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Old tunes

January 17th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Jane/Music · 2 Comments · Jane, Music

While I was in town to get my eyes seen to I did some browsing.  I had a little time to kill before my appointment, and then more time afterwards while waiting for Jayne to finish work and come down to help me choose frames.  (I don’t really care what glasses look like: I only look through them.  Its Jayne who has to look at them.)

Had a pleasant surprise in Waterstones.  They had a copy of a new Robert Rankin book called Necrophenia which slipped under my radar when it came out at the end of last year.  Sounds as mad as his other books.  From the synopsis on Amazon:

Back in 1960s London, wannabe rock star and gumshoe Tyler, beguiled by Captain Lynch’s stories of fabled Begrem, city of gold, forms a ukulele band, the Sumerian Kynges, only to get upstaged at his high-school concert by the Rolling Stones.

Lazlo Woodbine, the Ministry of Serendipity and Elvis all turn up somewhere and I fully expect sprouts and stout sticks to be involved.  I should try to be disciplined and get through The Time-Traveller’s Wife, Dawn of the Dumb and The Olivetti Chronicles first, but it is hard.   Hopefully the new reading glasses will make me inclined to read more.

I did look through other shops, picking up some much-needed new shoes for myself and some pink steel toe-cap boots for the Mrs. (Twenty quid from Shoe Zone. Bargain!)

After doing all that I browsed a bit in HMV.  It is so much worse than it used to be for music.  The proportion of the shop given over to DVDs, games and iPod accessories just keeps growing and the music selection gets poorer and poorer with some of the niche areas like world music and folk getting so small as to be almost pointless.

I was in the sort of mood where I would have snapped up an Argent, Wishbone Ash or Egg album if they had anything at all by any of them.  I fancied the Odessy & Oracle re-release but its very expensive for a very old album.   In the end I did get tempted, but by the (also very small) classical section.

I picked up three CDs for £15  – one Bizet and two Bach.  I now have all six Brandenburg concertos and the complete L’Arlesienne and Carmen suites.  Even better, the Bachs are the Deutsche Grammophon versions conducted by Trevor Pinnock on original instruments.  I had these on cassette and since I lost the capability to play tapes in the car and living room they got consigned to the loft.  It will be good to hear them again.   The Carment and L’Arlesienne suites I had on vinyl, also now in the loft.

Trivia fans will remember the L’Arlesienne suite as the piece of music featured in one episode of The Prisoner, when Patrick McGoohan insisted on playing the first few notes of every copy in the shop to make the authorities think there was a coded message in there for him.

To complement them I also got something new to me, although it is (scary to think) more than 30 years old now: Horses by Patti Smith.  I just finished reading about it in a book I got for Christmas and realised that I had never actually heard this album that is supposed to be so influential.

Actually that is only part true.  I do remember somebody putting the record on once, but it was when a gang of us went back to somebody’s houseboat after a long session in a folk club.  With the amount of beer involved, the levels of conversation and the slight thrill of being on a houseboat I don’t think it counts as having really heard it.

Anyway, it’s not a good sign for the modern music scene if I can spend thirty minutes in HMV and only get tempted by a 32-year-old album and  22-year-old recording of some 300-year-old tunes!   I really should have come out laden with MGMT, Glasvegas, Elbow and Amadou & Mariam but I just wasn’t in that sort of mood.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    I think that, economically, there is more to be made from games, DVD and Blu-Ray than from music not that it is so easily, and cheaply, downloadable. We snuck into Zavvi today (I still feel vaguely grubby about it – as if I’m sticking the knife in) and picked up a couple of bargains. Could have got loads more but since I have never watched Lost, 24, My Name is Earl, House, Gray’s Anatomy or 6 Feet Under I have saved a fortune not buying box sets. I just don’t have the time to commit to new tv series and I’m happy to catch odd repeats or even miss episodes of the stuff I do watch. (Don’t imagine that my tv watching is just an endless cycle of Murder She Wrote and Eastenders – I will do what I can to keep up with Heroes but if I miss one then, I have discovered, I don’t curl up and die…)

  • Skuds

    Our Zavvi has already gone, which is why HMV is the only record shop left – no competition to encourage it.

    I think that margins are better on games and blu-ray. Not sure about DVD, but probably. CD has now been around long enough to lose that new format price premium, and competing pressures from downloading (legal or illegal) keep the prices down too.

    When downloading films is as easy as music maybe it will all change again?

    Next time you visit I will make you watch some My Name Is Earl!