Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cheapo Cheapo Records update February 2011


I'm delighted to report that Alastair Dougall (above), the Brighton-based singer songwriter who composed the lament for Cheapo Cheapo Records which you can find in the post here, has now recorded a new version which you can check out on his myspace playlist here, along with an album's worth of other tracks.


It's a new performance with better audio than the youtube clip, with production values and everything: a discreetly employed harmonica and a hint of harmonising now reinforce the elegaic tone. I noted one tweak of the lyric: now Phil is "spinning" rather than "frowning" in his grave, which fits in rather neatly with his occupation - though it also conjures, for me at least, the idea of Phil as a DJ in some parallel universe where Peel didn't make it back from America. Anyway, I intend to investigate the playlist further, but for the moment I can strongly recommend the song about Cheapo for those who have wandered through its doors, or record shop nuts in general: it captures the essence of that vanished emporium of tat and treasure - and its inimitable proprietor.

Coincidentally, a comment has just been added to my initial post about Cheapo closing, saying that Phil Cording died on the 29th of January, 2009, and the shop was closed exactly two months later.

Already two years ago.

Even now, although I did eventually have the opportunity for closure of a sort, as reported here, I think of the back of the shop where the jazz and nostalgia CDs eventually landed up and wish I could just have a couple of hours of immersion, especially as for work purposes I've recently been buying a lot of twenties and thirties music.

This has required endless poring over online tracklistings and discographies, but the light click on an item from a well known shopping or auction website cannot compare with the experience of handing the things themselves in Cheapo, instantly being able to tell from the look of the CD whether or not it was a contender, and the excitement of a sudden, unexpected discovery.

I suppose the pleasure was a largely, though perhaps not exclusively, male thing, or at least one more suited to those individuals who find diversion and comfort in the solving of puzzles. I'm not keen on them myself, but I suppose it was a kind of crossword type satisfaction: faced with nine CDs of roughly corresponding Peggy Lee material, how do you make a decision about which disc to buy? Factors such as earlier experience of the audio quality of a public domain label, the author of sleevenotes (if any), the professionalism of the graphics on the cover, all come into play but there are no easy answers - of that you may be sure.

I was in town to see a film at the Curzon Soho yesterday, so couldn't resist walking up Rupert Street to see whether there had been any change from the "To Let" signs. The inside of the shop had been spruced up, and there were various packages lying around, suggesting new fittings or stock for whatever the site of Cheapo is about to become.

Didn't have my camera, but it doesn't really matter now, does it? Don't think it'll be a record shop. And so goes almost twenty five years of my life.


Other posts about Cheapo here.

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