It’s Record Store Day again!
Coming just a few days after Rolling Stone magazine forecast the demise of the CD in as little as three years, Record Store Day is something worth celebrating. Designed to give exclusive product to independent record stores it gives me a decent excuse to go record shopping and support my local store.
Exclusive product brings in the anorak brigade who need to complete their collections. Last year brought a great live album by The Vaccines, a covers album by the Foo Fighters and a nice red vinyl re-issue of Primal Scream‘s Screamadelica.
This year brings a Bowie picture disc, reissues by The Kinks and a Flaming Lips / Mastodon double A side, amongst other things…there are also CDs for the non-hipsters…
I am lucky enough to have two record stores in Leigh on Sea: Leigh Records, which is a great second hand record /CD shop and has been run by proprietor Bob Reed for thirty years, and Fives, which sells all new stuff, CDs, Vinyl and DVDs and as such is geared up for RSD 2012. They both have friendly and knowledgeable staff and as a result I visit them far more often than I should. There is also a record fair every month at the local school. Vinyl heaven… It’s different now to when I was growing up however.
Record shops in the ’80s served an essential function: in the absence of the internet, iTunes, Amazon etc very often they were the only way to learn whether a band had a back catalogue or not.
Not just one shop either. Cross checking was important – I would travel to three other record shops in the town to see if their sections had the same records (or more importantly if they had the same one a pound cheaper) or whether there was a new or different one in there.
This was a habit, by the way, maintained for as long as record shops carried vinyl. There was no external source of information (we had no Wikipedia, no “1001 albums you must listen to before you die” – and I didn’t know about the NME Book of Rock).
For all I knew, UFO had three legendary albums out there that my life might have been incomplete without. (NB: it turns out they didn’t).
Things got more helpful at Virgin Records in the late eighties when each artist had a separate section for each album, so if a record was out of stock at least there was a gap with the name of the record in there.
This subsequently led to the “phantom browse” where I would always look through the sections featuring my favourite bands in order to:
a) check if they had released a new album that I had missed (virtually impossible given I read Kerrang! several times cover to cover, including the adverts)
b) check if they had re-released an album I hadn’t heard of before – even though I knew no such records existed; and
c) to impress the other people in the record shop with my exquisite taste in UFO, AC/DC and Iron Maiden.
I was always slightly miffed that, having spent ten minutes browsing ostentatiously through my favourite bands’ vinyl – perhaps with some knowing looks and nods of appreciation at particularly obscure early releases – that no-one then approached me and said “Hey – I couldn’t help notice you looking through the obscure heavy metal section there – you must be pretty cool – can we be friends?”
Record #29: Primal Scream – Screamadelica