overground scene

the charity shop experience

I am often asked the question “are you a record collector?” and I always get offended and answer “no, I’m not!”. It may indeed be difficult for people who are not very interested in music to understand the difference between loving music and loving objects. Of course I like records, the physical thing that is, but they merely represent the means. Would you call someone who loves to cook and therefore has a lot of cooking books, a cooking book collector? If you did you’d be missing the point.

Having said that, I must say that I have always preferred records and cassettes over cds or mp3s, to the point where today I most certainly love them. The reason why that happened is partly rational thinking, partly peer pressure and partly conformity to a specific vinyl collector discourse. When I first started listening to music that I choose in the early 90s, instead of just listening to what my parents listened to,  my first purchases where the “Dangerous” album by Michael Jackson and “Both sides” by Phil Collins. The reason I got these two albums on vinyl (actually the Phil Collins album was a gift from my brother, but I had asked for the record) was that they were cheaper than the cd version! The fact that the artwork was bigger and therefore more detailed and impressive also helped (especially with the awesome Michael Jackson layout). After starting listening to heavy metal, I got the “fear of the dark” album by Iron Maiden. Again the reason I choose vinyl was the lower price and the more capturing artwork. The whole technological progress discourse was not sufficiently persuasive in that sense. Then a couple of my friends, Nick and Kostas in specific, made fun of the fact that I got vinyl instead of cd. So after that and for a few months I would buy only cds. The reason why I started buying lps again was my friend Nick again, who had apparently heard from an older friend that cds are not cool and that what has real value are collectable lps that have gone out of print. Soon after that revelation I got the first Helloween album from a friend who had inherited some records from his aunt, and then I bought Xentrix’s “Shattered existence” for around 4 quid.

In any case, for more than 15 years record stores have been my favorite places on earth. I am sure that I have spent about 10% of my life inside record stores. Looking through endless piles of records is a pleasure in itself. The occasional amazing found at an incredibly low price is a worthy reward. Then I moved to Brighton. The first thing I needed was to make sure that there were enough record stores in Brighton and, most importantly, sufficiently specialised and up-to-date record stores. Unfortunately, the first record stores I found (The Resident and Rounder) were mainstream and totally uninformed on the two genres I mostly care for, punk and metal. In relation to similar independent alternative record stores in greece, these two stores were a disgrace… Enter the charity shops!

Charity shops have effectively substituted record stores in Brighton. Near my old neighborhood (Norfolk Square), there were two charity shops and a flee-market where I would go when I was getting bored of studying. Instead of a walk I would go to the charity shops. And new used-records would arrive almost every week! Way better than proper record stores. The fact that I live in a fairly bohemian/alternative part of England also helps. The reason being that people who live in Brighton are more likely to be listening, or better to use to listen, to punk or more “alternative” music.  When these people decide that records are obsolete or when they grow up and decide that they don’t like that type of music any longer, they give them away to charity shops.

Amazing records I have bought from charity shops include Septic Death’s “Now that I have the attention…” (1 pound), Amebix’s “Monolith” (1 pound), Celtic Frost’s “Morbid Tales” and “Emperor’s return” (3 pounds), Nomeansno’s “The worldhood..” (3 pounds), a couple of Siouxsie albums (1 pound) and many more. If I include flee-markets then the list grows exponentially and includes records like the first two Adicts albums (3 pounds each), Sepultura’s “Morbid Visions” (the cogumelo version, 1 pound) and many more! So if you ever find yourself in Brighton and wanna look for cheap records check out places like Oxfam, Shelter and Snooper’s Paradise.

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[…] I have explained in an earlier post, there were several factors that eventually made vinyl our format of choice. One factor was a […]

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