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)