Thursday 2 November 2017

Goon, But Not Forgotten

I haven't been to see for myself, but I hear that Langley Records in East Molesey has gone tits up. We can't blame this one on ebay, Spotify, lazy-arsed punters, or even Simon Cowell - which is a bit of a shame - nope, the Royal Mail is the culprit. From what I hear, they owned the building that housed Langley Records, and decided that the property should be used for something more post officey.

Langley's stock was pretty decent (with the odd treasure), prices were okay, and the condition of the records was superb. This was down to the fact that the owner bought up record shop stock at the start of the Nineties when vinyl was considered an embarrassing relic fit only for landfill. Clever chap!

I'd like to say how gutted I am by the loss of another vinyl haunt, especially as I picked up a number of juicy items here, but I really didn't enjoy my visits. There were two reasons for this, and they were both the owner. I probably only went to Langley Records on three or four occasions, but each time, despite having a shop filled with great music, the owner would play the same crappy Goons tape. If it didn't happen to be playing when I arrived, he would make damn sure it was once he spotted he had a customer. For those who don't know, The Goons were the Monty Python of their day. You know, fleetingly amusing sketches that a certain breed of twat likes to memorise and regurgitate to like-minded twats in the mistaken belief that this constitutes having a sense of humour. The other problem I had with the owner, was his insistence on inflicting his dubious political opinions on me while I flicked through the racks. Keep your opinions to yourself - I go to a record store to buy music. Still, it's always a shame when another store closes down.

A selection of my vinyl purchases from Langley Records (average price £9.00)

Friday 19 May 2017

Euphoria Mourning: Chris Cornell R.I.P.

This one has hit hard. Chris Cornell's music has meant so much to me over the years.

An old girlfriend introduced me to Soundgarden at a time when big-hair and pink guitars held sway.  They were a reminder that I'd first been drawn to rock by its dark intensity. Crue and Ratt began to look lightweight and disposable in comparison. Nirvana had nothing to do with it: they were just another miserable Indie band; all cardigans and NME hype.

Later, I had Chris Cornell's Euphoria Mourning (or 'Morning' as it was back then) on Minidisc and would hit the park, suitably mood-enhanced, headphones on, sun on my face, and marvel at the beauty of the man's music. Over and over again. Elliott Smith's Either/Or was the only other disc that got a look in.

Euphoria Morning and the Audioslave debut soundtracked the start of my relationship with Mrs Shelf-Stacker. We were never going to agree on Iron Maiden, but Chris Cornell's voice was something else entirely.

Chris Cornell (1964 - 2017)

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Record Stores: OCD or OMG?

I'm deeply suspicious of any place selling used vinyl that might be mistaken for an operating theatre. Pristine and organised is for record collections, not for the places where you acquire those records. What are the chances of stumbling upon an overlooked vinyl gem in a place where the proprietor has fastidiously cross-referenced every record with Discogs, graded it under halogen light and priced it 30% above market value to help pay for the solid oak parquet floor, custom-built racking, Farrow & Ball paint job and customer cappuccino machine? Shopping in one of these emporia is the record collecting equivalent of buying pre-grated cheese from the supermarket: lazy, expensive and unfulfilling. If cheese means so little to you, stick to Spotify. Passion doesn't come vacuum-wrapped.

At the other extreme are the record shops run by hoarders. The places where mummified vermin, pressed flat between stacks of vinyl, act as dividers to organise the stock. The places where the owners swear they know where everything is, but, thank God, they don't. The places where you need a hard hat. A Davy lamp. A tetanus shot. A free day. Places like Archive Records in Addlestone.

Archive Records in Addlestone

The crates of easy listening dross in front of the shop, all of their sleeves sapped of colour by years of exposure to drizzle and sunlight, seem designed to deter, rather than encourage trade. When I first visited, the owner was out front, setting out his customer deterrents. He explained his carefully constructed filing system, at length, before he would let me into the shop. It was very important that I put all items back exactly where I had found them. Exactly where I had found them. Always do, but erm, okay. Record shop owners are a quirky bunch, best just to nod in all the right places and get digging.

A casual observer might think Archive Records' filing system needs fine-tuning.

The Blues and R'n'B section

A rare glimpse of floor

Vinyl canyon

If you're prepared to risk triggering an avalanche, there are some great records to be discovered here. As it turns out, the owner is friendly, saner than his filing system might suggest, and the vinyl prices are fair. Next time though, I'm taking a forklift truck.

Some haul highlights

Monday 24 April 2017

You Ain't Coming Home With Me! (Part 2)

I guess, if this 1987 LP by the Barron Knights is anything to go by, the Brexit vote wasn't such a shock after all.

It includes the classic ode to Anglo-French relations, Stick To Selling Onions (The Chunnel Song). Stitch me up nurse, my sides are splitting.

Monday 6 March 2017

You Ain't Coming Home With Me! (Part 1)

James Galway, Perry Como, Mrs Mills, Mantovani, Klaus Wunderlich - all the usual, mundane constituents of a dead man's record collection. If a charity shop dig yields no treasure, then I want to see trash that's really, REALLY bad! It needs to make me smile, snort, cringe, squirm, double-take. Anything, but yawn! This one made my nut sack pucker. And not in a good way...

Monday 13 February 2017

Shelf-Stacker Gets Mathematical

All things considered I'm very happy with the current Mrs Shelf-Stacker. She looks good, understands that U2 and The Smiths are shit, tolerates my profound fecklessness and, because we're a similar age, shares many of the same cultural references. However, it occured to me recently that there would have been one distinct advantage in having hooked up with a considerably younger model. Namely that, when the moment came for her parents to take stock, downsize, and pass their record collection in my direction, it wouldn't consist solely of light classical fluff and what I believe is referred to as French Chanson. I've worked out a mathematical formula to illustrate this:

Shelf-Stacker + (current wife minus 15 years) = in-laws with Beatles / Hendrix / Stones LPs instead of the kind of crap I've just been lumbered with.

Still, I got a laugh out of this man fingering a pussy... 


Tuesday 7 February 2017

Black Sabbath - The End

Master of reality-TV, Ozzy Osbourne, and his Sabbath compadres are calling time on touring. Their show at the London O2 Arena on 29th January played out before a crowd intent on rubbernecking the death throes of a lumbering behemoth rather than celebrating its odds-defying longevity. Despite the polite audience reaction, Sabbath turned in a blinding performance. Ozzy's caged animal pacing was noticeable by its absence - perhaps the rigours of touring have finally caught up with him - but his vocals were a revelation, a huge improvement on Sabbath's previous tour. Geezer's playing, as always, was beyond reproach. One day he'll be recognised as being as fundamental to Black Sabbath's sound as riff factory, Tony Iommi. I've always thought that Dirty Women is unfit to breathe the same air as the rest of the band's material, but on this occasion Tony Iommi's beautiful extended guitar solo completely justified its inclusion. Tommy Clufetos' passable impersonation of Bill Ward - visually at least - didn't prevent him from turning in a turgid, toilet-break drum solo. Harsh perhaps, but for me, Bill Ward's playing is integral to the band's sonic DNA. Still, Clufetos is a marked improvement on Vinnie Appice.

Despite the crowd, despite Bill's absence, it was a memorable send-off. Long live Black Sabbath!