Rock Docs: All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records (2015) - Reviewed

I have been saying this for years, “There is no greater feeling than discovering a great record”.  That heart flutter you get when you are filing through bin after bin of records and finding that ONE record you have been trying to find is one of the few sweet pleasures a record collector can experience.

At this point, the debate of buying a physical product as opposed to just buying it digitally when it comes to music is starting to become a friendly debate as opposed to the heated one that is was just ten years ago. The world is changing. The wave we are drenched in now was looming over us over twenty years ago and it did not sneak in at all.

When Tower Records started in 1960, music and the act of acquiring music was much more simple.  You wanted music, you went to the record store.  Tower Records thrived on this ideology for decades, and became an icon in the process.

To sum up All Things Must Pass in one word would be ‘emotional’.  During my screening of this, I thought about how my dream job was always getting into a record store growing up.  I think any person wants to work somewhere that has a relation to their hobbies.  You are obviously interested in your work, you are excited, and you are emotionally invested.  This is what you get from all the employees interviewed in All Things Must Pass. You can tell how excited and emotionally invested the people of Tower Records were in their work and the company itself.

There’s a lot of choking up when the folks in this film talk about Tower Records bankruptcy that started in 2004 all the way through their eventual liquidation in late 2006.  This is just another classic example of a company growing way too fast.  What a sad ending to a great run of the iconic music retailer.

All Things Must Pass really gives you a look into how Russell Solomon ran Tower Records through its explosion in the '70s and '80s.  His very loose and laid back approach really made me think of the Googles of today, who have adopted the same type of approach.  Fun, and laid back, putting the employee and the customers at the center of the operation to generate ideas for the business as a whole. This is what made Tower Records what it was and still is today.


Scott W. Lambert