The Jaarbeurs International Collectors Fair, Utrecht

Deltafreight11.05am and I’m sitting on a train in Rotterdam Centraal Station, waiting to depart after leaving a grey, wet Brussels at 8.30 that morning. I’m in the silent carriage, with ear plugs in. When the train pulls out it’s so slick and quiet it feels like we’re running on silk. The silence is glorious, the sun is shining and the landscape filled with all manner of quirky, forward-thinking Dutch architecture. Solar panels, clean, modern angles, a half-built curved structure like a rising flower bulb just outside the station and two lifelike giraffe’s heads and necks sprouting from nowhere. The multi-colouredl graffiti that always forms like weeds around train stations tumbles out of the tunnels, gradually withering away as we leave the city. I spot a pristine white Delta piece on a rusted freight train not far from the city’s boundary. It’s so quiet I’m aware that my fingers typing are making a racket in the carriage. I’m seated on the top deck, a glorious view of the flat landscape before me and the train glides on, they even have free wifi – must resist!

I should be back in Brussels, getting breakfast and checking out to meet up with DK and Debruit for a car ride to The Hague but instead I’m on my way to Utrecht to slot an afternoon’s digging session in at the Record Planet Mega Record fair. Realising the night before that it was actually only a 35 min train ride away from Den Haag and on the insistence of Andy Votel via a Twitter conversation (‘it’s totally on route!’) I decided to forego the lie in and make the most of my time on the continent this weekend. The record fair at Jaarbeurs is reckoned to be the biggest in the world, certainly in Europe anyway and the scale of it just cannot be comprehended by viewing pictures online alone. Never has so much cardboard and vinyl been crammed into such capacious air craft hanger-like spaces. I’d been once, back in 2004, before my kids were born, thus since preventing me from returning on such a frivolous jolly as a weekend-long record shopping spree. But now I’ve got an excuse, even if only for a day, and an extra train ticket, entry fee and several extra hours of sleep are the only forfeits. The train pulls in to Utrecht Centraal 15 minutes short of midday.

An hour later and I’ve only just made it into the fair, despite it being located less than a 10 minute walk from the station. After queuing for a ticket the mission was on to find a cash point of which there are only two in the foyer, both with a line snaking across the entire floor. There were more back in the station but incredibly all but one of them are out of action. Ticket in hand I finally get through the barrier, past a group of cosplayers in full Stormtrooper garb (that’s new) and begin the daunting task of picking through what seems like the carefully chosen debris of the 20th Century.

overview-record-fair-utrecht-april-2015-8To say that Jaarbeurs is big is an understatement that is so woefully inadequate it’s like saying Jeremy Corbyn has a bit of a job on his hands if he hopes to become the next Prime Minister. It is SO big that you reel as you find yet another aircraft hanger-sized space crammed with even more ephemera than the last one you just spent over an hour briskly jostling through. What I never realised, way back when I first visited the fair, was that the record part only accounts for roughly a third of the overall space in Jaarbeurs, the rest is packed with Europe’s largest vintage collector stalls selling virtually anything you can bring to mind.

IMG_6680Buttons, stamps, coins, vintage toys, new toys, animal bones, African statues, globes, stones, medical research statues, school teaching displays, stained glass windows, lamps, turntables, gramophones, books, magazines, comics, glassware, pottery, jewelry, badges, dolls, clothes, material, masks, cutlery, posters…

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The place is like the most incredible museum you’ve ever been to coupled with the fact that you can buy every exhibit in what resembles the continent’s biggest car boot sale. Imagine Birmingham’s N.E.C. and quadruple it. Another misconception is that it’s all expensive, this isn’t true either, yes there are trophy pieces everywhere, bought by dealers the world over in the hope that they will sell to their biggest captive audience and pay for the trip. But equally there are boxes of cheaper stuff marked at €1 that simply need to be rifled through to find the gold.

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It is however, completely unrealistic to expect to be able to ‘do’ the whole thing even in a weekend let alone an afternoon. I’d decided I was going to go through the other halls before I hit the records as I’d previously walked straight past them and never investigated. Now older and with more than enough vinyl to warrant having the floor of my home studio reinforced because of it I decided to explore the other two thirds I’d previously dismissed.
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It was slim pickings until the third hall, mostly for the fact that I was limited by what I could carry so had to bear in mind that those 20th century designer lamps were just going to have to stay there. Deeper into the throng and nearer to the record stalls that shore up the far end of the layout I started to find pieces to take home. A clutch of hardback bande dessinée of Philippe Druillet‘s best 70s work from a French seller, a Metal Hurlant special on the making of Alien, complete with multiple examples of designs by Giger, Moebius, Ron Cobb and Ridley Scott himself.
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Two handfuls of vintage sci-fi paperbacks with Richard Powers covers from the delightfully named Magic Galaxies Intergalactic Book recycling Company. The bemused Dutch seller inquired what my criteria for buying was after watching me check every cover rather than just the spines of the books. IMG_6706
Just before closing time I chanced upon Grant McKinnon from the West Coast peddling original psychedelic posters and flyers from the 60s Haight Asbury heyday and was caught up in a last minute whirlwind of bartering for a handful of genuine 60s bills bearing the work of Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso.
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Check them out on the web, SF Rock Posters, no fakes, reasonable prices considering the vintage and top guys to boot. As the security guards were ushering the crowds out I spotted the only record I bought during my visit on the next table, a luminous yellow 7″ promo of ‘Pocket Calculator’ by Kraftwerk complete with printed transparent sleeve. Well, I couldn’t go all that way and not buy a single piece of vinyl could I?
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(Delta freight train photo by Chris Vos, taken from the Chrome Angelz Facebook group)

Metal Made Flesh 2 kickstarter


Readers might remember me featuring the first Metal Made Flesh kickstarter a couple of years back. Now the team is back for book 2, expanded with a second artist and bigger goals, two of which they’ve smashed, and they’re approaching the third with 12 days left. Taking liberally from all manner of sci-fi from the last three decades and managing to find new angles on it the book tells three different tales of a trio of characters and their place in the future cityscape of Tuaoni. You can get both books, T-shirts, original artwork or even appear as a character in the book in the new Kickstarter.
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The Art of Curation at ADE in Amsterdam with Mixcloud

RecordPalaceOpArt A couple of weeks ago I was in Amsterdam, taking part in discussions about ‘The Art of Curation’ with Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah. The chat was hosted by the electronics company Sonos as part of the annual ADE music conference that takes place there, the biggest in Europe. I chose five tracks that linked with the subjects of Music, Art, Sci-Fi, Comics & Design which largely tie into the things I collect and post about on this site. This is the part where the blog eats itself as I blog about myself talking about blogging and readers will hear some familiar names and sounds during the interview.

Raze7frontThe trip was a fruitful one in terms of digging for new things in my time off and I went with a mission for 45s, underground comics and sci-fi paperbacks. Things got off to a poor start with my first stop at Record Palace (Op Art -themed wall display at the top) which is on the outer rim of the centre of the city. I’ve shopped there a few times and it’s always yielded treasures but this time it wasn’t to be. Of the two 7″s I bought (a substandard late 80s Dickie Goodman break-in record and Raze‘s ‘Break 4 Love’) when I returned home to play them I discovered that the disc inside the Raze cover was in fact a Thompson Twins single. My fault for not checking the disc but they were only 50c and there was a strict ‘no playing’ rule on records from the cheap bins. The only good thing about it was the Trevor Jackson-designed cover which, when you look at the ‘dancing’ figures, is actually quite dirty.

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From here I visited Lambiek a few roads away, the oldest comic shop in the world if their website is to be believed and, on the strength of their stock, I can believe it. The shop is about to move to a new premises and their usual gallery space was now a large dumping ground for what looks like all manner of random stock. Very little of it was priced apart from the odd penciled number on an inside cover and many of the piles can contain anything, very little order exists as you can see below.

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But there was some gold there and I soon had a little pile building, the owner unable to direct me to the undergrounds as everything was mixed up due to the impending move. They closed at 5pm and at approximately 4.45 I glanced under a shelf and saw a box that looked like it was exactly what I was looking for. Going through it my suspicions were confirmed and I started pulling out handfuls of British and American underground and independent press comix as fast as I could, some in not-so-good condition but still a lot that you only find on eBay these days.Oz39
This copy of Oz magazine was nestling in the box, looking like a Robert Crumb comic, copies usually go for £10-20 and up.ImagineFoss SubvertComicsx3
These three Subvert comics by Spain were a bit water-damaged but I’d never seen copies before aside from being reprinted in other mags.Skull_TwoFistedZombies MotherOats1&3
No.s 1 and 3 of Mother Oats Comix by the late, great Dave Sheridan.
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They had five copies of this Radical Rock comic, all badly water-damaged but readable. You can easily find these for about $5 on eBay, but the postage triples the price as they’re always from the States.
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I wasn’t going to leave a comic behind with a cover like the Bizarre Sex one, the issue of Tasty has some really nice abstract acid trip visuals inside although the cover isn’t up to much.
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That Dutch NIMFKE comic on the right is probably one of the filthiest things I’ve ever seen in comic form.
CrackedMadStarWars SickThere was more but here’s a lot of it. I’d been tempering my choices, thinking that this was adding up to quite a bundle but some of this stuff just doesn’t come around in Europe that often, even in this condition. Upon taking them to the counter I couldn’t quite believe my luck when the assistant proceeded to charge me one Euro for each comic with only two for some slightly over-sized books like Imagine and Heavy Metal. Digs like that don’t happen every day.

On then, with a spring in my step, to a couple more comic shops further north near Centraal station. On my way I passed a shop with a big sign outside, ‘Used Books, English Language’, and took a quick peek to see what it was like. Once inside I inquired if they had any vintage sci-fi paperbacks and the guy at the counter pointed to eight large apple boxes stacked in the aisle. “Four for ten Euros“, he quipped, “How long until you close?”, “20 minutes!”. I probably got through about two thirds of them, given that they were two rows deep inside but it was worth it.
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Will Barras ‘Yeah Man!’ book

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Thirteen random photos plucked from the new Will Barras book ‘Yeah Man!’, a beautifully produced 200+ page hardback of paintings, drawings and murals from Will’s career in the past 2 decades. It’s interesting to see his early styles develop and change throughout the book as he experiments with different mark making techniques, including collage at one point. I realised that there were whole eras of his work I wasn’t familiar with from the first examples I’d seen when we first met in the late 90s.

His initial comic-y style has become even more fluid and the black outlines have slowly disappeared into a darker, more painterly palette. There’s still the dynamic forced perspectives, lithe figures and futuristic vehicles, now joined by sprawling cityscapes and psychedelic colour combinations. I was delighted to get a signed copy with an original sketch too, “Thanks man!”. You can order a copy here.

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The Space Merchants

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The Space Merchants (London) run a monthly film night in East London showing classic Sci-Fi (the more out there and dystopian the better) whilst also operating an online book store and posting related items on their Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

The next date is October 19th where they’ll be showing the early 80s Christopher Walken-starring Brainstorm. They design a new poster for each event and sell prints at the showing or online, below are some of my favourites and give you a flavour for what they’re about.

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Weekend Finds: Sci-Fi Paperbacks 3

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I was lucky enough to find time for a bookstore binge last weekend in Plymouth at the excellent Book Cupboard shop which yielded some Richard Powers and vintage Josh Kirby covers (ie: pre-Pratchett) and more.RPowrsx3.3 RPowrsx3.2 RPowrsx3.1 RPowrsx2.5 unknown+RPowersJosh Kirbyx3
Above: Richard M. Powers / Josh Kirby (bottom row only). Some of these were part of another batch of books that Stuart McLean aka Frenchbloke sourced for me from his local bookstore in Scotland. He very kindly went through multiple boxes and photographed a ton for me to pick through and reserve at The Book Shop, Wigtown. Massive thanks to Stuart who’s just completed his annual 48 hr radio marathon, The Dark Outside. Check out similar treats in his Stolen Library project too for free books and records.

I’m not exactly sure who the artists are on the books below except for The Cosmic Eye cover which is by Mike Hinge, but thought they looked interesting. If anyone has similar book stores in their town then please let me know so I can hit them up if and when I visit please.
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One week Kid Acne exhibition in Shoreditch Boxpark

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Kid Acne delves into his archives for a week-long exhibition at Unit 26 of the Boxpark in Shoreditch this week. For opening times please check the BOXPARK website + join them on October 1st from 6 – 9pm for #FirstThursdays + beer, music, animation and art.
Also out now is a Ltd. Edition 10″ six track EP from Mongrels (Kid Acne & Benjamin). The sleeve is screen-printed by Edna and all 300 copies have been signed, stamped and numbered on the back plus each record comes with a vinyl sticker and lithograph insert. BUY IT here and see the sleeve being made below:

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Colossus: The Forbin Project

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I saw this recently and, although dated technically, it has some fantastic sets, shots and soundtrack moments. A tale of the world’s first AI supercomputer who decides man is a danger to himself and holds the world to ransom. The film was based on a novel by D.F. Jones from two years previous and there were two sequels although none apparently live up to the original. Highly recommended and sporting some great poster and book cover design from the late 60s.

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Weekend finds: more Sci-Fi paperbacks

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Unearthed from the teetering piles of books in Voltaire & Rousseau, Otago Lane, Glasgow this weekend. See just one aisle from the shop at the bottom, proper archeology needed to get to some of these beauties. Found a couple of Richard M. Powers covers and a Brian Lewis cover from Science Fantasy that seemed to be channeling him. The Kirby cover at the bottom is similar in style, I’m a sucker from this abstract, psychedelic depiction of alien worlds and it seems to have been a fad for a while to paint like this. I’m pretty sure the Kirby there isn’t Jack but you never know, anyone who can identify the artist on the Analog cover will be most appreciated, maybe Mike Hinge?.SF PBks2 Science Fantasy#36 Brian LewisSF PBks1Voltaire & Rousseau Otago St

Weekend Finds: Sci-Fi paperbacks

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A very productive weekend of digging uncovered these sci-fi paperbacks among others including three with covers by Richard M. Powers to add to the collection (I’m not so interested in the content, just the covers). The SF-18 cover artist is uncredited but a quick web search reveals that it’s by Dean Ellis and the original art is actually available to buy from this site if you have $5.5k! I’ve screen-grabbed the original below.

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The Harlan Ellison book is an oddity as I noticed it shares a version of the same image on the cover of the Elektriktus album Electronic Mind Waves.

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UPDATE: It seems that the image used on both the Ellison and Elecktriktus albums was originally by Rayment Kirby, entitled ‘Watch it’ and was printed as one of the first ever posters from the Big O Poster company. I contacted him and he shared his memory of making the piece,
It was made by cutting out a B/W print after masking out the model’s hair and hand colouring it . It was laid on black polythene sheeting and the clock parts glued in position and the strands radiating from them were made from Bostick like glue. I think I shot the image in the late 1960s to early 70s so it was a long time ago. I don’t even remember who the model was. Having thought about the picture I think the poster rights may have been sold by an agent I had at the time. This would not have Included the other uses that (have) been made.”

Watch It Raymond Kirby Martin

 

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Gamma Proforma – Rammellzee, Futura, She One and more…

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OK, so – Gamma Proforma – UK label dealing in music, art, books and apparel (T-shirts to you and me). I’ve mentioned them before, most notably with the recent Divine Styler album that blew my socks off in January but also with the ReWire kickstarter of last year and the Futurism 2.0 exhibition they put on a couple of years back. Their ‘roster’ – if you can call it that as they seem to deal in a project by project way – is full of names familiar to this blog both new and old: She One, Augustine Kofie, Divine Styler, Futura 2000, Will Barras, Remi/Rough, Delta, Rammellzee, Syd Mead and Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift among many more. If that isn’t enough to get your interest then you may as well stop reading now. I just want to highlight some of the currents releases coming out of this great label who seem to have tapped into my mind at times and assembled items that tick multiple boxes to an extent where it’s just getting silly now.
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Their current big project is a multi-part release of The Rammellzee‘s final album, ‘Cosmic Flush’, incomplete at the time of his death but now finished by producer Jonah Mociun whom he worked on it with. Each track is being released on a single 12″ backed with a remix + instrumentals with a different artist chosen to provide the cover which is also included as a signed print.
Above and below are the first two singles, ‘Brainstorm’ and How’s My Girlfriends’ with art by Futura 2000 and Ramm acolyte Ian Kuali’i and remixes by Divine Styler and Mr Len (ex-Co. Flow). The third 12″ – released next month – will be ‘Crazay’ with art by Delta and Mike Ladd on remix duties. Each 12″ is a pressing of 500 with half of these adding the print, these versions aren’t cheap and the Futura one is already sold out but the quality is top notch. Eventually all the releases will form the album proper although I’m not sure whether that will be collected into a box of some sort or issued on CD.
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As you can see, there’s a heavy emphasis on the more leftfield, abstract side of graffiti on these releases and that’s carried over into the books and T-shirts too. The She One book with 7″ picure disc below is a heavy slab of goodness chock full of James Choules’ flaming brushstroke camouflage styles from close ups to sketch book scraps and a beautiful collection presented without all the usual clichés of the genre.

Shebook & disc2 She Book&disc1 PhilAshcroft&printSimilarly Phil Ashcrofts angular spikes take on a more ‘futuristic’ tone in his book of dystopian visions and sci-fi seems the be at the heart of what Gamma produce with Syd Mead T-shirts being an early release. There’s also a shirt series underway too with Kofie supplying the first example on a white shirt below and Will Barras depicting a menacing Rammellzee in his signature style for the second.

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All the pieces mentioned here are immaculately laid out and design forms the subject of another forthcoming book – a retrospective of Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift‘s career titled ‘Full Circle’, due in the autumn but you can pre-order it now. I daren’t even mention the Will Barras book arriving shortly, the prints, magazines, original art or the digital freebies available if you peruse the Gamma site at length…

PS: in a weird act of synchronicity the Has It Leaked site just put up a look at the label too with quotes from me included – read it here and find out even more…

X-Ray Audio book pre-audio

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Soviet flexi discs, ‘bones’ or ‘ribs’, music pressed on old X-Rays due to lack of resources. Stephen Coates aka The Real Tuesday Weld has been collecting and exhibiting these for a while now and Strangeattractor Press are publishing a book of them this autumn. Pre-order is here and there is a limited edition with a free flexi disc which I will no doubt be featuring in the Flexibition at some point.
Next week, Tuesday 30th June, Stephen will be telling the story of the X-Ray Bootleggers at The Last Tuesday Society. More details and tickets here
…and on Friday 3rd July Stephen and Aleks Kolkowski will be presenting a special evening at the Masonic Temple of the Andaz Hotel as part of the East End Film Festival. A new x-ray record will be cut live with a 1940s recording lathe from a live performance by Marcella Puppini of The Puppini Sisters. Go HERE for more details and tickets

Roger Perry ‘The Writing On The Wall’ reissue

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Arriving the morning after the recent UK election result, finally holding the reprinted, expanded edition of Roger Perry‘s ‘The Writing On The Wall’ was a bittersweet experience. In George Melly‘s original introduction he says; “With the ballot box effective why spray walls?” a statement a fair few people would most likely have a bone to pick with right now. Looking through the beautifully printed pages at the replica version I cherry-picked a few shots that struck a chord and prove that not much changes when it comes to public opinion of those in charge.

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It’s not all socio-political commentary though, there are oddities, messages of love, the inevitable football allegiances and more bizarre offerings. Often there are some poignant juxtapositions on either side of a spread, the ‘God Is Love’ / ‘Clapton is God’ example below being just one of them. New forewards by Bill Drummond and George Stewart-Lockheart (who organised the whole project via Kickstarter last year) bring context via hindsight to the photos. and while Drummond is the name you’ll recognise, Stewart-Lockheart’s essay is a fascinating, expertly-researched history of much of the content, something the original book lacked.

Expertly laid out by Pearce Marchbank – the original designer and Time Out art director in the 70s – the reprinted facsimile of the book has a yellowed, off-white tint to the pages which distinguishes it from the clean white of the new material. The end section features profiles of those involved in the making of the original volume as well as a host of newly discovered images and negatives from the archives which expand on and reveal how the book came together. It’s a lovingly put together edition with its cloth-bound, foil-blocked front cover and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in seeing 70s London and the marks made by ordinary people in the days before the art of Hip Hop graffiti writing came to these shores. More info about where you can obtain a copy is here at the rogerperrybook site or you can buy it direct.

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Record Store Day 2015

WNBARB_RSD2015I didn’t go into town for RSD, instead I stayed south of the river, went to smaller, local stores like Rat Records in Camberwell, Casbah and The Music & Video Exchange in Greenwich and The Book & Record Bar in West Norwood (above). Much calmer atmosphere, no crush or crazy queuing, no crowds. I saw some scenes in the centre of London on the day and it looked like Carnival was on. Read what happened to Mr Thing at his set on Berwick St. in the middle of Soho… not cool.

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I went to West Norwood first, got there at 10am, walked in and pulled one record straight away from my list (the Amorphous Androgynous ‘Wizards of Oz’ comp above). No fuss, no crush, no queuing. They also still had records from RSD 2014 in the racks. I will go to Rough Trade at some point in the next few weeks to see what they have but I joined a queue there on RSD about 3 years ago and never again. It’s not for me, I don’t enjoy buying records that way. If people are all looking in one place I want to be somewhere in the opposite direction.
In all on Saturday I did four records shops, only two of which had RSD records, but I got plenty of vinyl, both old and new (plus books, magazines and a CD).

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Also had time to see an exhibition (Snub 23, see previous post) and meet up with friends and family in the park. A relaxing day that involved going to record stores/shops and helping support them plus the artists and labels. No fretting about whether a record I wanted was going for stupid money on eBay, there’s plenty of time to hunt the one that got away down, I don’t need anything so badly that I have to pay those kind of prices. I should probably also add here, that this is pretty much the same as any number of other days in the year when I go shopping for records rather than making it a one-off.

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Epiphanies book from The Wire

acb161e5Love the cover of the ‘Epiphanies’ collected from The Wire‘s back pages. A simple concept: an artist is invited to recall an epiphany in their life, these used to run (maybe they still do) as the last feature in the Wire before the back cover, effectively the end of each issue. The cover illustration in by Reuben Sutherland who is the graphic half of Sculpture who will be playing tonight, April 10th at the Yard in Hackney Wick.

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