Monday 13 April 2015

Record Store Day

Record Store Day started back in 2007 when 700 independent American record stores decided to come together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK quickly followed and 2015 is the 8th year of Record Store Day in the UK.

I've visited some fantastic record stores around the world on my travels; UK favourites would be Glasgow's own Monorail and Manchester's Piccadilly Records. My sister also took me to an incredible shop in Edinburgh called Backbeat Records that is proper old school, perfect for crate digging - packed to the rafters with all kinds of incredible stuff. You might not be able to find what you are looking for - but ask the owner and he'll know what nook, cranny or box to look in. You'll definitely find something!

Internationally I have been in some sensational stores in New York City, Lucky Records in Rejkjavik,  some crackers in Australia - especially one in Freemantle and some beauties in Argentina where you literally had to dust the records down.

Backbeat Records in Edinburgh

Of course many independent record stores have closed down - I spent many happy hours as a teenager trawling round Browser's in Lanark and Impulse Records in Motherwell and Hamilton. All now sadly closed. Unknown Pleasures in St Andrews was also an old favourite.

The main aim of Record Store Day is to shine a spotlight on independent record stores and on vinyl. In some ways it seems to be working; vinyl sales continue to increase year on year. Stores were closing at a worryingly fast rate, however that seems to have slowed and almost stalled.

Missing Records in Glasgow is still around. Back in the 1990's, when it was around the corner from its current location and then in Wellington Street, it was a store largely responsible for a huge amount of my record collection. I must have visited Missing 2 or 3 times a week for a number of years; buying new releases, discovering old music and raiding the second hand section with every spare few pounds I had.

I remember, as a teenager still at school, pondering over whether to buy Goldmine by James or Out Of Time by REM as I could only afford one (I chose James).

I remember running from work at 5pm down to Missing to spend 15 or 20-minutes browsing before catching the train back to Carluke.

I remember raiding Tower Records closing down sale and getting 4 copies of the Nirvana/Jesus Lizard split 7-inch and trading 2 of them for Teenage Fanclub's debut 7-inch Everything Flows from Missing Records - the song that this blog is named after.

I remember the smell of the vinyl, the protective sleeves, the classic Missing bag and I remember buying some fantastic records - sometimes because I was searching for them, sometimes cause I liked the look of the sleeve, or maybe I had read something about that album/single, or maybe the staff were playing something I liked the sound of - like Stereolab.

Segundo by Juana Molina - an album I bought because of the sleeve (music good too!)

Bit less risky than Juana Molina - but another album I bought due to the sleeve

Missing was important. It was (and is) incredibly near Central Station, yet it was just out of the way enough to be different, to be the kind of place you had to know about. No-one really stumbled across anything down that part of the city. It's kind of like the bit in High Fidelity when Rob is describing his store - just right!

The classic 'I will now sell 5 copies of the Three EP's by the Beta Band' scene

Mixed Up Records in Otago Lane was a favourite of mine for a number of years when I had my flat in Dennistoun. The kind of record shop I could never walk into and come away empty handed.

Oxfam Music in Byres Road is another fantastic store in Glasgow that I still visit when I am up the West End. I got to know the manager Andrew when I volunteered for Oxfam and I remember being amazed when he took me down to the basement to show me all the stuff they were sifting through to decide what to sell, what was worth a bit and what was worthless. They had some incredible stuff and  I made a mental note that it would be a great setting for a band photo/sleeve and later took Sonny Marvello there when I started managing them. One of my all-time great second hand buys was the white 12-inch of Rez by Underworld for £6.99 in Oxfam Music. I think I was so pleased that I gave them a tenner - obviously pre kids when I had some spare money!

Sonny Marvello photo shoot in the Oxfam Music basement

FOPP has also played a vital role in my musical education and in stocking my record and CD collection. The original store in Byres Road is still magical; a cool location, rammed with all kinds of brilliant music and many of it at fantastic prices.

Love Music (formerly Avalanche Records) around the corner from Queen Street Station was a favourite of mine when I stayed in Dennistoun. Very handy on a walk home if the sun was shining or if I was in the mood. It is still going strong and is very active in promoting Scottish independent and DIY music.

Monorail is my favourite these days. There is something soothing about walking in and seeing Dep who worked in Missing Records all those years ago when I was first buying records in Glasgow. And the fact that Stephen from The Pastels might be working behind the counter is still a bit of a thrill to the indie kid in me (and I'm sure I am not the only one!).

The conversation in Monorail is great. I love wandering in (usually on a Monday before 5-a-sides if I have time and money) and checking out the music being played and listening to what the staff are talking about - International Airport, Vic Goddard, Edwyn Collins, how well the new Mogwai release is doing...

The staff in Monorail are always happy to help. I remember going in after reading an article in Uncut about a brilliant rereleased album of guitar pop. I couldn't remember the band name or album though! With a bit of questioning Stephen managed to decipher that it was East Village and their Drop Out album!

Monorail, like the old Missing, is just perfectly placed. Central, but just out the way of everything else. It also has the café bar for beers, food and the odd gig.

Monorail Records - right place, right vibe, right staff - just so right
I started this blog without a real purpose, I really just wanted to reminisce about my enjoyment of record stores. I've had hundreds (if not thousands) of Record Store Days through my life; I've gone on my own, with my wife, with my eldest daughter, with friends....I've gone in knowing what I wanted, I've gone out after spending a lot more than I intended!
Any day could be a record store day for me and for you. This Saturday I'll be heading into Monorail with my friend Dave for a few beers, some music and some records. You can't get a much better day than that really....

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