Wednesday, 9 May 2012

If it all disappeared

I was reading Ed Vuillamy’s piece for Record Store Day in The Observer last week or even weeks ago – after Emma had finished the crossword [I might be able to recall the various Rephlex releases but I can’t do crosswords – that’s a real mental activity] and in it he details that his attempt to ship his record collection back to ‘dear old Blighty’ ended in disaster. The shipping company having failed to fill in the necessary paperwork pretty much gave the US customs department a right to destroy everyone of his 1600 records [and his books as well – but here we’re just talking about the music].

And in this piece of Sunday filler was an attempt to communicate the essential pull these pieces of plastic have on us. He was replenishing the stock – long player by long player – the same versions – the same labels – not swapping for a digital age – and obviously this chimed with the whole record store day vibe. And it set me [stinkin’] thinkin’ about all that vinyl upstairs, in no particular order and gathering dust – how I would feel if it simple disappeared one day. It’s not that I’d forget it – it would just be gone – not tangible – like the tunes on my phone.

There and not there.

In some ways those tunes up there [in the house – not in the ether] are not physical anymore – they exist in memories and snatches of sounds lodged [way] in my brain [way in my brain] and the act of playing them is lost in the day to day of living. If I am honest I even missed Record Store Day – I forgot amidst the Saturday playing out and the relevant madness of fatherhood – although I had made time for a stop in Reckless Records on Wednesday as I strolled back through Soho to Charing Cross. It was a glance at the racks and weighing up the odds of releasing some of my stock back to the river.

But I had those pangs – that only hoarders feel. It’s hard to give them up. Even the ones that I cringe at when I see a front cover and memories come flooding back of mis-timed dances and chances and unbearable angst and romances. Odd how plastic makes you feel. And part of me couldn’t imagine having to re-build it all – I guess I like to think that I’d just accept it and move on. But deep down I’d be gutted if I lost all my records.

So with it comes the question of what you would save [family accepted – and the cats]. That dilemma of saving the few over the many – hey – we’d all burn together. As Buffalo Springfield melted into LFO and dripped down over My Bloody Valentine and Denim. A whole heap of new genres emerging.

So today I am going to pick one. A simple tune to be plucked from the burning shack or the hands of the US customs. I have always had time for hip hop headz – for listening to beats and the bile that MCs be spittin’. And Gang Starr where clearly way up there in terms of their hip hop credibility – incendiary – you get me? And around the turn of the nineties through G&Ts and Acid Jazz emerged Guru’s take on the Blue Note era – this back to the beginning approach to reconstructing the songs – through risk and improvisation.

And Jazzamatazz at the time was seen to be a whole new way of mining the lineage – the joining of what was hip to the hop of the 90s. Hepcat callin’ from around tha way. On that album is a tune with him, D.C Lee and Ronny Jordan – by rights its call to an obsessive work ethic shouldn’t be a tune worth saving – but somehow it resonates and transports to days sat in The Honest Lawyer and smoke filled rooms and blissful dreams back in that steel town. Of flat fronted trousers and loafers. Loafers – bought on the cheap in Leeds – snakeskin tops with a patent feel, square toed and light. Ankle cut beige slacks a with a Ben Sherman short sleeve red plaid shirt topped with a wrangler press stud untreated denim jacket – no vents – fitted with no real room or movement – so no punches being thrown.

Just a simple expression. No more – no less.

And that’s what resides inside No Time to Play

The simple – honest rolling guitar ‘lick’ – kind of endlessly looping back in on itself – just gets me every time. It isn’t quite jazz – I found that hard going to be honest – but maybe when Paul and I started with Love Supreme – it was always going to be a struggle. Nowadays – I get Jelly Roll Morton and the gang – but Coltrane’s strains where a learning curve from the chord changes of the Stooges.

Guru offered that ‘in’ without the spin and for some reason reading that article brought me to saving this tune. It isn’t my favourite – I could most likely live without it. D.C Lee offering up the refrain that we’ve got to keep movin’ everyday. A call to do stuff – make things happen. I guess the physical existence of the thing means it carries some sentimental worth – an object. If I’d just downloaded the code I wouldn’t care so much. I could replace it with a click. However – I know it’s there – upstairs with the rest of the ‘collection’ – running the gamut from mainstream to downstream.

They’ve just released John Peel’s collection online - all ‘Nathan Barley’ and hyperlinked in THE SPACE – amidst home videos and talking heads. We all collect records here – they fascinate us for the sounds on them – not the notes we make about them. Although that’s what I’m doing here – pouring words over sounds. Ultimately we want the music to affect us and no matter how many words we chose to discuss and explain it – you know you just want to put the record on and make up your mind.

But as I said sometimes listening is not enough.

I wonder what John would have saved?