Tuesday, February 15, 2011
WAX FACTOR RECORDS - BRIGHTON
As I write this I am listening to that 'new' lost Bruce Springsteen album that got released late last year, 'The Promise' or something. It's alright y'know. No, it's not in any danger of re-writing musical history and I don't really see this as any gritier or 'raw' than the rest of 'The Boss' resume but it is totally listenable.
The issue I always had with Bruce is as prevalent here as it is on the rest of his albums. The piano is too loud, the harmonica is too loud, the fucking saxophone is too loud and the guitar is at the back of the mix being filtered through a pedal that might as well be labeled 'Hush now'.
It's not that 'The Boss' cannot rock, it's that somebody in his camp will not allow The Boss to rock. Not sure if it's that ginger bird that looks a bit like Bonnie Rait or the fat guy with the Sax, could even be that bandana wearing scamp Little Stevie. Whomever it is they cock-block the man every time he tries to 'tie one on' and the outcome is the same, wet paper bag of a song rather than the flaming death-cock of destruction that it could be.
I saw 'The Boss' once when he played in Holland back in 2004. Met a girlfriend there, beautiful start to a predictably doomed relationship. I was going through something of a zero-tollerance 'three counts' phase and I walked rather than try to salvage something perfectly good.
This review isn't about Bruce, it's not about Dutch girls either. This review is about the mighty 'Wax Factor' records of Brighton. This is the second time I have shopped here. The first time a few years back was a total and utter wash-out. Partly due to the fact that it was the last of about six shops visited that day and partly due to the fact that I was unaware of the owners party trick of filing a lot of the good shit alphabetically underneath the racks. (3 copies of Amon Duul's 'Wolf City' for example).
But what made this visit exceptional was the literally over-flowing 'Electronic/New Age' section. Rather than bore you with a list of the purge I have taken a picture of the 'Brighton collection' above. Holy shit. Much 'Mutant Sounds' fodder, lots of synth washes and bleeps, clattering and clumsy late 70's early 80's keyboard wave business. All very exciting. I'm still working my way through the pile, the highlights of which I will attempt to do justice here.
So, about the shop: Standard books and records layout. There might have been CDs as well, I don't remember for certain as I was 'in the zone' for the majority of the duration. I say 'majority' because the very charming lady behind the counter managed to metaphorically slap me around the face and wake me from my vinyl based wankery everytime I caught her eye and for that I thank her, it's good to be reminded that there are more exciting pursuits out there. I should also thank her for the copy of Cluster's 'Grosses Wasser' that she kindly pulled up from the basement.
'Wax Factory' is rammed. I can only imagine how good it might have been a decade ago. That said it still managed to surprise me in 2011, which given the typical shop owners reliance on such misleading tools as 'Popsike' or the seemingly default 'Discogs' is no mean feat. A goregeous OHR first press of Tangerine Dream's 'Electronic Medidation' for less than thirty quid. Hells yes.
So to conclude, if ever you find yourself in Brighton, pebble beached home of the pier that got burnt down during the filming of The Who's 'Tommy', scene of the IRA's attempt on our former premiere's life, go to 'Wax Factory' before I get chance to return and there might still be some awesome records worth giving a new home.
Back to my unintentional opening briefly. I saw some kind of special on Bruce 'The Spring' Springsteen's Superbowl performance from a couple of years back and oddly enough found myself utterly touched by it. There's one part where he's talking about how the show went and he recalls how at one point post 'knee slide' he just looks up at the sky beyond the crowd, beyond the lights and the cheers and for a moment he connects with something else, a celestial silence more profound than his surroundings. Then fast as it happened it is over and he's back there in front of millions playing that song where the xylophone is too loud and the guitar sounds like it's the evenings designated driver.