SEARCHING FOR RECORDS IN SUNDERLAND, NEWCASTLE & CHESTER-LE-STREET

wearing my thick jacket, it’s cold outside

I had a week off from work, using my flexi-time and annual leave up before I quit my job next week with early retirement. A huge gamble because my disposable income will diminish and I’m going to have to shop smarter. So, this week was my last blow-out, spending spree, call it what you will, on records.

Last Tuesday I got the bus to Sunderland aka searching for records. It was pissing down and I wasn’t exactly dressed for the weather so got wet and cold. Didn’t really enjoy the experience.

First stop was HMV, inside the Bridges shopping centre. The usual over-priced albums on offer, racks full of DVD’s and computer games. One day I’ll go in there and actually buy something.

I visited a few charity shops and came home with a vintage stationery tin box large enough to house 45s. At £4 I would have been a mug to let this go without bringing it home.

In a former life this box was probably used to store important documents, statements, invoices and bills etc. Now, it’s full of my original Beau Brummels, Jefferson Airplane, Love, Doors, Turtles and Monkees 45s.

My last port of call, and it was a rush job because my bus was due in fifteen minutes, was “Hot Rats” on Stockton Road. I always find something worthy to buy here and today was no exception.

Crazy about fuzz pedals

I’ve seen the Nucleus album before but never bought it until now. I have no idea what Nucleus sound like but I’m guessing my ears will be sore with West Coast influenced psychedelia. They were from Canada and those Canadians were seemingly crazy about fuzz pedals so I’ll be a bit disappointed if they don’t create a fuzztoned mess on at least one number.

The other record I brought home with me was ‘Lows In The Mid Sixties’, a Record Store Day limited release from a few years ago. This is a compilation of demos, full of inept teenage beat, the track list offers cover versions galore.

I don’t mind this in the slightest, as long as the versions of ‘The Last Time’, ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ and ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’ are raw, savage and laden with scuzz and attitude.

On Wednesday I inconveniently sprained my ankle. I could barely put any weight onto my right foot a few hours after the event. I went to bed with my foot tightly strapped and swallowed a handful of pain killers. “It will be alright tomorrow”, I convinced myself. How wrong I was. My foot was worse! I had to call off a next day trip to Newcastle and spent most of the morning and afternoon resting horizontally.

I was still in a lot of pain on Friday but made the effort to venture out to the bus stop. . . . . destination, Newcastle. HMV and a market stall in Grainger Market were fruitless. The latter had a few interesting singles I was tempted to buy, they were quite cheap too. A decent copy of The Zombies ‘Friends Of Mine’ for £8 and Steppenwolf ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ for a three spot. Man, in hindsight I regret not buying those.

Close to Grainger Market is a record shop called “Reflex” who have been around for many years and mostly sold CDs back in the nineties and beyond. They’re now stocking most of their racks with records, mainly new releases, Record Store Day artifacts and a lot of indie gear.

Heavy prices

I couldn’t resist coming away with an album full of music used in the TV series ‘UFO’ and I was more than a little surprised to find a copy of The Valentines collection. They were fronted by Bon Scott who found fame with AC/DC. The albums were a bit pricey but remember, this is probably my last records blow-out as a full-time employee. I’ve got to make the most of it!

“RPM Music” was my next scheduled stop. It’s a cracking little record shop which never fails. Their racks were full of interesting stuff but I’ve been collecting garage, punk and psychedelia since the early eighties and I’m finding it difficult nowadays to chance upon records I don’t have in my archives.

One such album was the collection of Kingsmen recordings, released on Decal in 1986. I was oblivious to this fact and obviously missed out back in the day. So for £14 the record was coming home with me. I also came away with one of those old school plastic record bags. I’ll file that away within the sleeve of The Kingsmen album.

By now my right foot was giving up, the metatarsals were individually shouting at me to go home and rest up. One last stop, “J.G. Windows” music store in the Central Arcade. Their items are notoriously over-priced, at least that’s my experience.

I checked out a few racks of records and didn’t find much for me personally until I saw Brian Jones on a record cover. What was this all about? A collection of rare Stones recordings, alternative takes etc.

Attention on the Blues

One way of tempting the new breed of trendy record collectors into focusing their attention on the Blues is to compile a double album of Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Slim Harpo, Muddy Waters, Elmo James and others . . . . then sticking a photo of a Dandyfied Brian Jones on the cover. Well, that tactic worked on me and for £15 too.

On Saturday I took a short bus journey to Chester-le-Street and paid a visit to a record and book store called “Sound And Vision”. I’ve written about the place before and it’s well worth a trip if you’re in the area. Price stickers are stuck on the covers (which I hate) but that’s the dealers way and who am I to argue.

Fortunately for him I’m not too fussed about having perfect / mint covers anyway. I’m more concerned about the quality and state of the vinyl and here I can’t complain.

Scouting the racks

The owner give me around a 20% discount on the priced items so I came away, once again, happy with my bag of records which were as follows: The Damned ‘Best Of’, Sham 69 ‘The Adventures of Hersham Boys’ and a Del Shannon LP I’ve been meaning to purchase for years. There were many more albums I could have easily picked up but my money was running out after a week of scouting the racks of record shops in the North East.

I’m also filling missing pieces in my punk collection so was happy to add a couple of Skids 45s and an early Adam & the Ants single. I also came home with the classic Del Shannon record ‘Runaway’. The Angelic Upstarts single pictured in the scan dropped through my letter box last week too, so added here.

And there we have it. A week in the life of a record collector comes to an end. I don’t know when my next vinyl hunt will be. My last day at work is next Thursday, then I’m on annual leave until the end of May. My last day of service in the Civil Service is on the 1st June, then after thirty three years my time is done and I’m free, but without a salary.

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