To start off my series of social media sites and blogs that I follow and highly recommend, I asked a few contacts on Twitter to tell me about their adventures in music and record store worship over the years. I felt that during this time of lockin music blaring and worship we could all use even more entertainment to help us get through. Please check out their films, blogs, and all other goodies listed.
My first kind victim is Graham Jones, author of The Vinyl Revival And The Shops That Made it Happen, a documentary based on the book The Vinyl Revival. He’s created two other fun books, The Last Shop Standing and Strange Requests and Comic Tales from Record Shops. He has a great presence on Twitter, where he shares some of his tales, and a podcast. Actually, he’s got a lot going on.
So how did the “I gotta blog/write book about record shops!” come about?
Back in 2009, I had been working as a record company sales rep for 25 years and so many of the shops I was visiting were closing. Not only were they losing their business but some of their homes. It was a very depressing time for record shops. In the UK 540 had closed in just 4 years. Nobody seemed to be noticing the record shops vanishing from our High Street, so I decided to do something about it and write a book. My Auntie who was in her 80’s told me when she was a child the High Street had coin shops, stamp shops, and candlestick makers yet nobody talks about them anymore. I wanted to document the stories of record shops before they all closed. I toured the UK and interviewed 50 record shops who I thought would be amongst the ‘Last Shops Standing’.
How did you first get the push that writing and blogging just weren’t enough, it had to be a documentary?
Much to my surprise, the book did well, it seemed to strike a chord with music fans. It also brought an amazingly lot of publicity for record shops. Many had features in their local paper, many did radio and TV interviews thanks to the book. I was approached by a film company to turn the book in to a film which again I knew would bring lots of publicity for the shops. The film company struggled to get the film financed so we ended up going down the crowdfunding route. The money was raised by music fans. We were grateful to the artist Richard Hawley who organized a fundraising evening for the film. Along with a soundman, a cameraman, the producer Pip Piper and myself piled into a car and drove around the UK interviewing musicians in their favourite record shops. The film became the Official Film of Record Store Day 2012 and was screened in over 90 venues across the world on the day.
What are some future projects you may be developing?
My third book ‘The Vinyl Revival and the Shops That Made it Happen’ was also turned in to a film. It features Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and Phil Selway of Radiohead and updates the situation. It had a cinema release at the end of 2019 and came out on DVD last month. Bad timing as all the shops were shut. It is also available on Vimeo.
I have just started a Podcast telling funny stories from the crazy world of record retailing. You can listen on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/5k0WMLkk9sjtxs5N8hR54l
What has been your greatest challenge in keeping your books/blog/FB/Zine/Twitter full of great content?
It is not difficult; the world of record shops is ever-changing. Being known as the man who has visited more record shops than any other human plus the three books and two films have made me a magnet for record shop tales. Most days I will get an email from a record shop somewhere on the globe with a funny tale of what has happened in their shop.
Along with meeting some great record shop owners and, have you met any of your music heroes as a result of your publishing?
Interviewing Paul Weller, Norman Cook, Richard Hawley and most of all Johnnie Marr was a thrill. Johnnie Marr spent ages with us and was full of very funny anecdotes. It is always lovely when somebody you admired turns out to be even nicer than you could have hoped. I also spent an enjoyable weekend in the company of Andy McClusky of the band OMD in Oslo. We were both talking at a music festival and we were both from the same area of the UK. Andy was a big record shop fan, so we had a lot in common.
Any great followers you were astounded checked you out? Bought your Book? Wanted to be in your Doco?
We were coming to the end of filming “Last Shop Standing” when we received a message that Paul Weller had asked if he could contribute. We were thrilled to have him. Record shops always tell me when a famous musician has bought the book and various people in the music industry mention it too. I have had messages that the likes of Elton John, Roger Taylor of Queen, Colin Blunstone of the Zombies had copies. Biggest thrill was meeting Johnnie Marr and his first words were ‘Loved the book’. I could have retired then.
Anything you can tell us about your daily routine to stay sane in our current global lockdown? How have your music habits been affected?
I am furloughed from my job as it involves traveling around the country selling to record shops. As they are all closed, I have no work. It had given me the chance to listen to lots of records I have not heard in ages. I also started the podcast and have been writing a few things on my record shop blog.
What blogs/Zines/Books/Documentaries are you obsessed with right now?
I have been reading a lot of late. Just finished biographies of Robert Johnson, The Go – Between and my favourite was Viv Albertine of The Slits.
Where can people discover your media or publications?
I hate to say it but unless you are in the UK were my books and DVDs are available in record and book shops, Amazon is your best bet. All the books are available on Kindle.
Check out on Twitter @revival_vinyl
Message for the world at large right now?
Keep calm and carry on listening to records. Music is here to make the bad times better and the good times even better.
The Writer as a Consumer
The first record bought?
‘Ball Park Incident’, a single by the band Wizzard. First LP Sparks – Kymono in my House
How did you listen to new music when you were young?
My early memories of my Dad who was a big Beatles fan and used to play them on his record player. Before I bought my own I utilised his. On the radio I listened to DJ’S John Peel and Johnnie Walker who introduced me to new bands. I still get excited today when I hear something new that is brilliant
First gig you went to. Who were you with and what did you wear?
I went with some schoolmates to see the now-disgraced Gary Glitter at Liverpool Empire. These were pre-punk days so I am sure I would have been wearing jeans
Favorite bands or artists in your youth?
Mott the Hoople – though I do remember going in to a record shop with my Mum and her saying ‘He wants a Dr Hoople poster”.
After that, Queen – first time I watched them it cost me 75p
Then punk came along
Joy Division – first watched them supporting The Buzzcocks. So many bands I enjoyed during then.
The Saw Doctors
Of Monsters and Men
First Aid Kit
What is your favorite new artist/s?
Jade Bird – Best female singer-songwriter I have ever seen. Dynamic live and superb lyrics. The first album came in the charts at number 10. I would expect her to make a big breakthrough with the next.
What Twitter or other social media accounts are you hooked on lately?
#loverecordshops – promoting record shops and helping organise 20 June as a day full of exclusive vinyl releases.
Favorite music venues?
Barrowlands Glasgow were I watched the Saw Doctors and Waterboys play together on New Year’s Eve. The last number featured a pipe band and as I left the venue fireworks lit up the sky – magical.
Eric’s in Liverpool where I watched so many punk bands.
DVD Out of Print Documentary The Last Shop Standing
Books:The Vinyl Revival And The Shops That Made it Happen, The Last Shop Standing, Strange Requests and Comic Tales from Record Shops