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>10 Rules for the perfect record shop

18 January, 2010 2 comments

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  1. The shop should only sell music. No DVDs, books or video games. 
  2. Discs should be easily browseable, sorted by artist and by genre. 
  3. The proprietor(s) should be extremely knowledgeable about the most obscure corners of the music spectrum and be prepared to flaunt this knowledge at any opportunity. Mild sarcasm is allowed if a customer’s desired purchase falls below their very high standards. 
  4. Vinyl (preferably second-hand) should be given as much floor space as CDs. 
  5. Lighting should be low-key, if not downright dark. Natural light is to be discouraged. 
  6. Music should be playing at all times. Such music must not, at any time, reflect current popular, or even critical, acclaim. Any enquiries of the proprietor as to what is actually playing at any given time may be greeted with raised eyebrows and snorts of derision. 
  7. On each visit, you should be able to search the racks of your favourite artist(s) and find items you did not know existed. 
  8. You should be allowed to browse at your leisure – for hours at a time – without interruption. ON NO ACCOUNT should the proprietor or any other member of staff ask if they can help you find what you are looking for. 
  9. The walls should be papered with concert posters, obscure vinyl picture sleeves and ticket stubs. No original wall space should be visible. 
  10. The faint smell of patchouli should linger on the air.
Categories: record shops, The Word

>What would you tell your sixteen year old self?

28 November, 2009 Leave a comment

>Double post today but I thought you should all see this thread on the Word website, which is funny, moving and (for our younger readers) hugely instructional as well!

My response is somewhere about halfway down…

Categories: The Word

>Day 211: What happened there?

12 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Randy Newman – Lonely at the Top:  The Best of Randy Newman

So where did Sunday go?  It’s now Monday, and I can’t remember a single constructive thing I did on yesterday.  Must have achieved something, surely?  No?

I guess we all have days like that occasionally.  And I bet they are usually Sundays, too.

But you must have done something with the day, Paul – it can’t have been completely empty?

Well, no, it wasn’t.  I read for a while – the music mags have been piling up for a few days and I finally got round to finishing this month’s Word, the one with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips on the cover.  Now there’sa Marmite band if ever there was one – those who love the group really evangelicise them, whilst those who hate the group do so with a passion.  There seems to be very little middle ground, as evidenced by a big debate on the Word blog this week.

Me?  Not my cup of tea at all I’m afraid.  I like the idea of the Flaming Lips, but I can’t get past Wayne Coyne’s terrible singing voice.  Thin, reedy, out of tune more often than in – no redeeming features at all, I’m afraid.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do like singers who can’t sing – I give you Bernard Sumner, Mark E Smith, Neil Young, Ian Dury, Joe Strummer for starters – but it just doesn’t work with the Flaming Lips, whose material is crying out for a singer who can actually sing.

I also dabbled with Skype as well, and – I think – got it working reasonably well on computer and netbook (although I’m struggling with the microphone levels on the netbook) – might come in handy if I’m working away for a stretch.

Speaking of which, the other important thing I did was to get myself prepared for the long drive down to Staines, to scope out the contract work that *might* come my way shortly.  It would definitely help, but I need to be sure that I’m not cutting my nose of to spite my face from an insurance perspective, and in the context of any permanent work (are you listening, Preston?) that might come my way.

More on Staines tomorrow!

Oh, and we ate, of course.  Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast for lunch, and Aussie steak combos for tea.  Very nice too, but not hugely complicated – and I’m sure you’ve had the recipes before too.

So all in all, not that unproductive a day really I suppose.

Some Randy Newman on the soundtrack as I type.  Randy’s another one with possibly not the strongest voice around, but his loose, sardonic delivery fits his material perfectly.  Randy’s one of the greats – hugely underrated, very intelligent – and if anyone tells you that Americans don’t get irony, point them in the direction of Randy’s material.

Lonely at the Top is as good an introduction to Newman’s work as you could ask for – definitely a good leaping off point for anyone wishing to explore further.

Here’s ‘Political Science’ – as relevant to American foreign policy today as it was in 1972?  You decide…

>Day 143: Genius – it’s official!

6 August, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (remixed)

So yes, it’s official – I am a genius! It must be so, because someone said so!

Well ok, no-one actually said ‘Paul Waring is a genius’ – what they said was that something I’d written on another blog was ‘genius’. Which is almost the same thing.

What are you talking about, Paul? Will you please get to the point?

Ok then. Regular readers will know of my contributions to The Word – magazine, website, podcast. Not in any remuneratory capacity, I hasten to add – there is a blog on their website that I contribute to, and occasionally those contributions get transferred by the editorial team to the magazine (via the letters page) or, as in this case, get a mention on the podcast.

The blog had had a very entertaining thread relating to ‘things that happen in The Beano that you never see in real life’ it’s here, if you want to read the whole thread. My contribution, describing how someone bitten on the toe by a crab would be depicted in the comic, appears somewhere in the middle of the thread. And it got read out in the following week’s podcast (which you can listen to in its entirety below) by Andrew Collins, music journalist, broadcaster and fellow blogger.

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=8036646-aeb

Andrew, clearly a man of taste and discernment, chose to describe my post as ‘genius’, bless him. You should really listen to the whole podcast, but my moment of glory commences at around the 32:50 mark if you wish to skip right there!

Anyway, enough with the self-congratulation already! Did you do anything constructive today, Paul? Well I tidied the garden up, got the lawnmower out and applied the (not so) green fingers to the soil. Happily, our lawn (which has suffered for years from squirrel/badger assaults and shade from surrounding vegetation) seems to have flourished this summer – largely due, I think, to our neighbours cutting down a tree that blocked out a lot of light rather than anything I’ve done. Although I have re-seeded a few patches and applied the ‘Weed and Feed’ liberally on occasion.

Other than that, it was a bit of a quiet one, really. Quiet on the job front as well – no news from the current ‘live’ opportunities although as always these things move slower than you would like them to.

We’ve had Bloc Party on the soundtrack before, I think, but no reason not to have them again. Today’s album is a complete remix of their debut album and includes some tasty versions of their early songs. Not something I listen to on a regular basis, but it’s a nice touch from the group and sets them ever so slightly apart from their fellow indie contemporaries. It harks back to the days when reggae albums were often accompanied by ‘dub’ versions of the album, which I always enjoyed, often preferring the dub versions to the originals!

Here’s the band performing ‘Banquet’ from their debut. Lots of spiky guitars and tension!

>Day 60: Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive

14 May, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Various Artists – L.A. Confidential Soundtrack

The title of today’s blog is one of the songs on today’s soundtrack album, itself a soundtrack to one of my favourite films, L.A. Confidential. Johnny Mercer’s song is as good a philosophy as any at the moment – accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative – yep, that’s what I’m trying to do, Johnny!

And a bit of positive news as well – my meeting on Monday looks like it’s going to result in me getting in front of someone who may be able to help me out on the job front. Don’t want to say too much at the moment, but if this comes off, it would be possibly the perfect solution to my current woes. But very, very tentative at the moment and I’m not going to get my hopes too high – or say too much – until there’s something more tangible to report. Fingers crossed anyway and apologies for being cryptic!

Following on from yesterday’s post, the Spelt loaf is indeed very tasty, went down very well at lunchtime with some mayonnaise and cold meats. I assume the Honey & Sunflower loaf was also up to scratch, as half of it seems to have disappeared already….

I also finished Human Traces, which came together very nicely in the end. A very powerful last few chapters as well, set during and after First World War, as the main characters aged and reconciled themselves to their life and achievements. There was one particularly powerful passage towards the end that actually brought me to the brink of tears – that’s powerful writing indeed.

Also read this month’s edition of Word magazine, which comes with a startling cover photo that I’m not sure will have the magazine flying off the shelves in WH Smiths this month. The nation’s favourite car insurance salesman is there in all his wrinkly glory! Good article though…

I saw Iggy and the Stooges at Glastonbury two years ago, when he instigated a massive stage invasion that he dealt with cleverly with a lot of charm – only to nearly break his neck slipping on the tons of mud that were now all over the stage! Great fun! I also saw him back in the ’70s, with ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock on bass. “Little Iggy” nearly made an appearance that day, as I recall, although he did manage to keep the ‘mouse in the house’ on that occasion.

I think you know what I’m talking about here. Ahem.

I didn’t get off to a good start with L.A. Confidential – the first time I watched it, was on a transatlantic flight on a video screen that must have been about two inches across. Suffice to say the plot was a little bit lost on me – I managed to confuse Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey to the extent I thought they were one and the same – so was totally bemused when Russell Crowe’s character was still alive and kicking after Kevin Spacey had been shot dead…

Eventually I saw the film on a decent sized screen and I loved it – some great performances from a great cast, wonderful period detail and a fantastic soundtrack. Chet Baker, Dino, Johnny Mercer – what’s not to like? Sucker for a bit of croonin‘, me.

>Day 25: When is a Bank Holiday not a Bank Holiday?

9 April, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Tom Waits – Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards

When you’re not working! Very strange feeling going into a holiday weekend, as the ‘benefit’ of a couple of extra days off doesn’t really apply at the moment. Still, be nice to have Mrs W around the house for a few days (so long as she doesn’t get under my feet!) and Son No. 1 is coming up to stay for a few days at the end of the holiday as well, which will be good.

Big Shop for the bank holiday this morning, out early to avoid the rush. Got everything we needed for the weekend, and the promised fish pie will be duly delivered on Good Friday (got to have fish on Good Friday!) and recipe will follow – if it’s any good…. Mexican and crappy film tonight though I think. I suspect a lasagne will also be prepared over the holiday as well.

Grasped the nettle today, and parcelled up our stocks of cat food and cat litter for delivery to the cat shelter that we got Katy Teabag from. It’s a shame to be removing all trace of her from the house, but the food can be put to good use by the sanctuary, looking after all the other cats who have been rescued in the same way as Katy. The sanctuary is called Paws Inn and their website can be found here. Teresa, the lady who runs the sanctuary from her own home, is totally reliant on donations to support her work – otherwise everything is funded from her on (limited) resources. You will note that there is a Paypal page on the website (here) where donations can be made, if you are of a mind – having seen what good and selfless work Teresa does for her animals, it is money well spent, I promise you.

Although not particularly of a religious bent, I was moved to contribute to a thread on the Word website today, looking for our favourite religious songs (given that Easter is upon us). So I added one of my favourite songs of all time (secular or religious) to the thread – Belle, by Al Green. This was recorded not long after Al ‘got’ religion and was trying to put aside Earthly temptations – in this case, the ‘Belle’ of the title….”It’s you that I want, but it’s Him that I need…”.

Anyway, it’s beautiful stuff, whoever or whatever your God.

The Word is, without doubt, my monthly reading material of choice and a magazine that comes with many ‘added extras’ – a vibrant and vocal community contributing to its website and a weekly podcast adding to, and building upon, the magazine itself. It helps that I fall slap bang into the middle of the Word demographic – ie borderline obsessive music fan fast approaching middle age but refusing to go there gently, with an unhealthy knowledge of the minutiae of rock music from the late ’50s onwards. Anyway, I commend the magazine, the podcast and the website to you all. Hours of harmless fun debating the merit of Beatles album remasters and such – all to be found here.

For the second day in a row, I received a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letter from a job application. Not too disappointed, as it would have involved quite a hike from home, but it’s a bit disconcerting that – despite a good CV and what I thought was a compelling case – I don’t even merit shortlisting for interview. However, as one door closes, another door potentially opens – an agency called today with another potential job closer to home and in line with my experience and skills. Again, early days, but good that people are still thinking of me and that there are at least one or two opportunities out there.

Despite the huge temptation, I am going to make no comment on Big Red’s defeat at the hands of Chelsea last night. Naturally I didn’t watch the game – I know for a fact that if I had the result would have been completely different – and only became aware of the result this morning, when I was party to a bit of premature gloating from the ManYoo camp going backwards and forwards by email. I use the word ‘premature’ advisedly – at present the tie is only at half time so there is plenty of time yet for the pact with the Devil to reassert itself.

Of more interest at the moment is ManYoo’s apparent desire to self-destruct – their ongoing difficulties in the Champions League and the Premiership do give me the faintest hope that their focus will be elsewhere going into the semi-final next weekend. Pushing our chances of getting the FA Cup final from ‘none’ to ‘slim’ in the process! Semi final ticket is now happily sorted so there will be at least one Grand Day Out at Wembley this year, which I am determined to make the most of – whatever the result!

Tom Waits on the soundtrack today – the ‘Orphans’ collection is a bit of a sweep-up of various bits and pieces from his long and varied career, loosely themed across three CDs. Currently listening to the ‘Brawlers’ CD which shows off Waits’ more muscular style. My preference is for Tom Waits the barroom balladeer, alone at the piano save for a pack of Camels and a quart of bourbon, lamenting the loss of a good woman and his lot in life.

Here he is on the Whistle Test back in 1977, singing ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’.