Nowt As Queer As UK Folk

Dom and I bring in some contemporary and old British folk music. I collect blue label TOPIC records and I managed to play a couple of favourites here.

We start with the MASSIVE My Mouth Ain’t No Bible from James Yorkston’s new album and Dom’s wonderful definition of folk music which should defo replace Wikipedia’s definition. We move into John Martyn who had offered James a run of support slots early in his career. The magnificent Karine Polwart, The Singing Campbells and The Travelling Stewarts give some acapella traditional songs, Was The Waggoner’s Lad inspiration for Led Zeppelin’s Bron Yr Aur Stomp? -Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band and some incredibly rare odd German folk thrown in at the end.

Liner Notes: On MacPherson’s Rant

It ends with a weird Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor jail ballad including the line “dirty water for your tea” from an EP that suddenly turns into You Cannae Throw Yer Granny Off a Bus which is the best way I could think of finishing any show.

This show was broadcast live on freshair.org.uk on 27th February 2019.

We Knew He Was Bad All Along

Who else has watched the 2 part Leaving Neverland documentary? It was incredible. Two lost boys able to finally tell their story.

The BAD album came out when I was in 1987 when I was ten and I remember his photo in a frame on my ten year old cousin’s bedside table. I was bamboozled that he would be there. He looked weird and unfanciable and was probably already known as Wacko Jacko in the red top newspapers.

Doing paediatrics at Medical School many years later we had a tutorial on the sexual abuse of children. The take away message from that was that sexual abuse of kids is incredibly common and that children don’t lie about it. That a kid changing their story to say it didn’t happen needs support as it actually most likely did happen.

The Jordan Chandler accusation of 1993 was settled out of court for $23 million.

Then 2005 court case which collapsed it seems due to lack of corroboration with a jury saying afterwards that they thought he was “a child molester” but there just was not enough evidence. Of course there was! The scared boy told the world (and Jackson’s maid had said she saw him showering and fondling a boy and that her own boy was abused too). A trial of a sex offender is lucky to have any evidence and a liar, if the maid was not to not be believed, would surely tell a bigger lie.

I am all for protecting the local eccentric from a vigilante group but perhaps we should at least have kept our distance from him after that point. It felt as if the world took a collective sigh of relief when he was found not guilty and tentatively he was played on radio again and held up again as a genius. The Court of Public Opinion which is so quick to stomp on someone these days had said “…but we like him”. A Scottish jury may well have come out with a “Not Proven” verdict which at least casts a -we’ll get you next time- shadow.

In fact, public opinion was so meh on the sex abuse that in 2009 he was booked to play ten shows at the O2. Then another forty! The Guardian reported an “astonishing comeback for a man who in recent years has been dogged by controversy”. The classier broadsheet papers turned a blind eye too you see. Would the writers of these pieces have left their kids with this “controversial” guy?

Controversial… What a euphemism that was.

We forgot that Jackson was doing these concerts as he was likely skint following $200 million paid in hush money to abused kids over the years (probably an exaggeration but still a load of cash). Who would want to take a chance with poverty and smears testifying against a celebrity multimillionaire if he can make you a multimillionaire and let you disappear?

Bravery is being able to say the detailed things that these two guys have said and feel not one bit of shame. Hey folks, this is it. I loved the guy at the time but this is the truth about what he did to me when I was 7.

I am not frightened and I am not ashamed.

What is a record shop with a Michael Jackson Section to do? Well, what shops should have done a long time ago. We throw out many undesirable records as it is and he has now joined them as charity shop fodder. I feel a little bit for Quincy Jones who produced the greatest MJ albums as well as the many others that were involved in the creation of the music but to say that the work is tainted is a massive understatement.

BAD and the Jackson catalogue are perhaps the Mein Kampf of albums. Things that should only be sold in future with profits going to an appropriate charity. The Hitler comparison is accidental as I don’t think he could moonwalk but it’s the only example I can think of at the moment. I think there is a ban on controversial guys making a profit from their crimes so therefore selling their story is verboten.

Who can listen to album opener I Just Can’t Stop Loving You in the same way. Smooth Criminal? Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough from Thriller. There are a lot of sexual lyrics “Your butt is mine…” and the thrusting and crotch grabbing. Who can listen to and watch this stuff?

I don’t think there is an argument to be made for keeping them. Oh he was a genius… Well, that is not the first thing that goes through my mind when I think about him. He was a manipulator, a predator and a calculating liar. A serial pederast and a bad man. He knew this himself and that seems to me why he kept changing his face. A real-life Picture of Dorian Gray that was not hiding in the attic all along but was hiding in plain sight right in front of our eyes, on bedside tables, bedroom posters and on the front pages of the papers for decades. Hidden for all these years by Francis Bacon’s scalpel, Colonel Gaddafi’s Saturday night wardrobe and the real-life Peter Pan* spiel- a boy who lost his own childhood through fame and touring and who’s father was mean to him and teased him about his nose. A lie that had him left alone with kids just as he wanted. The original title of Peter Pan was The Boy Who Hated Mothers.

The many hours of documentary/testimony has had a powerful effect and I simply can’t bear to look at his face anymore, so I’m taking them off the wall/shelf.

What about Ben? A gentle ballad about a boy and his pet mouse? Those singles turn up pretty often and it is a nice wee thing.

It is not about a mouse, it is about a rat… From the soundtrack to a horror film sequel about a pet rat called Ben.
A lonely boy named Danny Garrison befriends Ben, the leader of the colony of rats trained by Willard Stiles. Ben becomes the boy’s best friend, protecting him from bullying and keeping his spirits up in the face of a heart condition.

However, things gradually take a downward turn as Ben’s colony becomes violent, resulting in several deaths. Eventually, the police destroy the rat colony with flame throwers, but Ben survives and makes his way back to Danny. The film closes with Danny, tending to the injured Ben, determined not to lose his friend.

Jackson is Ben, we are the boy.

*JM Barrie’s biography is controversial.

Scott Hutchison

The BBC website put up a list of the Notable Deaths of 2018 on 30th December.
It was missing Scott Hutchison. Maybe that is a good thing. The list doesn’t seem to be in any order and he could have appeared between Kofi Annan and Geoffrey from Rainbow. Or between Barbara Bush and Barry Chuckle. Maybe he would have liked that. The listing of deaths is pretty crass really. What were your top five records of the year? Top five celebrity deaths? Top five moisturisers? Maybe he wasn’t famous enough for the list of Notable Deaths 2018 although a guy called Lord Heywood of Whitehall was on there. Perhaps they weren’t sure about publishing a photo of someone that took their own life on the site as per guidelines for obituary reporting.

But I do think that one is lucky to live a life worthy of an obituary and Scott certainly did so up yours to the BBC list.

A friend once told me he was surprised that when his granny died that it wasn’t on the news. We were in primary school and he was joking. He was my best friend and he died 20 years ago when he was just 21 by jumping from a tall monument. I’ve been trying to write something about what Scott meant to me for a long time but the words are mixed with the odd old feelings about my friend Murray but I will try to put something together that will hopefully make some sense.

A family was in the shop one day near the end of last year when I was in covering for Andy -which is rare these days. I overheard a mother say to a teenage son when she passed our FRIGHTENED RABBIT section. “Oh, that’s Frightened Rabbit; One of them died earlier this year”. She was greeted with a shrug from her son. It was just trivia. I felt equally sick and paralysed as they walked out of the door.

I wanted to say “actually his name was Scott! He’d tell you that at the start of one of his solo gigs even though we all knew it was him. He was the lead singer and the main songwriter of the band which is named after what someone said he looked like when he was wee. He was a song-writing genius! I’ve met him before donchaknow! He played outside the bloody shop to 100 or more people! There was a cat! I wanted to gush out what Scott’s music has meant to me over the years but there was simply too much to say to simply the wrong person.

A newspaper cutting of a photo of Scott appeared on my kitchen noticeboard in 2013 and it has stayed there over the years as clubcard vouchers and appointments have come and gone. Scott staring into the distance, looking all windswept and interesting. My wife is fan too.

We met only a handful of times. The Scottish music scene is compact and he stayed in Edinburgh for a while so that was perhaps inevitable. We weren’t friends as such, I didn’t have his phone number but I think he’d have stuck up for me if I was getting my head kicked in by a bunch of drunk kids on a night out in Selkirk. He would have done that anyway. Saying that, he was a best friend of many of my friends – musical and not and it feels like losing a classmate at school. He was admired. Respected and admired. There was no hint of a chip on the music scene’s shoulder when Frightened Rabbit were signed to the great indie label FatCat, or when they were signed to the major label Atlantic. You know, as he became more famous, lots of people wouldn’t ask him to do favours as they knew he would probably say yes and they knew he was busy.

I have stared at him playing on stage live exactly 12 times as I have counted them all and all the songs I have always loved. Over the years I was drawn in and well, I am basically a fan of Frightened Rabbit. I have met FR fans since that have never seen the band and I now feel especially privileged to have shared time in the same room as the man and the band. Once my wife and I couldn’t think of where to go on holiday so went to Vienna for a few days as we knew Frightened Rabbit were playing a small festival there. Then up to a sweaty loft in Forres for the Highland Tour. The signed tour poster is on the wall of our hall.

Maybe they could do a hologram tour like they did with Roy Orbison. Hologram Scott taking the piss out of a heckler in the audience. I would pay heaps for that!

I am glad he touched my life with the music and THE WORDS. And what words Scott! They hit a deep, visceral place. Then he could just throw out some wonderful lines like “my trousers seem to love your floor” (from My Backwards Walk).

The few times we met, although brief, were special to me. I felt special that he even followed me on Twitter. Be careful what you type… Scott might be listening when you are up late at night. And he would probably be up late. He was good on twitter too.
“Woke up, felt like shit. Started doing a song, felt better. #WednesdayWisdom”

The hair on my neck was on end when he came to play on Record Store Day two years ago which happened a few years after a short twitter conversation we had. I had hoped he would join us for a few beers and a sing-along in VoxBox after closing but he had committed to another gig as a favour to someone later in the evening back in Glasgow. That was Scott. He had asked to play outside so his brother’s kids could see. Yep, that too.

I know it is very late but I did make a top ten list of 2018… It was of things I liked about being a fan of Scott Hutchison and Frightened Rabbit. And here they are.

1. The spontaneity. A message would appear on Facebook that Scott was doing a show that evening. We would get changed and go out to places like Sneaky Pete’s or The Electric Circus. His alter ego, Owl John, started appearing I think to bypass the booking agent. Later, Frightened Rabbit would play secret gigs as an unheard of band called Footshooters.

When you would watch Scott on stage the banter was (usually) good. You could see his mind working as his eyes would look up to the side and he would smile to himself. At times it felt like he was trying to make sense of the weirdness of being a performer. Or maybe he was thinking about something he could say but wouldn’t. He had a cheek.

2. I love the cheek. He was sharp and could prick a bubble. I thought he was always a step ahead of what everyone in the room was thinking. In Sneaky Pete’s once he was taking requests and there was a gap near the end of the gig and spotting my chance I called out for him to play The Twist. My throat was dry and it came out “tweeeiast!”. This was picked up on…

3. I love the feeling of calm. Like wearing a comfy pair of slippers in front of a coal fire. He would hold his guitar with an easiness that said “you’re all fine, I’m not going to make a mistake and even if I do, I won’t let it bother me so don’t let it bother you”. When he was performing, I loved that assuredness. Call out a song! I’ll play it. They were all at the tips of his fingers. Someone would always call out Snake. He hated Snake but that was an in-joke from before I even knew the band. Here is the story about Snake.

4. I love the guitar playing. He was a lovely fingerpicker too and some of the songs are really quite intricate in terms of rhythm or just a few of the fiddly trills like Paul Simon does to start a song… He could really move around within one chord. There is a great version of him playing Get Out that I keep going back to. It is more than just a guy playing guitar; he keeps you engaged and sounds like he is all the members of a band.

5. I love the simplicity of the songs too. At least that they seem simple on the outside but they are far from that. They feel like songs that can never date. Some musicians can pluck the songs that have always existed out of the air and get them recorded quickly and seemingly effortlessly. He had that and he made the craft of songwriting look so easy. You hear more with every listen and the words set them off. What words Scott!

A few lines I thought I got were “give me the cloth and I’ll wipe my face”. There was a documentary about a relic years ago. A rag that was used to mop Jesus’ brow called the Veil of Veronica. I wondered if he saw that TV program.

A Spanish Boy’s Flannel?

The song Backyard Skulls reminds me of digging in the backyard while living in a council house in New Pitsligo when I was aged 6 or 7. There was a dog skull missing a few teeth. I was excited because I though I had found a fossil.
Swim Until You Can’t See Land reminds me of a scene in the film Gattica.

6. I love the singalong too. How can a song called The Loneliness and The Scream have such an uplifting and po-going sing along? Woah-oh-oh-oooh! I saw him with Frightened Rabbit at the HMV Picturehouse and he played the delicate Poke on his own. It sounded like only the women in the audience were singing. I think he started the song and the audience sang the whole thing with him. It was beautiful, delicate and feminine. No one flinched as 500 women sang the line “Should we kick it’s cunt in?”.
Ah, I’ve found it!

7. I love the swearing. Fuck this place. It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm. You’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it (that’s a compliment right?). There is a C bomb in Music Now that isn’t too obvious and that track has snuck onto BBC Radio. Here is Keep Yourself Warm from the Forres gig in 2012.

8. I love his dealing with hecklers. “Is this your first time?” “You’re not very good at this”.

9. I love his support of the scene. The support of art and poetry collective Neu! Reekie. More spontaneity. I saw him play Cheap Gold at the Leith Docker’s Club which was the venue for the Christmas Songwriter’s Club. Bring a song they said. So he wrote one for it. He was dripping with songs. Stick him in a bothy alone or with a collaborator and there would be a mini masterpiece by the end of the day.

I though we had lost him to fame and success when he went to LA after being signed to Atlantic Records. Frightened Rabbit were soon selling out big venues quickly and it was hard to get tickets to home gigs if you weren’t quick. But before too long he was back and playing Tom Petty covers at a Neu! Reekie poetry inspired Christmas event in Edinburgh.

10. I loved his openness. In the songs themselves and the between song chat. The self-deprecating wit and the sense of absurdity. He talked about sitting in a room with some Billy Joel records and whisky at a later Christmas Songwriter’s at The Queen’s Hall.

11. (for there are many more than 10 things). I love the cover versions. I only started appreciating Born In The USA era Bruce Springsteen after hearing Scott’s version of I’m Going Down.

12. When he was getting into a song he did a head bobbing thing and he would usually say “cheers” at the end. I could go on and on for pages and ages until you shake me and say get a hold of yourself man!

But that is the person that I felt I knew. I knew him mostly only from the songs, the interviews, the look in the eye and the enigmatic stare into the distance… and by just being in the audience over the years – even just through that I felt I knew him well and he brought fun and warmth into my life. The gut punch of the news he was missing was familiar and upsetting and I know that this will lessen in time. He leaves a terrific legacy both in terms of creative output and in the tiny changes he continues to inspire in others. I miss him but I saw some people who really knew him last August at a poetry event that he would have been co-hosting. His mum came and spoke. That is something that put the grief that I have felt into perspective. Did you know she would buy Scott poetry books? “I never knew if he read them” she said (I’m sure he did) and she was a wee bit embarrassed at the swearing. What great swearing!

Going back to our first Record Store Day in 2012, I had loaded the car with the few boxes that we had and we headed down to the shop over the cobbled New Town streets and we had Living in Colour blaring on the car stereo. An ipod connected to an adapter cassette that was in the old car’s tape player. Terrified that no one would be there as we turned into St Stephen Street, I was chuffed to see a tiny queue. What a song! We can unpick the lyrics later but it is so uplifting. One of so many mini masterpieces written by Scott and the wonderful Frightened Rabbit.

That’s what I had wanted to say to the lady and her shrugging lad.

My first Frightened Rabbit gig was actually in Peebles in 2011 only a few weeks after I opened the shop and it was really my introduction to the Scottish music scene and I have been hooked ever since. I am so glad that somebody captured the energy of the performance.


Thank you Scott.

Lunar Vortex Incantations (and rsd launch event)

On Thursday we celebrate the announcement of the Record Store Day 2019 list. We sent Burnt Paw a smoke signal to see if he would like to come down and play some of his beautiful songs and he Facebook Messengered back and said yes. I must get better into modern communication

and poster design…

So the event is from 1800-2000 officially which gives you time to get home from work, have a quick supper and come down to the shop. Or skip supper and get some grub from Bell’s Diner or the Baked Tattie shop. You will work it out. The RSD people will send us a list to pass around. And we can all have a nice chat about the records. Some will be overwhelmed at the 500 or so releases. Many may be underwhelmed when they only recognise the inevitable Bowie picture disc and something by U2. But the joy of RSD is that you are not supposed to recognise all of the bands as you are not meant to be a fan of everything!

Most of the releases will be very exciting to small pockets of fans and if you Dig a bit you might find something you didn’t know you liked. I for one only discovered the Brian Jonestown Massacre due to a Record Store Day release a few years ago and am being slowly bankrupted by trying to buy the entire back catalogue. We actually now have a Brian Jonestown Massacre section. Which reminds me; their guitarist popped in a few years ago after a Glasgow gig (no Edinburgh date!) and I didn’t recognise him. He asked if we had some obscure Australian punk bands and his accent was a bit weird so I asked the fellow which part of Australia he was from and he said California. Cue a facepalm that could be detected by seismologists in Sydney.

So lets get together; Sheilas bring your Bruces and we can share embarrassing stories and stand around for a bit listening to the wonderful PAW while having a tinny or two -or bring your own grog of choice mate, throw some sangers on the Barbie, park your ute, flamin’ galah! etc etc.

Updates will be on the Facebook Event Page.

Burnt Paw’s new album Lunar Vortex Incantations will be released on March 1st.

Fire Maidens is the first song to come out and it is a fingerpicked gem.

More instore news to come and keep an eye out for our Record Store Day event. RSD is on Saturday 13th April this year so keep you diaries free for that too. We will be doing it slightly (massively) differently this time but if the stars align we should hopefully manage to create one of the best wee events in the UK.

The B Side Show

I couldn’t make the show this week so Dom did the presenting and DJing. We had planned a MONO show as one of the turntables has a bad RCA cable and sometimes only one channel comes out. It was a last minute drop out from me and Dom managed to throw some records in a bag and off he went. He went for B-Sides as he is the other half of the VoxBox Vinyl Show. It is a pretty difficult thing to do on yer own as the turntables and the microphones/control desk are in different rooms so it involves teeing up 2 records, a bit of chat and running to hit START and reload them and spin them to the start of the record where the music is while thinking about something to say at the same time. Freshair have invested in some brand new decks to replace the temperamental SL1200 workhorses. But they aren’t here yet.

I suppose Dom’s message is in this B side of The Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon from 1966:

And he certainly isn’t like anybody else.
Normal service resumes Wednesdays 2100-2200 live on www.Freshair.org.uk

Full show can be found here:

https://www.mixcloud.com/voxboxradio/voxbox-vinyl-show-b-sides/

Cut The Crap -International Clash Day Podcast

Recorded live in the Freshair.org.uk studio at The Pleasance on 6th Feb. (Edinburgh Student Radio station). Our first show of 2019 and I was told they’d spent serious money on new decks and mixer. Only to find the old temperamental ones with loose wires that often send only one channel to the mixing desk. It adds to the chaos.

Each week I tell my co-host Dominic about the theme of the show, often at short notice and he brings a bag of nice records and I pull out things from all over the place – which seems how they are stored at home – and then we play some of them and have a bit of a chat. I try to fill in sometimes while he queues up the next track with variable results.

This is a pure Clash show with a wee bit reading of a short interview or 2 from a book I picked up in Fopp a long time ago -in an authentic sounding Joe Strummer accent. Only it isn’t a very good authentic Joe Strummer accent.

So this is an hour of The Clash. I love them. Dom loves them. You will too after this!

https://www.mixcloud.com/voxboxradio/radio-clash-international-clash-day/

Police on my back!

Good job I didn’t caption “Liam Neeson On My Back” or we could have been in trouble.

International Clash Day – All The Young Punks, 40 Years Later

We are one of only a handful of record shops celebrating International Clash Day on the 7th February. We were asked, I love the band, made a poster and an event and there you go.

Edinburgh’s Burning! Na na na na na…

We will be playing all of The Clash studio albums chronologically over the day including the final disowned (Quarter-Clash) album that everyone tries to forget, Cut The Crap. There is likely to be some live music too so check in for updates.

[Update – Jon MacKenzie will come and strummer a few Clash tunes for your pleasure at around 2pm]

If you have any memorabilia of Clash gigs in Edinburgh or hereabouts, photos, gig tickets, posters, wild stories (or just fond memories) and so on, please share them with us. They seemed to have played the Odeon a lot!

From the Edinburgh Gig Archive.

Most of the older record buying population of Edinburgh are punks. We are a Clash City if ever there was one outside of London. These are some of our favourite customers and sadly, many of the nicest original punk rock record collections that have come in lately were brought in by the widows of recently deceased original punk rockers.

The day itself had been set up originally by Radio KEXP in Seattle in 2013 as an annual celebration of the band and it seems that the UK is late to the party. This year’s date is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of London Calling.

As they put it: “This year, KEXP will broadcast live from London from February 4 through February 7, featuring many UK bands that we think embody the spirit of The Clash”.

“This is anti-racist, and anti-fear. This is pro-solidarity, pro-unity, and pro-inclusion. This is a public service announcement with GUITARS.
This is International Clash Day 2019, and all day long, all across the globe, we’re celebrating music as a tool for social consciousness, a band that made it sound so damn good, and an iconic record that still changes lives 40 years later.”

More info on the website: http://internationalclashday.com/

The Clash would never have been labelled snowflakes in the past or present and it is worth thinking about why that is. They are great role models and I would be happy if my two young boys and heirs to the VoxBox empire followed the morals of The Clash. Well mostly…

“Black man got a lot of problems, but he don’t mind throwing a brick”
White Riot

Police on my back!

There will be no brick throwing allowed in the shop, St Stephen Street or Stockbridge. In fact, no riots, no burning and no fighting the law will be allowed on International Clash Day or any other day. Any punk caught throwing bricks will be put on the shop’s naughty step for one minute for every year of their age. That could be 55 minutes or more for most of those that were at the original Clash gigs and is a significant proportion of an old Scottish Punk’s remaining life.

So get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Get on some meds to help your pressure drop then get your old gear out (those safety pins may come in handy) and come down to VoxBox for International Clash Day on the 7th February to hear the band played LOUD and to talk all things Clash. Crack a beer and enjoy yourselves even though it’s a school day. Here is Joe Strummer doing exactly that outside of the now demolished St. James Centre.

RADIO CLASH:
Join us the day before on Wednesday 6th when we will be playing only Clash with record shop chat included on the VoxBox Vinyl Show on Freshair Radio from 2100-2200. www.freshair.org.uk

Anyone wondering what the fuss is about the Clash should check out this sweaty performance. They were all sweaty performances…

Clash bricks made with the stencil from Straight To Hell 12″ single.

Our poster features an image of Beltane Fire Festival 2012 and this was altered under Creative Commons Licence. I was not able to find the owner of the photo of Notting Hill Riot that I titled “Police On My Back”.

VoxBox Vinyl Show Christmas Special 2018

Broadcast on Freshair Radio 12/12/2018. Darren VoxBox and Dominic present a selection of Christmas themed tunes you may never have heard before. Well, some you will have; some you should have and some you will never wish to hear again. Ever wondered what Paul McCartney had on the B-Side to Wonderful Christmastime? With record shop based chat and vinyl geekery thrown in.
Featuring Shonen Knife, RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Ella Fitzgerald, Emmylou Harris, Paul McCartney, Plastic Ono Band, The YOBS, the Glitter Band and more…

Listen on mixcloud.

https://www.mixcloud.com/voxboxradio/voxbox-vinyl-show-christmas-special-2018/

Weekly shows on Fresh Air Radio recommence in late January 2019. Listen live Wednesdays 2100-2200. www.freshair.org.uk

The HMV Money-go-round

HMV have gone into administration again. There was a Guardian article saying how we don’t need HMV anymore and the response from labels, music distributors and even independent shops like us is that it is not a good thing for the music industry as a whole but I don’t want to get into that because this is not really a story about a high street chain that can’t compete with Amazon and downloads. It is a story about the short term thinking of Vulture Capitalist companies and tax efficient licensing agreements.

Strictly speaking, the company that owns HMV has gone into administration. That company is called HMV (Retail). After a quick look at their publicly available accounts I see that it took out a loan of £8 million at 8% interest a few years ago. Over the past few years the company has been losing money which was fine for them as they had that loan and others to help keep things ticking over. They were not putting much away for the pensions of the 2000+ employees. £300,000 per year or about £150 each. They were also somehow managing to pay £5 million a year to another company HMV (Brand). This is a very profitable company that doesn’t seem to do much. It is very much not in administration. It also pays very little tax on its millions of earnings due to “group tax relief” whatever that is.

So HMV (Retail) is bust while lots of money has left the company to HMV (Brand) in what I presume is a shady licensing agreement. Both companies are owned by Hilco who presumably don’t care about music. One is designed to be profitable. The other? Well that one will take out the loans and so survival doesn’t matter so much. The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/vulture-fund-hilco-capital-took-48m-from-ailing-hmv-88dnf37qs

Get rid of the company, get rid of the debt… It is what EMI did years before when they sold the HMV part of the business off with £100 million of debt that they (probably -in case lawyers are reading) had no plan to repay.

Entertainment Retailers Association figures

Physical music sales have been declining but relatively slowly. Netflix and video streaming has led to plummeting DVD sales. Your second hand DVDs are becoming worthless…

Maybe that came as a surprise to them but I think that HMV as a shop on the high street was not meant to survive under Hilco’s stewardship. It was a handy vehicle for them to take money out while eventually screwing their creditors, employees and the taxpayer who have to pick up the pension bill. Of course HMV was going to struggle against downloads and on an individual level many store managers and employees will have done their best to make money on the high street against a backdrop of declining physical sales and so on.

The total spend on music and entertainment (including downloads and streaming) is still steady at around £5 billion a year. People are still paying for music! HMV perhaps did not try very hard to break into the digital side, that would have cost money.

The timing? Just after they have sold potentially millions of pounds of vouchers to capitalise on the Christmas market. They saw it coming, they did, they did. They sacked their auditors Deloitte in November.

The borrowed money? That £8 million is due to be paid back early in 2019. Oooft! Perfect timing and a reminder if you see a fixed 5 year type investment paying 8% to stay well clear.

What to expect? Well, HMV as the public knows it will be “rescued”. A new company will be set up and rents will be renegotiated, some shops will close. New loans will be taken out and we start again with money being siphoned to a side company that licenses the HMV name. This is an unhealthy way of doing business. Perfectly legal, but in my opinion pretty immoral and causing a lot of worry to many in the wider music industry which will continue for many months. I am not sure if more people “supporting the high street” and shopping in HMV would have saved it. Just further lined the pockets of Hilco.

The music business has always had a shady side as far as contracts go as this Kinks tune explains.

For those with a sense of deja vu, I wrote about the HMV demise in 2013 Giving a Dog a Bad Name. I am still fond of the HMV brand for various reasons.

HMV (Brands) filed accounts.
HMV (Retail) filed accounts

In Awe of Burnt Paw

Edinburgh musicians Wounded Knee and Withered hand have played in the shop in the past and I will save Sair Belly, Stoated Finger and A Bit of Gout for a future date as they don’t exist yet.

However, earlier this year, we signed Burnt Paw to the shop label in the loosest sense and have made a wee run of his mini album, Stolen Apples Lost Crowns on CD so he has something to sell at gigs and in the shop. Copies come with free artwork. It seems Paw has destroyed a book to create this artwork, so he is possibly a terrible person really.

He struck me with his creativity and speed. He appeared at the shop out of the blue, he soaked up some bits and bobs of Edinburgh and he simply keeps making music, drawing and writing things down. I like that a lot. If the muse is there, then go there and create. It won’t always be this easy…

Paw kicked off Record Store Day for us earlier in the year and impressed the BBC Radio Scotland team who were covering our event enough to get a song he played broadcast on the wireless as part of their more general RSD coverage. A song that was caught by a crafty bootlegger!

Thank you crafty bootlegger! But alas the footage is gone.

Try this one of a song I don’t know.

Indeed he has impressed a lot of folk since he flew in on a giant white tailed sea eagle at the beginning of the year. With runes around his neck, pockets jangling with odd coins with square holes in the middle and little cast iron keys and a few polished stones – A wonderful currency but one that through necessity is spent only in odd places like my three and a half year old’s mind. Then there are the weird little birds and other things drawn on his jacket. He smells of cookies and his arms are tattooed too. Welcome to my life Paw, I love you.

You can hear the full mini-album Stolen Apples Lost Crowns here:
https://burntpaw.bandcamp.com/

We released a video for Horsey Horsey which was promoted as a single from the album. Thank you to everyone that reviewed it and played it, there is more to come. A book of poetry in 2019 and more music. Keep an ear out for he is really good.

Liner Notes:

“Mystery leaves a stronger mark than facts on our imagination. Songs are the deep well in forbidden orchards, ringed with echoes and unfinished journeys. Cast your leaking bucket into the black space behind the eyes and see what gets hauled back up. Rocks, dead frogs, whistles, hats. Reflections covered in mud and stars.

I recorded these short stories one after the other and they emerged as complete as they were unknown. It felt like an ambush by my own shadow. Something clicked into place, moon bones in the rainbow’s skeleton. Landscapes and voices brushed upwards against the light before disappearing. They said: creative survival is what it’s about.

Keep loafing. Who knows what you’ll find? Stolen apples, lost crowns.”
PAW

Red Dog interview with PAW
Twitter: @burnt_paw
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/burntpawsongs/

Voxbox Blog

The Shop

VoxBox Music became the newest record shop in the world on May 21st 2011. We buy and sell vinyl and other formats of music. We are independent and sell mostly pre-owned records although we are slowly branching into new vinyl too.

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