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Posts Tagged ‘Vinyl’

DECADES AGO, when libraries first added music to books, borrowers would take out vinyl records. When CDs came into being, the records found their way into thrift and charity shops.

Now, in tandem with vinyl’s revival, 33s have found their way back onto the shelves of council-funded libraries. Well, one at least, but I am sure others will soon follow. That library is Wellington Central, which has always been attuned to the boutique tastes to its trend-seeking clientele.

Today, as I previewed in a recent post, vinyl is back on the shelf …

library-1

An interesting selection I am sure you will agree. At the moment there’s only about 300 records to choose from, but more will likely be added.

They have also felt the need to include a helpful stickered request for users. Alas, given the multitude of oafs who return CDs with an array of scratches, I fear this may be a tad too ambitious …

library-2

 

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I AM TERRIBLY excited to tell you all that the Wellington Central Library is to stock vinyl again from next month. Yes, it fucking is!!!

I saw the music chaps a couple of months ago sizing up the area and couldn’t quite believe my eyes: vinyl being loaned out at libraries once again? After 15 years away?!

This truly shows that vinyl is now THE main form of listening to music.

I do harbour some doubts though: given the condition some oafsome oiks leave a CD in after hiring it, I’m feaful of what condition the records will be when they are returned. I am confident that most people who take the records out are considerate and will treat them as they would their own. But it only takes a few selfish eejits to spoil it for the majority.

Wellington Libraries’ music man, Monty Masseurs (stop it, he is not a porn star) has gone out to Slow Boat records to carefully chose a good few hundred items for sensible folk to borrow.

See some of them in this promo clip the library has done itself:

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How could anyone not love London? The crowded trains, decrepit underground stations, the high costs, and the off-handed attitude of many of its residents.
But a city is what you make of it, and a music fanatic like myself can easily turn into a child in a sweet shop. Gigs every night, of all types, and music stores on all corners. Well, there were in the late 1990s when I arrived in South London, for a new career adventure.
I landed in Croydon, a booming sub-city in what was once part of green Surrey, now just another overcrowded borough of London, in 1998, to work for the local newspaper. It was a characterless place littered with high-rise office blocks, a very busy train station, and the Crystal Palace football team.

To massage all this economic fanaticism, there were a surprising number of record stores. Like Groucho’s in Dundee or One Up in Aberdeen I was drawn to Beano'sthe Daddy of them all, Beano’s, reputedly the biggest in Europe at the time. It was huge. Three independent stores had merged into one, on a humdrum side street, containing three, or was it four, floors of just about everything. They had boxes of old seven inch singles you had to ask to view, divided into genres, the punk and new waves ones being the ones that would have my nimble fingers pawing over.
Beano’s was always busy on Saturdays, but obviously not busy enough as it closed in 2009, due to falling sales. I am absolutely certain a small punk store near the railway line would have gone the same way some time before then. It was owned by a weedy looking chap, who while not appearing like a record store owner, was an incredibly affable gent. He ensured it had excellent stock and they would have bands such as the Moldy Peaches on occasional Saturday afternoons.
Down in Redhill, in Surrey, near the train station, was a store that sold great post-punk records for reasonable prices.
But London proper was where it was at, and there were clumps of stores and markets where you could find everything and anything. Camden or Berwick Street, the miniscule Rough Trade Records in Neal’s Yard and another branch in  the west end, several outlets of the Music & Video Exchange in Notting Hill, a reggae-only vinyl store in Finsbury Park (on my first visit in the 1980s), Tower Records in Piccadilly, and what was probably the biggest Virgins and HMVs in the country on Oxford Street. I could have spent a fortune on a day-trip to the centre, and often did. Virgin held regular in-store band shows, with Ultrasound and the Warm Jets (a sort of new wave revival band) being two standouts, while even Rough Trade, in a store that could have held about 20 people before the Fire Service became worried, had decent acts squeezed into a corner. The briefly-feted Spitfire played there in a haze of sweat and loud guitars.
After Porky left, and made a trip around the world, he landed in Suffolk in eastern England. Nothing stands out though there was an Andy’s Records in Bury St Edmunds, and a neat CD store down a seriously obscure backstreet in Ipswich.
And that was that. The flying pig took off to New Zealand.
The first stop was Auckland and this brought me back to the wonders of Real Groovy, the aural equivalent of a giant chocolate shop. Think of a Virgin Megastore with a wooden floor and dust in appropriate places. Add in sections Real Groovysuch as New Zealand alternative, an in-house clothing store and in-store bands. A day or two after I arrived, The Shins played there.
At that time, all the main centres, other than Hamilton, had a Real Groovy. However, financial problems closed the Dunedin and Wellington stores and the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 forced the closure of the one there. In 2005 CD-DVD Stores  and Sounds were plentiful as Kiwis indulged in a major passion outside rugby and wine, but alas all these stores, which stocked a range from mainstream to obscure, have virtually all closed down, as has Borders. The famous Records Records in Dunedin which first stocked Flying Nun material, is also sadly no more.
Still, many outlets remain, Slow Boat is now the daddy in Wellington but new ones have popped up over the last 18 months: Rough Peel (which came out of the ashes of Real Groovy), Vanishing Point and Evil Genius which both specialise in vinyl; while Wonderland right out in the sticks survives. There’s still Everyman in Nelson, Real Groovy and Conch in central Auckland, The Rock Shop in Hastings, Vinyl Countdown in New Plymouth and several others dotted around the two islands.
Good on them all, though you have to wonder how they can survive in such an environment, with stores closing on a regular basis. But they do and going back to the future is the key, so says Vinyl Countdown owner Mark Thomas.
“People are obviously really keen to sell and buy vinyl, and because we offer both services and can import almost anything, we’re tapping into a niche market.”

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Following on from his misty-eyed reminiscing on the gems of his collection lying somewhere in the farm, Porky continues his detour into Thing-ism, the art of buying stuff that wasn’t entirely tatty.

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Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern.

The copy I have is a tin box which had the same cover as the one sold in the high street and this was repeated on the CD itself. As a promo this is a pretty amazing item. I won a copy in a competition organised by the Sheffield Star newspaper. Of course, the idea of housing your product in a metal box wasn’t new by 1997: PiL’s metal box album came just in that, 18 years earlier. I was shocked to see the starting price alone for the Mansun item on eBay.

Easterhouse – Contenders.

As a teenager and into my early 20s I would sometimes swap stuff with mates and in this instance I was enticed by Gav’s copy of Contenders by this Mancunian band who Morrissey had hailed. I didn’t know much about them apart from their left-wing viewpoint (they were aligned to the tiny Revolutionary Communist Party). My mate liked my Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ second album, and I really liked it too. But I thought I could get that back at a later date. I never did but I do have a copy on cassette, which ain’t the same. Thankfully, Contenders is a classic political album.

Anaemic Boyfriends: Guys Are Not Proud

MacKenzie sings Orbidoig: Ice Cream Factory.

On a trip to north-west England, Porky took a clutch of seven-inch singles that had recently arrived at the sty. These came from a package of new wave singles from a different trader to the one that sent the Neon single (see below). The Anaemic Boyfriends single came without a picture sleeve but the A side, Guys Are Not Proud, is a tantalising song about how lusty men are, but not in an admiring way: “Guys are disgusting, they’re always lusting, Guys are obscene, vile and unclean, Guys are such creeps, they’ll even do it with sheep”. The last line was the killer and got me, Scouse Neil and Da Judge laughing like crazy. Scouse Neil was practically pleading with me to give it to him, but he would have had to anal rape me to get it.

The tables were turned on a future visit to Liverpool when he unveiled an absolute gem by Billy MacKenzie, the lead singer of The Associates, a band I’ve adored since I heard them as a teenager. Under the banner, MacKenzie sings Orbidoig, this 12-inch had the playful Ice Cream Factory which was full of innuendo over a bouncy pop sound. Unlike The Associates’ big hits of that year – 1982, beginning with Party Fears Two – this didn’t intrude into the nation’s consciousness. I heard this and tried in vain to get Neil to give, or sell to me. But I did find a copy later on.

Neon – Bottles 7″

Who are they? To be honest I have no idea and neither Dr Google nor Prof Wikipedia can help me, other than to confuse me by informing me of an Australian band of the mid-90s. This lot were from the late 70s. My friend at sixth form college, Gordon, who wasn’t a moron, put this on the end of a tape for me and I thought I was wonderfully bizarre and overdone. Later, I actually found the single in a bunch of new wave singles sold by a company that sold bulk singles for cheap. You had no idea what was enclosed, but with new wave you could be certain of some good ones. I guess some of these things sell quite well nowadays given the interest in anything from 1977 to about 1983.

Fan club stuff

Before MySpace and online websites, fans would rely on fan clubs, which the record labels would sometimes organise themselves. Some offered very little for the money but some were worth the effort. I was only ever a member of two, The Levellers and House of Love, and both were well catered for as they were run by people who actually liked and were close to the band. Like most fan clubs, these two offered freebies, such as a compilation of offcuts by the Brighton band, which suitably had a cover of various bits of offal, and in the House of Love’s case a cassette that had two rare tracks. The Levellers sent a fabulous A4 magazine, the HoL people would issue lyric sheets and all sorts of bits and pieces.

Spinal Tap: Back from The Dead

Funniest film ever. No argument. Two years ago the original soundtrack was re-released with extra tracks and a DVD, which was groovy enough but there was also the addition of a unique pop-up diorama package that unveiled three 12-inch action figures of the band along with a proportionally-sized Stonehenge. It’s good to see that some record labels still make some effort with a package.

Flying Nun 25 Years boxset

An iconic label in New Zealand, and a cult beyond Aotearoa, Flying Nun is defined by Dunedin and the individual style of the city in the 1980s. The Clean, The Gordons, The Chills, Straitjacket Fits, The Verlaines, The Bats, D4 and the Mint Chicks all released material on Flying Nun. And all of those acts are on here, as well as a glut of largely-forgotten heroes and heroines of the Dunedin and Otago scene … people like Rik Starr, King Loser, Chug, Sombretones, The Victor Dimisch Band, Marie and the Atom and Naked Spots Dance. Much of it groovy, some of it woeful, but this is a fantastic reminder of the influence and charm of the label. This boxset also includes a booklet of artists’ photographs, artwork and scribblings.

The The – Soul Mining tape

In the 80s, a professional footballer would tell a glossy magazine they liked to listen to Wham! or Whitney Houston in between games. One who would have been mocked in the changing rooms for his eclectic tastes was the Scotland and Chelsea winger Pat Nevin, who once listed the Cocteau Twins and Pink Industry among his top 10 in one of the weekly music rags. He also included The The’s Uncertain Smile and I can think of no greater accolade for a band than the thumbs-up from that rarely-spotted species: the footballer with a couple of braincells. In 1986 I was buying a lot of tapes – they were compact and a little cheaper than vinyl. Soul Mining is an absolute classic but at seven tracks was deemed to be too short for American tastes even though most of them stretched to more than five minutes and Giant clocked in at 9:34. So a version of Perfect was added to some versions and the UK cassette version had another five goodies, some of which could well have been on the original line-up. It’s likely that at least one of these tracks was from the discarded Pornography of Despair album.

Read my blog on taping and the mystique of cassettes

 

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Now that we are in this Golden Shower era of wall-to-wall digitalism, collecting vinyl, cassettes, CDs, picture disks, fanzines, box sets, DVDs, videos, fan club letters ad nauseum will soon-ish be a remnant of the past unless, like me, you cling to the last vestiges of thing-ism and continue to visit record stores in the quest for something to get my grubby hands on. The cheaper the better.

So, in a tribute if you will to what is a new, tech-savvy era, this ageing Luddite says goodbye with a tear in his eye to all that goodness attached to a price tag, with a glorious trawl through some of the musical tat and collectibles that have enlivened a life of living with the volume on medium to high.

The Manic Street Preachers: UK Channel Boredom. 

The Manics were virtually unknowns in 1990, with just a limited-edition promo single and a raft of incendiary but low-key gigs behind them. This flexi disk came with a fanzine and was coupled with a track by long-forgotten The Laurens, who’s poppier sound was out of synch with the brash and brazen Manics. The disk was so light I had to put some pound coins on top of it just to get the damn thing to play. This was worth 100 pounds a few years ago, a figure which may well have increased.

Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy/
Echo & the Bunnymen – Songs to Learn and Sing
I bought these pretty much at the same time, on glorious vinyl, shocking my parents with the Mary Chain one, as, well, it just looked so ….. strange, and dark. This was more than just a case of purchasing some classic mid-80s sounds, this was Porky becoming a bona fide music fan. This shocks me even now, but the stuff I was buying up until about mid-85 was Level 42, Queen and Dire Straits. Only Madness could be considered acceptable. I had been subjected to a stream of radio-friendly unit shifters while working during a balmy summer on a wire rope mini-factory that served the oil industry in Aberdeen. These guys played Radio 1 or the local commercial station all day long, and with that wafting in your ears it takes a lot of will power to resist. With some new mates, the transition to New Order, The Cure, Half Man Half Biscuit, the House of Love, The Pogues and the Cocteau Twins had begun.

The Smiths – anything on vinyl

I only bought a few of their singles, and only the 7inches as the 12” cost double for one extra track although that was often a cracker. They had wonderful sleeves, always bouncing with colour and featuring people the world were largely unaware of, such as Warhol star Joe Dallesandro, and pools winner Viv Nicholson. The vinyl part also came inscribed with the run-out groove: Another Porky Prime Cut, which of course gave this site its name.

The Free French: It’s Not Me It’s You

At the beginning of the century I was working at the Bury Free Press in the beautiful setting of west Suffolk. Englishness at its finest. The landlord at the Priors pub, which is tucked away in a housing estate, was a right character by the name of Geordie and he allowed all sorts of bands to come into his establishment. The over-hyped Cord came, so did miserable Mancunians Longview, and local favourites Miss Black America were always there. There were a procession of largely indie bands, from East Anglia and the south-east that blew their candles in front of about 60 people. The Free French were one of those who stand out, playing what I described as XTC meets Tony Hancock. Afterwards I blagged their last album, which I felt I deserved since I wrote about them in the local rag. There’s no doubt this is a fine album with its delicious melodies and down-to-earth lyrics and it’s included here because this is a one of the great lost collections, a rarity that’s hard to find.

Frisbee fight, with 7” records:

I had been at a market while studying in Hull, and saw someone selling a pile of 7″ singles. It was the sturdy box that tempted me more as the records were old chart mush, though there might have been a couple of the 40+ records that may have been worth keeping. This was the summer, virtually the end of term, so there was a lot of drinking and watching the European Championships in which England were in. I was a Scot down south so there was some lively banter going on. So, with the cheap cider, the football, and a pile of crap singles in a corner, you can almost imagine what went on next. How no-one didn’t have their neck badly cut by a copy of a Sam Brown single I’ll never know.

Blue Ox Babes: Apples & Oranges

A forthcoming blog will explain the legacy and mystique of the vastly under-rated Babes, who influenced, if that is the word, one of the biggest British bands of the 80s, Dexys Midnight Runners. I found the Babes’ International Hope Campaign 12″ in a bargain bin for 50p. Bought it on a hunch and that was proved correct. By the mid-90s I’d largely forgotten about them until a friend living in the same student hellhole in Hull, Scouse Neil, brought back a cassette by the band. This was the album, and he’d got it in a charity shop for 50p – my favourite price. Blimey, I thought as I took it off his hands. Blimey tripled a few years later when I found that this was a promo, and the album had never actually been released. A mighty find indeed.

The Redskins: Lean On Me 7”

Pretty rare and I’d been looking for it for some time, not searching the graveyards kinda thing, just monitoring the racks of a record shop I might happen to enter. Found this at a record store in a small town in north-east Scotland, selling for 15 pounds. The owner wasn’t around but some young lad doing a Saturday job was, so I said how much did he want. A fiver. Sold. Deal of the bloody century.

Gene promos.

Gene were endlessly compared to The Smiths in their mid-90s heyday, and while there is an element of truth in that, they had a whole new sphere and were one of the best bands of the time, pissing on many of the Britpop acts. By 1999, however, their star had fallen and they weren’t selling so much. While writing a music column for a newspaper in north-east Scotland I would be sent loads of promos by their record label, most of the one-track singles coming in a slimline, card case, and like many promos, had a slightly alternative cover to the normal release. We press journos were so lucky to have these we’d often flog them on eBay. The Gene singles, and the label did the same thing for the As Good As It Gets compilation – remain treasured items for Porky.

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