Saturday, 21 April 2012

Record Store Day

Guest Post by Mr B

A few weeks ago I had a free afternoon in London. I popped into the Gift Shop at The National Portrait Gallery, to try to get Mrs B a postcard of a BP Award entry that she liked from last year. I found a booklet of all the entries and the painting with the artists' name, to the cashier, asking if it was possible that they had a postcard. The lady was absolutely brilliant, informing me that I could get a digital print starting at A4 upwards. The BP Award pictures are only held on archive for a year, but, having phoned through, got the catalogue number and keyed it into the printer, I left with a beautiful print. Good to know.

Louis Smith's 'Holly'

I wandered up to Leicester Square tube. Stopping outside of a shop called 'Formal Wear', noting that they had a sale on. Patch had told me just the day before that he was thinking of getting a bowler hat befitting with his position as Senior Lighting Technician. A Japanese couple came out of the shop. The man was wearing, you guessed it, a bowler hat! They stopped outside of an antiquarian bookshop, looking through a box of Edwardian caricature prints; people of notoriety, politicians and the like.

I was trying to get a photograph of the bowler-hatted man by loitering behind a Faberge Egg Hunt plinth, when I gave up and spotted "101 Nights at The Roxy" in a bookshop window. I went in admiring a collection of British and American punk fanzines displayed on the wall. "They're not for sale" said the man behind the computer. I enquired as to the price of "101 Nights at The Roxy" - "£300", he said. Three hundred pounds! I can remember reading a review in a music paper when it came out. This prompted me to journey up to Tottenham Court Road, where, back in the 80s and 90s, small independent record stores lurked in a little backstreet opposite the Dominion Theatre, where back then, punk gems like flyers and posters could be found.

I was pleased to see a Davy Jones LP in the window of 'On The Beat'. I am sure that there used to be another record store almost next to this one. It was like entering a cave, with the counter at the back. There was a Cramps T-shirt on a hanger above the till and a poster of Sid Vicious eating a burger wearing a badge that said "I'm a mess". I remember taking Damian and Ian there one afternoon when Screamin' Jay Hawkins was playing in town. I bought a paperback copy of the Beatles film, 'A Hard Days Night'. When I was 2 years old, my parents took me to Dunster Station, to see the steam train that 'The Fab Four' were filming on as it passed through.
My mum told me that they held me up so as I could see over the crowd on the platform. The walls of 'On The Beat' still display old music papers. One thing that caught my eye, was 'Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp' by Cliff Richard & The Shadows. "Do you know what this sounds like?", I asked the proprietor. "It sounds like Cliff Richard & The Shadows", he replied! "Is it possible to hear a bit?" He asked me which track I wanted, turning off the English folk music that he'd been playing. 'The Entrance of The Emperor' was first and sounded like the overture to a pantomime. The owner told me that it had been recorded as a pantomime. (1964 at The London Palladium, the same year as The Beatles filmed 'A Hard Days Night).

I don't know what prompted the conversation at work, but Chloe had asked me if I liked Glam Rock. She told me that, with her boyfriend, they had bought 2 German record players from Cash Converters. They were sold as a pair and both had something wrong. Being 'techies' she said they fixed one as soon as they got them home, selling it on eBay and covering what they had paid for both of them. The other is set up and they now have a collection of Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, (Rumours), The Best of 10cc, ("I love 10cc" she said), Cat Stevens and Dark Side of the Moon which she ordered specially as it was her boyfriends' favourite. "I bet your neighbours love you" I said. Apparently the 'old lady' next door had come up to her and said "Was that Rod Stewart you were playing?", "I love Rod Stewart". "What she really meant" I said; "That Rod Stewart LP you were playing was SO loud, I could hear every word, turn it down!". It was funny hearing someone who had grown up in the CD generation telling me how the sound was so much better on vinyl.


Back in the record store, there was a 1940s telephone for sale.

I wondered if you lifted the receiver you could hear The Big Bopper say "Hello Bay-by". Looking at the phone it was more a case of "Ring, Telephone, Ring", (The Ink Spots). Maybe, if you ran a cleaning cloth over the Aladdin/Cliff rarity as it spun on the turntable, a genie would crackle into life and appear as if by magic like The Shopkeeper in Mr Benn.

Just a minute, who's this city gent coming in?
Could it be ... Mr Benn?
No, it's just Patch in his new bowler hat!

Patch, with the 1948 London Olympics Torch.

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