“….if you go into any second-hand or charity stores and have a rummage, then you can pick up physical copies of albums for a lot less than it would cost to download it.”

As I was typing these words, I thought I should come up with an example for you.

Northside were on Factory Records back in the 1990s, and that alone should make their CDs and vinyl a tad more ‘collectable’ than most.  But it’s not the case.

Their third and final single was Take 5.  It’s a more than decent enough song, albeit very much of its era and therefore, understandably, sounds a bit dated, especially on the production side.  It is, however, the sort of song that always puts a smile on my face on the odd occasion it comes up on random shuffle, or indeed I decide to give it a listen when scrolling through the 44,000+ songs on the laptop.

I bought this on CD back in the day.  I think I paid £3 for it…maybe even a little more.  It was worth it as it came with three songs:-

mp3: Northside – Take 5 (12″ version)
mp3: Northside – Take 5 (7″ version)
mp3: Northside – Who’s To Blame (Instrumental)

These days, you can pick it up via Discogs for £1.49, albeit there’s postage on top. But if you happened to wander into any of the shops who have it online at this price, then I’m sure you will get yourself a bargain, especially if you buy a few more CDs during your visit as part of some sort of bundle offer. I would suspect that if you happened upon a copy in a charity shop, it might be as little as 50p or £1. For an artefact that was issued by the seemingly collectable Factory Records…..

Now, if you were looking to pick up digital copies of the songs, and I’m using i-tunes to illustrate, you could only do so as part of a wider Northside compilation album of 21 tracks (£15.99) or you could home in on the three songs and pick them up for 79p each….or £2.37 for the lot.

As I was saying, second-hand CDs nowadays are cheaper than downloads….



  1. Point well made.

    Vinyl is the darling collectable of the moment but there were attempts late 2000s to bring back DIY / Independent label casettes and I know some original ‘tapes’ from 80s / early 90s can fetch high prices. Are CDs likely to be collectable? They must, surely?

    I have one CD that I really wanted. Vinyl was long out of press and so too was the re-issue CD. I paid, what is for me, a quite ridiculous price to own the re-issue CD, £35. It’s certainly been worth the money – for the pleasure alone.

    I can’t see how, in years to come, downloads can become collectable in the same way as a physical format but then I’d never have thought people in the 2020s would be collecting vinyl and ‘tapes’.

  2. Not to take anything anyway from Northside, but you can get a bag of doughnuts for less than £1.50 as well.
    Choices, choices

  3. Interesting stuff, JC. And the Swc doughnuts swipe was very amusing.

    It’s an awful thing to say, but I can only feel I ‘own’ an LP or single if
    it’s a physical format. Same with films and books. It’s a terrible affliction
    for which I should be pointed and laughed at by people and their friends
    and relations.

  4. Northside get seen as the runts of the Factory litter and the prices of their records/CDs reflect that. Take 5 is ok, decent enough song. Their debut is full of the promise of Manchester in 1990. Their real moment of aceness though is them playing My Rising Star in a warehouse practice room in a documentary made by Granada in 1990. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxHsL6zTGL4

  5. CD’s have the opportunity become ‘niche popular’ much the way vinyl began it road back 15 or so years ago. Until then, buy up those second hand CD’s! There’s value as well as versatility to be had in the shiny silver discs.

  6. I’m not sure what was most surprising: £15.49 for a Northside digital compilation, or the fact that they managed to find 21 tracks to include. There can’t be that many alternate takes, remixes and session versions of Take 5, can there?! 🙂

    The great thing about charity shop purchases is that, unless they have a particularly canny and music-loving volunteer, the products are all flat-priced. It makes discovering that limited edition 2CD, alternative cover or bonus track edition or single featuring an outstanding remix by Andrew Weatherall et al for anything between 25p and £1 all the more rewarding.

    Pressures of space and having a daughter with no interest in music as a physical product has led me to review whether I want to leave my “legacy” of several thousand shiny discs for someone else to sort out. I’m doing it very slowly and conservatively at the moment, but I am in the process of digitising my CD collection and either selling or donating the items. It’s both liberating and a chance to rediscover some great tunes that have been languishing in attic obscurity for many years.

  7. I’m not sure downloads will be collectible in the same way – unless download of some obscure unreleased lp that someone has managed to get onto the web ( I remember the thrill of finding the unreleased it’s immaterial lp , that’s since had a physical release )
    One issue is ownership , I might be wrong on this , but any downloads bought from one of the big providers are more a licence to play which can be withdrawn at anytime ie you don’t “own” the download, Apple do and it can be removed from your collection without warning . I may be out of date with this but it certainly was the case .
    CDs can also be collectible – I’m part way logging everything on Discogs and I’ve been frequently shocked at the value of some of the stuff I’ve got and the lack of any seemingly rhyme or reason as to what is worth £100 and what is world £1.5 . Not was extreme as my vinyl but can see cds getting there . Even with vinyl , there’s things I own that I think will be worth something and find its actually way less than I paid for it at the time ( going by the WHSmiths price stickers )
    On another unrelated topic , I went to see James Grant in concert recently ( still an amazing voice , extremely funny , and an odd almost Trump like haircut ) he told the story of how when Jocelyn Square was released was selling cc 50,000 coped a week and never made the top 40 . Those numbers today would get you top 5 . Did make me thing that I grew up in a time where the amount of copies of any one song kicking around mean that some way to go before value increases . Whilst I’m on it , whilst I do like Discogs it has meant charity shops have become a lot more savvy at pricing old records making bargains harder to find . But hey who buys records as an investment , that would just bleed the fun out of it all .

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