I was in Fopp earlier today, killing some time. Is there anywhere on earth less soulless to buy music from? Casting your eyes across the £3 Kasabian, Black Crowes and (gulp) Morrissey albums is like looking at the frozen chicken section in the supermarket. Here are all these records that were probably cherished by someone on their release, now piled high and available for less than a city centre pint. It makes me feel a bit dirty looking at them.
Was it always this way? I don’t remember it being so, I don’t think. Even the cover art on most of the pile ‘em high albums in Fopp is a slightly different shade than the original release. It’s like those Smiths t-shirts they sell these days with the day-glo green on the Meat is Murder cover.
Where I’m going with this is fairly well-trodden territory, of course. The albums in Fopp are generally considered by the twatterati as “classic”. And as anyone who reads the Guardian music pages will know, you simply have to have these albums in your collection, whether you like them (or even play them) or not. You have to. It’s the law.
This makes me a little sad for a number of reasons. Mainly because Fopp – one of the few remaining high street record shops – takes up square foot after square foot of shovelling out shit for next to nothing. They could be using that space to push new music. Whatever you think about the Pains of Being Pure at Heart (and the jury is very much not that fussed around these parts), I’d rather see rows and rows of their album ready to be bought than frigging ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young. Fucking Neil Young…
Time was, of course, when you could wander into any record shop and have a good look through the vinyl to find what you were after, and bugger me, tucked away in the back corner of Fopp in Nottingham was the new Pains of Being Pure at Heart single. Well done, Fortuna Pop, I suppose. Never mind that it was right next to the posters of Jesus smoking a spliff. Well, the students are back in town.
Fopp, of course, has nothing on HMV, which gave up pretending to be interested in music and has turned its biggest Nottingham store upside down. Now you walk into a fucking HUGE wall of ‘buy three DVDs for £15’ banality. If you’ve never seen Napoleon Dynamite, you will this Christmas. Tucked away downstairs are some cds, if you remember them? You don’t? Oh, well.
Oh, yeah, and you can buy lots of games for something called an ‘X Box’ in HMV. It’s like some kind of tarted up cash and carry, really.
There were rumours a while back that someone had bought the name and premises of Selectadisc in Nottingham, and were planning to reopen it. A sign went up in the window to that effect. That sign’s gone now, and it’s been replaced by some agent’s boards which scream ‘TO LET’ at every passer-by of this once great haven for the music lover.
When Selectadisc went a little bit of my history went with it. When I first moved to Nottingham from Grimsby, I’d hardly ever seen a double decker bus, never mind a chop so chock full of records that you only ever read about every Thursday. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I can ‘t say I ever feel thrilled about going into Fopp or HMV. Terrified, maybe…
For the record I bought ‘George Best’ by The Wedding Present from Fopp today. My vinyl copy has worn out. A bargain at £3.