Category Archives: Vinyl Records

Rocks In The Attic #927: Hildur Guðnadóttir – ‘Joker (O.S.T.)’ (2019)

It’s the 1970s! Or is it, as I don’t think we’re ever really told? The guys in suits on the subway are definitely dressed in the corporate attire of today, but it’s clearly the New York City of Taxi Driver and The King Of Comedy. And of course we get Bobby De Niro in the cast just to sledgehammer the fact.

Speaking of the films of Martin Scorsese, it’s odd how Scorsese was originally tied to this film – as a producer – yet not long after he left the project, he was comparing all superhero films to theme park rides. To its credit, Joker belongs in a different camp to the rest of the DC and Marvel universes, but who knows how much of that was driven by Scorsese’s initial involvement.

Some of the success of Joker probably hinges on the fact that much of its audience won’t have seen Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy, in much the same way that 2019’s Midsommar was considered a groundbreaking horror film amongst people who hadn’t seen The Wicker Man. And just to labour that point, Midsommar is a wholly unoriginal piece of work. It wasn’t influenced by Robin Hardy’s 1973 film, it’s a carbon copy in everything but name and location. If Todd Phillips’ Joker was one of the surprises of 2019, Ari Aster’s Midsommar was undoubtedly the year’s biggest disappointment.

Back to Phillips’ film, and it’s interesting to see how the portrayal of the Joker character always seems to match the tone of the times, and it’s been getting darker and darker. First we had Caesar Romero as the cheerful ‘60s retiree Joker, followed by Jack Nicholson as the tired ‘80s Yuppy Joker, and Mark Hamill as the animated ‘90s cynic. The 21st century, to match the darkness of the post-9/11 world we live in, has given us Heath Ledger, Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix – two Oscar-winning performances and … Jared Leto. I’ve said before that Leto is this century’s Nic Cage, and much like some of Cage’s performances, his version of the Joker was just embarrassing to watch.

One of the most damning things that Todd Phillips’ Joker does is paint Thomas Wayne as an unsavoury member of the ruling elite, rather than the saint he’s usually painted out to be, most recently by Linus Roache in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It’s pretty unforgivable really, and only serves an element of the plot I wish they hadn’t touched (a family connection akin to Bryan Singer introducing Super-Boy in his disappointing Superman Returns).

We also get an appearance of the Wayne butler Alfred Pennyworth (played by Douglas Hodge), although I’m not sure if he’s ever referred to as such in the film. It’s a veiled reference, only slightly more so than the shot of the young Bruce Wayne sliding down the (bat) pole of his playground. Again, saint becomes sinner and Alfred comes across as an arsehole to our anti-hero Arthur Fleck.

I enjoyed that one of Arthur’s gags in his failed stand-up performance is an old classic: ‘It’s funny, when I was a little boy and told people I wanted to be a comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well, no one’s laughing now!’ Has a Bob Monkhouse joke ever had such an impact on a Hollywood film? I have my fingers crossed that they did out his ‘animal biscuits / broken seal’ gag for the sequel, as recounted here by Frank Skinner:

Bob Monkhouse told me he used to do this joke where he’d come on and say: “I love those animal biscuits they sell at Marks & Spencer. Have you seen them, those animal-shaped biscuits? They’re lovely. But I got a box the other day, and I opened it and it said on it: Do not eat if the seal is broken. And would you believe it?” But he said: “On a great night, I don’t have to say, ‘would you believe it?’ But on a bad night, I have to say, ‘The biscuit’s shaped like a seal.’”

Last but not least, the music in Joker is incredible. The combination of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile on the soundtrack, and the footage of Chaplin in Modern Times inside the cinema is a really nice touch. But the music supervisor on this film – George Drakoulias alongside music coordinator Meghan Currier – is absolutely on fire. We get an iconic scene soundtracked by Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part 2, alongside appearances by Herb Alpert’s Spanish Flea, Cream’s White Room, the aforementioned Smile, and Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life and Send In The Clowns, and that’s before we get to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s sublime Oscar-winning score.

Hit: Hoyt’s Office

Hidden Gem: Call Me Joker

Rocks In The Attic #925: Harry Manfredini & Fred Mollin – ‘Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (O.S.T.)’ (1988)

If there’s any truth to the rule that the even-numbered Star Trek movies are better than the odd-numbered entries, then surely there’s something in applying the same rule for the Friday The 13th films. Part III? Forgettable. Part V? Boring. Part VII? Weak.

The rule doesn’t quite work with this franchise because the first film is great, if a little undercooked compared to the rest, and the eighth instalment is pretty ropey. The rule only serves to point out that parts II, IV and VI are the best ones – which they are.

We open with a lengthy recap of the previous films, and instead of taking the audio from Part II’s fireside chat as the narration, we get a new voice filling us in. It sounds like a typical gravelly-voiced trailer man, but it’s actually voiced by Walt Gorney, the actor who portrayed Crazy Ralph in the first two films. Come back, Crazy Ralph, we’ve missed you! The credits sequence shows how much money the producers are playing with now. We see Jason’s mask against a black background, brilliant light pours through the holes in the mask and it splits open to reveal the film’s title and rest of the credits. The quality of the camera work and cinematography, and the visibly higher budget also make this look much better than Part VI.

We’ve ditched the comedy-horror of the previous film and somehow ended up in some quasi-psychological horror-movie. Is this the effect of A Nightmare On Elm Street? If so, it feels a few years’ too late. The music definitely sounds more akin to Charles Bernstein’s Elm Street score, particularly in the synth-heavy orchestration. Or are the rumours true that this was originally intended to be a crossover mash-up with Stephen King’s Carrie?

We’ve also hit peak mid-‘80s hair. I often think that women had this kind of massive hair all through the 1980s, because that’s what I remember, but it looks like it was only the last couple of years. Tina’s Mum’s hair deserves a horror franchise of its own. She looks like an extra from Mad Max 2.

The sleeping-bag death is great, perhaps one of the greatest kills in the whole series. I remember it being more gruesome than it is though. I remember Jason hitting the sleeping bag against the tree numerous times, but he only does it once. The sound design on this more than makes up for it; such a disgusting sounding crunch.

Part VII is a very cine-literate film. First we get the wood-chopping camper saying ‘I’ll be back’ like Schwarzenegger, then we get the Jaws POV shot when Jason kills the skinny-dippers in the lake. Unfortunately, one of the girls also looks like the League Of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton in drag, particularly when she gets all dressed up before Jason kills her.

Just like Parts III and V, it’s hard to feel anything for the characters. The film’s instantly forgettable. Maybe there was a conspiracy at Universal to keep the even-numbered films better. The dull soundtrack score, co-composed by Harry Manfredini and Fred Mollin, doesn’t help things either.

In terms of the series’ timeline, I have no idea where we are now. If 1985’s Part V was set in 1989, and 1986’s Part VI was set in 1990, then the opening sequence of 1988’s Part VII could be set any time after the events of Part VI. When the young Tina accidentally kills her father, we glimpse the chained-underwater Jason from the end of the previous film. So that means that the main part of the film, with Tina as a teenager – ten years later? – could be anytime around the turn of the millennium. That’s nuts – a film released in 1988 and set in 2000, without that fact being a central part of the plot.

To say that Kane Hodder is now so synonymous with playing Jason, his debut appearance here is very understated. After the character’s forceful striding of Part VI, he just shuffles his way through most of this film. It serves to make the character less scary, even more so when his mask is removed during the finale of the film.

We get some lovely ‘80s blue sci-fi lightning when Tina electrocutes Jason with the power lines. This must have been a free setting on visual effects hardware in the decade because it’s all over films like this, Ghostbusters, The Terminator, Aliens, and more. Jason then catches fire, and the house he’s in blows up. Huh?

And in terms of the protagonist and antagonist meeting, how does Tina even know Jason’s name? We’ve no indication that any of these characters knew about him, unless I missed some dialogue when I fell asleep to the sounds of bad scriptwriting. After such a long, drawn-out finale, we get a 15-second denouement, perhaps the shortest one in the franchise. “Jason? Where’s Jason?” Beat. “We took care of him.” And…cut! That’s a wrap!

Hit: Main Title

Hidden Gem: Flashback

Body Count: 16

Rocks In The Attic #924: Ben Salisbury, The Insects & Geoff Barrow – ‘Devs (O.S.T.)’ (2020)

2020 may have been the worst year in living memory, a year where we all spent a great deal of time locked-down at home, but at least we had some good TV to watch. While the cinema industry struggled with only a handful of blockbuster releases, the television industry – headed by the streaming services – took up the challenge to entertain us at home.

The year started off promisingly with Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian. Released at the tail-end of 2019, it represented the first strike by newcomer Disney+ and showed some light in the galaxy far, far away – even though it’s a fairly simple, linear show. The other hangover from the end of 2019 was the brilliant second season of HBO’s Succession. Netflix’s The Tiger King then provided a dose of absurdity for everybody to make it through COVID lockdown. Netflix scored again with the third season of Ozark, and later with The Queens Gambit, the hit out of nowhere that made everybody dust off their old chess boards. Of course, most of these shows were probably completed, or close to completion, when the pandemic hit. The real impact of COVID-19 on the industry will be how quickly it bounces back in 2021 and beyond.

My favourite show of 2020 was another one that seemed to spring up out of nowhere. Created by Alex Garland – the wunderkind writer of The Beach and director of modern sci-fi thrillers Ex-Machina and AnnihilationDevs landed on streaming service Hulu in March. Without giving too much away, the 8-episode show revolves around a young San Francisco couple, Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) and Sergei (Karl Glusman) who work at a tech company run by Forest (Nick Offerman) and Katie (Alison Pill). Things start to get strange when Sergei is shoulder-tapped with a promotion to the company’s secretive quantum computing division, Devs.

Given that most films and television shows are formulaic as hell – trope after trope after motherfucking trope! – Devs felt like a breath of fresh air. A truly original central conceit, a genuinely scary antagonist (played with relish by Zach Grenier) and a host of characters with questionable motives made sure that its audience was kept on its toes.

DEVS — Pictured: (l-r) Nick Offerman as Forest, Sonoya Mizuno as Lily. CR: Raymond Liu/FX

As well as looking beautiful, the show sounded beautiful too, thanks to a killer collaboration between the composer partnership of Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Free Fire) and The Insects (producers and co-writers for the likes of Massive Attack, Goldfrapp and Alison Moyet). A weird mix of Gregorian chanting, a bewitching soprano saxophone motif and some nightmarish industrial synthwork, the soundtrack has been given a deluxe triple-LP release by Invada and Lakeshore Records. It’s easily one of my favourite soundtrack releases of 2020.

Hit: Plainsong

Hidden Gem: Entering Devs / The Machine

Rocks In The Attic #921: West Dylan Thordson – ‘Split (O.S.T.)’ (2016)

16 years later!

Featuring a career-best performance by James McAvoy – who should have got an Academy Awards nomination, not to mention eight salaries – M. Night Shyamalan’s twelfth feature is a huge return to form after his wilderness years in the late 2000s / early 2010s. Marketed as a standalone film, it’s actually – SPOILER ALERT – a stealth sequel to 2000’s Unbreakable, with Bruce Willis reprising his role of David Dunn in an uncredited cameo in the film’s final scene.

Rewatching this as part of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, it’s easy to forget how nuts the narrative is. Is it a horror, a thriller, a very black comedy, or a mixture of all three? It expertly flits between absolute unpleasantness and bizarre humour, with McAvoy’s performance driving the unease of the protagonists (and the audience).

Anya Taylor-Joy has had a brilliant year in 2020, starring in Netflix’s breakthrough chess-show-that-isn’t-really-about-chess The Queens Gambit, and the much-better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be The New Mutants, but this is the first time I remember noticing her. I didn’t care for her hairstyle in The Queens Gambit, but she’s wonderful here, with her too-far-apart eyes and exquisite doll-face.

Alongside McAvoy and Taylor-Joy, the other casting gem is Betty Buckley as the psychologist treating McAvoy’s multiple personalities. It’s wonderful that Shyamalan and his casting director resisted the urge to cast this role with a more prominent, middle-aged actress (a la Sarah Paulson in a similar role in 2019’s Glass). Buckley is fantastic and really grounds the film from falling into outright fantasy.

The music score, by West Dylan Thordson, is a vast improvement on James Newton Howard’s score to Unbreakable. While the score to the 2000 film isn’t particularly bad, it’s just very much of its time. Thordson’s score is definitely more experimental and more in line with the horrific nature of the film.

The arrival of McAvoy’s ultimate personality, The Beast, is shot brilliantly – pure filmmaking from Shyamalan – and Thorsdon’s cue when Taylor-Joy confronts McAvoy’s Beast (Kevin Wendell Crumb) is sublime. The twist ending is perfect – a genuine surprise that Shyamalan drops the film in the same universe as Unbreakable. I wonder how many people guessed the reveal purely based on the music in that last scene – taken from Unbreakable – before they saw Bruce. I didn’t, but there are some soundtrack nuts who definitely would have recognised it.

Hit: Kevin Wendell Crumb

Hidden Gem: Casey Tells The Truth

Rocks In The Attic #913: Christopher Cross – ‘Christopher Cross’ (1979)

I wouldn’t know Christopher Cross if he walked past me on the street. In fact, having just looked at a photograph of him, I probably still wouldn’t recognise him. He looks to be the most unassuming rock star imaginable; more mechanic than musician, to paraphrase Star Wars.

Cross can write a tune, but he sits firmly in the type of middle-of-the-road fluff that would usually soundtrack feelgood ‘80s movies. Ride Like The Wind shows he can write an absolute banger, and I wish he did more of this edgier, driving rock compared to the syrupy ballads which are his stock in trade.

Still, this key release in the Yacht Rock genre affords me the opportunity to once again post about my favourite comedy sketch – SCTV’s Rick Moranis as backing vocalist du jour Michael McDonald, recording his smooth contributions to Cross’ Ride Like The Wind. Gold!

Hit: Ride Like The WindHidden Gem: I Really Don’t Know Anymore

Rocks In The Attic #900: Van Halen – ‘1984’ (1984)

The pubic outpouring of grief for Eddie Van Halen last week took me by surprise. I’ve always loved Eddie, but didn’t appreciate that so many other people did.

As fellow virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani has said after his death, ‘Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar at a time when it was all getting a bit broody.’ He was the antithesis of painful guitar-faces popularised by the likes of Clapton and his disciples. He played like an absolute freak, with a beaming rainbow of a smile betraying the effortlessness of his talent.

1984 is perhaps the band’s peak, with big single Jump showing that Eddie could play keyboards as well as guitars. And if Jump doesn’t get you moving, there’s also Panama and Hot For Teacher. It’s also the band’s first album since Eddie’s era-defining guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s Beat It. There couldn’t be anywhere else for the band to go but down, but I actually think the next album, 5150, with new frontman Sammy Hagar, is just as strong.

Sadly I never got to see Eddie play live. I had plenty of opportunities, but their descent into middle of the road AOR has always sat uneasily with me. My loss. Another musical regret to chalk up on the board.

I recently read a story about the funeral of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell in 2004. Dimebag and his drummer brother Vinnie Paul were huge Van Halen fans, and Darrell had recently become friends with Eddie a few weeks before he was murdered. For Darell’s funeral, Vinnie tried to organise a replica of his brother’s favourite Van Halen guitar, the black and yellow striped one from the rear cover of Van Halen II, to bury with him. Eddie Van Halen turned up to the funeral with the original guitar and said ‘Dime was an original, he deserves an original.’

Hit: Jump

Hidden Gem: 1984

Rocks In The Attic #899: Hans Zimmer – ‘Mission: Impossible 2 (O.S.T.)’ (2000)

Despite being released in 2000, this film couldn’t be any more ‘90s if it tried. It’s John Woo in the director’s chair and suddenly the first film, in the comparatively safe hands of Brian De Palma, starts to feel like a long time ago.

Falling somewhere between a faux-sequel to Face/Off and a rip-off of the style of The Matrix, Mission: Impossible 2 is really the only duffer of the series. The Matrix might have been influenced greatly by the Hong Kong cinema of John Woo, but here he shows his hand in Hollywood, and he’s only got a pair of twos.

Even the great Robert Towne (again) can’t save the screenplay, which feels like it’s been defecated out of a Hollywood script-meeting. It’s all style over substance. The cinematography is tacky, Tom Cruise’s hair is tacky, the dialogue is tacky, the plot is tacky, the editing is tacky, the action sequences are tacky, and those gratuitous slow-mo shots? Tacky!

What should also be tacky is Hans Zimmer’s flamenco stuff on the score, but I quite like it. It’s almost as good as Michael Kamen’s work on the­ Lethal Weapons, Die Hards and License To Kill, and in general Zimmer’s score belongs in a better film. My only gripe is that he leans a little too heavily into the fabled Mission: Impossible Theme. Danny Elfman’s score for the first film held this back and dropped it at just the right moment.

Speaking of Tom Cruise’s cringe-worthy haircut, I wonder if there’s any correlation between the floppiness of his hair and the critical flops in his career around the turn of the century? This film might have done okay financially, but it was a critical disaster, and you have that other floppy-haired turkey, Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, around this time too. The only role that bucks the trend is in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, but it seems a bit of a stretch to call that a Tom Cruise film.

The opening credit sequence follows on from those of the first film, and start to look a little like what the Marvel and DC film idents have become. We’re introduced to Mad Russian Doctor, who’s being chaperoned by the Cruiser. Only it’s not the Cruiser, it’s bad guy Dougray Scott in a Thomas Cruise Mapother IV mask (available at all good Scientologist souvenir shops). Woo leans a bit too heavily on these masked ruses, and you have to wonder whether that’s what attracted him to the film inn the first place, having stretching the concept beyond all elasticity in 1997’s Face/Off.

We’re introduced to diamond-thief Thandie Newton, who looks about 8-years old, and you have to wonder if any child-labour laws are being violated. The short scene in the bathtub, and the whole start of Newton and Cruise’s relationship feel a little too close to the Clooney / Lopez dynamic in Out Of Sight. At this point, you have to wonder whether Woo and Towne actually brought anything original to this project, or just took beats from Hollywood’s Greatest Hits of the prior five years.

It’s nice to see William Mapother in the cast as one of the henchman. Forever linked to the role of Ethan in TV’s Lost, this marks the third collaboration with his cousin Tom, and it wouldn’t be the last. For some reason (nepotism?) he’s even credited as a ‘special consultant’ on the film. I was just happy to see the famous Mapother nose on screen again, on such a weirdly striking face.

The motorbike stuff at the end of the film is just as ludicrous as the helicopter sequence in the first film, and it’s arrived at tenuously: a couple of henchman appear out of nowhere, on a small island, on motorbikes, and it makes no fucking sense. These are then requisitioned by Cruise and Scott for their final battle. It’s bonkers.

In summary, as sequels go this really is a stinky number two. John Woo personifies the directing style of ‘more is less’, making Michael Bay look subtle in comparison. He nearly ruins the film by turning Ethan Hunt into an acrobatic superhero. Tom Cruise should be commended for rescuing the franchise from such a blunder (with a little help from J. J. Abrams and Brad Bird).

Hit: Mission: Impossible Theme

Hidden Gem: Nyah (Film Version) – Hans Zimmer featuring Heitor Pereira

Rocks In The Attic #897: Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka – ‘Lion (O.S.T.)’ (2016)

Hands-down my favourite of the Best Picture nominees to come out of 2016, this was such an outlier in a very tough field. The almost winner La La Landthanks to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway – and the eventual winner Moonlight, beat out strong competition from Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell Or Highwater, Hidden Figures, Manchester By The Sea. In reality, Lion probably never stood a chance.

The Australian / UK / USA co-production, directed by Australian Garth Davis, received five other nominations – Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Luke Davies), Best Cinematography (Greg Fraiser) and Best Original Score (Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka) – but ultimately won nothing. It did clean up at the Australian AACTA Awards (14 wins from 17 nominations), and went on to win several Audience Awards at festivals around the world, which just goes to show what an effect it had on cinema-goers.

Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, who at five years old gets separated from his older brother, and ends up 1,500 kilometres away in Calcutta. Nobody there understands him (he speaks Hindi, they speak Bengali) and he eventually ends up in the system that adopts him out to a white, middle-class Australian couple. Twenty years later, a childhood memory spurs him on to find out where he came from. Even these ‘man looks at Google Maps’ scenes are handled brilliantly.

It’s such a fantastic story, and makes me want to hunt down the original novel – written by Saroo himself. India is depicted what feels like fairly authentically. It isn’t the last armchair tourism that Hollywood usually depicts (see Lost In Translation, The Darjeeling Limited) and paints the country and its cities as a dangerous place where fate can take you one way or another.

I could have done without Netflix’s subtitle track declaring each line of the first act as who was speaking and in what language (e.g. ‘Saroo In Hindi:’). This gets tiresome soon, and there’s even a line of dialogue in the police station that explains the language barrier, so the over-anxious hand-holding feels pointless.

The cinematography by Greg Fraiser is off the chart, and well worthy of his Oscar nomination. The score is beautiful also, nicely complimented by Sia’s Never Give Up, written by Sia and Greg Kurstin for the film. There are elements of the score which evoke Jonny Greenwood’s work on There Will Be Blood, just sheer haunting brilliance.

It was nice to see Divian Ladwa, from TV’s The Detectorists and The End Of The F**king World, playing against type as Saroo’s wayward adopted brother Mantosh. The whole cast, in fact, are brilliant. Sunny Pawar, as the young Saroo, almost steals the show with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

The reconciliation scene at the close of the film is pure cinema. Dev Patel is great, but so is Priyanka Bose as his biological mother, and Abhishek Bharate as his biological brother Guddu. Even all of the extras in this scene are great, just wonderful, magical filmmaking.

As somebody quite astutely pointed out recently, the choice to use the embrace between Dev Patel and Rooney Mara on one of the poster designs (and ultimately the cover of the soundtrack) is very odd. Their relationship is so far down the list when it comes to the major themes of the film. This vinyl release is very nice though, limited to 1,000 numbered copies on blue vinyl.

The scenes with the actors depicting the reconciliation reduce me to tears, but the final shots – photos of the real Saroo being adopted and arriving in Australia, followed by footage of him introducing his two mothers – just kills me. I recently rewatched this in a double-bill with Peter Berg’s Patriots Day, also from 2016, and also brilliant, and that was a very weepy afternoon.

Hit: Lion Theme

Hidden Gem: Never Give Up – Sia

Dev Patel with Make Up Artist is Zeljka Staninon the set of LION Photo: Mark Rogers

Rocks In The Attic #889: Juliana Hatfield – ‘Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police’ (2019)

I wouldn’t know Juliana Hatfield – a former Lemonhead, I’m led to believe – if she passed me in the street. I do like this though, one of two covers albums she has recorded for American Laundromat (the other being an exploration of Olivia Newton-John’s back-catalogue, which doesn’t appeal as much).

It’s interesting to hear the Police reworked as low-fi indie rock. Sting’s vocal melody lines come through loud and clear, and while there’s a lot of nuance lost from Stewart Copeland’s drum patterns (Hatfield plays along to drum machines) and Andy Summers’ guitar lines, it all makes for an interesting listen. Hatfield plays all the instruments – except the aforementioned drum machines – so it all sounds consistently minimalist.

I do have a soft spot for Sting’s lyrics though – a big draw of the Police for me – particularly lines like ‘It’s no use, he sees her / He starts to shake and cough / Just like the old man in / That book by Nabakov’ from Don’t Stand So Close To Me (unfortunately not included here). I’d be keen for a second volume of this, as there’s still so much rich material left for Hatfield to cover.

Still not keen on the Olivia Newton-John record though.

Hit: Every Breath You Take

Hidden Gem: Landlord

Rocks In The Attic #887: Leo Sayer – ‘The Very Best Of Leo Sayer’ (1979)

2020’s Record Store Day finally limped out of the gates over the weekend. Originally scheduled for April, but delayed due to COVID-19, the event has now been split over three dates – all falling on Saturdays in late August, September and October respectively. Obviously, this sounds like a questionable promotional event becoming even more questionable, but like all sectors of the retail industry, record stores are having a shit year. So fair enough.

As with every year, there was a raft of pointless releases on sale. I have to wonder how much interest there is among your traditional boomer record collector to justify several K.D. Lang reissues. Thankfully, I didn’t see any Leo Sayer this year – usually a sure-fire sign that record labels have got the wrong end of the stick when planning their releases. I have all the Leo Sayer I could ever want – and less! – in this 1979 compilation.

The biggest disappointment for me was the pricing of some records. I saw a picture disc 7” of Motörhead’s Ace of Spades priced at $60 NZD ($40 USD), and many other 7” records priced at $40 NZD ($27 USD). This feels like a natural progression from seeing Paul McCartney’s latest solo resissue being priced at $100 ($67 USD) a few weeks ago, but it still feels like something is rotten in how New Zealand record distributors are pricing releases.

Usually, I’m up early and standing in the queue of Auckland’s Real Groovy for an hour before they open. This year, due to a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in the community, the city was on lockdown until Sunday night. Bad timing, but it was interesting to see how the stores coped.

In-store purchases were out of the question, so all the participating Auckland stores traded online. As I thought, some of the sites weren’t set up to handle the pressure of everybody hitting F5 at 9am. Real Groovy kicked off their sales at 8am, which helped to spread everything out, but Southbound’s website was extremely slow for the first half hour.

One good thing was that most of the stores were loading the exclusive releases one by one on their site, rather than have everything listed at once. So the whole process did take a while, but it was a gradual process.

I ended up with just one release from Real Groovy – a coloured 2xLP reissue of Ocean Colour Scene’s fourth studio album One From The Modern – which fits nicely against coloured reissues of their previous two albums I’ve picked up at RSDs in the past. I found more at Southbound, again all on coloured vinyl: the first ever soundtrack release of Dennis Hopper’s 1971 film The Last Movie, a 10” EP of the Mar-Key’s 1961 Stax-building hit Last Night, and a double 7” of covers of Shirley Bassey’s Bond themes. I was able to ‘click and collect’ all of these later in the day, fully masked up, at the store entrances.

I have a couple more coming to me from farther afield – the soundtrack to 1984’s Dune, by Brian Eno and Toto, and a live James Brown record, At Home With His Bad Self: The After Show – and I’m sure I’ll pick up a couple more as more stock comes into the country.

Ah, good old Record Store Day. Here’s to next year month.

Hit: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Hidden Gem: How Much Love