Friday, 15 April 2011

Record Shop day!

I may be biased, having spent 13 years working in Record shops, but I love 'em. I love everything about them, from the cheapo boxes on the counter to the surly/geeky/uber-cool (delete as applicable) staff. Sadly, they seem to be dwindling to nothing if my hometown of Birmingham UK is anything to go by. We used to have a thriving Indie Record shop scene, with Rock, Dance and Vinyl specialists...but now, we're down to about four across the city. And that makes me sad.

Yeah, I am a nostalgic old fart but I ain't one of those guys who complains about change just because it's different to what he's used to. I grew up in a boom time for music retail - remember when CDs came in and we ended up buying all our favourite albums again? I was there. But before that, local Record shops were a place where you could meet your mates on a Saturday, listen to some cool tunes, get a recommendation or two and buy something...something you can hold in your hands. (That's a not-so-subtle dig at MP3s there). The big attraction for me was the guys behind the counter. Record shop staff are a different breed - if you've read 'Hi Fidelity' you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. There's something about talking to someone who's passionate about music to make you want to try something different - you can read all the 'Amazon recommends' or 'people who bought that also bought this' on Websites, but sometimes you just want to talk to a real human being. 

It's Record Shop Day tomorrow, so here's what to do. Take your rent/food/baby clothes/beer money to your local shop. Buy some tunes. Any tunes. Just good tunes. Then repeat the cycle as often as you can. I'll be at Polar Bear and Swordfish in Birmingham UK (having just spent far too much money at Fopp Records in Cambridge today - what a great shop!) hopefully scooping up a handful of gems. I'm sure we can manage on toast and jam for a day or two...

Record shops are ace. Please support them.

(The book at the top of the post - 'Last Shop Standing' by Graham Jones is a fantastic chronicle of the UK Music retail scene of the last thirty odd years - highly recommended)


  1. Great post.

    I'm on a work project tomorrow so tied up but had similar sentiments today, so I trundled down to town early doors.

    In between the charity and pound shops and tiny hmv is a cracking little prog / psych related shop that manages to survive largely by loyal followers out of town.

    I bought about thirty quids worth then I went online to the shop I use most in Liverpool (again largely down to 3 shops from 15 a decade or two ago) and pre-ordered some stuff from them I'd have bought from the net and they wouldn't normally stock.

    People bemoan the loss of the record shop as many do, but the internet has introduced us to so much and so many people who would never have met, us two for instance.

    I embrace change, it's just that Saturday morning community that I miss, you met fellow collectors and discovered so much music.

    Kids today get up and talk to their mate across the road via facebook.

    This internet malarky is ace, but people don't meet up anymore and bar some honourable exceptions, the internet only lets you find what you search for, you don't discover things.

  2. RSD came three years after my shop closed, so I wasn't buying into it at first. The bitterness has subsided, though I did have to find the Foo Fighters Ltd. covers LP on eBay for twice what I should have paid.

  3. I too miss the independent record store- but as ASH mentioned, appreciate the internets ability to introduce me to new artists (and people) quicker, and without hurting my wallet so severely. But... it's also taken a lot of the fun out of things. It was so exciting to special order some obscure album- and when the store would call to let you know it was in, it was tempting to drive on the sidewalks in your rush to pick it up. Ripping it open in the parking lot & drooling over the cover art (another wonderful thing the internet has taken out of the equation)... having listening parties with yr friends.... ::sigh:: Okay, now I really miss record stores.