Picture if you will, a skinny, drain pipe trousered, baseball boot wearing youth in the Eighties. The said youth is not ‘cool’ by any stretch of the imagination .He sports tortoise shell National Health glasses with a mop of hideously unfashionable curls; he self-consciously creeps into a small record shop in Nottingham called Selectadisc. The youth walks over to the punk section and starts to flick through the vinyl, all the time aware that he is not as hip as the staff chatting away behind the counter. Once he has touched the first Lp all nervousness ebbs away and he knows that this is what he will be doing every Saturday from now on, flicking through endless racks of vinyl, savouring every obscure band name, searching for brightly coloured vinyl and revelling in the fact that he now had a bona fide raison d’ etre. School bullies seemed distant memories; he didn’t t care that he hadn’t got a girl to go out with as all he cared about was music, spending every penny he could get his hands on in this shop and any other record shop in the City.
As you have probably guessed, that youth was me back in the day. What got me thinking about those past times was trying to buy cds in the excuses we have for music shops these days.. The soul has been ripped out of buying music; no flicking through genre sections anymore, everything is done for you all clinical and neatly labelled. Back then, when I used to look through boxes of records you had to be strong for God’s sake to push half a ton of vinyl back so you could get to the letter ‘Z’. Well ‘X’ anyway, to see if I could find the X ray spex LP (rare that one you know!). I used to love how the old shops had sleeves stuck to the wall, reminding you of bands you should be searching for. I’m afraid theirs none of that now, it’s not trendy enough. Old people would have never entered a record shop in the past, they were out of their depth, it was a different world and the chances of seeing a push chair was next to zero, you couldn’t fit one in!
These shops changed me. I became more confident and ditched the National Health glasses. I kept the drainpipes and baseball boots though, I still wear them now. I loved The Ramones and loved their gawkiness. The fact that these four guys were just normal lads and turned themselves into one of the coolest bands in history struck a chord with me if you pardon the pun. So with knees out of my jeans like Joey Ramone and new found confidence I began with my brother to pretty much ‘live’ in record shops on Saturday mornings. The two of us in our trademark three quid baseball boots and Clash t shirts would arrive in the city before the shops were even open, often splitting up to cover as many record shops as we could. Nottingham in those days had loads of them, we would check them all out, except ironically HMV which is the only outlet for new stuff now. A trip to the legendary ‘Robs Record Mart’ was always the highlight. This store if that is the right word is still there. A complete jumble sale of a shop with vinyl piled so high and wide it was difficult to navigate any of it when more than two or three punters were present at the same time. No plastic shelving for Rob, he kept all his merchandise in old crisp boxes on pasting tables. The thing was, if you were after a certain record Rob would be able to find it in an instant and if you were not actually sure of a title of a song I have known him to actually sing it to you!, now that’s service you don t get in HMV. Surely this was better than all this downloading malarkey? I’m no technophobe; I love the net, but……
Are the young kids missing out these days?
I think so, even though the whole effort of buying music has been taken away, I mean why bother getting on the bus and paying a couple of quid each way when you can stay in your boxer shorts and buy it all on Amazon from the comfort of your duvet?
Yes that’s all well and good but an employee of Amazon won’t sing an old Northern Soul song to you and unless your bedroom smells of last night’s kebab and fags, you are missing out on the special aroma of the clientele.
Anyway listen kids, I can’t take you back to the eighties and proper music buying but I will say that whilst you are downloading that new Lethal Bizzle track or whatever, you are missing out on the liberating experience of chucking out your national Health specs and actually speaking to a real person rather than staring at a screen!