After catching Primal Scream’s new evergreen/phoenix from the ashes/you’re never too old to tackle garage-rock type song at various times over the past few weeks on the old (brand spanking new and digital) radio it leaves me safe in the knowledge that nostalgia can be a curse on the majority.
Most of us are victims of this curse yet we go about our daily activities like the rest of the world. The only problem is that painful crank in our necks from constantly looking over our shoulder at where we once stood while asking our friends do you remember the theme tune to Tetris and can you remember that episode of quantum leap where he leaps into the body of a space bound chimp… oh boy! Just me then… Yes a painful neck indeed and is it all worth it?
Most bands that come out of retirement never truly sound right do they? Or bands that just hang around well passed their sell by date regurgitating the same sound on their ‘new’ songs when somebody should put them out of their/our misery shouldn’t they? I’m pointing at you Bobby Gillespie. I ask these questions as the nostalgia-frenzied ‘Record Store Day’ is here again, an annual event on everyone’s calendar I’m sure. As a previous 7inch record vinyl collector (sold them on ebay) I admit with a heavy heart and possibly a shock to some people that I am against this day. But before you encase me in a giant wickerman and burn me for my sin I ask you to look upon a greater evil.
Record Store day is a day of high profit for the retailer and supplier and low gain for the chap who looks just like Morrissey and moves just like Morrissey but on closer inspection he is not Morrissey, he just got dressed up for the big day to stand at the back of the long queue at a record shop which was empty the day before but never held that previously unattainable new song by Blur until today! Yes that song, you know the one? The so called ‘new one’, the one that they never released as a single or contemplated placing on an album, not even the back end of an album as a secret song. Surely then at least it must have been a re-mastered B-side classic…No.
This day is nothing more than a way to drag out the never ending but very weak survival of a dying technology, one that we swear sounds better than cd’s and mp3’s as it just has ‘that sound to it’. I don’t hate vinyl or record shops, far from it as I have enjoyed both for years ever since working in a record shop as a teenager. It’s a satisfying experience to rummage around a record shop and locate the treasure you set out to find whilst stumbling upon some other music with glorious artwork that you didn’t know existed.
The trouble is this day is around to keep business in business for one day a year and while most of us are pro supporters of the little man and his little shop it is not a day for him. It is for the music giants out there to scrape those last pennies from the bottom of the pocket of your ripped and multiple hole filled jeans. Where they charge you an obscene amount of money for a special edition of something that the artist wouldn’t choose to endorse on any other day.
Let’s not be silly to go as far as to say that nostalgia itself should be illegal, only operating in the darkest corners of society were the black market is the only place you can pick up a copy of CaddyShack, William Shatner‘s debut album or at a stretch The Garbage Pail Kids movie (look it up, but never watch it). So I say no to banning nostalgia as it would be to ban looking back on who we have become, the very thing that has shaped us to be the person we are (whether we like that person or not) but I do believe that record store day would have as much point as having a day off every year to mark the recent passing of a certain beloved Prime Minister (sore point to most) but I digress.
All I mean to say is this day does keep small record shops heads above water for now but the number of shopscontinue to sink each year whilst allowing the music industry to charge astronomic amounts for music that was never planned to see the light of day. Of course there are new bands involved I’m sure but it is clearly not the best way to promote your debut album or latest single on an out of date technology in around 220 independent stores nationwide and this number may be less by the time you read this. One day a year is not a solid business plan in anyone’s eyes and people have voted with their feet and cash for the other 364 days available to them so it’s only delaying the inevitable isn’t it?
I am not against promoting music, everybody should share who they like and what they know of it. I just believe that one day a year will not help the situation of a dying high street and music’s place on it. The current model clearly doesn’t fit in anymore and we all know how much the internet has changed society so we should either let sleeping dogs lie or teach the old dogs some new tricks.
I love music and I admit I am a nostalgist, I like my past and I like the past of others but I can agree on only one thing with Primal Scream and that’s their new song title: ‘Its Alright, Its Ok’. Yes it is alright and yes it is ok but it’s just not ‘Rocks’ and it’s a little pointless isn’t it Mr Gillespie? I am sure I’ll see you all at the local record store buying your copy.
David Gouldson is 28 years old and lives in Hull. He is an argumentative sod and he supports Manchester United. He knows a lot about Bob Dylan and is a skilled gambler. He used to be in a band who did a decent cover of Secret Agent Man by Blues Traveller. He and Mr Miles have been known to argue bitterly for hours on the issue of England’s greatest ever left-back.