When a collection of 45s from the 1960s comes in my pulse begins to race. Boom boody boom. I love singles you see. But there is a problem in that all too often they come in all higgldy-piggledy in a box and worse still they are nearly always in the wrong sleeves. It happens naturally when you’re listening to singles and I do it myself often during a listening session. The discs get taken out of their sleeves to be played and to save time when you change records, you don’t immediately re-sleeve the record you have just taken off. At the end there are records everywhere and you just want to protect them before going to bed so you stick them into the nearest sleeve. This was much more likely to happen when six at a time could be stacked on a Dansette multi-changer or when swingers were bringing them to parties in the 1960s. They rarely come in looking neat and tidy like this:
When you’ve been around singles for a while you start to notice the major differences with the company sleeves. And then there are the minor differences which is why you shouldn’t do what I have started to do. The Rare Record Price Guide has long informed collectors on the particular Parlophone sleeve variation that each Beatles single belongs in. -The Beatles are a well-documented special case. Unfortunately, I have since found a website that documents virtually all of the UK company singles sleeves and when they were used. If you collect singles, for your sanity, don’t look at it.
With a collection of 100 records I can easily force VoxBox Andy to spend a tedious half an hour reuniting artists with their label sleeves. The Beatles with Parlophone sleeves and the Rolling Stones with Decca Sleeves and Cliff and the Shadows with Columbia. The Pye sleeves with Donovan and so on. The blue Pye ones are particularly fragile and had a tendency to hold onto grime. You don’t usually end up with a complete match either. Although a self-contained collection should in theory have the right records and sleeves somewhere among them, it is not always that simple; you can easily end up with a stack of 45s without sleeves and a bunch of spares leaving you wondering what the real story behind the collection is. It can seem that if your records weren’t stolen or ruined in the 1960s , you weren’t there. (The last box of 60s singles to come in arrived in a suitcase and had no sleeves at all!)
And then, if indeed they are in the right company sleeve; if say a 1963 Cilla Black single is there in a collection with a 1964 Billy J. Kramer one and both are of course on the Parlophone label and they each should have a different sleeve variation. Then I could look at the website and check what is probably right –which single belongs where. Or I could simply sod them both, put them in plain white sleeves for the Backroom and harvest the Parlophone sleeves so that two divorced or bereaved (and more valuable) Beatles singles can be happily re-married to the matching pair. Some sleeves will be even be worth more than the record inside them and no doubt, many a Mint condition Adam Faith single sleeve has run away with an original copy of The Beatles’ Love Me Do. Another cruel blow as his successful ballading career was effectively destroyed by the Fab Four’s arrival.
Adam Faith -Love Me Don’t?
For some bands, it matters a lot less… Firing The Shadows’ singles into random different styles of Columbia sleeve for the Backroom I can totally accept but for the front shop records it presents a quandry. I like them to be perfect you see. For some sleeves I don’t yet know the company that made it, let alone the band that it belongs to but armed with the knowledge of what is and is not right, it is becoming much more difficult to unite a nice company sleeve with an otherwise naked single. To knowingly put a record into the wrong sleeve feels like being an accomplice to infidelity. Especially so if it is a rarity.
Admittedly, some of the sleeve differences are so subtle as to be utterly tedious. For instance I draw the line at making a distinction between the seven CBS variations between 1972 and 1979 but would still like the records before 1972 (eg. Dylan, The Byrds, The Tremeloes) and after 1979 (Blue Oyster Cult) to be in their right, more distinctive sleeves. It’s not an exact science at all as sleeves and records weren’t produced in equal numbers so you do get overlap. Also the companies at the time didn’t know people would be bothered by this so the record keeping is not great. In fact, some differences can be as subtle as the way the sleeve is glued or if the paper at the top is wavy or straight and the site can’t actually tell you which records went into Columbia sleeves 9 and 10…
Spot the difference, sleeve 9 on the left
It seems that if you were a band in the 1960s then in order for your records to still look good sixty years later in the VoxBox record shop, it will help to have been on a record label that had some very popular artists that have since become unfashionable. For example, there is no excuse for any Animals record to have an untidy sleeve as shops will tend to throw out the Cliff Richard records (sorry Cliff) and keep his Columbia sleeves for… basically the Animals or the Yardbirds or the impossibly rare Vashti Bunyan Train Song single that virtually no one bought. (Red wavy top hairdryer Columbia in case you’re checking)
Labels that had a greater proportion of artists with kudos longevity have sleeves that are harder to come by, especially in Excellent condition. Favourites include the Ex-Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label with the wonderful typeface and cheeky “at better record shops everywhere” tagline (Humble Pie, Small Faces), Vertigo has a swirl that makes my dealer friends incredibly excited (Black Sabbath, Juicy Lucy) and Harvest (Deep Purple) with its Roger Dean designed logo. Trojan and Chess don’t turn up very often either. So many have become iconic (if only to a select group) and can even now be found on T-shirts.
(Still available?) at better record shops everywhere
So, keep an eye out for a nice sleeve but please don’t do what I do. – It takes ages. Some super purists will buy their record an appropriate company sleeve but still want to keep the original one even if it is tatty to the extent that it’s falling apart. They’re crazy right? They themselves are probably single but as so often is the case, I’m sure if we look hard enough, there will be a match for them somewhere.
* Praise to Erling Mehl (a Scandinavian!) who did a phenominal amount of research and created the website. Sadly, Erling died last year so the archive is not yet complete. Could it ever be? Lucky for us it is kept ongoing by BigBoppa, a company specialising in selling sleeves.
I just opened what I thought was an ordinary ‘record request’ email a couple of days ago. They are often from Europeans looking for pretty rare items and I imagine they must contact a lot of shops and only get a handful of replies to say no, sorry, that record is indeed incredibly rare. So I was chuffed to read that this Swede was in search of something else.
I collect 45 rpm record adapters.
I wonder if you happen to have some that I can buy?
I attach some photos of what I am looking for.
All colour variation are welcome.
Please send a photo if possible.
Many thanks & Best regards“
This was a ‘do you have’ request that got me thinking a bit and rummaging around in drawers. A bit like watching Antiques Roadshow and thinking you recognise the line drawings of a Lowrie and are positive you have one in your loft. I’ve definitely got one of those somewhere!
He (for it is almost always thus) was after those odd inner plastic bits that fit into the centre of singles. American singles were made with a large centre hole so Jukebox records could find the spindle more easily (among other reasons) and so these adaptors were made by various companies so that us Europeans could play American singles on our record players. In return, UK singles were made with centres that could be popped out for play on US turntables. Numerous companies patented their own design and some have become design classics in their own right. Many are incredibly elegant. Some are chunky. Some also have sticky-out bits that will ruin any records you store them beside and they usually come in black but can be found in all colours. You can appreciate their appeal.
I had a really good look for one of the ones he was after. Not because I thought I could be in for a fortune but because I had actually started a very wee collection of my own a little while back without really realising it. A good record shop will tend to pop these things out to protect the record sleeves from sticky-out-bit damage as I mentioned -and we keep a bag of them under the VoxBox counter for giving away- but the more interesting ones we come across, I put in my inners box at home.
On close inspection, I was surprised to have 5 different types of a certain style of record inner when I had previously thought they were all the same. To imagine Dara O’Brien’s response if he cared enough: “I was shacked to foind dat dey were all different!”. Sorry, I think Mock the Week must have been on in the background when I started typing this.
My modest inner adaptor collection
So to cut a long story short, I didn’t actually have any of the inner adaptors that the Swede was after but you can see the photos of his wanted inners at the bottom of the post. If you have any of them or come across them and are willing to help a collector out, let me know. If you have a massive collection or some unusual ones and aren’t selling to anyone please let me know too – I’m genuinely interested! I was elated to find out there was someone else with a collection. It makes me feel a bit more normal or, ahem… well-centred.
Here are the inners he is appealing for. Some have names/manufacturers marks on them: Viny Guru, Riccardo, Raydor, Centratore…
Sought after inner adaptors for 45s
PS Some people call them/sell them as “spiders” but I’ve never heard them called that.
PPS In the next post, in the theme of the nuances of collecting, I’ll show you something that a collector of old singles should never ever see for it will drive them crazy. Be afraid…
I was just asked if we could do some more listening events like we did with the new Prodigy album, The Day Is My Enemy last year. It was quite a lovely event but due to a last minute date change it wasn’t too well attended. The label had sent 30 tote bags, loads of stickers and posters… And 100 cans of lager. Not the usual tipple of Prodigy fans but very good of them all the same. So a small Voxbox shop full of people enjoyed a beer and we all heard the new record which was classic and pure Prodigy. It was a brilliant day and I’m grateful that we had it.
I’ve been working away from Edinburgh for long spells over the last year doing my other job (I’m a Medical Doctor/Geriatrician) which is why Canadian Mike is lookng after things at VoxBox on the weekends. I’ve been working in the Isle of Man for a bit this year and it is a nice place with a bit of strangeness. The TT Racing has just finished and working in the hospital during it is quite exciting although I don’t do any A&E or front door medicine anymore so it didn’t really affect my workload. Saying that, getting routine scans during the TT is more difficult as the scanners are kept free during practice sessions and the races in-case major trauma gets helicoptered in.
They bring in a freezer during the TT Racing to store the extra bodies.
According to a colleague, there were at least 12 deaths this year. Five Professional riders which get documented in the race stats. The non-professional riders, race marshals and other odds and sods don’t get added to the official TT related death lists. It’s also hard to keep track of the riders that are sent to Liverpool for specialist care that end up dying. The paralysed aren’t really counted nor the simple leg or pelvis fractures. But the TT racing offers freedom and speed for so many and the Island economy does ok from it. The average speed around the island track is about 135mph but they get to over 200mph in places through the mountain road and village streets. I was here last year too and then the riders were asking that spectators be reminded that selfie sticks projected onto the track are a bad idea as the riders were almost hitting them.
Formula 1 has focussed on safety for a long time and lives have been saved by introducing certain measures. On the other side, people have a right to risk their lives. One taxi driver actually said that without fatalities the race wouldn’t attract the same crowd! Something I don’t believe. I’m not wanting an argument with bikers or TT fans as I appreciate the need for speed and personal freedom. Fair enough, if you carry Donor Cards I’ve no objection. The riders are modern day superheroes as are the doctors. The speeds and relexes are phenominal. Watch a bit… It’s amazing!
Anyway, I saw Keith of the Prodigy at Isle of Man airport 2 weeks ago (He actually owns a successful motorracing and TT team called Traction Control) and I wanted to say thanks for the beers and stuff but decided I didn’t want to bother him. (It was the label/distributor that sorted it out) So I just killed time in the airport shop but then saw a Q magazine on the shelf had a “modern classic albums” feature. I flicked through as the Prodigy were bound to be in. They are a modern classic after all. I flicked through and finally… 1997… Fat of the Land was there with a page spread actually dedicated to The Prodigy with an interview with Keith and a large photo so I went to buy it so I could maybe get it signed or something. As an Aberdeenshire Scotsman, before I bought it, I checked the waiting area first and saw Keith had already left to board his flight. He was gone. The magazine in my hand was £5.50 and full of articles on music I’ve grown up with. Great stuff but I lived through it… So I put it back on the shelf, sat down for a bit and waited for boarding.
A brilliant medical lecture by motorcycle doctor and anaesthetist John Hinds…
I have had a good look at the Edinburgh International Book Festival listings and there are a fair few events that will interest the muso in you. Some will sell out in a day so I would like folk that read this to have a head start. Tickets are on sale at 0830 on Tuesday 21st June. There are too many good events to see and as much as I would like to plug one of my childhood hero’s new book (Chris Packham of The Really Wild Show and Springwatch), I’ll try to stick to music based events.
14th Chris Packham, ‘My Love for a Kestrel’. Ach well, he seems like a really nice chap. He has a memoir called Fingers in the Sparkle Jar that does look worth a read.
14th Billy Bragg, The Milkman of Human Kindness. An annotated collection of his best loved songs. A chat with the BBC’s Vic Galloway.
14th Alexei Sayle Surreal Socialist Stand-Up. Plugging his second memoir Thatcher Stole My Trousers. He’s calmed down a bit – I actually just heard him on Just a Minute on Radio 4! Music Folk may remember him from Ullo John Got a New Motah!
16th Pilgrimer- Joni’s Journeys Reimagined. This was performed at Celtic Connections and is a collaboration between author James Robertson and musicians Karine and Steven Polwart with Donald Shaw. A Scottish take on Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira exploring the themes of migration, freedom and loneliness.
16th Ian Rankin, Rebus Gets Up to His Old Tricks. The famous Edinburgh crime writer, record collector, rock fan and friend of the shop talks about his new bestseller Even Dogs In The Wild.
17th Sing-Along with Nick Cope (The Candyskins) Acoustic folk-pop for children.
18th Neu! Reekie! Present #UntitledTwo, a double album of collected music and poetry. 30+ tracks. Neu! Reekie! has become an Edinburgh underground cultural institution and is always well curated. 10 acts/poets will perform. Some musicians are poets right? If anything like Untitled One, this will be super.
18th David Moody, The Deluded Idealism of Ezra Pound. There’s no music here but Dylanologists might want to learn a bit more about Ezra Pound. From Dylan’s song Desolation Row “Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are fighting in the captain’s tower, while calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers”. Whaaaat? Yep. You need to go.
18th Tim Burgess with Ian Rankin. More Tales of a Charlatan These two are good friends and they will have a discussion/chat on Tim’s new book (Tim Book 2) about the joy of records and their passion for music. Tim shares vinyl recommendations from friends including Iggy Pop and Paul Weller that he has tracked down from across the world.
20th Brix Start Smith From Fall Guitarist to Fashion Expert I know, I know, we’ve all been in the Fall at one time or another (I was in the band in 1990 playing bongos on The Infotainment Scan*) but Brix was actually married Mark E. Smith. So there’s a tale to tell here.
20th Gregor Fisher & Melanie Reid Tough Childhood of a Comedy Hero. Title is pretty blunt but the memoir of the man who played Rab C Nesbitt is worth a mention.
20th Daniel Rachel In Praise of Protest Songs Political protest seems to happen more in other countries nowadays, but in the 70s and 80s Britain was awash with activism, both on the streets and on the musical stage. In this event, Daniel Rachel discusses the golden era of Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge and 2 Tone with Vic Galloway.
21st James Kelman, A Road Trip Through America. I found James Kelman as a teenager and have been buying his books since. He won the Booker Prize a long time ago for his novel How Late It Was, How Late. There’s not much ‘music’ in the books (other than fine dialects) but the language and humanity is beautiful and authentic.
22nd Open Book on the Short Stories of James Kelman. See above. The short stories are great snapshots of the Scottish working class. I love his paragraph of a story, Acid. In fact as it is so very short, here it is:
In this factory in the north of England acid was essential. It was contained in large vats. Gangways were laid above them. Before these gangways were completely safe a young man fell into a vat feet first. His screams of agony were heard all over the department. Except for one old fellow the large body of men was so horrified that for a time not one of them could move. In an instant this old fellow who was also the young man’s father had clambered up and along the gangway carrying a big pole. Sorry Hughie, he said. And then he ducked the young man below the surface. Obviously the old fellow had had to do this because only the head and shoulders – in fact, that which had been seen above the acid – was all that remained of the young man.
Now that’s a short story! Copyright James Kelman. You can hear Kelman himself reading it here.
23rd Susan Calman, Depression and how to Laugh It Off. The brilliantly funny lady has a book called Cheer up Love. which reminds me on the time I met Peter Hook at his autobiography signing a few years ago. A friend of mine was a fan but couldn’t make it so I had a book signed for him. I said he was having a hard time with depression. Hooky wrote “To_______, chin up”. I’ll leave that there. Dum de dum de dum…
23rd Wilko Johnson Defying the Doctors. Ian Dury cohort and Dr Feelgood guitarist discusses his life with and without cancer. He had been given 10 months to live in 2013 due to pancreatic cancer. After a farewell tour and album with Roger Daltrey he still wasn’t dead. A doctor fan pointed this out and he recently went on to have a curative operation.
24th Ian Rankin, Rebus Gets Up to His Old Tricks. Another chance to see Ian talk about his new book. He should really have his own tent at the Book Festival this August. I just looked it up and bloody hell, a Rebus tent exists! Although it is for putting over bombs and IEDs rather than hosting book events.
REALLY get to know the author in the new bomb proof Rebus Tent
25th Paul Morley Bowie: Life of a Legend. Musician, critic and talking head on lots of TV shows, he also helped curate the Bowie exhibition in the Victoria & Albert. He talks to the BBC’s Vic Galloway about his new book Age of Bowie.
26th Kevin Barry John Lennon’s Bad Trip. An imagined John Lennon in 1978 trying to pay a visit to an isle off the coast of Ireland that the real life Lennon bought in the 1960s.
26th Don Paterson Sonnets and Songs. Multi-prize winning poet has a collection of 40 Sonnets out. Some will be performed with his band.
26th Stuart Cosgrove Why the Northern Soul Beat Goes On. The broadcaster and author is promoting his new book, Young Soul Rebels. Part personal musical journey and part Northern Soul biography. He also compares Northern Soul with later underground music movements (Mod, Punk, Rave etc)
27th Irvine Welsh Begbie: Scarier than Ever. The Trainspotting author returns to Edinburgh to talk about his new novel about Begbie, The Blade Artist. This will sell out really quickly. Trainspotting 2 is coming out soon. The last film’s soundtrack became iconic so I’d love to hear an Edinburgh band on the new one… Otherwise I’ll have to put out Tramspotting, The Alternative Trainspotting Soundtrack…
28th Tom Lanoye and James Yorkston, Bittersweet Tales. 2 authors present their new work. Three Craws is James Yorkston’s debut novel. A gorgeously atmospheric quirky story of broken dreams and longing. An early Fence Records Fifer, we keep a steady supply of his records in the shop.
29th Zoe Howe A Punk and a Gentleman With R&B punk band Dr Feelgood returning to public consciousness thanks to the story of co-founder Wilko Johnson’s battle with cancer, writer Zoë Howe believes it’s a good time for recognition to be given to the band’s other co-founder who died aged 41. In Lee Brilleaux: Rock’n’Roll Gentleman, she argues for a long overdue appreciation of his legacy.
29th Fraser Doherty The 48 Hour Start Up This isn’t musical but I was intrigued. At the age of 14 Fraser set up a jam business and became very jammy having sold the business to Waitrose. He attempts to create a business in 48 hours and he shares successes and mistakes. Could be rubbish, but worth a punt.
Also look out for Unbound! Every Day from 2100-2300 at the Speigeltent is a feature of words and music from the finest talent that has come to Edinburgh. At the time of writing, the line-up is still TBC but they usually feature a free dram and some live music from the best Scottish, local and touring musicians.
Also worth a mention as they will be popular are Scottish poet Liz Lochead, authors Val McDermid, Ali Smith, Kate Tempest, Erica Jong, Ray Mears, Alex Schaffer & Julia Donaldson (of Gruffalo fame) and Frederick Forsyth (with Ian Rankin of course) who all have events that will sell out quickly. The Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series is important too. But have a look at the website and brochure for the full listings. If there is anything I missed please get in touch.
Vic Galloway is hosting a good few events so it is worth mentioning that he authoured a book called Songs in the Key of Fife a couple of years ago that documents some of the important musicians and bands to come out of Fife including King Creosote, James Yorkstone, Pictish Trail, The Beta Band and KT Tunstall. It’s a great read! Vic was also kind enough to host a Q&A with Graeme Thomson, the Edinburgh based author of Phil Lynott biography Cowboy Song for Record Store Day this year.
Photo by Trevor Pake
So there you go. Plenty to do but be sure to have a look through the brochure as the website is a bit tricky to browse and if you fancy something be sure to get a ticket quickly as the big to medium events sell out very quickly.
Also glad to finish a blog post featuring Irvine Welsh and James Kelman that has avoided using a word rhyming with luck- showing the kind of restraint that those two in particular are not known for. Tsk tsk.
A friend of mine, Rich Ferguson came to film The Gramophone Emporium and its customers during the final days. This was the last shop of its kind as far as I can tell, anywhere. Who knows, with a bit more notice, a campaign to save the shop could maybe have been arranged backed by an appearance on the One Show or even some Lottery funding. It ever a shop was a working museum it was The Gramophone Emporium. It was run on the love of the music and the machines. Ah! Antiques and curios in oak and mahogany and in all shapes and sizes… but enough about their customers! With it now closed, the hub of knowledge and the wonderful club for vintage men is gone and I still miss looking out the VoxBox window towards the shop across the road. Being open 3 half days a week was never really financially viable but they made a go of it for decades and had something that money can’t buy. A customer in the film says that the shops closure will create a haggard void. Perfect words.
Bill, the shop’s owner had a humungous stock of 78s. However, not all records are worth anything and I was told that one time he disposed of 250 000 hard to shift records that were taking up storage space. A quarter of a million shellac discs were used to help create a breakwater for a harbour somewhere. It’s nice to think that this could give some future Time Team a glorious headscratcher. The shop had a decent trade but ultimately the bills were paid by the most valuable records being sold online. Good records would sometimes come in from people’s boxes from the attic but more and more often the better records would come from whole collections that would become available as elderly collectors died. Some were friends and customers. There’s a creeping similarity with vinyl there.
Two men, Ken and Billy ran the shop essentially for free as I don’t think they ever were paid or asked for money for their time and were both supposed to be retired. They were and remain true enthusiasts with unsurpassed knowledge. Like any experts, they were snobs in their own way, but nice with it. Billy would chuckle to himself if you played a record with the wrong size needle or brought in a machine that had the wrong horn. As a boy, Billy told me he had played the same record once every day for a year just to see if the sound quality would deteriorate. Played with a fresh needle every time, it didn’t! Their love of the format was certainly contagious. Saying that, they could also be brutal when it came to worthless records. Jimmy Shand records would be smashed before being disposed of. Otherwise, very often the very boxes that they had thrown out would be rescued from the bin by a kind soul and be brought back to the shop for a valuation.
Mark and Ken inspect a vintage Edison style cylinder player.
I do miss the stories. Mark, who appears in the film but sadly doesn’t say much (he is a wonderful talker) is a retired teacher and a part-time clock restorer that accidentally became the shop’s Gramophone repair man. He had walked past the shop when it was located where VoxBox is now, something like 20 years ago and heard a gramophone playing. He thought it sounded terrible and came in only to let the owner know about it. “That sounds awful. The sound-box has really seen better days.” And as an afterthought… “I could fix that.” So he was allowed to take it away. When he brought it back spick and span the following week there was a large box of knackered sound-boxes waiting for him.
As Billy says in the film, the earliest records were recorded live. This is pure analogue and if played through the right machine, you can actually feel the air around you vibrate and for a few spine-tingling minutes you will be in the room with Caruso himself. Rich never managed to spend as much time in the shop as he would have liked as the stress of the impending closure was taking its toll on the team. However, in this short film he has managed to capture a wee glimpse of a wonderful place the like of which may never be seen again.
A few afterthoughts:
Billy still curates Oxfam’s 78s on Raeburn Place. That’s a good place to bring your 78s from the loft.
I set up The Gramophone Emporium Facebook page when we opened and posted a few photos but I never really had time to do much with it. It was taken over and has been kept alive and thriving by Graeme; A Gramophone Emporium customer and gramophone DJ. Have a look here! There are lots of photos and also links to the new Scottish Gramophone Group that meets regularly. There is an old shop blog post from 2012 about The Gramophone Emporium called The Last Shop Standing. He DJs under the name Lord Holyrude and is available for events and weddings and the odd Torture Garden appearance… His contact details are here.
We only really deal in Jazz and Rock and Roll but I’m always happy to look at a collection. As a general rule, Scottish and religious records are usually worthless. Pre-war British pop are also hard to sell as is Bing Crosby and even Frank Sinatra. Cliff Richard 78s are still very collectable despite his bad press and there are some Indian Beatles records that are sought after as are many foreign records. Classical 78s are usually not worth much but unfortunately, some are worth a fortune so don’t throw anything out. Look out for odd things. One sided 78s are earlier and usually sellable and a record with the title scratched out could be a Jamaican DJs floorfiller. Some people managed to record their voices on privately pressed discs so you can have one of a kind unique items that are nevertheless worth little but have great historical value and should never be thrown away. But mainly, if you get the chance, do try to play them. You could quite easily be the first person to have listened to that recording in over 50 years and that is a lovely and special feeling. I might do a wee piece on shellac in the future if I have the time.
Beatles on Beetles
The Shellac that the 78rpm records were made from is a product of the Lac beetle. They create a resin that they secrete on tree branches that protects their young. This is scraped off the tree and put in a pot before being melted, purified with added ingredients and turned into a record. The beetle is found in India among other places. As Britain had its Empire back then, we had access to the best Indian shellac and therefore made the best quality records. The vinyl 45rpm disc was at least in part invented in America due to a shortage of shellac during WWII. In India, 78s were made well into the 1960s so keep an eye out for the Beatles on Beetles.
Finally, here’s a clip from the RCA vaults showing the complex process of how records were made.
The orders have been confirmed on Tuesday and then paid for, often without an itemised invoice. The boxes have been arriving thick and fast on Wednesday and more are expected. Here are the majority of the records that were ordered. I’ll top it up on Thursday evening and Friday. Printouts will be available on the day but if you want to know rough numbers of each title, please get in touch by email, twitter or facebook. With 250 shops taking part and some titles limited to 500 copies, the numbers of the most sought after titles are quite limited.
13th Floor Elevators You’re Gonna Miss Me
808 State Pacific
Adam Beyer Selected Drumcode Works 96-00
The Adverts Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts
The Adverts Cast of Thousands
A-Ha Hits South America
AIR Casanova 70
Alanis Morisette The Demos
Alan Partridge Knowing Me Knowing You
The Alarm Spirit of ’86
Albert King/Butterfield SXS –Born Under a Bad Sign
Allen Toussaint Live in Philidelphia 1975
Allen Toussaint Whipped Cream and Other Delights
Amebix Monolith The Power Remains
The Anchress Popular
Andy Summers Metal Dog
The Animals We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Anti Flag Live
Architects Lost Forever
Armand Sciascia Impressions in Rhythm and Sound
Arthur Beatrice Every Cell
The Associates Party Fears Two/Australia
Bardo Pond Acid Guru Pond
Bee Gees/Faith No More I Started a Joke
Bert Jansch with Loren Auerbach Colours Are Fading Fast
Bert Jansch Black Birds Of Brittany / Cuckoo
Best Coast S/T
Bill Evans Some Other Time
Billy Cobham Stratus Part 1
Birdy Lost it All
Bis / Big Zero Boredom Could Be …. / Tear It Up And …
Bitty McLean/Bunny Rugs Taxi Records
Bixiga 70 The Copan Connection
Black Tambourines Chica E.P
Blossoms You Pulled a Gun on Me
Bluesology Come Back Baby
Bram Stoker Heavy Rock Spectacular
Breakbot Get Lost Remix
Bryan Ferry The Island Singles Box
Buddy Guy and Jr Wells The Criteria Sessions
Cachao Gonna Make You Dance
Cadillac Three Tennessee Mojo
Candlemass Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
Carina Round Carina Round
Cat’s Eyes Chameleon Queen
Chase and Status London Bars
Cheap Trick Found New Parts
Cheap Trick At Budokan
Chills Pyramid / When The Poor Can Reach The Moon
Christopher Lee Charlemagne: By The Sword & The Cross
Christopher Lee Charlemagne: The Omens of Death
Christy Moore Paddy on the Road
Circa Waves Something Like You
Clean Cut Kid Pick Me Up
Clint Mansell & Kronos Q Requiem For a Dream
Clutch Mad Sidewinder
Cosmic Machine 2 S/T EP
Dave Clarke Charcoal Eyes
David Bowie The Man Who Sold The World
David Bowie TVC15
Death Cab For Cutie Tractor Rape Chain
Dee Edwards Deal With That
Deep City You Flexi Thing
Def Leppard S/T
Deftones B Sides and Rarities
Del Amitri Sense Sickness
Departure Lounge Jetlag Dreams
Derek and Clive Punk Song
Desmond Dekker Rude Boy Ska
Deviants You’ve Got To Hold On
Dirty Three Sad and Dangerous
Disturbed The Sound of Silence
Django Django Unreleased Versions
Doors Live at Aquarious Theatre
Dr Who Genesis of the Daleks
Dr Who Dr Who and the Daleks
Elton John The Thom Bell Sessions
Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball
ESB Mos Eisley
Eternal Tapestry Beyond the Fourth Door
Europe The Final Countdown
Ezra Furman Songs by Others
Fabio Fabor Infini
The Fall Bingo Masters at The Witch Trials
The Fall The Classical
Fatnotronic Onde Anda
Fela Kuti I Go Shout Plenty
Field Music Field Music
First Class Rock Steady S/T
Five Finger Death Punch The Wrong Side of Heaven
Flaming Lips Lightning Strikes the Postman CD
Fleetwood Mac Alternative Tusk
Florence and the Machine Delilah
Focus Hocus Pocus
Frankie Goes to Hollywood Rage Hard
Frank Turner Positive Songs
Frank Zappa Joe’s Garage
Frank Zappa Dog Breath
Funkadelic One Nation Under a Groove
Future Sound of London Accelerator
Gerhard Heinz Schamlos
Gerard Way Pinkish
Giant Sand The Sun Set Volume 1
Glen Campbell Ghost On The Canvas
Glen Campbell See You There
Glen Campbell Wichita Lineman
Glen Hansard A Season on the Line
Goblin Suspira/Blind Concert
Goblin La Via Della Droga
Gorgon City Saving My Life
The Go! Team Thunder Lightning Strike
Grace Jones Private Life/She’s Lost Control
Graham Nash This Path Tonight
Guy Garvey Unwind
Half Japanese Volume 4 1997-2001
Hawkwind Hassan I Sahba
Heaven 17 (We don’t need this) Fascist Groove Thing
Hello Kitty Hello World S/T
Herman Brood Shpritsz
Higher Authorities Neptune
Hooverphonic The Magnificent Tree
Hozier Take Me To Church
Ian Brown Solarized
Ibrahim Ferrer Buena Vista Social Club Presents
The Idle Race Idle Race
Iggy Pop Fire Engine
Iggy and the Stooges Metallic KO
Incredible Bongo Band Box Set
The In Crowd That’s How Strong My Love Is
Interpol El Pintor –Remixes
The Interrupters S/T
I-Robots Present Psychodisco
Iron Maiden Empire of the Clouds
Isley Brothers This Old Heart of Mine
Jack Off Jill Clear Hearts Grey Flowers
Jack Off Jill Sexless Demons & Scars
Jackie Brenston Rocket 88
Jah Screechy Walk and Skank
James Greenpeace Palace Concert
James Bay Chaos and the Calm
James Brown Revue Live At The Apollo 1972
Jason Molina The Townes Van Zandt Covers
Jay Reatard Blood Visions
J Dilla The Diary
Jethro Tull Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll
Jimmy Page She Just Satisfies
Jochen Arbeit Tse Tse
Joe Bataan Chick A Boom
John Coltrane The Roulette Sides
John Cooper Clarke Ou Est Le Maison De Fromage
John Frusciante Fosegrow
Johnny Clarke Natty Roots Sessions
Johnny Thunders 1978
Johnny Thunders/Heartbreakers Vive La Revolution
John Renbourn The Attic Tapes
John Williams Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion That’s It Baby Right Now…
Junior Kimbrough/Daft Punk I Gotta Try You Girl
Katastrophy Wife Dysrhythmia
Killing Joke Pylon
Killswitch Engage Define Love
Kings of Convenience Quiet/Riot/Versus
K’s Choice Extra Cocoon
La Dispute Tint Dots
Left Lane Cruiser Beck In Black
Libertines Box Set
Liminanas Garden’s of Love
Linkin Park Road to Revolution Live
Locust Morning Light
Low/S. Carey Not A Word/I Won’t Let You
LUSH Origami Box
Lydia Lunch & Marc Hurtado My Lover The Killer
Madonna Like a Virgin and Other Hits
Magazine Once At The Academy
Malcolm Middleton You & I
Marc Bolan & T Rex Born to Boogie Soundtrack
Martin Simpson and Friends Green Onions/Willie Taylor
Marylin Manson Antichrist Superstar tape
Matthew Sweet Goodfriend
Matt Wills Lost and Found
Max Jury Numb/Standing on my Own
Max Romeo Give Thanks EP
Mercury Re/Lost Horizons Rainy Day Record/Life Inside A Paradox
METZ/Mission of Burma Good, Not Great/Get Off
Mew And The Glass Handed Kites
Michael Chapman Savage Amusement
Mike Cooper & Derek hall Out of the Shades
Mike Oldfield Nuclear
The Mickey Finn Garden of my Mind
Mike Stuart Span Children of Tomorrow
Motorhead Bad Magic (3 versions)
The Move Something Else From the Move
Muddy Waters Hoochie Coochie Man
Mumford and Sons There Will Be Time
Mungo Jerry In The Summertime/Baby Jump
Neneh Cherry Buffalo Stance
Neon Indian Psychic Chasms + Mind CTRL
Neon Indian ERA EXTRANA + ERRATA ANEX
Nick Harper The Wilderness Years Vol 1-3
Nikki Sudden Treasure Island
Ninth Gate OST
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds El Mexicano
Nurse With Wound/Band Of Pain Noinge
Ocean Colour Scene Moseley Shoals
Ol Dirty Bastard Brooklyn Zoo/Shimmy Shimmy Ya
Oumou Sangare Moussolou
Orb Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Parkway Drive Horizons
Pere Ubu 30 Seconds Over Tokyo B/W Heart Of Darkness
Phill Pratt Star Wars Dub
Pinact Stand Still and Rot
Pinkshinyultrablast Happy Songs For Happy Zombies
Primal Scream Mantra for a State of Mind
Private jones/Corduroy I Got By in Time
Psychic TV The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
Psychic TV Fishscales Falling: A Smorgasbord Ov Delights – Mixtape
Public Service Broadcasting The Other Side
Regina Spektor Soviet Kitsch
Regina Spektor Begin to Hope
Residents Please Do Not Steal It
Reverend Horton Heat Hardscrabble Woman
Richmond Fontaine You Can’t Go Back…
Rob Zombie Well, Everybody’s…
Rockin’ Vickers Dandy
Rodrigo Y Gabriella Live
Roger Van Otterloo Turks Fruit
Roots Manuva Switching Sides
Roots Radics World Cup –Extra Time
Runaways Right Now
Screaming Blue Messiahs Sweet Water Pools
Section 25 Alfresco
Self Defense Family The Power Does Not Work In the Presence…
Shaggs Sweet Maria
Shirley Collins English Songs Vol 2
Simple Minds Big Music Tour 2015
Six by Seven Six by Seven
Skrillex & Diplo Where Are You Now?
Slits I Heard it Through The Grapevine
Small Faces The Autumn Stone
Soft Cell Sex Dwarf
Son Volt Live
Soulfuledge & Romina Johnson Standing on Top of the World
Spencer Morales ft Randy Without Your Love
Squeeze Goodbye Girl
Status Quo Rockin’ All Over The World
Staves Are You Satisfied
Sublime Jah Won’t Pay the Bills tape x2 and vinyl x1
Summer Hits Beaches and Canyons
Sun Ra Jazz by Sun Ra Vol 1
Superchunk Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)
Superpitcher So Far So Super
Sven Libaek To Ride a White Horse
Sweet Charles/Glen Jones Yes It’s You/ I am Somebody
Syndicats On the Horizon
Talking Heads/Echosmith SXS
Teddy Douglas Retro Soul sampler
Them The Broadcast EP
Third Power Believe
Tiger Joanie Scott Baby I Need Your Lovin’
Todd Rundgren ad Utopia Disco Jets
Tom Hingley Band Beggar’s Hand
Tom Petty Kiss My Amps Vol 2
Trembling Bells Who Call The Law?
Twenty One Pilots A Few Older Ones
Urban Dance Squad The Singles Collection
VANT Fly By Alien
Various The Birth of the Beat
Various Brighton’s Finest
Various Cambodian Cassette Archives
Various Communion 10
Various Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s
Various Genius of Time Larry Levan
Various Instrumentals Soul-Style
Various JOY OST
Various Nuggets: Hallucinations
Various Other Side of Sun Records
Various Psyche France Vol 2
Various Sensible Record Labels
Various Soho Scene 64 (Jazz Goes Mod)
Various Soul-In (Mods Out On The Floor)
Various Soul Jazz Presents New Orleans Funk
Various Soul Jazz Presents Ska Sounds
Various Texas Soul 65
Various This is Trojan Box Set
Various Wake Up You The Rise & Fall Of Nigerian Roc
Various West Coast Soul 65
Weeknd The Hills Remixes
Ginger Wildheart From G*A*S*S With Love
Virginia Wing Rhonda
Warren Zevon/Flaming Groovies Werewolves of London
Wedding Present The Hit Parade
Willie Nelson/Uncle Tupelo Truck Drivin’ Man
Wishbone Ash Bonafide
Xiu Xiu Twin Peaks
The Record Store Day list is now out. Thankfully it’s only around 550 releases to get through. It was 650 vinyl releases two years ago and it cost VoxBox a small fortune to buy in copies of around 400 different titles. It’s safe to say that not all sold on the day… There is actually still a box of unsold LPs and singles in the shop. Some have gone up in value -hooray! And some are heading to the Backroom soon. -boo! In fact we’ll have a sale including them and various new records that we have a few too many of on Saturday 16th April.
The RSD list is ok. It’s overwhelming to begin with. But when you have a good look, there are a good amount of records that are already incredibly rare and have been out of print for too long- So they are very welcome. I’d have liked to see more contemporary artists with exclusive releases but that’s the way it goes. The 5 Seconds of Summer cassette tape in 2014 was my favourite release of the day as it created such excitement. The tape was gifted to shops by the label to give away free to fans that queued up and knew the password. The 16 year old female fans didn’t buy anything at all on the day but it was really good fun and generous of the (major) label.
The best RSD release 2014 ?
I’m keen to not have many unsold records this year so I’ll be ordering fewer copies of the bands that have a smaller fanbase. I’m also not going to order any records that I think are insanely overpriced or that are not particularly limited in terms of worldwide availability. Any records I think will quickly depreciate in value won’t be ordered in either. Most of the records are expensive for shops to buy in. So complaints should be addressed to the labels concerned rather than the shops or even RSD as an event.
Please get in touch soon if you have any specific wants. The shops only got the list yesterday at the same time as everyone else and there is only between 2 and 3 weeks for us to get our orders in. Obviously I’ll be asking for as many Bowie records we can get in but gauging the demand for the smaller bands is difficult. We can’t take pre-orders and can’t save you a copy of anything but I’ll order extra copies of smaller band releases if there is interest.
Remember that although the queue can be long, there are so many releases that a queue of 50 people can actually all be after different records.
Mainly, the day is a celebration of record shops and the added income helps pay the wages and for us, it’s also a platform and celebration of the local talent we have and our wonderful Street. Saying that, we’ll be using most of any profit from this RSD to help fund the shop’s own record label. There are 3 album release this year. Jargo At Night When The Wind Calms Down -out on RSD. The best guitar band in the UK’s debut album (seriously) around June – more announced soon. And Edinburgh’s Delta Mainline’s sublime second album towards the end of the year.
We’ll have an afternoon of free live music in nearby venues as usual, courtesy of some of the best established and up and coming bands from Edinburgh and further afield. The bands are paid by the shop and venue and normally have a new release to sell too that will certainly be worth checking out.
I should also mention that this particular Record Store Day is being celebrated by us as the VoxBox Music 5th birthday party. I’m ironing out a few details just now and there are a few council/licensing hoops to jump through but I think we will have the best celebration in the UK. We’ll all be smiling like Little Stevie Wonder.
Records are records are records right? Circular things with grooves that contain music that you need to look after? No. Not if you’re a youngster. (By that I mean sub 30) The Record Collector types and the Mojo Man are getting on a bit -keepin’ on keepin’ on… I like the new vinyl buyers a lot as they are more vibrant and healthy than my bretheren, but there is one thing I’d like to talk about:
These healthy record buying youngsters call records “vinyls”… All of them do! And it has become contagious; even old bands are calling them vinyls and folk even older than them are emailing me about their vinyls for sale. So with the realisation that even people that grew up with records are calling them vinyls, I capitulated last year and became tongue in cheek @VoxBoxVinyls for a while on Twitter and put up a sign saying “Vinyls for sale”. Was that an apostrophe away from being correct?
I’ve actually grown to like the term vinyls. It makes me feel young and want to throw my walking stick away. Ah let’s go shopping for some vinyls! I bought a great vinyl the other day! I love my vinyl player! I’m building up a great collection of vinyls! I can’t wait for Vinyl Store Day! I love shopping at VoxBox Vinyls! Harry has said something! If you can’t be bothered to try to beat them and can’t bring yourself to join them AND have a vinyls shop, still at least be glad of these youngsters. For this is the future. -You may not like it much but you will have to live in it.
The old guard; the record collectors and dance DJs that kept the format alive through the 1990s onward don’t like the word vinyls. To them, it like calling a flock of sheep “sheeps”. The plural of vinyl is vinyl they say; or more accurately, when they overhear you youngsters call records “vinyls” it is as if you asked them to close their eyes and then simulated the cracking of an egg over their head by clapping your hands together and then used your fingers to trickle pretend egg down and all over their face.
As I’m of a certain age and have been in among records for a long time, the term vinyls does also annoy me a bit but I can’t see things changing and I do get a wee bit of pleasure seeing the 1990s house music purist get all Basil Fawlty about it.
It’s on those trays…cuatro!
The term vinyls is generally used to describe new albums released as records on vinyl but it is a shame as it makes the description clunky as for example people are looking for “vinyl records” rather than records or vinyl and there is a difference. There has certainly been a lot adaptation of the terminology. – Lady Gaga will call a single only available as a download a record. Maybe that’s were the need to specify comes from. The kids say duh! Everyone knows a record is a download. A “vinyl record” is when you get a vinyl with it.
It’s the shops that have to change but also be at the leading edge of informing new artists and labels about what it is that they are putting out. Meanwhile… In these transitional times, VoxBox has developed a ready reckoner for the budding connoisseur. (An old fashioned app)
The VoxBox Vinyls App:
Record: Round flat disc played with a stylus.
Single: As above. A normal single has one song on each side and is known as “a 45” or a “seven inch” record. They are seven inches in diameter and usually play at 45rpm. Simple.
12 inch single: A single can also be released as a 12 inch record. Often have extended dance version with remixes. These are known as “12 inchers” or “twelves” and usually play at 45rpm.
EPs: Some seven inch records have more than 2 tracks. These are EPs – Extended Play singles. Having 3 tracks is actually a grey area –they could still be called a single with a bonus track- but one with 4 tracks is definitely an EP. These can be 7 inch, 10 inch or 12 inch and can play at 45 or 33 1/3rpm.
Album: An album is usually 12 inches in diameter but they aren’t ever called 12 inch records or 12 inchers. They are only ever called albums or LPs (Long Players). They play at 33 1/3 rpm.
It can get a bit confusing.
So albums play at 33 1/3rpm? Yes. Unless they play at 45 rpm… Some single albums are re-released as double albums to be played a bit faster. The faster a record goes, the more information the needle can gather every second so the sound quality should be better. Unfortunately you have to get up and turn the record over more often. So life quality goes down.
Some albums are released as 10 inch records. There is absolutely no reason for a band to do this and it makes organising your record collection a lot more difficult. 10 inch records are usually EPs and although they can often contain enough songs to be called albums they are never called LPs. If your favourite band release an album on 10 inch vinyl or even worse, double 10 inch vinyl (I’m looking at you Radiohead) please write in to complain. Not to me.
So, in summary, 7 inch singles that are longer are sometimes played at 33 1/3 rpm rather than 45rpm but are still called 45s. Short 7 inch EPs are often played at 45rpm but are never called 45s. 12 inch records are albums unless they are singles or Eps. Some 10 inchers are albums but not LPs. Albums are on 10 or 12 inch vinyl and are never called a 12 inch or incher but they can be called a 10 inch but not a 10 incher. Some Eps are 10 inchers. Some 10 inchers are 78s -but they definitely aren’t called 10 inchers (see below). Some 7 inchers are Eps and play at 45rpm but they are not called 45s. A 10 inch that plays at 45rpm is not a 45. No Eps are albums unless they are mini-albums or a double EP. And CDs are 3 inchers but no-one has or will ever called them that.
IS THAT CLEAR!
But there’s more:
Can we now at least all agree that records are made of vinyl?
Well, maybe yes. That is, some are not. Test pressings were originally made of a metal plate coated in a waxy substance called acetone (These are known as acetates) and the first records were made of shellac, an ooze harvested from the underappreciated Lac Beetle. In which case they are still called records or maybe 78s, or your “BIG ten inch” if you have that wonderful Bullmoose Jackson record, but never shellacs or singles although they are technically singles, having a single song on each side. They are usually 10 inches in diameter and these will normally play at 78rpm… unless they play at somewhere between 76 and 80rpm or as low as 16rpm. To get a full album of songs or more likely, to fit in a whole symphony, they would come with their sleeves bound together like a book. –much like a photo album.
And that’s where the term album comes from.
So now you know.
Coming next week: Kiss my Acetates… Me and my wax.
Meanwile listen to this and contemplate a well labelled record.
* The original CD 3-incher was designed to hold 74 minutes. Enough to fit in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
A young fellow from somewhere in Fife got in touch last year by email and told me he had a band and that they had an album which was already recorded and that he was just looking for a label to release it. He had heard about the VoxBox shop’s record label FoxBox Records, and he had found the (massive) email address and he had sent me the soundcloud link.
I opened it.
And I sat and basically played the whole album through. At Night When The Wind Calms Down. I’m a tad against listening to music on laptops as the one I’m currently typing on has speakers that are not up to much. But I went back and played it again. And again.
I thought it was really good. -That’s clearly not the quote to put on a poster.
Jargo: “really good” says VoxBox.
But it was really very good indeed and I said we would be able to put it out on the shop label and I hoped that being on the label would give the band a boost. As a label, we are not threatening Chemikal Underground or even Edinburgh’s own fine Song, by Toad label but since I’ve been running a friendly Edinburgh record shop for nearly five years, I thought that being on our old fashioned fledgling label could help a bit.
At the time Cassette Store Day was around the corner. I put it to him that it can get a wee crowd and he said he had a bunch of songs almost ready that would be great for a cassette release. So we put out a mini album called This Frequency of Light is all I Know with knocked together artwork in keeping with the DIY ethos of tape releases. It’s a nice tape with some lovely songs.
This Frequency of Light is all I Know
I’ve a sneaking suspicion that not many people who buy cassette tapes actually play them. You should just listen and stick it on your ipod by streaming or downloading the tracks. A record shop advocating downloads? Yep, that’s us. It’s good to get the music out there. Electrons in a computer are kind of cool I suppose and ideal for a quick listen or a sampler; but I do still feel the need to have a physical object to represent a release and show off the artwork to the fans.
The single chosen from the tape was the lovely Burntisland. A song that The Herald newspaper described as “The best song ever written about Burntisland”. They were right! And as if beating off the stiff competition for that title wasn’t enough, the single was rated at number 92 in The Herald’s top 100 Scottish songs of the year 2015. If no-one ever tells me where the article’s writer is from, I will die a happy man.
Then Jargo put out a cheeky single the other week to help promote a Burn’s Night gig. It is called Rosemarie and sounds sweet but if you listen to the lyrics, it seems it is about the gorgeous Rosemarie of the title and erm… Alison! After a friendly email, it was played on the Roddy Hart Show on the BBC which was really nice. You can listen here if you like.
If a band is PRS registered, a play on a regional BBC show means about £15 to the songwriter. (But a play on a BBC station can mean that you go into the multiplier… there is an assumption that if you are played on a big station, then your song will be played on Jukeboxes, Cruise Ships, Barbers, Shopping Centres, Dance Classes, Record Shops, Pubs, Bookies and so on. It can mount up.
And what a prolific songwriter Jargo is! There are a lot of ideas in the songs and I have a feeling there are many more to come. I am even pretty sure that there is a tap. Coming from the Dylan school of “Write 10 songs a day throw 9 away”, he is dripping with catchy songs, melancholy songs, pop songs, funny songs, electro songs… If you were to follow him around with a bucket, you would catch an acoustic barbed ode to a former lover and a funny song about being a ghost by lunchtime. And then maybe catch just enough for a spoken-word electro-pop number before supper.
I even found there is a youtube channel with fantastic demos recorded in his house that didn’t make the album. He may well hate me for posting, but this is such a great song called Call Centre Jerk about working in a call centre. It is so great to meet someone so prolific that so many lovely songs, those odds and sods, can be found scattered around the internet. I will try to gather them up for you.
If all goes to plan, the real debut album At Night When The Wind Calms Down will be released on Record Store Day –Saturday 16th April, with a wee performance by the 3 piece band. There will be a few rogue releases between now and then, so do keep an eye out.
I’m very proud to be able to support this talented young chap (and band). As I said to him the other day; I’ll try to be a better label. “I’ll try to be a better band” he said straight back.
It is Valentine’s Day 2015 at nearly half past four and the inside of the shop is just too small and by trying to clear some space there are records all over the place and full boxes of records everywhere. I’m trying to move the records that mormally sit in the middle of the frontroom into the backroom and maybe some also outside as I’ve done before on these occassions. It has been a busy day and I started the preparation a bit later than I’d have liked. It is cold, it is Saturday the 14th February and I’m full of nerves. I don’t have an amp or a PA system and in the back of my mind, still think there may just be a small crowd. But I do have a wee fan heater and have bought some beer, wine and cider. Some fans have been in already to buy the single and The Twilight Sad will be arriving in a few minutes…
I was asked at the end of 2014 if I would be up for VoxBox being included as part of The Twilight Sad’s record shop tour to promote a new 7“ single –I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want. I generally say yes to any collaborations or in-stores, but this was a definite and smiley yes. Their label, FatCat are almost a Scottish label anyway with PAWS, Honeyblood, The Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit (Now on Atlantic), WWPJ and Vashti Bunyan as the Scottish contigent among other fine bands from the rest of the UK and the world so I always try to keep an eye out for their releases.
The picture disc single with unreleased B-side
Seven shops were actually involved with their Record Shop in-store tour including the wonderful Pie and Vinyl, Rough Trade, Resident, Jumbo, Spillers, Banquet and Mono in Glasgow. It’s nice to be thought of in such good company as most are regarded the UKs best record shops. I was asked how long they should play for and had said twenty minutes to half an hour would be grand but hey, whatever feels right on the day.
With these kind of events, it can be really difficult to judge how may people will finally show up. In-stores are funny like that. To help plug it and to gauge the interest, I set up a Facebook page as soon as the appearance was confirmed and very quickly 50 folk said they would come but it then tailed off for a few weeks. For a Facebook event, 50 people saying they are going can often mean 15. Maybe is usually not. That’s ok though, 15 people would be fine for any photos on the day; we would still look full and we will be filming it for posterity too. The shop actually, at a push, holds about 35 in the front room fairly comfortably. (Withered Hand at Jannica Honey band photography exhibition launch)
Some of the participating shops had offered entry to fans that had bought or pre-ordered the single. I never wanted to do that, but getting nearer the day it seemed to became a necessity, especially after The Skinny magazine made the in-store an event of the week. Our Facebook event that had been sitting at 50 for so many weeks jumped to 200 in two days and with only a day or two to go, I realised that the majority were planning to come to this! I definitely needed to make some space and planned to have the front shop clear; anyone that bought the single could be guaranteed to see the band in the shop, and any overspill would have to peer in from outside. But just in case, we needed a contigency plan…
Can we stick the band on the steps? It is a bit chilly after all. Wounded Knee played on the steps for our first Record Store Day and that was good fun. We’ll also need a PA to amplify it.
The instore in Resident from a few days before had already made it onto Youtube. They had mics and a PA and they were playing inside a cosy record shop.
I emailed the Twilight Sad manager to say there may well be too many people. I’m very sorry, but at such short notice, we don’t have a PA and getting mics and equipment needed could be tricky… Could they play on the steps unamplified? And the very nice and reassuring manager gets back to me… don’t worry! a small crowd is better than no crowd. And the the band say that playing on the steps will be ok if need be.
Andy from Gerry Loves Records who helps me with these kind of things and would be doing the filming, also said “Seriously, don’t worry, The Twilight Sad can belt it out”. He has seen them loads and my pre-gig jitters are eased a bit.
The fan heater whirred away and the shop was getting warm as showtime approached. I had still been moving boxes of records all over the place to clear the shop for the 30-40 people that might buy the single and then I just stopped moving the stuff about. There were record boxes surrounding everything. There was no chance of having a band here in the shop at all. It had also become eerie, with the door open, no-one had even been in the shop for the last 20 minutes or so. Andy from Gerry Loves had arrived and was setting out his filming equipment… “What are you doing? Have you looked outside” he said? “There are people all over the street”.
Great, I like people!
“No. There are people ALL over the street!” So… with a quick look outside… there was everyone, EVERYONE was outside. THERE ARE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE STREET! You lovely Twilight Sad fans! Bloody hell, this is fantastic!
Just around then, James and Andy of The Twilight Sad come in.
Hello. Hello. Says they.
Hello. Hello. Says I… Thanks for coming… Erm… have a beer or a cider… or a wine.
After a few good minutes of record shop chat we realised there was a gig to be had on the steps – and in the backstage that had become the VoxBox shop, we shut the door and James sang some improvised scales. He went through the big notes he needed and coughed a bit and that was it. Ready.
So without further a do… The steps. Sorry it’s so cold.
And it was such a cold February day, I had worried that guitarist-Andy’s fingers would be too chilly to do any intricate guitar work.
Last minute, I decided to point the shop fan heater at Andy’s back, to point it out the door at the back of the chair he was sitting on to try to warm his fingers. Then with some help (in no uncertain terms) realised how crazy an idea that was. So with nothing else to contribute, I edged out past the 2 piece Twilight Sad on the steps, made my way through the throng and up on to the steps across the street to watch.
The street was blocked with fans standing in the road. Cars were turning into the street, seeing the crowd then braking suddenly and deciding against it. It was more than a wee bit dangerous.
Neighbour Olaf that runs Wide Days was there and asked “did you get permission for this?”
Did I need permission for this?! Erm.. no, I didn’t get any… I put it up on Facebook and in The Skinny and everyone turned up.
“That’s brilliant!” He said.
And it was.
Around 200 people came. Some left before the end. Some didn’t know it was on and were sucked in by the crowd to see what was happening (They became fans, queued and bought the albums on CD) and so many fantastic fans of the band were there at the start and leaned over railings and a parked (wrong) car and a bin to get as close as possible.
What I hadn’t counted on and had underestimated was the definition of “belt it out”. I thought it meant they played loudly. What the understatement had really meant was that James Graham has a voice of an opera singer. A self-trained voice from Kilsyth and that he can project that voice mic-free for hundreds of meters. There were moments when I worried about the rendering… (Edinburgh joke)
After half an hour and then for the following 25 minutes, I honestly thought that the police would come…
I started to worry and began thinking, why does he have to belt it out so much!? The voice reverberating between the tenements… And it was LOUD in places. Playing on the steps had given James a freedom to sing as loudly as he liked. And, dear reader, he took it. There’s a moment you can see in the footage where we all hear a police siren… James’s eyes say that he’s thinking the same as the rest of us but he keeps on singing.
Despite the cold Valentine’s Day, The Twilight Sad two piece played for just under an hour. Even with chilly fingers, Andy never hit a bum note.
They never actually played the single that they were promoting.
The Footage to date has had 23,500 YouTube views.
James and Andy are T-Rex fans.
“That was a bit special” – James
And in case you’ve seen the footage all the way through and are wondering, James did actually draw a cock on a fan’s copy of the album (at their insistence) -he really didn’t want to deface the artwork. They stayed for an hour chatting to fans that queued up to get the single and albums signed.
After the gig, I gave James a glass of red wine -well… a mug as that’s all we keep in the shop, Andy had some beer and we took a few pics. “Good luck for the upcoming Scottish Album of the Year Award” and with £20 for a taxi, they headed off up the road. Well, I suppose you could even say into the sunset or the twilight or something.
In lieu of a proper end of year blog post and while it is still January, I though it would be nice to share my favorite musical event of last year.
Super-thanks to FatCat Records, Essential distibution and The Twilight Sad. It will never be the same.
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.