Disclaimer: The brief recollection you’re about to read is an assortment of dusty memory shards pieced together in an old pickled noggin. Events described may skew toward the true-ish rather than the dead-on accurate.
I got turned on to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins via the 1983 Jim Jarmusch movie “Stranger Than Paradise,” which memorably featured his signature song, “I Put a Spell on You,” on its soundtrack. Smitten with Jay’s unhinged sound, I dutifully purchased his compilation CD “Frenzy” and fell in love with more demented ditties, including “Alligator Wine,” “Little Demon,” and the title track. A few years later, I was living in Boston and Jay came to the area to play a gig. I’d read that his live performances could be playfully macabre—he’d been known to pop out of a coffin at the start of some concerts. As an avowed fan of over-the-top rock theatrics, I knew I had to be there. Continue reading
Vinyl on the Side
Being a vinyl gourmand, I love nothing more than the smorgasbord of a record shop devoted solely to the spinning platter. But shops that serve up vinyl not as an entrée but a side dish can be quite tasty too. Take Dress Code, a funky vintage clothing and tchotchke emporium in Southsea, England, my new stomping grounds. Its slogan is “Fine and Fabulous Shit,” and that’s a pretty spot-on tagline. Among the denim jackets, band T-shirts, anime accessories and skull-centric jewelry, you’ll find a small but super-hip stash of used LPs. The emphasis is on ‘80s new wave and alternative—if your Siouxsie and the Banshees album collection is lacking, look no further. PIL, Japan, and Ultravox are also well-represented, plus there are a few surprising outliers including a handful of Lynyrd Skynyrd records and, on my visit at least, the terrible, horrible, no-good soundtrack to the “Sgt. Pepper” movie. (George Burns, tsk-tsk.) I snapped up a rad promo compilation of covers, in near-mint condition, for £8, slightly more than the Discogs median price, but whatevs. (See photos below.) I’ve got my eye on a couple of those Siouxise LPs, so I’ll be back soon and I know Dress Code will become one of my regular haunts. But I’ll probably pass on the skull necklaces. I could never pull off that look.
As someone who bought his first 45-rpm record in a suburban Nashville drugstore, I’ve never been picky about where I get my music. Big box chain, charity shop, streaming service, wherever, as long as they have what I’m in the mood to hear, I’m good. Still, there is something undeniably satisfying about exploring an abundantly stocked, expertly curated record shop where the proprietor’s passion is palpable. (Apologies for all the p’s.) In this occasional series, I’ll be extolling the virtues of such establishments, and I encourage readers to chime in with their own favourites. There’s no better shop to start with than Uptight Records near Brighton, England. Incredibly, I’ve been to this soul music mecca only once, on holiday. Logistics, namely living in Canada until recently, have hampered return trips. But that lone encounter made a lasting impression. Continue reading
Hello again! I’m back after a brief hiatus from the blog while I moved the operations for Dugout Discs and its subsidiary holdings (wink) from Toronto, Canada, to Portsmouth, England. We’re by the sea, people! It’s glorious. And the even better news is that Portsmouth has at least four decent places to buy vinyl, including a well-stocked HMV. My two favourite shops so far are a hip little venture called Pie & Vinyl, which offers both the latest record releases and, at an adjoining cafe, tasty meat pies cooked to order; and a used record shop, Soundz, which boasts an impressive collection of records from the ’70s and ’80s, most priced around five pounds. Here you can see my very first purchase from Soundz, a classic by Heaven 17 with a cover that I hadn’t seen before in North America. Now I just have to find a new turntable to play it on. I had to give up my beloved Denon player prior to moving– the electrical current is different here, don’tcha know– but at least I found it a good home. The search begins!