I like buying records

If you’ve just joined us, I’m reflecting on a bunch of things I like to do. This post here explains why.

Today: record shopping. I like buying records.

The important thing to notice is that I didn’t say that I like listening to records, collecting records or owning records – although those are, of course, things that I very much enjoy. If I really think about it, the activity that seems to give me the most satisfaction is the process of acquisition. The time spent browsing, rummaging and discovering second hand vinyl – and usually cheap stuff.

I guess that’s largely because I’m always immersed in music, and the records I buy simply get absorbed into that mix and take the aggregate experience in new and interesting directions. I certainly wouldn’t be short of stuff to listen to if I didn’t go record shopping – but I do really love going record shopping.

It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time – simultaneously meditative and engaging. Like I imagine knitting would be if there were spot prizes.


Two by four


I’ve been sorting out my records over the past few days, putting them all in alphabetical order, and I’ve just about come to the end. Only a pile of compilations to sort through (okay, three piles), and that should take me the rest of the evening and this glass of wine.

As you may guess, I have… let’s call it ‘dozens’ of records. Conservatively speaking.

But these four surprised me. They’re my duplicates. Records I have bought twice without realising it.

The Sinatra one makes perfect sense. That was a charity shop purchase at a time when I was buying a bunch of charity shop Sinatra albums. Frank Sinatra made a lot of records. The pressings on those original issues clean up so well, the recording of his voice at that time was so incredible, and the songs are so great, I just grabbed what I could without paying too much attention. Cheap as dirt and an absolute gem. I don’t think I paid more than £1 for that record. Probably 50p.

Sugar’s Copper Blue is a complete mystery. I don’t have a lot of rock vinyl, and I feel sure I’d remember already owning that one. Apparently not. Somewhere along the way, I’ve picked up a second copy. Such a great record though. NME’s Album of the Year 1992. When I do buy rock, I tend to buy the stuff I can keep going back to again and again. And this has Hoover Dam on it.

That reminds me. I have no Hüsker Dü on vinyl. No Pixies either. Must fix that.

The Rickie Lee Jones – dunno. Safety copy? Don’t think I could be without that record for too long. They’re pretty easy to find though, and tend to be cheap – so I guess I probably actually bought that one in a moment of forgetfulness because it was a bargain, rather than as a backup. If you don’t know that record, treat yourself. Last Chance Texaco alone will reward you for years to come. You’ll already know and love Chuck E’s In Love, I suspect.

And it turns out I have two copies of Joni Mitchell’s Blue on vinyl. I was kind of convinced I didn’t even have one. Perhaps my subconscious just wanted me to be super certain about this one.

More even than the others here – in fact, more than almost every other record in my collection, Blue is an absolute must-own. But it’s kind of hard to get your hands on. Maybe because it’s one of the best albums ever made.

It’s not that it’s rare, as such… there are squillions of copies in existence. They just disappear out of the second-hand vinyl stores as soon as they arrive. Everybody wants it.

The embarrassing thing is, every single time I’ve been into a record shop this year, in every city I’ve visited, I’ve asked if they had a copy. Even went hunting online. “We had it, but it sold”.

I was on the verge of giving up entirely. And now, it turns out, I can.

The good thing, I guess, is that it’s only four records – and they’re all exceptionally good ones. It would be terrible if I had duplicates of records I didn’t like. But fortunately – I don’t even own single copies of records I don’t like.

So… gifts or spares?

Fewer, better, more organised


It’s raining outside, and I have a bit of downtime today, so I thought I’d do a long overdue sort of my albums.

Alphabetical, naturally – but also sorting them into sections. They’re not brilliant divisions for music in general, but it kind of makes sense of the collection I have. The sections are:

- Jazz
– Latin American
– African
– Classic rock & pop, funk and soul
– Contemporary rock, pop, electronic and hip hop
– Compilations

The big sections are Jazz and Latin – a couple of hundred albums each. A hundred or so each of the other sections, except for the traditional African music albums. There’s only about a dozen of those, but they don’t really fit in other sections. It seems right to keep them together – and maybe that’s an area I’ll start focusing on one day and developing.

Not a massive collection compared to the thousands I got rid of before leaving New Zealand, but at least I can say that with the exception of the four records I’ve decided to get rid of, I like every single slab of vinyl I own. That never used to be the case.

Of course, I have lots more music than this. This is just my vinyl. I don’t own CDs, but I have a lot of digital music. Really a lot. Tens of thousands. Fortunately, digital files are much more easily sorted

45 x 45 x 45 x 0

I had this great idea. Around the middle of September, I’m going to be turning 45. So what I thought I would do is to blog 45 of my favourite and most influential 45 rpm 7″ singles from my life, one a day, leading up to my 45th birthday.

Fun idea, right? And one that would start nicely on the 1st of August, and end with a mixtape on the day of my birthday. One of those really cool blogging projects I’m so fond of.

But I’m not going to do it. Let me tell you why.


The day I had been looking forward to…


Having a dreadful time in Brazil as you can probably tell. People keep giving me nice things to eat, taking me to interesting places, and getting very excited about my research. It’s a terrible ordeal… ;)

But as it’s Saturday today, it was time to go record shopping – which is secretly the main reason I’m in São Paulo (not really, but it’s certainly an additional ulterior motive).

Eduardo and Rosana from the University, both of whom I met for the first time yesterday, picked me up at 9 o’clock at the hotel and we went straight to the Galeria do Rock – a six story shopping mall devoted entirely to rock music, underground culture and hip hop.


Top 50 0f 2010 – of sorts

Photo by Maarten Hornstra

I wasn’t going to do a ‘best of’ list this year. I really haven’t been paying enough attention. Of course, I’ve come across some great music, and can recommend you check some stuff out – but the attention required to put them in some sort of order is beyond me right now – and, of course, most of the music I’ve listened to in 2010 is not from 2010.

So I thought just for the sake of it, I’d dig through my Last.fm profile and make a list of the artists that I’ve listened to most this year. It looks like this – in descending order of most-played.