking in isolation at your keyboard can't compete with strolling the funky aisles of Vintage, or listening to the store's DJ provide revelatory samples of music you'd never otherwise encounter, or chatting at the checkout about the relevant influences on and relative merits of Ryan Adams' new album. Best of all, if you come up empty at Vintage's Delmar location, St. Louis' other consistently superior record store, Streetside, beckons only a few blocks east.