Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Hello friends! I'm back! I hope you've been keeping busy. It's been relatively quiet in the Little House of late, largely due to the fact that I didn't have a day off for the best part of a month. But my internship's finished, the days are getting longer and I'm no longer a hermit. We even went to London last Saturday to see the David Shrigley exhibition at the Southbank! 

As anyone who has ever met me - even fleetingly - can vouch, one of my favourite pastimes is forcefully imposing my music taste on others. With it being Record Store Day this Saturday, I thought I'd bring the two together in the name of celebrating my favourite shop, which has had a massive influence on my interest in music. If you're after a proper list, check out this brilliant map for stores around Greater Manchester, and this nationwide one on the Record Store Day website.

Before we were old enough to wander round Manchester, Stockport precinct was the stuff that dreams were made of. When the History Cafe opened on Prince's Street, I remember sitting by the upstairs window next to the battered drum kit and records they used to 'decorate' the walls with, drinking a mocha and thinking I was the absolute shit. These jaunts around coffee shops were also coupled with tentative rummages through the CDs on offer at such Stopfordian institutions as Woolworths, WH Smith's and HMV which, admittedly, usually turned up pretty miserable results (Travis, anyone?); the only exception being the now-defunct and sorely missed Music Zone. By the age of about 14, it became patently clear to me that, if I was going to get hold of the music I really wanted, I'd have to go the extra seven miles north.

Me, in my younger days.
I'm excited for the future of music.
Manchester is still the biggest city I've ever lived in - it's second in size only to London and Birmingham - so you can imagine how intimidating it was when we first ventured out. We soon got to know its mean streets though - learning to avoid Market Street and making a new home for ourselves in the cafĂ© on the top floor of Afflecks Palace, before later migrating to the more mature charms of Night & Day (as immortalised in the I Am Kloot song). When I eventually moved to Sheffield five years later, the thing I missed the most were the record shops; in particular, Vinyl Exchange. Based on Oldham St. (RIP Bridge St. branch!), they sell vinyl (duh), CDs, DVDs etc, but they don't have the cases out on the floor - just small plastic envelopes with the title of the record on a piece of card. It's brilliant, because you can literally grab a stack and flick through - no awkward leaning over/shifting around/having to pull out every single case because you can't tell what it's supposed to be or who it's by. And because a lot of the stuff they sell are promo copies and/or second-hand, it's all really cheap too. My CD collection is still at my parent's house (s'all been copied onto the computer innit), but I'd estimate that roughly half of them were bought at Vinyl Exchange.

Independents work because they know exactly what their customers want to buy. It's so much easier to pick up music you've never heard of but can't wait to play when the whole store is filled with artists that you love. It's also weirdly satisfying to have something to show for your music collection - a bit like a photo album I suppose. Whilst being able to download mp3s straight onto my phone is undoubtedly incredibly convenient, it's not really the same as spending a whole afternoon pottering round a few shops and arguing about which record you'll play first when you get home.

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