|Diary Of A Vinyl Junkie - Record Store Day - 16th April 2011.|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Tuesday, 26 April 2011 05:00|
I can't remember exactly when I had my first taste of vinyl, but I'm pretty sure it all started around the Christmas of 1978. That date is the one most vivid in my memory largely because we'd just taken delivery of a brand new Ferguson record player from Santa via our local Co-operative store and my mother insisted on playing Boney M's version of 'Mary's Boy Child' for a full month non stop.
Me, I seem to recall getting Ian Dury's 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick on 7" plus 'Outlandos D'Amour' by The Police and Queen's 'Jazz' on LP that Christmas, which was not a bad opening trio, or so you might think. But if you'd seen the shite I'd been collecting on cassette up to that point I think you'll forgive me for exercising some artistic licence and using this is as a more reflective starting point for this journey into my obsession with vinyl.
I've also chosen these releases because at least two of them have an anecdote attached to them that you can hardly get in today's download generation. First up my prized Queen LP that accompanied me to a good friends twelfth birthday party, where upon someone maybe a little more developed than yours truly stole the pink poster from my copy of 'Jazz'. And whilst this racy number was never to be seen again, I'm sure a healthy right arm was developed by said (or should that read sad) individual who must have ending up sticking it to their bedroom wall without the aid of any adhesives. Then we have 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick on 7". I spent the best part of a month taking back copies of said single to my local Woolworth's complaining they jumped, only to be told in no such terms to politely "Fuck Off" after about my tenth copy. It was only after I'd filed it away as a lost cause behind my parents rapidly expanding Carpenters and Mario Lanza LP collection that one of my best mates politely pointed out that the stylus on our record player was set to 79 rpm and not 45 rpm...
One simple flick of that stylus and my life changed forever. LP after 7" after 12" began cascading into my life from bands such as Blondie, Kiss, Rainbow, Sham 69 and of course Iron Maiden, with every available penny spent on my newfound hobby. It wasn't very long before pretty much every Saturday morning would see me along with my like-minded obsessives boarding our local Red & White buses to destinations like Newport, Cardiff and Cwmbran to satisfy our lust for the latest albums that magazines like Sounds made us what to go out and buy. Our regular haunts of Buffalo, Soundwaves, RPM, and Roxcene would ultimately all fall by the wayside over the years, as musical tastes changed and people in general started to buy less music. The possible reasons behind this decline are outlined far more concisely by Graham Jones in his superb book 'Last Shop Standing'. This is a book that I would strongly recommend if like me you like a good expose, as from within its pages you will come to understand that home taping wasn't killing music back in the day, it was the greed and arrogance of the industry itself. But that's a story for another day, and one Graham tells far better than I.
Fast-forward thirty three years and I'm up and awake on the morning of Saturday 16th April 2011 just like I was that Christmas morning back in 1978. Why? Well because it's Record Store Day in the UK and I'm eleven years of age again, or at least in my head I am.
Now in it's fourth year and with over 180 shops participating in the UK, Record Store Day is (as far as I see it anyway) sort of like the industry's way of saying sorry to the Independents still left after that boom and bust of the early nineties, the shops remaining that they didn't quite shaft into oblivion or leave at the bottom of the pile after the High St chains and (these days) supermarkets were catered for.
This day however is also our day as collectors of vinyl, as Record Companies cash in our obsession by releasing relatively low volume pressings of highly sought after product and I'll be damned it if we Vinyl Junkies are going to miss out on stuff like this.
By 09:30 I'm in my local shop, Diverse Music and the place is already buzzing with activity. The usual diehards are milling around talking about Van Der Graaf Generator 7"ers whilst some Indie kids ponder the exclusive Foo Fighters cover versions LP on sale, and I have to admit it sounds pretty damn good as it blasts out of the shops stereo system. Through this chatter and bustle perhaps the singularly most fascinating thing about Record Store Day becomes apparent in all its glory, and that is the camaraderie that these shops generate. I dare you to go to one of these shops and not make a new friend it is nigh on impossible. Unless perhaps if Gaddaffi is the surname on your credit card.
With this years exclusives taking in releases from Lady Ga Ga and Michael Jackson what was also quickly apparent was the variety of people attending outside your normal hardcore collectors. Fathers could be seen proudly asking their children if they wanted the latest Gorillaz LP practically glowing at the fact that their offspring also had the vinyl bug. Something very special to observe I can tell you.
For me Diverse is a special place that I don't get to as often as I should these days. Its special because it is one of only three shops still around from my original list of haunts from back in the 80's/90's, and I couldn't write this piece without a special mention also to Spillers in Cardiff, where I purchased my second copy of 'Too Fast For Love' on Leathur Records, and Rockaway Records (now Kriminal Records) also in Newport where import albums by Y&T and The Rods made me want to perm my hair. These shops still retain a special place in this Vinyl Junkie's heart even if I wasn't visiting them today.
You might expect me to now go on and say that Record Store Day isn't really just about buying music, but I'm actually not afraid to admit that it bloody well is. Never mind how much you would like to dress this day up with in store promos and buffets and cups of tea etc (Diverse was playing host to two live sets later in the day from Paper Aeroplanes and Redlands Palomino Company) ultimately this is all about putting cash in the tills of shops that have kept the faith long after they probably should have disappeared along with the likes of Virgin, Our Price and MVC. So, c'mon lets get shopping.
My plan to get to Diverse early certainly worked a treat this year (I'd missed out on some cracking exclusives in previous years) with only three releases I really wanted from my list not being in stock (for those of you who might want to know these were The Answer's 'Rock N Roll Outlaw' 7", Nirvana's Hormoaning' LP and Ozzy Osbourne's 'Flying High Again' 7") I quickly managed to part with £70 in a little under 15 minutes worth of browsing. Ouch.
My list of purchases made at this year's event were as follows:
Record Store Day Exclusives
Deep Purple - 'Hush' 7"
Bad Brains - 'Pay To Cum' 7"
Queen - 'Stormtroopers in Stilettos' 7"
Suede - 'Drowners' 7"
Film Soundtrack - 'Dr Who And The Daleks' 7"
The Clash - 'The Magnificent Seven' 7"
AC/DC - 'Shoot To Thrill' 7"
Fucked Up - 'David's Town' LP
Non Record Store Day purchases (just for the hell of it)
Jettblack - 'Get Your Hands Dirty' 7" (Signed)
Ian Dury - 'Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll' 7"
Queen - 'Jazz' LP
And so exactly as this article began, the cycle starts once more as my stylus drops on a 7" by Ian Dury and Queen's 'Jazz' LP.
Here's to another 33 years of being addicted to vinyl (hopefully I can hold on to the poster from my copy of 'Jazz' a little longer this time eh), and here's to Record Store Day UK.... long may they both continue.