On Charity Shops
Shop Around pt 3
One of our local charity shops has a copy of Colleenís Everyone Alive Wants Answers for £3.50. And itís been there for a few weeks now. One of the greatest works of art ever. Just stuck there on the shelf. How I hope someone will take a chance on it, and have their life changed forever.

Apparently Bob Geldof recently called for charity shops to be closed down. Iím not sure why. I think it was something to do with the money not getting through to the charities concerned in the most effective way. Naturally there was an outcry, and angry voices asked what poor people would do? Myself, I would be devastated in charity shops closed down, but they have changed a lot over recent years. They are certainly not as cheap as they used to be. I suspect people struggling to get by may be more likely to stock up in places like Primark and Poundland now. But charity shops provide a vital role, and I think there is an argument that with people replacing videos with DVDs charity shops will benefit. Rather like the halcyon days when vinyl was being replaced by CDs, and charity shops were a goldmine for record collectors.

I recall very happy days when I was gainfully unemployed, and my daily routine revolved around a daily search through charity shops for vinyl treasures, unloved books, and clothes that would be suitable for a blurred french new wave film.

Now itís still fun to rummage. Weíre lucky. One of our local charity shops does get a steady supply of promo CDs from goodness knows what source. Well, to be honest, it goes in fits and starts. But some gems turn up. And some of them, under normal circumstances, you would probably never even consider buying. Yet, there they are, and that daredevil streak of curiosity deep down inside urges you to take a chance.

Today I took a chance on an EP by Kim Hiorthoy on the Smalltown Supersound label. It looked interesting. Itís an interesting label. And thankfully it turns out to be a lovely set of sweet electronica. Play this alongside the new (shamefully unheralded) Bola set on Skam, and youíll still believe in the magic of electronic music. Another set I recently took a chance was by Slicker, which is on the Hefty label. Iím an old out-of-touch duffer, but I know enough to realise Hefty has cool associations with people like Prefuse 73, Hu Vibrational, Ammon Contact. And itís a pleasant enough record this Slicker one in a jazzy, abstract hip hop sort of way. No doubt it is a huge favourite with a keen coterie of headz, nodding along to the deep beats and mellow vibes.

And thatís the point. Ordinarily I wouldnít get to hear releases from cult labels like Smalltown Supersound and Hefty, but thank god there are these areas of activity out there, with Iím sure deeply dedicated followings, with completely committed artists plugging away, oceans away from any mainstream, communicating evermore often by unorthodox channels.

I guess itís called the underground. And it can be a great place to be. Oddly Tangentsí own underground pop favourites the Playwrights turn up habitually in my local charity shop. And I desperately hope someone takes a chance on the latest copy of 'Guy Debord Is Really Dead' which is completely cool. It is also unavoidably reminiscent of the Wolfhounds, but Iím not the first one to say so am I? I sense that as this group ploughs its own lone furrow miles away from industry pressure they will enjoy the freedom of not having to give a damn.

Forgot to mention picked up copies of the recent Lydia Lunch and Estelle sets too, and theyíre wonderful. Thank heavens for charity shops!

© 2005 John Carney