Friday, October 3, 2014


Those eagle-eyed or local enough to know that this picture is from well over a year ago will say 'This shop closed well over a year ago' and you would be right. I did. I used to work in this record shop. It was in Camden. Here it is empty and prior to redevelopment into a discounted linen outlet or similar... Wait, no it's in Camden. It'll be a shop selling Spanish tourist tat by now: rat-tail combs, flip flops, woven hooded tops and Rusted Root t-shirts, that kind of thing. If you squint, you can almost see the ghosts of some of the moodiest record shop staff in London. Fuck a shut down record shop.


In which Neil Young has seemingly discovered a time machine, gone back into the past, recorded an album, come back to the future and released it.

A few people have been keen to point out the irony, nee spasticity of releasing this album at the same time as launching your all guns blazing marketing push for an unfriendly Toblerone shaped uberMP3 or digital media player. A few people are right. It is as ridiculous as Chumbawamba recording a rousing version of Skrewdriver's 'White Rider'. But whatever, just because he is Canadian doesn't mean Neil Young has to be dull and predictable.

Rather than going into a studio or even recording with a stereo microphone our Neil has hooked himself up to one of those old fairground 'Record a record' thingamajigs. The gimmicky instant recording studios that apparently used to be part of the American fun-time landscape. Think Coney Island in black and white, before the war.

'A Letter Home' is an okay album, a perfectly listenable (if not intentionally lo-fi) collection of very obvious cover versions. Completely unessential, but when you have a devoted fan base the size of Neil Young's you are going to clear ten thousand in fan club completist sales alone.

I can't really rate it because I think it's too silly.


Sheffield, sex city. Home of the Pyjama Jump, Frog and Parrot, Def  Leppard, the ‘hole in the road’ round-a-bout, Steel City. This started as an attempt to record the former premises of some of Sheffield’s twenty plus former record shops with camera setting on non-specific smart phone but about three in I became so over-whelmed with melancholy that I just started to roam the Threads like land-scape without purpose.

This wasn’t just the fault of the crumbling neo-Brutalist facades or failed Ski Village, It wasn’t because the former premises of Kenny’s records have been taken over by a Halal butchers. The road to bewilderment in the heart of Yorkshire started with a meet up with an old school friend, a breakfast the size of Gordon Brown’s face and the news that someone I went to school with had died of a heart attack. It was a breakfast meet rather than a ‘ladies who lunch’ situation due to the fact that my friend was also signing on, a fellow dweller in that strange inbetweener land of sans job.

Anyway, the bitter-sweet collection of shots of former records shops got cut short, didn’t happen, not to say this was a wasted trip. Yes it started off shit. I popped into a record shop between the station and Coles Corner (Yes.) and it was awful.

The kind of otherworldly pricing structure that temporarily made me thing I was in-fact sitting on a goldmine the size of which could buy me a small island… Made of gold, or really good quality bacon.

Bacon Island is of course an imaginary place, a place so fanciful that it can’t even be part of the most outlandish of non existent other worlds. So that place done and dusted I moved on to my breakfast of unemployed champions and then poked my head round the door in Rare and Racy in an entirely obligatory manner.

I didn’t expect for a second to leave with anything more than the smell of outlandishly high-brow used books in my nostrils. As it happens I left with a British press of a Marion Brown album I’ve been chasing for a while, a UK press of a Fela Kuti album I don’’t have (Yellow Fever) and the posthumously released Coil NIN remix album. Chuffed as fuck I was.

Next came the real purpose of my jaunt up north, an annual pilgrimage to chez Record Collector (See past notes for a full rundown of my love and occasional ambivalence of this particular retailer). I was all ready to sing the praises of this long standing stalwart of the record game, thinking they’d had more than enough time to restock, get the good shit in, cram the racks but no. Sorry but from the perspective of a used record whore none of the glowing reviews can save this place. Sure, if you want a bit of the old ‘Record Store Day’ or some new records it’s one of the go to places in Sheffield but as far as a destination for my chiselling habits goes, this place is OPD as of August 19th.

The front 2/3rds of the shop are NEW vinyl (with the exception of static Folk and Indie sections. Whose stock hasn’t changed since the birth of my first child.) The back of the shop is now where the ‘good stuff’ is kept. I say good stuff but in reality the place has been strafed and Discogged in equal measures. (By Discogged I mean the owner has seen fit to pull anything even approaching half decent to punt it on the internet). So, fuck this place.

A walk down the hill and through the botanical gardens led me to the site of another former record shop Forever Changes. I had wrongly assumed that due to it’s documentation on Google that it was still up and running. It is not. From there I bowled back into town to another outfit that relies souly on Record Store Day to give people a reason to shop and another place that decided it would be closed. Cheers.

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t get chance to shop the final store it was still worth the visit. I have no idea what Vinyl Demand had in store for me but the mere fact that it has set up shop on the ground floor of the formerly awesome and prestigious Grosvenor Hotel is enough for me to high-five my own face. Along with the Hallam the Grosvenor was the height of 60s fucking awesomeness a hotel for god knows what. I Imagine human sacrifice, slippery fisting, class Alpha drugs and crooked deals between bent cops and county council top bods. Anyway, the Grosvenor is marked for demolition and part of it’s fair corpse is now inhabited by a closed record shop.

So, disappointed like fuck I head to Chesterfield and discover two things: Between Tall Bird Records and the Thursday market the selection here was about as good as anything Sheffield had to offer.