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Mark Elliott’s record-shopping stamina is put to the sternest of tests in Amsterdam – undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest and most varied cratedigging destinations

The Trip

Illustration Ben Talon

You know that feeling that kicks in about 25 minutes ather Christmas lunch – the self-satisthed glow and the sense you have overindulged just a little too much? swffly followed, of course, by a billowing sense of exhaustion and the faintest trace of nausea? Well, a weekend of record shopping in Amsterdam feels rather like that. Ignoring the sins of food, thesh and intoxication on other here in all their many forms, this is certainly a cratedigger’s illicit den of temptation – with more than 20 shops, all othering something a little ditherent. Throw in the city’s bustling thea markets and you’ve got a unique cocktail for overindulgence!

Not content with the world’s biggest record event just up the road – Utrecht’s Mega jamborees in April and November – plus a decent number of fairs held in Amsterdam itself throughout the year, this is perhaps the perfect choice for a weekend of the passion we share. Everywhere is easy to get around on foot (it is, of course, famously That) and navigation is relatively straightforward, too, with roads following a simple-tounderstand grid fanning out evenly from the Dutch capital’s centre. In truth, the challenge you’ll have is how to cover the ground in a couple of days. I managed 19 stores out of 21 in about 36 hours of uninterrupted shopping (well, I did eat and sleep – briefly) and failed to do the city’s thea markets any significant justice.

I managed 19 stores out of 21 in about 36 hours of uninterrupted shopping (well, I did eat and sleep – briefly)

You’ll find a bit of everything. Being on the continent, the 1970s 45 picture sleeves are much-prized by pop collectors; the soul and dance is abundant and the prices for rock are keen – but it’s fair to say most of these dealers know their stuff. That said, I came across one of my best-ever bargains here, but I’ll let the narrative lead you to that joyful moment in due course. On departing most of the cities I visit on these trips, I leave satisfied the stock has been pillaged and I’ve unearthed much of what’s on offer. Not so, Amsterdam. This is a destination that one could imagine coming to visit at least twice a year, if stamina and funds would stand up to it. After wearily loading my haul into the back of my car (thank god I decided to drive here!) I had to concede defeat – I pride myself on covering a huge amount of cratedigging in decent time. But Amsterdam had beaten me in the sweetest possible way…

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About Long Live Vinyl

In issue 18 of Long Live Vinyl we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pixies’ classic debut album Surfer Rosa. We’ve left no stone unturned in getting the inside track on the making of the record at Boston’s Q Division Studios as Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Vaughan Oliver and Simon Larbalestier tell Long Live Vinyl about the legacy of an album that inspired David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. Plus, we bring you an in-depth review of 4AD’s new Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa Deluxe Edition. Elsewhere in this packed issue of Long Live Vinyl, we speak to teenage duo Let’s Eat Grandma about their superb sophomore album, I’m All Ears, head out on the road with Chicago guitar virtuoso Ryley Walker and tell the story of Small Faces’ legendary Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake LP. Post-punk fans will want to check out our Essential top 40 – a definitive collector’s guide to the genre, and our Classic Album series focuses on Pulp’s 1995 career-high Different Class. We also hear from legendary photographer Mick Rock about shooting David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, and The Trip visits a cratedigger’s paradise – Amsterdam. If all that’s not enough, you’ll find the widest range of album, turntable and hi-fi accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Enjoy the issue!