Saturday 20 April 2013 was Record Store Day. If you didn’t visit and support you nearest vinyl emporium, shame on you. My 15-year-old son, Harry, and I had the most glorious time at Banquet Records, Kingston upon Thames, London. We bought some very special vinyl.
Record Store Day is celebrated globally and occurs each year on the third Saturday in April. It started in the USA in 2007 when over 700 independent stores got together with artists to celebrate the art of music and the culture of independent record shops. It has since taken off around the world and April 2013 saw the sixth celebration of Record Store Day in the UK. Hundreds of artists across the globe made appearances at special events and released unique vinyl and CDs in limited runs exclusively for Record Store Day.
Keen to get our hands on some of the good stuff, Harry and I were up early. We knew there’d be a queue at Banquet Records. In 2012 some hardcore vinyl heads were camping outside at 11.30pm the night before. But I had to play a gig Saturday night, so we decided to get up just after 5.00am rather than spend the night on the street.
As I drove to Kingston, we talked excitedly about the discs we hoped to buy. A few days before, we’d trawled the catalogue of Record Store Day releases on Banquet Records website and made a list of our priority vinyl. Harry was keen to get his hands on a Tame Impala EP, an old Stooges number (No Fun) done by The Black Keys, Pretty Vacant (hand numbered) by Sex Pistols, and a special US Record Store Day release of Hey Joe in mono by Jimi Hendrix. My list was longer, but my key objective was to pick up a few special pieces for Andy, the drummer of Feature Creep – one of the bands I play in. He would be playing his last gig with the band that evening, at The White Lion, Streatham, London. It was kind of cool that we would playing our final gig together on Record Store Day.
There was no guarantee we would get the vinyl we wanted. Some of it was available in such small numbers there was the distinct possibility that (a) the store would sell out before we got through the door, or (b) some titles would not be allocated to Banquet Records.
We arrived at the store just after 6.00am to find that the queue was already running along Eden Street, round the corner and about 50 yards down Ashdown Road.
We hit the back of the queue and waited very, very patiently for the store to open at 8.00am. We estimated that there were about 150 people in front of us.
When the store opened, we began to shuffled along bit by bit, a few feet at a time, making slow progress toward the store entrance.
As we got closer to the entrance the anticipation was unbearable. Some people couldn’t help themselves; they just had to press their faces up against the store window.
Eventually, after queuing for about five hours, we got into the store some time around 11.15am.
Inside was a vinyl wonderland. It was so tempting to go crazy with my credit card. Everyone was frantically checking their lists and scanning the shelves. To prevent the the unfair purchasing of multiple copies, each customer was only allowed one copy of any particular item. This meant some difficult choices would have to be made if, like me, you were there to get treasures for yourself as well as friends.
The store had received a lot of Record Store Day releases in abundance. But some discs were in very short supply, such as Transient by Depth and Current. When I paid for it I said to Adam, who was serving, “I was lucky. Got the last copy.” He replied, “You got the only copy.”
Many of the staff had worked well into the night, preparing the store for the big day. Some hadn’t left until about 2.30am and were back, ready and eager at 7.00am, an hour before opening. Despite the long hours, every member of the Banquet Records team remained cheery and couldn’t have been more helpful. Chris sat dutifully by his laptop and answered question after question from customers desperate to know if items on their list had sold out or not.
We didn’t get everything we were after. But that’s not the point. The purpose of our trip was to support one of our favourite places – Banquet Records – and share our enthusiasm for records and music we like-minded folk. Both inside and outside the store, the spirit and camaraderie were life affirming.
Harry was disappointed not to get hold of the Tame Impala, The Black Keys and Hendrix discs that were on his list, but we had a marvellous day and still managed to get a nice haul between us. And Harry very kindly bought a few items on my behalf whenever I found something I thought Andy would like, but also fancied myself.
We ended up with:
- Chvrches – Recover (12″ EP transparent tangerine vinyl)
- Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant (7″ hand numbered) x2
- David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday (7″ picture disc) x2
- Vic Godard & Subway Sect – Caught In Midstream (7″)
- David Bowie – The Stars [Are Out Tonight] (7″ white vinyl)
- Depth and Current – Transient (7″ transparent white vinyl)
- Nick Cave – Animal X (7″ picture disc) x2
- Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – The Bottle (7″ transparent green vinyl) x2
- Edwyn Collins and The Heartbreaks – What Are you Doing, Fool? (7″)
I asked Banquet Records what they thought of it all, and they replied:
It was considerably our busiest day ever. Record Store Day has a real unique vibe and is a special occasion. We’re super grateful for everyone who took all that time queueing up, and there were so many smiling faces and great people buying great music. Great day.