One of the by-products of iTunes, mp3s, downloads, streaming and so on is that the price of second hand CDs has fallen lower than the spirits of Brazilian football supporters.
Music fans on a budget, or tight-wads generally, are able to rip a CD to their hard drive and then sell it on eBay to part-fund their next purchase.
This phenomenon is celebrated by the 1p Album Club, a blog written by a small group of music fans which highlights all the good music that is now available on Amazon Marketplace for a single penny (plus P&P). The collective buys CDs for each other, the sender writes about why they chose it and the recipient writes about what they think of it. It’s a great way to remind the reader of the artistic merit of a format that has been commercially devalued.
I mention this, because I have just found a favourite album of mine in a charity shop for 99p. It was an album I had previously only owned via download, and have been seeking from time to time on vinyl.
However, buying Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner on vinyl is not a task for the faint-hearted, or for those with high blood pressure which is exacerbated when parting with money. Whilst I may have found the CD for 99p, the LP regularly fetches £150. Needless to say, that’s a little above budget for someone who has seldom, if ever, paid more than £20-odd for a single LP. The reason it is expensive? It had a limited vinyl run which sold out before the album was nominated for a Mercury Prize at a time of low vinyl sales. Result: low supply and (now) high demand as Hawley’s stock has risen and the album acknowledged as something of a classic.
If you are unfamiliar with Richard Hawley, then you should know the following:
1. He used to be in Pulp’s touring band and was the guitarist in the fairly middling Brit-pop band The Longpigs.
2. His solo work is sublime 50’s-tinged pop in the style that references Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, The Walker Brothers etc.
3. Coles Corner was beaten to a Mercury Music prize by Arctic Monkeys’ “Whatever You Think I Am That’s What I’m Not”, prompting Mokeys’ frontman Alex Turner to quip as he accepted the award, “Someone call 999, Richard Hawley’s been robbed…”
So was my 99p investment worthwhile? Oh yes – it’s a gorgeous album whatever, albeit I am especially happy with the inner sleeve.
In addition to an amusing set of photos depicting Hawley as a lover being stood up on a date, the CD booklet of Coles Corner told me a few things I hadn’t appreciated about the album. Strange as it may seem, I hadn’t until now fully appreciated that Coles Corner is a real place, in Hawley’s home town of Sheffield.
“In every city and every town there’s a place, a special place where people meet…” says the booklet, “….For years lovers, friends and families have met here on this spot. There must be so many people that are here in Sheffield and in this world who are alive because a love bloomed after meeting here….on Coles Corner.”
Romantic sentiments, and fully in keeping with the album. The booklet also has real-life quotes from people who did indeed meet their future life-partners on that spot:
“I met a lass on Coles Corner in 1952. I still meet her there to this day, but now she’s my wife!”
(Quote from www.sheffieldforum.co.uk)
Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Coles Corner. Let’s hope someone thinks about a vinyl re-release to mark the occasion at a price point somewhere below “usurious”. In the meantime, I’m happy to make do with my 99p album.
Oh, and if you ever find an original copy of the LP, just post it to the usual address. I’ll give you twenty quid for it…
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