The simple pleasures are often the best. A brisk walk into town on a cold and sunny Sunday morning, and a brisk walk back again an hour or two later, with a bulging bag of records.
The periodic record fair has relocated from the barn that is the Brighton Centre to the decidedly cosier confines of the Komedia. Fewer stalls and some tedious manoeuvring through the crush, but still nothing quite like flicking through the boxes of vinyl and finding the occasional gem.
There is something qualitatively different and pleasing about buying nine albums at once rather than the one or two you might more usually get on a shopping trip. And doing so without being culpably extravagant, when a lot of them come out of the £3 and £4 boxes. Yes, going to a record fair is rather like going to the sweet shop when Blackjacks and Fruit Salad were still four a penny AND YOU HAD SIXPENCE…
There’s always a lot of dross, of course – scratched, tedious, overpriced or simply already present on your shelves. But usually also some combination of reasonably-priced, interesting and desirable things you hadn’t previously known existed, as well as fillers for some acknowledged gaps (the ‘known unowneds’, as Donald Rumsfeld might call them, were he a vinyl fan and more given to self-parody).
What you learn you can’t do at record fairs is go with a specific shopping list and expect to find the things on it: you have to come at the gaps obliquely and take them by surprise. A nice original copy of Who’s Next was in that category this morning, a fine album featuring the great Keith Moon on thunderous form and a silly sleeve that may be a commentary on 2001: A Space Odyssey,
so much for monoliths…
As for the new treasures, a dead heat for first prize this morning:
- from the stall of an amiable French chap who often seems to make the trip over for the Brighton fairs, an 80s double album by Johnny Hallyday recorded on a trip to Nashville and featuring duets with people like Emmylou Harris and Tony Joe White; and
- an irresistibly titled Dollar Brand album African Space Program, featuring a number of camels on the cover in quite a lot of…space…in...Africa.
Looking forward to hearing them both, along with the others.
PS and very nice to hear some kind words at the fair about this blog – thanks, Mark, and hope you found something interesting too.