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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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Vinyl Supermarket

Yesterday I read a blog post by Lindsey  from April 2016 about supermarkets selling vinyl records, which had a negative opinion about it. I tend to agree with this but only to a point. As with CD’s, supermarkets sell what is in the charts or cheap re-issues of greatest hits, they don’t sell anything unusual or difficult to obtain, and don’t tend to do new releases unless they are by the biggest and most obvious artists. The same is currently true of their foray back into vinyl, they are all re-issues and offer and extremely limited selection at present. If it stays this way I’d have no problem with that, and was discussing it with the owner of Seismic Records in Leamington Spa the other month, who expressed concern. I understood this but as  said then, it opens the door for him in many ways as somebody buying one of these supermarket vinyls will, most likely, want to dig deeper into what is available, and where will they go to do that?

I think there is a degree of faddishness around the current increase in interest in vinyl records, which will fade again eventually, perhaps not in to the depths of obscurity that it fell before, but it will subside I believe and when it does, supermarkets will lose interest, but my positive outlook is that they will have helped fuel enough interest in enough people to sustain vinyl sales at a worthwhile level for the labels and artists to continue using it as a format.

I remember well when my own interest faded, which was due to CD’s. I didn’t have a CD player for a long time after the format became as big as it did but bought CD’s when I could anyway, in readiness for when I could get a player. I stopped buying vinyl at that point and when I finally got my CD player I started selling a lot of my records, which I regret now but there’s no point dwelling on that. The advent of MP3’s resulted in the same thing happening again, I stopped buying CD’s and now, with the advent of streaming music services I no longer buy MP3’s. Yet I’ve gone backwards, and buy Vinyl having not done so for a period of what must have been at least 10 years, probably 15. My remaining records went in a couple of crates in the loft, along with my music system as I played everything through bluetooth speakers from my phone or plugged my ipod into a dock and played things from there. One day I just brought it all back down from the loft, set it up, and I was of again, and there were a few reasons for this.

The first is ownership, I never really felt comfortable about owning MP3’s, I want something physical that I can hold and say, ‘This belongs to me’, which may be a bit shallow, a bit materialistic, but I don’t care. The second is size, CD’s are too small, I actually can’t read the liner notes nowadays (I do need new glasses though to be fair) as the text is so tiny and the artwork just looks better bigger. The third is most certainly a sense of nostalgia because it’s the format I grew up with. The fourth and final reason that comes to mind now is the sound, though I am not going to enter into any discussion of Digital vs Analogue the difference for me is that I am much more likely to play a record without headphones so that the sound fills the room, so that it travels through air to the ear making it seem richer and more real to me (and I like the crackles and pops as well, back to nostalgia).

Back to the supermarkets though, this is what I saw yesterday in my nearest large supermarket:

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And, for the very first time, a turntable, a crap one, but a turntable all the same:

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The albums are all pretty much classics, which I guess is a loss for the real record stores as it is their bread and butter I would think, but if you buy ‘The Queen Is Dead’ by the Smiths you may well want more, which the supermarkets don’t provide (bad choice actually as they do ‘Meat Is Murder’ as well), they do a couple of Beatles, a couple of Pink Floyd, a couple of Bowie and so on. If I look at the last 49 albums I bought, they don’t stock any of them, they did stock the 50th though as I bought it form there. Not a bad ratio although I am possibly not the best example of a normal purchaser of records.

All in all I think it’s neither a good thing or a bad thing that supermarkets stock vinyl, as long as they don’t try and provide what a real record store can, which I don’t think they will do. What is more worrying is the large corporate labels using up the limited resources of the record plants on re-issues of vinyl that could be picked up for a couple of pounds in a charity shop  to the detriment of the independent labels.

There is some delicate balancing to be done to ensure that the independent record store and publisher do not suffer too badly, and this can be done by the consumer. Personally I will always be using the record store and not the supermarket, at least at that 1 out of every 50 ratio as a maximum.

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The Get Down & Can

I recently watched the Netflix series ‘The Get Down’ which is based in the South Bronx, New York in 1977 around the birth of Hip-Hop, Rap and DJ-ing. I was immediately and repeatedly struck by the inclusion of the track ‘Vitamin C’ by Can from the album Ege Bamyasi, which I think was released around 1972.

I didn’t have a copy on vinyl, although I’d heard it a lot, so last week I got one. Maybe I’ll talk about it more another time but for now I just wanted to share the track.

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Gala Drop – II

The Electronic/Dance section of my local record store is probably my favourite.It’s not a big section but every month or so a super cheap album by somebody I’ve never heard of will appear there and decisions will then have to be made. I’ve sometimes just bought them, sometimes streamed a bit of it to see what it is like and sometimes left it there, though sometimes I’ve picked it up weeks later anyway.

With the price of new vinyl releases being in the £15-£30 range one has to be as frugal as possible, of course some releases are must haves and so you have to pay what’s asked if you want it, but one of the great joys for me in music is discovering new things, so when I see an album with a cover I like, by an artist I’ve never heard of in the Dance/Electronic section priced at £4.00, well, I’m probably going to give it a go. This was the case with ‘II’ by ‘Gala Drop’. I had no idea what it sounded like as I couldn’t get any phone reception to stream a bit of it and took a chance on it, and I’m so glad I did.

Before I say any more, why not press play below and have a listen for yourself:

In the couple of weeks since I bought it I must have played this album 20 or more times now, vinyl and streaming combined that is, and hear things in it that were quite possibly not meant to be there but serve as bookmarks to me of what I’m hearing. I’ll explain, while it is classified as Electronic, Rock, Funk / Soul, I hear Dub, Disco, Dance hall and, most oddly perhaps, Prog Rock, the latter being long passages that remind me of King Crimson. There’s also Space Rock, Psyche and Acid Jazz, I know, it’s an odd mish mash but somehow it really works.

Gala Drop are from Lisboa, Portugal, where the album was recorded and mixed. They are:

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Afonso Simões: Drums, Percussion and Synthesizers
Guilherme Gonçalves: Electric Guitar and Synthesizer
Jerry the Cat: Congas and Vocals
Nelson Gomes: Drum Machine and Synthesizers
Rui Dâmaso: Electric Bass

Tracklist

A1 You And I
A2 Big City
A3 Sun Gun
A4 Monad
B1 All Things
B2 Slow House
B3 Let It Go
B4 Samba Da Maconha

You may have heard of American ex-pat and veteran of the Detroit music scene Jerry The Cat who has worked everyone from Funkadelic and Parliament to Derrick May and Theo Parrish. He sings on the majority of the tracks and some of the tracks which could have turned out to just being elongated jams have more cohesion to them as a result of his contribution.

I think this album was a bargain for what I paid for it and there’s something I am unable to describe about it that strikes a chord with me, perhaps the nostalgic air of the influences I hear, perhaps not, but I do know that I like it, a lot.

 

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What were your top 5 albums of 2016?

I’ve figured out my top 5 albums of 2016, after much deliberation, probably too much, what were yours? There’s a poll thingy down below.

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The Listening List

22/12/2016 – 30/12/2016
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P.I.L – Live In Tokyo
Craig Armstrong – It’s Nearly Tomorrow
Adelbert Von Deyen – Atmosphere
Glitterbug – Dust
Max Richter – Sleep Remixes
Can – 
Ege Bamyasi
Deacon Blue – Fellow Hoodlums
Funkstörung – Funkstörung
To Rococo Rot – The Amateur View
Milan W. – Intact
The Cult – Sonic Temple
Björk ‎– The Music From Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Volume 1
Four Tet – Pause
Gala Drop – II

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All the way back in 2006

I was just looking at an album on Bandcamp and remembered I had a login for the site, so I did just that and up popped an album I put there in 2006, I’d completely forgotten it was on there. The album was recorded with a single Fender Telecaster and consists of very short instrumental pieces, which is why it’s called ‘Miniatures’. It was quite well received at the time by the few who listened to it.

Here are the release notes written by Robert Nunnally:

“Miniatures is both a concept and a recording format for this album. The album is the attempt to capture those moments of childhood existing o300x300nly in memory which, when recalled, cause a slight tightening of the chest at the realisation of things lost, and to capture the beauty of those moments in sound. These small moments, pristine in their imperfection, give rise to a reverie this album seeks, in a small way, to capture.

These tracks were recorded very quickly, with dead notes and interference left in for the most part. Each piece is by design a miniature in the way of childhood–with the good and the imperfect all part of the memory.

Each first successful take was kept and used, regardless of whether the central heating boiler or the washing machine decided to take the exact wrong moment to start up and cause clicks to the audio recording. This working process involved the use of only one instrument, in this case an old Fender Telecaster that has been damaged over the years. Some parts have been replaced, others repaired so that the way it plays appeals. The joy of creation lies in part, in the idea of the restriction. No other instrument was used.

Miniatures seeks to open again the doorway into the pristine imperfection of childish things. We hope you enjoy this reverie”.

I also have an album called ‘Massive’ somewhere, I’ll have to dig it out.

I’ve been thinking recently about doing some more recording, just for my own enjoyment, but taking into account the many different musical influences that I’ve absorbed in the last 10 years, less guitar, more keyboard, in the Electronic/Ambient field I suppose. If I get around to it I’ll put it up here for free listening, probably.

Edit: I just found this from Massive: