The internet has made the world a much smaller place….and it has also made it easy to realise that there are kindred spirits out there, often in the most surprising of places!
Today’s friend electric is Brian who is the mastermind behind Linear Track Lives. I know that many of you have been keeping up with Brian, especially in recent months when he has been putting together an excellent Top 50 of UK indie hits 1980-89 featuring dozens of sings that you’d also find here on TVV, so you don’t really need to be told that he has a great taste in music and he is a damn fine chronicler of the indie scene.
But I can also vouch that Brian, together with Mrs Linear Lives, are a lovely couple having had the very good fortune to meet up with them a few years ago when they travelled all the way from Seattle to Glasgow just to fulfil one of Brian’s lifelong ambitions which was to catch Big Country play a gig at the Barrowlands Ballroom in my home city. The enthusiasm and passion he brings to his blog is clear for all to see but believe me, it is miniscule compared to the real-life enthusiasm and passion for indie music….here’s a man who would happily spend his entire life browsing around dusty second-hand vinyl stores and making visits to legendary venues and landmarks in whatever town or city he found himself. Let’s put it this way….if we went on Mastermind he would make his specialist subject ‘obscure b-sides of 80s indie music’ and he’d get 100% correct with no passes.
Brian tends to write short and snappy pieces, very often of a factual nature but when he does turn his mind to more in-depth stuff then it’s all to easy to see his fandom comes with a great writing talent as this example from August 2012 demonstrates:-
The blog has been pretty quiet this month because I have been doing a bit of traveling with the family. The good news is, along the way, I got to hit two legendary record shops worthy of mention.
The first, the cozy Vintage Vinyl in Evanston, Ill., is an old haunt I have returned to several times since my college years there two decades ago. Back then, my pockets were full of lint, and this not a store for the poor. For the most part, all I could do was dream. Even now, with a shekel or two in the piggy bank, I still can’t waltz out with much of a stack. There are no bargain bins, and I have never bought even a 12″ single for less than $15 to $20. The most absurd price for an album I saw this time around was $100 for ‘The Sound of The Hit Parade.’ Still, if you can get past the dollar signs, the selection is a real head turner.
You can find every imaginable genre, including a very impressive selection of ’60s rock, but the real treasures are unearthed in the UK-heavy punk/new wave section. Just to give you a taste, there aren’t too many spots in the U.S.A. that would even have an Associates section, let alone one with 18 pieces of vinyl, as I witnessed on a recent Friday afternoon. I picked up a few gems, including a handful Lloyd Cole 12″ singles that have eluded me for many years.
For a terrific mention of Vintage Vinyl from a real writer, read this piece from the great Dave Eggers that appeared in the Guardian back in ’06.
The second shop I visited this month was one I heard about in a most unusual way. Back in February, during my trip to Scotland, I was looking for the works of several local bands at Elvis Shakespeare in Edinburgh. As you may have guessed from its name, it was equal parts record and book store. I struck up a conversation with the owner and asked about the likes of Close Lobsters, Altered Images and others. He was out of virtually everything I desired. He explained he usually had what I was looking for but there were these two Americans that recently came in and cleaned him out. He said they fly over to the UK a few times a year and hit dozens of record shops, including his, to stock their own store back in Los Angeles. I took all of the info on this mystery store and hoped for a reason to be in SoCal.
Perusing the stacks at Wombleton Records made me anxious and giddy all at once. There were so many albums I had always wanted. There were so many more I had read about but had never actually seen before. Like Vintage Vinyl, the prices are out of my league. Since these fellas go to Europe, handpick the albums, hire a customs agent to take care of the bureaucracy and ship them to America, you can sort of understand why the Sounds’ first album, for example, was $60.
Other than the prices, just about everything else at Wombleton is wonderful. It’s an intimate and fantastically decorated shop. It’s — more or less — all vinyl, and the real hard-to-find albums are given their own section. I have never seen so much C86 in my life, and I didn’t see a single reissue. These were very old but well taken care of originals. And, oh, the 7″ singles! At one point I had six from Postcard in my hand… even though I knew I would never be able to afford them all. It just felt good to hold them. When the dust settled, I got a Hit Parade 7″ on Sarah, Orange Juice’s “Poor Old Soul” and Josef K’s ‘The Only Fun in Town,’ both on Postcard, a few rare Go-Betweens albums and an old favorite from Strawberry Switchblade. Seriously, if money was no object, I could have spent thousands of dollars. The scary thing is, according to the owner, his stock was low. They will be hitting the UK again next month. I hope I can find another excuse to head to Cali.
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – My Bag (dancing mix)
mp3 : Josef K – The Angle
More Friends Electric tomorrow