Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some More Covers For Saturday

Feel awash on a mixture of emotions. On the majorly positive side, I am getting married in two weeks time to the wonderful soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, there are only four days left until the end of term (it's basically videos next week, which takes the stress out of having to do too much planning), and I am alive. On the negative side, the weather in Scotland has been wet even by the usual standards (so we are looking at a wet wedding at this rate), Ash are apparently about to release their final album, and Fopp, a scottish independent chain have closed their doors. Not good news. At all. From a slightly selfish point of view, I loved shopping there. From a more concerning point of view, there are many sources that indicate that staff have not been paid for the last month's work (talk about alienation of labour, as Marx would have said), and as a former employee of the company, there is a sense of 'There but For the Grace Of God go I.' As the owner is a millionaire he should damn well make sure his staff are paid a.s.a.p.

Who to blame? Anyone who suggests bloggers (not that anyone has. Yet.) is frankly talking out of an orifice that's not their mouth. I wish supermarkets would stop selling CDs at discounted prices, and that people bought their music from independent stores rather than big chains. I know I have put links to online stores when encouraging people to support music, which is as much of a disclaimer I guess, but the little men and women should not be having to suffer. The staff in small music stores are generally much better informed than staff in the big stores (I should know, I worked for one briefly and it was quite a dispiriting experience generally). I don't doubt that there are people who work in supermarkets who are very well-informed about music, but the reality is that they are not going to have the time to talk to and advise customers. Most importantly, supermarkets are only going to stock titles by established bands, rather than stocking vinyl and CDS by new and up and coming artists. This is not to anyone's advantage.

I know I'm ranting, but this is from the heart, as it concerns things I feel passionately about, namely the people on minimum wage jobs or precious little better, and music.

Is there anything we can do? I refuse to accept that we are powerless. Support independent music stores rather than big monoliths, make sure that workers' rights are recognised, and encourage small companies to operate as co-operatives rather than aiming to be corporate.

Related to this, a purchase a couple of months ago from Fopp, which I have picked some covers from, by my all-time favourite band, The Cure.

The Cure-'Hello I Love You.' mp3

The Cure-'Hello I Love You (Slight Return mix).' mp3

The Cure-'Purple Haze (Unreleased Virgin Radio version).' mp3

The Cure-'Purple Haze.' mp3

The Cure-'Young Americans.' mp3

The Cure-'World In My Eyes.' mp3

(For the benefit of anyone who genuinely doesn't know who the originals are by, aaargh! The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Depeche Mode).

These tracks are taken from The Cure's Join The Dots boxset. After everything I have said, if you like what you hear, go and buy it from an independent store. The mp3s will be up for one week only.


Davy H said...

As I understand it the stores were making money until the owners over-expanded. Can't see that Fopp were in any way competing with/beaten by the supermarkets - or downloaded music come to that.

More likely a thriving little chain tried to get too big too quickly as the people at the top took duff business decisions.

I hear store staff haven't even been paid for past weeks work. Shocking and inept.

Who is this Jimi Hendrix of whom you write? Should I check him out do you think?

Juan said...

I agree whole heartedly. As far as music being sold at big box stores and markets by people who do not care about the art of music it is a failed experiment. But look at what the record companies sell us (Brittney Spears, Justin Timberlake, etc), who can possibly care!?!

I happen to have a small local record store that I can walk to and the knowledge of the "hipper than thou" staff is usually accurate and helpful. This is in Seattle. I left Los Angeles where two of my most precious indie stores were closed without so much fanfare (except in the heart of music lovers) Rhino and Aaron's.

Indie music may move to the blogosphere where the people who care about art will promote it and the "hipper than thou" staff will be us... sorry for the rant.

Ed said...

Davy H-I don't necessarily think that Fopp would have been competing with the supermarkets as they were always much more specialist, but as they did stock mainstream releases this doesn't help. As for competing with downloads...some people do have an attitude of 'why buy it when you can download it for free?' which is affecting record stores the world over, not just Fopp?.

AS for the Jimi Hendrix comment, I put that there for people who might have less of an awareness of music than you might reasonably expect!

Juan, there's nowt wrong with ranting!