Record shops – their lives, times and future

DSCN9225As yet another established independent record shop closed its doors for the last time in Brighton this week, this seemed like an opportune time to promote the pleasure and enrichment the record shop has brought to our lives – particularly mine – over the years. Borderline traded in Brighton from 1987, but sadly it’s one amongst many which are no more.

wwwcitylibrariesinfo_018991One of my earliest music memories is the basement of the Virgin Records shop in Queens Road Brighton. Trading here from the early 1970s through to 1977 when it had to close because the whole block was demolished to make way for a new Boots superstore, I vividly remember many a happy Saturday morning lounging on beanbags on the wooden floor and soaking up a variety of sounds.

Rounder-Records1-686x437Rounder records was one of Brighton’s longest surviving until it too closed its doors for the last time in July 2012 after 46 years of trading.

DSCN9226And, closer to home for me now, Shoreham’s Atomic Sounds, forced under in 2009 by the superstore giants like Tesco and Sainsbury. Atomic was the epitome of the independent – loads of obscure stuff, the ability to get virtually anything you wanted within a matter of days, and brown paper wrapped mystery bundles of CD singles for 50p a pop. I picked up some real gems there.

resident-brighton-500x333But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some independents thrive – Brighton’s Resident being a prime example. The queues here are for last year’s Record Store Day.

Record shops are, I hope, here to stay – but we need to protect that by using them. There’s a place for on-line buying and downloads; but nothing can replace the joy of browsing though real, tangible CDs and vinyl in the search for that bargain, or rarity or just something that looks or sounds good. Excellent opportunity coming up to promulgate that – the 2014 Record Store Day on 19th April.

Wilko & Roger – Going back home

2014WilkoJohnson_GoingBackHome_280214Just can’t keep quiet about this fantastic album. One of the best collaborations in recent years, Wilko showing that living on borrowed time doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a whole lot of fun and make some really good music. And Roger proving that his vocal talent has just got better and better over the years, doing complete and utter justice to this eleven song retrospective from the Wilko back-catelogue. There’s not one dull moment in these 35 precious minutes. My only complaint – there’s not enough of it. Here’s a taste…

The King

IMGP0472One of my treasured possessions is this rather battered wind-up gramophone. It’s never worked very well but, on the odd occasion I’ve used it over the years, it still brings a smile. I’ve a handful of 78’s to play on it as well. One of them – that on the platter in this pic – is Elvis Presley’s ‘Teddy Bear’ released on RCA in 1957.

Years ago, when I also had an old Dansette, I made up a couple of compilation tapes from my 78s. Sometime soon I really must digitise those tunes before they’re lost only to memory.

Led Zeppelin (again)

Ok – I’ll shut-up about Led Zep after this post. Promise! But the news this week that they’re to re-issue the first three albums with previously unreleased tracks is something I just can’t keep quiet about!

Led Zep IV (for those of you who’ve tuned into Jemtunes already) was the first I bought just after release; and I lapped up those following on release day until 1979’s ‘In through the out door’. Not to mention the better of the compilations in more recent years.

So my arm has already been duly twisted – not that it needed much; I will be the first in the queue on 3rd June for a fresh serving of Led Zeppelin, II and III.

What’s on my i-pod? [Part II]

As I download between 75 and 100 tracks a month, I tend to change what’s on my i-pod fairly frequently. Currently I have around seven hours loaded. Enough to get by on this coming month without getting bored. Here’s a taster of what’s in there.

  • February download playlists (including – to name a few: Pearl Jam – Tremor Christ, Nine O’clock gun – Never Not, Death in Vegas – Aisha, Texas Radio – Too hot to handle, Skindred – Kill the Power, Brother Ali – Listen Up, Holy Ghost – Dumb disco ideas, Fuck Buttons – Year of the Dog, Leftfield – Song of Life (Betoko remix), The Pretty Reckless – Heaven knows, The Pixies – Blue Eyed Hexe,Vanilla Fudge – Trampled Underfoot and Suns of Stone – Your day has come)
  • Neneh Cherry’s ‘Blank Project’
  • The self-titled No Sinner debut
  • The self-titled Blue Moon Harem debut
  • The self-titled Angels & Thieves debut
  • Cage’s ‘Revolution’ from 2011
  • Skindred’s ‘Kill the Power’ and
  • A brilliant cover of the classic ‘Faith Healer’ by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band from Helloween

Four (covered)

A couple of blogs back I posted Part 1 of the Jemtunes ‘Desert Island discs’ featuring Led Zeppelin 4. As well as covering a number of classic blues artists themselves, since they folded with the passing of John Bonham, a host of others have covered Led Zeppelin.

So here’s Four covered:

  1. Black Dog – Whole Lotta Led
  2. Rock n Roll – Lets Zep
  3. The Battle of Evermore – Led Zepagain
  4. Stairway to Heaven – Heart
  5. Misty Mountain Hop – Zepperalla
  6. Four Sticks – Soulfly
  7. Goin to California – Dread Zeppelin
  8. Bring it on home – Sonny Boy Williamson

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Mixture tape heaven

ImageBack in the day, many an hour was happily filled putting together the ubiquitous mixture tape. I’d buy a three-pack of TDK D-90s (the red ones) from Woolworths of a Friday lunchtime and spend the whole weekend carefully selecting which track to add next.Seamless transitions were good – hence the pencil – winding the spool back just a tad so that the next track kicked in quickly. And fade-outs at the end of each side…remember those?┬áIn later years, when CDs had hit the streets, I even had a list of very short snippets to add to the end of each tape – particularly those I did for others.

When the popularity of tapes began to fade, I carried on with mixture CDs, burning via my PC or, a bit later, an audio CD recorder. Even when the download era kicked in and Playlists took over, I continued the tradition. And still do!

But it’s not the same. The sound quality might be better but the tangible pleasure a mixture tape held has been lost for all time. It wasn’t just about the music – it was also the making, the hours spent choosing, the design of the tape cover and the pleasure of giving particular compilations away to a good friend…

…here’s something I put together for you because you’ve been a little poorly of late. It’s full of happy songs. Hope you like it…

A Playlist might be able to conjure up a genre or a theme, but only a mixture tape could really capture a mood. A playlist is here for a moment and then it is gone. A mixture tape lingers, capturing a tangible memory. The two in the pic above do just that. One features two great late 70’s bands; the other, a selection of my early 70’s 45’s. Part of the reason I’ve still got them.

But I’ve not lost the art. I still put together mixture stuff – be it by way of a CD burnt for a friend or a playlist downloaded to i-Tunes or my Shuffle – it’s all part of keeping music alive and relevant and part of me.

Guitar solos to die for Pt.1

Back in September 1972, when I was just into my teens, the Carpenters released a double A-side 45 of ‘I won’t last a day without you’/’Goodbye to love’.

I don’t remember much about the first one, but the second grabbed me from day one with what has to be one of the best guitar solos of the early 1970s. Yes, I know there are many contenders but, when your spine tingles, you just know it’s going to be good. It was good back then – it’s still just as good today.

This double A-side only reached No 9 in the UK charts and was in there for 16 weeks. ‘Goodbye to Love’ was, however, listed by itself from the end of September 1972 until the end of the record’s chart run.