Iris Records – 109 Brunswick St., Jersey City, New Jersey 07302 – Open
Mark Twain reputedly said “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”, a quote particularly apt for Jersey City’s Iris Records. Reports have repeatedly circulated of its imminent demise, only to have the store continue to offer the discerning record shopper another dig through its plentiful wares. As that unnamed old guy says in Monty Python’s Holy Grail “I’m not dead (yet)”.
The store was first founded in 1996, when ‘a dude named Nestor’ bought a Bob James album for $4. Previously it resided in a somewhat larger space across the street in the home of a former pharmacy. But the store’s present location at 109 Brunswick Street is still worthy of a dig. It offers reasonably priced records of all genres, and some surprising offerings, including French Canadian garage, and French ye ye singles. Iris Records also appears outdoors at the JC Record Riots, if you seek some fresh air digging.
Wanna go? You can find Iris Records on our Record Stores Map.
Here’s a 2019 piece from the Brooklyn Vegan reporting on the store’s then impending demise, Jersey City’s Iris Records Closing in February which was thankfully averted by the move across the street. And here’s another, from 2010, also reporting – you guessed it – on the store’s pending closure, this time from the Jersey City Independent Iris Records Closing Up Shop
And here’s a video of Iris Records at its former location – still in Jersey City but on the other side of Brunswick street, at 114. The video interviews store owner Stephen Girtzan about the store and its history.
Bought a number of records there – I said they were reasonably priced didn’t I – including a copy of Country Joe and the Fish’s Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die album, complete with Fish game (pictured above). The album features their most well known song, the Feel Like I’m Fixin To Die rag. One of the best Vietnam era protest songs. “And it’s one, two, three, What are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn Next stop is Vietnam; And it’s five, six, seven Open up the pearly gates Well there ain’t no time to wonder why Whoopee! we’re all gonna die” When performed at Woodstock, it was preceded by the uncensored “fish cheer” – gimmie an “f”, Gimmie a “u” . Well you get the idea.
I’ve looked in countless albums to see if they contain the elusive Fish game (I know, get a life) and finally found one at Iris Records. So how do you play? Ha. The best rule is as you move around the board, you can land on squares that let you collect joints. You’ll need them later to play at the Avalon or Fillmore. Or you could lose them if you land on the square that says ‘busted’. More rules can be found online. Or, as the game says, “you can make up your own. You may have to.”