Choice Cuts: Otis Redding – Blue Otis

Stax Records, 1965
Otis Redding banner, Apr 3, 2014, by Bill Lile (800x450)Had Otis Redding and his band not been tragically killed in 1967, we can only imagine what head-spinning music they would have made. It’s been said that if Otis and company had let go of their ethos for playing every single show they were booked for, they might have kept their feet on the ground, instead of boarding a plane bound for the storm that claimed their lives. We can’t know that. Their tireless work ethic and commitment to audiences brought about stacks of stirring soul that’s among the greatest examples of music full stop, as this week’s Choice Cut makes clear. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Tall Black Guy – Solar Coaster for the People

Things Leave the House, RSD 2015 special promo, First Word (1773x656)Backlash against Record Store Day has grown more public this year. And even I myself have admitted I’m “tired of the rat race”. But it’s worth remembering two things: Firstly, RSD is still independent stores’ biggest day of the year, and secondly, lesser-known artists and labels continue to put out releases worthy of attention from music enthusiasts. Continue reading

Record Store Day 2015: a vinyl collector who’s pleased to be getting out of the rat race

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Apr 3, 2012, by Facundo Gaisler (1000x563)This year’s spate of Record Store Day releases were announced yesterday to the delight of ever-eager vinyl-buyers. Some 592 exclusives will be available in independent record stores on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Vinyl is the most beautiful physical music format there has ever been, in my opinion. But it can very quickly become an expensive vice for the music aficionado who craves every limited release from the dozens of bands in his/her ever-expanding library. That was me for a time. But as well as space issues forcing me to reflect more seriously on all the possessions in my keeping, after realising that certain so-called ‘limited editions’ I’d forked out for at full-price on previous RSDs were still available for half that months later, I’ve wised up. (Lord knows I love Disclosure, but first their label, PMR Records, offers us a mispress, then a single-sided 12” that is in no way ‘limited’.) Continue reading

The allure of live albums

Corinne Bailey Rae - Life is Good Fest, Sep 12, 2010, Peter Lee (1920x1080)If you’re not able to attend a concert, live albums are the next best way of immersing yourself in a more intimate matter with a performer. It’s more than simply the music. They audibly capture the atmosphere. The energy of the performer(s). The yelps of excitement that greet fan favourites. The chatter, the odd fault and the ticklish laughter that often follows. Triumphant solos, guest appearances, live-only cover songs and affecting finales that sweep you up with the crowd.

No wonder live albums – and live music in general – has become a cure for those lonely nights or times when overtime is unavoidable. Continue reading

Record Store Day 2012 and the vinyl revival

The line didn’t seem so long at first. It was only when I had cleared the greying industry buildings that blocked the record shop from view that I realised I my trip may have been in vain. And the worst part was it was only 7:30am in the morning.

It was Record Store Day 2012, and I was heading to Rough Trade East to try and get my hands on the some of the hot exclusive releases that were out specially for the day. Continue reading

Record Store Day 2011

Yesterday was Record Store Day 2011, an annual international event started in the US to celebrate the unique culture of independent record stores. This year’s UK event was huge, with hundreds of stores participating, live music performances for free and Scottish band The View providing this year’s signature tune ‘I Need That Record’. But most important of all it was also the very first time I was able to get down to my local record stores in Nottingham to be part of the event myself.
Out of bed an hour and a half before my local record stores, Music Exchange and Heavy Sound, opened I was in high spirits at the thought of getting my hands on some newly released vinyl and soaking up the excitement of the day. I took my time getting ready, and even got a tweet about me skipping dissertation revision for RSD read out on BBC 6 Music by Nemone. So having had my fill of toast and tea, I left my flat around 9.40am – only 20 minutes before the stores were due to open, really silly in hindsight. I wasn’t worried one jolt though as I made my way toward Trent’s city campus with the Arboretum trees’ first green leaves creating a promenade of shade on what was already a beautiful spring day. I couldn’t have been happier at that moment, as my ears were filled with the mellow guitar intro to ‘Hillbilly Man’ on The Fall, the vinyl edition of which was at the top of my record wishlist for the day.
When I finally arrived at the record stores, both located opposite one another inside Nottingham’s fading West End Arcade, about 10 minutes before they opened, I was hit with a gut-wrenching smash of surprise. The queues for both stores stretched almost all the way to the street entrance. And especially because RSD releases are limited to one or two per store, I knew this was bad news. With a slightly beaten feeling I started down the line towards the back, only to run into Andy Trendell, ex-Platform section editor and current Gainsborough Standard hack. Andy and I have had our differences during my time in Nottingham, but music has been the subject we’ve found common ground on, so it was a relief to see him there. I got in line further down and the more people filed in behind me. As I waited, even people closer than me became agitated, and the possibility of waiting only to be disappointed is certain something which I saw lots of. Things were made worse still by a trio of local drunkards, who clearly took pleasure in not showering, ambled around to disturb the peace. I’ve never seen smartphones disappear into pockets and purses so quickly.
Up until now the feeling of being united with fellow record lovers and the satisfaction of supporting independent record stores had eluded me. Suddenly I knew how it feels to be in the back half of a console launch queue when demand outstrips supply. But having anticipated this day for several weeks I wasn’t able to let it be a complete washout. Thanks to my usual chatty nature, I got a conversation started with the guy behind me – he’d been dragged along by his son, who had his eye on Nirvana. While I was talking to this gent I kept getting the feeling that I recognised the girl who was immediately in front of me. At the risk of appearing a little foolish, I shifted my position so I could peer passed her swish of auburn hair… yes, it was Kim Neve! All this time we’d been right next to each and not noticed. Kim handles band interviews and promotes new music on Fly FM. At this point the mood had really changed as we passed the time talking and were finally nearing the store entrance. (And right now I’m kicking myself for not grabbing some photos of the queue and other RSD related stuff.)
Inside the Music Exchange at last Kim and I took the opportunity to get whatever we could. She was after Miles Kane and as for me it was Gorillaz’ The Fall. Both were gone already (as was the limited edition 6 Music vinyl for the first six visitors). Our primary choices may have been gone, but we took the time to see what remained. I ended up getting the Clash’s debut album US rerelease (non-RSD) and a Tinie Tempah – ‘Wonderman’ 7” pressed to look like the classic Parlophone vinyl (see below). Determined to seek out any other vinyl-collecting opportunities within walking distance, Kim wisely asked one of the store owners if any other local stores were getting RSD vinyl. He tipped us off that That’s Entertainment was giving away some of the 6 Music vinyl, but we’d have to be quick. Andy was waiting for us outside, and together we headed out of the Arcade towards Victoria Shopping centre.
It was the presence of my two fellow record lovers and the friendliness from the people who ran Music Exchange that really made me feel the spirit of Record Store Day. Andy, Kim and I arrived at That’s Entertainment to find only two of the 6 Music vinyl remaining. The shop assistants kindly gave them both to us, but it was up to a game of rock, paper, scissors between Andy and I to decide who would get one of the rare finds. From best of three to best of five, I was fortunate to win the vinyl.
Having been born at a time when records were already starting to be considered only for the dedicated music fan, I honestly wanted to live a little bit of that excitement to line up outside a record store in anticipation of a new release and meet fellow music lovers. Record Store Day fulfilled this and I’m already looking forward the 2012 date. Perhaps my fellow vinyl collectors and I will be able to co-ordinate our efforts next time too.

Praise for Record Store Day

It was Record Store Day this year on Saturday, 17 April. And as the name suggests, it’s a day all about celebrating records and the independent stores that they are found in.

Though I had a very productive time indoors (working no less, while my housemates were out playing in the sunshine), I made no attempt to visit any of the handful of record stores still trading in Nottingham. A real shame, as a very limited number of Gorillaz’ ‘White Flag’ 10” vinyl singles were released as well as Blur’s ‘Fool’s Day’ 7” vinyl – the first new material the band has released as a four-piece since 2003.

Anyhow, I guess I’ll see what limited singles from Record Store Day I can salvage over time. I did however write a piece on vinyl for Platform that might interest follower lovers of vinyl. Enjoy and happy belated Record Store Day!