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  • Rob


Another week, another badly constructed post about the stuff I’ve been getting up to on lockdown. This week is all about Tramp Chic and buying way too much vinyl but not getting mugged off by Taylor Swift.

Tramp Chic - As lockdown started I was sent home to work and I’ve been here pretty much permanently ever since. With no need to don work attire I also thought I’d give my face a bit of a break and stopped shaving for a week. That was 5 months ago, I still haven’t started shaving, I now look like a should be living under a bridge, swigging cheap vodka and smelling faintly of pee.

As lockdown hit all the barbers shut down too meaning I’ve started growing an unintentional mullet. It is now long enough to put in a tiny ponytail - in fact, Ms L has recently bought me a pack of bobbles…seriously. I can fashion a reasonable topknot (if such a thing exists) which covers my ever-growing ‘monkeys arse’ (the start of a bald spot) quite nicely so it isn’t all bad I guess.

By the end of lockdown, I will probably look like Paul Kaye does in the picture below only with not as much top face. I’m comfortable with it, I reckon I can pull it off if I lash a bit of product in the auld chin warmer. The ultimate aim is to look like Thor in Avengers: End Game, I’ve already got the belly for it…

Vinyl - As you are probably aware, vinyl has made a big comeback over the last few years. It was the king of the formats until the 80’s when the CD hit the market and eventually started to sell more than the auld 33/45s. But now, 30 years later, the tables have turned with record sales tipped to eclipse CDs for the first time since Stock, Aitken and Waterman ruined the charts with their identikit shite. Ahem. Downloads decimate everything but for the purpose of this narrative, I’ll ignore them.

A couple of years ago I had a bit of a midlife moment and decided I wanted a new turntable…and amp to go along with it…and new speakers…and stands…and cables etc. It wasn’t cheap but it was a whole lot cheaper than buying a soft-top Porsche and letting my monkey’s arse get blown in the wind for everyone to see - imagine the shame.

Like everyone else I guess, I consume most music via the radio or Spotify (other streaming services are available) so when I buy a record I’m looking for something the digital version doesn’t deliver. I want vinyl-only releases, limited edition coloured vinyl, box sets - things that add to my listening pleasure so it is very rare I’ll buy a regular album on black vinyl (there are exceptions obviously - I’m looking at you, Sault).

Record companies and bands have got on to the fact that listeners also want something a bit different and now release the same record on multiple formats to help boost first-week sales. Taylor Swift has taken it to the extreme though with her latest album, releasing 8 (EIGHT) versions of it on vinyl, all with ‘unique covers, photos and artwork’ oh and just one extra song…not one extra song on each record, the SAME extra song eight times. The cost if you are a die-hard fan who wants it all? Currently, it is going for north of £400 on eBay for the set. Gawd bless Little Miss Swift, she is down to her last $360m after all.

Since lockdown I have found myself buying a lot more vinyl than usual, I reckon I’m up to at least one album a week, maybe pushing two. At one point the postman turned up with a stack so big I had to sheepishly sneak them past Ms L for fear of an ear-bashing about ‘wasting money on crap’. I’ve bought pre-releases that I’ve completely forgotten about, I almost bought the same record twice for similar reasons, I’ve bought albums on the recommendations of trusted friends without actually hearing them, I’m obsessed.

There is something satisfying about having something in your hand that you have bought, something streaming and downloading can’t get close too. I really enjoy the ceremony of playing a record too; carefully removing the vinyl, cleaning it, cleaning the stylus, listening to just 20 odd minutes of music, having to turn the record over, cleaning again, just another 20 minutes of music…all the while marvelling at the artwork and studying the lyrics on a big, colourful sleeve.

It is Record Store Day in a few weeks, an annual event designed to help boost vinyl sales and support independent record shops. Hundreds of bands release limited edition records on picture disc, coloured vinyl and in box sets to drive people through the shops. It is like they know we are obsessed with these rare trinkets which, obviously, we are.

If all goes to plan I will be queuing up at 6 AM with the rest of the mugs ready to part with my hard-earned for a copy of a Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (an indie tribute to James Bond themes) on limited edition 7” - I’m a mug, aren’t I?


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