Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Last Shop Standing

Frank Turner told a jubilant Berwick Street crowd yesterday that Record Store Day is his favourite day of the year and I think I agree with him!

Life is much more interesting when things are fluid, but the slow death of the record shop is one change I unambiguously regret, although it is engagingly documented in Graham Jones' book and film 'Last Shop Standing'.

I would love to be able to work out how many hours I have spent in record shops since I bought 'Ant Music' on 7-inch when I was seven, because it would be an index of good times well spent. But the ascent of digital music is making it progressively more difficult for the dedicated record shopper to indulge. Yesterday, however, was our day and it was beautiful!

The early morning queues at Rough Trade East were too big for me, but plenty got lucky because every second person I passed on the way back to Liverpool Street seemed to be carrying the distinctive black and white bag stuffed with vinyl.

I shuffled on over to Soho and had a great afternoon watching Wire and Frank Turner in the sunshine, introducing my mate's twelve year old to his first proper taste of live music, and picking up an awesome Fela Kuti re-issue in Phonica, as well as discovering the talent of former James Brown impersonator, Charles Bradley, in Sounds of the Universe, thanks to a tip-off from another chronic vinyl addict, Mr Syed Ahmed.

Record Store Day's continuing success provides hope that a few independent record shops will survive, particularly those like Rough Trade that have been able to re-invent themselves as a live music venue as well as a music and book vendor.

And that indeed was the one of the messages I took from a late evening trip to the tiny ICA cinema to watch the life-affirming 'Good Vibrations', which celebrates the eponymous Belfast record shop that launched possibly the greatest single of all time – the Undertone's 'Teenage Kicks' – and is still trading thirty years later despite countless bankruptcies along the way..

Nb You will increasingly be able to find a few of my favourite record shops dotted around the cities pages in the Places section of this site.


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