Vinyl Revival Interview With Author Graham Jones

vinyl revivalTo 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.

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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.Strange Requests and Comic Tales From Record Shops

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.

https://grahamjonesvinylrevival.blogspot.com/

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.

 https://www.facebook.com/vinylrevival1

https://www.thevinylrevivalfilm.com/

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

The Beatles

David Bowie

Then punk came along

Buzzcocks

Joy Division – first watched them supporting The Buzzcocks. So many bands I enjoyed during then.

The Stranglers

The Clash

The Smiths

Julian Cope

The Waterboys

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.

The Vinyl Revival Film

The Vinyl Revival from Blue Hippo Media on Vimeo.

Watch on Vimeo

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

Vinyl Revival Podcast on Soundcloud

Vinal Revival on Facebook

39 Years of Faith in The Cure and RSD2020

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I remember the first time I heard the music of the new Cure record, Faith, on the college radio station. It was another night of me staying up late to catch the beginning of a student-run set and getting new TDK 90 and longer cassette tapes ready. It was damned difficult for a 16-year-old to find the great imports coming out of the UK. And if you did, it wasn’t the one you had been looking for. Or because it was so costly, as, in a Japanese Kimono sleeve, you wanted to make damn sure you liked as much on the album as possible before you lay down that kind of cash. So most of my early favs were of course taken off the radio. Lucky for me, some of the kids spinning would play the whole record and tell you the tracks off each side so you could edit. It was a way to survive until you could get a clean factory copy. When I heard “Primary” for the first time, it was all I could do to not start dancing on the bed. Frowned upon at 1 am in the morning. Still, it would take a few years before I got a good copy of Faith on CD.

So it was when Faith was released by The Cure on 14 April 1981. Many of us “alternative” kids had another step into the new genre of Gothic music that was evolving out of Post-Punk.  It was a great follow up to their 1980 release 17 Seconds and tour. It was filled with more moody chords and lyrics in the same vein, but as discordant as the mood of the band. The recording took place at Morgan Studios in September of 1980, without Matthieu Hartley, who left under that creative differences mist.  The recording started at the studios, but the remaining members of The Cure, Smith, Gallup, and Tolhurst, with Former Member Porl Thompson back for cover design, would try several studios after not getting the sound right, including Abbey Road. It was a turbulent time of transition for the band. Did you know that there was a soundtrack to a short film involved? “Carnage Visors” only made it to an extended cassette version and would finally turn up on a 2005 reissue with the single only “Charlotte Sometimes”.

So this record in its 39th year this week will probably get a 40th-anniversary reboot. But I’m happy to have the original track lineup on 180 vinyl. If you’re feeling a little dystopic in these trying times try a little Faith for some classic The Cure dirge. It will make you melt and dance at the same time. Perfect for your home COVID dance club.

Will COVID-19 kill the Independent Record Shops?

Not if we can help it. Americans get their stimulus checks rolled out this week. We know it’s hard, as many are laughing at how little it will cover to pay rent and bills. But if you can spare a few dollars, try to find a local record shop that is doing curbside. Here in Portland, it’s Music Millenium and a few other smaller shops. Others have had to close up. Call up with your list of wants, help keep someone employed in this insanity.

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Record Store Day 2020 Update

You’ve probably heard by now that RSD has been moved to June 20, 2020, due to the COVID-19 shut-downs around the world. While it looks like this terrible virus and the country may be shut down through mid- June, keep an eye out on their website. Many artists have decided to go ahead and sell the RSD releases via their own sites. Here’s to a socially distanced line, that will go for blocks. As if anything else couldn’t get more muddled this year.

Record Store Day New Date

How Record Stores are Getting Vinyl To You During the Pandemic

‘A grinding halt’: Record stores struggle to stay afloat amid coronavirus crisis

Support your vinyl shops! Check and see if they are taking phone orders and either doing curbside or shipping. Keep small businesses alive!

RSD Black Friday Finds 2018

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Press The Eject and Give Me The Tape on Vinyl

It was 4:30 am and I could feel a sore throat coming on. Of course, I have to go stand in line. It’s raining. Its Record Store Day: Black Friday. Because one day a year going nuts on RSD wasn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the folks at RSD got together and decided what better way to save an industry, make an unofficial holiday out of it. It’s great because you have several bands releasing or rereleasing classics and improved versions of an album. And now its on Black Friday as well.

I was on the hunt for Press The Eject and Hand Me the Tape by Bauhaus. This live record had only been available as a free second LP with the Limited Edition of their 1982 release “The Sky’s Gone Out”. That was many years ago. Later it was released as a single album. It also had not been officially released in the US until now. For the 40th anniversary colored vinyl releases, a limited edition colored vinyl was available. I was lucky, I got one of the few copies that had showed up. I also picked up Bauhaus Bela Sessions. I was very tired and feeling ill, and slowly weaving back out of the store when at the end, I spied a classic from my childhood: Talking Heads “Remain In Light album. And it had a limited edition, 5500 run on ruby red release.

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I first listened to this record when I was in high school. My art teacher had been telling us to listen to Talking Heads, we didn’t get it. He was obsessed about it. It was the beginning of the 80s and I had been just discovering punk and other post-punk bands on late night college radio a few years before. He played the record for us and some others daily. It was edgy, experimental sounds, and lyrics that touched me. I became hooked on it. When I saw the record in the store, all the memories came flooding back, the art room, stinking paint, air hoses that leaked from the airbrushes, and talking music with other students and the art teacher. It’s one of the only real memories I have of those insane years called high school. It’s what was so great about art class. You could listen to music and make a creative mess and sing and dance. So, yes, even though it was a stretch for cash, I picked it up. It was also nice playing a copy without all the scratches and clay dust covered grooves. I guess sometimes the adult comes out and wants the clean vinyl. But the memory of playing this and hearing it again on red vinyl no less, was just priceless.