I spent a couple of hours with a friend, Jimmy Lowe, today looking in the record shops on Bold Street in Liverpool before going out to the record fair at Lark Lane. We’ve been going to record fairs and shops since the early 1980s and we’ve both been buying vinyl since the mid 1970s. Since the renewed interest in vinyl by the younger generation there has been a revival of both vinyl sales and stores selling them. All three record shops on Bold Street are not stand-alone record shop but are all within other shops – retro, vintage type shops. Unfortunately, all three are grossly expensive. I guess the market they are aiming at are not aware of the real value of vinyl and the stores can get away with charging over-the-top prices. One today was asking five or six quid for 7” singles that you can get elsewhere or online for a quid. I imagine that some of the people running these vinyl stores also have no idea how much to charge and perhaps overprice because of that. However, I suspect that most are just cashing in on the naivety of the generation buying them who have grown up without any experience of vinyl. Even Tesco sell vinyl now, albeit a limited selection – again at over-the-top prices. HMV in Liverpool now have a large selection of vinyl, with old re-issues and new releases, but with prices rarely under twelve quid and often much more.
Record fairs have always been a better place to get a good bargain, although even these are seeing certain stalls who are overpricing to cash in on the young people now visiting them alongside those like myself and Jimmy who have been visiting them for over thirty years. One trend that Jimmy spotted is dealers refusing to give a fixed price or even display a price for the vinyl, with the intention of asking for whatever they think they can get away with with whoever is buying. The vinyl I bought today….
1. Bring It Down (12”) – The Redskins (a quid)
2. Secret Messages (7” picture disc) – ELO (a quid)
3. Loving the Alien (7” gatefold) – David Bowie (50p)
4. Word Up (7”) – Cameo (50p)
5. 1999/Little Red Corvette (7”) – Prince (50p)
6. Hit That Perfect Beat (7”) – Bronski Beat (50p)
7. The More You Live, The More You Love (7”) – Flock of Seagulls (50p)
8. (Forever) Live & Die (7”) – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (50p)
I also bought ten CD albums for just 50p each, all in excellent condition…
1. Baby I Don’t Care – Transvision Vamp
2. The Smiths – The Smiths
3. The Platinum Collection – Deep Purple (3 discs)
4. Natural History – Talk Talk
5. The Collection – Talk Talk
6. Placebo – Placebo (10th anniversary edition with DVD)
7. Seventeen Seconds – The Cure
8. The Singles – The Clash
9. Lovesexy – Prince
10. Parade – Prince & The Revolution
My best buy today was the Placebo CD/DVD. I already have their debut album, which was released in 1996, but was made up to get this 10th Anniversary Edition with extra tracks and a bonus DVD. Placebo are my favourite current group. An interesting purchase today was the ELO single “Secret Messages”. I had this picture disc back in the mid 80s but got rid of it long ago on a mass clear-out when moving. I was in a Facebook conversation with a friend about it this evening. We are both ELO fans. In the late 1970s they were my favourite group. It seems that the cover of “Secret Messages” was part of a competition to win a Gold Disc. The entrant had to decipher the pictures and messages on the cover to decipher a message. Jeff Lynne was notorious for his hidden messages and backward messages on his records. According to Google, the following were the ‘hidden’ messages to be decoded on “Secret Messages”….
1. Backwards writing on Side A that says “GO TO JETLX 527” referring to the Secret Messages album UK catalogue number.
2. A picture of four diamonds referring to the song Four Little Diamonds.
3. More backwards writing on Side B that says “WE SHOUT RAVING NOTES”, and
4. A picture of a jester. By rearranging the letters in “WE SHOUT RAVING NOTES” and the word “JESTER” you get the line “there’s just no answer to give” from the song Four Little Diamonds, and that’s the answer!
There are still plenty of bargains out there, but they are getting harder to find in the face of the hipster-driven vinyl resurrection that is pushing up prices. How long this new fashion for vinyl will last is anyone’s guess. When it passes and the trendy vinyl boutiques have closed, me and Jimmy will still be there at the Record Fairs snapping up the bargains.