Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Haven't you got enough records already?

Walking to my mum's house last week I did a double take. Outside the door of the house a couple of doors up from her was a small box

My mum, AKA Granny, lives in a narrow one way street with tiny pavements lined with pretty cottages and  full of people who sculpt and paint and have summer garden parties where lutes might get played. It's just the sort of street every grandmother deserves to live. But what about the box sitting there taking up space on the already cramped pavement?

Naturally, being a reader of this blog, you've spotted exactly what I spotted. Not the cat books leaning desperately against the door (take me home!) , nor the collection of small plastic knick knacks. No, the Apple Records logo on a 7" which in turn fronted a wodge of more records behind it.

Who could resist having a rifle though?

I don't know about you - and I really wish I did - but I love nothing more than looking through second hand records. The joy of serendipity; the thrill of finding a record I've wanted for ages, or finding something I never even knew existed, or never knew that I wanted or... Well, those of you who love pop music will hopefully know what I'm talking about. Refreshingly, there are many people in the music industry who are still like this. My friend David Laurie, for example, who, not content with running his own record label Something In Construction, has just published his first book DARE ...

Relax, I only have the one copy; this is one of David's snaps, I think.

In the introduction to this book (which is excellently researched, lavishly illustrated and a breeze to read), David freely admits that he remains incapable of walking past a record shop without going in. I very much hear him. It is a common problem amongst music fans - there are simply so many tempting records and there is actually a simple answer to the perennial rhetorical question posed first by parents then later by spouses: haven't you got enough records already? That answer, my friends, is NO.

So did I find a copy of God Save The Queen on A&M? A Beatles Love Me Do promo disc? An
unreleased John's Children 7" ? Read on and I'll let you know.

There is something tantislising about singles, isn't there? In the 60s, 70s and 80s albums were a big pocket money investment and generally only purchased by committed fans or people with jobs but the single had an entry level price; besides what else was there to spend your money on back then? Because of this, charity shops are now clogged with them, which means that in terms of finding a interesting or rare one, you have to sift through an awful lot of Doolies. You may have already seen this pic I took a couple of weeks ago for my ongoing game Charity Shop Fruit Machine:

Whole lotta Shakey going on.

These days the price is not so entry level: If you want to hear music on 7" by new bands they are made in such small quantities that you'll end up paying close to ten quid for one single. But a couple of months ago a mate of mine told me about a way of getting 7" vinyl from brand new bands delivered to your doorstep. He sent me the first batch from the Flying Vinyl singles club. Inside a doorstep of a box came five seven inches from bands I'd never heard of. Inevitably some of them were better than others but crucially they were all lovingly housed in unique picture sleeves, one of them was on purple vinyl and there was a handy booklet about the artists. I've just received the third batch:

I love cardboard.

There, I've said it - and the folks at Flying Vinyl seems to understand the importance of the tactile experience. After all, I could listen to all these bands on Soundcloud, couldn't I?  But these guys have chosen who to release (a spot of A&R) and then gone to town on the packaging. Even removing the outer shell of the posted package is a little bit exciting. Yes, yes, I know. I should get out more:

Ooo, what's in here?

Argh, mustn't tear it, the pressure, the pressure...

Phew, we're in.
The club charges you £20 every month for the singles including the postage, which isn't bad even if you only like a couple of the singles. This month is a vast improvement on the first month in my opinion: Here's a snapshot of my thoughts as I played the records:

Beach Baby
A lovely purple coloured vinyl record (each month one artist gets a coloured release - not sure how they decide this) Four piece who've got a vocalist reminiscent of Babybird's Stephen Jones and a pair of cracking tunes. I wish their logo was better but you can't have everything.
Kid Wave
Signed to Heavenly already and sounding not unlike the wave of Thames Valley bands from the early 90s. Big tunes sung by shy people. I'm not going to the Sh word which ends in oegazing. And lovely artwork too.
The Big Moon
A really great A side (Sucker) from this all girl band  - the B side isn't so good but the singer's got a very convincing voice. Either they're not interested in artwork that much or Flying Vinyl ran out of pantones for their sleeve.
Theo Verney
The least convincing of the bunch - the booklet tries to persuade me that he's 'the artist that the psych-rock genre has been long-awaiting". I hope their wait is over.  Sounds like Kasabian demos to me but maybe he's great live.
Oh So Quiet
Undeniably a terrible band name but it does at least encapsulate the gentle, mellifluous sound they make. The Argentine-born female singer has a voice which touches on Nina Pearson from the Cardigans, but that doesn't quite rectify it for me. A great sleeve though.

Regardless of the single in it, though, anything that keeps 7"s on the turntable is a good thing. Even without it, though, I don't think I'd have any trouble. I can smell the magic of a copy of Janet Kay's Silly Games a mile off. Even my eleven year old daughter is now asking to put "the small records" on because they're more fun. Yesterday she found my copy of Rockaway Beach (picture sleeve, of course) and she, her younger sister and I danced to it for its duration, as we watched it go round and round.

And as for that box in my mum's road, it turned out to be, well, a bit of new wave treasure trove, albeit with the former owner's name making its way onto the artwork a little too much. Ah well, that's 7"s single for you, they all tell a story.


  1. that is a treasure trove. Who in their right mind gets rid of those? I mean Ashes to Ashes, Atomic, Christine, It's Going to Happen and Pull up to the Bumper! Madness I tell thee. and what was the Apple record?

  2. Tell me about it - although as I say, the previous owner was a bit enthusiastic with her pen... Apple was Imagine as far as I remember.