Friday, April 26, 2013


Before I discovered that Sheffield was a mere ten minutes away on the train Chesterfield was a lonely place. A small town famed for little more than being the home of Robinson's Nappies, Trebor Sweets and a terrible football team with a violently passionate z-list firm called the CBS. The sofas and cigarettes didn't even come from there they just shared the same name as this home of the church with the bent spire.

In the 80s it was even smaller than it is now, an easy place to get beaten up by people who no doubt still live there. The wrong hair was enough to get you a punch in the face* and as somebody with a passing interest in something other than the Top 40 there weren't too many places to frequent: There was a dive of a pub called The Anchor with a piss poor music policy that did little more than pay lip service to it's clientele by including Meat Loaf and the Stranglers on it's juke box and there was Planet X records.

There it is to the far left of the above picture, the place where I spent some of the happiest days of my youth. This was in fact the second premises for Planet X. The first was around the corner from my old primary school, another institution that has not faired well in the face of time. Planet X was shaped like a slice of pie or cheese if you will meaning the further into the shop you got the smaller it became. To my knowledge nobody was ever became wedged in the store but the architecture meant that this was a real possibility.

My mum used to work around the corner for the local newspaper (also gone) so I would while away much of the time between school and her leaving work in the store. I'd do the same again on Saturdays doing a loop between there, Hudsons, Our Price, the market and whichever other short lived vinyl based enterprise was up and running at the time (Record Box was a great store).

A counter to the left, a CalorGas heater, a singles rack and then new records straight ahead with t-shrits to the right and used records on the wall under the window. I dream about this shop, or versions of this shop, not necessarily because it had the worlds greatest inventory but because it was such a big part of my growing up. This was the place I bought one of my very first albums, Kiss 'Dynasty'. Didds the owner was a very friendly chap and thanks to his endless patience and welcoming smile the contents of this store moulded my formative listening habits.

Without this place my teenage years would have been total and utter misery... And I would probably have got laid a lot sooner.

Highlights of a list of things I bought from Planet X:

  1. Metallica 'Whiplash' 12"
  2. 2 Official KLF T-Shirts
  3. Cassette Single of The Smiths 'Ask' (Never actually bought it but had it put aside for a week)
  4. Dark Angel - Darkness Descends
  5. Death Angel - The Ultra Violence
  6. Death Angel - Frolic Through The Park
  7. S.O.D - Speak English or Die
  8. Stupids - Jesus Meets The Stupids

*I believe they call it 'Goth Bashing' nowadays, a lazy catch all term: All subcultures appear to have morphed into either 'Emo' or 'Goth'. Quite what Rites of Spring or Bauhaus have to do with any of these people is less than obvious.


If I lived in the woods, in a cabin and ate beans all day this is what i would like to listen to. I bought this as part of my start of the year splurge. New Years eve (early eve) was spent at a friends house, a friend who likes records, a friend who unlike me has freely acknowledged that great musical moments continue to happen in this the year of our lord 2013. Apart from the neatly shelved usual suspects: A chunk of jazz and US Indie he had two snaking piles of poly-sleeve covered intrigue that crawled for some distance across the floor. As I thumbed trough I was surprised, not by the fact that I didn't know 90% of it but rather because it all appeared to be from that year (2012). I'm not sure when he got time to listen to all of this or if indeed he did but the event made me realise that there was a very good chance that I had missed some very interesting music.

There and then I decided to make amends and resolved to up my mother fucking game for 2013. True to my word I purchased approximately 50 LPs in the first two months of 2013, all with beautiful sleeves, all from the last couple of years and all on really wanky beard stroking labels like Blackest Ever Black. Honestly I've listened to maybe three of them, mainly because I am spending every waking non working hour attempting to get the house to some kind of normal. This means it's a case of painting avec iPod rather than exploring any new interesting looking vinyl based acquisitions.

One of the few that I have taken time to sit through is the above. Black Eagle Child came to my attention courtesy of the lovely Under The Spire label, he's a one man band (not the cymbals strapped to the knees and kazoo in mouth kind) with a knack for producing intricate and beautiful guitar based music. He has a name that reminds me of Eagle Eye Cherry which is a shame as catchy as 'Save Tonight' was it's not exactly relevant to the field ploughed by Mr Child.

So what exactly is said field like if it's not chock full of the radio pop hit(s) synonymous with Don Cherry's youngest? Ry Cooder comes to mind, as does the stripped down guitar work of Mazzy Star's David Roback. It's nice, there's a lot of space, it feels breezy and sinister at the same time. It's good out doors music.

And what of Donato Epiro's side? Who knows, my understanding is that it's in a similar vein but it could well be 2014 before I get the time to find out.

I didn't want this to turn into an essay on the futility of hoarding vinyl but the above hardly seems like a sensible way of consuming music. I am not sure whether I am fuelled by one-upmanship, a primal need to hunt and gather or if it's to do with penis size. My actions could well be influenced by the clever marketing tactics of the likes of Boomkat who have (and all credit to them here) successfully fetishised vinyl to an entirely new level with anal linear notes, sound bites and sleeves that comfortably fall into the 'design porn' category. Add to that the fiendishly limited pressings of much of this fayre and you have a perfect storm: Circumstances that have you buying an album because a member of Barn Owl played on it or because the sleeve reminds you of the successfully sinister fluxus heyday of some right-wing freak folk collective.

Predictably I digress. This is a good album and if even half of that 'inbox' pile that I now have to go through is of this calibre then perhaps my financially damaging new years resolution was not such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


There is something so predictable about the inclusion of a Pixies album in a blog about records and record shopping that i for some reason feel like a dirty pervert for typing these words. They are the archetypal 'indie' band one of the few international artistes associated with said genre that you might name before Nirvana. There is something so trite about their image, something so dull and sub-art school wank about their album sleeves that they are almost a Chris Morris Fur Q 'UZI Lover' type parody. They have this dry toast persona that they used to market as 'achingly hip' that falls flat on it's face and they are ugly, very, very ugly (Ms Deal being a notable exception even in her latter days).

The guy with the hairy back, the predictable videos, the total and utter pointlessness of their stance and guise aside I hate to say it but they were very listenable. Bossanova comes from the absolute nadir of the bands success, my understanding is that it is almost universally overlooked in favour of earlier works but this is the album that I put on at random to accompany myself home on a sweaty tube last night. 

Given the endless winter the stench and stickiness of the very literal steel tube that trundles me too and from work was almost welcomed. The stale odour of my fellow commuters a short holiday from the dull grey and black Nordic Metal style winter that has outstayed it's welcome month on month. I had remembered my iPod for the first time in a while so decided to take the opportunity to stuff my ears with rubber and drown out the station announcements in favour of something that sounded less like a quirkyTrunk Records release.

I'd like to say that I was transported back to my heady student days, beer sticky floors and sex but instead I was reminded of what god awful taste in music I had when this came out. Yes I borrowed a cassette copy of Doolittle from my local library copying it onto an Agfa in an attempt to impress a very short lived girlfriend, her mum hated me, or more accurately the thought of me upstairs in her house with her daughter - If reading this she would be relieved to know that nothing much beyond a ruffling of hair and amateur fumble on my part ever took place. The Doolittle cassette aside I was still very much cock-deep in that horrible world of 'funk metal'. In my teen mind bands like Mordred and Primus were the pinnacle of mans musical achievement. I was a musical idiot.

It probably took another five years or so for me to get around to this proper and when I did, I liked it, it was good.

On the tube yesterday the thing that really got me was the amount of songs on here, real songs, no filler, no vacuous WIRE magazine bullshit, but real, honest to God songs and these songs are good, great in places. Fucking foot-tappers some of them. Last night Bossanova did what any good record still has the power to do. Outside my front door I pulled the headphone buds from deep in my ears, examined them, flicked off the flecks of offending yellow and looked up at an alien clear blue sky conscious of my sticky arse. I inhaled deeply and thought to myself 'I should start an indie band.'

Regardless of the fact that that's absolutely the worst idea in the world the thought stayed with me for a while as I considered using a roll-on anti-persperant on my backside for the following days commute.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


And a Happy New Year to you all.

If you have a.) Been following the plight of this once behemoth retailer since 2009 and looked on in horror as it's share prices nosedived to 0.01p or simply b.) Visited any high street in any medium sized town over the past three years the news that HMV is flat out fucked will come as absolutely no surprise.

Like Zavvi (Nee: Virgin) and Our Price before them It's further proof that the victims of file sharing and discounted on-line retailers come both large and small and on one hand it's a real shame:

I have very fond memories of both Sheffield city centre HMVs and a hundred others dotted up and down the country from Hull to Gatwick Airport.

There was the time that somebody set the store near the big Boots on fire back in 1992. This resulted in a large portion of the stock being deposited in a skip behind the shop. One enterprising student friend filled his car and made a mint from smokey smelling tapes and CDs for weeks after that, this incident is the actually the reason for my renewed interest in Reggae as well as a life long obsession with Hip Hop luminaries NWA.

The HMV round the corner from Coles used to be our meeting point in Sheffield. The idea being that if any of my sleeveless Megadeth t-shirt wearing mates were late you could wile away the hours flicking through racks of tapes, records and Megadeth t-shirts... complete with original sleeves.

A HMV on your high street used to be the second sign of civilization, a stamp that said 'this is a proper town', (The first sign was a Woolworths, for what was anywhere without a wall of the Top 40 and a solid selection of pick n' mix?) It also meant that there were other record shops, record shops that could moan about HMV and compete with it's pricing.

So I am saddened, but only in the same way that I might be moved by the passing of an elderly neighbour with chronic arthritis because HMV are after all at least partially to blame for the demise of the physical music industry.

£14.99 for a CD anyone? £10.49 for a copy of the Ozzy Ozbourne Randy Rhodes Tribute cassette? ... It's 'Double Play'. (whatever the living shit that means).

If the record companies and retailers hadn't been quite as ambitions/greedy as they were the public might not have taken the very first opportunity to fuck them over by means of the free download or indeed the cheaper CD posted by way of the Channel Islands to save on taxes. As it is you can almost view the mass actions of the man on the street as justifiable, a blow against the other 'man'.

And besides, who is this really going to hurt? Yes a swathe of record shop employees are suddenly going to be eyeing the situations vacant and will need to consider a retraining but it also means an end to the instore performance, and one less podium for the likes of Rihanna and that ass clown Jason Zed to whore their mass produced bile so it's plusses and minuses.

You could see it like that but at the same time today's news means that the vast majority of town's and cities in the UK are now going to be entirely without the means to buy physical music in person and the army of phone shops that will no doubt take up the empty retail space could well help provide the final nail in the high streets coffin.

...Still there's always and you can shop there from your smart phone.