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Mark Elliott takes a trip to Liverpool and looks beyond the Fab Four for vinyl delights

When John Lennon was murdered in December 1980, it accelerated my obsession with music. True, I’d already been seduced by the soundtrack to Grease and had started buying the odd 7" single, but the avalanche of Beatles books and magazines launched off the back of the tragedy offered something different. this was a band – the band – with a backstory and a back catalogue like no other. I had their discography memorised in weeks. When it came to a birthday-gift choice between K-Tel’s Chart Explosion or a re-press of Sgt. Pepper’s…, pop’s greatest LP was the one I picked (despite the temptation of Madness and Kelly Marie).

So Liverpool, for me – as for so many – is somewhere truly special. One of the world’s most-famous musical cities, I have been a handful of times over the years. Ferried across the Mersey? You bet; grabbed a pint at a reimagined the Cavern? Certainly; but cratedigging hadn’t been an option until this trip.

I didn’t know what to expect. Some locals will tell you they feel somewhat overshadowed by their bigger neighbour, but Manchester’s buzzy vinyl scene isn’t truly spectacular when measured against destinations such as Amsterdam, so surely a city this steeped in music could hold its own against its nearby rival.

I wondered whether the interest from more casual visitors in the Fab Four would push up Merseybeat prices and, in truth, where I could find it, that proved to be the case.

Almost every shop (like most record stores worldwide, actually) has a section devoted to the Beatles and their associated or solo releases. But they weren’t rammed full of first-pressing copies of Revolver, as you might imagine. there’s actually rather less of that stuff here than you’d expect (although a lot of new reissues; no doubt stocked to satisfy the more casual tourist after a memento).

What there’s no shortage of, however, is Beatles. the influence of that magical era is everywhere and I’d challenge anyone not to get swept along in the nostalgia. I joined a National Trust tour of the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, which was simply fantastic. It’s absolutely my top recommendation of ‘other stuff ’, if you can bag one of the limited slots.

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