For the Love of Record Shops: Defend Vinyl

As Record Store Day 2018 approaches this weekend, an appreciation.

I’m keen on high streets, as you may have noticed, reasoning they’re not only essential  for the well-being of our neighbourhoods but also in defining who we are and where we’re from. As in:

‘I’m Ronnie Hughes, I live just off Smithdown Road in Liverpool, and these days its such a great high street it’s even got a record shop’.

It’s called Defend Vinyl and I featured it on here eighteen months ago, not long after it opened.

Well here it is again, not only going stronger than ever but also about to host Record Store Day this coming Saturday, April 21st.

Record Store Day, in case you’ve never heard of it, is about encouraging people to visit their local record shops. Simple as that. After a precipitous drop in numbers record shops are returning to our high streets for the simple reason that enough of us want them to. So Record Store Day is a day to celebrate record shops everywhere by visiting one.

Let’s do that then?

Here we are then, in Defend Vinyl on Smithdown Road. Run by Graham Jones and full of  records he likes and thinks you might like too.

Records of many varieties, shapes and sizes. New releases, Japanese imports, rare records, used records, and even 78rpm pieces of history. Always a joy to sort through, as I often do.

Much of the joy being that you don’t know what you’ll find. This being one of the points of record shops as opposed to shopping online. Online you’ll only find what you’re searching for, maybe. Whereas in here, well, you might be surprised. For example:

Yes, one high street under many a groove. And more?

I’m trying here to get you as close as I can to the feel of flicking through the records to see what you might find. From a rarity on red vinyl in a velvet bag, all the way to ‘This old heart of mine been broke a thousand times’ – quickly passing whatever’s going on in that Midnight Meat Train? You won’t know what you’re missing ’til you turn up and give it a go.

Which is the purpose of Record Store Day. Reminding us all to come and have a look, a listen and get the feel of what a real record shop is like. Not a place with those few forlorn scraps of music down a supermarket aisles hardly anyone visits, but a real record shop. Full of music, full of life.

Any other encouragements? Well yes, shop owner Graham Jones:

‘For Record Store Day only all the used stock will be reduced by between 10 and 20%. There’ll also be special Record Store Day Releases, records only released in limited numbers and for this day. Even I don’t know what these will be yet, so come and find out?

As well, there’ll be official ‘Record Store Day’ Fred Perry tote bags for the first 20 customers through the door, along with the surprises on the day’.

And it’s a record shop. Full of joy, welcomes, well-being, other interested people – and what’s not to like?

One more quick flick through the records then:

If I’m in when you are I’ll be able to tell you stories of Amon Düül at the Cavern, Captain Beefheart at the Stadium and I even remember buying that Kevin Coyne LP when Virgin were in Bold Street. I could also do you a ritual chant of all the other record shops I’ve loved and treasured all the days of my life (Yes record shops are not just for Record Store Day).

But for now let’s stick to this one and, oh, can you tell me what on earth Madder Rose sound like?

Graham will be opening the shop from 9:00 on Saturday morning for all those special offers and special releases – and will be staying open ’til 7:00 that evening.

That’s this coming Saturday, 21st April, Record Store Day.

Defend Vinyl, 150 Smithdown Road, Liverpool L15 3JR

And it doesn’t end there! (As I’d say if this weren’t so carefully written and edited.)

Graham Jones again:

‘Then from 8pm, me and my mate – also called Graham – will be DJ-ing just along the road at the Craft Taproom, where we’ll also be running a mini Record Fair.

Not forgetting you can order tasty hand made wood fired pizzas from Little Furnace next door, to go with your drinks, while you sit and gaze at your new records.’

A splendid time for all guaranteed on Smithdown Road then? (Not forgetting that other sources of neighbourhood hospitality are also available nearby.)

So see you down Smithdown Road some time on Saturday?

Don’t say you weren’t told.

Emerging from Winter/Part Two

The second of two linked posts, walking round the neighbourhoods where I live. Part One here.

This Sunday in late February arrives just as blue and just as cold as yesterday. Perfect then for another day of trying to walk my cold off around the streets of the neighbourhood. Starting by walking across to The Mystery, like yesterday, but after that who knows?

Under the London-line railway bridges and along to the Ullet Road/Smithdown crossroads. Past social venues old and new including a personal favourite, Naked Lunch. A co-op café and if there’s a friendlier place in Liverpool I don’t know it yet. Continue reading “Emerging from Winter/Part Two”

Through reading glasses

Long ago, it seems now, I was entranced by a Paul Simon song called ‘Proof.’ It’s 1990 and I listen to his ‘Rhythm of the Saints’ album over and over again on my brand new first CD player, particularly to hear this song about ageing:

“It’s true, the tools of love wear down
Time passes
A mind wanders
It seems mindless, but it does
Sometimes I see your face
As if through reading glasses
And your smile, it seems softer than it was”

I’m in the middle of being thirty something at the time so this song, curiously beguiling as it is, feels like a message from a distant country which I can’t yet imagine visiting.

Nowadays I see everything I read and write through reading glasses.My previous blog post on here was a reflection on living as if I have a year left to go. Hoping I have many more but, at 63, knowing it would be a misguided conceit to carry on calling myself middle aged. In that post I wrote that all posts from now on would have to pass the test of ‘Would I bother writing this if I thought I had  year to live?’ Since then I’ve wondered ‘Well what exactly am I going to write about?’

I know there’s going to be a lot more Liverpool than there’s been on here lately. Not because it’s necessarily any more special than where you live but because it’s my home,  where I’ve chosen to live the whole of my life. There’ll also be more about people I know or meet who are doing good things that I want more people to know about, because I like helping out people I judge to be making their corner of the world into a kinder place.

Beyond these, well what? Continue reading “Through reading glasses”

One Special Day

All days are special, especially this one. So I decide I’ll walk around and photograph it, as I tend to do.

Walking to work in fact on a gorgeous blue day.
Walking to work in fact on a gorgeous blue day.

Friday 20th January, 2017. Yes, the day the world gets a chauvinist thug as President of the USA.

Thinking about this as I walk into The Mystery.
Thinking about this as I walk into The Mystery.

And deciding the day is too special and beautiful to spoil it with any more thoughts of him.

Me and an urban goal.
Me and an urban goal.

Continue reading “One Special Day”

A Saturday Smithdown Stroll

dsc07535“Just off for a Saturday Smithdown Stroll” I say to Sarah as I’m leaving the house. “Oh that means records then” she perceptively replies. “It might?” I mutter, and as you can see it does. But more of that later.

We are in the days of dwindling light now.
We are in the days of dwindling light now.
When the sun is barely bothering to rise.
When the sun is barely bothering to rise.
And so I'm grateful for the Wavertree Christian Fellowship's twinkling tree.
And so I’m grateful for the Wavertree Christian Fellowship’s twinkling tree.

With Coming Home dominating my weeks, now I’ve stepped back from pretty much everything else I was involved in, I like to spend my weekends doing hardly anything beyond  walking around, reading, listening to music – and quietly observing life, as I will today.  Continue reading “A Saturday Smithdown Stroll”