Month: April 2014

Things that make me go Grrrrr…..

Two things that make me go grrrr….

1…Is it only me that thinks Record Store Day is maybe not the most wonderful thing in the world? On Saturday we can purchase very limited edition vinyl pressings at a very few of what is left of our rapidly diminishing number of independent record shops. By independent I mean you old-style local high street record store, usually owned by someone local, and definitely not part of a chain of shops.
record store day
The idea is to get people back into these shops. Those of us in our forties and fifties spend huge amounts of our youth in these places, flicking through the latest album releases, 12” mixes, and much fingered 7” singles, especially those in the ‘oldies unlimited’ box that were for sale at 59p. We could get our picture discs there, posters of our favourite bands, even record company promotional displays if we were on good terms with the owner, and provided nobody had beaten us to it. Sadly t’internet has killed off this dying breed. The big chains like HMV saw off much of the competition (so it was ironic that so much should be made of the recent demise of HMV itself) and with online prices, and availability being what they are, the independent record shops haven’t really stood a chance. Plus, who need a physical product any more when you can easily download your favourite tunes in seconds.
Record Store Day then is for folks like me who DO like their physical product, and who still hold a torch for the good old fashioned vinyl record. And why not lets encourage people to use these shops again, surely that’s all good?

But there’s a snag. These ultra-limited releases are just that, very rare, very limited. We cannot simply find our latest local record shop, stroll in, part with our cash, and walk home with the rarities on offer.
These items are in many cases issued to a limited number of the limited number of shops in question (if you see what I mean). And in some cases they are only available in the shops that receive them if the shop seller hasn’t agreed to sell them to his mates already, or already arranged to sell them to someone who intends only to make a massive profit from reselling on eBay. Meanwhile the real fans of the bands releasing the ‘rare’ stuff get stuffed themselves. The only way you’re going to get a copy is by playing the game and hoping you don’t have to bid too high on said auction site.

This certainly doesn’t encourage me to use my local independent record shop, which was what Record Store Day was originally meant to be about in the first place. I will always visit the local record shop on any visit to any town or city centre, and I would dearly love to see them make something of a comeback, but I won’t be ‘taking part’ in Record Store Day on Saturday

So over the weekend, log onto ‘eBay’ and type in ‘record store day’…you’ll see exactly what I mean.

***STOP PRESS – Record Store Day 2014 items on ebay 24 hours before the day itself…now how do you justify that ??? *****

2…I go on about this a lot but it gets me cross. Traps. Traps designed to kill animals. ‘Vermin’ I’m told. I run across the moor and there it is, a trap, and then a little further on there’s another, and so on. They often lie across a stream, thereby offering a short-cut or easy passage for unsuspecting stoat, weasel or mink. The only have to put one foot on the spring laden catch and ‘bang’, they’re history. I ask the local ranger why they’re there. ‘Because they’re vermin’ I’m told. ‘Why are they vermin?’ I ask, ‘because they kill the grouse’ they tell me. ‘Why is that wrong? Surely it is merely nature taking it’s course?’ I enquire again..’Because we want to kill the grouse’ is the ultra-intelligent answer I am forced to accept.

It's not right for animals to kill grouse, thats so very naughty, because it means we can't kill them for sport. There's logic in there somewhere.

It’s not right for animals to kill grouse, thats so very naughty, because it means we can’t kill them for sport. There’s logic in there somewhere.


So I ask again, who is the vermin and why don’t they just admit that the traps are there so that landowners can make lots of money from the unnecessary slaughter of upland birds.

Evidently it is a very very naughty thing to do if you should drop a stone on the offending trap(s), thereby purposefully setting them off, but these things certainly do spoil a lovely run over the moors.

Grrrrr………….

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RECORD MIRROR and CLASSIC POP

Thursday October 26th 1985. That was the date. I’d been in sixth form at my new posh school for just a few weeks, and had ventured into town for the first time. Only 6th formers were allowed in town, and even then we had to wear our blazers and were not permitted to roll up the sleeves under any circumstances. Which is why I had my sleeves rolled up. I did look particularly cool too.
Unfortunately the head teacher, or one of his deputies would patrol town at lunch times. And there he was, walking up Skipton High Street in my direction. I’d not yet been spotted, so I threw myself into the nearest shop. The nearest shop was a newsagent, and so to pass the time while said dementors passed by, I perused the magazine rack.

And there it was.
cult
I already knew about Smash Hits, and Melody Maker, and the NME, but here was the latest issue of one that was barely on my radar. It was the cover, adorned by The Cult’s Ian Astbury, that first attracted my attention. It wasn’t just Astbury’s imposing looks that diverted my eyes though, it was what was written at the foot of the cover: ‘Top of the Pops Chart’. Great a magazine that lists the UK singles chart. Not since the girl who saved me the old singles chart listings in Woolies a year or so earlier had I seen a complete chart rundown.
And then I took a look inside (always better to take a little longer in case the head teacher was lingering). It was love at first sight. Not only was there the complete UK top 75 singles chart, but there was ‘the next 25’ too, the UK albums chart, the American singles and albums charts, a 12” singles chart, reggae and indie singles charts, a disco chart and even a Hi-NRG chart. Utter fabulousness.

No longer did I need to scribble down in basic Grillo short-hand radio 1’s chart rundown. The ‘chart book’ I had used diligently for a good couple of years was now obsolete and consigned to the bottom drawer. In its place was this glossy alternative, a sort of cross between Smash Hits and NME, that contained not only those wonderful charts but James Hamilton’s BPM disco pages, and pages of singles, albums and ‘hot dance vinyl reviews. In that seminal (for me) issue were features on Billy McKenzie and the Adventures, there was an ad for a new remix of Hazell Dean’s ‘They Say It’s Gonna Rain’ as well as Divine’s new single, Simple Minds had album of the week, Jennifer Rush and George Benson topped the UK singles and albums charts, Evelyn Thomas topped the Hi-NRG chart and Wally Badarou the Disco Chart, while Rene & Angela were at number 7 and 17 in the same Disco chart with different mixes of the same song. And Morrissey adorned the back cover….most exciting…

The love affair with Record Mirror lasted a few more years, during which time the Hi-NRG chart got dropped due to attempted rigging of the chart (scandalous) and house music and multiple remixes took over the world. James Hamilton’s column kept me busy for hours, and despite never being able afford more than a couple of 12 inch singles a week I build up and encyclopaedic (and anal) knowledge of every mix released by which house music act.

And then, in April 1991, when, due to falling sales Universal Magazines closed it down, alongside ‘Sounds’, another music magazine of the day. All of a sudden it was. Transvision Vamp adorned the final cover, and RM was consigned to history.

Since then I’ve not really collected, or bought, many music magazines. There were occasional one-off ‘80s’ specials that were worth the money, but then, in 2012 there were two interesting new titles, both focussing on the grand old 80s. They weren’t just filled with pages and pages of nostalgia filled pages either, but were much more forward looking than that, and for the first time since then I’ve started reading the music press regularly. Sadly, and despite giving away a free CD, ‘electronic’ did not survive beyond its launch issue, but does exist in a slightly altered form as an online resources (‘electronic sound’) but the fabulous bi-monthly Classic Pop, edited by Ian Peel had just seen its tenth issue published.
Classic-Pop-Cover-210x300
Now the sign of a good magazine is in the fact that it takes bloody ages to read the thing. And that’s exactly what you had with RM, and what you have now with Classic Pop. There may be no current chart run down’s (and sadly, James Hamilton passed away some time ago), but there have been countdowns: the best 12” mixes ever, the top 100 singles form the 1980’s, and even a host of reviews of the finest 80s-influenced releases by today’s bands..Goldfrapp….Marsheaux….the latter among those bands who deserve a far bigger audience for their output.

So long live Classic Pop. Record Mirror may be long gone, but there are still top notch music magazines out there.

***Incidentally, I missed the very first issue of ‘Classic Pop’ (pictured above),so if anyone has a copy they no longer need…