“If people come in here wanting to buy Rumours on vinyl, I won’t sell it to them. If they’ve not got it by now, they don’t deserve it.” John Weaver, Birkenhead’s Skeleton Record’s indefatigable gatekeeper is unapologetic. “If they ask for Tusk, well, maybe I’ll think about it…”
If they ask for Yes, or Wishbone Ash, or Big Star you’re probably going to get half-shares in the company. But it’s got to be Yes pre Buggles, obviously.
And that’s the rule with record shops. Always has been. You’re not going in to buy an einsturzende neubauten 12 inch. You’re a downy feathered fledgling on some red in tooth-and-claw nature documentary. A rite of passage drama that pits you, hands clammy with some XTC John Peel Session acetate, puffing your chest out, running the gauntlet of chin-stroking taste-makers, idly thumbing through racks of remaindered Randy Newman soundtracks, ruminating on the merits of arcane German record label A, over arcane German record label B. Casting an eye over your haul, glancing at each other silently, and shaking their heads ever so slightly.
As it was when I gingerly handed over a Blancmange album to Pete Burns in Probe and he, in turn, with the tip of index finger and thumb, passed it on to someone else and, without dropping a beat, continued to ignore me beautifully. Like I’d scooped up my dogshit in a jiffy bag and handed it over for its disposal.
Next time, though? ‘Oh, hello Blancmange boy,’ he said, when I handed over something slightly less shit.
I practically floated home.
As it was when I asked for Shine by the Space Brothers in 3Beat, and they suggested, drolly, I ‘tried HMV’, and proceeded to play another remix of the Lisa Marie Experience in the hope that, by osmosis, a musical education would ensue.
Of course it never has. And of course I’ll continue to be ever so slightly embarrassed asking for Haim from Probe’s inscrutable Bob. And I hope that never changes. Because, today, feeling anything in a shop is a wonderful, life affirming thing. And flicking through those racks, finding a cover that does something to some random neurone in your head, taking it home and discovering your new favourite thing in the world ever, that’s worth every single walk of shame. Actually, scratch that, even the walks of shame are great. Because you know you’re right.
Yes, vinyl’s going through a ‘thing’. Yes, it’s now got its own ‘chart’. But vinyl’s much, much too important to care about HuffPost bollocks like this. When in doubt, ask yourself: would John Weaver give a shit?
Let’s keep record shops scary. Support you local record shop tomorrow, Record Store Day.
Skeleton Records, 11 Oxton Road, Birkenhead
Dig Vinyl, Bold Street, Liverpool
Probe Records, Bluecoat Lane, Liverpool
The Musical Box, 457 West Derby Road, Liverpool
3B Records, Slater Street, Liverpool
Record Store Day @ Constellations
Bill Brewster, one of the sharpest vinyl collectors in the UK, will be digging through his vaults for an eclectic, electrifying four hour set at Constellations, til 3am.