Home taping is killing music


And has been since the 1950s apparently. That damn music is taking a long time to die.

Download: C30 C60 C90 Go – Bow Wow Wow (mp3)

Music was her first love


I’ve been out with plenty of girls who loved music and could tell their House from their Garage and their Orange Juice from their Jam — I even married one — but I’ve never met one who rose to the obsessive level of nerdy music anorak that men do. The same with films, comics, and sport.

I know they exist. I have occasionally seen a girl in a second-hand record shop intently digging through the boxes, and every man in the place will be staring at her as if they’ve spotted some rare bird — because they have (and probably wish she could be their girlfriend). But usually, whatever gene it is that turns men into anal trainspotters who can name every Clash b-side, women don’t have it.

Obviously this is a sweeping generalization and I don’t intend to be sexist in any way. It’s a compliment really, High Fidelity couldn’t have been written about a woman because they just aren’t that sad and ridiculous.

The young lady above should be able to tell Mike that this is a classic dance track from 1984. Then she should break up with him.

Download: Music Is The Answer – Colonel Abrams (mp3)

The Wheel of Steel


Talking about having a wank, you might want some privacy while you drool over these gorgeous photos by German photographer Kai Schaefer. I do love me some analogue porn.

I love me some sweet old reggae, too.

Download: Play Me – Marcia Griffiths (mp3)

Counter Culture


I just discovered the wonderful British Record Shop Archive, a vast compendium of Britain’s (mostly) long-lost record emporiums. The site could do with some design help but, basic though it is, just going through the London section set off a fireworks display of memories in my brain from seeing many of the places in Fulham I did my early record buying: Beggar’s Banquet, At The Hop, and even Harry Hayes which I’d completely forgotten about even though I bought a lot of records there (turns out Harry was a well-known jazz musician.) Those have all been closed for years now but thankfully On Broadway is still in business though they’ve moved from their original location, I bought most of my Northern Soul collection in there.

Other places that stirred the old memory pot were Cloud 7 in Putney where I joined The Pretenders fan club which had just been started by a bloke who worked there, and even Virgin Records which, in the pre-Megastore days, was actually quite the hip place. I remember going in the Notting Hill branch when Never Mind The Bollocks came out and they had racks of the sleeve everywhere and all over the windows which seemed like the height of dangerous rebellion at the time. I’d also forgotten that Biba had a record department.

Even now I can remember the interiors of these shops and in many cases the actual records I bought in them (I bought my copy of All Mod Cons at Harry Hayes), I’m sure you’ll all find some place that will make you go “Ah!” too.

This was on the b-side of Boys Don’t Cry which I’m pretty sure I bought at Cloud 7.

Download: Plastic Passion – The Cure (mp3)

And while we’re in a nostalgic “where did it all go?” mood (which we usually are here) you’ll also find much to enjoy at London RIP.

Ashes To Ashes


Much as I love records I’m not sure I’d want to be memorialized in this way when I die: Having my ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Seems a bit creepy to me (at least it isn’t a picture disk), and I’d probably end up covered in scratches and filed in the wrong place.

Though I guess you could convert it to an mp3 so your loved ones can carry you around on their iPods.

Download: When I’m Dead And Gone – McGuinness Flint (mp3)

The Last Shop Standing



Discovered at It’s Nice That, this trailer for the documentary “Sound It Out” about the last record shop on Teeside (“I tend to sell a lot of hard music, but it’s a hard area”) which has just come out on DVD. It looks wonderful and right up my alley, pity it’s only out in the UK though.

Vinyl CD Valuables


Surprisingly the most valuable record I own might not be a record at all but a CD.

A few years ago I bought a limited edition reissue of Syreeta’s first two, Stevie Wonder-produced, solo albums on a single CD which is now deleted and currently going on Amazon for $90 to a whopping $220 for a used copy. It’s not enough to retire on but, bugger me, that’s a lot of money for a CD — it would actually be cheaper to buy them both on vinyl.

God knows why both albums are so scarce and Motown hasn’t reissued them properly (especially since Syreeta died in 2004) because, apart from the fact that there’s obviously a market demand, they’re really superb albums, among the best soul records put out in the 1970s with some of Stevie Wonder’s (her husband at the time) most brilliant synth-soul production. I mean, I’m glad to have such a valuable CD but I think I’d prefer Motown to give Syreeta a bit more respect and it to be less rare and expensive. But that’s the kind of guy I am.

Download: I’m Goin’ Left – Syreeta (mp3)
Download: To Know You Is To Love You – Syreeta (mp3)
Download: Your Kiss Is Sweet – Syreeta (mp3)

Vinyl Valuables


Though I have a record collection I’m not a “collector” if you know what I mean. I’m not a completist about any artist, not interested in spending lots of money on the acquisition of rare albums, and they aren’t kept in plastic sleeves in an alarmed, temperature-controlled room patrolled by guard dogs. But while I’ve never thought of my records like rare stamps or first-edition books I do sometimes get curious about what some of them are worth and look online to see what they’re going for. Not that I would ever sell them (never again!) but the way things have been going economically the past few years they might be more reliable investments than my retirement account, and if society goes to hell and money becomes worthless maybe I’ll be able trade them for food and petrol.

I reckon the indie post-punk records I have from the late 70/early 80s are the most likely to be worth a bob or two, and — at the risk of sounding like one of those dinner-party bores smugly droning on about how much his house is worth now — these appear to be the most desirable out of what I have from that era: Joy Division-wise, Unknown Pleasures on Factory with the original textured sleeve is worth about $25 and the Fast Records 12″ EP Earcom 2 featuring two rare JD tracks goes for around $30-$40 which isn’t too shabby. Singles-wise, The Pale Fountains’ debut “(There’s Always) Something On My Mind” on the Operation Twilight label sells for over $40 now, Aztec Camera’s “Just Like Gold” on Postcard Records (with the postcard insert) is going for between $40-$70, while The Native Hipsters’ bizarro “The Goes Concorde Again” will set you back $30-$70 — a pretty good return on records that cost me less than a quid when I bought them. Maybe I shouldn’t let my daughter play with those ones anymore.

It’s depressing to discover the current value of records I used to own and sold back in the 1990s (Bugger! Shit!) and I hope I’m never that desperate for money again. Of course my records have a “value” to me beyond any mere number but it does give one a certain smug satisfaction in knowing that your frivolous teenage obsessions do have some actual worth and all the hassle of moving them from house to house (to foreign country) over the years wasn’t for naught. This information might also come in handy when writing my will and trying to divide my assets equally between my children: “To my daughter I bequeath my original copy of Unknown Pleasures, and to my son Closer and the 12″ of She’s Lost Control…”

Download: From Safety To Where…? – Joy Division (mp3)
Download: (There’s Always) Something On My Mind – Pale Fountains (mp3)

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The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

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