published: 23 /
In 'Vinyl Stories' Dave Goodwin talks to some of our writers about their vinyl purchases of the year.
I seriously don’t know what has happened this year. I have gone vinyl crazy, if I ever wasn’t before. I am building my Northern Souls collection up a bit with a view to returning to DJing again at some stage. With the threat of another dose of Covid looming, it is starting to look a long way away before I will feel comfortable getting out again, never mind DJing again.
As for new music I have bought a little vinyl in the way of LP’s. The most lavish has to be Rag and Bone Man – his album is a thing of splendour with its double gatefold sleeve and the colours and artwork, but, however, I found the content a little disappointing. One of the highlights of this year’s buying has been the album by Berwyn which has been a constant on my deck this year. I have bought original copies of older things too. The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter’ ‘ is just brilliant and shows off the bands talents to a tee.
To return to Northern Soul. It is worth a mention that ive been after a copy of Blue Sharks’ ‘To Keep Me Loving You’ s for a long time and every time one has come up for sale I have been too late as they usually appear on set sales lists on sites like Soul Source, so when this copy showed up I was like a rat up a drain pipe and it cost me a handsome £400.
Records bought this year.
Fad Gadget - Fireside Favourites
Sault - Nine
David Bowie – Station to Station
Nadine Shah – Kitchen Sink
Rag and Bone Man -Life by Misadventure.
Humanist – Humanist
Berwyn – What Planetary System Are You From?
Mogwai – As the Love Continues.
Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts.
Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
A selection of USA 45’s I've bought this year:
Blue Sharks – These Things Will Keep Me Loving You – Grand Prix Demo
Jackie Lee – Darkest Days – ABC
Howard Guyton – I Watched You Slowly Slip Away – Verve
Rose St John – Mend My Broken Heart – UA
Let Her Go – Otis Smith – Perception
Parliaments – Cry No More – Cabell
Connie Haines – What’s Easy for Two – Motown Demo
Ed Crook – That’s Alright – Tri-sound
Billy Eckstine – I Wonder Why – Motown Demo
Parliaments – Heart Trouble – Golden World DJ copy
Carolyn Crawford – My Smile is Just a Frown – Motown Demo
Dynamics – You Make Me Feel Good – RCA Promo
Brenton Wood – Cross the bridge – Brent Promo
Ad-Libs – Think of Me – Karen
Robin Rice – Ive Had It – Crackerjack Demo
Some of the other writes here at Pennyblackmusic are also vinyl enthusiasts and have also been buying.
I suppose it just shows the value people are putting in vinyl once again and also the fact that in my humble opinion vinyl will never die.
First on the list is Anthony Dhanendran's Vinyl purchases this year. Someone has been busy, haven’t they?
Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure (LP, 2021)
A bit of a cheat, this LP, because I haven’t yet got the record in my hands. But it’s on order from my local independent record shop, where I bought it in a bundle with a ticket to see Self Esteem in concert, at least once the gig has been rescheduled. A few months ago I hadn’t heard of her (Self Esteem is the pseudonym of Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club) but after being invited to a scintillating show she put on at London club Heaven in November, I can’t wait to hear more.
Martina Topley-Bird – Pure Heart EP (12” EP, 2021)
I’ve loved Martina T-B’s voice since I heard her singing on Tricky’s debut album ‘Maxinquaye’. I’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform a couple of times, and this new record makes great use of her extraordinary voice, while shrouding itself in dubby, cloudy sounds and murky beats. The cover, designed by Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja/3D, is stunning.
Attila The Stockbroker – Scornflakes (LP, 1988)
Attila The Stockbroker - Ranting At The Nation (LP, 1983)
Attila The Stockbroker - Cocktails EP (7” single, 1982)
Some eBay buys, and the first records I bought this year. I’ve long had a soft spot for the spiky punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, and I’ve managed to pick up a few of his records on eBay this year. ‘Scornflakes’ from 1988 has a “wordside” with 19 poems, and a “thrashside” with eight punk songs. It’s brilliant, obviously.
‘Ranting At the Nation’ was his debut and has a superb array of 28 songs, all brilliantly shouty and thrashy. Completely of its time, but no less great for that.
Finally, going back in time, ‘Cocktails’ was Attila’s debut single and I chiefly wanted a copy because it contains his brilliant, spiky but heartfelt tribute to Seething Wells, later known as music and football writer Steven Wells, ‘The Night I Slept With Seething Wells’..
Mark B Presents – Delta / One Less Gun Ft Skinnyman (12” single, 2012)
Another eBay find, and one that I hadn’t heard before this year, but finding a long interview with him reignited my dormant interest in Skinnyman – once the bright new face of British hip-hop. That this was a collaboration with Mark B, the pioneering UK rap artist who sadly died on New Year’s Day 2016, made it a must-have once I saw a copy for sale. It’s of its time, but it’s a great listen.
Badly Drawn Boy - EP2 (7” EP, 1998)
I’ve been slightly obsessed by Badly Drawn Boy’s early EPs since they were new – I bought the third one (‘EP3’) back when it came out, but I missed out on ‘EP1’ and ‘EP2[, so when I saw the chance to pick up a copy (eBay again, of course), I snapped it up.
Bad Wiring – Jeffrey Lewis and Voltage (LP, 2021)
My final purchase of the year is by an American artist I first heard twenty-odd years ago, and who I saw live a few times in the years after that, but with whom I since lost touch. So it was a pleasure to rediscover Jeffrey Lewis earlier this year, and to realise that he had a new LP out. Not only that, but the music both captures what made Lewis special all those years ago – stream of consciousness, poppy, post-punky, quirky, guitar-y – but also moves things along smartly.
It’s interesting that a lot of people are buying old music just as much, if not more than the new stuff available today. Anthony’s buys are no exception here. Just like me and my copy of Blue Sharks he swooped in to snaffle his Badly Drawn Boy EP. This is a method that I advise everyone to adopt – don’t think about it and just buy it because you may never get the chance again. I just need a house big enough to store all this spontaneous buying in. Next on the list is fellow writer Eoghan Lyng. His is not a list of purchases but a heartfelt tribute to one of his favourite albums of all time from The Beatles.
Like many Beatlemaniacs who grew up in the wake of Thom Yorke's proclamation ("It's a thundering mess"). I was never convinced that ‘Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was all that. True, it contains two of the best things they committed to tape with ‘Within You Without You’ and ‘A Day In The Life’, but the rest merely leaps out as filler, aching to find an importance that it didn't have.
And then I heard the vinyl-and I'm a believer!
From the shimmering bells that makes up ‘Benefit Of Mr.Kite’ to the yearning behind Mike Leander's string arrangement, the album is simply breath-taking, typifying the sort of gold that could only come from Beatle standards. From that point, I decided to buy ‘Double Fantasy’- not everything The Beatles did turned to gold!
Many thanks to Eoghan. I have to admit I got into the Beatles from an early age due to my dads record collection. He had a fair few copies of Beatles singles including ‘Paperback Writer’ and]’Ticket to Ride’ and these became two of my most treasured Beatles tracks. I also agree with Eoghan when he mentions ‘A Day in the Life’ being one of the best things they committed to tape. That track is a masterpiece.
Ben Howarth who is a regular in 'Vinyl Stories' this time of year has talked about his buying this year and again Ben is a proper vinyl nut. Here are some of his buys this year.
I’ve found myself getting more and more drawn into the ‘vinyl revival’ in the last few years. Although my collection is still dwarfed by the much larger set of shelves devoted to CDs, the postman leaving a familiar square package on my doorstep has been a recurring feature of lockdown.
However, I still try and avoid duplicating albums I already own on CD. I also tend to stick to albums I’ve already ‘road tested’ – I want to be confident that anything I own on vinyl is something I will listen to for years to come, not a whim purchase. Bandcamp’s ‘try before you buy’ streaming function is essential.
Eric Bibb – Friends
A long-term family favourite and confirmed desert island disc. New York born, Sweden based blues singer Eric Bibb collaborates with a different ‘friend’ across fifteen tracks, including some covers and a few favourites from earlier albums. Albums like this often sound disjointed, but Bibb’s collaborators all produce inspired performances and every song offers something special. Until now, I’d been relying on a copied CD, but I discovered that a German label had pressed it onto double vinyl. The perfect format for a perfect album.
Otis Redding – Otis Blue
Do I need to tell you this is good? Two perfect sides, on blue vinyl. No other version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ needs to exist.
Oasis – The Masterplan
Nearly breaking my ‘no duplicates’ rule, as I already own all these songs from the original CD singles. Contains their fieriest material (‘Headshrinker’, ‘Good To Be Free’), their tenderest (‘Talk Tonight’, ‘Rockin’ Chair’) and arguably their very best song (the title track). That there are plenty more great B-sides that didn’t make the cut for a 66 minute compilation shows you how good this is.
The Joy Formidable – Into The Blue
I bought their previous album, ‘Aaarth’, on the strength of its superb preview single, and have since been working my way through their excellent back catalogue. Their latest release did not disappoint, although it appears to once again have gone under the critical radar. The vinyl pressing relates the two more experimental tracks, which appear at the mid-point of digital versions, to a bonus 7” – making the 33rpm album into an ‘all killer, no filler’ classic.
Songhoy Blues – Optimisme
Much hyped around the time of their debut album, not enough attention has been paid to this Malian quartet’s third album, released in 2020. It contains their first English-language song, but the sleevenotes are key to unlocking the passion that lies behind all their material. And the guitar solos are as inspired as ever.
Roddy Woomble – Lo! Soul / Idlewild – Captain / Idlewild – Warnings/Promises
Roddy Woomble’s latest solo release, which like all his others, comes alive and becomes increasingly addictive after a few listens. And then two reissues for his band Idlewild, now firmly cemented as my favourite band of the modern era.
The Surfing Magazines – Badgers of Wymeswold
Oh dear! The downside to the ‘vinyl revival’, as the second album of this Wave Pictures/Slow Club ‘supergroup’ still hasn’t arrived yet, with its pressing frequently delayed. Apparently, it should arrive shortly before the end of the year. Finger’s crossed.
And last but not least is our gaffer himself, editor John Clarkson,
Lola in Slacks - Moth Moon
Glaswegian band Lola in Slacks have long been on my radar, ever since they released a download single on one of my favourite labels, Jeremy Thoms’ Stereogram Recordings some years ago. Their debut album ’Moth Moon’ has been long planned, but they only finally recorded it at the end of last year between ockdowns. Lola in Slacks were planning to release it themselves for a while, before finally settling on the Late Night in Glasgow label, who seem to have the monopoly on signing and reissuing Scottish acts these days. ‘Moth Moon’ has come it out on vinyl and download only. There is an element in its meticulous, melancholic sound of The Velvet Underground’s self-titled third album about it and vocalist Lou Reid, who learnt her craft in the café bars of Paris, sings in French on some of the tracks. The bubbling ‘Strawberry Locks’ is one of the most powerful ends to a record this year.
I See Islands - Within a Lightbeam
Tynemouth duo I See Lights were the first band I saw as lockdown was coming to an end back in August, supporting The Band of Holy Joy at a ‘private’ gig attended by perhaps thirty people in a small room at The Little White Pig, a pub in Edinburgh’s Dublin Street. I was instantly transfixed by Declan Flannery’s cascading keyboards and main man Seamus John O’Donnell’s gruffly wistful lyrics, and bought their debut album ‘Within a Lightbeam’, which again is available only on vinyl and download, a few days later. It brings back memories of a great night, and is as gorgeously lo-fi as it is life-affirming.
Blondie - Vivir En La Habana
The second single that I ever bought was Blondie’s ‘Picture This’ in 1978. I was twelve years old at the time, and shortly afterwards bought the 12” of ‘Sunday Girl’ as well, ‘Vivir En La Habana’, the band’s latest EP/mini-album, was recorded live at a set of concerts in Havana, and consists of old songs such as ‘Dreaming’ and ‘Rapture’ and newer songs as ‘Long Time’ and ‘Wipe Off My Seat’, all tinged with a Cuban sound. I had to buy it on the black wax as there is no CD version, and it pleases me no end that 43 years on that Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke and co. still sound as good as ever and I am, after years of buying Blondie’s records on CD, back to listening to them on vinyl again.
Catenary Wires - Birling Gap
As well as being two of the genuinely nicest people in indie rock, Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey are also the hardest working. They are currently in four bands, Swansea Sound, The Drift and European Sun, but their main act is The Catenary Wires. Originally begun as a duo by the ex-Talulah Gosh and Heavenly pair, The Catenary Wires have now expanded into a band for their third album, ‘Birling Gap’. A concept album of sorts, it is a damning but often blackly funny indictment told from the point of view of both Brexiteers and Remainers of the current state of Britain, but also throws in a surprisingly tender love song in ‘Mirrorball’ which tells of a romance which blossoms at an 80’s disco. I could have bought the CD and did, but could not resist the vinyl version as well. Its stunning aerial cover shot of the Birling Gap on the South-East coast is one of my favourites of the year.
The Crazies - A Simple Vision
Our writer Adrian Janes has had a busy year musically with all three of his past and present bands having had releases. His 70’s group The Outsiders have gone through the Cherry Red box treatment with the 5 CD ‘Count for Something’, for which I was very fortunate to be asked to write some of the sleeve notes for. His current band Moon Under Water have just released their debut EP ‘First Quarter’, and The Crazies have finally had their only album ‘A Simple Vision’ released on Optic Nerve Recordings on vinyl all these years after it was recorded in 1978. The story behind it a bizarre one. South London music fan Pete Williams wanted to make an album and invited the Outsiders to be his backing band and improvise behind him in a one-day recording. He never intended it for release, wanting something to pass out on homemade cassettes amongst friends, but ‘A Simple Vision’ stands up remarkably well, the Outsiders’ music having a Stooges-like free jazz sound and Williams’ lyrics being surreally twisted and hilarious. This and the facts that it has been released at all and that member Bi Marsh’s artwork on the front cover is absolutely stunning make this one rather special.
I love Blondie. I have everything Ms Harry and co have done on vinyl but this one! I must invest. John mentions ‘Dreaming’ which is my all time co-favourite along with ‘Go Through It’ from ‘Autoamerican’. As with I See Islands, how many times have we bought music off the back of seeing a support act at a gig of a favourite band? I love discovering music this way. I discovered Slow Readers Club at a James gig and never looked back. I don’t know how many times ive seen them now. The Crazies story is one to savour also.
Once again it shows that vinyl is king as my colleagues here at Pennyblackmusic testify. Nearly every album or single in my collection has a story to it. It’s what makes a vinyl nut a proper cashew in my opinion. I’m sure next year will be just the same for buying up the black wax and look forward to see what we have all been buying this time next year, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and sta