Now look at that face. This man invented the tartan covered Highland Entertainer and so is responsible for much of what you are about to see… He was a superstar in his day. Arise Sir Harry Lauder you cheeky cheeky man.
Niven is pretty intense!
Bill McCue has a present for you.
Jimmy Logan shares his surname with a berry. I’ve an idea!
Not any more.
Another candidate for Scotland’s favourite singer.
Camp as a row of tents. Canadians also loved this stuff.
If you half close your eyes, The Piper looks like a bird of paradise.
Jimmy Shand practically invented the standing in an empty field playing accordion look as a young man. Happy hours ahead! Auchtermuchty style.
WIll Starr. The Sound of Starr. Splitting the atom with his accordion. Those eyes!
On foggy hillsides all over Scotland are accordionists like Will Starr. Be warned.
Jack Stitt serenades a rock with his accordion.
Bill Smith in a field
Kilts? Check. Accordion? Check. Loch with castle in the distance? Check. Now lift your right leg a bit…
Accordionly Yours… Spink was there first.
Bert Shorthouse, the life and soul of the party.
Double accordion! Looks like fun.
Pat Neary knew best how to sell accordion music.
Let’s Have A Ceilidh! outside.
Ranald MacDonald. Just walking around in my day wear, enjoying my loch and singing away.
Calum Kennedy on his way to work.
You’ve got Jimmy in the centre in front of the fireplace with his accordion right? Oh, that’ll do.
An Evening With The Tartan Lads. Almost a Sharon Stone moment…
Scots Wha’ Ha’e by Barry Nesbit. A Canadian so we can forgive the extra apostrophe; he gets the idea.
Will Star is The Daddy of Them All. No fire, but I’m not arguing…
Now that’s a proper fire.
Those were different times.
Twa Braw Lads. The brawest in the land.
We know Andy, we know. Which explains why you aren’t wearing yer troosers again.
Kilts were getting pretty popular.
You can tell Jim is well up for it lassie. (A dance)
Jim Outside by the hills. A tad underdressed for hillwalking.
Sorry world, it’s the best we could do.
Whistlebinkies outside in the sunshine.
The Battlefield Band. Home Is Where The Van Is. In this case home is in the middle of a field.
Contemporary Campbells outside
Boys of the Lough. Lochaber No More. And they are not happy about it.
A fashionable Runrig pose for debut album Play Gaelic in a field.
Capercaillie moved Scottish folk music into the 1980s.
Paul McCartney has a lot to answer for.
Home is a ruined castle.
Bobby Colgan’s Bothy Nicht. Let’s get the piglets drunk. Paintbrush sporran??
Again! Oh no! Better start taking my meds.
. Going to an Orkney Barn Dance? Hamnavoe will kick out the jams.
Kathy Kay. Chickens, now that’s how to sell records!
Scotland in Song or what are you looking at?
Lonnie Donegan had already converted the UK to Skiffle and the Blues before this LP came out in 1959.
Donovan feeling it.
Whistle-Binkies for the Germans.
Whistlebinkies Portrait 1.
Whistlebinkies Portrait 5. A life on the road and outside can take its toll.
This is fantastic.
Jimmy Hits The Bottle…
O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us! Australia.
In a Shetland Garden by Shirley and Larry Peterson. This is just too sweet.
Ed McCurdy A Box of Dalliance. A Canadian folksinger but this rare box set belongs here.
The Sounds of John Leslie Scotland A’GoGo
The Islanders debut LP in 1965.
Coaldust Ballads. An album about coalmining. Powerful stuff.
Robin Hall and Jimmy MacGregor. Scotch and Irish. Tartan bunnets all round.
The Jack Sinclair Showband on a Highland Holiday.
Tartan and Trad Jazz together at last.
Highlands and Lowlands with Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor
Joe and Sally seem close.
Fae Aberdeen. Ann & Laura Brand You’re Welcome Here. Thanks!
Mike Korb plays The Dancing Queen of Aberdeen. A rare 7 inch single.
The Seekers outside Edinburgh Castle. An Australian Band and some cunning old fashioned photoshoppery.
The McCalmans No Strings Attached. Scandanavia, you won’t know what hit you.
The Bay City Rollers Breakout the mullets in ’85.
Gaberlunzie Take The Road.
Welcome to the Dance. You, me and a crate of booze.
Phil, sit on that box for a second. Perfect.
Rangers. Both the cover and what’s inside could be worse.
Rufus Harley plays jazz on the bagpipes.
And he gets better.
Laugh along with Dot Foubister
Man recently rescued from phone box has picture taken for album sleeve.
Just For The Crack tells it’s own story. Craic ruins lives. Wait a minute…
Hello Jaqui and Bridie.
Hamish was a master of the folk song and I guess liked a pint or two.
Seems like only yesterday I left my mind behind… Watt Nicol is from the stable that produced Imlach, McGinn and Billy Connolly.
Matt McGinn here reminds me of another Glaswegian, great friend of the shop and ex-employee, Nigel.
Ever wake up after a night out in a tree?
An album of songs about how to turn leftovers into a meal the next day. Stovies.
Wait, maybe they are leftover songs turned into an album?
Edinburgh folk trio The Cairn released A Collection of “Scotch” Folk for the Americans. Bottle of “scotch” whisk(e)y included.
Company Policy is “more hair the better” and one of you is letting the side down.
Something Old, Something New by The Alexander Brothers. Can you undo a few more buttons and pretend you’re holding lightsabres?
The Jacobites. They’ve got the leg right.
Jesse Rae modelling Scottish beach wear.
These were the good times for the Bay City Rollers which is why they’re smiling.
Grey skies, hands on hips and Dedication is all you need. Glam Loch.
Willie Sutherland on Grampian Records with some good advice.
Looking like a badass preacher from Louisiana here Willie!
THE TOP 20
By this stage Rufus was mainlining $200 of tartan a day.
A Gordon for me? Thanks!
Moira takes the car to get the shopping. For running errands around town she takes the horse.
Frank Begbie’s dad. Don’t forget the cairds!
A lonely Hogmanay with Arthur Spink. As it’s almost New Year, if you are lucky he might even turn the fire on.
A warning to all those wanting a selfie with the Big Yin. You Take My Photograph (I Break Your Face)
Nailed it this time Jimmy Shand Jr!
Heeeere’s Krankie! Two Sides Of The Krankies is wrong in so many ways.
Kymm’s self titled second album released on Nevis records. As it says on the back: “Listen to this LP and you will be convinced that here is a star in the making! You’ll be hearing lots more of Kymm -Lots more.”
Normal for Fife.
Scottish Love Songs by the Corries. AKA Up The Dirt Track. Nothing says Love in Scotland more than 2 hairy men up a muddy road on a dreich winter’s day.
An Old Raincoat Won’t Let You Down. Bloody hell Rod! How can a song about homelessness turn into this?
I can’t even begin to know what this is. The Average White Band’s debut album, Show Your Hand was probably still offensive in 1973. The bum logo was a big improvement.
Alastair MacDonald Sings Robert Burns and Davy Handlebar Moustache.
They look really friendly. Looking the wrong WAY, Shetland’s Rhythym Group.
One of the greatest mysteries of Scottish music, Borderline by Nigel Denver. Complete with paintbrush sporran.
Gaberlunzie with Scotland AGAIN! Reminds me of Olaf from Wide Days with Ian Rankin on guitar.
The MacNish Distillery Pipe Band. “Quick Lads the Sun’s out, let’s get that album picture!”
After reaching the end, you are probably feeling like this. Comes with printed lyrics so you can have a greet too.
The Wally Dugs, The Road to Dundee! Even Frodo would turn back.
The Marlettes from Rutherglen/Cambuslang. Still gigging.
My favourite. Those jeans are a bit tight at the groin. Gaughan “That’ll do Dick!”
The album thread is very much a work in progress. Please get in touch with pics of any gems that we’ve missed. There are a few smaller themed posts in the pipeline but for now, this will do.
I got an email a few years ago asking if I have a copy of an old Scottish EP called White Heather Memories by James Urquhart. No doubt the sender must have first looked with Google with no luck and then contacted a few Scottish shops in hope. It just so happened that a large collection of singles had come in the week before and I recognised the title. The collection was mainly 1960s pop music on labels like PYE, Decca, Columbia and Parlophone with The Good The Bad and the Ugly (quite literally) hits of the day. and the EP had stood out as not belonging there. I love looking through old singles, reading names written on the records and imagining the parties in Scottish living rooms in the 1960s. Bacardi for the ladies, Tennent’s cans with “Ann” on them for the men and fag ash nonchalantly flicked onto the carpet.
You are in luck I said. How much? he asked. And that is the question. How do you value a record that doesn’t seem to exist? For indeed there were no previous sales documented to reference as a guide and there can’t still be many around.* This style of traditional Scottish music is pretty hard to sell in Record Shops (or anywhere) and most will either donate them to charity shops or throw them out. I would have put my copy in The Backroom for £1.50 for a while to give it a chance. But I cleaned it and played tested it and graded it a strong VG+. Being a ruthless businessman, that’ll be a fiver I said. Thank you very much, he replied, this will make James Urquhart’s 80 year old brother very happy! And he sent me a nice old fashioned cheque in the post.**
Thistle Records RWEP 630
You don’t see liner notes these days. Ah, memories.
So a happy ending and something that has since made me reluctant to let go of obscure but essentially worthless records which only begins to explains the state of my garage at home. A large part of dealing in used records is memories and the history of music itself. Hearing old songs can take you right back to a tremendous place. Sometimes a place that you’ve never been. White Heather Imaginings? Call it nostalgia if you like but it is a topic I would like to explore a wee bit in the weeks ahead.
I couldn’t find a link to the music on the record but the songs are pretty straight easy listening ballads with orchestra rather than accordion and a slight Scottish lilt. It must have sounded old-fashioned even at the time and I suppose that is where the title comes in. It was certainly at odds with what was in the charts in that era.
Melody Maker Pop 50 1965. Goldie and the Gingerbreads!? Now, you don’t see that often…
Anyway, here’s a link to a livelier James Urquhart tune that might cheer you up as the days are getting longer again and it’s hopefully no longer dark when you get up to go to work.
*While typing this I’ve actually found 2 copies for sale online. One ebay seller at £1.99 with free postage and one Canadian seller on discogs asking £7.
**A cheque that, in the age of internet banking, I never did get round to cashing.
Finally we’ll have a chance of keeping up with Mark E. Smith’s output.
We have a machine at home that has hundreds of CDs downloaded onto it and a few of mine have made it there. Every now and then, when the machine is on random my wife says “is that The Fall”. And she’ll ask to skip to the next track. Yes, darling, if it sounds like The Fall then it is bound to be The Fall again. I love the band but I often have had to agree and say “yes, please skip it”.
I found The Fall in the 1990s with their album The Infotainment Scan. A friend gave me the CD. If you have a friend that finds you music, please hug them regularly for they are the best of your friends. I thought the album was great and in that vein I shared it with my friends. “Sounds like Louis D____ on drugs” said another friend who felt that Louis D_____ already mumbled a lot. “Paranoid man… Puts head down when girls pass in the street… Got my hat and my corny brown leather jacket” some lyrics seemed profound; others just stream of consciousness.
So I looked for other albums and found a Best of the Fall that was pretty terrible. Then a tape of Code Selfish that was great. Then getting into records, and you never see Fall records -the people that own them tend to keep them as you don’t get into the Fall temporarily. Finding Code Selfish restored my Fall fandom and I became a Fall fan and I discovered The Monks. Thank you Mark for that.
But I gave up seeking out the earlier music after deciding I couldn’t afford it! In John Peel’s words, “Always different, always the same.” I was never able to keep up with The Fall. But I’d always read the interviews, read the book and kept an eye out for a live show.
I went to see The Fall at the Edinburgh Picturehouse a few years ago before it closed and Mark came out for 10 minutes then spent the rest of the gig singing incomprehensibly from the dressing room. The band were really tight but it was a pretty terrible gig experience. Play the hits! What hits? It’s an underground band… We left early and pretty disappointed. I put on Bend Sinister when I got home and all was well again.
Mark sacked so many members of his band that we’ve had a shop joke that everyone has either been in the Fall or is related to someone that has been in The Fall…
You don’t often see Fall records but I found a 7 inch copy of Totally Wired on Rough Trade last year and of course as a fan, I took it home. It sounds amazing. If ever there’s a single to show how records can be better than digital, it’s this one. Which is no use to you reading this. Sorry.
This is just meant as a brief blog post salute to a renegade music maker who has my utmost respect.
I’d like to say that I’ll get Totally Wired and that I’m going to drink a jar of coffee and take some E in homage to Mark E. Smith but I will probably just go to work as usual and make a point of not eating any vegetables tomorrow.
I love The Fall and there is so much to love.
Thank you Mark!
Lost in Music.
Bill Is Dead
Last week after “Dynasty”
I had crows feet under my eyes
Paid two days for getting high
Got pasted in a bar
I hope I’ve got the number
These are finest times of my life
This is the greatest time of my life
This is the greatest time of my life
These are the biggest times of my life
But just lately seeing you
I rise a.m. off pink sheets
I am renewed
I am aglow
Red brick and green is the streets
You dressed today as if for riding school
Your legs are so cool
These are the greatest times of my life
Every now and then we get a nice email asking for us to take some flyers and otherwise help promote a music project. We’ll always say yes but after reading this email I asked for a couple of tickets to competition off and said I’d write a blog post, take flyers, post on FB, twitter, Instagram and basically shout from the roof.
The email was letting me know about this film showing in the Cameo on 8th July. The Grant Green Story. It’s a biopic about a cultish Blue Note guitar player. I even don’t know a whole lot about the man myself but I have known for a long time that he was a kick-ass guitarist and that he recorded with the best jazz label of all time, Blue Note. He recorded with the best and made some records that are now incredibly rare. (His early records sell for about £400 and basically never ever turn up). Maybe the 1960s focused on the brass with trumpeters like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and Coltrane on the saxophone or maybe his records’ scarcity means that over the years thee are haven’t been enough collectors getting hold of them to able to spread the word about how great they are, “look at what I just picked up!”, “hear this guy play!”. The result is that a guitarist like Grant Green has maybe not had the widespread recognition he deserves. A good proportion of our jazz customers will know his music well and have heard his playing on some classic Blue Notes but won’t know his story. Green’s own son didn’t know his father’s story and that is essentially what the film is about.
A good place to begin. You’re in for a long trip!
I just dipped in to the Grant Green back catalogue and instantly recognised a riff used by Public Enemy.
That’s Grant Green Ain’t It Funky Now. He’s certainly been sampled a lot by hip hop diggers.
Before the Trainspotting soundtrack, there was the Blue Note label and Green was one of many jazz musicians of the era to find heroin a bit moreish. He has a stellar back catalogue -as well as his own releases, he performed on countless Blue Note albums- which may be some compensation for a life cut short but this doesn’t apply as much for the family as it may do for the fan. The Blue Note album covers were always gorgeous and so many have become iconic although they didn’t really have to give some of Grant Green’s a hint of green… But they work for me all the same. [I just found out that he loved the colour green and drove a green Cadillac and so on] I’m really looking forward to seeing this movie and I’m sure it will help bring his music to a whole new audience. His daughter in law, Sharony Green, co-directed the movie and hosts the Q&A afterwards.
Here’s the film promo, trailer and some useful links:
Join us for the first screening in Europe for the soon-to-released documentary on the late jazz guitarist Grant Green, one of the most recorded artists for Blue Note Records, America’s first independent jazz label. This feature length film presents a son’s search for his father, the guitar legend, via his own memories and those of others. Since the 1990s, Grant’s music has been sampled by everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Kendrick Lamar. Learn more about the backstory involving the man whose guitar licks inspired a generation of jazz and hip hop listeners alike. The film features, Lou Donaldson and George Benson, among others. 61 minutes followed by Q & A.
For more about the film, visit www.grantgreenabluenote.com
It is that time of year again. This is Record Store Day’s 10th year and this will be our 6th year taking part. The backroom is full to the roof with empty cardboard boxes and only half of the records have arrived so far. We now have the largest Record Store Day event in the UK with 14 bands and one book launch. On top of that we will have most of the exclusive Record Store Day exclusives and a good allocation of almost all of the most sought after titles. The shop opens at 8am on Saturday -an hour earlier than in previous years.
VoxBox Andy has put on An Evening of The Grateful Dead tribute gig (starring The Workingman’s Dead) at the Voodoo Rooms that night. Two live 45 minute sets of cosmic rock music. “Come down and have a long strange trip.” An Evening of the Grateful Dead Tickets
This is the list of RSD artists we are stocking. All the acts playing live on the day have recent releases so please check them out too.
12 Stone Toddler
Alfonso Noel Lovo
Alice in Chains
Alien Sex Fiend
Aqua LP and single
Art of Noise
A Thousand Horses
Atomic Bomb Band
Banks & Steelz
Ben Folds &WASO
Bonnie Prince Billy (May not arrive)
Boogie Times Tribe
Brian Jonestown Massacre
British Sea Power
Bruce Springsteen Box
BP Fallon & David Holmes
Bullet For My Valentine
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Cleaners From Venus
Cocteau Twins x2
Coheed & Cambria
Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Curtis Knigh & Jimi Hendrix
Cure (Acoustic and Live)
David Bowie BOWPROMO
David Bowie Cracked Actor 3LP live album
David Bowie No Plan 12” single
Dead Naked Hippies
Dear or Alive
Devil Sold His Soul
DJ Pierre Presents
Dr Robert and PP Arnold
Drive By Truckers
Eyelids (feat Gary Jarman-Cribs)
Fall –Live album and the single
Fat Freddy’s Drop
Fleur de Lys Box
Fleetwood Mac (also have the Stevie Nicks)
Flower Travellin’ Band
Follkazoid ft J. Spaceman
Future Sounds of London
Glenn Jones & Matthew Azevedo
Goo Goo Dolls Box Set
Graham Parker & the Rumour
Grateful Dead Live
High Contrast –Shotgun Mouthwash –from T2 soundtrack
Hopetown Lewis/ Vin Gordon
House of Joy Box
Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression Live (very dear)
Inna Baba Coulibaly
Iron and Wine
Jaco Pistorius Box
Jah Screechy & SL2
Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales
Jason Isbel and the 400 Unit
Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
John Renbourn/Wizz Jones
Julian Cope LP and DOPE compilation
Ken Boothe/Dillinger/Smart x1
Klaus DingerKrome and Time
Lovebirds ft Galliano
LSO Percussion Orchestra
Manic Street Preachers
Marc Bolan/T-Rex live 1977
Moody Marsden Band
Moton Records Inc
Motorhead BOX and Pic discs
Ocean Colour Scene
One Summer/Spirit/British Summertime/Can’t Stop…
Paul McCartney x 1
Pauw and the Mystery Jets
Pink Floyd live album and the 12” EP
Placebo & David Bowie
Prince 12“ all 6 singles. 7” Pic disc awaited.
Procol Harum EP
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – The Queen Symphony
Ryo Kawasaki Box
Say Sue Me
Slaughter and the Dogs
Small Faces 10” and LP
Son’z of a Loop Da LoopEra
Sorrows –may not arrive
Spacemen 3 –all three albums
Spencer Davis Group
Sun Ra LP and single
Super Furry Animals
Swet Shop Boys
Television Personalities –all 4 releases
Thelonious Monk Box
The Who Quadrophenia and single
Townes Van Zandt
To Kill a KIng
T-Rex Electric Warrior and single
V/A Bollywood Psyche
V/A Function Underground
V/A Live in Naija
V/A Mellow Mellow Norther soul split single
V/A Acid RevolutionV/A Motown Funk
V/A Northern Soul
V/A Soho Scene/New Orleans/New York/Texas/others
V/A Southwestside Story
V/A Salsoul Reedits series one and two
V/A Africa Express Presents Orch of Syrian Musicians
V/A Close to the Noise Floor
V/A Here Comes the Night Owl
V/A Scared to Get Happy
V/A Greater Manchester Punk Vol. 2
V/A Tighten Up
V/A Psyche France
V/A The Magic Cube
V/A Girls in the Garage
V/A Insane Times
V/A Oxfam Presents: Stand as one (Glastonbury Live album)
V/A Let The Children Techno
V/A Soul Jazz Nigeria Soul Power Box
V/A Soul Jazz Studio One Box
V/A Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets
V/A Test Card Grooves
V/A Voidoid Artpack Box
Vangelis – Blade Runner
Wild Willy Barrett
Zombies EP and Single
OST Don’t Look Now
OST Quartermass and the Pit (2 releases)
OST Legend of 1900
OST Blade Runner
OST Doctor Who
The Coroner’s report on George Michael’s death on Christmas Day has finally been released: The post-mortem found that he had dilated cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. That means that he had a dilated and enlarged heart that would be less efficient than it should be and tat there was also some inflammation of the heart muscle itself. There are a handful of common causes of this kind of problem. He also had a fatty liver as a lot of us overweight Scots will also be living with. Eat more fruit and veg and cut out the bread… I was a doctor before I opened VoxBox six years ago and am still. Maybe because of that, I was never happy with the initial reporting that George Michael may have died of a heroin overdose and I mentioned the shoddy reporting by The Daily Telegraph in the last blog. The worldwide press had already quoted and spread the Telegraph’s report.
My reasoning that he died of something other than a heroin overdose was simply that heroin addicts tend to die quickly when they overdose. They will stop breathing shortly after injecting or snorting and they will therefore have the signs of drug use around them. A needle and syringe and a tourniquet won’t be far away and that would be seen by the police. An addict in recovery who has been prescribed methadone can overdose with nothing suspicious seen around the body. However, the pharmacies and his GP could quickly establish if he was prescribed this. Street methadone is harder to obtain than heroin but not impossible. However, George Michael’s closest relatives had quickly said that he was not using opiates. Opiates can usually be found rapidly on toxicology testing.
I’m no Columbo but George Michael was very candid about drug use to the press and presumably to those close to him. The family’s immediate response made me think that the opiate claim was going to be wrong. It is pretty difficult to hide heroin addiction from close friends and family. Close friends and family will usually know that something isn’t right -Not always, but the story didn’t sound right to me.
And another thing… They are also likely to be aware of other things that could have been much more likely to have caused the death. Their instant refutation made me feel that they were likely to be right and should have been listened to.
This doesn’t look like heroin to me. Maybe we should wait for the toxicology.
Anyway, with the Coroner’s report hot off the press, I’ve written a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation for the first time in my life. I feel they breached their code of practice. I had wondered about offering alternative reasons as to why he could have died but it’s not the right thing to do and The General Medical Council and other ethical bodies say that doctors shouldn’t publicly speculate about diagnoses of people in the public eye. (For example some Psychiatrists are excusing diagnosing Donald Trump with various neuroses as being for the good of the world). If I were to have speculated as to the cause of George Michael’s death on this blog I’d be in real trouble with the GMC. And rightly so. I believe that when a journalist quotes an unnamed source and creates a wave of worldwide gossip that they should be held to account. They can’t just say “he told me so” or “well he told me they were related” and then publish these things.
This is not a subject I wanted to have to blog about but I respect George Michael a lot and grew up with some of his songs that I really didn’t like (Mostly Wham) and wasn’t much interested in the charts in the Careless Whisper period. But I was impressed by the huge comeback circa 1996 with the Fastlove stuff which I thought was great.
We don’t sell many Wham or George Michael records but I liked the man a lot and his struggle for control of the use of his music against his label in the 1990s was eyeopening as to how the music industry works. It’s all on Youtube. But ultimately, I’d like to try to stop this kind of lazy speculative reporting. Instead of informing us, it really makes us all dumber. Is this “Fake News”?
Sorry about the miserable subject of this.
Lots of good things to come but I just had to get this off my chest.
Here’s the email sent to IPSO today. I hope they act on it. Click on the tune below before you begin to read as it is a dull read and you may well need something to help you as you go through it.
My complaint is regarding the publication of two articles by The Daily Telegraph following the death of singer George Michael. The first article appeared on the 27th December, two days after his death. This speculated that he may have died of a drug overdose. The journalist quoted an anonymous source who had allegedly said that George Michael had been using heroin, had been rushed to hospital earlier in the year with an overdose (without saying what drug he allegedly overdosed on). I can’t find the original article online. The later article was published on the 30th December following a post-mortmen that had failed to find an exact cause of death. This article actually refers to the earlier Telegraph article when the journalist writes, “More tests will be conducted on the star, who, it has been claimed, has battled heroin addiction this year, and are expected to take a number of weeks.” This rehashing of the original anonymous source published by the Telegraph adds emphasis to the speculation. The fact that the people who perhaps knew George Michael best -family, friends and legal team, all denied that he had used heroin in the weeks prior to his death was acknowledged in the article but the stress of the article was not the diagnostic uncertainty but the speculation.
The first line is “Singer George Michael’s death could be linked to heroin”! The singer’s death could also have been rumoured to be linked to careless whispering or having free drinks at Club Tropicana but unless they are corroborated they should be reported on as speculation (or ideally not at all). The story was picked up by the press worldwide who could then honestly report the speculation by saying “it has been reported that George Micahel was using heroin”. All due to an anonymous source quoted by The Daily Telegraph. The Coroner’s report is now available and he has been deemed to have died of “natural causes”. Toxicology that would have shown opiates in his system was negative. I feel they have breached the Code of Practice: i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text. This information was poor quality and corroboration with people that knew him well could have prevented this error and the following wildfire of speculative coverage. I believe that his cousin may have been revealed now as the source. Although family, he would surely have had to prove that he was close to George. I have 16 cousins many of whom I haven’t spoken to in many years. It would be absurd for anyone to quote them about circumstances of my untimely demise without checking the closeness of the relationship. It simply reeked of poor reporting.
The second complaint was regarding IPSO 6 which states: “In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.”
The media circus following George Michael’s death would have been difficult for his family and friends to endure. The false accusations of heroin addiction and perhaps the stigma attached to drug addiction led to them feeling the need to challenge the speculation publicly only two days following his death. I’m sure that if the close family and friends had been told about the speculation that was about to be published they would have been distressed and pleaded that it was untrue. -and it has now been proven to be untrue. I feel that the reporting has put George Michael’s family under unnecessary stress and with no sympathy or discretion at a time of deep personal grief and upheaval.
I am glad that the family have been vindicated following the Coroner’s report. However some of the public will always think that he was a heroin addict at the time of his death. Some will still believe that he died of an overdose. George Michael was always candid about past drug use but I think he never claimed in an interview to have ever been a heroin user. I’m not a fan as such but I have a small record shop and a love of music and I despise shoddy reporting like this. The initial story never rang true to me and now that the Coroner’s report is available, I think that now is the time to raise a formal complaint.
Thank You For Your Complaint
*A few parts of the email sent to IPSO have been edited for the blog post to help with clarity and the odd spelling mistake. But let us see what happens.
O Death. These blog posts actually started with Whitney Houston’s early death in 2012 and there is a wee bit mentioning the death of Monkee Davy Jones but I didn’t want it to be an obituary blog so hadn’t mentioned several high profile music stars passing. I broke this when David Bowie died. However many of us mere mortals will have had some bad news this year and yet life goes on and the clock keeps ticking steadily away like an old undertaker’s hammer driving the nails into a new coffin lid.
This past year had seen a proven spike of high profile deaths. It is normal to ask ‘who’s next? The (remaining) Who?’ Could it even be that we are approaching peak celebrity death? I don’t think so: There is a lot more to come… Television and radio made many more people stars and reached a global audience from the late 1950s onwards. Not just seeing photos and hearing the music but the whole thing. From the inception of Radio 1 to television and then Top of the Pops to the birth of the music festival. The mass production of records was a major factor also. Photographers and film crews followed artists, the music documentary was born. Heroes were becoming more accessible and you now knew what they looked like and what they sound like talking. Their personalities can shine through and we have become emotionally involved in an awful lot of people. It is heartening that most of the heroes from the 1960s are actually still alive. A lot of heroes from the 1950s’ Rock and Roll Boom are still alive too and the greats Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, with a combined age of 255, are still gigging.
Is it better to burn out or fade away? Sometimes you get a warning… Country music legend Glen Campbell did his farewell tour in 2011 following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and although still on the line, he is now nursed in a care home. He is reported to be in the end stages but doing fine. It is difficult to sell his records today. Maybe it will be easier when he has gone. It is sad to see that artists can sell really well after death but also nice that they get recognition. It’s a uncomfortable sensation. Should a shop display your recently deceased artists more to take advantage? We don’t in VoxBox really; maybe we should. After Freddie Mercury died in 1991, an Edinburgh record shop (Hot Wax) put all the Queen and Freddie Mercury solo records in the basement. Customers who came in and asked for them were treated to “If it wasn’t good enough to buy when Freddie was alive… You’re not getting it now he’s dead!” Bert was one of the great Edinburgh record shop owners. An archetype and it is a great anecdote but not a sensible business model then or now.
It’s remarkable that many great 1960s bands are still in one piece. All of Black Sabbath are still alive and a Rolling Stone hasn’t faded away for almost 50 years. Despite a diet consisting only of fags and Shepherd’s pie, Keith Richards is alive and climbing coconut trees. Saying that, these superstars and the MOJO Magazine sellers like Bob Dylan and Neil Young can’t last forever although the ability of these two in particular to create albums has accelerated. Maybe they feel the pressure of time. Perhaps it’s simply to pay for their recent divorces. Dylan got the Nobel prize which I think was well deserved and I think he has a while to go and I do want to read the sequel to his Chronicles: Volume I biography. I have a theory that he wants to die on stage hence the never-ending touring. Anyway the point of this is that I always think that the wrong time to celebrate a musician is after they are dead.
Maybe the media is just more focussed on reporting deaths just now. I remember watching the Six O’clock News waiting to hear the piece about Edinburgh guitar maestro Bert Jansch passing away a few years ago but it never came. I hung on through Reporting Scotland at half past. Nope. Then I watched the Channel 4 news hoping in vain. These days, I like to think he’d get a mention. It is not without irony that a man who wrote about the dangers of opiates should die of lung cancer. Those great old pics would often have a cigarette hanging from his lips. In drug terms, nicotine is the biggest killer of them all.
As an aside, there does not appear to be an excess of illegal drugs and even then, it is not usually ‘hard’ drugs that are killing musicians these days. Many of the premature deaths were of smokers and smoking is known to take an average of ten years off your life. Prince is now known to have died of a fentanyl overdose. Doctors are being warned off prescribing opiates like this for chronic non-cancer pain. Studies have shown they simply don’t work in the long-term so it seems an accident that should not have been allowed to happen. As to a doctor prescribing propofol to help a patient sleep? That is lunacy (Michael Jackson’s cause of death).
The Patch of Death?
I was not surprised to find out that the BBC actually keeps a whole stash of pre-written obituaries and some musicians will have had their obituary written for decades. What Is Shane MacGowan up to these days? Does anyone care about him today? Van Morrison doesn’t look too healthy: Better play Astral Weeks again. Have you visited your granny enough this year? It must be a strange experience knowing there is an obituary and a collection of clips ready for playing once you are dead. Shouldn’t you be allowed to see it for a fact check? Hell, you could add an interview. That would be weird but compelling. “Hi, I’m David Bowie and this is my BBC death montage.”
The BBC actually produced a documentary on Shane MacGowan in 1997:
An older friend of mine has stopped buying the Grateful Dead box sets he loves as he might not have time to listen to them all. He was joking as he already has more Grateful Dead than he can listen to but illness can focus the mind. Not always in a healthy way so we need to be able to deal with knowing and caring about the life and death of more people than any group of humans have had to before. Working in the NHS some describe “compassion fatigue” and I can see that happening for celebrity deaths too. Will even more celebrity deaths be the saviour of newspapers as they knock out the 12 page spread on the dead stars in their souvenir editions or will we all get bored of mass grieving? In the future I’d like to see some newspaper journalists chased down for the disrespectful, often made up/speculation coverage. A “source” was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying George Michael was a heroin addict. He wasn’t though. Was there a source or was it made up? After the toxicology is out, if negative, I think the author of the article should be investigated.
Ach I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t act so shocked; “Grandpa died last week and he’s buried in the rocks, everybody still talks about how badly they were shocked…” (Dylan). We should celebrate the life and the successes, the 30 album glorious careers and the successful careers and burn outs of so many that have led chaotic lives in a harsh music industry. I was touched by Leonard Cohen’s letter written to long time muse Marianne when he found out she was ill and it is this kind of beautiful and poetic reflection that can help you take a step back and find a way to come to terms with loss.
For the year ahead, let us celebrate the career geniuses and the one hit wonders, the bums the punks, the old sluts on junk. And do it now. Dig out your favourite albums and play them. We don’t always do that enough. Keep in touch with those you care about as you never know if there is a double decker bus around the corner. Some of your favourite artists who were once superstars could easily now be answering their own emails these days. You can drop them a line and let them know what they mean to you. We are truly lucky to be able to share the planet with such talent. To be missed shows you have been doing something right.
Luckily, if you are 65 just now, you will probably live to be 85 or so and the odds are that if you are alive just now whatever your age, you will more probably than not, still be alive at the end of next year.
You can make tiny changes to Earth in 2017.
Start by quitting the fags again. We’d like our customers, like our rock stars, to stay alive those extra 10 years.
Happy New Year!
‘Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road’ Leonard Cohen
When VoxBox opened in 2011 somebody said that it reminded them of Bruce’s in the 1960s. That’s a compliment and a half! I don’t think we’re always there in terms of new releases and we’re not importing exotic beasts but I think we do have the widest range of Scottish independently made records available in Edinburgh. However, I don’t think we or any shop these days can even touch Bruce’s in it’s heyday.
In case you don’t already know, Bruce Findlay opened a chain of record shops in the late 60s and 70s. His older brother was already working in the family record shop but young Bruce was perhaps just a little more charismatic and ambitious and he pushed to expand into other towns and finally became ruler of a small chain of sensibly sized record shops. In fact, by specialising in American rock imports and underground music, they sold the best records in every town they were in. They took on the major high street record shops, had adverts in NME, their own fanzine, promoted gigs and basically took over central Scotland… And they had the best slogan too.
Owners Brian Findlay and Bruce Findlay with the distinctive red carrier bag ‘I Found It At Bruce’s’ outside Bruce’s record shop in Rose Street Edinburgh in November 1972
Bruce’s record shop bags were famous in themselves: Red bags with “I found it at Bruce’s” on them. He also personalised their clear PVC record sleeves. When we buy in collections, there are usually some records bought at Bruce’s Record Shop that still have the lovely “Bruce’s Record Shop” in fancy script on the top right corner of the PVC cover. The pride he had in the shop was obvious.
Bruce’s classic red singles bag
A side effect of having the record shops was that he found out about the talented local bands in need of exposure and he created a wee label called Zoom! In racy italics of course. Zoom! sIgned some of the best local bands in Edinburgh in the post-punk rush and even signed a wee band from Glasgow called Simple Minds. And Zoom! they went… Simple Minds became the biggest band in the world for a while and Bruce was the tinted glasses wearing, hard partying, fast talking, deal making manager. Meanwhile, other shops had copied his business model and finally the shops were sold as he focussed his energy on the band. The is a great wee feature on Bruce’s career here that you can read later. https://stevomusicman.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/qas-bruce-findlay/
Bruce shares his 5 point plan on Razzmatazz. Still holds to this day I think.
Fast forward a decade or two and I first met Bruce at the VoxBox opening party back in 2011 and we have gone on to have some hearty chats from time to time so I’d asked him if he’d like to come to The Holy Ghosts gig for their EP launch last year. The good time rock and roll band’s last release was on our own VoxBox shop label. The support band was Miracle Glass Company and it was the first time I’d seen them. I was manning the merch stall on the night and I sold a lot of Miracle Glass Company’s CD EPs there. A lot of CDs… More in fact, than I’ve ever seen sold at a local band’s gig -and by a long stretch.
Bruce told me he thought Miracle Glass Company were fantastic and asked me if they were signed to the shop label too.
I said “No, but I’m hoping to speak to their manager.” I was a bit coy and said “I suspect they will soon get signed to a proper label”.
“You are a proper label!” he said.
And that stopped me in my tracks.
Coming from Bruce, I was a totally dumbfounded as my idea of “proper labels” are the biggies of the old days like Island, Decca, RCA, Columbia, Parlophone, EMI, Pye, Atlantic, Stax, Motown and the great indie labels, ROUGH TRADE, Stiff, Postcard or indeed Bruce’s own Zoom! label itself. I went away and had a think because to me it sounded a bit too much. The Holy Ghosts’ EP was only our 3rd release and our only one on vinyl. Our first 2 being on cassette tape compilations.
I mulled it over a bit.
To be a label these days all you actually need is a website and a release to plug but I’ve never found that entirely satisfactory.
It takes a while to build up a reputation. VoxBox is into its 6th year of business. 5 Record Store Days. 3 Cassette Store Days. Loads of in-stores. An ear to the ground on what’s going on in the Scottish Music scene. A vote for the Scottish Album of the Year Award. Over the years, VoxBox has been featured in Music Week, The NME, BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio Scotland. We’ve had a double page spread in The Scotsman newspaper and a few articles in the Edinburgh Evening News, as well as coverage in the excellent Skinny magazine and The List magazine who also help publicise and often attend our events. On top we have friends and acquaintances among the local and national music bloggers, labels, fanzines, music distributors, venues, artists, industry professionals, band managers, festival organisers, fellow record shops and glossy music magazines. We’ve also now to date released 7 albums, one EP and a single. It may sound like blowing one’s own trumpet but I’m very proud of this wee shop.
As a label, What we have isn’t even exactly a website with a release to sell- I think it is different from that. The overall ambition is to politely yet enthusiastically kick doors down and to really help an Edinburgh band break out and draw attention to the finest musicians in our city. The fact that there aren’t any major label offices up here is sad as there is so much talent. But while that is the case, with a shoestring budget and a sprinkling of what money can’t buy, we’ll try our damnedest to help.
So thank you to Bruce! A little while after our chat, I had realised that the shop label is as proper as a small label can be these days and I won’t ever talk it down again. And to top off this tale and to make everything a bit weirder and a bit more perfect. We have signed the best guitar band in Britain.
Thanks to the filmmakers Studio Canal, we are excited to have two tickets to give away for the premiere showing at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema on September 15th. It is for one night only and will be followed by 30 minutes of newly re-mastered Beatles Live at Shea Stadium footage.
Everybody knows that The Beatles were a phenomenon in their day, but having split such a long time ago, in 1970, a tattooed and bearded barista today may well find it difficult to know what all the fuss was about and the context in which the Beatles arrived and then adapted and changed pop music forever. And they bloody did! They weren’t just lazing about in the sunshine…
The film uses live footage and interviews and it begins in Hamburg then takes us from 1962 with the release of their debut single Love Me Do to around the time of the Revolver album in 1966 when they stopped touring. -Someone had thrown a firecracker onto the stage during their last American tour and they were spooked. They were also sick and tired of being unable to hear themselves play due to the screaming.
In the four years following their first single, the band would release seven groundshifting albums, a tonne more singles and starred in 2 films. They wrote their own songs, they wrote other bands’ songs, they boxed Muhammed Ali, they electrified Dylan. Judas! Got stoned with Dylan and then experimented with the jewels and binoculars of songwriting. To paraphrase Bill Hicks: They got so high that you had to scrape the band from the ceiling with a rake… and they even let Ringo sing some songs! Then there was their personal lives in which they were shagging like Austin Powers. One was already married, two others went on to marry and another one threatened to maybe get engaged yeah, and led the world on for ages. In the UK it created careers for everyone that could either sing a wee bit or hold a guitar. It spawned the greatest mass uptake of instruments the world had seen since the zither phenomenon of 1949 (See end of post) and wouldn’t be seen again until the advent of Punk in the late 70s.
To say they were busy during this time is an epic understatement and to put this whole shebang in context, a popular band now will spend over 2 years recording an album and touring it -and so for the Fab Four to write, record and release seven albums of original material in four years is totally phenominal (Unless you are a 1960s jazz musician). They were also busy busy busy touring when they weren’t recording and perhaps didn’t have time to take it all in. I think that they were just getting on with it thinking that this was what you were supposed to do. So they saw the world and the world in return saw them in their fully fledged spunkiness; cheeky, funny and charming.
It is all before John met Yoko Ono; before Apple records and Allen Klein; before India and Transcendental Meditation; manager Brian Epstein is still alive and dealing with the finances. George and Ringo still were still ok with their publishing royalties. They also weren’t yet giving the Rolling Stones a cold every time they sneezed and with Revolver out of the way and a lot more available time for the studio; the stage was set for the experimentation of Sgt. Pepper which was becoming a little bit more than just a twinkle seen on the outside of their increasingly large pupils.
Ron Howard’s film captures the fab four in the midst of their unguarded early stardom. This is made more poignant knowing the darkness to come. It’s a must see film if only to hear John Lennon say “I’m Eric” to an interviewer that asks him which one of the band he is. It makes me want to be Eric too. Here’s the trailer:
Here’s the film preview:
“February 9th, 1964, 8:12pm EST – after a brief commercial break, four young men from Liverpool step onto the Ed Sullivan stage, changing culture forever.
Seventy-three million people watched The Beatles perform that night, the largest audience in television history. But it is what the band did next that would introduce them to the entire world, permanently transforming the music industry and forever engraining them into the fabric of popular culture… They went on tour. By the time the band quit touring in August of 1966, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities around the world. The cultural phenomenon their touring helped create, known as “Beatlemania,” was something the world had never seen before or since.”
This is the not-to-be-missed story of the band’s exceptional touring years – an intimate portrait of the band, and a behind-the-scenes look at The Beatles on tour. Exploring the effect it had on their relationships, as well as their musical evolution, and looking at how they transformed the world of music, the film features interviews, unheard music and exclusive concert footage from the biggest band of all time.
Stay in your seat after the film to experience 30 minutes of footage from the legendary 1965 Shea Stadium performance, presented for the first time in a digitally restored 4k transfer with remastered sound.
The Shea concert footage includes audio remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Giles Martin and Sam Okell. This has allowed the performance to be heard more clearly over the other background noise including the screaming fans. For the first time ever the viewer is able to experience the concert as it was meant to be seen and heard and to appreciate how extraordinary this band was live given the challenging technical conditions under which they were expected to play.”
AND NOW THE COMPETITION QUESTION…
Which Beatle complained of working ‘Eight Days A Week’ inspiring the song of that name to be written?
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.
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.