I’d be exaggerating if I said that Cockburn Street and its’ record shops were the reason I moved to Edinburgh. Rather like my claim that belle & Sebastian made me want to move to Scotland – but both played their part. And I have certainly spent a fair amount of time in Avalanche Records on Cockburn Street. I was offered shifts in there – but I’d just started teacher training at that point, so I wound up working at Fopp -again -just down the street, then.
Record shops have suffered over the last ten years. Downloading of both the legal and illegal variety, rising rents, the advent of Amazon…it’s estimated that there are now about 300 record shops in the UK. Names like Our Price, Tower and Virgin are part of history just as so many independent record shops are. Fopp very nearly died a death -but is now part of the HMV family, along with (to the best of my knowledge) Waterstone’s.
Call me old fashioned, idealistic -many have – but a) I still like to hold a physical release (preferably on vinyl) over having something downloaded (though the idea of free mp3s with vinyl increasingly practised is an excellent thing); and b) I’d rather
buy it in an independent shop. When I set up the label (17 Seconds Records, in case this is the very first time you have found yourself here), it was great to see the releases listed on iTunes et al. But to walk up Cockburn St and see the Aberfeldy and Dirty Cuts 7″s in the windows of both Underground Solush’n and Avalanche made me feel like I’d achieved something. Going to London and getting it in Rough Trade felt amazing. As was getting releases in Mono in Glasgow and speaking to the godfather of the Scottish indie scene, Stephen McRobbie, also frontman of the Pastels. Was it a cure for A.I.D.S, an end to World Poverty or finding a way to save the world? No of course it wasn’t, but it was a dream come true for me.
Avalanche is still going -and giving a lot of support to Scottish acts and labels, under Kevin Buckle who’s run the shops for twenty years, yet even they are having to work out how they will survive in the future.
So please read Kevin Buckle’s post on the Radar Music Blog
And in honour of Avalanche, music made by those who’ve worked in the shop or had links with it over the years. Saturday is Record Store Day. Use them -or you’ll lose them.
Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes -‘Grand Hotel.’ mp3 (Andrew Tully and Margerita)
Shop Assistants -‘Big ‘E’ Power.’ mp3 (released on the Avalanche label, this track also featured Margerita)
X-Lion Tamer -‘Starsign (Teenage Fanclub cover).’ mp3(Tony Taylor worked at Avalanche while I worked at Fopp a couple of doors away. He became the second act to sign to us. This cover has never been commercially released. Enjoy).