Monday, October 15, 2012

Vinyl Countdown

Vinyl Countdown, 109 Devon Street West, New Plymouth

Another example of the travel required from my, “moderately successful sensible office job” was a trip to New Plymouth last week for an industry conference.

New Plymouth is right over on the far West Coast of the North Island and as such a tad isolated. The only reason I’ve ever considered going there before was to attend the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the UK’s Womad Festival back four years ago when I first arrived in New Zealand.
I elected on that occasion not to go on realising that the intentions of the girl I’d been invited by were not entirely honourable. (I was going through a ‘no complications’ phase and trying my best to enjoy being single, effectively vegan and exercising to a (with hindsight) potentially fanatical level. All of which to an outsider, I’m sure will likely sound like someone undergoing some sort of existential Saturn’s return crisis and a moribund sense of low self-esteem. Both of which I was).

Anyway, after an aeroplane landing featuring some of New Plymouth’s legendary coastal cross-winds and turbulence (haven’t had to hold onto the seat in front during landing for a while) I had a few hours to kill before we could check into our Motor Lodge (strictly the best for this businessman) so went for a wonder through central NP in search of local record emporium Vinyl Countdown.
So, what to say about the store? In short: Damn fine record shop.
The Electric Chair Presents ‘Electric Soul 2’ Electric Chair/PIAS Records 2 x LP.
On my first visit, I had a non-muso colleague in tow (whom did his best to look interested in shuffling through their sale CD’s section) so very quickly rifled through their soul selection, coming up trumps with a second hand copy of the Unabombers curated “Electric Soul 2” 2 x LP set (the first instalment of which I picked up a couple of months back – discussed at for $20.00. The set was sold as ‘second hand’, which is arguable. The cover’s absolutely mint, and the vinyl is unmarked (even un-fingerprinted) and still has paper burrs from new sleeves. If it is second hand, it’s never been played.

I noted with interest that the shop operates a second hand pricing/labelling policy which is the same as the late lamented Real Groovy (and as such RPM in Wellington, which was opened with ex- Real Groovy Christchurch stock, salvaged after the earthquake) used to have.
I quickly finished up at Vinyl Countdown, both because of my companion and the fact that I’ve already had a bit of a splurge this week on disco (to be discussed in its own post shortly).

The conference petered out earlier than expected on Friday afternoon and I took the opportunity to go back (this time flying solo) to have a more extensive dig. (Whilst simultaneously attempting to show some sort of self-restraint based on my planned monthly vinyl budget having been reached/breached).
Jay Dilla ‘Jaydeelicious – The Delicious Vinyl Years 95-98’ Delicious Vinyl 3 x LP.
On secondary dig, I found a new “Ltd.” (I’m increasingly dubious of such claims) Edition 3 x coloured vinyl retrospective of Jay Dilla (then called Jay Dee)’s production/remix work on the Delicious Vinyl label. As previously (sort of) mentioned on this blog, The Pharcyde’s sophomore LP, ‘Labcabincalifornia’ was and remains a very important record for me, though I don’t as yet own it on vinyl (it has been reissued as part of the same 15th anniversary celebrations that saw The Pharcyde on world tour recently though, see As such this set affords me my first vinyl versions of ‘Runnin’’, ‘Drop’ and ‘Bullshit’, here in both vocalled and instrumental versions. (I’m also ecstatic to say – on different plates – meaning, I can cut the instrumental and vocal versions together to extend certain passages).

‘Jadydeelicious’ was however the only new record that I bought as I’d actually intended to return to the store to have a good old fashioned (low-cost) dig in the sale crates.
As mentioned, the store operates on the same ethos/labelling pricing policy as the defunct Christchurch/Wellington and still active Auckland Real Groovy stores, with good quality, clean-covered second hand records going into a plastic sleeve and getting priced, with everything slightly less well cared for being labelled as ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ grade etc. and democratically getting a $1, $2, $3 etc. price to suit.  

On returning to the store, I quickly realised why that system is in place, recognising the store manager from Real Groovy in Wellington. I later learned from him that when Real Groovy in Wellington went to the wall, they loaded the unsold stock into a lorry and drove it up to New Plymouth to start afresh.
Unsurprisingly for a record shop in a regional town, the stock is more Rock/Bogan than you’d expect for an urban area but I managed to find some pretty interesting morsels for a few dollars a pop. (There was a shedload of amazing punk stuff behind the counter, including the “Henrietta Rollins & The Wifebeating Childhaters” LP, which I’d love to have been able to justify $60 for….)
(N.B.  I also bought some 1980’s pop music for my home bound and flu-ridden girlfriend, both out of a sense of nostalgia and duty, which I won’t mention here. Suffice to say; we now have the original version of “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, as well as the six minute contemporary remix version that we had before and I bought an LP by a northern soul singer (N.B. not a Northern Soul singer) who as a kid lived over the road from a pair of indie dance legends (brothers), which is largely produced by Coldcut).
Choice picks included:
The Temptations ‘A Song For You’ Tamla Motown LP. It’s from 1975 and not produced Norman Whitfield for a change. It’s still pretty funky and was reduced to $4.00.
Rufus feat. Chaka Khan ‘Rags To Rufus’ ABC Records LP and Rufus feat. Chaka Khan ‘Ask Rufus’ ABC LP. The former is from 1974, and was in the non-priced section, the latter was reduced to $4.00. Great poppy disco/soul on both counts. What a day it must be when your ‘Feat. Artist’ turns the tables and gets top billing (As per my 12" Copy of 'Ain't Nobody, which is billed as Chaka Khan feat. Rufus).
B-52’s ‘Messopotamia’ Warner Brothers LP. It’s the B-52’s, whom (despite effectively soiling on their credibility in the mid-nineties by recording The Flintstones soundtrack) I love.
Produced by David Byrne in Blank Studios ( which saw the recording of many new wave/no wave NYC artists whom make me go all weak at the knees. It effectively couldn’t possibly be shit. Disco sucks killed the pop perception of disco far too late for it to have not actually entered the popular psychy of music production (also see David Bowie’s collaborations with Nile Rodgers, whom then much later went on to produce the B-52’s ‘Cosmic Thing’ LP). So, basically – (I have made a conscious decision not to ever swear on this blog;) fuck you Steve Dahl, you utter, utter scumbag. I seem to remember from a book I read recently that Larry Levan used to play the title track off of this at the Paradise Garage.
Jim Croce ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’ LP. This was in the sh*t bins, despite being absolutely mint (both vinyl/cover wise). I don’t know why I recognised his name, but it’s great quality, early 70’s folky singer/songwriter material. I’ve learned that Jim Croce died soon after this was released, so his profile was sadly never elevated to that of his peers.
Deodato ‘Prelude’ CTI Records LP and Deodato ‘Whirlwinds’ MCA LP.
1972 and 1974 releases respectively and both a lot better than the late seventies LP I picked up at Evil Genius a few weeks ago. My girlfriend thinks that the opening track off ‘Prelude’ a discofied version of the Jupiter suite from Holst’s Planets, titled here as ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)’ is on an old Talkin’ Loud mix.
Various ‘Easy Rider OST’ EMI/Stateside LP.
This is a record that I grew up with. I used to play my Fathers version all the time. Key tracks on here include, ‘The Pusher’ by Steppenwolf and ‘If Six Was Nine’ by Jimi Hendrix. Totally worth the $5.00 I paid for it.
Sonny Okosuni’s Ozzidi ‘Live In Varadero’ HMV LP.
Afrobeat for $1.00? Count me in.

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