Saturday 12 July 2014


I've always pronounced it "Newcastle", in the way that those from the South (or should that be civilzation?) pronounce it.  Although I have noticed that many news readers have started to apply regional accents and have started to say "Newcastle".
Well, however it is pronounced it is this city that has been subjected to my ongoing quest to visit as many independent record shops as possible.
Actually, the purpose of the trip was to move my step-daughters stuff out of her University Halls of Residence pending her moving to a new shared house in a couple of weeks (fortunately, it's not me who is making the return trip).

Observations of the journey:
  • it's a bloody long way
  • why does my SatNav want to send me along the M40? M4, M25, M1 and keep going is surely the most direct route, but no Mrs SatNav Woman has decided that I should go A34, M40, M42, M6, M1.  Seems a bit convoluted to me, and I think she threw a major strop when I proceeded down the M4 towards Slough (in fact she didn't speak to me again until Luton)
  • it's further than I thought
  • Upon arrival in Newcastle (via Gateshead) the first thing that you notice is that East side of the city (Jesmond-area) appears to be one big Motorway Interchange.
  • Without wishing to re-enforce the stereotype, as I passed York, the sky turned grey and it started raining (It's grim up north etc ...)
So, freshly ensconced into the Hotel room, I use the wifes Tablet to search out the record shops the city has to offer.  Excluding, the ever-present (and often hilarious) HMV, there are seven potential shops to visit.
Of this, I discount 2 immediately as one is a sheet music specialist, and the other is more of a Vintage Clothing store than a specialist record shop. 
Next problem, a quick recce of the area, and it looks like 3 more of the remaining five may not have a bricks and mortar presence anymore (or I just missed them - I'm not a local, but I am English and a bloke, so therefore refuse to ask for directions).
This leaves just two shops on the list (Reflex and RPM Music).
At this point, I become slightly apologetic, and confess that from a starting list of 7, I only managed to visit 1 shop.
That shop was Reflex, a small (but perfectly formed, and as I discovered a perfectly stocked) unit down a side road, just up from the station.  Came away with a couple of additions, but could easily have spent a few more hours (and lots more £) in that fine emporium.
There is now a simmering frustration/annoyance within me that I didn't get to the other shops.  Maybe a return trip is needed, although there is something against this - did I mention that it is a long, long trip?
I also visited the once mighty, now generally laughable, HMV.  The store itself boasted a 70% Stock Clearance Sale (due to Store re-location).  "This might be interesting", I thought.  To answer in a few words - it wasn't!
Yes, there were some serious price reductions on some items, but not on the main stock.  What was reduced was the detritus that had been clogging up their store room and they had never been able to shift.
So what did I get?
Not as much as I wanted to from Reflex, and not as much as I'd hoped for from HMV.
The one main addition, that will now be forever linked to Newcastle in my head, was 'HQ' by Roy Harper.

Roy Harper is a name I knew, but had never knowingly heard.  He has released 22 albums in nearly 50 years of recording, and I have only heard "Tom Tiddlers Ground" and his vocal contribution to Pink Floyds "Have A Cigar".
So why this album from 1975?  Before venturing north, I had ordered a 2005 compilation ('Counter Culture') from an internet retailer with a "flexible" taxation relationship with the UK Exchequer, so I wasn't looking for a career spanning retrospective, but this album contains the one other song Roy Harper I have heard of (if not heard): "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease"

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