The Twilight Sad Belt It Out (That was a bit special)

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

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…

The Contigency:

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.

Epilogue:
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.

The_Twilight_Sad_by_David_P_Scott_Edinburgh_Photographer-8

Yesterday Upon the Stair I Met A Man Who Wasn’t There

My first copies of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Hunky Dory came from a record fair held in a large hall at The University of Liverpool in 1995. I remember that well.

I first really heard David Bowie when I was 18 years old. I had just started university and was studying medicine in Liverpool. This was 1995 and the CD was truly king. Bowie had still been releasing albums but they were not as well received as everyone would have liked them to be. The single Hello Spaceboy had recently charted but it hadn’t pushed my buttons. I remembered Dancing in the Street with Mick Jagger when I was wee boy. I hadn’t been impressed. Maybe it was Mick Jagger: Mick has always seemed a bit far-fetched to me; even as a young lad.

I’d been introduced to The Stooges when I was 16 by a friend who was working his way through one of those MOJO “100 greatest albums ever” lists. I loved that stuff. Raw Power was what it was all about. Bowie “That fucking carrot top ruined my album” said Iggy. But he’d helped the Stooges and Lou Reed… There must be something I was missing.

Having been born in September 1977 (in between the deaths of Marc Bolan and Elvis Presley a few days after Iggy’s Lust For Life was released) I completely missed the glam rock heyday. Growing up, you could see there were a few punk stragglers and a few mods that you were told to avoid in case they would beat you up but there wasn’t a scene of any sort in my home town. I’d like to have seen what a town like Peterhead made of the gender bending alien of glam period Bowie.

My teen era belonged to Nirvana and I was aware of The Man Who Sold the World as one of my favourite tracks from the live Nirvana Unplugged album. “This is a David Bowie song” said Kurt. Wow, that’s so good! I thought. I bought the guitar tablature and tried to learn how to play it.

At Uni, living in halls of residence you kind of make friends with everyone until you find your group. There was a guy that had won the karaoke competition who lived in the same block as a friend of mine. He took a while to get ready… One time we went to his room to wait for him to get his stuff together. It was halls but his room was lovely. A sheepskin rug on the floor. Very tidy for an 18 year old student. Well, very tidy for anyone. A well kept plant for a bit of greenery. Some throws on the bed. A paperback Sartre splayed open on a rustic bedside table. And a record player. No-one had a record player, certainly not 18 year old students. This was very exotic indeed. In hindsight, I think what he had constructed was basically a shag pad designed to impress. It certainly made a lasting impression on me.

Anyway, he put on a record while we were waiting and disappeared somewhere.

The record he had chosen was David Bowie’s album The Man Who Sold the World. When it got to the title track, my head exploded. I recognised the song of course, but this version as so much better. My heart screamed “This is the best song I’ve ever heard!” The production was brilliant! The stereo sound flitting between speakers fried my little brains. The vocals REALLY messed with my head. The fantastically weird lyrics. The fuzzy guitar sound. That riff! And the up and down chorus riff on the bass strings. The freaky solo. The long outro. The deep voice that comes in and gets louder and groans the song to a conclusion as the music gets quitter and fades out. The world is sold to a man on the stair. Oops says Bowie. It was me. I did it.

So I picked up a Best of Bowie CD which is a pretty good place for anyone to start with Bowie. Then I blew the rest of my student loan on a turntable, amp and speakers and I began buying records. -Starting with his.

It wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say that David Bowie is indirectly responsible for the VoxBox shop existing (And, I may add the new slope that has developed in my upstairs record room’s floor). I always get a little joy when his records come in in a second-hand collection. I think, wow! Some people are going to be in for a real treat with these. I wonder who they will be?

So I was terribly saddened this morning to hear of his passing. There have been rumours of Bowie having cancer for years that I never believed, but this has still come as some surprise. I just heard Tony Visconti on the radio saying that David had known he was dying when making the new album. The timing of the new release in a way being a last act of performance art. But no “look at me” fuss made by him.

So thank you David. In an industry where you are lucky to have 5 years, you have been an inspiration for so many different reasons, to so many millions for so much longer than that and even helped to make so many of us feel like heroes along the way.

And that is such a beautiful thing.

Ever the adaptor, from such a wide range of sources; the inspiration for the TMWSTW song was the poem Antigonish by Hughes Mearns.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

Hola, I Must Be Going! [Revolution at 33 1/3]

Before the Iron Maiden post, I was about to type a blog bit about Javier, a canny buyer from Santiago who was making a living here in Edinburgh sending boxes of records back home to Chile. He’d go to the charity shops, record fairs, car boot sales and the VoxBox Backroom picking up bargain records. Of course, he was after the usual rarities that EVERYONE is after [see Where Are All The Records?] There’s no guarantee that you’ll get hold of a 1966 copy of Revolver or the many other nice records but he didn’t need to rely on them as he had found a niche. An unlimited supply… and he could pay his rent here for years while supporting his family in Chile.

The answer was Phil Collins albums of the early 1980s. The ones with his face hogging the front covers. I’m talking about Face Value, Hello, I Must Be Going, No Jacket Required and …But Seriously.

philcollins4lps

In the UK, these smash albums of the 1980s are derided, defaced and usually pass from a fan’s loft to a record shop, then to a charity shop before being sent to landfill or turned into a cakestand, coasters, a bowl, or the like. Recycling vinyl is trickier than you’d imagine it should be and I’ve been arguing for years that they should turn spent records into a flooring material… Until then, we’ll have to put up with people turning dud records into clocks.

Some vinyl clocks are better than others.

Some vinyl clocks are better than others.

We sell run of the mill copies of Face Value and the other Collins albums for £1.50 in the backroom. A minty one, we’ll stick a cheeky fiver on and see how it goes. My Chilean friend, Javier would buy bags of Backroom records. Artists like Phil Collins, ELO, Olivia Newton John, Elton John, Duran Duran, Vangelis, Rod Stewart, ABBA and Simply Red. SIMPLY RED! I had to ask. How can you make this work?

He told me…
“See this album? Phil Collins… (Only he said theez album and Pheel Collins)
I can sell theez album for fifteeeen pounds in Chile. Not equivalent to fifteeeeen pounds. Fifteeeeeeen pounds in Chilean money.”
Fifteeeeeeeeeeeen quid! My jaw hit the floor… And I’m selling them to him (With discount) for a bit more than a pound. For a box of 25, he told me, it averages out at about £3 per record to get it to his Chilean record shop in Santiago. £1 a record. Shipping £1. Import Tax £1.

Marvellous!

Javier moved back this year and I never did ask him why he thought his fellow Chileans had such an appetite for 1980s pop. I had imaginings of the dictator Pinochet sitting in his tower seething at the news that Easy Lover Phil has had another global smash hit. Then, against all odds, the film career. Buster! Damn you Collins! Your albums are revolting!

I did a bit of background reading expecting to find that Pinochet banned western music. But no, the opposite was true! By letting in western and neighbouring Argentinian music it undermined Chile’s own music industry hitting the exposure that the anti-Pinochet Chilean folk and rock musicians could get. Some were tortured or exiled. Folk musician Victor Jara was tortured and killed, others were simply ignored by state controlled media. If you like, there’s a lengthy article here about the Pinochet regime [1973-1990] and Chilean pop music here. You can hear a revolutionary number by Victor Jara below.

I was also saddened but not surprised to read that music was used by torturers. Cat Stevens, Nilsson and George Harrison are among the western artists that were played according to an article citing survivors recollections. No mention of Phil Collins (and you can make up your own joke here). The same thing goes on in Guantanamo these days and the US government doesn’t even pay the artists royalties. I’m reminded of the fantastic and powerful play/film Death and the Maiden starring Ben Kingsley and Sigourney Weaver which explores an imagined post-dictatorship South American country and the accidental meeting between a torturer and his victim where Schubert’s string quartet masterpiece Death And The Maiden had been the torturer’s tune of choice.

I wondered if Phil played Chile often? No, it seems he waited until Pinochet left power before playing a gig in Chile in 1995. Doing some research, I found that Collins was not even, as has been widely reported, a Tory voter. (Thatcher was a longtime supporter of Pinochet for among other reasons, his help to UK forces during the Falklands conflict). He also donates all the royalties earned from his music sales in South Africa to a charity. AND, to his credit, Phil played The Secret Policeman’s (Other) Ball for Amnesty International in 1981 which was to highlight atrocities committed by regimes such as that of Pinochet’s in Chile. I suppose In The Air Tonight has lyrics that would have some revolutionary appeal and hope. In the end Pinochet was voted out. -Not really due to 1980s pop but I have really grown to like Phil a bit.

So why are some Chilean fans prepared to pay so much for the Collins albums that we deride? Well, I think many Chileans couldn’t afford the music they liked in the 1980s and those that felt deprived then may now be in a position to compensate for that now. Also, that the longevity of UK artists in the rest of the world when they seem past their sell by date back here may appear mysterious until you realise that most of the world hasn’t seen Brass Eye (“I’m talking nonce-sense”) or read about Sting’s lengthy tantric sex sessions or Mick Hucknall’s 1000 conquests and Bono’s jet-setting hat. And maybe because of that, they are better placed to judge the music on its own merit rather than on the personalities that made it. I should also stress that Chile has a healthy appetite for all other genres of music.

I do keep in touch with Javier -Every month or so I raid the backroom and fill a box to go to Chile. ¡Viva la Revolución!

However, even with my newfound respect for the man, (and did you know he also paid for David Crosby’s Liver transplant!?) I still think Collins murders Tomorrow Never Knows

Afterthought:
Even a lighthearted blog bit about how someone can make a living selling Phil Collins records can quickly descend into one about serious human rights abuses. Coincidentally [and in these vinyl revival times, inevitably] he is reissuing his back catalogue on vinyl with bonus tracks and so on in November.

On a more upbeat note, direct proof that music can aid a revolution can be found in the Velvet Revolution of Czechslovakia. The Velvet Underground became unlikely heroes in Czechslovakia due to, among many reasons, percieved coded messages in the songs. “The cozy brown snow of the east”. The future PM Václav Havel was a fan.

"Did you know that I am president because of you?"

“Did you know that I am president because of you?”

Tesco Selling Vinyl? – A Piece Of My Mind

IRONMAIDEN

So Tesco are selling the Iron Maiden album in 55 Metro stores to see how it goes. They have priced it at £24 which has undercut Amazon who are selling at £24.99. It is worth noting that the price Independent shops are being charged for the new Iron Maiden 3LP set is £20 plus VAT. Or exactly £24. The buggers.

A spokesman said they are selling so many record players that they’d be as well start selling records too. That makes sense; it was only a matter of time. Tesco can sell what it likes and I’m sure it has made financial sense for Bruce Dickinson and the rest of Iron Maiden, although the mental picture of hordes of metal fans trooping in to pick up the new album under the harsh sterile lighting of Tesco does seem a little absurd.

Even if Tesco wasn’t selling records, I would have been reluctant to buy in this release unless asked to by a customer. If a record costs me £24, I’d have to price it at about £36 -so even without Tesco, Amazon have undercut us already. And even if the customer wanted to buy it from us and was happy to pay the extra amount, I’d be tempted just to drop in to Tesco to save having to go through the distributor’s new laborious ordering process then wait for a cardboard box. That way I’d also get a few Clubcard points.

I don’t even mind that there is a price difference. How could anyone really complain… VoxBox: “I’ll take 5 copies please and see how they do”. Tesco: “We’ll take 5000 copies and make a display in 55 supermarkets”. I’m sure Tesco only look at the profit to be made and that they honestly don’t look at how it might affect the smaller record shops at all. As to the band… It maybe shouldn’t have come as a surprise -they clearly shop on the high street and now look more like your well-spoken girlfriend’s dad than stadium rockers.

Sexy middle aged men.

Bring my daughter, bring my daughter… home by 10.

We have an account with Warner the (label and) distributor. I generally use it for ordering back catalogue classic albums. -Warner bought Elektra, Atlantic and Reprise and so distribute The Stooges, Love and The Doors as well as the Led Zeppelin reissues and Neil Young. More contemporary artists include The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, The Dead Weather and Royal Blood who we also stock and Michael Buble who we don’t.

I try to roughly price match Amazon + P&P on these records and can just about keep the price down. With new releases on the major labels, it is usually more difficult to compete on price than with the Independent releases. The selling prices tend to start HIGH then come down very quickly as sellers that are at least nominally based in the USA sell via Amazon. [Shops in the USA pay about 20% less than we do].

In fact the “Amazon price” is often fine, but underneath, the sellers that sell through Amazon are often impossible to compete with. How they can buy the record, pay for packing materials, pay Amazon a seller fee, pay someone’s wages and then even make a loss on the postage cost itself and still make it worthwhile is beyond me. Especially if any profit is being properly taxed. [Records allegedly coming from the USA cost £1.26 for postage when the real cost would normally be nearer $8] Someone should call the cops.

Another reason I tend to avoid the more expensive new releases is that the record companies can often overestimate the demand for new records and the price will tend to drop as shops that have bought it in start to reduce the price to cost price or less to get rid of unsold copies and then overstockists can come in and sell the rest at a knockdown price. So we try to focus on the usual different records.

In an interesting scene cut from the Last Shop Standing film, Richard Hawley said that you’ll never find a 13th Floor Elevators album in Tesco. Now It may just be a matter of time.

Last Shop Standing, the book, deals with the closing of many of the UK’s record shops in the 1990s-2000s and delves into the reasons why. This was pre-downloads and a common theme was the supermarkets undercutting the traditional record shops and selling CDs as loss leaders in a battle against their competitors. This also hammered HMV, eating into its market share and making it look expensive. When the supermarkets would be selling the new releases for a price lower than the shops were able to buy in for, some shop owners would try to clear Asda out of CDs on the Monday morning to be able to sell them later in the day. This wasn’t sustainable and supermarkets offered no prayer for the dying independent shops -which is only to be expected -big businesses are run by accountants, not people.

A fear is that with a new Tesco-Amazon-HMV price war, some shops will be the collateral damage. It’s perhaps less of a worry if they stick to the big releases on major labels as smaller shops will have probably shied away from them anyway for the reasons above. A greater concern would be that they expand into independent label territory placing large orders to fill their shelves and depriving small shops of their usual small orders with top ups as and when needed. This can already happen with HMV and many albums both indie and mainstream can take off and sell out quickly as it is. [*see anecdote below]

On a positive note, an upside to supermarkets stocking vinyl could be that even more people will get into records and that could help shops in the long run. A kind of “trickle down” economics. So it’s a long blog post and Tesco are so far only dipping their toe into record retail. Maybe one day they’ll sell releases on our record label, FoxBox Records. It’d actually be great if, for example, they stocked and supported SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph and local labels. Thankfully, I’m not too sure that Tesco really know what they’re doing yet [the turntables they sell are truly awful] and with their recent financial woes, I’ve decided now is the time to strike back.

VoxBox Dairy Range coming soon.

VoxBox Dairy Range coming soon.

*A wee anecdote: An Edinburgh shop ordered a Bob Dylan Box Set recently and had 10 pre-orders. They had ordered in good time, however, the order went unfulfilled as the label/distributor [Sony] had sent all the available copies to Amazon and HMV. The shop was advised by Sony to buy the 10 copies from HMV and Fopp and send them a copy of the receipts: They’d get a credit note to that value.

**Since typing this I’ve found a European distributor that is selling for about £18. It’s a strange time with vinyl, I might get a few in after all.

Where are all the records?

So asked Carlos from Chile a few years ago. “Zhe Beatlesh sold millionsh eh. Where are zhey? Zhe Who? BEEG Band! Zhey sold millionsh… So where are the recordsh?”

Carlos would come to the UK every 6 months. He’d stay a month and buy enough records from shops and record fairs to fill a container. He’d then ship the load back to Chile and sell them from his record stall over the next 5 months. Then repeat. Again and again. Every time, he’d ask me, genuinely asking, somewhat bemused; “Where are all ze recordsh?”…

Of course there are still plenty records around and many great albums are easy enough to find cheaply, but Carlos was after the classic collectable British Rocktet; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen and Pink Floyd. They indeed sold millions, so everyone must have a copy of 1966’s Revolver kicking around right?

Check out the inner sleeve advertisements!

Swinging ’66… Check out the inner sleeve advertisements! *See bottom of post*.

For some years after opening, a pair of Polish gents would come in once in a while with a list of the classic rare albums. The Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, The Zombies’ Odessey [sic] and Oracle, The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, Caravan on brown Deram, Led Zeppelin albums with Plum labels. Sabbath’s Paranoid and Juicy Lucy on Swirly Vertigo. LOUD CUT Beatles’ Rubber Soul, then the usual Pink Floyds and so on. The Who Sell Out with poster! They were full time record dealers sent here on a buying trip for a wealthy Russian. One day in Glasgow and Edinburgh then down to Birmingham and Manchester, then London. They would take one side of the shop each and meet at the counter before heading to the backroom… going through everything precisely and quickly. Not much chat. Clearly in a hurry, they would clean us out of the high end records for their Russian oligarch and everything from Dire Straits and Deep Purple to Madonna for their own CLASSIC ROCK and Pop fans of Poland.

Records wanted...

Records wanted…

This happened many times with different dealers doing the fast fingerwork. Sure enough, we’d get a big sale and grant a bit of discount as they would also take all our hard to shift £3 Van Halen too, but afterwards the shelves would look bare, our best stuff would be gone and I’d feel more than a bit dirty and a tad ashamed. It feels a little like being complicit in overseeing the giving away our country’s finest artifacts.

Of course they must have struggled to get the classic BIG records. Those £200ers and more. They don’t really exist. -They hardly ever come in. You have to be in the business a long time just to even see a copy of some titles. The fact that I’ve not seen many of the foreign travelling dealers in a while, I think, means that they have finally cottoned on that those mint originals are not in the record shops. The shop owners will tend to sell online for quick turnaround rather than let them sit on the shelf getting battered around for a year or more until the right buyer comes in. With the vinyl revival, good records are going to the neighbour’s kids that are now into vinyl rather than the used record shops, the charity shop or even the bin. The new young vinyl fans hoover up everything from the Beatles and Stones to the Motown compilations and The Clash and The Smiths and so on. At least that’s my theory.

The VoxBox policy is to put all the big records that come in on the shelf, at least for a while. But it is a worldwide marketplace and Edinburgh might not have a collector that will pay £60 for a VG+ early second press copy of The Rolling Stones second album. We’ve had one on the shelf for a while. It’s good to have it, I play it sometimes -it sounds GREAT- and I’ll certainly miss it when it’s finally gone.

The UK in the 1960s through to the 1980s had some of the best bands and made the best quality records and so it makes sense that the rest of the world would see a UK original of a UK band that has had huge global success as the copy to own. This will accelerate if China plugs into the vinyl revival. Let’s hope they get back into Wham! or take a shining to the fireside balladeering of Jim Reeves.

And it’s not just the shops and full time dealers; everyone’s been doing it. Ebay has been facilitating the export of the finest UK albums to the rest of the world for 20 years. Last year many thousands were sold and exported to overseas buyers. Anecdotally, from a friend of mine, these are going increasingly to Russia and the Far East. So it is this and the decades of the export of whole shipping containers full of records have led to a national shortage of the classics.

So when Carlos asked “Where are all the records?” I had to reply with a smile; “It’s YOU! You have them all Carlos!”.

Well, I thought, you and Javier…
Part 2 coming up.

*Judging by that advertisement on Revolver‘s inner sleeve, rather than turning off their minds, relaxing and floating downstream, your family were more likely to have been partying to Ken Dodd, Roy Castle, Ron Goodwin, The Seekers, Russ Conway, Vince Hill, The Wurzels, Rolf bloody Harris, Pepe Jaramillo?!, The Singing Postman, Jimmy Shand, The Sound of Music, Paul Jones, Joe Loss and Zoot Money. Only Paul Jones and Zoot have any value these days (ever).

Out Now -Vultures- PLAY LOUD

In case you haven’t heard, Friday is the New Global Release Day. Q: Tell me why? A: They don’t like Mondays… There was a meeting and some industry types thought it would revive the music business and some independent shops complained about it but it is now what it is and it’ll be #newmusicfriday from now on. The new release day actually suits our shop pretty well as we’re open Wednesday-Sunday and get most sales over the weekend. We have a new chart scanner too and it’s good to think that selling a few new releases might help a band into the charts. Beep. Scanning is more fun than it should be.

DM Band

Moving on, I’m happy to say that the our label’s first single release,Vultures by Delta Mainline (above) premiered on The 405’s website with the B-side, a remix by Miaoux Miaoux premiering on the God Is In The TV zine. Finally, the video was premiered on Clash this week. Many thanks to the friendly reviewers and music bloggers that have also picked up on the single so far. An up and coming band need some nice and honest things said about them. Edinburgh’s very own up and coming writing talent Ian Rankin called it a gorgeous single which was very kind. He has been a real champion of Edinburgh talent over the years.

Although it’s available to download, there are only 250 physical copies available for sale. Not enough to hit the charts but maybe enough to get into a future edition of Record Collector magazine… It is on opaque green vinyl and has a printed inner sleeve with Come On Back Now From The Edge artwork and is simply a beautiful package. The record’s centre label says PLAY LOUD as all good records do and that’s good advice up to a point. See below.

Ziggy played guitar but boy, did he ruin your speakers

Ziggy played guitar but boy, did he ruin your speakers

The Abbey Road production on the song is so good that it even sounds great through a computer; but for the full experience do play it on a decent hifi. Don’t turn it up too loud as it begins quietly and might give you a fright 2 minutes in. Or, hell! Just turn it up and see what happens.

The video was directed by multi-award nominated Danish artist and filmmaker Jonas Bak. It’s great. A depiction of our new austere times and shows that a person’s battle against real and internal adversaries can be won -that self improvement is achievable and with it perhaps spiritual enlightenment will follow. Or something like that. [mumbles]

You can order from the band website or pick up/reserve one from the VoxBox shop.
For a cheap copy for your mp3 player, the single is also available from itunes.

Please share, PLAY LOUD and spread the word if you can. This Edinburgh 5 piece have made a world class single and there is still an exciting new album to come. Here is Vultures:

 

 

The B-side:

Randolph’s Leap is not Wayne’s Younger Brother

I was away from the shop and my mobile telephone rang.
“Do we have the new Randolph Sleep album? A customer is asking.” It was a VoxBox employee that will remain un-named.

Randolph Sleep is of course Wayne Sleep’s musically talented younger brother. Heeheehee.
No, I didn’t joke at all…
“It’s really a band called Randolph’s Leap you silly sausage! Yes we have a few… on the shelf on the left… and so on…”

It’s easy to get confused of course. One is a prominent leaping man prone to a beauty spot. The other is a prone and sleepy band named after a prominent beauty spot.

Wayne's Leap on top. Randolph's (more lackadaisical) Leap on the bottom.

Adam points to Wayne’s Leap on top. Randolph’s (more lackadaisical) Leap on the bottom.

The Leap are an 8 piece band and not one of them is called Randolph and I’d wager a quid. One whole poond that they don’t know a Randy between them.
I just wanted to mention them as they are never far from my stereo. The band had a tape release of B-sides and outtakes for Record Store Day the other year. Then a Cassette Store Day release last year AND a Record Store Day live album this year too.

In fact they are not lackadaisical or sleepy at all; The output is quite amazing! The band founder and songwriter Adam Ross is the Scottish Prince. Albeit specialising in rhyming couplets and a clever turn of phrase last seen with Ray Davies rather than Sexy M-FUNKYness. I was tickled by their twitter description. –Quantity, not quality.

I took a while to get around to seeing them play but it was a special and uplifting show. For me, the great thing about the band is the way they seem to play for each other and manage to have lots of fun too. On stage they break into a wee dance at the drop of a hat. Although they are all really bound to hate each other after playing together for so long; they hide this extremely well. An acoustic guitar, electric guitar, trombone, trumpet, violin, bass, drums and… Casio keyboard with the pre-programmed songs too. That’s how they roll. It’s a brilliant, cacophonic, superfun and catchy set up. They also have the best merch stand I’ve ever seen. -I blame the stall for the fact that I now own 3 t-shirts and a mug (more on band merch in a later post). -AND they have the nicest manager in the business -unless you don’t pay him- as one record shop found out. He’s not wide at all but check out his shoes!

Olive Grove man and band manager Lloyd!

Olive Grove man and green shoe wearing band manager Lloyd!

The last time I saw the full band, I think it cost £8, which would be 100 pence to see each band-member. They are worth a whole lot more. But that also highlights the problems faced by musicians in bands these days. That the more people in your band, the less you get paid. As you can imagine, touring becomes prohibitively expensive too. Apparently Adam keeps everyone happy by doing the dishes of the other band members once or twice per month. Bands like this need and deserve our cultural support and certainly more radio play. Email the radio… ask that they play your favourite songs. It all helps.

Adam played a wee solo set at our place on Record Store Day to help plug the band’s new live album that came out on RSD. Their previous album, Clumsy Knot, released in 2014, never made the SAY Award longlist but I feel was a worthy contender for Scottish Album of the Year. Mrs VoxBox plays (the download) in the car and we played it lots on the VoxBox Vinyl Show too.

Here’s Hermit played live on RSD.

I’m happy to say that Randolph’s Leap have a brand new album coming out later in the year on the superb Lost Map Records [Tuff Love Pictish Trail, Rozi Plain, Kid Canaveral, eagleowl, Seamus Forgerty etc]. They play the Electric Fields Festival on April 29th too. (Have a look at the line up!) If you’re in Glasgow, check out their incredibly popular anti-dancing night for dancing -I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore.

If you just fancy a holiday, look up the original Randolph’s Leap and you’ll find a wonderful place.
Randolph's Leap
So Randolph’s Leap is the place where Randolph Lept right?
…I’ve no idea! Let’s stop asking questions and let’s just enjoy the music and the scenery.

While we do, here’s the full band. Gorgeous!

Vultures by Delta Mainline

Because a mainer to my vein leads to a centre in my head… [Lou Reed]

I started the Fox Box label last year with the intention of eventually creating a vehicle to help Edinburgh bands that are self releasing music to gain better exposure. Whether on CD, cassette or vinyl, you get a catalogue number and we’ll work together and see what happens.

In the music industry there are a lot of Vultures out there that will pick what’s left of you apart after the sharks get you. ?? What a disaster of an analogy. A maze… The music industry can seem to be a strange maze. Anyway, the idea is to help with advice, sharing contacts and by generally pooling some friendly music people together in a loose collective so that pitfalls can be avoided and the music can be more widely heard.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite Edinburgh bands is Delta Mainline. They are real perfectionists and made a cracking record, Oh! Enlightened, a couple of years ago. It’s fabulous rock music with great patient moments, a couple of belters and really tip-top lyrics too. It’s constructed as a proper album rather than a collection of songs and is so well crafted that you really want to listen to the whole thing from start to finish. It is consequently right up my street and we are still selling them too. The album’s reviews were also pretty fine including some in glossy music mags and the national papers as you can see:

Delta-Web-Banner

So, when I heard earlier this year that they were recording a new album, I asked if they’d like to be on the fledgling label and after some thought, they said yes. So here we are. They are an experienced band and are used to organising most things themselves so I’m leaving them to do what they do and hope that we (shop and label) can help out a bit with the shop’s contacts and so on.

I’m now incredibly proud to say we will be releasing their new single Vultures on Fox Box Records on August 3rd.

FXY004

Vultures by Delta Mainline is FXY004

The new album is still being recorded and will have a different sound to the last. It is due for release next year. Before then, we have Vultures, the new single on green vinyl. It’s a really luxury package with great artwork and a printed inner. It was recorded in Glasgow at Chem 19 and mastered by Geoff Pesch at Abbey Road. The B-side has remixes by Julian Corrie (Miaoux Miaoux) and Graeme Ronald (Remember Remember). The single also features the Cairn String Quartet. It’s safe to say, they’ve worked hard on it and have pulled out all the stops! The band themselves have stripped down to a five piece from seven and the sound on the single is nice and mellow before it gives you a Zidane to the solar plexus.

When can you hear this cracking new single, complete with Zidane to the solar plexus? I hear you say. Soon my friend. Very soon.

Meanwhile, if you trust me, you can pre-order and you can also have a shifty at their new website here. -Updated to better match the artwork of the single. Perfectionists you see.

Of course you can also pick the single up from all the best record shops from August the 3rd. There are 250 hand numbered copies and it will also be available digitally.

The Edinburgh launch gig is still to be fully firmed up and will be announced soon.
They are playing Jocktoberfest on Sept 5th and again on 19th September in support of The Telescopes at Limbo. More to come…

Meanwhile you can listen to full Oh! Enlightened album (2013):

And be a fan here:
https://www.facebook.com/deltamainlineofficial
@deltamainlineuk

Exciting and fun times ahead.

BIG B and OPM Instore

Some emails are really fun to read. I received one from Suburban Noize Records in the USA. Big B is coming to town supporting OPM on their European tour. Could he play an acoustic set before the gig?

Nae bother. When not listening to SAY Award winner Kathryn Joseph all day I do find some spare time for some hip hop. Hippie to the hippie, the hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it to the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.

Yes, I looked that up.
What up?
Indeed.

So Big B is coming to play in the shop. He’s had a couple of big hits back in the USA. These tracks have had millions of views! I’m looking forward to hearing the stripped down version in the flesh. Taps aff.

Big B -White Trash Life

Big B -Hooligan

OPM said they would like to play too!

It’s now been 15 years since Heaven is a Halfpipe came out in 2000. It was seriously everywhere for a while and became a top 5 single here too. Their debut album Menace to Sobriety did alright.-They were signed to Atlantic. I believe it will be reissued soon. There’s a lot more to them than the hit record and this is a rare chance to see them in the flesh.

They are playing Bannerman’s on 2nd September but before the gig they’ll play a short and intimate acoustic set. It’s a Wednesday and it’s all very early for getting times sorted but it’s certainly an exciting one for your diary. With Big B and 5 members of OPM in the shop there won’t be room for anyone else. Might have to put them on the steps…

OPM -Heaven is a Halfpipe

More band info here:
Big B
OPM

Wednesday 2nd September at Bannerman’s.

Thursday at Audio in Glasgow.

Kathryn Joseph should win the SAY Award 2015

Running out of time as the award is starting in a few minutes but I just wanted to mention the album that I think should win this year’s Scottish Album of the Year Award. It’s been a good year for Scottish albums.

I was lucky enough to meet Kathryn Joseph after her Edinburgh launch show in January. She came to the fella sitting next to me to say hi to him. He’s a mysterious chap. Anyway, we had a mysterious chat.
“Bloody hell those songs are good… You must have been sitting on those for a while!” Not as a hen. – I’m not Glaswegian. Just sitting on them in a normal parlance chat type sense.

“Yes, I was”

And she was…
And she talked to the Skinny about the making of the album just the other day. That’s all the background you really need.
And that’s about it.

Have a listen.
See what you think.

You can stream the whole album via bandcamp.

In my mind, Kathryn’s album is the best one on the shortlist.
We only had 5 copies. They sold in a week. Then another 5 copies. They sold in a week and a half. Then all the copies the label had sold out. Then the CDs sold out. If you can play half of a different song from a record and sell it over and over again [with gorgeous lyric and photo newspaper booklet, (showing a boob!) limited to 200 white vinyl copies] then it tends to feel that there is something special going on.

I’m excited that so many people have become so enthralled by Kathryn’s record. It’s a real spooky thing that conjures up Hansel and Gretel forests, roadkill collections, beasties and breadcrumb trails. Love, sex and death are never far away but it’s positive throughout too.

If you like what you hear and get a chance you should see her perform. Go. Bloody hell, go.

Of of all the artists on the shortlist, and I appreciate that taste is subjective and so on. I’m convinced that only one album could, given the right exposure and a bit of a boost from a SAY Award win, go on to be platinum selling by Christmas. And that is bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled. Crazy! Yes. But stranger things have happened.

PS I still love all the other bands.

I've got your back buddy!

You’re my favourite band!

New double A side single The Bird/The Worm released on 7″ vinyl on 27th July.
Album repressing on black vinyl out soon too.
Both available from all the best record shops.

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