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A Record Clearance

I’ve recently had a couple of significant vinyl clearances, having sold a few of my more valuable LPs to Alan’s Record Shop in East Finchley, Alan being a chap who I would wholeheartedly recommend for his straight-dealing and bullshit-free of doing business. These were occasioned by a combination of ‘spring-cleaning’  (in autumn) and the need for a bit of extra cash. I had a similar purge in the late seventies, in accord with the punk ‘philosophy’ of “I hate Pink Floyd”, and featuring the removal of all my Floyd/ Led Zep/Ten Years After/Black Sabbath/Deep Purple/King Crimson, etc, etc. vinyl. It’s all a bit ironic, given that original copies of, say, Black Sabbath and Paranoid, and In the Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon, can now fetch very healthy prices in the rather barmy vinyl market of the present time (I saw In the Court… going for over £200. in a local record shop not so long ago).  Oh well, I was young and acutely aware of the fashions of the day. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and hope that “I’m older than that now”.

However, there’s a big difference between selling your stock off in a dictates-of-fashion pique and as part of a late middle-aged ‘downsizing’, dictates-of-practicality exercise? They are two entirely different experiences.

I got around £800 quid for around fifty slices of vinyl and some tape material, so I came out happy, and without the feeling of having been ripped-off. But isn’t it a strange experience, trawling through your ‘library’, which, in my case is fifty years old ( I bought Abbey Road, Blood,Sweat and Tears and Led Zeppelin 2 in 1969, my first pocket-money purchases), and essaying which ones you can happily release into the world? There are: the records that you’ve had for 50 years, but haven’t seriously listened to for nearly as long; those that you never really listened to for any length of time, but bought in a fit of “keeping up with the Mick Jones’s”; those that you once loved, but now find inexplicably dull. There are many other categories, but, in the end, one has to be ruthless. And as we all know, ‘Ruth’ is stranger/stronger than even Richard, it being an ancient word for ‘pity’.

This all fits it rather neatly with contemporary concerns about ‘cleaning out one’s closet’. In today’s (9th. Sept. 2019) Guardian, there is a piece by a Saima Mir, called “I need clarity to function: ruthless (that word again!!) de-cluttering transformed my life “, heavily influenced by the clearance-’guru’, Marie Kondo, whose “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has become, apparently, a must-buy. Kondo’s catchphrase is “does it spark joy?”, so I tried to apply this idea to my vinyl hoard. And it was pretty helpful, to be honest. I decided to sell such items as Return of the Durutti Column (obtained on it’s original day of release, in the sandpaper cover), Joy Division’s Closer and Still (ditto), A Factory Sampler (ditto), and an original Ardent copy of Big Star’s Radio City, with a few other Factory Records rarities, and was very happy with what I was offered by Alan.

On the other hand, some stuff that I had and loved, but also had in various digital formats, such as the lovely CBS box set called Billie Holiday: the Golden Years, proved essentially ‘worthless’ (Alan offered me a very few quid), as, apparently, do most box sets in general. As a proud ‘possessor’ (an important word in this context, given the opportunities of streaming technology?) of a few of those magnificent boxes on John Fahey’s Revenant label (the Charlie Patten, the Ayler, the Beefheart, the Harry Smith compilations in particular), I was rather deflated to hear this - it’s like the motor car business, in terms of depreciation. Even worse, as CDs now appear to be worth almost nothing (after retailing for as much as £15 a disc in the 80s and 90s). Now, all our CD collections seem destined for Oxfam.

Pete Townsend offered in 1971 the notion of: ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again”?, which  obviously proved to be a nonsense, as people seem happy to pay £20-30 for LPs that were released fifty years and over ago. Suits me though - vinyl was a great format, but I can do without the needle-dust, the scratches and the surface-noise that folks were complaining about even back then, as I can tell you as a former record shop manager. Nowadays, these very faults seem to have been fetishised - we saw the film Bait yesterday (highly recommended, btw), which seemed to be yet another example of a ‘glitch’ tribute to previous technology. I only hope that the vinyl that I sold to Alan eventually ‘sparks joy’ in it’s new owners.

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