For the first year ever I thought I would brave Record Store Day.
In previous years I have never bothered due to inflated prices and long queues, something that didn’t really appeal to me in the main. But after having a little check through of this year’s releases I decided to myself I was tempted, but I’ll leave it to fate more than anything. By, that I meant if I was awake then maybe I’ll head on over and see what it’s all about.
I’d made an action plan just in case, what records were on my desired list and checked if the store in Marlborough was getting them in. Most of them they were, but the NOFX one had been delayed to them, which was one of those that I was interested in picking up.
I picked Sound Knowledge in Marlborough as for me it seemed more logical than Sound Machine in Reading or the one in Oxford, just because of parking and also potential queues, with Reading and Oxford being university towns. The rise of vinyl addiction amongst the students made me think Marlborough might be a wiser choice.
The night came and when my nearly 9 week old daughter had me awake around 2.30am for a bottle, I laid there, after feeding and settling her, debating what to do. I eventually got up and pottered around, listening to music in the living room thanks to my headphones and eventually around 4am I decided to myself that I was going to just damn well go for it.
Grabbing some crisps and a drink from the cupboard I got myself together and eventually got into the car at 4.15 am, ready to make the 25-30 minute drive along the A4 to Marlborough. I’d checked the stores Facebook page and could see they had someone queueing from around midnight! The drive across was great, only saw 7 other vehicles, so nice and easy, wish all drives could be like that. Arriving in Marlborough, I did a quick swoop of the high street. One market trader was setting up his fruit and veg stall. For those not familiar with Marlborough, it’s a very wide high street, you can park on both sides and in the middle of it, but the parking was only till 8.30am for free, now that could be risky as the shop opened at 8am. I peered up the alleyway and could see a small huddle of people were assembled. Opting for a 5or so minute walk, I found some free parking, grabbed an extra layer from the boot and a pair of gloves and off I went to see what all this Record Store Day lark was about.
I ambled up just a couple of minutes before 5am to find there was just five people ahead of me in the queue. They greeted me with a “morning” and “another crazy person then” and then I had to join in the chatter for what was to be the next three hours of my life. So, let’s run the people in the queue. Up front, we had a lady who had been there since midnight, she’d even brought her own foldable chair and was wrapped up warmly. Next up, you had a couple of chaps that seemed to be together, maybe a father and son team, the father was scribbling through about 40 pages of release details, trying to work out what he was after, he was a chatter. The “son”, kept himself facing front mostly and didn’t get involved. The “father” (I say this, but I am only presuming and really have no basis for this), carried a red plastic bag, you could see a copy of Record Collector through it, guessing he took it seriously. In fact it took him all of five minutes to walk over and start chatting to me about his shop, apparently a stall in an indoor market where he buys and sells records. Handing me a laminated business card, he was done and off back to take his place in the top three of the queue. Next up you had a chap from Swindon as he told me, maybe mid 30’s balding who was wrapped up in a blanket. I soon found out from him he was here to get the Nirvana release mostly. Then in fifth place we had a very chatty chap from Chippenham who had the accent to boot. He was here mostly for a record by The Nuggets. Then they asked me what I was here for, things went quiet and I opted to play my cards closer to my chest. Oh the punk stuff, Judgement Night soundtrack, Anti Flag, I was after NOFX but he said it wasn’t in and Beach Slang if they have it (though this was not for me but for a friend). Opting not to let on my main desirable record for the day was the 30th anniversary, blue vinyl release of “The Final Countdown” by Europe. Just in case one of them was after it too. I was told we all seem to be after different things, so that kept me feeling positive, especially with around 2 hours and 45 minutes to go.
Another 15 or 20 minutes later, punter number 7 rocked up. Another from Chippenham, who it turned out had two daughters who were mid 20’s and one was in the same year/school as one of #5’s kids. (I feel at this point I should refer to people by their queue number, easiest way really). Oh and we all found out #5 had 4 kids, 23 down to 6 years old, two blue and two pink (that’s going by the colours they give to boys/girls traditionally – trust me, trying to find baby girls clothes that aren’t bloody pink is not an easy task! Anyways…)
But #7 was a confusing chap. First of all his daughter was 26, then 24, then 25, the other 23 – she was called Kirsty as he told us. #7 talked a lot, and by a lot, I mean pretty much non stop. I got the feeling this was his yearly adventure and the only time he was allowed to talk to people. He also had one of those habits that you pick up on after a while. His was saying “ya know” all the time through his sentences. I have to admit that it did get to the stage where I ended up counting them and trying not to laugh to myself every time he did it. I know it’s mean but just one of those things you pick up on. I guess it did at least show I was listening to what he has to say. Incidentally he was here for a Wedding Present box set. Which he told us all about maybe 4 or 5 times in the next couple of hours or so. Let me tell you about it too…
So in the 90’s The Wedding Present released a single a month for a whole year to get in the charts every month, end of the year they put them out on two albums (a-sides and b-sides) or something like that. Personally I never really liked The Wedding Present. I had (I maybe still do have) around 3 of these monthly 7” singles, but to be honest the only song they ever did that I actually like was “Brassneck”. #7 thinks the box set is something to do with this.
At this point #5 offer round some chocolate digestives and then we are joined in the queue by numbers 8, 9 and 10. This sounds a bit like “The Cat In The Hat Comes Back”
8 and 9 are a couple, bit older than the rest of the queue, well maybe not Dad # 2 and seem like nice people, she’s chatty, him no so much, just kinda looking over and on. #10 is from Liverpool who we later find out is an Everton fan, he said here’s here for some Flaming Lips action and is also from Swindon (like #4). He’s chatty, we talk football, we talk music and the way, #8, #9 and #10 position themselves, when #11-#13 all arrive together (mid 20’s chaps), they seem excluded from the conversation, it’s like this is the top ten and we’re not going to socialise with you lot.
By this point #7 is in full flow, chatting away (ya know) about the fact he’s going to see Bristol City playing at Brentford later that day, who he goes with. I’ll be honest, he’s a friendly chap, but it’s a little bit of a drag now. I check the clock and we still have ages to go as a few more people join the back of the queue. Numbers that slowly rise during the next hour or so.
#1 is sat on her chair, she’s nodded off! There’s talk of moving her if we all grab a leg of the chair, but she’s a portly lass, so not wise. Maybe she’ll stay asleep and we’ll all just walk past her at 8am when the store opens…
Then from the front of the queue comes a large “prrrrrrp!”. Mid conversation between #5 thru #10, myself included. Of course there’s some giggles as #5 goes “ooops more tea vicar!” and the giggles are with us. Looking down the line, about #18 (a hipster looking kid) who has his face covered by something and of course the comments about smell and how it’s all the way down there are offered up. And I’ll be honest I think it was Dad (#2) who let the offensive ripper happen. It did smell but at least it made for a little laugh at the time.
The queue slowly builds up, we’re all still chatting and it gets to around 7.30am when a chap and kid (maybe around 8) come wandering down the queue and hand the lady at the front a Costa. The bloke reminds me of Rick Wakeman. The problem is that he’s hanging around and we can hear #1 telling the kid to stay out of the way when the doors open. The lady with us (#8) isn’t happy, moaning that he had better not get to go in as he wasn’t waiting all night. But, what can you realistically do? Yes, I see it as a little out of order, but I also can’t see that it’s worth getting stressed over.
10 to 8 comes, the shop is about to open, we’re all excited and you can see what must be around 60-70 people in the queue now. Looking down the line and thinking to myself that if I’d have come later I’d definitely have been unable to get anything that I had my eye on.
The shops about to open, there’s about to be a rush. Yes #1’s husband is in the queue now and in second behind her, which means the rest of us get pushed down a spot. Top ten only get to go in for now and that means #10 (Everton fan) is now waiting at the door as he’s now #11! But, I’m in, I’m up the stairs and the frenzied grabbing has begun!
I know where I’m headed and I grab 1 of the 2 Europe records that they have available. It’s blue vinyl too, which was the main item I wanted.
I then ask one of the chaps up there (who was very friendly) about The Judgement Night soundtrack and he duly produces it from the rack for me, good stuff. I then flick a few more amazed that the price of a 7” single is around £11. But today we’re suckers and we’re paying it. I grabbed the Anti Flag live acoustic LP and those three is more than enough for me. I see others with armfuls, they must have been spending hundreds on vinyl today. I hope they’re buying it for themselves and not to flip on eBay and rip people off. In fact since the day, just two days later I saw the Europe one sell for over £140!!! Mental!! I am half tempted ya know, but not enough to actually part with it. I waited and wanted this record, it’s mine!
Walking out, you can see the queue is still just as big, the store are operating a one out, one in system. Near the back I spot my friends parents and we have a quick chat, they were hoping to pick up the Beach Slang record for him, sadly I had already asked and they didn’t get any of them in the store.
I was back at the car around 8.20am, so I could have utilised the free parking in the high street. I had three new records and a much lighter wallet. But, I was happy at least.
Would I bother with Record Store Day again? You know what right now I’m not sure I would. The prices are very steep indeed, but it was something I did want to experience to see what it was like, so from that aspect I am really glad that I made the effort. Home by 9am with hot food from the local burger van for breakfast it was time to open my goodies and see what they look like.
First up, the main event for me, the Europe 12”. Says limited to 1000 copies only, it is indeed blue vinyl, but its sparkly with glitter in and looks bloody amazing!
Info on this release can be found on Discogs here: https://www.discogs.com/Europe-The-Final-Countdown-30th-Anniversary-Edition/release/8396403
Next up was the Anti Flag record, a live acoustic set and it came on clear vinyl. Nine tracks, limited to 2000 copies, thanks very much.
And The Judgment Night soundtrack. Always loved this album, mixing in rock/grunge bands and rappers to some devasting effects. The likes of Dinosaur Jr, House Of Pain, Teengae Fanclub, Slayer, Onyx and more. It’s an amazing album. Limited to 2000 copies, 1700 on red vinyl and 300 on red/black mixed vinyl that had been randomly inserted. I got the standard red issue.
Check this one out here: https://www.discogs.com/Anti-Flag-Live-Acoustic-At-11th-Street-Records/release/8388738
All in all a successful morning for record shopping and I bet the amount spent in store that day is enough to keep them open for a good six months.