Going Record Shopping on a Saturday used to be a a ritual from my 15th until my 25th year. Hopping on the bus or even jumping on the small bike to visit the "underground" shops „Unterm Durchschnitt“ or „Rip Off“ was always something to look forward to from sundays onwards. Not only could you browse new or unknown records, you steadily meet some fellows, later friends and become friendly or at least known with the shop owner. I used to bring new copies of my fanzine(s) and sometimes even got the money for them upfront – ready to spend it immediately in that shop.
Even later, when you actually knew on which weekday the new releases arrive saturday still held a special place in my – and many other vinyl fetishists – heart(s).
My best time regarding record collecting was always when i could spend a few days in britain where you would know the exact date and could rush out to virgin megastore (rip) or hmv (rip) and pick it up easily. Or you could even hop in to the many specialists stores around soho or ladbroke grove to catch the promo copy a few days earlier. How often did i feel like i’ve found the holy grail - if only for a few seconds?
With the decline of vinyl and the formats – single, ep, album - the actual date of release didn’t really matter much anymore. Often, the song was played on the (international) radio stations or could be found on soundcloud way before any physical release (if any). That grew even stronger when artists couldn’t make that much money from recorded music anymore – with spotify only offering a fraction of a penny/cent for any track that got a listen. Real Money is to be made with touring, merchandise and the occassional advert jingle. So where does that leave the former core of music fanatism?
That was then but this is now
This year (2014) the record store celebrated it’s eighth aniversary. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_Store_Day) and after the small start in Baltimore with the first special 10(!) releases one year later it has now grown up to be more than 800 exclusives for this years third saturday of april. Which brings us up to the event this year.
I was getting up quite early because i know from last year that there will be a queue at Michelle Records – a well known store that is not only the oldest record store in hamburg (where i bought the Jam Album „In The City“ when it was released quite a while ago) but also the most prominent participant of rsd in the city. Actually twelve months ago i was not so successful with my attempt to get the special Sex Pistols Mono 7“ of „Pretty Vacant“ – as documented by this german tv report (see below). So this time around i want to come prepared.
Luckily i am no longer a fan of that „indie“ or more recently called „alternative“-sound – as it really mostly sticks to clichees these days methinks. And also the reissue of all Aerosmith regular albums doesn’t really matter to me. With those out of my way or view I can concentrate on the few interesting releases and can avoid those classical rock collectors. Still, some of my “competitors” grabbing everything they can get hold of – so this is still no walk in the park.
Arriving ten to nine, just as the shop is about to open, I am well surprised when turning around the corner: (see pic). Happily they let all of us in. With most of the releases displayed on the walls shaped in a U-Form (!?) and with me being one of the last in line – how can I wait and behave as a wellgroomed human being when some of the stuff is quite limited here. So I go for an alternative route starting from the cash register and going back pushing against the flow (yeah, I know). But this time around I won’t lose out. So this is what I got:
1) Donny Hathaway “Live at the Bitter End,1971”-Album (4000 Copies)
This concert was part of his legendary Live Album released in 1972 – making up the second side of the original album - while the other side was recorded at “The Troubadour” in LA. Though the whole concert was recently released on a CD Box Set, this vinyl edition is the only place with the full version of “Voices – Everything is Everything” running for 20 Minutes.
2) Adam and the Ants: Dirk Wears White Sox w/inserts (2000 Copies)
Yes, I do admit it, I was once a member of the fan club when “Kings of the Wild Frontiers” was released. That was fiercy, somewhat strange and colourful. While a few friends already dug this debut album released in 1979, I originally bought the reissue in 1980 – still on the “Do It”-Label but without stickers, poster etc. So now I grabbed that version this time around
3) T.Rex “Tanx” Split-Colour Vinyl & Poster (1500? Copies)
Marc Bolan was my first favourite Pop Star ever since I saw him on german TV 1972. And Tanx was – along with “Slider” released before – unobtainable with my pocket money. Albums in those days costed 22 Deutschmarks – which would set you back 11 Euro or 9 UK pounds today officially. Actually 22 Euro or 18 Pounds comes closer regarding spending power. I just seldomly bought some of those Re-Issues from the Fan Club on “Marc On Wax” because the new covers used were so unpretty. Now I nearly got an original with a nice colour touch – though the poster included is different to the original. Still like his guitar sound after all these years.
4) GC Cameron: Live for Love // Barbara Mason: World In a Crisis 7” (500 Copies each)
Nowadays I would call myself a “Soul Boy” so these had to be included in the bag. The Cameron 45 features an early 80s UK-Only release that I cannot afford in original form, while the Barbara Mason song can be found relatively cheap on the “Transition” album from the 70s. The B-Side features the classic Curtis Mayfield song “Give me your love” – cherished by most when sung by “Sisters Love” on MoWest (Motown).
5) Metronomy: Love Letters Soulwax Remix (? Copies)
It took a while and my girlfriend to check out Joseph Mount and the Gang. And I just saw them live in the Grosse Freiheit in Hamburg a few days earlier. I enjoyed them, liked their dancey sound and bought this for her - of course.
6) Little Dragon: Klapp Klapp (? Copies)
Another favourite band of my girlfriend. Though it seems this 12” single was regularly released in the US as well.
7) The Specials: Sock It To 'Em J.B. (Dub) / Rat Race (Dub) (? Copies)
Still one of my alltime favourite bands. And their second album "More Specials" from where these Dub Versions come from was at least as good as their debut.
8) Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks - here are the alternative Tracks (5000 copies)
Yes, i know this sounds too stupid to even think about buying it. All songs and Versions included, bar the two Belsen-Tracks, where already released on two Box Sets from 2002 and 2012. Still, it's a 7 inch (!) Box (!!) by the Sex Pistols (!!!). I know i came dangerously close to these Stones collectors.....
9) Joy Division: An Ideal For Living 12" (? copies)
Ok, at least an official repress of the first 4 Tracks. I remember seeing the original at "Unterm Durchschnitt" in 1978 - but i had to pass on it because of lack of funds. Now seeing the recent prices for an original copy this doesn't look like a smart move in retrospect.
What I missed out on:
A) Tracey Thorn: Molly Drake Songs 7" (500 copies)
Only available in Britain: The EBTG-Singer sings two Songs by Nick Drakes Mum. I guess i have to check the bay for next months to get it for a decent price. (Bagged it a year later).
B) Pet Shop Boys: Flourescent 12" Remixes (500 copies)
Again, only available in Britain. But after i checked both remixes i am not really disappointed as the album version is better.
C) Mayer-Hawthorne: Jaded Inc Project shape (? copies)
Only available in the US. This is the only shape released on this years RSD (as far as i know). Looks good but the prices are too high for me at the moment.
It would be a blatant lie if i would pretend to ignore next years RSD. Still i hope the amount of releases - especially pointless re-releases of albums that are still widely available - would decrease quite a bit. And the limited edition hype is a thing of the past. I guess that the real sought after rarities from any of the former RSD Special Editions are just barely a handful, because most of the stuff is bought either by mentally old men to store those in a humidor-like capacity never intended to play them or by greedy old men who try to make a fast buck. Both things do not work in favour of putting the record stores on the map for next generations. Still for some of the independent shops the RSD is today what Xmas has been in the past: the time with the biggest turnover of the year. At least that is a purely positive aspect.
Record Store Day 2013 on German TV with yours truly at the beginning and end: