Keeping record

Keeping record

In March 1996 I heard my favourite album of all time at my best mate's house.

Ocean Colour Scene's Moseley Shoals had just come out and my pal had bought it, hit play on the CD player and then answered the front door to me.
I still remember the sound of it coming through the huge speakers and stacked separates hi-fi system his dad had put in the lounge, mainly to blast Robert Palmer on Sunday mornings.
It was 20 years ago but I can remember the colour of the sofa, the carpet and the layout of the room. 
And I can remember going straight to Our Price from his house and picking up my own copy, then rushing home to spin it on my own stereo while leafing through the album notes and testing my dad's patience with how loud I could push it.
Now every time I hear the opening bars to The Riverboat Song I can recall that memory in full technicolor.

Music, just like a smell, can transport you back to another place and time and I've been thinking about how to use the phenomenon. 
Here's the plan: I'm going to buy a record everywhere I go. 
I mean a record too.

This year my girlfriend and I were in Florence and sat down outside Move On, a bar opposite the terra-cotta tiled cathedral.
Above it is a record store and after we'd polished off our beer, we had a mooch round.
Iron Maiden's Book of Souls had not long come out and I should have bought the thing then and there.
I didn't because it was a little more expensive than I knew I could get it back home.
But I should have just taken the hit because when I listened to it now, I know I'd remember that bar and the view of the cathedral facade more clearly.
Spotify just doesn't have the same effect.


A few years back we were in Barcelona and as Alice was working I had some spare time on my hands.
She'd bought me my record player not long before and I had an idea I might like to collect all of Bob Dylan's albums on vinyl.
I did a little Google search and headed off to Wah Wah Records.
Although I didn't find the LP I was after I did discover an edgy little part of Barcelona.
Just a 15-minute walk off Las Ramblas, it's daubed with graffiti and populated by cool local kids.
Again, I should have bought something just for the occasional audio memory cue to take me back to one of my favourite cities.

This experience, by the way, is why it has to be vinyl.
I could have found that Dylan album on CD with little bother bang in the heart of tourist country but proper record stores, the ones that sell LPs, can't afford the rates there.
They have to set up shop away from the crowds, in areas where only the locals go.
And as we all know, off the beaten track is where a city hides its gems.