Turntable Revolution


Between the numerous giant opaque clouds I caught a glimmer of light and, dodging raindrops, dived into a charity shop or nine. The paucity of vinyl in Cancer Research and the Shooting Star Hospice encourages one to speculate on a vinyl revival. Every couple of years the press hark on about the revivification of vinyl and plodding through puddles from one CD-saturated charity shop to the next I felt it likely such a piece would surface in the Guardian or Times in the coming weeks. Along with the copious CD's a worrying abundance of ignominious dance 12"'s are now the inevitable unwanted guests; they are the 21st century equivalent of all those queasy listening LP's by that bearded party-lover James Last that choked charity shop doorways back in the nineties. I have often wondered what kind of people would zombify their guests with Last's listless renditions of pop standards; surely the sort of parties that only exist in Two Ronnies sketches in which one of the Ronnies casts impure glances at some airbrushed blonde the BBC has plucked from a Top Of The Pops LP sleeve.

But I digress and I can almost hear your gruff impatient voices yelling at me, demanding an explanation for all this inane chittering. This prevarication is pure indulgence, me savouring a moment, extending my pleasure as far as I feel I can keep your attention but now I cease my teasing. I found a Fantastic Something LP for a £1. No that's not it, though it is true. However, more amazingly, I found an Idle Race LP called Time Is for £1, listed at £130 in the RRPG. And it doesn't stop there, I also scooped up a single by a band called Track 4 of whom I know nothing, but it's also listed in the RRPG at a staggering £100.

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY-------A most bountiful scavenge.

The Undertones lamented the disappointment of wednesday week and wednesday's child was reputedly full of woe but wednesday May 27 2009 shall always be known to me as wonderful wednesday. I made a little detour on the way home and squeezed through the doors of a new charity shop just before it closed to discover these :
As if finding these did not visit upon me acres of joy I then won the Dolly Mixture single on ebay to complete my DM collection for a paltry £21. My highest bid was no more than £21.86 and I watched the clock tick down the last four minutes adamant I would bid no higher. No challengers. New Look Baby/Baby It's You can now nuzzle up to the rest of my DM collection.


Your host and Jeanette Leech, avid record collector and struggling author, meet in a Huddersfield car park for a day of scavenging. Note the man in the background trying to disembowel the ticket machine; the recession has arrived.
It's not all about records. Outside Oxfam with our purchases, books about Henry Green, Japanese pop culture and er....a record by the Sadista Sisters.
"Look I've found a record. I think I might like this one. It's from the sixties and a girl is singing the tune." Jeanette is modelling special glasses with lenses with super magnification designed to locate any vinyl imperfections. Red jacket is optional.
See that's why the shop is called Wall Of Sound. For all you geeks out there, I'm sorry but I do not have a list of all those records clinging to the wall.
Some people just can't resist showing off their DJ skills. Real DJ's know that things work better with two decks.
An old man is shocked by the colourful sleeves the records come dressed in. "In my day the little ones came in paper sleeves and the big ones span around faster." Your coffin awaits, sir.
That's the best Huddersfield could offer although we did buy the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart LP as well but it was too shy to come out of the bag.
It's a pub and someone is drinking coffee! Meanwhile a man with a purple paunch has turned into a vinyl hybrid. He's half a School Of Seven Bells LP and half The Sound Of Wonder compilation.

A Scavenge In South London

Yesterday I ventured into the dark and dank South London suburbs. As capitalism teeters on the edge of the crater of oblivion I was expecting to find charity shops full to the brim with credit-crunched scourers. But the usual crowd of bored teenage mothers, escaped lunatics and muddled pensioners greeted me. It's like a convention of the careless in the community out there. Anyway I offered a helping hand to Third Finger Left Hand by the Pearls, a 70's girl group who had a substantial hit with a song called Guilty (no.10 in 1974). TFLH brooded around the top thirty for six weeks back in 1972 and was their first chart success.

Meanwhile among the LP's I had unpleasant slog through prog. Genesis, Caravan (again) and some geezer from Uriah Heep with an unremarkable solo effort. Other LP's included stuff by Nasty Pop, Charlie and Simon Boswell who ended up in Advertising (the band, not the business).
Simon's LP was called Mind Parasites and was, and probably still is, a mediocre effort according to 45 Revs. Out of desperate curiosity I bought the Charlie LP. I'm listening to it now and if I make it to the end (which I doubt) I have Inflammable Material to hand to act as an antidote.

Pay No More Than 57p For Old News

There are signs of recovery in the high street; only this week I salvaged the News single 50% Reduction from a local charity shop. That's a few weeks after discovering Bloody by the Golinski Brothers in another local charity shop. Scavenging of late had been a joyless task, there's little mirth to be found in discovering piles of Yes LP's for £1 or myriad Blaster Bates LP's, notwithstanding the schoolyard smirk his name brings to one's lips. Tales of chimney blasting or topographic oceans tend to send me into a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. I paid 50p for the News single which seemed only fair as it had Limited Edition Pay No More Than 57p emblazoned on the label. I have the A side on a comp so it was the B side that fascinated me most. Called High Society it sounds like a musical punch up between Sparks, Sweet and Classix Nouveau which may sound grim but does acquire a sneaky charm after four plays.

On a more prosaic note I also came across two Caravan LP's, In The Land Of Grey And Pink and Waterloo Lily. Now I'm not going to discuss the merits of Caravan, I hardly feel qualified to as they were a little before my time, but burdening both LP's with a £25 price tag seems excessive. That's what they're worth in the RRPG but they have to be in mint condition to deserve that valuation. A high price of £50 was tagged onto Fresh Cream by Cream. In mint condition fine but these LP's weren't. And £10 for Queen 2. That's not even in the RRPG. (Not that I'm claiming the RRPG is infallible; the News single is worth at least £20 and it doesn't merit an entry). This was Oxfam, famous for overpricing, and though I don't begrudge them getting the highest price for their wares I only hope these LP's aren't going to be sitting there for six months. That doesn't benefit anyone.


The girlfriend and I ventured into the deep middle class recesses of the home counties a few weeks ago. We wandered the discovered paradise that is Windsor, never to be a wasteland despite the volatile nature of the economy. We forgot the camera so I cannot entertain you with an amusing pictorial. Little was rescued from charity shops. A number of Inspiral Carpets 12" and a Pooh Sticks one sided live LP on Fierce were spotted and denied access to T.Rev Towers.
I'm no fan of live LP's and having seen the Pooh Sticks live I had little inclination to part with £3.99 for the honour of being transported back to that shambolic night many years ago.

We waved goodbye to the jewel-encrusted citizens of Windsor with a two fingered salute which was encouraged by the infernal road system which was certainly designed by a cartel of cyclists.

Eventually we arrived at Henley, adjusted our boaters, and mingled among the rowing elite. Our only discoveries were made in Oxfam where a quartet of posh teenage girls amused us with their gentle fondling of LP's, oohing and aahing over the pretty artwork as one said to another, "be careful, you might break it," despite the vinyl still being in its sturdy sleeve. Records are not as fragile as false eyelashes, girls. Leaving youth to pet the records I discovered Sabre Dance by Love Sculpture, wanted for the superior B side, and Tied Up With Mary, unfortunately not a tribute to the pleasures of bondage, by the very wonderful Patsy Ann Noble. A fabulous piece of pop backed by a robust mid-tempo moody number called Green Eyed People which is not a dismissive ditty about people cursed with emerald eyes but a sophisticated indictment of those that revel in the sin of jealousy. K hovered around the bookshelves and found a collection of Richard Brautigan's writings and with our treasures we repaired to the pub.


David's has shrunk since my last visit. Not such a vast vinyl selection but still the odd decent find. A Two People 12" for 50p and a Sound LP for £3. Also the dead people ambience of charity shops is absent.

First seen brazenly offering itself to me for £15 in a Bristol record shop I am seduced by its charms for a meagre 50p. It's an LP by the Great Outdoors and it's lounging indecorously upon some utter eighties tat by the likes of Dire Straits and Genesis. It was found outside....

Letchworth's premier charity shop. Can you wait to go inside? No, neither can I. And this is what we found........

Those earrings explain why Su Pollard has no curtains in her bedroom. Miss Pollard was the training bra Tracey Ullman. Can you believe this woman had a no.2 hit in 1986? Makes you pine for Stock Aitken and Waterman. And if you're wondering, no we didn't buy it.

One of these infamous Top Of The Pops LP's sold for a £100 on ebay. Not this canary-coloured effort. The girl isn't in a bikini, that's a pound off its sale price. These LP's were the sole reason for teenage acne in the seventies.

Playing musical charades. It's either "China In Your Hand" or "Cats In The Cradle". Kathryn tried for "Tiger Feet" but she doesn't have toes that grip. For all you animal lovers out there we rescued this feline from its dusty domain, Cancer Research.

Our first charity shop in Welwyn Garden City. I wonder what the Farmers Boys would do with those hands to the girls on the right. So which of these records do you think we bought?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scavenging in Brighton, Nottingham and Sheffield

Just because I'm old it doesn't mean I know all the answers. The Scavenger is confused by a cryptic clue about some obscure jazz artist in the Record Collector crossword. The first day of our fortnight of record scavenging in Brighton, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Trying to create a little mystery I hide behind a cool record sleeve. It's cool because it's got the fabulous sixties girl band the Orchids on it and Louise Cordet. Please ignore the Bachelors.

Here we are in Snooper's Paradise in Brighton. Noticing the odd stray grey hair the girlfriend thinks it's time I took to the golf course, a more suitable middle aged pursuit than rifling through old records. Unfortunately this is not a follow up to Tina Charles' show stopper Dr.Love.

Posing outside Anarchy before the girlfriend departs for tea and muffin at the nearby cafe. I'm still stupidly happy at finding one of the records ( Razorblade Smile ) I released on my label fifteen years ago but I refused to buy it as I still have 20 unsold copies at home. Instead I buy records by Mecca Normal and Eva Luna.

Hit the north. I had the girlfriend working hard to get this shot. After four failed attempts I slowed down to a reckless 20 miles an hour.

The Scavenger's arthritic knees are testament to his passion for plastic. Here I am thrilled at finding a Milky Wimpshake LP which I already own on vile CD. There is so much vintage dust in Anarchy that old miners visit it for nostalgic purposes.

Our spoils from Nottingham and Sheffield. This will either illustrate our diverse taste or complete lack of it. Disclaimer: the Mrs insisted we purchase Rodney Allen Rippy, nothing to do with me.

This picture is dedicated to my old scarf which I lost in Oxford a week later. Of minor interest is the Eva Luna record I found in the Broomhill Oxfam, Sheffield.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The Cancer Research, Streatham. What splendid objects of desire lurked within........

"Howard's Way, it's bloody Howard's Way." Useful for obscuring the ugly things in life.

We find a gem in the Streatham Oxfam. Elliott Smith's XO on vinyl. It gave me the three chin smile.

Who will save us from this giant green bird?

We're back in East Sheen again. This harmless chazzer houses an inferno of a record as you are about to see.......

This is the kind of insurrectionary filth the middle class kids of East Sheen were listening to back in the eighties.

Come on then if you think you're hard enough. "Who had the no.1 version of the Star Wars theme?" That must be in the US because it only got to no.7 here. 30 pence, the bargain of the day.

After being turfed out of the Cancer Research we wander the streets until we spy this unexpected island of tat outside the cinema. Note the wariness of the woman about to cross the road, she's seen our camera and she fears she's about to become another victim of the surveillance society.

Here we are at the Cats Rescue stall. I was not allowed to buy a miniature model of a Route Master bus despite my plea of "Think of the cats, think of the cats", so I consoled myself by caressing some terrible records.

Streatham's murderous roads will not deter the Scavenger.

Galway and Mancini, flutes and strings. We just didn't have the courage to buy it.

Formed from the ashes of the Room this is a great Benny Profane 12". Discovered snugly cosying up to some Mission 12" 's. Bauhaus, Family Cat and some goth compilation featuring Every New Dead Ghost to be played only after dark were also unearthed in the new arrivals section.

A 12" on Peasant's Revolt Records. Unfortunately it features a Chumbawamba track. That'll get a dousing with a jug of water when I get home. Also discover Dragon's Revenge by Anhrefn. Love the dragon which reminds me, isn't the Welsh flag the best?

We sign a petition to save the Missing Persons' shop in East Sheen. If it shuts who will find the missing? Inside we find nothing but an America LP from the late 70's. We send it packing on a horse with no name.

What glorious baubles await inside...........

Get me the number of that window cleaner.

What a haul. Barnados has a rich selection of LP's I already own. Except the Steeleye Span which I rejected.

Discovered in Barnados, East Sheen, Stomu Yamashta's East Wind. That reflection effect
is down to my camera operative. She's on half pay from now on.


My sadness at yet another secondhand record shop closing prevented me from coming up with a snappy title. It was probably a couple of years ago when Eastcote Sellanby closed its doors. Memorable mostly for its extensive collection of Rolf Harris paraphernalia it was never a source of gasp-out-loud finds. A Shelley Fabares LP, an Yma Sumac LP, the C86 comp on vinyl and the Horrorcomic CD are hardly a gold tinted crop but all were very reasonably priced. I probably darkened its doors half a dozen times and never quite found the courage to ask the rather grumpy owner if he'd do me a deal on a Rolf Harris stylophone. Since the shop's demise I have often pondered the fate of Rolf' miscellany.

And so I consoled myself with the knowledge that there still remained the South Harrow Sellanby. But no more. From a distance all seemed well, the gaudy yellow sign still proudly protruded from above the shop, but then I saw the Sellanby sign lying forlornly on the ground. It had been violently chopped in half and within the shop a couple of men were lazily measuring planks of wood. So it's Sellanbye bye to the shop where I acquired a Times LP for a negligible price a few years back. Will I venture to South Harrow again? Maybe as in the past I found the Koobas comp on Bam Caruso for a £1 and the 35 Summers 12" in the nearby charity shops.

What shops are left? Alan's in East Finchley is thriving. Others still open include Sounds Original in South Ealing, Rock On in West Wickham, Flashback in Islington and Crouch End, Boogaloo in Fulham, a shop in Kingston, a shop in Hendon and a shop in Beckenham. Unless you know otherwise.


These I want, must own:

Keen : Feline Groovy
Book 'Em Danno : Papa's Got A Brand New Disease
Deadly Toys : Nice Weather
Hardy Boys : Wonderful Lie
Tin Openers : Set Me Free
Beyond The Implode : Last Thoughts

That's the tip of a very deep iceberg which, despite global warming, refuses to melt.
Some C86 related stuff and some punky glory, that 45 Revolutions book is a dangerous
tome to own. The Evening Outs is highlighted as I want it most of all.
Anyone got any of these they want to sell?


As Wob would have it in his song extolling the merits of charity shop delving over traipsing around your local souless shopping arcade for some designer tat. Eschew your lazy ways, surrender your permanent place on the sofa and discover some real British talent, as opposed to the lukewarm losers ITV and BBC serve up on their "talent" shows, and go see Wob live. Buy a CD if you must, and for his sake I suggest you do, but do not deprive yourself of the pleasure of experiencing his energy and charm in his favoured habitat, the local pub. He can actually sing, he is often beset by strange urges to sing show tunes while tuning his guitar and it's almost like being in a West End theatre. His dexterity on the guitar is equally sublime. Last night in the Evening Star in Brighton he displayed his virtuosity on the ukelele and though I had a nasty attack of the Formby's (I was about to rush out and clean the nearest window) I forgave him.

And the charity shops. Brighton has been good to me of late. Fingers filthy and brow beaded with sweat as I raced against sunday shopping hours I uncovered a few glories. A Wild Poppies 12", a single by Robyn Hitchcock horrifically titled "Eaten By Her Own Dinner", 7"singles by Linda Smith, Kieran Halpin, Orange Cake Mix, Reverb and Aislers Set. And the fabulous find of the day, a 12" by Reflection AOB signed by the band. An ebay seller had it listed for £179 a few weeks ago, then when it didn't sell he relisted it for £199! Brazen idiocy, surely nobody will cough up that for it?


Greeted with the acrid aroma of piss is not something one expects of Oxfam. One does expect a Julia Fordham artifact. Someone equipped with an unkind mind might suggest there could be a link between the two. Fordham's single was called "Where Does The Time Go?"A more apt title might be "Where Did My Career Go?" Fordham seemed to be forever popping up on breakfast TV or Pebble Mill back in the eighties and early nineties much to the bemusement of the hosts who clearly had very little idea who she was and often looked worriedly around for security. She looked as though she had been chiselled from an iceberg, gleaming white and radiating emotionlessness. She should have been a dinner party shoo in but back in those days Sade had that market cornered. Imagine it, the party is gently warming up, lively friendly chatter is being exchanged and then the hostess says "Darling, shall we put on that new Julia Fordham CD?" Guests cough, one or two keel over feigning illness, others make excuses and scurry for the nearest exit, then the boyfriend quickly pops in a Sade CD and the evening is rescued . As she sang before an audience of OAP's on Pebble Mill she probably wondered if any of them would live to see her guest on Wogan. Maybe she did and if she did why didn't she do an Ollie Reed or Grace Jones? A violent drunken outburst might have shunted her one top twenty single ( "Love Moves (In Mysterious Ways)" no19 in 1992 ) into, for her at least, the unknown, the top ten. That dizzying achievement was never hers. My twisted imagination pictures her starring in a Phoenix Nights special.

A more rewarding encounter in Cancer Research where I picked up LP's by the Who (Tommy) and the Liverpool Scene (Amazing Adventures Of) for £1 each. And a Jacques Brel LP was scooped up for a £1 in British Heart Foundation.


I've been a regular at the Notting Hill, Berwick Street and Camden MVE's or Record & Tape Exchange for over twenty years. Some of the staff have been there nearly that long. With one or two of them I'm on grimacing terms. Yes, the majority of them are surly and indifferent so it's always a pleasure when I am rewarded due to their ignorance. A few months back I was flicking through the 50p singles in the Camden MVE when I came across the Screen Gemz 7". Not to be located in Record Collector's Rare Record Guide the poor "experts" in MVE had no knowledge of its value. Though it rarely appears on ebay a copy had sold on there just the week before for £230. That had a picture sleeve, unfortunately mine didn't. What was even sweeter was the fact that I had bid unsuccessfully for it and here it was in my grubby paws with its pretty green MVE sticker, so much easier to remove than the red stickers which have scarred a number of my sleeves, for the budget sum of 50p. A few weeks earlier I had reeled in a haul of five or six Marsh Marigold singles from the 50p shelves and received a quizzical stare from the man who served me. Then last month the staff were in a quandary when confronted with something on the Shinkansen label. Was it dance music? Unlikely, they reasoned, as there were three people in the band. I resisted the temptation to enlighten them.


Inspecting my local charity shops had become something of a chore of late. The high yield of collectables that appeared a few years ago had dried up. So wandering into the Cancer Research while the girlfriend had her eyebrows trimmed was more a force of habit than an urge directed by excitement. The shop had never been that generous with goodies, my last find being Cambodian Rocks Volume 1 for £1; cheap but not rare. Few 7" 's but a reasonable array of 12" 's, most of which had fled eastern Europe around the time of the Prague spring (1968). I ignored the parade of Polish artists and the classical box set which I suspect was planted there simply to beef up the skimpy selection. Suddenly I was confronted by six men with radiant smiles wearing suspiciously folky clothes. They were trapped in a narrow passage in what appeared to be a hamlet in Greece or some country where men with violins lurk in corners in restaurants. My attention was captured only by their name, Omega Red Star, which nullified the naffness of the cover. Sleevenotes on the back advanced the idea that they offered something new to pop music. Judged by their attire could one gainsay that declaration? They had toured Britain in May 1968 and left western musicians bewildered in their wake. I'm sure the myriad styles of the Beatles' White Album was due to thier influence. And they came from Hungary. That last fact, proudly emblazoned on the front of the sleeve, was why I parted with £1.
Belgium is often cited as a country where no one of any import was born. Maybe so if one discounts Rene Magritte, James Ensor, Jacques Brel and Audrey Hepburn. In comparison let's consider Hungary. Do any names spring to mind? Mr. Biro and Franz Liszt. Quite frugal unless you google.
Omega Red Star, what a musical goulash. Prog folk, toytown-psych pop. If anything reeked of rarity this did. Crestfallen communists take note, this piece of Hungarian aural theatre last seen on ebay securing a capital sum of £130. Mono version of course, which my copy happens to be.


It's crap. A horrendous London outcrop that is in a state of listless decay. It is as if one is entering a vortex of aesthetic indifference where stunted ideas are celebrated as cultural totems. Gormless groups drift along the pavement tensed with the pointless energy of dumb youth. I have a friend who lives here, subjected to the tantrums of the unwanted local children, circling his house like witless hyenas, screaming and violently booting balls at houses and cars. A charity shop fizzing with unsavoury odours is a sanctuary of sorts. Defeated and damaged the vinyl sprawls awkwardly beneath a ledge of commonplace CD's. A Crickets LP is as mottled as a month old lettuce leaf. Nothing to be rescued here. A miserly slice of salvation appears in the form of a Helen And The Horns 12". Not quite Helen of Troy the glossy Helen McCookerybook, once of Brighton cartoon punkers the Chefs, offers up a jumpy lounge number called Footsteps At My Door. In this locality it is more likely to be the bailiffs than Xavier Cugat marching up the uneven pathway.

Ealing PDSA

Venturing into the local PDSA I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of vinyl. A small box containing maybe 30 LP's. Nothing too interesting, Laura Nyro and Crosby Stills & Nash and some pre-violin disco ELO. The singles, of which there were a substantial number, have exited the building but charity shops are subject to the whims of OAP overlords and they may return in the near future.


The dungeon of England, that's the midlands. Dank hunched streets doused in sooty grime. Pallid youths sweat in terror as the sun tickles their stubble. It's an unconfirmed statistic that a flannel hasn't sold in Wolverhampton since Neds called it a day. The Germans tried to cancel Coventry out back in the forties, ten years later the town planners tried to finish the job. Despite the cruel fate meted out to it the city has a surreptitious charm that seeps into the consciousness like a benign infection. Why am I pondering the twisted beauty of the big C? To avoid reliving the dull hour spent browsing through twenty boxes of mediocre vinyl and CD's. That hour was only enlivened by the overhearing of a rascist rant from one stall owner that was more hideous than any 1950's architecture. It was so vile it drove me out of the room and into the welcoming arms of the British Heart Foundation. There for a meagre 25p each I picked up four 12" singles: two Raw Herbs; Da Vincis; and Let's Make Some Plans by the Close Lobsters.

I don't want to go to Greenford

But I did anyway. Since the closing of the charity shop with the giant basement I have been reluctant to trawl through the unwanted detritus of Greenford. It's not a prepossessing place consisting as it does of little more than a tip and a busy crossroads; with the A40 obligingly placed within puking distance for rapid exit. The first charity shop has a vigorous stench, a sort of soaked-through old carpet odour. Poor old Penny McLean, her LP has been brutalized by some clumsy brute and appears quite unplayable. Soon though a BMX Bandits 12" is found and Greenford is pleading with me for redemption. A vast collection of horrific rock records reveal their mucky faces to me in the Cancer Research. I scuttle away. Fara delivers three CD LP's at a bargain £1: Little Ones : Sing Song; a Kill Rock Stars compilation called Mollie's Mix; Pram : Sargasso Sea. The strangest encounter was with 50 or so 78's that appear to have never been kissed by a stylus. They all came from the one shop, long since extinct, somewhere on the Uxbridge Road. The majority of them are all the same song except for Cocktails For Two by, um, I forget. My hapless memeory.

Vanishing vinyl

My favourite local charity shop is PDSA. It has presented me with several sought after nuggets over the years. So it is hard to relay this story without a tremble in my fingertips. In I went and hastened to the back of the shop where the vinyl ekes out an existence. I am a little confused, it seems the vinyl has wandered elsewhere. I spin wildly around the shop, I investigate nooks, I peep into crannies. In my despair I nearly hurl some absurd videos at the glass display behind the counter where one vinyl LP reclines majestically (I think it's some nonsense by Cliff Richard). I circuit the shop twice, flailing helplessly at skirts and kicking out at shoes. It's gone. All the vinyl has gone. This happened once before and it did come back. I hold this thought close to my heart and somehow don't collapse in a heap outside. There's always tomorrow, or next week, or next month............

Cheltenham record fair

The Scavenger rarely roams westward but after studying Record Collector in search of record fairs in new territory he and his scavenging sidekick opted for a root around Cheltenham. The record fair was the main attraction but Cheltenham has an excellent record shop close to the main part of town plus a few charity shops. The fair was mildly diverting. I found a single by Scarlet Downs which was a reasonable £5. One dealer showed me his punk wares and he impressed me with the utter belief he had in his ambitious pricing. They're Back Again, Here They Come by the Cigarettes was a staggering £80. I couldn't imagine the kind of nicotine high I'd have to be on to part with that much for what is admittedly one of the best singles of the punk era. It usually sells for around £50 on ebay. I knew he was unsound when I saw he'd priced Stupid Guy by the Paranoids at £15. I saw it with two other dealers and it never bruised double figures. I left with the one single, sidekick Kathryn left with three CD's: Early Morning Hush compilation; Luke Haines:Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop and Nara Leao:Nara 67. The charity shops yielded nothing for me but Kathryn found an LP featuring the Mike Sammes Singers called Sammes Session.

What i found in Walton

Cancer Research always has a sizeable stock of LP's and singles. Rarely anything startling turns up. Finding a Zoomiz single last year was greeted with moderate glee. I had it already but I bought it for launching into the ebay arena. Today I uncover a 12" by the Clay People. It's from 1987, is on Hectic records and mentions a chap called Ray Davis on the dull sleeve. Interest tweaked I part with 75p. This Ray Davis helped mix and produce it. I play it and it ponderously crawls from the speakers. An unobtrusive little morsel, not suitable for the gourmet palate. Wreaths And Seashells is the best track but that title promised so much more. Hectic Babble is neither hectic nor cannon-spat chatter. Mark E. Smith could have worked wonders with a title like that.

Another local scavenge

Braving industrial strength winds I ventured westward to Twickenham. Scene of many a decent find in the past I expected to be buried under an avalanche of C86 rarities. I have always been wary of the Cancer Research after they valued a harmless Abba LP at £20. Maybe some lunatic had run in with a price gun and wreaked unknown havoc before being chased out. Wariness this time was replaced with weariness as I flicked through a wasteland of Dave Edmunds LPs. Luck, I can't hear you knocking. Then right at the back I found a Yeh Yeh Noh Peel Sessions 12". At first I suppressed a full throated yeh, then I uttered an indifferent yeh, then I muttered noh; I already had everything it had to offer. I realized my excitement was simply due to the fact that I'd encountered Pasadenas 12"'s and Marcella Detroit CD singles and so my joy reflex was prone to jolt at any titbit that didn't stink of corporate. Nothing and five other charity shops were just as parsimonious. But the Trinity Hospice never lets me down. In there some years back I fell upon an LP by Adam Best called Wall Of Sound and more recently Dogs by the Who. This time I liberated the rather more prosaic Wannadies vinyl LP Be A Girl. All in a wet day's work.

Brussels binge

Go to Belgium? To find records. What insanity is this. Well I sent the lovely girlfriend there on an unofficial scouting trip last year and she came back bearing chocolates and informing me that beer stocks were holding up well. In passing she also mentioned a record shop she thought I might enjoy scavenging in. So this weekend we hopped on to the Eurostar and headed for Brussels. The fun game we all know and love is, how many famous Belgians can you name? To which I reply, how many famous Swiss can you name? But I digress. We were greeted with the exact replica skies we left in London, grey and drizzly. And it remained that way. The first shop was swollen with vinyl and had a good array of 60's and 70's LP's plus an extensive selection of 7"'s. The latter yielded very little except a Sylvie VartanEP dressed in a striking cover from which one may assume that French women had a nits problem. Also found a Fehlfarben LP, a CD of girl group sounds of the early 60's called The Girls Of Hideaway Heaven and a Luv LP for the queenly sum of 1 euro. The next shop presented us with an Eggplant LP and a Samantha Jones LP My Way which does include that My Way, a song best left to die a lonely death in working men's clubs. We also rooted through a graveyard of gormless 80's pop stars captured for eternity on 7". There were thousands of them among which was Nottingham Forest's deluded boast "We've Got The Whole World In Our Hands". Maybe not lads but at least you extended a finger or two to Brussels. What we did buy was Luv: You're The Greatest Lover; Baccara : Parlez Vous Francais; Middle Of The Road : Bottoms Up ; La Bionda : One For You, One For Me and Dolly Dots : Leila (The Queen Of Sheba). I have to emphasize that they only cost 10 cents each. Shop three was called Juke Box and it was not offering any bargains except for Odessey And Oracle by the Chrysanthemums; yes it is the Zombies LP lovingly recreated by Alan Jenkins and his crazy cohorts. A mere 15 euros. Take my money. We were done then and repaired to a pub to quaff beer and guzzle a vast plate of cheese which helped reinforce the dams in our arteries. The next day we were thwarted in our attempt to visit the Brel museum, it was closed, and almost failed to locate the chocolate museum. Fortunately we did discover another record shop where we purchased the db's : Living A Lie; Pink Noise : Move For You and Lizzy Mercier Descloux : Suspense. Also rummaged around a flea market and discovered two Jacques Dutronc singles.