I read a magazine article a couple of years ago about a record club that met on Sunday afternoons once a month in a room above a pub in London. It existed solely for people to go along and listen to a whole vinyl LP. Just listen, perhaps have a bit of a chat about it and then go home again. I thought to myself at the time that I'd quite like to go to this club but decided that a) was a four hour round trip to London to listen to someone else's copy of Liege and Lief an entirely constructive use of my time and b) did I want to sit with a load of blokes in corduroy jackets stroking their beards?
The idea of it kind of stuck with me though because I love listening to, and talking about music, and like book clubs (which I've never been a part of), thought it would give me a chance to experience something that I wouldn't normally choose to read or listen to.
So it was handy that last week I happened to see a retweet by the DJ Marc Riley about a record club being set up in the Derbyshire town of Glossop, with the first meeting being set for the 12th of September. I live in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire is right next door to my home county. So I thought - and with a lot of encouragement from my wife - I'd take a trip over just to see what it was like, as one likes to try new things. Anyway, turns out that my initial suspicion that Glossop was near Manchester was correct. Although in Derbyshire, it's way over to the north west of Derbyshire, and I live in the east of Nottinghamshire, just a spit away from Lincolnshire. It's 68 miles away. Now, the way this country is set up for travel, if you want to go or north to south, you're laughing. 68 miles on the A1 would take me less than hour. However, travelling east to west is not so easy. To get to Glossop from here, you must negotiate Sheffield, and then brave the notorious Snake Pass. Up until yesterday, I'd never driven on the Snake Pass before. It's well named as it twists and turns like a...like a...twisty turny thing. Oh yeah, it twists and turns like a snake.
So I set off straight from work, the journey took me about an hour and thirty five minutes. A quick look at Google Streetview a couple of nights before led me straight to the door of the venue where it was going to be held (after a crafty trip to the toilets in quite possibly the world's swishest branch of Wetherspoon's. Yes, it really was swish), namely the Glossop Labour Club. It was an evening of firsts for me as I'd never been in a Labour club before either. I was expecting union banners and portraits of Keir Hardie to be decorating the walls while there'd be very uncomfortable stools to sit on to constantly remind you of the struggles of the workers. But not a bit of it, there was a Tolpuddle Martyrs poster and some collieryana (is that a word?) but other than that there were watercolours on the walls of the surrounding Peak District, carpets, a tastefully appointed bar area and cushioned seats.
I walked in a bit unsure of myself but spied a friendly-looking couple sitting on a banquette. "Is this the record club?" I enquired. They both smiled and said yes. So, I got myself a drink (85p for a Coca Cola - club prices, very handy) nodded to the
guy running the show, Simon, and sat down.
So, at 8.30, the first LP of the evening was started - Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure. Which was chosen as the theme for the evening was 1973. And very good it is too, I was only previously familiar with Do the Strand (which I think is one of the few songs where the vocal and instruments start together. Weezer's Buddy Holly and Squeeze's Pulling Mussels... being the only other two I know of) and In Every Dream Home a Heartache, which is a heart-warming tale of a very wealthy but ultimately very lonely man who spends his evenings making love to an inflatable sex doll. Listening to it in those surroundings where you're just concentrating on the music is terrific. I mostly listen to music while I'm doing something else so it was great to just sit and listen. I play the drums so usually listen out for drums on records. It soon became obvious that while Roxy's drummer at the time, Paul Thompson, isn't the most technical and precise drummer, he's quite inventive but at the same time keeps it simple. There's a drum fill at around 2m 20s of the track Editions of You which is just an elongated single stroke roll, but boy, does it work. And what is it with art rockers using gruff Northerners like Thompson and Woody Woodmansey as drummers?
So, Music for Pleasure came to its Brian Eno curated end and we sat and had a bit of a chat about it. One of us had even seen Roxy Music on the tour to support the LP at Nottingham University in 1973. Fancy!
We then had a comedy record interlude, which featured a Bruce Forsyth track with the most unbelievably funky Hammond B3 solo. Didn't the organist do well? The organist do well, didn't he?
LP no.2 was a based on an internet poll. All the LPs in the poll were from 1973, a list which included one of my favourite albums of all time by Pink Floyd. Now I've heard that LP thousands of times, and as I wanted to go to this record club to learn about stuff I wouldn't normally listen to I decided to vote for David Bowie's Aladdin Sane. This Bowie chap gets a lot of hype and it struck me that I'd never heard a complete album of his, just greatest hits. Anyway, Bowie got beaten in the poll by Stevie Wonder's Innervisions. All good, as I wouldn't normally choose that. Again, a superb LP. It's amazing to think that this burst of creativity he had during the early 70s produced, on just one album, tracks like Higher Ground, Living for the City, Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing and He's Misstra Know-It-All, stuff you still hear regularly on the radio today.
Us, the non-paying public, were then allowed to showcase any records we'd brought along. But time was marching on, and at about 11.20, I decided that I couldn't put the return journey up Snake Pass off any longer and decided to scoot off.
So, would I go back? Yes. Would I submit an idea to the suggestions sheet? Yes, but my natural shyness and lack of actually owning the stuff I'd like to play on vinyl is holding me back. Was it full of men stroking their beards? Yes, but I'm a man who strokes his beard anyway.
Fortunately, my trip home was incident free. Although Radio 2 was on the radio but with Steve Lamacq and Janice Long, not Brian Mathew.