Record Store Day… some thoughts and feelings 

So this Saturday is the tenth annual Record Store Day, and obviously in the record buying world this brings out a combination of both excitement and disappointment… and I’m sure there will be plenty of articles like my mine discussing the pros and cons of the day, but I’m still going to offer my view point as a music lover and a record buyer.
For myself there is always a sense of anticipation for the announcement of the exclusive Record Store Day releases, I like to browse the list for maybe the one or two things I know I want amongst the other 400+ average titles, however I have found myself becoming increasingly less satisfied by the event and questioning why I actually bother with it.

Two years ago I queued for up to three hours outside a record shop in the freezing cold to attempt to get a copy of ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ by The White Stripes only to be beaten by the teenager stood in front of me… in retrospect I’m glad this happened as I believe I probably would have sold the record on to buy the conventional release by now, however it made me realise the absolute ringer music fans are being put through on this “special day”. We queue for hours to buy what we perceive as special editions of records that we’ve convinced ourselves we need as they are “limited”,’whilst record companies lap up the rewards and record shops have to deal with a massive queue of frustrated record buyers, not the original message of the day is it. 

The day in question for me was particularly frustrating as the store had a two in at a time policy, which meant people were left outside for ages whilst people in store talked to the shop owner and what not… I now realise however despite the annoying two in policy that this is how Record shopping is meant to be… you go to record shop and you want to have a solid browsing period, just looking at the covers and being intrigued by what you might find – and the chat with staff, well that’s meant to happen, that’s how recommendations are made and frequent custom and trust is gained. With that in mind no-one really should have to wait outside their store to have that experience.

As for the specialist releases, I often look at these lists and think does this really need to come out on this particular day, however I do also look at the lists and may come across something interesting I’ve never heard of, so it’s a double edged sword really. With over 500 releases this year, and likely many not going to sell vast copies, something needs to give… I won’t go into how it holds up the pressing plants etc, we all know that story, however I will out my idea forward of cut it back to 100 solid top rate releases, and as for the other 400 perhaps make these available in the weeks coming up to Record Store Day so we can encourage more people to hit the stores more regularly instead of once a year to get the limited edition Bastille 12″. 

I think that days like Record Store Day and Free Comic Book day can sell fans short… if you are a collector there is no worst feeling than standing outside a shop nervous as hell thinking will you get what you want, and whilst the concept of that may sound ridiculous, however when you are in that moment it’s all that matters. Credit to Free Comic Book Day however for not making their fans pay hard cash for things they love. This feeling of not knowing is crappy, you go to the shop expecting to pick up what you want, no fan should be left feeling disappointed; I do feel that the disappointment has only come though from the the fact that exclusive titles are released and they become the focus of the day… these days should be about the fact that such stores exist and run by passionate like minded people who want for us to be able to get the goods we so desire.

It will remain a controversial day, I am always in two minds about it, I love the idea of new records coming out to buy, but I see the whole thing as mass hysteria that kind of takes the fun out of record shopping and makes it stressful. 

This Saturday, go to your record shop, but don’t just go for the releases, go see what else is on offer, pick up something based on its cover alone, get a recommendation… take in the full proper Record Store Day experience this weekend.

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The 45″ Record Crate #6: Spell

It’s been a while since I wrote about what had recently gone into the crate, so I thought I’d spend the next few posts catching up. I’ll start with ‘Tangled Web’ by Spell… this was brought for me by my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day this year and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s another gem of a record released on the TOR Records label… you guys need to check out what they are doing because it’s great.
The story behind this one is that the band only ever had one recording session and put together a four track acetate which never saw the light of day… that was until TOR got their hands on it and put out three of the tracks on this single.

I’m sure there is a wealth of lost psych music from the late sixities out and about waiting to be discovered, however Spell are a true lost discovery, and the strength of this release only teases us of how great the band could have been if they had gotten their big break.

The title track of the release ‘Tangled Web’ has a nice early jangle pop sound with all the lo-fi qualities of garage music of the time, whilst the two tracks on side two features two blasts of genuine psych chart pop that never was was… track two also comes with genuine acetate skip.

Perhaps over time TOR might come across more gems like this that can be added to my collection… hell maybe I’ll even find a rare one myself one day if I keep looking (unlikely)

The 45″ Record Crate #5: Eleven Go Straight Into The Box…

So I think I just have 45s fever as I now find myself crouched down on the floors of charity shops hunting down rare gems, or looking online for great new reissues of lost classic tracks on 7″. It’s a been a few weeks since I added anything into the crate, so I thought I’d drop in this batch of records that weren’t so much finds more choices that I wanted to include in the crate… there isn’t anything too unusual here but just great songs you want to fill a record box with…


Lynsey De Paul – Won’t Somebody Dance With Me (https://youtu.be/bBaoZrNPLSI)

Pure cheesy 70s pop… when I discovered this is going to be part of Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Wicked Die Young compilation out in April, I couldn’t resist dropping this in the grate.

Blur – Fool’s Day (https://youtu.be/FArouKj8vGU) / Blur – Under The Westway (https://youtu.be/c1Uw1uD6lXs)

Two stand alone singles released by Blur which signified their comeback. I’ve had Under The Westway since its release, it was the Record Store Day release Fool’s Day which I always needed… I finally managed to grab a copy of eBay, thus granting these two great Blur tracks a home in the crate.

The Ebonys – It’s Forever (https://youtu.be/BW1RINUeNOQ)

I heard this lost 70s soul classic on the TV show Atlanta and instantly fell in love with it; sadly this is a shorter version than the original album track but still retains its beauty.

Sly And Robbie – Boops/Don’t Stop The Music (https://youtu.be/71exuE7Nnfg)

This one is a double header really; I heard both of these songs being played in The Diskery and loved both of them… I needed this single right then and there, so it was an instant purchase. Classic 80s dancehall funk.

Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl (https://youtu.be/w_HA5Czhtx4)

I saw this in a 50p box in Vintage Trax in Redditch and couldn’t resist picking it up. This is my favourite Tori Amos song, and as I am yet to grab Under The Pink on vinyl, this will make up for it nicely.

Youngers Special – Meet Up Here (https://youtu.be/Xt2pXaHahV8)

I love this track… it was kindly given to me by Liam at The Diskery… it’s basically a 45″ flexidisc beer commercial; however the track is a full on brilliant three minute disco rock song, a great lost gem… was surprised to find this on YouTube.

Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (https://youtu.be/cFU-FJzPE80)

Aka the track Drake sampled for Hotline Bling… this is a great piece of slow building 70s Soul with a unusual twist, it’s no surprise Drake was drawn to it for his sample. It’s great when samples draw you into a great lost track.

Tommy McGhee – Now That I Have You (https://youtu.be/vvha-9swdtI)

Great lost soul tune I recently heard on Gilles Peterson’s 6Music show. There appears to be a whole scene of great soul/funk 7″ reissues out there and it’s something initend to explore more.

Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways (https://youtu.be/XQoFYfgwSkU)

Ok so it’s guitar wankery of the highest order, but I’ve always loved this track… always remember it being played on an 90s MTV commercial for a guitar rock compilation that you could only order via phone…  cheese but I love it. 

Scritti Politti – The Sweetest Girl (https://youtu.be/iZjFbRXMi6o)

Can’t honestly say I know much about this band, but when Shaun Patrick Hand from FABRIK came on Kirk’s show and played this selection I was instantly sold… this is a really lovely and unusual track.

In Defence Of… Blondie – The Hunter

It’s impossible to deny that Blondie were one of the definitive bands of the 1970s and Debbie Harry one of the style icons, so with all that behind them how could they keep the momentum going into the next decade? 

The band kicked off the 80s in a superb fashion with the release of their fifth studio album ‘Autoamerican’, it saw the band branching their sound into a variety of genres such as jazz and tropical; it also saw them introduce Hip-Hop music to the masses with the still incredible ‘Rapture’… it was an album made by a band at the top of their game, so it only seemed right that the next decade was theirs for the taking… however this wasn’t to be.

Flash forward two years later, the band released their sixth album ‘The Hunter’, an album released in a climate where the punk and disco music which helped them make their mark had been very quickly replaced by a generation of new bands embracing an electronic synth pop sound. As a result of this changing landscape ‘The Hunter’ suffered poor sales and a critical mauling upon release; it seemed that in the two short years since the game changing ‘Autoamerican’, Blondie had been very quickly pushed aside by a new batch of musicians attempting to push the boundaries with their computers.

I’ll be blunt to begin with, I don’t think the sleeve of this record really helped it much, it shows the band surrounding Harry who seems be seems to have had some sort of electric shock. It’s an ugly cover and looking at it compared to the sleeves for ‘Parallel Lines’ and ‘Autoamerican’ it really doesn’t represent a band who should be at the peak of their powers… it looks cheap and somewhat embarrassing, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it put me off listening to this record.

Perhaps this is a lesson to me that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; I finally took the time the other night to sit down and listen to the album… I’d always heard bad things and wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into… I was half expecting a really cheesy rock record with hints of Blondie gold in between. I put the record on and was completely surprised by what I heard, this album wasn’t half bad…

This is Blondie doing an 80s pop record, or what they perceived was relevant at the time of release, and they kind of got it right, it’s just that no one took any notice. From reading history about the band at the time, it would appear the band knew they were headed towards some kind of breakup whilst making this album, and listening to the lyrics you can hear Debbie Harry has become tiresome of her own fame; its with this in mind that makes ‘The Hunter’ a fascinating listen.

There are moments on the album where the band fall flat… single ‘Island Of Lost Souls’ is a retreading of ‘The Tide Is High’ but comes across and silly and annoying whilst ‘Danceaway’ at times sounds like a Shakin’ Stevens song. There are moments of brilliance here; whilst not as inventive as the material on ‘Autoamerican’, it is the sound of the band trying to embrace this new decade… ‘Orchid Club’ feels like the prototype for ‘Wild Boys’ by Duran Duran, and ‘For Your Eyes’ was the bands attempt at a Bond theme… it was never used for the film, but here it fits in perfectly.

What I like the most about this album is that it is quite unique; by 1982 the electronic sound of the decade had begun to develop heavily and a lot of music starting sounding very similar, like it always does with any musical boom… ‘The Hunter’ has the sound of the 1980s about it, but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily sound like what we commonly think of when we think of an 80s record, it’s an unusual case.

‘The Hunter’ has lots of flaws, and lets face it, if your going to put a Blondie record on this probably won’t be your first choice… however I feel it deserves more recognition than it gets; it’s a record that requires a bit more of your time to find its merits. You won’t find an ‘Atomic’ or ‘Heart Of Glass’ here, but what you will find is the sound of the band still trying to push themselves and a collection of great Blondie songs you’ve probably never heard before. Ignore the ugly cover and enjoy what was the last material from Blondie’s golden period.

The 45″ Record Crate #5: Gifts…

Clearly my writing has taken the net by storm, so much so I’ve been given some contributions from readers… and by readers I mean my good friend Kirk Taylor, who kindly handed me this two 45s as gifts for the slowly filling crate…

The first of the two gifts is a double A-Side single from Peter Parker’s Rock N Roll Club; these guys are signed to TOR Records which is a great record label and is also a record shop in Rugeley.

TOR have been putting out some great releases over the past few years and PPRNC are no exception to this… following on from their debut album ‘Straight To Vinyl’, this double A-Side ‘Downtown Tokyo’ and ‘Mama Stop Your Baby Cryin’ are both pieces of straight up indie rock that puts most of the mid 00s indie output to shame. These short songs are best heard on a 45, short and sweet… 

Listen to the songs here… https://youtu.be/WkPrNmjz8RM

Support TOR Records here… http://torrecords.com/

The second of the two gifts is something I believe Kirk picked up on a cratedigging journey around his hometown… ‘Lambada’ by Kaoma… these guys were a French-Brazilian pop group who had some success with this single and their debut album Worldbeat… this single reached number four in the UK Chart; the band split in 1998.

I put the record on… instantly recognisable, a song I remember hearing a lot when I was a child… probably my first understanding of world music… it brings back a vague memory of an advert with people on a boat in the Mediterranean, perhaps the music video… I’ll find out. Strangely it also is reminding me of the shows my parents used to watch on a Sunday night like A Year In Provence and Lovejoy… strange how things come rushing back to you. Kirk you have dropped an amazing pile of nostalgia on my lap with this single and I’m so garetful.

Yes the song is a little cheesy, but it’s the sort of thing I will definitely put on to likely annoy my lovely girlfriend and try to impress her with some bizarre dance moves. It’s going in the crate for sure… I wonder what the album sounds like….

Listen to the track here… https://youtu.be/iyLdoQGBchQ (so the video is a set in a club/restaurant sort of place, not quite a boat… but the location is by the sea so I was sort of close)

Why ‘The White Room’ by The KLF is possibly the greatest dance album ever…

Just about a week or so ago, news began circulating online that 90s dance act The KLF were possibly plotting a comeback this year… this was fuelled by mysterious underground posters and a bizarre video collage released online. Upon hearing this news I instantly found myself wanting to play The White Room, the group’s classic 1991 album which saw them break free of their underground roots into full on mainstream chart success. 
Anyone who knows the bands history know that chart success, awards and acclaim weren’t exactly what they were keen on, and as such rebelled a slight bit by burning one million pounds, firing blank rounds into the Brit Awards crowd and announcing their retirement by dumping a dead sheep at the entrance of an show party. But all those antics aside time has been good to The White Room and the music it contains.

The White Room is best described as the final nail in the coffin of Acid House, and the first steps into the euro inspired sounds of mainstream 90s dance music. I’m not entirely sure whether given the nature of the bands erratic behaviour that The White Room was perceived as pisstake, an up yours statement to the dance music that had dominated the raves over the past few years… whatever the intention was, this has become something that perfectly defines the sound of its time. 

The true master stroke of this album is the way side one is presented to the listener… the band use crowd noise mixed in throughout the tracks and between creating a faux live atmosphere which I return makes this album feel more epic than it already is. The band are probably best remember for their chart hits such ‘What Time Is Love’ and ‘Last Train To Transcentral’, which both work as great stand alone singles, however listening to them in the context of the record you genuinely get the feeling and impact of being at a live gig; by the time these tracks kick, you feel like a member of the audience eagerly waiting to hear these tunes. I can’t think of any other album that manages to create this almost realistic faux live experience. It is commonly known as ‘Stadium House’, I hope David Guetta is the modern day equivalent of this.

Side two takes a slightly more relaxed ride than the chart hit heavy dance first side, it almost feels every track here is building to the albums epic closer ‘Justified And Ancient’; whilst the most commonly known version of this track is the single version featuring Country music legend Tammy Wynette, the album version feels more like the definitive version of this track, the other version seems like the band were still desperately trying to play up to novelty value. Listening to side two you can almost hear slight musical hints leading up to their grand finale track; it’s a great effect and gives the impression the record was designed to be heard as a full piece start to finish, not just a collection of wannabe hits.The White Room is very much a record of two halves, side one is the party and side two is the comedown. 

So why do I feel like this is the best dance album of all time… it’s mainly because to this day it still sounds so fresh and remarkable. Some might argue that the big hits of The KLF might have dated, but I think they still sound as powerful as ever… they make you want to lift your hands in the air and embrace the sheer rush of music coming at you. 

The White Room showed that dance music wasn’t just reliant on hit singles, and that you could make a dance music worth listening to in full… I think that without The KLF creating this record, we may not have had ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ by The Chemical Brothers or ‘The Fat Of The Land’ by The Prodigy, both solid examples of how you can have big dance hits and make a great overall record. 

This album makes me both feel like I want to rave around whatever room in and it also makes me feel really chilled out and that is why it fascinates me… so what next? Ok so maybe the charts won’t make room for another ‘3 A.M. Eternal’, however I’m sure whatever The KLF are plotting will be creative, unique and maybe even controversial… 2017 the year ‘Stadium House’ came back, maybe… I really hope so.

The 45″ Record Crate #4: Another three…

This project keeps leading me back to the Diskery and will continue to do… what can I say, it’s a goldmine of great stuff, with recommendations always at the ready… I particularly enjoyed being introduced to ‘Was Dog A Doughnut’ by Cat Stevens this week.

Whilst in the store, Liam handed me a small batch of 45s to potentially play on The Vinyl Frontier with Kap’t Kirk on Brum Radio, which I am a frequent contributor on; however I knew these were potentially going to be great so I asked Liam to give me a taster as they may find a home in my Record Crate.

Let’s go through them one by one… First up is ‘Pepper Box’ by The Peppers.

Well this hits you hard within the first ten seconds, straight in there with the air raid siren of funk. This is a great track, it’s got a continuous solid groove throughout and a synth that penetrates through the track. Originally this was meant to be a TV commercial jingle, however producer Roger Tokarz thought he could compete with ‘Popcorn’ by Hot Butter and as such this single was born. This is backed up by an equally as infectious B-Side ‘Pinch Of Salt’ sounding like every great 70s gameshow theme you’ve ever known.

Listen to the track here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKxha_4STNw

ONE FOR THE RECORD CRATE? For sure

Next up we have ‘O.K Chicago’ by Resonance; so outright this track is awesome… it basically sounds like a TV cop show theme tune, complete with police car sirens, cop radio transmissions, wheel spins and gun shots… it quite literally is two and a half of minutes of pure musical action. Created by French singer song writer Pierre Bachelet, this track recieved some international success. The B-Side ‘Yellow Train’ is a little more unusual, attempting to create a disco beat out the sound of a train moving down the track; it lacks the excitement of the A Side, but still scores points for creativity.

Listen to the track here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm_NnZn2zQ0

ONE FOR THE RECORD CRATE? Absolutely

The final 45 of the three is the strangely titled ‘Lamp Lighter’ from Paul Nicholas. Nicholas was a sitcom actor from a show ‘Just Good Friends’, which was created by ‘Only Fools & Horses’ creator John Sullivan and was shown on BBC One in the 1980s. Long before that though, Nicholas recorded this track in 1971 and released it as the B-Side to a track entitled ‘Reggae Like It Used To Be’ in 1976. The track itself is glorious psychedelic pop rock, with a heavy layer fuzzy guitars added on top; its short, quirky and brilliant. As for ‘Reggae Like It Used To Be’, its not a bad listen, but sounds a little too much like ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’, which is a song I despise.

Listen to the track here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vZPWVJYOfw

ONE FOR THE RECORD CRATE? Lamp Lighter – Yes; Reggae Like It Used To Be – Only because it has a killer B-Side

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