A box of singles came into our possession recently via Mr SDS' uncle. It was this uncle who, as a 19-year old, first introduced the very young Mr SDS to music and his copies of Melody Maker around 1965. But that's Mr SDS' story, not mine, and may one day be told in more detail in another blog if I could ever convince him to write one, which seems unlikely.
Is this a tantalising image, though? Are you perhaps eager to
know what gems might be in here? Feeling the anticipation,
even from that distance? Enlarging the photo and straining to identify each record company sleeve, teasing yourself with the
thought of what it might contain? (Maybe you're the kind who notices
that there's a CD rack in the background of a scene on a TV programme
and turns their head sideways to try and read the spines?)
I was reminded of those responses on reading a post over at the
excellent blog Feel It which took me back to the days when we used
to go to Record Fairs quite frequently. Flicking through this box of
old 45s brought it all back too.
It seemed like it was every weekend in the early '80s that we'd take
the train down to London for a Record Fair but I think that's my
memory taking liberties. Anyway, we went to quite a few. I grew
tired of it long before Mr SDS did, but it probably didn't help when
I started a full-time job in a record shop, seguing my work time and
leisure time just a little too much (as well as working every
Saturday). Still, for a while they were exciting. I remember how
resilient we had to be, prepared to search through every suitable box
and crate, tirelessly and hopefully. Frequently the promise was
matched only by the disappointment, but you had to keep looking –
how could you pass by a box of singles and not look?!
The Record Fairs we went to always seemed to be held in somewhat
downmarket hotels - maybe they still are; I wouldn't know. But I can
picture them now: large function rooms with burgundy patterned
carpets, scuffed woodchip walls... smoke and dust caught in rays of
sunshine coming through a window in the dingy bar area... that
particular breed of dealer with the greasy comb-over wearing a
conker-brown cardigan, resting his not-insubstantial beer belly
against the trestle table. We got to know the good ones and the
not-so-good, the pleasant and the patronising. We got used to
rifling through crates of albums in dusty plastic outer sleeves with
corners that cut our fingers. The hand-written indices and barely
decipherable price stickers. That smell - the smell of vinyl!
Cigarette smoke too... body odour... coffee... mildew... fried
breakfasts. Fried breakfasts? I don't know why I'm getting this
memory of the smell of egg and bacon, but it's there nonetheless.
And punters all but salivating... over boxes and boxes and boxes of
Anyway, what was in the uncle's box? I'm sure you're dying to find
Well, it was just the usual Elvis, Beatles and the Rolling