Including the brief collection of posts from previous years, this is this blog’s 100th post. However, after the news I got today, I’m in no mood for a celebration.
I figured it would be more economically sound to purchase the new album by The Coral via my local indie store, Reveal Records, rather than from the online indie I use for bits and bobs, as I wanted the double vinyl edition, which can nuke your postage. A couple of weeks back, my local indie appeared to be a little thin on new releases and my suspicions were aroused. I was reassured that the titles I was after were just out of stock, although it was suggested that it was unlikely they’d be getting any more in. As I wandered off, I assumed that these records were simply more limited than I’d thought. However, today’s discovery puts that in a very different context.
Anyhoo, in I wander, looking at the new release racks just inside the door to see what was available. My heart sank. Nothing had changed in the two weeks since I’d last been in. To confirm my worst fears, any number of items had been reduced or rolled into an offer of one kind or another. It’s not significant cheapness, I hasten to add, but the first signs that things aren’t what they used to be. As it was, I left with four albums I had no intention of purchasing when I went in, but no sign of The Coral. After a lengthy chat with ‘nice man behind the counter’, I found out that my favourite record shop – and by this I mean in the whole of the UK – has about six months left on this planet of ours. The usual suspects were blamed – Amazon, downloads, supermarkets – and it was clear that the climate has changed. Where a few years back a major indie release like The Killers or Kaiser Chiefs would shift 100 copies in a couple of days, now it’s more like 25. No great surprise with supermarkets like Morrisons knocking out said Kaiser Chiefs album at £6.99 in its first week of release. It reminded me of a recent news story about independent bookshops sending their staff round to Asda on the day the Harry Potter book came out to buy it for a fiver, for them to sell it on at twice the price in order to even compete.
I’ve been frequenting this store for three years now, and have been anything other than wholly satisfied with each visit, often spending considerably more than I’d intended to do, as a result of their ‘now playing’ ledge or their competitive deals. Where the fuck will I get mint condition, decent priced Tom Waits limited editions from on rainy Thursday evenings in November now? They’re not intending to get new stock in from here until doomsday and so the shop will gradually reduce its stock over the coming months, presumably via discounting and deals.
Is it wrong to feel so down about this? Probably, I’m sure, but it isn’t going to stop me. Four years ago, the record shop that took up much of my teenage years, and money, shut up shop for good, and now the adult equivalent is on its way too. I love to flick through the racks, taking a punt on a staff recommendation, or being drawn in by a unique album cover. As expensive as it has often been, I like being drawn into buying a second album because the one I want is in a 2 for £18 promotion. On top of all of this, Reveal Records have the best staff of any record shop I’ve ever been in, but still they’ve closing down. They’re music-lovers, first and foremost. There’s none of the ‘High Fidelity‘ style snobbery, and they’ll give you honest opinions about the music you’re considering shelling out your hard earned cash on. I’ve lost count of the great records I’ve picked up in that shop, although one that springs to mind is Dan Arborise‘s ‘Around In Circles‘, which was my album of the year back over on the old VJ site. A euphoric yet understated acoustic masterpiece, I’d never have even known it was out there if it hadn’t happened to have been playing when I went in, almost a year ago to this day.
I’m sure this post is hugely self-indulgent and not especially coherent, but I’m fucked off because I’m going to lose a, perhaps embarrassingly, big part of my everyday life when this shop closes. Having seen this shop appear to buck the trend of failing indies in recent years, I now feel like I must simply accept what is there in front of me. We are seeing the end of record shops as we know them. The constant desertion of Berwick Street in London, once filled with quality record shops, the familiar sight of indie stores with the shutters down nationwide is now the norm. I get the feeling there aren’t many people who care about this, and that’s fair enough, but for me it’s a massive blow. I should probably finish with something sincere and concise, but I can’t think of anything right now, I’m too grumpy.