Who knew “Record Store Day” was a thing? Certainly not me… until that is Róisín Murphy released “Crooked Machine” in April 2021 – a sublime remix of her 2020 epic “Róisín Machine” album re-worked by long-time collaborator Crooked Man (aka DJ Parrot, aka Richard Barratt).
The digital version of Crooked Machine was available at release in April 2021 but the vinyl version was being held back until 12th June 2021…. “Record Store Day” 😀
I bought the MP3 version, and of course you could always listen on streaming services like Spotify…. but it’s just not the same as having a physical copy. And IMHO a vinyl physical copy is the king of all the physical media… I think it’s something about being able to see the disc spinning as it makes the sound that makes it even more engaging… much like cassette tape, the sound might not be perfect, but it’s somehow it just feels better, more natural. And of course, being a teenager in the 1980s and growing up with vinyl & cassettes might have something to do with it 😉
I checked the official RSD website and emailed all my local stores, and only a few of them replied that they were expecting stock of Crooked Machine. By far the most positive response I received was from 81 Renshaw in Liverpool, so I decided to head down there on the day, doors opening at 8am.
When Record Store Day finally arrived I realised I hadn’t felt this excited about going to a record shop since my teenage years… which back then meant a trip to “Record Village” which was my local independent record store in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. Record Village used these distinctive bright yellow carrier bags and anyone who was anyone in Scunny knew that shopping on a Saturday afternoon meant being seen with that iconic Record Village bag.
I always answer the question “what was the first record you ever bought?” with “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, which is sort of half-true. I did buy this single and it was really the first song that I actually heard on the radio and then thought “I must buy that”. Strictly the first singles I actually bought (under significant parental influence…) were “Tragedy” by The Bee Gees and “My Life” by Billy Joel. Not quite as cool….
Some of my most treasured record-collecting memories at Record Village are buying Japan’s “Art of Parties” 12-inch single… iconic. Along with early Human League albums and the “Party Fears Two” single by The Associates. Released in 1981 “Pop’s Greatest Year“?
Growing up in the industrial town that was Scunthorpe in the 1980s meant that an exciting treat at the weekend would be going “shopping in Donny” – going to the Arndale centre in the nearby (bigger) town of Doncaster. (Sad fact: most of my embarrassing 80s wardrobe came from C&A in Doncaster 😀 ) The Doncaster Arndale centre had a rooftop car park and walking down the stairs from the car park directly onto the upper floor of shops felt like the living in the future! A particular treat was Fox’s record shop and I can remember buying “Stand and Deliver” by Adam and the Ants as soon as it was released and feeling proud that I’d played my small part in getting it “straight in at number one” when the next charts were released.
Back to Record Store Day 2021: on arriving in Liverpool at 81 Renshaw at 07:45 I realised I had seriously underestimated just how popular RSD is. Oops, RSD-rookie mistake! I imagined I could just rock up, maybe queue for 10-15 minutes… but no, there must have been over 100 people queuing. The people at the front told me they had been there since 10pm the previous evening!
In the end I queued for over 2 hours. Part of the delay seemed to be the singular checkout on the way out of the shop at the back door, but everyone was very patient and entered into the spirit of the day. All the staff were great, I’ll definitely make a point of going back there in future. If it wasn’t for Record Store Day I wouldn’t have discovered this great little shop. Which I guess was the point all along.