Some would consider that a trip to London purely to slope from one record shop to another all day would constitute an appalling waste of time but I enjoyed a marvellous and relaxing hour or seven yesterday doing precisely that. Berwick Street is a splendid thoroughfare and contains, I would suggest, about eight independent record stores of the Nick Hornby Hi-Fidelity sort. Having met D in the clinical and corporate Virgin Megastore, we strolled down Oxford Street, took a left and spent quality time and money in these more ramshackle establishments before a light lunch and a jaunt to the fine Fopp Records which represents the more acceptable side of record shop chains. In Fopp I bought Sufjan Stevens' Greetings From Michigan which I'm playing and hugely appreciating as I write this, Dandruff by the eccentric Scottish poet and musician Ivor Cutler who died last month and whom I used to listen to avidly on the John Peel Show, and some kicking bass and drum, New Forms by Bristol's Roni Size, a Mercury Prizewinner, no less. The seven pounds I paid for the Stevens album was the most I spent on a single purchase all day.
The smaller shops produced the goods too. For two quid apiece in Mister CD I picked up Shakespeare Alabama, a lost eighties classic by all accounts, by Diesel Park West and Bubblegum by former Screaming Tree and favourite of D, Mark Lanegan. After lunch, I returned to Berwick Street on my own and bought, for a single pound each, Pig Lib by Stephen Malkmus, Monsoon by Preston School of Industry and Spoonface by Ben Christophers. I'm delighted with my spoils. I look forward to hearing them all over the next day or two although I am already familiar with the Malkmus and Size opuses.
There's a couple of pictures of Berwick Street above. Fans of derivative and uninspiring 90s guitar music might recognise the first one.