Sunday, 3 April 2011

Record Store Day

Influenced by my good friend Simon Jones blog post about Record Store Day I have been thinking about events that are due to take place up and down the country on April 16th and how my music consumption has changed over recent years. But first a little bit of background...

I have always had what many Radio 1 listeners might call an odd taste in music. Personally I would like to call it adventurous. Where this has come from I have no idea. As a teenager I had many friends who made significant impact on my music selections and their influence could perhaps be seen throughout my collection today. 

I still remember the exact location David Mudie (who was known as Mod) played me Sparklehorse's Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot at a house party sometime around 1996 and introducing me to Mega City Four while we were studying the Baroque era during GCSE Music. 

Jamie Baker (Jim) was the first person who played me Suede, Supergrass, Green Day, The Newcranes, Shed 7, Spiritualized and Blur among many others. 

Simon Hay introduced me to the world of Carter USM, 10,000 Maniacs and rather oddly for a 14 year old Jethro Tull and I will always remember when Mike Hartley playing me Rancid's "And Out Come The Wolves" album while driving his Dad's car round Lichfield.

All of these took place well before I had even commenced the early days of my working life.

From 1998 (a year or so after studying Music Business in Glasgow) I started working in Music retail. This started off in the rather non cool music department of WH Smith in Birmingham where I would get told off for playing Beck and Feeder - this lead me to chance upon a job at Tower Records.

Tower was perhaps one of the best jobs I have ever had, all of the staff were of similar age but with totally varied music tastes, here I was introduced to At The Drive In, Kid Koala, Television, Gram Parsons and so much Punk and Reggae I was made buyer for both departments.

I then was offered a chance to run my own record shop and moved to work for Andy's Records in Ipswich - where the rather excellent Dan Keeble got me to look beyond the surf era Beach Boys while I inflicted all kinds of Reggae into his ears

I then went and worked as a Manager for Music Zone and started to realise that the music industry was facing big problems and personally I started to realise that working in a record shop was really no different to working in Tesco - albeit with much more interesting produce. I left the industry, never to return.

During my years doing other things I have witnessed Tower, Andy's, Music Zone vanish. Most towns are now left with the option of buying from the Top 20 at their local Asda or from the hugely reduced music range now being held by HMV as their emphasis focuses more on DVD, Blu Ray, Ipod accessories and T-Shirts. In my town the only voice you hear now belongs to His Masters.

As sad as the gradual decline of Record Shops has been, looking through my collection of albums I have perhaps had more access to music than I have had before. I have always took advice from my friends and people I trust musically to help me navigate the waters. The explosion of the internet has done exactly that.

Pandora started it all for me back in 2006 when, through the use of a made up US Zip code I was opened up to a whole new world of music discovery - Pela and Micah P Hinson were just two of the artists that were induced into my collection - then along came Last Fm, Spotify, Mflow, Myspace, Amazon's recommendation service, BBC 6 Music, and of course Twitter. 

All of these help me discover music on an almost daily basis - the entire internet is now my record shop and you folks reading this are my Mod's, Jim's, Hay's and Hartley's as bands, songs and albums are shared, commented on and even purchase at quick lightning speed. Potentially I could suggest a band to you now and you could own their latest album in the time it takes you to make a cup of tea.

When I think of all the musical possibilities I feel conflicted. I love record shops - I always have done ever since I pestered my Mum at around 4 years old to buy me my first record but at the same time I also know that there isn't a record shop on earth that could supply me with the music I have discovered over the years - sure I could go into a record store an order the latest Pokey LaFarge album but I am sure that due to distribution and minimum order levels, it would take weeks to arrive and cost me twice as much as I paid for it to buy it direct online.

Don't get me wrong, I love record shops dearly. They are truly wondrous places where good things happen and Record Store Day is something we should all embrace and cherish, but due to lack of music buying options over recent years I have also grown to live without them. It makes me feel sad and a little guilty yet my music purchasing has not suffered as a result - it has grown more than I could ever imagine. 

But I do miss going into a record shop, I miss the rummaging - hours lost flicking through endless racks of CDs and glorious vinyl - the anticipation of the walk home, purchase in hand is much more satisfying than the anticipation of the Postman dropping your latest buy onto your doormat - and all of these are a millions times more wonderful than downloading what is essentially code from a website.

Support you local Record Store Day at


  1. Excellent - I used to buy mail order from Andys records years ago!!

  2. a wonderful insight into a music lovers world,my main reason for going on twitter initially to find like minded music lovers even if this love was for different music,its all about a kind of kindred spirit,the excitement of once browsing and buying a physical album now replaced by hours of internet trawling and reading people such as Dom`s comments blogs and recommendations...

  3. Tell me about it, I buy that much from the 'net nowadays I feel lost on the raer occasion I do wander into a record shop (2 small children doesn't help either) but I hope I am still pushing the boundaries of what I listen to even if I am still somewhat Stalinist in that I discount anything I listened to from about 6 months ago as dreck. Current obsessions - the original rockabilly which influenced the Fall and the Cramps, and everything I've never heard previously produced by Steve Albini. A month or so it was dub reggae.
    Respec' - Wolflord (whatever happened to Corpse Raper???)x

  4. The internet has been such a huge help in music discovery - I have found some great self releases etc that no record shop in the world would have stocked...but that has come at a price sadly.
    Corpse Raper are still recording - I hear dR fLeSh passed away though

  5. Say it ain't so, we can't trust Chunk to do the glockenspiel solo on their jazz-funk-death-metal orchestral fusion epic 'Song Of The Little Norwegian Woodcutter (Murder Death Baby Kill)' can we?

  6. Nice piece, Dom. I had no idea the development of your musical history was so rich.

  7. Great entry!

    It's very cool to read about people's history with bands, vinyl, influencers, etc.

    Having lived in small-town, midwest US, I've been able to start collecting vinyl (being on the West Coast/Long Beach) now. Luckily we have a great independent record store in town (Fingerprints), which had the Foo Fighters for their RSD11 in-store. Unfortunately they gave away the wristbands while I was at work, so missed that show.

    Been enjoying the blog... keep up the good work!