Hopefully it won't have escaped your notice that last weekend saw the passing of yet another Record Store Day; the one day of the year when you actually have to queue to get into your local record shop, and the things you find inside cannot be found online at far better prices (or even at all). The dark, culture-forsaken wilderness that is Cornwall has a major shortage of indie record shops, and the only one that took part in this years RSD festivities (generally a veritable feast of special-editions, limited pressings, and exclusive content) is an epic bus ride away from EbM HQ, so it wasn't until this weekend that I was able to drag my weary bones to Music Nostalgia in Truro.
My Thoughts On The Event
The RSD organizers are keen to stress that the titular ‘day’ itself is just a focus for indie record retailers, and that we should be visiting record shops once a week rather than once a year, and it's a creed I try to live by. Music Nostalgia is just a few racks of new and used vinyl at the back of a run-down market, but it always manages to stock at least an album or two to suck my cash off me every time I visit. I leave, piled high with records, with a sense of having committed an act of charity and of having done something positive for my local community, but also with the nagging doubt that I could have saved myself a lot of money (and a tedious journey) if I'd stayed at home and shopped online. Normally this would mean Amazon – generally the cheapest around – but lately a lot of indie record shops have been beefing up their online output, so now most of my spare digi-cash wends its way to the Rough Trade or Banquet websites, which can at least match Amazon for price, and certainly beat the big A on moral standards.
My Thoughts On The Record
By the time I made it to the shop the festival atmosphere of the preceding weekend had long past. Of the many RSD releases I was hoping to find, the only one to have slipped through the grasping fingers of the eager punters that had gotten there before me was the reissue of the 3/4 AD single by folk guitar virtuoso Davy Graham. This 7" gets its name from the b-side, a duet by Graham with fellow guitarist Alexis Korner – of whom I know very little – but the a-side is where the action is. There's a little ditty called Davy's Train Blues, which blasts through some jazz/folk clichés with fire and vigour, but the main event here is, of course, Anji; the song that launched a thousand guitarists. It might not be his best work (for that, I'd recommend his rendition of Cry Me A River) but it's certainly his most famous work, and it's a track that's been covered by (and here I speak with some authority) every folk guitarist that has come since Graham. It's almost as if Anji were a rite of passage for English folk guitarists; folk music's Stairway to Heaven, if you will.
Graham's playing, unlike so many of those who aped him, sounds scratchy and erratic. It's feels like he's making it up as he goes along (which most of the time he was); he's merely a vessel through which the music is being conveyed. The performance of Anji on this single is the definitive version, which much to my surprise I didn't previously own on CD or digitally. As such, I'm grateful to Topic for re-releasing it, and I'm enjoying having it on vinyl. And like all the best vinyl, it sounds 10% better having come from a real record shop.