Monday, January 11, 2010


Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: Record shop?

So in alcoholic terms, it has been four days since my last purchase.

Yes the weekend saw the briefest of browsings but nothing more. How do I feel? I just hope my local is still open by the time I am done at work. If the weather hadn't been such a headline hogging whore (Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow!) I might have made it to one of several new and un-sacked (at least by me) record shops. Unfortunately, as it is I had to make do with the kind of scraps you might feed a dog: A novelty LP bin on the corner of a TV memorabilia stall at Spitalfields market, a dog-eared pile of 80's fayre outside an antiquest stall in the East end. Nothing that was ever going to be even remotely fruitful. Still, it kept my fingers busy, the craving at bay however temporarily.

Pub based conversation with like-minded friends over the snow sodden weekend brought more questions than it did answers, why do we do buy records? Why can't we stop? This is something that I will explore further over the next couple of months, not just by questioning my own motives but also those of others. Why and for what end? Well I do wonder whether it has been done before. Yes there have been books (most of them below average) that discuss record collecting with many of the worlds most foremost chiselers and crate diggers but have they ever been candid or remotely honest? And back to my opening gambit, has anybody ever tried to 'quit' record shopping? Why does it touch some people so deeply whilst at the same time presenting itself as utterly unfathomable and dull to the majority? So many questions, all of them as ultimately futile as the way I intend on spending my early evening.

Anyway. Another anyway. The United States of America. It was 1995 and my cousin made me a compilation tape, an awesome compilation tape, it was called 'The Helicopter Spies' why? Because that's an awesome name for a tape, that's why. I have limited myself to three 'awesomes' for this review in an attempt to expand my vocabulary so I shall save my last one and use it wisely. Much of the content of that tape has shaped my listening habbits to this day and one of the songs on it was the album's opener 'The American Metaphysical Circus'.

This record has recieved it's share of props over the last ten or fifteen years and has been in and out of the likes of Mojo magazine with people clambering to lick it or touch it with their mouths so I won't go too deeply into how amazing it sounds or try and pretend that I somehow discovered the group playing on Haight five years before I was born. Instead I will keep it short and simple - The United States of America is Fifty Foot Hose Vs Jefferson Airplane and if that doesn't appeal then don't worry it's only four more days until the BBC Radio 1 Friday Night Mash Up.

It's unfortunate that the group split up after one album, (although the main guy Joe Byrd went on to record an album named after the above track under the name Joe Byrd and The Field Hippies.) Not just because it would have been great to hear more from them but because maybe then when you mentioned the band in conversation to certain people the below wouldn't happen:

'Have you heard the United States of America album?'

'Oh yeah... 'She's Lump! She's Lump! She's Lump! She's in my head!' that one? What happend to them?'


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