It doesn’t seem that long ago Altrincham boasted several record shops including Double 4, Omega, Music Zone and Our Price. Until very recently it had none at all…
I’m pleased to announce that Altrincham will very shortly have a brand new Record Shop and Cafe. Beatnik is due to open, appropriately enough on Record Store Day, Saturday April 20th with a live acoustic set by MJ Hibbert (possibly including some of his band the Validators).
Beatnik will be selling Vinyl, CDs, Books, Art, merch, zines and of course Coffee, Cakes and snacks. The stock will be mostly good quality second hand across a wide range of genres and there will also be a carefully curated selection of new stuff too. Beatnik also promises live in-store events, talks and all manner of groovy happenings.
Beatnik is located on Greenwood Street, where the local market is and conveniently enough is next door to the town’s famous Belgian Bar.
Readers of this site will recognise the name, it’s the same Beatnik who had a stall at the Willow Pool centre in Lymm, and the same that pops up on Manchester Street Markets from time to time (and yes we should declare an interest, but hey we do our bit for other shops don’t we?!)
You can follow Beatnik on Twitter or Facebook and find out more.
In case you didn’t already know, Manchester HMV will now remain open, as will HMV-owned Fopp. Around Greater Manchester the Stockport, Bury and Trafford Centre branches will also remain open.
Apparently they’re winding down the stock of iPads and gadgets and the new owners of the chain say they will “reclaim the space for an enhanced music and visual range” (i.e stock more CDs, Records and DVDs).
I’m not entirely surprised to see that HMV’s former ‘flagship’ store on Market Street, Manchester is among the 66 stores listed for closure today ,although this will leave HMV with no outlet in a major UK city somewhat famous for it’s music scene and excellent Record Shops.
HMV’s rather opulent, three storey Manchester Megastore is a bit of a sad relic of the 1990s now. When it opened, most of the ground floor was given over to a vast back catalogue of CDs, with the floor downstairs covering Classical, Folk, World music and so forth. All things video were upstairs. This was of course, pre internet, and this was like Amazon.com except you could walk around it..for hours. The independent and second hand shops were always the place to go for the best new stuff, and unusual old stuff but if you wanted to get, say, the complete works of Scott Walker or fill in those gaps in your Cabaret Voltaire collection there they were. It was ace.
Fast forward to 2013 and 90 Market Street is probably far too big for whatever a ‘restructured’ HMV is going to look like, and it occupies what is surely a pretty expensive prime location next to Primark, the Arndale and a busy Tram stop (talk about footfall?!).
The big question mark of course is that HMV still own the Fopp store just around the corner which is not on the closure list yet. Will it remain ‘as is’, or will HMV rebrand it and move its Manchester operations there..or will they be eyeing up other premises for a downsized Manchester store? (notably, there was a ‘pop-up’ HMV occupying two floors of the Arndale in the run up to Xmas 2012).
As an aside, as we have noted before, across the road from the closing-down HMV is ‘That’s Entertainment’ which has been staring out its huge rival for some time now.
If ever there was a monument to the devaluing of the Compact Disc it is that place…shelves groaning with ‘preowned’ copies of The Seahorses ‘Do it Yourself’, Robbie’s ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ and ‘Onka’s Big Moka’ by Toploader probably bought for £12-15 from the shop across the road many moons ago and now, still somewhat overpriced at 3 for £5. This grubby little upstart may well be the last music chain-store standing.
Given that we are all about independent record shops, and those curious 2nd hand record haunts, you could be forgiven for thinking we would take the news of high street behmoth HMV calling in the administrators with a certain amount of glee.
Not so with HMV. There are no party poppers going off here. For a start, most importantly, there are over 4,000 jobs at risk. Secondly, that pretty much removes the last real supply chain from the high street and that can’t be good news for artists, record labels and distributors. While in the North West we are lucky to have a great network of shops, many parts of the UK will suddenly have nowhere at all to buy music or movies and that business will inevitably go to those tax-dodging, cardboard-wasting killjoys Amazon, or the bland CD racks of Tesco and ASDA. It also, potentially, means the demise of HMV owned Fopp which we have a soft spot for (and if nothing else, is a model of what HMV could have done if it had scaled back to it’s core business instead of trying to please all the people).
I can only hope, given that the demise of HMV has been on the cards for some years now, the music industry and other businesses that rely on them have got their business plans sorted out and ready for the inevitable. Lets hope that the damage on record labels, artists, publishers, producers, designers and distributors can be minimised.
It’s still early days, a buyer may come forward, or someone may take the chain on in a scaled down version and turn it around.
The media, and thousands of commentators who haven’t darkened an HMV shop for years will no doubt be mourning it’s loss in the morning, it will be as if music itself has died. It is not the end of music as we know it, and it isn’t the end of music retail.
Neil Saunders, the unimaginative and “retail analyst” that the BBC interviewed tonight says “The bottom line is that there is no real future for physical retail in the music sector,” . This comment comes in the same week that I have a backlog of new Record Shops to add to the site. We firmly believe there is still life left in selling physical music product, and it looks like the foreseeable future that may lie with the independent sector, so go forth, enjoy the shops that are left and buy stuff from them!
Eastern Bloc, Manchester’s infamous dance vinyl specialists have a brand spanking new website up and running, and very smart it is too. Of course, that’s no replacement for visiting them in person but if you live too far away to visit their cool Cafe and Record shop in the Northern Quarter on a regular basis you can still get access to their handpicked selection of killer new releases, and dig into their rare vinyl finds right here.
There are so many new releases, genres and sub genres of dance music I’ve no idea how anyone navigates it all. You need a curator, and you need people with experience ‘the knowledge’ and these guys have it. So, those seeking expert guidance about how to move the more discerning dancefloor, or delight your own eardrums with the finest beats on black plastic, look no further: easternblocrecords.com
The movie ‘Last Shop Standing’ is out now and already getting rave reviews, and you can catch some special screenings right here in Manchester.
Wed 3 October at Kraak Gallery 8pm details here http://www.kraak.co/home/last-shop-standing/
Complete with a Q&A session with the director
and also at the Black Lion in Salford at the Future Artists film festival on November 3rd, all the details on that one here http://futureartists.co.uk/
A report by Musicmetric.com published today puts Manchester as the top city for illegal filesharing of music, with the UK second only to the US for helping ourselves to ‘free’ music. Here is a BBC News report on the subject (and keep an eye out for Piccadilly Records). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19620942
What is the No.1 choice of the freeloaders, with all of recorded music at their fingertips? Why’s its Mr Charisma himself, the enigmatic pop icon Ed Sheeran. Here’s Ed (sorry if you’re a fan but deary me, I’m old enough to remember when Pop Stars were exciting, mysterious and dressed as Pirates or Spacemen rather than an aspiring accountant on work experience) clutching some Brit Awards. Ed says he isn’t worried about the report as long as people hear his music somehow. Good that you can see the bigger picture Ed, never mind all those struggling independent record labels, recording artists and record shops.
Meanwhile, in spite of the dubious honour of being a music pilfering hot spot we *still* have more Record Shops than any other region outside London, so do go and check them out and those of you with more discerning tastes will find something worth a listen. The choice in a shop may be limited, but maybe, as Ed proves, limitless choice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Now then, we’ve got another new shop for you, this one’s especially for you Punk, metal and hardcore fans who like their music free of any artificial ingredients, venture up to 88 Oldham Street and check out V Revolution.
They also sell tapes, zines, posters, t-shirts and even Vegan food and snacks (although non-vegans are of course welcome to browse and hang out).
Full details, pics and our man Carl’s review here.
For a vinyl digger in Manchester there are many rainy day refuges. Step in, shake down, let the fingers unfurl and happy land awaits. It was on such a trip recently that I put together the final piece in an interesting puzzle. The vinyl sleuth solves his first case (and yes I got the girl as well!).
Those of you up to your elbows in digging culture may well have recently snapped up an interesting vinyl and CD artefact of Manchester’s 60s beat bands who never got beyond the A6. Rainy City Blues; Rare and Unreleased Tracks from Manchester’s Beat Groups is a fine collection of our city’s legacy and the people and players at the heart of the Twisted Wheel and Cona Cafe scene. Bands include Big City Blues, The Stylos, St Louis Union, The Measles and The Toggery Five to name a few. Released on Jungfrau records I recommend you grab your copy now and settle down for an evening of espresso and brown ale grooves that, at their best, stand up to some of the classic beat tracks.
So, the mystery?. Well, I came across this comp a while ago and my immediate thought was, who put this fine collection together?. On that appropriately rainy afternoon in Manchester, digging in Vinyl Revival, the answer was revealed. Colin, mine host at Vinyl Revival and all round Überdigger (close to developing six fingers I think) is the man behind this release. So its hats off to Colin and let’s hope his six fingers and double jointed elbows reveal some more gems in this series.
Rainy City Blues is available now from all good record shops in the Manchester area. Vinyl Revival is on Hilton Street, it has groaning racks and is open on rainy days!
well not quite, but we did send our man Carl to check out the shops over Wigan way. Unfortunately he didn’t stop, carried on past Southport and ended up in…er..Delaware. Anyway, Carl texted in this missive from his crate digging travels. There may be more of this to come.
Post Punk icons rarely make an appearance in my holiday travels. I have of course ridden the big wheel at Blackpool with Lydia Lunch but that was the result of too much sun and a bad pint. So here I am in the States digging in a gift shop’s back room and wondering why this place has so much vinyl and good stuff as well , when its suddenly made clear to me; the owner introduces himself as Mr Steve Fallon the legendary proprietor of Maxwell’s in New Jersey.
To those of you with angular, discordant knowledge, this genial man and his venue were the f*cked up heart of US East Coast post Punk and Indie…Pere Ubu, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and of course The Feelies all did there thing at Maxwell’s as did Kurt and the gang. Steve also ran the Coyote label…go and dig their full on Indie frenzy back catalogue. So, Steve, thanks for a great afternoon you made a middle aged Mancunian very happy.
I left with The Trypes ‘Music for Neighbours’ LP under my arm, superb psych folk, and another great connection made in a *real* shop and not communicated through ones and zeros! Steve’s gift shop and back room record shop, Gidget’s Gadgets
, is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.