Thursday, July 2, 2015


No, really. This actually happened. Sister, her kids, a yearning for fish and chips courtesy of a local freakish inland seaside town and hey presto. I bought records. Completely unexpected. So to contextualise a little about Matlock Bath. It's a town, in the Peak District famous for something like being home of Biswold Crowshaw inventor of the Twerping Snape circa 1756. It sits right next to plain and non-Bath 'Matlock'. As in US TV detective of the mid-80s. As a town it's unusually wonderful because it shares it's architecture and mood with seaside favourites such as Bognor, South-end and Scarborough. Ice cream, candy floss, arcades and swathes of bikers every Sunday. I love the place.

Aside of the made up Twerping Snape (an imaginary device for washing primitive latrines) Matlock Bath is also famous for it's climbing, the fact that it has a cable car (seriously), a midget themed fun park of broken climbing frames and such called Gulliver's Kingdom... Oh and there's also the thousands of Victorian waifs brutalised and murdered in them there cotton mills. You know, the ones in the books, the books by the dead guys. The buildings are still there and being used to sell you discounted walking gear.

But enough of my rambling. I found the below:

A crate of 7" singles containing the theme from Breakdance (Nice). Note traditional telephone minus dial panel and inner workings.

This actual record shop. Not a paen to first lady of 'Rapness' Spindarella but rather a shop that sells not only records but also frocks. Something for the ladies then. No more shall you be cast to the 'sitting stool' by the door or wander angrily around crap town centres.

There were record players in the window, just incase you were under unsure of what the black round things inside were. I'm a big fan of clarity. See below for actual, honest to god records in the last place you'd expect to see them...

Okay Maggot Brain is a recent reissue and 'The Doors' is a late 80s bar coded version BUT whatever. Good fucking job that man. I had a chisel bought the entire Queen section, no, not because I hate myself but rather to move on at a later point.... And maybe to listen to 'Fat Bottomed Girls' backwards. Anyway, on the walk back to plain old Matlock I took a detour through some woods, as you do. And found this:

Obviously some fucked up Blair Witch style worship stick mound... Or a pyre for witch burning. Or both. Either way, very cool. From there I moved on to shops in Matlock which were a bit rubbish. See the heavily used John Lennon album, note the pricing (18.00GBP)

And to end it all a view from a pub.

Lovely stuff. 

This actually happened last summer but I have no idea how to order or organise postings so you will be getting information in reverse, Miss World order. 


I Write this with a tear in my eye... At least I think it's at tear. It could be the spittle of an over enthusiastic punter enquiring about Manga DVDs. Either way. It's happened. Almost 20 years to the day since it opened the Soho branch of London's moodiest chain of used records stores MVE, has closed.

This saddens me partly because it will no doubt turn into another artisanal coffee shop with a leg of ham in the window with a number instead of a name. But also because I used to work here. Oh how I delighted in being able to proudly lay claim to being one of those moody cunts. Friends for life were made, stash bags the size of Venus were pawed over and first, second or third dibs on everything that came through the door were mine.

Above and below you can see the glorious flashing sign in full working order. It also used to say 'ROCK'

Below is my dear friend Rob. I recently had a dream in which he was trying to sell me the benefits of high end sun cream. This did not actually happen. Rob likes to cycle. behind him you can see some half decent records including an over priced? Copy of Richard Hawley's 'Cole's Corner' (150quid).

I now realise I have fallen into the trap of talking about the pictures rather than saying anything meaningful about anything. Please bare with me. I have not actually written anything beyond work based bullshit emails for over a year.

So memories of the Berwick Street branch of MVE?


The used needles and human shit that littered the emergency exit on receiving and making deliveries.

Buying amongst things a copy of Bad Brains 'Rock For Light'.

Buying the entire back catalogue of Magma records and then selling them back, buying a kack-load of first press Kraut action and keeping them.

Good times. Good times.


So I made the mistake of taking a job working for an utterly ridiculous company that I can't talk about for legal reasons. The highlight of the seven months that I did manage to stay on the proverbial rodeo bull was without a doubt a market trip to the US. This involved taking in Seattle in order to visit another, less mental company that I also probably can't talk about. Anyway, what's a mere and very literal hop away from Seattle? The mighty, mighty Portland. So off I fucked...

I'd come in from the East Coast prior to Seattle so was a little bit jaded, 'red-eye' red eyes and a shitty throat from the planes pre-compact disc era air ventilation system. I got into Portland bright and spectacularly early, pulling up at the Ace Hotel at around 9.00am. I dumped my bags, grabbed pancakes and headed straight out to do the rounds. 

FWC is pretty good. It's mostly a comic shop but it's big enough to house a half decent selection of records. You may notice from the above that they took the whole record 'bin' thing quite literally and house the product very cleverly in repurposed trash containers. If you look hard enough you area able to see that they are actually split level with another layer of 12" vinyl records housed below them in a pull out drawer. 

I truly wish I'd been able to do the place justice but had met up with a friend shortly before heading over there which meant I was on the clock and happy hour, the cure for my air travel based ailments was about to chime.


Now what a treat. The new, improved, re-located Mississippi records. Last time I was here, it was elsewhere (on Mississippi ave.). Now it's relocated a few blocks away to a slightly more residential part of the city. Given the commercial route that it's former home has taken I am assuming that the move was financially driven.

Either way, as you can see from the blurry picture above (hand shaking due to excitement) they have managed to acquire a lot more space. Decent 'wall hanging' for one. The old magic of used hifi and audio world flotsam is still there but it isn't in danger of taking over the more important black plastic stuff.

My pictures looked a lot better on my phone. Luckily I dropped it in a swimming pool a few weeks back so any other record shop based reportage should be of a slightly higher, less Omaha beach landing looking standard.

Again I didn't come away with anything, partly because I had a friend in tow who was good enough to drive me there in the first place and partly because I had already smashed my baggage allowance courtesy of purchases and the fuck tonne of records I'd had delivered to my former New York office address. had the proverbial sack been empty. No doubt I'd have happily emptied my bank account here.


Something of a bold statement in the title there, but one that after much consideration I stand by wholeheartedly. I am happy to go on record (ahem) by saying that Little Axe Records of Portland Oregon is for now at least, the worlds greatest record shop.

When I started this Blog over seven years ago, I mentioned that one of the reasons for my putting fingers to laptop keys was to search for some bricks and mortar to crown with this particular title. In that time, no one single store has been awarded the auspicious honour of being '32RPMs WORLD'S GREATEST RECORD SHOP'. But now after much searching, I am happy to make the announcement and reveal that Little Axe records of Portland Oregon is just that.

Although Little Axe punches way above it's weight on the stock front, were this award based merely on stock then Tokyo's Disk Union would surely have been the winner.  But it's about so much more than that, until I visited Little Axe at the end of last year I had never been to a record shop that I not only wanted to live in but would also have gladly died in.

Just look at it. A wooden porch and store front, wild and welcoming flora quietly spilling over into the road. A perfectly presented minimal interior with the slightest nod to the Mid Century modern and Nordic design schools. Although novelty act and sometimes coke-head Bruno Mars was actually singing about vaginas in his song 'Locked out of heaven' the lyrics could easily be applied to him turning up at this shop after hours and not being able to get in. It's that good.

The owner, who for now I will call Dale as I forget his name was welcoming, helpful, informative and polite enough to ignore my swooning. The racks weren't over stuffed, the stock was solid with a decent spread across jazz, post punk, punk, folk and experimental and a quick flick through the stock reveals some genuinely interesting product.

I came away with a local private press of a Delia Derbyshire album as well as an assortment of decent free jazz. But beyond that I left with so much more, not least the knowledge that in the face of the collapse of the music industry and the globally heralded death of the record shop someone had succeeded in showing us where the baby Jesus might record shop, were he in town and looking for a copy of Sonny Sharrock's 'Monkey Pockie Boo'.

Anyway, if you are in the US change your plans to go here. If you aren't in the US, consider going to the US so that you can change your plans and go here.

Now for me to work on some kind of trophy or award or something...


Exiled records! Yeah! So I got up there early and straight from a disappointing trip to Crossroads Records, where I'd literally waited outside for the guy to open. It's a few blocks out of town up Hawthorn but the walk stopped me falling asleep or drinking anything.

The problem started when I realised I had another twenty minutes to kill before it opened. Jet-lag shits had kicked in and I was a time bomb of exploding brown. I made it to a cocktail bar (Astro Lounge?... ASStro Lounge) just in time. The shadow of relief still touches me. Hands washed and smiling I whistled my way to Exiled. I hadn't been here before, I wrongly assumed it was a Punk only type place so gave it a swerve.

As you can see from the below, I was mistaken. Indie, Experimental, Electronic, Jazz, Weirdness... and some Punk. Stock was mostly new but I still managed to get excited enough to pick up about half a dozen records including some earlier Grouper releases, that Crime comp on Superior Viaduct and something else with a brown sleeve.

I didn't buy that record by the wrestler that that Greg guy from the Wipers plays on because it was actually broken in two.

The guy who ran it was really helpful and good enough to fill me in on some of the comings and goings of Portland's finest records stores. He reminded me if Kieran Hebden of Fridge / Four Tet, but for this and the hanging sleeveless records in the window, I shall forgive him.

Anyway, great shop this. I'd happily have it as my local, rather than the reggae shop that has a 'rock and pop' section consisting of bruised and battered latter day Fleetwood Mac albums and little else.


So back again after eight years. I love this shop yet I have a massive issue with spending money here. Why is that? I'm usually a fan of the full to the rafters approach to stock management and the shock to the senses that you get when you walk in courtesy of the explosion of band logo shirts and such is the kind of thing I make a detour to experience. I actually think that it's USP, the shirts is also the store's downfall...

The shirts spiral up into there rafters facing each and every direction. By the time you have finished browsing these, it's impossible not to, you are crook necked and dizzy. Noted, I am not a roller coaster goer and my advancing years have seen me avoid playground roundabouts due to motion sickness issues but to get it from a record shop, wow, that's special. 

This place has never had the level of used stock that you might expect, although there are exceptions. I should have left here with a copy of the EG Records press of the first Lounge Lizards album but it was my first purchase of the day and it would have been lonely and inevitably bent by the time bar hopping came around.

Oh the bar hopping... Shout outs and love to Scooters and the Olympic.

Anyway, this is the one and only record shop in the old town, if you live in Portland you know it. If you don't it's not far from the route of the 'Rose Parade' made famous by the late, wonderful and eternally dreary Elliot Smith.


It's funny to be back here again. Not funny 'ha ha' but funny weird. This was one of my locals, no, my one local from the years 2005 - 2008, shortly before I started putting my thoughts on the state of the record shopping word onto virtual paper.

Many a happy time spent here and thanks to the excellent super late opening hours, many a drunk time spent here. This is the one on Burnside rather than the other, equally chock full of wonder one across the river. I used to live a couple of blocks away and would rarely manage to be within 300 feet of the place without slipping in. 

Unfortunately it came in the middle of my discovering the compact disc and most of if not all of my EM purchases were those there CDs.

As you can see, the place goes on forever. There's been a bit of a shift around since my last visit and the part of the store reserved for cheap CDs and world music is now vinyl records.

You have to admire a record store this big that still looks like someone has poured there heart into it. The place comes across as some fantastic after school project that has been decades in the making: Touches or paper mache, music poster collages and the remnants of days gone by when such shops were common hunting grounds for the young and old alike and the kind of place you'd as soon visit a as a hair dressers. Whilst there was nothing spectacular in here I did come away with a copy of the Sunn / Scott Walker 'Soused' album.

I am supremely jet lagged as I walk around and feel a lot like one of those zombies stuck in the shopping mall from Romero's first Dawn of the Dead... I don't know why I am there, I just remember it from a former life.

Eventually I get it together enough to pay and manage to lurch out into the obligatory rain with bacon and pancakes on my mind.

Anyway, good to be back, albeit briefly and great to see that some things haven't changed...