Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chapter Twenty Five: Music Retail Ruins

Ah music retail a concept growing quainter by the day and soon to be as smitten into redundancy as elevator operation. Every generation feels the sting of becoming anachronistic and we all respond with our own particular band of bitterness. We lament, we protest and finally we either become a cranky holdout or we acquiesce.
“You guys wanna hear a great song?” asked a music retail lifer who works for one of the surviving stores in my hometown. We (my fellow throw-back with whom I do a weekly Saturday Rock Walk to seek musical treasure) did. He played us “Your Love Alone is Not Enough by the Manic Street Preachers and we each had to buy the album. A High Fidelity moment perhaps but a communal one, which is something transferring bits per second can never quite replicate.
The Tone were a communal experience. I walked down into The Cellar (another retail casualty of downloading) the subterranean home of deliberately ugly sub-genres and an employee we’ll call…Hedberg said, “You gotta hear this!” Damn! Exploding guitars, trade-off vocals and those supple ska-inflected beats – this is a high. It’s Jam-Clash-SLF again, I know, but they still found their own tiny patch of space in the musical universe. The Tone actually were English and were led by Thatcher on Acid’s Ben Corrigan as well as Dan Bernstein and featured the minimally credited Bob and Paul on bass and drums respectively. Everybody sings, which promises something great in a band plus the fully credited Dave “Fingers” Eve adds some rippling organ. Twelve songs (almost of which were singles) and not one that should’ve been thrown into a weighted bag and dropped into the river. “Pauline”, which enumerates all of their influence including Pauline Murray of the Selecter and the less-than-celebrated Jilted John (which explains the cockney-novelty cover song “Bloody”) is the album’s raison d’etre and high water mark. Anachronistic but not tainted by bitterness.
Take the Tone - you’ll have no more regrets than you already do.



  1. Hi there, just thought I'd mention that Dan Bernstein was in the absolutely brilliant Blind Mole Rat prior to The Tone - and - if you excuse the self-promotion - you can download their only slab of wax at

    Enjoying the blog.



  2. Speaking of High Fidelity moments, I was in a local second-hand CD shop a while back, which is run by a real cliched miserablist, elitist music snob of the worst kind (which is why I rarely go there). Anyway, he was playing a cover version of George Duke's 'Cravo E Canela', so I asked him who it was.
    "Bonny Prince Billy," he replied (one of his favourites, judging by the posters on the walls).
    "It's a George Duke cover," said I, thinking it was a jolly good idea for a cover version.
    "Oh no it isn't," he replied in the most condescending way imaginable.
    "I think you'll find it's on 'A Brazillian Love Affair',I said, "You should check it out - it's one of my favourite albums of all time." And with that, I left, knowing that he wouldn't be able to resist checking it out and that a real (and well earned) heartsink was waiting for him when he did. Does that make me a bad person? Who gives a shit.

  3. That's one-upping 'em, John.

    Beating someone at their own game is a moment to be savored (though occasionally spoiled by a creeping realization that you may have legitimized their damn game by your participation).

    P.S. I'll check out the Blind Mole Rat - a little anarcho-folk-punk always brightens the day


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