I'm not much of a record collector myself, but any film geek likely has an independent video store struggling in the same way these record stores are struggling, and the appeal is pretty much the same: smart owners and employees who are passionate about their wares, ready to drop a boatload of knowledge and experience on anyone who happens to walk through their doors. Although Jones provides some bits of information in his interview clips, Piper mainly allows the experiences and memories of the shop owners and musicians (including Johnny Marr, Richard Hawley, and Paul Weller) to drive the picture, encouraging that special friendly electricity when one discovers that hole-in-the-wall store that just speaks to them. If a good record shop is defined by a sense of community, Last Shop Standing does a great job of recreating it.
At the same time, Piper and Jones don't skimp on the history. The middle of the film focuses on the way the industry shot itself in the foot when it came to record shops. As described by the subjects, the music industry went from dropping off boxes of free records at shops with the equipment to contribute to chart numbers to trying to crush vinyl overnight. It may be common knowledge that the CD led to vinyl's demise, but it's fascinating to hear how much of that was the industry itself trying to kill its own technology in order to make way for the next big thing. In turn, the compact, mass-availability nature of CDs led to electronics stores and even supermarkets stocking CDs -- one shopkeeper says at one time they were running to the supermarket, buying the CDs, and reselling them at the same price, just to force customers into the shop -- which crippled the people most interested in selling music.
Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In particular, Piper and Jones are enthusiastic about Record Store Day, fueled by hundreds and hundreds of exclusive singles and EPs created by bands comprised of people who first learned about music in independent record shops. Admittedly, the situation is not all sunshine and roses. One 100-year-old record shop is shown going out of business in the middle of the documentary, and despite Piper's best efforts, there's no way to fairly paint the resurgence of music lovers in record stores as more than a promising development -- there's no telling how long it will last. Even so, that upbeat attitude is all part of the film's overall philosophy. This isn't a sob story about record stores, it's a warm and loving tribute.
The Video and Audio
The rest of the extras consist of extended interviews with the celebrities interviewed in the film (Johnny Marr - 25:31, Paul Weller - 4:38, Jo Good - 6:16, Richard Hawley - 12:12, and Billy Bragg - 7:26), plus a bonus all-new interview (Sid Griffin - 8:32). It's almost a shame, watching some of these performers fondly reminiscing about record stores, that the documentary wasn't expanded to 80 minutes to accommodate some of this material.
An original theatrical trailer is also included.