Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Too Fast For Love, Too Warped To Play

A couple of weekends back Mrs Shelf-Stacker and I, accompanied by our very good friends Mr and Mrs Wurzel, attended the second annual High Voltage Festival in London's East End. And what a weekend!

...and the crowd went mild...!

It's always a relief not to be the oldest face in the crowd but, at the same time, it's great to see 'the kids' being well represented at an event like this. A healthy proportion of teens and twenty-somethings in attendance will help High Voltage to avoid becoming one of those cosy, nostalgia-fests that verges on necrophilia, with decrepit punters drooling over coffin-dodger bands. Having said that, I was determined not to let my dodgy knee get in the way of going crazy-ape-bonkers to bus pass-eligible headliners, Judas Priest. It's thirty years since I first saw them 'live' and they never disappoint. They're utterly ridiculous of course, but I don't want to stroke my chin, congratulate myself on my intellectual superiority and be preached to when I watch a band: I want to throw the devil's horns in the air, and sing really badly at the top of my voice. As Mrs Shelf-Stacker always says, she hates bands with a message, unless the message happens to be "Rock 'n' Roll All Night And Party Every Day". She is a woman of simple tastes.

How Metal?

So what's any of this got to do with vinyl then? Well, around the festival site were a number of stalls selling music: plenty of the devil's coasters of course, but a very healthy selection of vinyl LPs too. I'm not one to pass up the opportunity to add to my collection, but the thought of carrying a bunch of records around when I could have a pint of Hobgoblin in one hand and an organic courgette flower and pheasant wrap in the other just did not appeal. I was however delighted to see that many of the bands playing at the festival had their albums available to buy on vinyl alongside a not insignificant number of those very sexy 180 gram vinyl re-issues of obscure prog and proto-metal bands' efforts from the Sixties and Seventies. Even better, loads of people were flicking through the vinyl troughs. Better still, many of them were punters young enough to have bought their first ever album as a download. Best of all, they were actually purchasing the LPs, not just looking at them and trying to work out how the hell these weird looking CDs would ever fit in the little drawer on the side of their laptops. I did however find myself wondering how many of these LPs would be as warped as a Gary Glitter theme park by the end of, what was, a very warm weekend. I was particularly concerned for the LPs that were held aloft in the crowd as some sort of a show of loyalty or as an attention seeking device: look over here, I'm waving a brand new, sealed and quite possibly wavey-edged LP at you while you're up there rocking in the blazing sunshine. Can't you see what an Über-fan I am?

All is not necessarily lost for those over-exuberant festival punters' records. Today, with the thermometer pushing 30°C and with a number of warped LPs that I hope to restore to flatness, I have decided to conduct an experiment. To that end I have placed warped copies of The Hits Of Edwin Starr and Canadian band Sheriff's eponymous and only album between two panes of glass weighted down with bricks and left them in the sun for it to do its worst. I'm hoping that the heat of the sun will soften the vinyl which will then be sufficently malleable to be squeezed flat by the weight of the bricks on the glass. All I have to do is wait for the records to cool down when the sun sets and, Bob's your uncle! Well, that's the theory.

What did you do today, darling?

Incidentally, the Thomas The Tank Engine sandpit on which the whole shebang is resting is probably not essential to a successful outcome, so don't worry if you don't have one. I'll let you know how things turn out.

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