Record Store Day: A Love Letter from Glasgow
Once a year on the third Saturday in April, Christmas comes for the music lovers. Record Store Day is a celebration of independent record shops the world over. Here at Glasgow Living, we wanted to put together a wee compilation of reasons why we love our local record shops, and we quickly realised that getting to know the old-school record scene was going to require some old-school journalism. Google is useful for many things, but sometimes there’s nothing quite like wandering about in the rain with a camera and a notebook and regretting the decision to write notes in pen, now streaked artistically over the blotted pages. We caught up with record store staff, owners, punters and the incredibly knowledgable guides at Glasgow Music Tours to piece together the picture of vinyl lovers in the Glasgow in the hours leading up to Record Store Day 2016, inviting them to share some of their most memorable experiences of buying records in the city. Their answers were funny, endearing and inspiring, and we hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoyed collecting them! Don’t forget to get down and support your local shops this Record Store day – many of them are playing host to musicians and special events to ensure that it is one to remember.
Oxfam Music Shop, Byres Road
The Oxfam music shop, whilst not being officially involved in Record Store day, is preparing for a big one nonetheless with some delightful events planned to appeal to everyone’s inner muppet.
Aside from introducing me to this tropically fabulous gem, Andrew, Tunvii and Sam were getting ready for the local artists (including a sitar player) and plenty of visitors planning on picking up a new vinyl to mark RSD 2016.
Mixed Up Records, Otago Lane
Down an unassuming lane in the West End, alongside a delightfully muddled bookshop and a legendary teahouse, sits Mixed Up Records. After picking up a wee copy of Kate Bush ‘The Whole Story’ in the name of research, I asked Peter Ashby, Record Buyer, if he had any fond memories of vinyl shopping. After a bit of thought (understandably – he has a few examples), he recalled being in an old warehouse over by Finnieston, examining a box of records and asking the elderly lady there which ones were for sale.
‘You can have any of them’, she said, ‘but you’d better be quick, they’re tearing the building down today – in about two minutes actually’
Sure enough the digger had already descended and no sooner had he pulled out two rare 70’s British jazz records, it was definitely time to go. Top points for a good dramatic story there, Peter. Thanks for getting us off to an excellent start!
If you fancy looking for some vinyl in slightly less high-pressure surroundings (or perhaps not – depending on how excitable the punters are) the get yourself down to Mixed Up on Saturday for special offers and live DJ’s all day.
Love Music, Dundas Street
By the time I’d reached Love Music and inadvertently picked up Rickie Lee Jones’ ‘Girl and her Volcano’ and Grace Jones’ ‘Portfolio’ on the way, I knew I was going to have to stop rummaging through the boxes of every record store I visited. As he sold me the records, Love Music’s Neil told me that he was mentally preparing for his first shift in store on Record Store day. In the 5 minutes we had to chat, two customers came in to enquire about various releases and there were already people setting up camp outside in the rain, ensuring their first pick of the releases when the store opened at 0830 the next morning. His most memorable experience of buying vinyl?:
‘Buying Joe Strummer’s album in 1989 in Virgin Records, Argyle Street – from the man himself, fresh from his Barrowlands gig. He signed it and I have it to this day. There were only about 5 people there, can you imagine?’
Definitely a good name-drop for that one, well played, Neil, well played.
On my way out, I tripped over Andrew and Ed. ‘This is not our first rodeo’, they told me. And I believe them – these guys are in it for the long haul and are getting ready for a night of musical anticipation, (hopefully not too much) Glasgow drizzle and catching up with fellow music enthusiasts. They met in the queue outside Love Music several years ago, and Andrew is pleased to report that he has steadily moved up the ranks each year he has attended, and this year he will be in first place when the doors open. For him, the record store day experience is the best part of vinyl shopping:
The best part has mostly just been doing this for the last few years. I turned up at midnight, like three years ago and I was seventh in line. I met these guys. I didn’t know a single person but we all got chatting about what we were here for, and from then on I was hooked. I was third in line last year, and this year I got up stupidly early cos I really wanted to be here first. I’m here for the Star Wars picture disc. It’s a bit uncool, but I love Star Wars and vinyl so for me, it’s doubly great!
‘We always mean to catch up more during the year’, says Ed, but Andrew jokes that ‘the only building I’ve ever seen him in is this one’. Ed is happy to admit that his most treasured vinyl is a little bit uncool:
‘A few years ago I found a record of the Ghostbusters soundtrack – but the artwork was just great. It was green and glowed in the dark. Even my wife was a little bit impressed so I knew it was a good one.’
Monorail, Kings Court
I was led to Monorail Music by both the Merchant City Music tour guides and a Channel Four documentary featuring Stephen McRobbie, lead singer of Glasgow band The Pastels and one of the owners of the record store. Having accidentally picked up yet another record (Frightened Rabbit’s latest ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ – and a signed one no less!) I recognised Stephen standing behind the counter and asked my question. Having taken a few minutes to think about it whilst he went off to find the vinyl I’d chosen, he settled on a favourite memory of buying records in Glasgow:
There used to be a shop in town called Listen. All the staff were always a bit scary, very busy and direct. I was buying a record – still my favourite album. It’s called Mummy You’re Not Watching Me by the Television Personalities, here, I’ll write it down for you. The guy selling it to me clearly liked the record too, and so he liked me for buying it. He wasn’t supposed to, but he popped an extra record by them into the bag and it was just a lovely gesture. So that’s my best memory of buying vinyl here.
And for the final few anecdotes:
My Glasgow musical education would not have been complete without the guidance of Fiona and Alison, founders and guides of the Merchant City Music tour which is a must-do whether you’re a music enthusiast or just looking for something a bit different to do for your next day out. For Alison, picking up a copy of ‘Angie’ by the Rolling Stones in her local shop was a highlight of record shopping, and she went on to manage the John Smith bookshop, next to the record store by the same name where Fiona recalls her favourite purchase – ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ by Jefferson Airplane. No, I had no clue either, but I’ll just leave this here and you can feel free to educate yourself.
Over to you, Glasgow. What are your most memorable experiences of buying vinyl in our city? Happy Record Store day from Glasgow Living – may the queues be bearable and the music incredible!