Recently, the world of music blogging seems to be breaking down a lot of walls with more and more collaborations between bloggers taking place. This can be seen over at This Is Tomorrow and Souled On where Mike and Scholar respectively have invited fellow bloggers to post up their own mixes. Both Mike and Scholar have invited me to particpate and you will be able to listen to my mixes in the near future.
Another collaboration is taking place this weekend with the celebration of Vinyl Record Day to coincide with the 130th Aniversary of the phonograph. Jeff Bartlett of The Hits Just Keep On Comin' has co-ordinated a number of bloggers to contribute to the day.
You can catch other bloggers celebrating vinyl in their own ways here:
AM, Then FM
The “B” Side
Echoes in the Wind
Flea Market Funk
Good Rockin’ Tonight
Got the Fever
It’s Great Shakes
Lost In The 80's
The Snack Bar
The Stepfather of Soul
In the morphed picture above, you can see a copy of Lee Moses's Maple album lying next to the record player. I picked up that album from a shop called Skeleton Records in Birkenhead in the UK where I used to live back in the 70's.
Skeleton Records was a haven for vinyl collectors in Birkenhead during the 70's and 80's and was run by a head called John who was a friendly guy unlike some record shop owners who would always price up stuff, get vinyl out the back and give you a quick blast no matter how busy he was or how full the shop was that day.
John started the shop as hole in the wall in Argyle Street, Birkenhead just a few doors down from where the famous Argyle Music Hall Theatre had stood and where many kings and queens of 20's and 30's vinyl would have strutted their stuff to the huge crowds that gathered. However, by the early 70's, the principal street in Birkenhead had hit hard times with the recession coming to Meresyside more quickly than elsewhere in the UK as the port was overtaken by containerisation.
John had the whole mix - new releases, second hand vinyl, cut outs, cassettes, bootlegs etc. The original shop was so small people used to spill out onto the pavement to listen to the sounds that blasted out irritating the older passerbys; but drawing in young heads who saw in the smoke and noise a secret world they wanted to be part of - and that's how I first got drawn in.
I left Birkenhead for 3 years to live down on the South Coast but returned in 1976 got a job and with money in my pocket one of the first places I went to was Skeleton Records to get a fix of vinyl. By that time, John had moved the shop to bigger premises further down the road and nearer to the River Mersey and taken on more staff to deal with the customers and whose names have been lost in the midst of time. Though some of those guys spawned record of shops of their own elswhere in the borough and where I spent many hours digging.
During '76 and '77, I would leave my job in the centre of Liverpool walk along the dock road to the Pier Head and catch a ferry over the river no matter what the weather. The walk up the hill from the ferry to the centre of Birkenhead, where Skeleton was located, was always one of anticipation. I would get there in time to spend about half an hour before closing time chewing the fat and looking through the new stuff which John had bought in that day.
My favourite place in record shops over the years has been the boxes below the shelves where you can dig to your heart's content and is probably one of the contributing factors to my slipped disc! Back ache and "record collector's finger", a condition not recognised by medical science as an occupational hazard, but one seasoned collectors can get where the skin turns back from your nails because of the number of records you flicked through.
In one of those digs, I came across Lee Moses's Time And Place album on Maple just lying there for 50 pence without a home and by-passed by all and sundry because it was unknown and looked cheap and nasty. In those days, the turn over records entering my vinyl collection was so large that it got a tracking through and was filed away only to slowly slip back into my consciousness as a true example of raw and emotional soul.
These digs in the late 70's built the foundation of where I was going with collecting and that was to root out any record by someone I liked. Lee was top of the list and next stop was his Lee John, Dynamo, Front Page, Musicor and Gates 45s picked up from various sources. Back in those days, I never stopped and thought would all this vinyl dry up one day because it seemed limitless - my mate heard the Lee Moses album and liked it and by the end of the week he had found one in a junk shop in Chester - oh such golden days!
Digging in Skeleton continued for many more years even when John moved to big places including the corner of Argyle Street/Oliver Street before moving to Whetstone Lane which was even bigger. A big chunk of my album collection originated from these shops. They were always carried home in the distinctive "Skeleton" red and black bags and sometimes white and black via a few pubs on the long walk home, all uphill, just to save the bus fare for more drink or vinyl. Then the ritual of taking them out of the bag and sleeves cleaning them and then dropping them on the player, lying back on my bed and letting heaven drift on in..............vinyl... love the stuff!!!!