Compare and Contrast: The Fall vs Spinal Tap

I’m aware that blogs with video or other visual content tend to receive more traffic and more comments than those without it. Perhaps it’s because, with fewer words, they’re easier to digest for those who prefer their blogs to be less challenging. I’m also aware that it requires less effort, at least in terms of writing, to produce a blog where much of the space is occupied by large pictures or videos. My insistence on text-only blogs to date has been a combination of bloody-mindedness, and an enduring habit of making life hard to myself – and believe me, writing more words with a view to receiving fewer hits really is the epitome of maximum effort for minimum reward.

Anyway, this is the first in an occasional series which places two songs side by side in order to play one of my favourite musical games, compare and contrast. But who is ripping off whom?

Today, we pit The Mighty Fall against the mighty funny Spinal Tap. Enjoy!

 

Spinal Tap: Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

 

The Fall: Athlete Cured

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk 

Record Store Day Bonanza…But For Whom?

I’ve spent many a long hour lamenting the demise of the independent record shop. Even second-hand shops are hard to come by now, and record fairs just aren’t as common or popular as they used to be. That I’ve had jobs in both new and second-hand stores means I have particularly fond memories, but mostly, I miss the record-shopping experience. Browsing on-line just isn’t the same, even with the tailored ‘recommendations’ sites like Amazon make. There’s just no substitute for being there, rifling through the stock and picking something out just because it looks interesting, or because the dude behind the counter’s playing something that’s completely incredible and you can’t leave the shop till it’s in your possession.

While the number of record shops may be rapidly diminishing and articles are published daily decrying the death of physical formats, the collector’s market is unquestionably alive and well and positively thriving. it’s just a matter of sourcing the goods, and the fact that physical copies are produced in smaller runs.

Of course, it’s far better in economic terms to produce fewer units and have them sell out than it is to massively overestimate potential sales – just as it’s better for a band to play a small venue and sell it out than to play to a half-empty bigger venue. But when it comes to Record Store Day, people go a little crazy. Perhaps in part this is due to the incredibly limited runs of unusual pressings by acts with large and devoted fanbases, and that’s something that’s always going to get the collectors in a frenzy – myself included.

So I rocked up at Jumbo in Leeds at a little after 10am to discover a queue containing a good forty or fifty people. ‘Fuck that’, I thought. Life’s too short for queueing, and besides, I’m plain lousy at killing time. Electing to give it twenty minutes or so, I cut back out onto the Headrow and made my way towards Crash, only to discover the situation there was the same, only worse. Much as I love vinyl and record collecting and music in general, I’m not so desperate as to stand halfway round the block just to get into a record shop on the off-chance they might have something I’m after, so I headed up New Briggate to the second-hand record store Relics, who used to have a sister shop in York called Cassidy’s. I have fond memories of Cassidy’s and picked up some great items in there, including my copy of the Throbbing Gristle ‘Five Albums’ Box Set (which despite the being a little battered, was still a steal at forty-five quid), and Relics is similarly likely to have unusual nuggets tucked in the racks.

Rifling stock beats the crap out of standing in line, but in the end I decided to pass on the few bits I was contemplating and get back on my rather more specific mission. Tom my dismay, the queue outside Crash had grown, so I legged it back to Jumbo where there queue had gone and the simple in / out barrier was facilitating a free flow of customers, even if they were three deep at the counter. I had only half a dozen items on my list – I wasn’t out to buy for the sake of it, and I had only limited funds – and they’d all gone. It was as though a plague of locusts had descended on the place. I left empty-handed. It was 10:30.

So, back to Crash, where I joined the queue. As I waited, I wondered if I’d have fared better if I’d just joined the queue in the first place, or if I’d just arrived earlier (not that 10am was exactly late). The guy in front of me suggested perhaps not: one of his mates had turned up at 6am, and there had been others there before that: some had even queued from 10pm the night before. The guy on the door informed us that there had been no fewer than 90 people waiting outside when they opened the doors. I can’t think that there are any records I’d be that desperate to get my hands on, and in my experience, most titles crop up at a reasonable price at some point (there was a time in the 90s I’d have happily paid fifty nicker for a copy of The Last of the Baby Boomers by La Costa Rasa, if only I could have found a copy. 2002, a copy surfaced on eBay and I bagged it for £2.50 as the sole bidder). Many of those in front of me were clutching Jumbo bags that were bursting at the seams.

Half an hour later, I was granted entry to the tiny emporium, and struck silver, but not quite gold, in that I failed to secure a copy of the Interpol 12” (300 copies on red vinyl) or Nirvana’s Hormoaning reissue, and they were out of the 10”by The Black Angels. I didn’t even ask about the 10” of The Queen is Dead or the latest Earth LP (only 150 copies for the UK), but did manage to bag myself the Joy Division / New Order 12”, a copy of the single by Prurient, plus the British Sea Power double 7” set for my mate. None of these items was cheap, but I figured it made sense to up the prices in the hope that the goods would go to genuine collectors rather than carpetbaggers who’d swoop in and buy an armful just to flog ‘em on eBay, forcing the desperate completists to pay through the nose. It seems only fair that the labels and – hopefully – the artists should benefit from the buying bonanza.

Alas, on arrival home I discovered that all of the titles I’d failed to get were already on eBay, and numerous copies of each had already sold as Buy It Now sales for well above the retail price (while noting with a small degree of satisfaction that the Joy Division 12”, which I’d considered steep at £15 was selling for anything from £30 to £60, while some fool had shelled out a full ton on the thing.

I’ve resisted the temptation to plug the gaps in my collection and spend money I haven’t got bidding on these items. Six months hence, or maybe later, when the initial flurry of redistribution has died down, or the popularity of some of the bands has diminished, I expect I’ll find them for a price closer to the initial retail price. If not, I’ll live. After all, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll (and I’m all about the music, man, and not capitalist greed).

And if you’re loving my work (or want to give me some records) there’s more of the same (only different) at christophernosnibor.co.uk

Thoughts, Images, Sounds….

I hadn’t been especially late to bed and had slept reasonably well, at least in comparison to the last two or three weeks. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve not been sleeping well lately. However tired I am, however much or little alcohol I consume during the evening, whether I go to be early or late, whether I have to be up or not, I’ve been waking up consistently a little before five in the morning. Once awake, I lie wondering how long it is before the alarm (the clock isn’t on my side of the bed, and the hands on my old, second-hand, wind-up watch are not luminous). I’m always aware that I’ve been dreaming long and hard, but can never recall any of the details, and more often than not, even the main body of the dream evaporates on waking. All I know is that my mind has been working overtime and I’m even more exhausted on waking than when I turn out the light – or leave it on, along with the television or radio in an attempt to create a background hum that will induce rest. And while Mrs N sleeps soundly through everything, nothing works for me.

So once again I awoke before the alarm and lay, semi-comatose and half-paralysed, too awake to return to sleep, to dopey to get up and commence any kind of constructive activity. It’s a little like anaesthesia, or how I imagine a Ketamine trip to feel. I haul myself out of bed and make myself ready without breaking free of my zombified state.

I open the front door. It’s light, despite being a minute before 7am. The street is bright and empty. I feel on the one hand that Spring really is just around the corner. On the other hand, it’s cold and silent and I feel as though the end of the world is nigh, or, worse still, that the world ended in the night and I am alone in this disconsolate, pot-apocalyptic northern city. Actually, would that really be worse?

Shunning thoughts of the 2012 prophecy to the back of my mind and plugging myself into my MP3 player – not a slick iPod with infinite capacity, but a 2-Gig Alba purchased 3 years ago from Netto – I head townwards with The Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut in my ears.

Walking onwards, ever onwards, and encountering no other pedestian and only a handful of cyclists who speed past me, I kept my eyes open and absorb whatever presents itself. I inhaled deeply and drank in the cool morning, my senses unravelling and my receptors slowly coming to life. The air was cold and clear, the ground dry, a frost on the roofs glinting against the clear sky. A mist hung over the Ouse. The water level was relatively low and the water still save for the occasional ripple of rising fish. Lendal Bridge was reflected almost perfectly, the infrequent cars crossing the bridge also crossing in them inverted version on the water below.

The bus is on time. I take a seat and pull my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary from my bag. I’ve only been reading it for the last three days (and I only get to read in small chunks) but I’m already 30 pages in. The best thing about the bus part of the journey is that I’ve recently discovered that I can read on busses without becoming travel-sick. Two stops on and I’m compressed into half of my seat as some gargantuan, lumbering, fantasy-novel-reading behemoth had parked herself beside me. Her massive bulk occupies a full seat and a half and she’s still hanging into the aisle, her Kindle e-book reader looking like a PDA in proportion to her colossal, hulking frame. She smells, too. I feel nauseous, but fight the gag reflex in favour of soaking in the details of her pungent wet do aroma, her plum-coloured quilted coat, like a giant slippery sleeping bag. I can hear her wheezing even over the sound of ‘Flowers’. It’s painful, awkward and uncomfortable, but I remind myself, ‘this is research’.

For once, I am relieved to arrive at work.

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Things That the Everyday Folk Leave Behind

So I’ve had a pretty busy time of late, what with a couple of interviews I’ve conducted and am conducting for various publications, not to mention interviews and promo bits and pieces for From Destinations Set which is out on the 28th, and a spate of gigs and a tidal wave of new releases to review (90 reviews this year to date), and as a consequence, the blog’s something I’ve let slide a bit (again).

With so much to do, places to go and people to see, I find I spend all of my waking hours rushing about, and my non-waking hours spent with my mind churning through all of the things I’ve done and have got to do and should have done but haven’t yet. To an extent, that’s pretty normal for me, but lately I’ve been so preoccupied and absorbed in all of this activity that I noticed that I’ve stopped noticing things. This concerns me. I’ve always maintained that being attuned to one’s surroundings is the key to being a writer of merit (and while my merits as a writer won’t ultimately be determined by me, it’s something I like to feel I at least aspire to). Besides, it’s not something that’s entirely optional: drawing on the details and minutia of the everyday is a compulsion, it’s something I can’t help, at least under normal circumstances. Observation, those details of life and snippets of overheard dialogue have long provided me with an abundance of material for my writing, be it fiction or blogs or whatever, Absorbing information from the world around me is integral not only to my work, but who I am. Small wonder I was beginning to feel that the workload was swallowing my life: I was beginning to lose myself.

As a consequence, I resolved to pull myself back to life, and I’ve begun to try to observe my surroundings again. I have no idea why I was remotely surprised by the sensory overload this retuning induced, given that I find the wealth of extraneous information dizzying the majority of the time, but having effectively shut down for a period of time, engaging once again with my environment proved to be an immediate culture shock.

So on leaving the house this morning, I was elated to note that day was breaking. It was the first time in months I had hit the pavement in daylight. The air was cold but still. Birds were singing – something quite uncommon given the density of the housing, the lack of gardens and trees and the large number of brutal cats in the neighbourhood. On arrival at the bus stop, I was amused – and also bemused – to see that on one of the seats moulded into the shelter was a handbag. Abandoned, forgotten. Beside the handbag, stretched and strewn across the next two seats, a pair of tights. I wondered if the tights and bag had the same (former) owner. Must’ve been one hell of a night.

It’s not just physical objects that are discarded at random. Conversations, sounds, ideas, all contribute to the flotsam and jetsam. Before long, I’m on the bus, surrounded by blank individuals. The journey is soundtracked by the album The Disaster of Imagination by Sense of Scenery. It doesn’t entirely drown the chatter of the other passengers. I’m reading $20,000 by Bill Drummond. The sensory overload I’m accustomed to is back. Snippets of dialogue filter into my consciousness, on the bus, at the office. Most of it mere babble, some of it so inane it’s beyond belief. ‘Is she still Spanish?’

I’m being flooded with material, more material in a day than I can use in a lifetime. I pick them all up, all of the bits and pieces, and stow them, ready for when I need them. I never know when I might need that discarded handbag, the left-behind tights, the fragments of dialogue, the half light and the birdsong. I’m living the experience that I was supposed to be creating to an amplified degree in THE PLAGIARIST. It’s not funny any more. This is the world.

I’m back and I’m firing on all cylinders….

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk