I have a big soft spot for the philosophy of ‘Record Store Day’, it triggers many happy memories of music discovered, and time spent in Bruce’s in Stirling and Edinburgh, in the 1970s.
I was very happy when the subject of the excellent ‘Sound It Out Documentary’ was selected as last year’s ‘official record store day’ shop – so good to see truly independent stores getting recognition. A visit to ‘Sound It Out Records’ in Stockton-On-Tees is high on my ‘to do list’ for this summer.
On Saturday 21st April 2012 I decided to do my bit to support the special day by visiting ‘Media Mania’ in Berwick-upon-Tweed, no live appearances had been planned, and I wasn’t on the lookout for any ‘RSD’ special releases, I simply wished to support a local business whilst also adding to my music collection.
A while back I included a feature in my show where I chatted with Kyle about the way in which people’s music buying habits had changed throughout my life. As an anchor I used Theoretical Girl’s ‘Divided’ album. My reason for this choice was that I had come to own this in a kind of reverse order; I first got an electronic download version, then saw her play many of the tracks live, later on I got a CD copy, followed by a pre-release DJ version of the CD, and finally I bought one of the limited edition 12” vinyl copy that was released to mark the first anniversary of the initial release. Certainly there was no real need for me to get anything other than the download, but I really do appreciate the way that physical copies can enhance my appreciation of a product, into which the artists have invested so much of themselves. The fact that I will probably never actually play the vinyl is irrelevant. I recall Willie, who I worked alongside in ‘Bruce’s’ Rose Street shop; he was passionate about Jimi Hendrix and bought two copies of every release, even if it was an imported version of a UK release that he already owned. In these days our imports tended to come shrink wrapped, and he wouldn’t even open the wrapping on one copy of his purchases; his reason for getting two copies was to enable him to keep virgin unplayed copies, whilst also being able to listen to the other. In addition to the records, he was an avid collector of any memorabilia – if he maintained and still has this collection, it must be worth an absolute fortune!
So on ‘Record Store Day 2012’ I arrived at ‘Media Mania’ to be welcomed by Roger and Gillian. After coffee and a chat I had a look through the selection of vinyl and CDs. I came away with a pleasing selection; The Who ‘Tommy’ (12” vinyl double album), The Tube (12” compilation album of acts that had appeared on the classic Tyne Tees TV show), Juicy Lucy ‘Who Do You Love’/’Walking Down The Highway’ (7” single on Vertigo with the lovely ‘vertigo inducing’ centre logo), and Blondie ‘Live’ (CD). I was particularly pleased to find ‘Tommy’ as I had a plan. A while back I heard an interview on Radio Scotland with somebody who had started an ‘album club’; run along similar lines to a ‘book club’, people would come along to listen in silence to a vinyl album in its entirety from start to finish and then discuss it. They aimed to experience the totality of the production as it had been sweated over by the artists. In my youth, it was very common for us to listen to entire albums from side 1 track 1 to the end, although not necessarily in complete silence! Given that I rarely seem to listen to music in this way any longer, I thought that I would revisit this at some point. ‘Tommy’ seemed an ideal choice.
I can remember the excitement back in 1969 when The Who’s ‘rock opera’ was released, back then it all seemed so edgy and ambitious. I have to admit that listening now, it all seems rather tame, naïve and at times contrived. Listening to the lyrics of the closing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, I found it hard to feel any real passion, yet at the time of release it had felt so inspirational! I don’t regret taking time to listen to the album again, but it did confirm my preference for fresh new music. Some of the old classics will forever remain great to listen to when I’m in the right mood, others are possibly best left in their original time and kept as happy memories.