Despite starting work at 11am yesterday, I take the 9am train to Central Station and walk the 13 minutes to TITLE in Surry Hills, a store that specialises in music, photography and film, which also doesn’t open til 10. Yesterday was their Record Store Day, and despite the measly 20% off vinyls (I would have obviously preferred a greater reduction), I was eager to peruse the store for their hopefully rare and valuable albums missing from my collection. I don’t get here enough, though I don’t get to any of my favourite haunts enough, but today I felt was a no exception case to spend what precious time I have browsing for records before heading back to the unflattering real world and selling knives (not an entirely poor alternative, seeing as it is a sexier sounding day-job than McDonalds (no offence to those who work there)).
After catching the train through the foggy morning, which gave Sydney a ghostly feel as I crossed the bridge, I waited around for the store to open when two hardcore vinyl collectors turned up. One was named Leon, headphones around his neck, jeans and shirt, intense but otherwise friendly guy, hoping the store had reserved a Bowie album for him, while the other guy, whose name I didn’t catch, wearing a yellow top, red shorts and blue sneakers was talking about the albums he tried to pick up that morning at Red Eye. Apparently there was a line outside the place at 7am, and by the time he got in most of the good stuff was gone. Red Eye, the record store in town on York street, tends to be a bit cheaper than TITLE and many other more commercial places, but its popularity means you’ll be hard pressed to get your hands on anything truly great.
Leon, meanwhile also spoke of another record store, the popular hard rock and metal joint Utopia, on Kent Street in town. He explained that though their interest was primarily in metal, you could find the odd pop, soft rock or jazz record, the latter of which is usually my interest.
Once thought to be a bygone art, vinyl collecting appears to still be an avid interest of many shoppers early on a Saturday morning, whether perusing the popular joints investing $30 or more in albums or at a flea market buying them second hand.
TITLE now occupies two stores side by side, 499 and 501 Crown Street in Surrey Hills. You will find regular passing-byers looking in the windows at the display of Film Noir collections, Etta James and Miles Davis albums, complete Woody Allen collections, Tom Waits, the albums of Art Pepper, Horace Silver and Django Reinhardt (not to be confused with the recent pop group Django Django), a Brigitte Bardot collection, innumerable books on music and film, Ry Cooder’s noir-ish Los Angeles Stories– described as a ‘love letter to a lost way of life’, incorporating jazz and hardboiled fiction, and some Hunter S. Thompson for good mainstream measure. Such stores could be described as dangerous for the likes of hardcore culture fanatics whose time and money is all spent prowling through these places.
With barely anytime to spare before I have to catch the train to work, already with a false alibi for why I am to be late, I get 6 vinyls and 1 CD for a bit over $100; a Duke Ellington/Louis Armstrong collaboration: The Great Summit; an Art Pepper album, Art Pepper + 11: Modern Jazz Classics with Gillespie, Silver, Giuffre, Parker, Monk, Rollins and more for $15; The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan; Bob Dylan: Bringing it all back home; Steamin’ with the Miles Davis Quartet; Johnny Cash at San Quentin; and a CD, Duke Ellington at the Champs-Elysees Theatre Jan. 29-30th, 1965 for $10. I’d likely have purchased much more had I not been pressed for time.
I haul the stuff alongside me as I wait at Central for the train to come while the fog fades and think of an excuse for work for why I’m carrying a brown paper bag filled with records.