While loath to send traffic towards the Daily Mail’s website – as if the Keyword Kings of Northcliffe House need the help – this article about “vintage” record bags was forwarded to me. It is worth a look, if you can bring yourself. I tried to find a tumblr account with similar images, but couldn’t, sorry.

Alors, it stirred some interesting thoughts about records. Actually, the first thing it made me do was turn around and look at this on the wall behind me:

Satisfaction guaranteed in Gothenburg

That’s a carrier bag from Satisfaction, which was a second-hand record emporium in Gothenburg, Sweden. The bag-in-frame is situated above my record collection, illustrating a decorative taste for the obvious that can be seen also on the other side of the room, where I have a bag from Gosh! comics, London, above the comics shelves.

So, bags. The Daily Heil article of course touches on the seeming demise of record shops over the last 10 years, as new means for the mass production and distribution of pop music are embraced. Regular readers of The Mortal Bath may recognise a theme relating to hard copies, in particular the superiority of vinyl/CD/cassette over many aspects of e-music, for want of a better all-encompassing term. I’ll not grumble too much about it: there’s a lot to commend the digital age, but a lot of ways in which It Just Ain’t The Same.

It doesn’t take much to make men of a certain age and demographic wax prolix and nostalgic about stuff in any case (or sleeve). I remember the colours of the WHSmiths bag shown in the article. The first single I remember buying myself came home in a WHSmiths bag just like it. I’d like to say it was one of the Adam and The Ants’ records, but I’m pretty certain it was Brown Sauce’s ‘I wanna be a winner’.

Written by B.A. Robertson (my childhood’s second-favourite B.A.) Brown Sauce was loveable Cheggers, the lovely Maggie Philbin, and N**l Ed****S, off Swap Shop. I think it safe to venture that my purchase proves the diabolic power of TV on impressionable young minds.

Smiths is probably not on many people’s list of go-to places for records now, although they do still stock a Top 40, I think. Further mental baggage includes leaving Our Price, Harrogate, with carriers containing They Might Be Giants (Lincoln on vinyl, an absurd £1.99 in the sale and one of the best spends ever)… singles by The Wedding Present (most of The Hit Parade as it came out) and Manic Street Preachers’s Motown Junk, which I heard on Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session and was totally smitten with, HAD to have it, one of the rare occasions I have actually gone out the next day to buy a record I heard on the radio.

Our Price has closed too, along with pretty much every other record shop in Harrogate. I understand the relatively-recently-arrived HMV is still holding on by the skin of its teeth, although it’s probably only a matter of time before it and all its brethren and sistren are turned into earphones-and-mobile-phone-skins shops by the new owners. Mutter, bah, grumble.

I visited Satisfaction when holidaying in Sverige with pals. Ah, happy memories. The record in the bag was some version or other of Rarities Volume 1 by The Who.

I could have spent about 10m Kronor in there, but I only had 70 SEK spending monies spare. Discovering little troves like that and making a small deposit (“A MONETARY deposit!”) are part of the glory of wandering about in the real world, perhaps an increasingly rare experience in many places. Finding record shops, I mean. Discovering just now via the magic of the webs that Satisfaction has closed down, with the magic of the webs a possible contributing factor, gives me all sorts of contradictory feelings. Much like the Brown Sauce record, in fact.

Yet there are pockets of resistance to this march towards the Musical Singularity. Local-to-me shops in York, UK, such as the excellent Inkwell and Rebound Records (both on Gillygate) or Attic Records (near the market), to name the three I can think of right now, are troves similar in ethos and layout to Satisfaction. As I mentioned in a previous post about jukeboxes, charity shops here remain quite reliable sources for yer vinyl fix, although often they have fallen prey to using Record Collector to price their Fair or Good Copies at Near Mint prices. Hiss, crackle!

When I go a-browsing I tend mostly to have my own bag with me these days, but if I find a shop en passant that has an appealing design on their carrier, it might well end up decorating a wall. And you can’t do that with a zipped folder, kids.