Wednesday, January 4, 2012
And I completely forgot the reason for the broken silence. There I was rattling around the kitchen of our new (old, very old) house treading carefully on the cheap slate flooring following a 3am run in with a fucking slug (scariest creature known to man) when Huey formerly of the Fun Loving Criminals, you know, the one who pretends to be from New York comes on the radio. Apparently it's vinyl day, which means our hosts can only play records.
News to me that they ever stopped, but then I am relatively new to the virtual format of radio. I say new to it, that's not strictly true. Cut to 1988 - 1992 and you would see me along with a million other teens clambering to record snippets of the John Peel and Tommy Vance shows (I know, I got it half right) in attempts to educate ourselves by way of jumbled together BASFs and AGFAs.
That stopped as soon a I got part time work enough to furnish my growing habit. Little did the unsuspecting patrons of the particularly poor restaurant that I waited/bussed tables at know that there tips were going on a black plastic addiction that would span decades.
Anyway, enough waffle. Huey is on the radio playing something predictably funky (The Dazz Band?) when he announces his guest, none other than the owner of the worlds largest record collection Paul Mawhinney:
Yep it's still shit and he's still trying to sell it. He explained that it was a true archive and that something like 77% of the records in the 'archive' did not exist on any format outside of said 'archive'. That there is good reason for this still seemed to escape the poor if not heroically dedicated man.
Anyway, the whole episode got me thinking about two things. Firstly, whereabouts in the UK Huey formerly of the Fun Loving Criminals might be from and secondly, it reminded me that I had a blog, one that I had neglected of late.
I'm not sure if it was before or after the Huey thing (my New Years Day was spent in the sole company of my sick son so it's a bit of a blur) but Liz Kershaw (She's the chirpy Northerner) also came on and was killing time by talking to somebody about why Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak was the greatest record ever. Okay, they had my attention. That's the kind of idiotic sweeping statement that I live by and one that I might even have made myself back when I was in the habit of playing Jailbreak on repeat both backwards and forwards.
Anyway, it all fell apart when said claimant turned out to be an early 20s student whom referred to the format's plural as 'Vinyls' and then began to wax lyrical about the late Gary (fucking) Moore.
It was around tea time that the whole Vinyl(s) Day really came into it's own. Somebody, possibly Stuart Maconie (No relation to the Police Academy character) played Don Bradshaw Leather's 'The Distance Between Us'.
I had never heard of Don Bradshaw Leather but needless to say the record from 1972 is the kind of thing I'd love to be able to put my name to. It's on the NWW list and Donald may or may not have been a member of Barclay James Harvest. Barclay James Harvest says no, but who can really tell?
I'd like to describe it but it seems about a gazzilion websites have got there before me and done a much better job than I ever could.
WMFU's Beware of the Blog had this to say:
The four lengthy tracks here are dense, swirling, and hellish tapestries of blurred instrumentation, squawking voices buried in the mix
Which is pretty bang on. What they don't say is that it's fucking awesome and well worth the $300-$400 US dollars it's eventually going to set me back. How could I not have already obsessed over this record? How am I going to live without it? How long is it before I strip naked and paint myself black and take to gurning with my hands wide open line awkward pink stars?
Anyway, all of this would have been forever forgotten if it wasn't for the over-keen electric guitar busker at Oxford Street Underground station last night. Whilst I didn't see him I was close enough to make out some of Gary Moore's elongated electric blues Les Paul wankery, as he widdled and diddled I caught the voice of a German tourist shouting enthusiastically at him. The only words I made out 'Das Ist Nicht...' (That is not).
I would like to think the end of the sentence that was lost to me courtesy of escalators and heavy seasonal tourist foot traffic was '(Michael) Schenkner'.
'Das ist nicht Schenker!'
In my head there is even a scuffle, the latent MSG/early period Scorpions fan coming off worse for wear at the hands of our fine transport systems very own Police force.
Anyway, BBC Radio 6's New Years Day Vinyl Day Day. Smashing.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Record shop wise, the last thing I remember is leaving Edinburgh's Avalanche records after bidding farewell to the owner. We chatted, he was less than hopeful about the future and the volume of stock Vs available space told a similar story. Plastic carrier in hand I nodded cordially at the attractive girl behind the counter and stepped out into a wet Scottish Summers day spying my wife and pram bound Son sat on a bench across the road.
Fast forward to January 1st 2012 and what's changed?
A huge chunk of last year was spent rediscovering the delights of late 80's to mid 90's (specifically 1993) Indie music, started as a US only obsession but soon blossomed to include acts as diverse as Felt and Chapterhouse. Sounds awful doesn't it? Well it's kept me pretty chuffed and I've spent approximately 100th of what I was caning on records this time last year.
The rest of my time was taken up by a shed load of personal and geographical change. It would also appear that I have walked away from a habit that has defined me for the past two or three decades.
I have quit record shopping.
Yes I still buy music, CDs mostly but that overwhelming urge to spend days on end trawling dead and dying record stores is gone. Just before Christmas I passed by Rat Records (It appears to be my de facto local and I wondered what was on offer). I don't doubt that five years back it would have been well worth a bi-weekly visit but now? Sure there were a few choice pieces on the counter but 99% of the shop was dry.
Am I saying that the game is up? That it's all about the internet? No. You just have to look further a field. Get creative. Go to the source like these guys...
(Great, no exceptional site by the way Elion. If you don't do this full time you should)
But that's only going to work if you get off on Geographically specific music, and even then you can bet somebody got there well and truly before you. Just discovered the 70s Lagos scene or Trinidadian Funk? Guess what, so did somebody else, somebody with the air-miles and fiscal means to take home small chunks of the country in question. Anyway, I'm rambling, it's not even about that. Rat Records had a copy of Ornette Coleman's 'Of Human Feelings', the one with 'Times Square' on it for four quid. I could have turned it the same day but the thought of it flapping against my leg on the walk home was too much for me. I'm just done with it.
I mean, will I still stop by the occasional record shop on my travels? Yes. Will I obsess to the extent I used to? I hope not. I get my pleasures in a far more simple way now, my album of the year is freely available to buy for less than a fiver and the thing that's making me happiest at the moment is Shack's 'HMS Fable'. Besides, I may have developed a soft furnishings habit.
So what for the blog? Who knows, I'm still trying to work that out.