Tag Archives: Space Rock

10 Landmark Records at Play It Again Records

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These will be in chronological order.

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1. Simple Minds- New Gold Dream

Blame this band and this album for my opening a record shop. I was mildly obsessed with Simple Minds and wanted access to all the imports LPs, and singles. Glad I did it.

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2. Echo & The Bunnymen- Ocean Rain

Biggest band in the shop, at least thru the Southfield years. Any Bunnymen news was huge. Especially tour news. Ocean Rain was the biggest selling Bunnymen record in the shop.

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3. Jesus & Mary Chain- Upside Down UK 7″

This is where things took a giant left turn. John Huston scoured the NME & Melody Maker every week. He asked me to order this. Then the Segal brothers came in and asked about it. Eventually I hired Michael and he and John took the store in a totally different direction then I would have. I have them to thank and blame(ha ha) for this. This is where the whole UK Indie thing started in the shop.

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4. The Smiths- Hatful Of Hollow

The Smiths were obviously big news in the shop. The first few singles, This Charming Man and its gazillion mixes and then Accept Yourself, but the first album was just so underwhelming at least production wise. Then Hatful Of Hollow was released and at a really fair price for a gatefold import. This is where things really took off for the Smiths at the shop. The production was more stripped down and the effect was immediate.

It was also the Smiths that introduced us to the Warner Brothers Alternative Marketing department. These folks made it so much fun to work in the shop. Countless promos, meals, travel and lifelong friends. Jo, Bruce and Cathy who had she not locked her keys in the car outside my shop we may have never bonded like we did.

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5. Spacemen 3- Playing With Fire

This was the first Spacemen 3 record we could get in on a regular basis. It used to bum me out to constantly have to tell people we were out of Perfect Prescription or Sound Of Confusion never knowing when we would see them back in stock. This is also a fantastic record. Which helps.

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6. Mercury Rev- Yerself Is Steam

I remember the day this came in. Michael immediately put it on and I though to myself out loud this may be too noisy. Then track by track I just loved it. It was at this point I realized to keep my mouth shut and listen to my employees. Eventually we sold shitloads of Mercury Rev records. Only to be screwed every time they toured they stopped before Detroit.

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7. My Bloody Valentine- Loveless

This could easily have been Isn’t Anything and maybe it should. We sponsored that Isn’t Anything tour at St Andrews. See flyer on top of page. I hope the roughly 100 people liked it. While Isn’t Anything has this beautiful yet brutal sound Loveless has a more feminine pretty sound. Soon anyone?

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8. Primal Scream- Screamadelica

I suppose this was the shop’s foray into dance music sort of. Such a happy record. It reminds me of the scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack says “watch me sell three copies of the Beta Bands’s 3 EPs”. You could do that with Screamadelica.

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9. Spiritualized- Lazer Guided Melodies

Not sure what to add to just how important this record was to the shop. It still is to me. So much so I wrote an entire blog on Spiritualized on this site. We all fawned all over this record. We became friends with the band too. I would say this was thee most important record in the history of the store.

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10. Verve- Voyager 1

The story. 1000 pressed by Hut. Made to look like a bootleg. 400 destroyed by heat in a warehouse. We wound up selling 275 copies of this or nearly half the entire pressing. Why are there no used ones floating around Detroit? Too damn good probably.

 

There are some honorable mentions:

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Ride- Nowhere

Another HUGE band in the shop. Those early singles were so good. That built up to this. Massively popular. So much so we had a nickname for a customer Ride Girl.

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House Of Love- Destroy The Heart 12″

Another great UK band who’s early singles sold well but this one exploded out of the box. We were so into it we chose sides over the b-sides. Blind or Mr. Jo.

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Primitives- Really Stupid 12″

Sounds nuts doesn’t it? Well this was a massive single in the store. We were so into this band we had all their UK tour shirts for sale hanging like flags from the ceiling in Southfield.

Remember that?

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Flaming Lips- Hit To Death In The Futre Head

First major label release by the Lips. What a great record this is. That Ronald Jones era was amazing. Played the hell out of it at the store.

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Screaming Tres- Buzz Factory

Pre grunge. Anyone could sell Nirvana records or Sub Pop stuff. I always loved Screaming Trees and it started with Buzz Factory. They knew how to add the right elements of psych and hooks yet still retaining that heavyiosity.

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Pixies- Surfer Rosa

Another record I thought might be a bit too noisy and they just took off.  I recall taking Michael to a Red Wings game where he kept pulling the tape out of his pocket and looking at it.

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Galaxie 500- Today

I wasn’t sure what to make of this when it came in and got a lot of play. Eventually it crept into my subconscious and I became a fan. I love this record and it was certainly different than what was huge at this point.

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Verve- She’s A Superstar 12″

This is one magnifcent 12″. The extended version of this could go on forever as far as I am concerned. We sold a lot of it because this was the only way you could get it. That edited version on the Verve EP just doesn’t cut it. Nice try.

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Spiritualized- Fucked Up Inside

This is where my OCD got a little out of hand. Someone saw a blurb about this mail order only live LP/CD. I must have sent Dedicated’s office in London so many letters(pre email for the shop) and made way too many calls. Eventually we got the CDs and sold over 100. Then I found a shop in London that had them on vinyl and every trip I would buy 10 copies. This went on for 3 or 4 years. Could be the most beautiful sleeve ever.

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Stereolab- Low Fi 10″

Stereolab deserve to be on this list somewhere and this is my favorite release by them. They were an important band in the late stages of the shop. With all those limited edtion things they did. Collectors heaven.

yc2 yc1

You Cant Hide Your Love Forever fanzine.

John Huston, Dave Segal & Michael Segal.

If you want a glimpse into just how much these guys knew and how passionate they were about music look no further than this fanzine. It still ranks as some of the best music writing I have ever read. To have it associated with the shop in any way was a huge feather in Play It Again’s cap.

 

 

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Vibravoid live in Rotherham, Yorkshire, July 2013

This was to be one of the most surreal gigs I can remember.

Rotherham is hardly the epicentre of English psychedelic music yet the town’s Trades venue was selected as the place for German’s mighty Vibravoid to strut their stuff in the north. Dates in the UK are few and far between for Christian Koch’s band so the very idea of missing one within an hour of my home was dismissed quickly enough. Tickets were – to my astonishment – a mere £4 each. Booking fee was 40 pence. Certainly the best value ticket in history for me – the idea of 2 people getting in for less than £9 seems ridiculous in this day and age.

Rotherham Trades is something of a Tardis. An unassuming building at the end of a shabby street overlooked by a motorway suggested we may be in the wrong place, but a small bedraggled group huddled outside suggested this was in fact the venue itself. Stepping inside the place opened up into a vast room that didn’t seem possible from the outside. But everyone was friendly and as it was a social club the bar prices were more than reasonable. On the other side of the bar itself was the standard room in which a group of older regulars sat sipping pints. Even when Vibravoid were at their raging noisiest this group seemed unmoved by the vast wall of noise emanating from the main room, and sat quietly enjoying their evening.

As Christian and chums assembled their compact gear the only hint of the carnage due was the largest guitar effects pedal board ever seen, with a good 30 or so pedals sitting squashed together in innocent enough fashion.

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Christian himself set up the back-stage projector and at around 10 p.m. the bubbly oils illuminated the place and the 3 members of Vibravoid – guitar, keyboards and drums – began the steady build-up of their set. It was mesmeric from the moment they started. The opening track – unknown to me but then the back catalogue is a sprawling and confusing list – built carefully, with further layers of guitar being added to the basic sitar drone, with occasional flashes of power and sound. By the time it got to where it had been headed it was a vast shimmering sheet of effects and wobbles.

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It was around this point a friend sent me a text asking how many punters were there. So I counted them and sent back the simply reply: ‘27’. The very thought of this still makes me shake my head. Hardly anyone in the UK has seen this band live as they have played here so rarely, and although Rotherham was a surprising place for them to appear, I expected more people than this. The staff almost outnumbered the paying customers. At its peak the audience numbered almost 40. I don’t really like to sit at the back of a venue, even when numbers are this low, so I found myself totally alone on the dance floor, absorbing the throbbing noise in solo fashion. And what a noise it was. The band’s Vox monitors were far louder than the venue’s PA and the band had them set up so they were good and loud. I am disappointed so often with the guitar sound at live shows but at this one every squeal, squawk and howl Christian’s Vox Apache made was beautifully clear. His feet skittered about his pedal board, dragging in all manner of guitar sounds. At one point he made this extraordinary oscillating noise that warbled about the place yet he was still able to produce a mighty fuzz crunch at the same time.

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The set consisted of only 7 or 8 songs, but each one was stretched and manipulated to the maximum. The general sound was the kind found on the band’s magnificent Minddrugs album, and indeed ‘Seefeel’ appeared in terrific fashion, sounding better than ever. Watching the drummer’s euphoric focus and the keyboard player’s head-down stance at this point showed the gel there was between the band – each was aware of the space available for them to do their stuff in, with guitar taking centre stage but the bass keyboard adding a particular gut-throb to proceedings. The cover of Australian psychonauts Tynaround’s ‘Color Your Mind’ was faithful to the original but enveloped in classic Vibravoid fuzz and effects – hardly an obvious choice. The mighty ‘Ballspeaker’ pounded its way into the middle, but the highlights were 2 blistering acid punk tracks. The first was ‘Magic Mirror’ which sounded like The Heads at their finest. A brutal riff-orientated tour de force that peeled the skin off your eyeballs. Absolutely sensational. I have no idea what the second one was but if anything it was even better and the sensation of one’s stomach being pummelled never felt better.

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As a closing treat the band delivered a very motorik ‘Mother Sky’, and why not? This song was built into a monstrous whirl of noise before it was totally deconstructed down to a few worrying sounds and general chaos before, in the blink of an eye, they hurled it back together so the finale was a massive pumping rhythm. The sparse group watching applauded politely but it was clear that the set was sadly over. Quite how a band find the momentum and attitude to deliver a set like that to so few people remains a mystery. I saw Kinski do the same thing to about 20 people in Leeds many years ago. You have to hand it to musicians who can pull that off as there is little or no energy to feed off from the crowd (and in this instance crowd is hardly the most accurate word to use). But Vibravoid delivered in fine fashion, ignoring the lack of people and instead just playing how they wanted to.

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I hunted around for a set list – partly as a souvenir but also because I have to find out what the second punk track they played was! A few tentative enquiries through Facebook have yielded very friendly responses but nothing definitive on the set list as, according to Christian ‘we usually have none as we just get on stage and play what we like…’.

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With audience numbers as low as this it’s easy to see why Vibravoid prefer to ply their trade on the continent, although the 3 band members looked happy enough afterwards. They have a solid following in their native Germany but also go down very well at festivals such as Roadburn in Holland. If they come all this way are find themselves booked into a place as small as Rotherham – which is a fine town in its own right but hardly the most suitable choice – you wonder if they is any incentive for them to return. That makes the set I witnessed even more special. Next time I’ll travel a lot more than the comparatively short 100 mile round trip. That band is well worth it.

Mark, August 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikK1JfDgJ_U