An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Buy, Buy, Buy, bye bye

I started collecting music when I was 15 years old.  I lived in a village 5 miles from the nearest town and 20 miles from the nearest city.  The town had a really good independent record shop that had been around for years, but to purchase second hand records I had to wait for the rare occurrence of a record fair to come to town, or a market stall that only traded on a Thursday once a week.  It was a small town and for a while the small record fairs were enough.  But the more eccentric my music tastes became, the less likely it was that the local fair had anything I was looking for.

When I was able to, I found out about the city record fairs and went to them.  The city fairs had more variety and rarer releases.  I got a short respite, as a beginner to collecting, rewards can be found easily.  When you first start out you don’t have any of the easier to find releases.  So, each record fair was exciting, as I would come home with bags full of records.  But, again, as the easier to find releases were purchased and each year my taste got more and more eclectic, even the city record fairs started to become tedious.  I live in the East Midlands in the UK.  This seems to be a dead spot in the UK for record fairs.  When there are record fairs now, there is NEVER anything of interest, and I always come home empty handed.  I like a range of different music styles and will pick up quite a variety of other stuff as well as the 4AD collection, but success in finding anything is non existent.

Whenever I go into the city or visit another town or city, much to the dismay of my long suffering wife, I have to check out the local record store, if there is one.  Again, this is disappointing in most cases.  Many record shops have thousands of records and CDs.  Very few of them separate the genres in any helpful way.  Years ago I would trawl through thousands of records quite happily and come out with loads of purchases.  But after a few years, I got to the point of sifting through thousands and finding nothing.  Now my patience is quite low.  You can tell within a few minutes if a record shop is simply not going to have anything of worth.  I tend to look through a block of records and when you see that all of them without exception are all very common releases, you know there’s little chance of finding anything at all in the whole shop.

I have mixed feelings about the decline in second hand music shops.  For some shops I have little sympathy.  For years the general second hand record shop has been a stuffy, smelly man cove.  Run by an old rock’n’roller or 60’s northern soul fanatic who loves to sit in a corner and read novels all day.  They barely give you a glance when you enter the shop, know little of what stock they have, unless it’s the 50’s or early 60’s music you’re looking for, put ridiculous prices on poor quality records because the price is high in the published guide and have a surprisingly little small amount of stock.  They then moan how they can’t buy or sell much anymore.

Personally, if I ran a record shop I would be BUYING off ebay and selling in the shop.  Any collector would pay a reasonable price for stock you wouldn’t normally find in a record shop.  Most record shops have the same records in stock, the length and breadth of the country.  I find bargains all the time on ebay and wonder why the remaining record shops aren’t buying these up!!

So, apart from a plan to try one of the big, big record fairs, I’ve just about given up on record fairs and record shops.  I’m forced to look on ebay.  The range, quality and prices are far better than any record fair or shop I’ve ever visited in 26 years (and I want to find a dream record shop or fair more than anything).  My prized 4AD collection piece I purchased on ebay and I would never have found it at a record fair or shop.  That prize will be revealed in my next post, along with a few ebay tips I picked up along the way.

I would love to read some of your experiences of fairs and shops and see if you have any better luck than I do with them

Will be back soon

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