I wrote a post this week for The Thrift blog (Barnardo’s charity shop blog) all about my tips for shopping for second-hand vinyl. You can read it here
Last Monday I found myself with a little spare time in Bath. For me, this means time to browse the charity shops, searching for second-hand goodies. Even if I’m not in the mood to search for clothes, there are always books and records to flick through.
As vinyl has become more popular, many of the second-hand shops in Bath have started to dedicate some of their space to used records. As well as the Oxfam Book and Record shop there is the Dorothy House book, furniture and vinyl store on Broad Street. I’m a great fan of the Dorothy House shops which support this local hospice charity. They have really upped their game in the charity shopping stakes, opening their vintage store and coffee house, ’76’, in Bath last year (see my post here). If you’re on instagram check them out dorothyhouseshops : they post lots of pictures of their second-hand goodies.
What I love about their book and record shop is the retro listening booth:
And they have some bargain price records on sale too. As it was a Monday I picked up this classic The Police album for just £2!
Released in 1983, ‘Synchronicity’ won three Grammys and was named Rolling Stone’s ‘album of the year’. It features ‘Every Breath You Take’ (the creepy stalking song that people think is really romantic), ‘King of Pain’ and ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’.
In 1983 I was obsessed with Duran Duran and thought that The Police was an old band. I didn’t pay much attention to them and have to admit that, in my eyes, Sting’s later solo stuff has rather tarnished their reputation. But listening to this album I realise just how good they were. A while ago I was given a second-hand copy of their 1981 album, ‘Ghost in the Machine’, which, unfortunately, was too scratched to listen to. Having picked up ‘Synchronicity’, though, I think I’m going to add this earlier album to my wish list too.
Today is Vinyl Record Day (in the US), marking the anniversary of Edison’s invention of the phonogram. So it’s quite apt that I have spent the past week listening to my latest second-hand purchase: Abba’s The Visitors.
I have written here about my personal wish list when browsing through second-hand records. But as well as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, later Beatles albums (yes I know I’d be v lucky!) and early 80s electronic, I have also been looking out for Abba’s final album,’The Visitors’.
As a child of the seventies I know every Abba song off by heart. As well as inheriting their Greatest Hits album from my parents, I’ve also picked up ‘Arrival’ and, more recently,’Super Trouper’ (£2, charity shop).
This year I started to listen to their final album, ‘The Visitors’, on Spotify (I’m sure there’s a post here: Digital v Vinyl) and really began to appreciate it. With a nod to the breakups and emotional turmoil that lay behind the making of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, this album was written after Benny and Frida, the other couple, had split up. You only have to listen to ‘When All is Said and Done’ and ‘One of Us’ to understand the inspiration between these more mature ‘break up’ songs.
But my favourite is the Cold War thriller that is ‘The Visitors’. The narrator hears the doorbell and knows that ‘they’ have come to take her away: “come to take me, come to break me, and yet it isn’t unexpected.” It’s all quite John Le Carre and Smileys People. 1981 was in the middle of Cold War tensions (Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott, Thatcher and Reagan in power and the very realistic threat of nuclear war). This dark, un-Abba song with its early 80s electronic beat is a far cry from the pop-friendly ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Voulez Vous’, but probably a more realistic vision of the time. Even the dark, shadowy (and downright moody) front cover depicts a significant point in Abba’s final chapter.
Nonetheless, I was over the moon to find a good copy in a local charity shop at the weekend. For just £3 it came still partly wrapped in plastic. Although the title track is slightly scratched it’s still in good condition and I have really enjoyed listening to it and getting all dark and moody…
Another great vinyl find last weekend. While we have not been intentionally searching for second-hand copies of Now That’s What I Call Music, my husband and I have stumbled across a few that are just too good to miss. On Saturday we bought Volume 3 from the Oxfam shop in Chippenham, for just £1.99.
This album really reflects the music I was into in my early teens and even includes one of the first records I ever bought: The Reflex by Duran Duran. Just one look at the cover and I’m transported back to my bedroom in 1984 with posters of Duran Duran and Nik Kershaw on the walls.
The lineup on the double album is really quite impressive and a snapshot of what I was listening to in 1984 (although not, I hasten to mention, Gary Glitter, who makes an appearance on this album before he is airbrushed out of 1980s pop).
My tastes did become a little more Indie as the decade wore on, which probably explains why I’m not that interested in later versions.
This year I have a sort of wish list when hunting for second-hand vinyl, although as records become more popular (even Sainsburys is selling vinyl), the prices are starting to rise in second-hand shops. My shopping list is:
- Rumours by Fleetwood Mac (I suspect this is getting harder to pick up second-hand, but what a great album and one of the few where every track is brilliant and poignant)
- Tapestry by Carole King (as above, a hard one to source second-hand)
- Spandau Ballet: Journeys to Glory (their first album when the band were still part of the Blitz Club scene)
- The Beatles’ albums: Sergeant Pepper, The White Album, Abbey Road (yes this is quite a long shot. I am fortunate that I have inherited a lot of my parents’ Beatles albums and only need these three to complete the collection. But probably more of a dream list now…)
Saturday 16 April is Record Store Day and a great opportunity to discover vinyl. See the website here for events that are happening near to you.
Tonight we are taking part in what has become a New Year’s Eve tradition for us: going to a friend’s house in the village, eating, drinking, and dancing….to our vinyl collection.
For the past three years we’ve transported the record player to their house and bought along a wide selection of LPs and singles. Some of our friends have contributed their own collections too.
This New Year’s Eve we have a few more records to add, having picked up some bargains from charity shops in Bath, Bristol and Kent.
(l-r: The Bangles, Haircut 100, Style Council and – a Tears for Fears classic: The Hurting)
I also bought this album for purely sentimental reasons as Wet Wet Wet were the first band I ever saw live and I played this LP non stop when I was 15!
My husband has done a couple of local DJing slots and I bought him this carrying box for his birthday this year:
Stuffed with some of our favourite records, ready for a good night:
Finally I will be really looking forward to playing this LP tonight, which we picked up in Bristol last month for £2.
Nothing says ‘New Year’s Eve Party for the over 40s’ then a good Abba album. We already have these ones:
But I’m particularly looking forward to playing their New Year’s hit: Happy New Year which, when you listen to the lyrics, is actually quite depressing. As a kid I was always intrigued by the lines:
It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say
What we’ll find
What likes waiting
Down the line
In the end of Eighty-Nine
I remember how futuristic that sounded at the time.
Next year I’m determined to add to my second-hand vinyl collection with Abba’s last album, the melancholic The Visitors. I will still also be looking for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and would love to get hold of Tapestry by Carole King and Rio by Duran Duran. However as vinyl prices rise (across the road from where we picked up our £2 Abba LP another charity shop was selling albums for £10) this may become harder.
Wherever you are I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve and wish you all the best for 2016 xxx
As you know we love our record player and are on a mission to make everyone fall in love again with vinyl. Since acquiring our record player eighteen months ago we have dug out our old vinyl, found new (to us) records in charity shops and hosted a couple of Record Player Evenings for friends. So it was only a matter of our time before we spread our message further. Last Sunday Mr Second-Hand held a ‘Vinyl Revival’ afternoon in our local pub. The idea was to play some of our music and encourage others to bring along their own records. It ended up being a quieter affair (rainy afternoon plus Wimbledon final = bad timing), but it was still nice to sit back and listen to some Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder on a Sunday afternoon.
I’m so excited! We recently picked up this first volume of ‘Now That’s What I call Music’ from 1983. The double album looks very different to the latest incarnations here
It seems that 90 albums ago the design was like this:
Of course, it doesn’t say Volume One on the cover – perhaps they only imagined it as a one off? There are also no images of pigs with sunglasses which I swear was once the logo for this series.
The double album was in great condition and there are some real gems. It appears that 1983 was a great year for music: Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon, Duran Duran’s Is There Something I Should Know?, Human League’s (Keep Feeling) Fascination, The Cure’s Love Cats – and two of my personal favourites: Heaven 17’s Temptation (which is played every year at our 80s party and gets everyone on the dancefloor) and Simple Minds’ Waterfront.
We picked the album up for £3.99 at our local Oxfam store but I’ve seen it for sale for £20 on e-bay – not that I would part with this piece of 80s history!