Review 2013

RPM Review 2013

View From The End Of The Year.

Firstly, a huge “thanks” to everyone who attended RPM during 2013. Some of you still have 100% records! As the hands of the clock get to just before 8pm on the first Tuesday of each month, I’m still a little amazed that there’s a bunch of you sitting in the hall drinking tea, munching on the guest biscuit and enthusiastically waiting for the start of another great evening of diverse music. Special thanks to Jackie who made the record (LP) shaped RPM birthday cakes and keeps the tea pot topped up……..couldn’t do it without you.

In early January, I drove Ewan back to York where he is at university. It was a Saturday and we spent the afternoon looking around the city’s guitar shops, book shops and record shops. There are a few options for CD / record hunting in this lovely city; various charity shops where bargains can be found (I picked up a vinyl copy of The Noah’s Ark Trap by Nic Jones in Oxfam’s specialist record and book shop for £2.50 which I’d seen on Ebay for quite a bit more), a couple of dedicated second hand record shops, Rebound Records being the best with a stock which always seems to turn up unexpected gems and interesting music, and high street “big boy” HMV. I was particularly looking for the Lumineers debut CD, inspired by their song “Hey Ho” which Andrew had brought along to the December 2013 RPM. After traipsing around HMV for ten minutes or so looking at the plethora of bargain priced new releases and limited selection of top priced back catalogue, I finally found the item. There were about 6 copies, all had scratched, dirty looking jewel cases and none were priced. It took a few more minutes wandering until a staff member was found, obviously in a hurry.

- How much is the Lumineers CD, please…………. none of them are priced?

- Ten pounds

The tone of the reply suggested no real interest in a customer enquiry and no engagement or eye contact either.

- The cases aren’t in very good condition…………..

Blank look from assistant.

I left the shop without making a purchase, bewildered by the lack of anything interesting to buy and also a bit disgruntled and disbelieving of the uninterested staff member. Ten days later it was announced that the retailer had collapsed into administration. Not really surprising if my unsatisfying experience was multiplied by what must be quite a large customer footfall.

Making a beeline for Rebound Records, I then spent probably close on forty five absorbing minutes…….at least……. flicking through the racks. No, sorry, he didn’t have The Lumineers, but I came away with 4 items I hadn’t been looking for; Davy Graham’s Midnight Man, The 1st Doc Watson album, Megson’s newest release “When I Was A Lad” and a “two albums on one CD” release of Johnny Burnette. Hours of listening pleasure! I will definitely go back to Rebound.

I made a New Year’s resolution for 2013; not to buy anything from Amazon, a company who make huge profits but, it is alleged, avoid paying their proper share of tax in the UK; employ staff on minimum wage but have extreme workload expectations of them; are probably the single biggest threat to the survival of the nation’s small independent record shops. Their selection is brilliant; able to obtain almost anything no matter how obscure. The question therefore was; could I obtain the recordings I wanted from independent suppliers and resist resorting to the perceived (lazy?) convenience of just clicking a computer mouse?

I got off to a pretty good start. One day during the week following my return from York, I popped into Sounds Music in Dereham.

- Hi John. Do you have or can you order The Lumineers for me, please?

- I haven’t got it but I’ll see if I can get it for you, Try next week.

A few days later, back into Sounds…………..and there’s a Lumineers CD waiting for me. I also notice Jayne’s December RPM selection, The Alabama Shakes CD on display. Money changes hands and I come happily away with some top notch music - having also supported my local independent retailer and kept my New Year’s resolution in tack.

As for the rest of the year, I can report I did not resort to Amazon once….truely, your Honour. Hooray! Here are the independent shops I used: Sounds Music, Dereham; Rebound, York; CD Services, Dundee; All Celtic Music, Glasgow; Press To Play, Norwich; Across The Tracks, Brighton; Walton Rock, Walton On The Naze; Visual Vinyl, Daventry; Amazing Tunes.Com (my 2nd ever download!); HMV Norwich; Oxfam, Derehan & York; Age Concern, York; Raucous Records, Fleetwood; Claddagh Records, Dublin; or direct from gigs (Hawkwind, Staves…) and second hand from Ebay.

Was I frustrated by not obtaining any new release? Nope!……..I had to wait for a few items, rather than achieve instant Amazon gratification but, hey; everything comes to he who waits, it seems…and a little suffering (waiting a few months until I tracked down Skull by the mighty Evile) is good for the soul, so I hear................and YES, the shop I bought the most music from was my local record and music store, 5 miles down the road; Sounds Music.

Here’s to an Amazon free 2014. Shop local.