Playlist #10: Record Store Day

Marc Hall considers the virtues of the indie record shop, the past weekend’s Record Store Day serving to jump-start his memory…

Saturday 21 April was the annual Record Store Day. There’s a certain element of irony involved when a website sing the praises of Record Store Day.  After all, the Internet and all its trappings have a direct correlation with the decline of the high street, and specifically that of the independent record shop. More-so my own series of articles, which encourage free (legal!) listening to the varied sounds that are selected for each playlist. Of course, I don’t actually see these playlists as a reason for somebody not to buy music, and if anybody has bought music based on discovering it here I’d be delighted.

The online world certainly changed my music buying habits. It’s almost like Record Store Day has been created to entice people like me back into the stores. Once upon a time I was a frequent and passionate consumer of all things music. It got to the stage where I could find myself in the back room of a record shop and would need to introduce myself with “Hello, my name is Marc and I’m a recordaholic”. For me, the added responsibilities that come with age meant something had to change. In fairness, it was a long and hard battle, and one which I wasn’t sure I wanted to win, but finally thanks to that blasted internet I was able to pass by my beloved record stores whilst still retaining an interest in music. But at what price?

Many of my peers still hold onto this obsession. No trip to a gig is complete without cleaning the merchandise stall of a few LP’s. At a recent Mark Lanegan gig, the queue for merch stretched into another room; it seemed everybody there was leaving with an LP or two under their arms. The same can be said with festivals. The majority of the festivals I’ve attended over the past few years have featured a pop up Rough Trade Records stall. They go beyond a standard festival store, with signings and secret gigs common-place, making it as cool a place to hang out as any stage.

“It’s fair to say more than a few friendships were built on record collections”

Any visit to a new town wouldn’t be complete without rooting out the local record store. Despite most indies broadly sharing the same ideals, each store always seemed to bring its own individual joys. Maybe it was the familiarity of your local store that leads to others seeming more exotic. That doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate your own. Here in Liverpool we’ve been blessed with Probe Records (established in 1971) which despite several location changes over the years still goes strong. Special mention also to the sadly missed Penny Lane records. A shop that went some way to helping me build my own record buying passions.

My own collection has been the starting point to many a conversation. People have visited and like a moth to a light bulb, were drawn in by what unknown delights awaited. It’s fair to say more than a few friendships were built on record collections.

Record Store Day is now in its 5th year. Growing each year, with a high profile ambassador in place to help promote the day. This year’s ambassador, Iggy Pop, also celebrated his 65th birthday on the same day. From the off, Record Store Day has had the great selling point of releasing rare recordings; that not only generates traffic to the stores, but increases sales based on not only fans buying a unique piece of memorabilia, but by people also buying for collectable reasons.

The bands selected on this Playlist all participated towards a Record Store Day release this year, one which boasted more unique releases than any day in its past, including artists as diverse as Mastadon, Abba and Buddy Guy. I do love the idea of a hardcore Cradle of Filth fan popping into their local store, and instead leaving with that Katy Perry limited edition that was still on the rack – far fetched, but you know what I’m saying.

By far the most collectable, and unusual release this year (if not of all time), is The Flaming Lips double collaboration album ‘The Flaming Lips and the Heady Fwends’. This record pulls together several of The Flaming Lips collaborations they’ve have been party to over the past few years, including Lightning Bolt and Neon Indian. In addition, there are new recordings, one featuring - oddly - Ke$ha. The really unique selling point however isn’t the unusual collaborations, but the ‘very limited’ edition version that is, apparently, pressed with the blood of the musicians involved mixed in with the vinyl. People talk about vinyl being part of their DNA, what about your DNA being part of the vinyl? Now that’s collectible.

Marc Hall

Posted on 23/04/2012 by thedoublenegative