Jim Testa, aka Jim Jersey Beat, writes to urge that I do a comparative study on the difference between an English and American record shop. Unfortunately, I told him, I rarely set foot in an American record shop if I can help it, and avoid English ones as well, except when I stop by Rough Trade in Notting Hill to visit my friend Sean.
But Sean works in the basement, so my involvement with the actual record-selling part of the store is usually minimal. It's true there once was a time when I would stop and peruse the racks, but this was mostly back in the long-ago days when I had a proprietary interest in what was and wasn't being sold in the way of records and CDs. Since leaving the business end of the music business, it just doesn't interest me all that much.
I'm also trying to avoid buying records and CDs at all, and to get rid of the remaining few that I have. This is kind of sad in a way, but they take up space and often annoy me when they get underfoot (what, you keep yours on shelves? that's way too complicated for me to fathom). No, for me the digital age couldn't have come soon enough. The idea that my entire music collection can now fit into my pocket fills me with delight. The only thing that would delight me more if if (or, more likely, when) some scientist figures out how to store music in thin air, accessible or disposable with a click of the finger. Or better yet, if I wanted to hear a song, I could just think it into being, and similarly think it away the second I began to get bored with it.
That being said, I did add one CD to my dwindling collection the other night when I met up with Sebby in a backstreet City pub (it was all very stealthy, almost like a dodgy dope deal) and handed over £8 for a copy of the Zatopeks' brand new release, Damn Fool Music. I immediately transferred the music to my computer and will probably end up passing the CD on to someone who needs it, but the fact that I was willing to actually buy a physical music-related product shows how much I was looking forward to this.
The Zatopeks just may be the best band going right now. I've only had a chance to listen to the new record once so far, so I won't go all the way out on the limb and instantly proclaim it the best record of 2007, but it probably is. I used to hang out with young Will Zatopek back in the days when he was an 18 year old aspiring Ben Weasel clone, and to be quite honest, never suspected he'd follow through so triumphantly on his dreams of musical and literary glory. Of course back then what we mostly did was argue; I was not only taken aback, but practically aghast that someone could be so argumentative as Will (well, someone other than myself, I mean).
Now Will is nine or ten years older, lives in Berlin, has written a novel, is fronting one of the world's best bands, and, well, I guess he showed me. Perhaps it will teach me not to argue so much? Eh, probably not. Anyway, remember that you heard it here: Zatopeks. Get them now.