Brian and I were wondering how long we've been visiting Berwick Street for our music fix, and neither of us can really remember. But, looking back in my archives, I can see that I was bemoaning the loss of record shops almost ten years ago, so clearly we had been coming some time before that!
Still, so what if what used to be a trawl through the myriad secondhand music emporia has long ago become an excuse to meet and catch up over a few pints, with a little shopping in between? We had a great time, marvelled at how busy Soho is these days, and even brought home a few albums.
There was nothing in particular I wanted (with one exception) and no plan, so what I have consists of covers, artists or titles that caught my eye at that moment - and all for a smidge over £50!
- The View From Half Way Down by Andy Bell (2020)
- I loved Ride, and Hurricane #1 produced several of my favourite singles of the Nineties. It's always pained me that such a great guitarist was reduced to plodding away on bass in some obscure pub-rock band, just to pay the bills. So when I saw this album on display in Sister Ray as one the "best albums of 2020", I couldn't resist.
- Pleasure by Feist (2017)
- Have heard the name but not the music, was cheap.
- Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins (2005)
- This album rings a bell from back in the day when I actually read the music press, so thought I'd have a punt.
- My Pain and Sadness is More Sad and Painful Than Yours by McLusky (2003)
- I bought this entirely on the strength of the title and primarily to amuse K, who listens to lots of songs with depressing titles all in lower case (as it is on this album cover), as exemplified by the Spotify playlist idk. However, this probably isn't her type of music: Wikipedia tells me that McLusky are a "post-hardcore band", and although I have to admit to not being quite sure what this means, I'm pretty certain it's not acoustic. Although acoustic guitars would be very post-hardcore.
Summer 08 by Metronomy (2016)
Looks even better in the cardboard
- Bought purely on the strength of a very attractive embossed cover.
- Slanted and Enchanted by Pavement (1992)
- Brian and I used to do a version of "Trigger Cut" with our band, but I've never owned the album until now.
- Bankrupt! by Phoenix (2013)
- I have several Phoenix albums, although none I like as much as their debut, United. This deluxe, limited edition version might be worth a bit more than I paid for it.
- Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star by Sonic Youth (1994)
- I've been meaning to get into Sonic Youth since I was a student. I might have left it a bit late.
- Amazing Grace by Spiritualized (2003)
- My interest in Spiritualized was piqued by the amusing autobiography of their former bass player Will Carruthers. Need any other reason to purchase? Not me.
- The Seeds Of Love by Tears for Fears (1989)
- This is the one album I was looking for, although I didn't remember that until I actually saw it on the counter at Sister Ray for £2.99. I suspect this disk actually came from a deluxe reissue, but since I don't care about the extra material, I am just happy to have what is a superb album at a good price.
- Tin Machine II by Tin Machine (1991)
- At first I was amazed to find this long out-of-print album available, and thought perhaps I'd bagged myself a bit of a rarity. However, on closer examination, it turns out to be a 2020 reissue from a Dutch label called Music On CD. Hardly essential listening, but I've always had a soft spot for Bowie's hard rock, "I'm just the lead singer of the band" phase.
- Poses by Rufus Wainwright (2001)
- A bargain at £2? No idea, but I like most of his other stuff.
- I Can't Believe You're Gone by The Webb Brothers (2000)
- I've just re-ripped their album Beyond The Biosphere and this has a cool cover. Turns out it's a single, though, so teensy bit annoyed at myself.
It's very rare that I can say with any certainty that I like or dislike an album on first listen. I can name several albums (Jeff Buckley's Grace, now one of my favourites, and most of Steely Dan's seventies albums, for a start) that didn't particularly like the first time round and only came to enjoy through perseverance. I can name a couple I disliked instantly (The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter springs painfully to mind). But for most, it takes me four or more listens before I can decide how I really feel about the album.
There's a drawback with this, though: finding those records that will really come to mean something is fundamentally a numbers game. With so much music out there, and so much more being released every day, if I spent a week with every album I won't have enough time to listen to what I own, let alone find anything new. And it can be so random. I started listening to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories a couple of weeks ago, purely because I happened to read an article about Giorgio Moroder that mentioned it. I'd missed it when it came out and wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't have been for this.
So to try and find things I like, I have been in the habit of buying a big handful of CDs, but however much I swear I am going to give them all a fair spin, I run out of steam halfway through and there are some that never really got listened to - just take the albums I bought in February 2014 as an embarrassing example, over half of which I haven't listened to, that I can recall.
So this time, I'm trying something a bit different. I'm going to listen to each of these latest purchases once and record my first impressions. Then I can decide which I'd like to go back to - but at least I can say I've listened to them. It'll be interesting to see which I do go back to, and how my first impressions correlate with later feelings.