The nice people at Waterstones have invited VoxBox into their huge West End store as a pop up shop to help promote a book. That was an incredibly fun email to open and we jumped at the chance and ran and brought them some nice stuff to put in the window.
Yeah Yeah Yeah is the new book on POP by Bob Stanley. POP With capital letters. Bob Stanley is in Saint Etienne, he’s a well respected musician and seasoned music writer and record enthusiast who is now championing the hit parades of the past. As a vintage record shop, that’s our kind of guy!
But what to blazes is pop? I actually though that Saint Etienne were the first “serious” Pop band I was into. I saw them on The Word in 1990 when I was 13. They played You’re in a Bad Way and I fell in love with Sarah Cracknell. That was even the tune and video I picked for our very first song of the day on Facebook just after we opened in 2011.
After reading a few pages of this book it’s dawned on me that I am actually a HUGH pop fan and VoxBox is full of vintage pop. What we predominantly sell is or was popular music and that is a wide field indeed.
It’s all there though. The book is a massive 700 odd pages, so it is actually broad in its scope without trying to be definitive regarding any era. I also keep it by the bedside as a potential weapon in case of burglers. The book takes you from the 1950s crooners and the birth of the chart in 1953 through early Rock and Roll, Elvis, British Rock and Roll, Motown, Phil Spector, Joe Meek, The Beatles, Stones, Soul, Bowie, Bolan through Punk, Reggae, Prog, Hard Rock, Disco and New Wave. Then finally onto the rise of Indie music and Techno, stopping around 2003 with the download age. It basically fits in with 50 years of 7” singles and also I happy to say, is almost identical to our browser headings. The Rolling Stones are pop! Strewth, gimme shelter.
Anyway, while reading, I’ve been pulling out some 45s from our Backroom that Bob writes about. I was surprised to find that there have been a few gems under my nose for more than a few years.
Del Shannon has become a favourite artist. This was 1962 and the sound is pure garage band psychedelia. This was a great find for me. Exciting! The tune had been lost on the the B-Side. Thanks Bob!
So back to the book event! BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway will be interviewing Bob Stanley in the evening and Bob will be hosting a pop quiz. It’s on Tuesday 22nd October. We’ll have a shop on the 3rd floor by the music books and café. VoxBox George and I will have a mini pop music museum and record shop featuring much of the music in Yeah Yeah Yeah so folk can pop upstairs and have a listen. We’ll have some St. Etienne records old and new too that Bob might sign for you if you’re nice or something.
The talk and Q&A with Bob Stanley and Pop Quiz takes place later in the evening and is ticketed. Get tickets here.
I love a pop quiz and am a record geek, so this looks like good fun. As you’re reading this, you are maybe one too. If you’re only starting out buying records, this book would be a handy guide. Read it or dip in and it’s a gateway into the fascinating field of pop music history and will hopefully open your mind to where modern popular music evolved from (and from where it has so often recycled). I recommend finding the songs he mentions online while you read as there are hundreds of real gems. You can always find your favourites on vinyl later or have a trawl through our Backroom singles.
Bob manages to put the hits of the day in context. The Beatles first album may not be great by today’s standards (I’ll argue with George about this controversial idea later) but in understanding what came before and after, you can appreciate just how ground-breaking and important it was. For a youngster just getting into records, the book is the abridged bible of pop. For seasoned oldies but goodies who can remember the tunes when they came out, there’s nostalgia and the bonus of a nugget of trivia on every page.*
For instance, did you know that the bulk of Please Please Me was recorded in a day during a mammoth 10 hour recording session? Lennon had a cold, sucking on cough sweets and had a ragged throat. Twist and Shout was recorded in one take at the end of the session. A second was attempted but his voice was knackered. That’s why he sounds so gloriously rough!
Basically, I really recommend the book and am happy to plug it for that very reason. Tuesday will be busy, so if you do fancy the event, get a ticket early, or if not but you’re in town, come visit us on the 3rd floor and say hi. Just follow the sound of pop music up the stairs. Thanks also to Waterstones for helping a tiny shop like us. Our heads might even pop, as for one day only we can boast that we’re the largest record shop on Princes Street. (find us next door to HMV). Yeah Yeah Yeah!
I’ll finish with a pic of Del Shannon that I’ve made look a bit like Morrissey. Just for fun and to remind myself to buy more printer ink.
*More POP Trivia: Did you know that Iggy Pop was just plain Iggy Stooge until he shaved his eyebrows (why!?). It made him look like a local character who had a form of alopecia and no eyebrows. That guy was called Jimmy Pop.
Way before that, Jim Osterberg played drums in a band called The Iguanas. Getting called Iggy was probably folks taking the piss as the band wasn’t that good.