Wednesday, 20 March 2013

All The Fun Of The Fair

If you've read the last few posts you'll see that I've quickly been changing my tune on vinyl, record shops and the like. So when I spotted a flyer in town for the Exeter Record Fair, well I just had to have a snoop around.

I've got to say that yes, it was a bit geeky but... it was great.  I only went in there to try and find Doolittle by The Pixies but it soon became apparent that a trawl through miles of vinyl was not on the cards, not with my 10 year old daughter in tow.

I popped over to the Phonic FM stand (well, got to support my own station) which was selling CDs donated by the DJs to raise funds and found hundreds of CD singles, all for 10p each!  What's more there was loads of 90s stuff in amongst it and I picked up a couple of dozen singles for a shade over £2.

10p each? Bargain!
I hadn't thought about CD singles before but from my perspective they are ideal.  Of course I've got the big albums of Britpop (and Spotify helps to fill in a lot of gaps) but I'm always looking for something a bit different to play on my shows, something that the listener might not have heard before. And that is where the CD single comes in, not for the single itself but for the B-sides and the remixes.  And because the value is so low now its hardly worth buying them through Amazon/Zoverstocks as you would a second hand CD album, which is why the record fair is the perfect environment to find them.

This is the haul from my trip and I'll be playing a selection of them on my show this Sunday on Phonic FM, 2pm to 4pm.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Vinyl Revival

You know it's not long ago that I was writing about how music consumption had moved on and who in their right mind would pay £18.50 for an album.

Well as I write this I am listening to the excellent Defenestration of St Martin by Martin Rossiter on L.P., for which I payed £17.86.  I joked on Twitter that the last time I received an L.P. through the post it was from Britannia Music Club but I think that it may actually be true.

So am I a hypocrite? Probably yes, but let me explain how it happened...

It's my own fault really for posting that clip from High Fidelity.  It planted the idea in my head so that when I saw the film on Netflix I felt compelled to watch it.  It felt good.  Just the idea of vinyl felt good.  But it was okay, I could resist.

And then there was Rutherford Chang.  Who?  Well I read this article about a guy who was collecting and recording White Albums for an art installation.  And that reminded me that when I car-booted all my old vinyl a decade or more ago I kept one record.  The White Album by The Beatles (okay The Beatles by The Beatles if you're going to be pedantic).  I'd kept it because my mum had bought it before I was even born so it wasn't my record to sell really.  And after reading that I article I really wanted to listen to it.  I wanted to listen to that physical copy of the album that had sat in the cupboard undisturbed for years.

The only problem was that I didn't have a turntable.  I visited a high end audio store in town which only confirmed my opinion of high end audio stores! Snooty staff, ridiculously priced kit (£3000 for a turntable - really? My car is not worth that.) and an intimidating experience.  

I turned to the Internet and there seemed to be a couple of decent entry-level options for around £200.  Even this was too much though, I only wanted to play one record.  

So ultimately I turned to ebay and picked up a Bush MTT1 for £20.  Job done.  It was a bit of a Heath Robinson affair but by connecting a cheap turntable to an old ghetto-blaster which in turn was connected to my iPod dock we had something that just about worked.

I listen to music every day but, other than in the car, it is almost always through a computer and nine times out of ten through headphones.  So straight away this felt different.  There really is something about the physicality of a record and probably a fair dollop of sentimentality in playing a 45 year old record that belonged to my mum too.  Somehow I seemed to listen to the album rather than just the music and yes I am aware of how pretentious that sounds.

So have I caught the vinyl bug?  Yes, I fear so.  I've spent an entire afternoon scouring the charity shops only to learn that there are an awful lot of James Last records that people don't want!  And to complete my High Fidelity cliche I've even found our local Championship Vinyl in Rooster Records.

I still listen to most of my music through the PC and shan't be cancelling my Spotify subscription any time soon.  I will though continue to make select purchases on vinyl but it will only be for a certain kind of record.  So only one question remains, can you lend me £3000 to buy a decent turntable?