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Long Live Vinyl – A Magazine

I rarely buy magazines nowadays as I never seem to have the time to read them when I do, apart from ‘Record Collector’ now and then, however, I was in town with a couple of hours to spare a few weekends ago and wandered into WH Smith with a view to getting something, although I hadn’t thought much about what, when I spied a new magazine, called ‘Long Live Vinyl’. It’s the size of a record sleeve, about 12″ x  12″, which is a nice idea and comes in at 114 pretty big pages, it is pricey though at £9.99.

I retired to a coffee shop with a Hazelnut Latte and set about reading. It had articles that I would probably expect to see, such as most valuable records in the world, classic album: Revolver, Essential Bowie and a nice piece on Roger Dean, who did the Yes albums and more. None of these came as much of a surprise but were interesting nonetheless and well illustrated with photographs. A guide to Brighton record shops was a good read and if I ever go there I’ll be re-reading before I set off and there was a nice 8 page piece featuring a collector of Price records. Also included were equipment reviews, headphones was one, turntables another, cleaning tips for records along with album releases, new and re-releases.

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It was a good read and I ended up in the coffee shop for about two hours, without reading everything, I still have some pages to go yet. I liked it, I didn’t like the price, but the magazine was really good and it’s great to see a magazine solely focused on vinyl so I wish them all the best with this venture.

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SJ Records – Stratford Upon Avon

I was in Stratford Upon Avon today and found myself with a spare couple of hours so I did a quick search on my phone and found SJ Records, which is upstairs in an antique centre opposite Shakespeare’s birthplace. The chap there, who is originally from California, was great. We chatted about records as I flicked through the crates and built a little pile of records that I wanted on a chair. At one point he went off to get a pepsi and offered me one as well, which was very friendly I must say. Here is a quick 30 second look around, although this video I took does make me a little giddy:

There’s very much something for most tastes there and a few things I had, like a really nice copy of Mr.Beast by Mogwai, which I would have bought if I didn’t already have it. There’s some quite pricey records but the vast majority are between £4 and £8. Roughly in line with what one might expect to pay on Ebay but, of course, without the postage cost and the very good company whilst browsing.

So what did I buy? Quite a few 12″ singles, some were a little bit impulse, which is not necessarily a bad thing as I rarely regret impulse buys of vinyl. There were a load of 12″ by The Cult, who I have a soft spot for ever since I first heard ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ so I picked those up, even though I have the albums they are taken from. How could I resist this though?

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In fact, here it is on video (I sound old fashioned saying that I know but what else am I supposed to say?), TURN UP THE VOLUME!

Ok, so I just had to listen to that three times before carrying on, it’s one of my faviourites of theirs. Then there was Lil’ Devil, classic rock lyrics!:

Livin’ in a shack in a one-horse town
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goin’ down
Lizard in a bottle, yeah

Dizzy in a haze for 40 days
Hey there, little devil

Come on little devil
Be my little angel
Come on little devil
Be my, yeah, angel, ow

Oh, she came on with an alligator smile
Dynamite lover, scorpion child
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goes down, yeah

She came on with a cyclone kiss
Hey there baby, you don’t never miss
Lizard in a bottle, oh yeah

The third 12″ single I picked up was from the same album, ‘Electric’ (which is a great album, get yourself a copy), ‘Wildflower’:

The fourth, ‘Rain’, was a mistake. It’s from their second album, ‘Love’ and I like it a lot, but I already have the 12″, so now I have 2, it was £3 so not the end of the world, but I actually picked the wrong one up and left the one I wanted there. Oh well, it might still be there next time I go back and it’s an excuse to put it down below:

These guys are still going, still writing and releasing new music and I’m going to be picking up their latest album at some point. I’ve seen it on the racks but there’s always been something that I wanted that little bit more.

I bought another 4 12″ singles and a couple of albums and as I was about to pay I was given an £8 Tangerine Dream album (Phaedra) that I’d been looking at as a thanks for buying the other records, which was just wonderful, it made my day. So if you ever happen to be in Stratford Upon Avon then pop in, you never know, you might just have a pleasant time and find a record you’ve been looking for.

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Rapture – Record Store- Witney, Oxfordshire.

There are 2 record stores within around 20 minutes drive of where I work. This is the first of them that I’ve visited, in Witney, Oxfordshire. It’s in a sort of shopping arcade and the vinyl is all upstairs, which is a bigger square footage than the downstairs. I spent about 30 minutes there but still managed to dig through a lot of albums.

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I am all for stores selling vinyl, which should be obvious by now, but was disappointed. I found 5 albums in all this lot that I thought about buying. One was a re-issue of Phallus Dei by Amon Düül for £8.00, but the cover was absolutely knackered. The other 4 were jazz albums, in a section marked ‘Un-priced Jazz – Ask at the counter for details’. I almost did, but based on the prices of some of the priced Jazz albums in another section I decided against it as I really didn’t think they were going to be at a price I was prepared to pay, which wasn’t much at all. Perhaps I should have inquired, but I didn’t want them enough to bother.

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The feeling I had as I rooted through the albums was that most of the stock was made up of the parts of peoples collections that they were quite prepared to sell as they weren’t very good, or that a load of job lots had been bought up and there was nothing in them of much interest. I don’t want to sound overly negative, because conceptually it’s a nice shop, with a coffee bar, a seating area and a stage for in store performances, which is in the picture above, but for me, they don’t have the stock as yet. There was some to be fair, but the prices were too high for my blood, I can’t spend £40 on an Aphex Twin 12″ single, even if I want it, nor can I spend £18 on a Radiohead 12″ single when I know it’s available on line at £10. At the weekend I was talking to the owner of Seismic Records in Leamington Spa, one of my two local stores, about my willingness to pay a couple of £’s more than an online price as, when you take in to account P & P, it works out about the same, you are supporting a local business, and digging through piles of albums is fun! But £8 more is just too big a gap.

There was a small new vinyl section, but most of it was just a couple of £’s more than I would normally have to pay at my local store near home, so I left it, I would have been buying something just for the sake of buying something.

I did have a quick look through the 7″ singles, and there I found a lot that I would definitely have bought if the prices were lower. £8 for a single that is selling for £2.99 on Discogs, even with P & P is, again, too much of a gap.

I left with nothing, but I do wish them the very best of luck with it and, to be fair, if I’d had a bit more time maybe I would have found something I was prepared to pay an bit more for.

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Replacing a CD with Vinyl

It was quite normal a few years ago to replace vinyl with CD’s and to sell off the vinyl, after all, who needed them anymore when you had a swanky indestructible CD instead. I did a lot of that, but last friday I was in Bristol at Rise, a record store I had never visited before (and found through the vinyl district app), when I saw a vinyl repress of a CD I bought in Newbury Comics, Boston, the American one. The album was by ‘Comets On Fire’ and called ‘Blue Cathedral’ which just happens to have beeb re-issued by Sub-Pop as a ‘Losers’ version on blue vinyl. Yes please, and thank you.

It may well be called ‘Rise’ because it’s above a cafe, as you can see here:

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They had a really good vinyl section, probably as large, if not larger than the CD section and I found a lot of things I could have bought, but didn’t, I was being sensible.

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Every album had a sticker on it with a little description, some pertinent information, that sort of thing, which was a nice touch. The albums section turns right at the bottom and spreads across another wall and there are some smaller areas all with vinyl. There are also crates underneath and a small used section to dig through, I spent about an hour in there before leaving with my spoils.

Back to ‘Comets on Fire’ though. I had been looking to replace the CD for a while and had seen copies on the internet, but there’s something a little more special about buying an album from a record shop than from the internet, even if it is a couple of pounds more. If there’s postage to be paid that’s covered anyway. So here is my copy of the brilliant ‘Blue Cathedral’ on my turntable.

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I remember when I first played the CD that I wasn’t really into it and it went on the shelf for several months before it was played again, and, as sometimes happens, I loved it. Andy, who was in Newbury Comics with me when I bought the CD, thought it a good album, he turned out to be right.

The pitchfork review opens with:

Sub Pop debut from these chaotic Santa Cruz psych-feeders beefs up their production values to touch down as their hardest-hitting record to date. Drawing influence from Zeppelin, Hendrix, and Hawkwind, Blue Cathedral scales back the wanton experimentation of their previous albums to fire off post-Vietnam rounds of knotted feedback, monolithic riffs and outer-space jams. And perhaps its most impressive feat? At 53 minutes, it almost feels short.

And gives it an 8.5. I can’t really disagree, although I may have pushed the mark up to nearer 9. I’m a generous marker usually though.

Here’s some music from it:

Track List 
“The Bee and the Cracking Egg” – 7:45
“Pussy Foot the Duke” – 5:07
“Whiskey River” – 7:54
“Organs” – 1:45
“The Antlers of the Midnight Sun” – 4:06
“Brotherhood of the Harvest” – 4:39
“Wild Whiskey” – 3:00
“Blue Tomb” – 10:06

After ‘Rise’ I met up with the family (who tend to abandon me as soon as I come within close proximity of a record shop) at Wahaca for a bit to eat, it’s a few doors down from Rise. I don’t normally write about food but the meal was great, really fresh and vibrant, the waitress was knowledgeable and helpful and it was very reasonably priced, I’d recommend it if ever you are in the vicinity. I didn’t realise at first that it was a Thomasina Miers restaurant, who I remember rooting for to win Masterchef back in the day.