It was Record Store Day (RSD) on Saturday and, because of COVID 19, it was a streamlined, more clinical affair. It was a chance for me to mingle with the great unwashed masses and try and get my hands on some rare vinyl.
For those of you unfamiliar with RSD, the official description is "...the one day of the year when over 200 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the event and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion." Except for this year, because of Wuhan Flu, there will be three days.
81 Renshaw has been my go-to supplier of all things limited edition/never before on record/coloured vinyl for the last couple of years. A combination of really friendly staff and, more importantly, a massive selection of RSD releases make it a bit of a no brainer, to be honest.
The shop is always busy for RSD with hardcore vinyl-heads getting down early to get first pick at the goodies within. This year, with the restrictions in place, the shop explained that there would be fewer people in the store so I decided to get down as early as was decent. Most years we get to the shop for around 7 and there are normally about 20 hardy souls in front of us, this year I got up at 5 AM and was outside for just before 6 and there was still 20 in the queue before me! WTAF?!
I was a little disheartened when I worked out that, despite the doors opening at 8, I wouldn't get into the shop until about 9 because of the number of people ahead of me, my mood improved significantly when a guy turned the corner at 07:45 and gave a loud "Oh fer fuxake" when he saw the size of the rest of the queue. He said he had got there 15 minutes before opening "to get a good speck", it turned out this was his first RSD!!!
After three hours I made it into the shop, gave my details for Track & Trace, donned my facemask, sanitised my hands and immediately joined another queue. At least I was inside and out of the cold morning air, I guess. Finally, I was in amongst the sweet, sweet vinyl, time to whip out my list and start buying.
Almost immediately I was disappointed. It seems the 20 people in front had hoovered up most of the good stuff I was after. Duran Duran Live on neon pink vinyl? Gone! Giorgio Moroder feat. Kylie? Gone! Thelonious Monk? Gone!
It wasn't all bad though, I managed to get my sweaty digits on I Want 2 B U 7" by The The, Caught By The Fuzz 10" by Supergrass, Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 7" by various indie artists, Licence To Ska 7" boxset (James Bond themes by Jamaican artists), Kronikles by The Kinks on limited edition red vinyl and Charlie Parker Live on limited-edition midnight blue vinyl (above). A trip to another shop on the way home didn't add to my haul, but no worries, any unsold stock would go online at 6 PM, I'll defo get the missing albums there...
The point of RSD is to drive custom through independent record shops, to get the records you need to get off your arse and get down to your favourite vinyl emporium. Because of this, only diehard scalpers bother to snaffle up all the good stuff and hawk it on eBay and Discogs. This yeah, because the world is on lockdown, stores were able to sell unsold items via their website. Good news, I can find the missing vinyl! Bad news, it is going for a Kings Ransome.
That Giorgio Moroder record I mentioned earlier? £12 in the shops, at the time of writing it is on eBay for up to £250 (plus shipping), Duran Duran Live (£30 new), £205 (plus £10 shipping) on Discogs. Thelonious Monk (just £33 in shops), £160+ (plus shipping) on Discogs. Absolute daylight robbery.
The online shopping option has played right into the hands of the scalpers. They could sit back and steal all the good stuff from the comfort of their home then get it up on auction sites quicker than you can say "laughing at all the gobshites queuing in the cold". There is always some degree of shithousery from them but this year it is off the scale.
It is so disheartening to see vinyl that fans want being sold at massively inflated fees by people who just want the profit. The RSD organisers need to get this in hand so that the real collectors and obsessives don't get done dry by the opportunists.