Record shopping is not what it used to be, and with a mere handful of interesting places to buy interesting vinyl left in the entire country, a trip to that London is becoming a necessary regular evil. Besides, Brighton is too far for a day return! Anyway, thanks to the wonders of postmodern public transport, even for a sad-sack-yokel like me, the rail connection to our capital’s handful of visionary vinyl vendors is smooth, simple to access, and, all things considered, relatively cheap (including a London Underground all-day-travel-card). Dragging ourselves from bed at an ungodly weekend hour, circa 8am, the short drive to Warwick’s handy Parkway station meant we were walking through a busy Soho by 10.30, heading for Sister Ray Records on Berwick Street.
Despite its excellent reputation, Sister Ray is a real disappointment. The staff are arrogant, the stock grubby and poorly displayed. They seem to pride themselves on their range of genres, but sadly avoid being definitive in any one of them, asking very pertinent questions of their buyer. They stocked none of the items on my wants list, and, despite spending £45 on a bunch of Sacred Bones releases; I still couldn’t wait to leave the establishment. Their second hand vinyl 45s were pricey too! Won’t be wasting any time there on our next trip.
The Soho venture was redeemed by an independent record market further along Berwick Street populated by stalls from Rough Trade, Heavenly, Mute and a whole bunch of others. Dudes like Steve Lamacq, Jarvis Cocker and other BBC Radio 6 Music faces are kicking around, hanging out, signing stuff. We swerve a beardy Jarvis, failing to ask for an autograph, and score sorely needed repress copies of both The Manic Street Preacher’s ‘Motown Junk’ and The Normal’s ‘TVOD’ (on white vinyl!). Phone calls are placed, plans made, wants lists consulted, stock levels checked at both Rough Trades, East & West. Should we truck west, or tube it east. A Black vinyl copy of White Lung’s ‘It’s The Evil’ dictates out fate, and we tube it east to Brick Lane, and the anti-establishmentarian institution that is Rough Trade East.
My long suffering girlfriend has a long established relationship with RTE, she likes to drink their coffee and people-watch, while I get lost amongst the racks and the shelves, and the t-shirts and the books, and the fanzines and the nice security men. She holds the filled bags, I try my best to fill more! White Lung vinyl requirements fulfilled, a rifle through the US and Canadian 45s section is rewarded with several 7″ gems, and one or two stock items too. Enlisting the help of a very amenable staff member, a few risks are taken, some of them work out, some of them don’t, read below to find out which discs have outlived their initial first day buzz to resonate their way into my psyche! Time elapsed since entry: one hour! The verdict: Rough Trade East is well worth the trek, a very worthy diversion off the beaten path. Total spend: £37.
In a bid to placate said by now already wilting fair female, we diverted south to Tate Modern in an expensive taxi, taking a phone call along the way from Eyeplug editor, Dick Porter, a man who will avoid a trip to London at any cost. The synchronicity of this is noteworthy. On arrival at the Tate, we lunched expensively but satisfyingly, and took a leisurely stroll through a veritable cornucopia of surrealism and modernity, in many varied mediums. Having surrealed out in the free galleries, we thus failed to use our freebie issue Art Pass cards to access the Joan Miro exhibition, which was a disappointment – we’d planned using the cards to get into something free, one of our major shared hobbies! Still, we did get to aggravate a Tate Staff member by stepping over one of the white wires for a photo opportunity, which was rewarding. With two hours left to retail closing time, a hike north in respect of All Ages Records, Camden, was not hypothetically out of the question.
Leaving the Tate, we strode north across the wobbly bridge to St Paul’s tube station, and, ere long, via a brace of train changes, we were on Camden High Street. The first friendly face I saw on exiting the tube station, I approached, asking for directions to Pratt Street. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be none other than Mike Matthews, erstwhile snapper and ex-pat of the SuponA Massive. Doncha just love it when that happens? Miles from home, in the middle of a jam-packed retail environment, and the first face you see is an ex-jeweler from your own parish. Small world, wouldn’t want to paint it.
A matter of minutes later, I was digging through the crates in All Ages, picking out gems and ticking off items. A treasure trove of an emporium, the store is rammed to the hilt with punk rock vinyl, CDs, fanzines and t-shirts from all over the globe. Conscious of the time my other half had been taking tea at a nearby cafe, I restricted myself to 45-minutes browsing, and therefore didn’t have time to ask the proprietor to play any stuff for me, but still had time to spend £27.
Mission accomplished, bags bulging, it was time for tired legs to head tube-ward and cross the capital to Marylebone. In less than two hours we’d be home, furiously spinning vinyl, jumping about manically. Here’s a summation of selections captured en route for your delectation and guidance:
Slug Guts – ‘Howlin’ Gang’ – Sacred Bones LP
Slug Guts bust out of Brisbane with a bunch of Antipodean antecedents burning a hole in their leather pants. They crash on your carpet, skin up some early Birthday Party vibes in a bunch of Cramps embossed Rizlas, dress up as Crime, and proceed to roll a fat one that cuts a new genre hole all of its own. They have the walk, the talk, and can quite possibly do both at once. Tremolo arms whirling like Burt Wheedon on brown, baritone lead vocals augmented in places by a couple of female voices that lend an affecting maturity to proceedings. Drenched in reverb, recorded in pretty much one take, this is the band’s second LP, and a massive stride on from the lurching, gurgling oppression of their debut. This sounds like nothing else around at the moment, it has the authority and the uniqueness to stand out from the roster down at Sacred Bones Records, the NYC hipsters’ hipster label of choice. In the best tradition of all essential Australian punk rock, this is happening out of kilter with the rest of the planet, without anyone’s permission whatsoever. Awesome/then some!
B R A I N F≠ – ‘Restraining Order’ & ‘So Dim’ – 7″ 45s
Brain F≠ punk rock their way out of Charlotte, North Carolina, with these two enormously powerful 7″ 45s. All four songs pass in a blur of seconds. Distorted guitars, tub-thumping drums, rolling-thunder bass, barely audible male/female vocal exchanges. Grubbing about in the margins between the grooves are tunes of sorts, buried, interred within a coffin of crust. The energy is where it’s at, here, the vibe is heavy, the effect is heady. Both of these 45s are mandatory purchases for anyone interested in the future of punk rock as a viable art form. Every time you spin these records, another layer is stripped away to reveal a striking beauty lurking beneath the waves of nausea. If Flats are the UK’s most authentic punkers right now, then Brain F have got to be the USA’s answer to global hipster terminal boredom.
Hitler SS / Tampax – E.P. 7″
Fucking amazing repress of the first ever Italian punk rock record – a split 33 EP! Both bands offer dirty, filthy ditties that are never going to last (two from Tampax, three from Hitler SS – and in the case of Hitler SS), that much is true – this was their one and only record! Tampax did progress to soak up their influences and discharge them over several later releases, but collector scum and purists alike rate this as one of the most toxic KBD releases ever, and I’m very happy with my repress. Originals go for what sensible people call silly money.
Authorities – Soundtrack For Trouble – E.P. 7″
This is another gem of an EP from these hardcore pioneers from 1982. ‘I Hate Cops’, ‘RadiationMasturbation’, ‘Achtung’, ‘Shot In The Head’, ‘Between The Thighs’, ‘LSD’ – every one a winner. Apply the tourniquet – six shots in the punk rock arm – six excellent reasons to search out this revolutionary record.
Get Hip Recordings – www.gethip.com
Sauna Youth – Youth EP & Lists EP – 7″
Brighton’s Sauna Youth knock out a very engaging variation on garage punk that sounds Childishly simple, yet devastatingly effective. Two EPs, seven songs, no CDs in sight. All boxes ticked. This lot have that truly independent ethic, a la Flats, nailed to the floor with six inch spikes. Of the two EPs, Youth is the punkier, and Lists the more Garage – there’s a kind of grubby mod thing going on here somewhere too, but I can’t quite put my finger on it!
After a string of limited edition cassette releases and one 7″, Brighton punks Sauna Youth have taken the next step in their recording career and have gone concept: ‘This record concerns itself with sex, death and the frustrations created by the practical necessities of banal life.’
Side A is about desire and detachment. The flip provides contrast to the fleeting highs and lows; the middle ground, the broken grey. The necessity of dull interaction in everyday life.
Brutal Knights – Blown 2 Completion – Deranged Records LP
Brutal Knights return with their best yet – brutal, hardcore, catchy as herpes, funny as fuck on toast. An Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias for a new era? 12 cuts of wittily expressed observational sarcasm delivered with infectious aplomb. The riffs are riotous, the lyrics as stupid dumb as they are sharp, and all elements combine in no time at all to make you turn the record over and start again. Crammed full of life-tips such as the importance of relaxing, taking regular breaks, shit tattoos, not watching your parents fuck, hanging around shopping malls, what a twat Charlie Sheen is . . . all very highbrow, all very entertaining, and all jolly raucous to boot!
Simon Morgan – Eyeplug – May 2011