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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Aug-18 > Birmingham


Despite the city suffering an apparent crisis of cultural confidence, Mark Elliott’s visit to Birmingham in search of vinyl treasure reveals a happy hunting ground

The trip

Now, if Oprah Winfrey was writing this piece, she would give this city a good talking to. It isn’t just the one occasion; it seems to happen almost everywhere: “We’ve never been good at producing credible bands”; “the shopping isn’t as good as it used to be”; “you won’t find it like that here”; even “why are you here?”. It seems Birmingham is suftering from something of a confidence crisis, and I’d like to suggest that it needs to pull itself together.

A sense of discretion prevents me from identifying who said what, but it surprises me. True, some much-loved record shops such as Reddingtons have bitten the dust (but some great ones survive); true, Duran Duran aren’t Th Doors (although they tried to be on 1995’s Thank You); true, the trafic’s a challenge (but parking’s a doddle); and, true, for a city this size, vinyl shopping is a little sparser than you’d imagine. But – and it’s a significant but – this is the only place where I’m othered a cup of tea while cratedigging; where I find mint New Musik albums in the bargain bins and where I’m othered loads of vintage music magazines – including pristine copies of Th Face – for less than the price of a latte apiece!

Th great and the good – Steve Winwood and Traffic, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, Ali Campbell and UB40, Joan Armatrading, even Toyah, representing just a modest selection, broke out from Birmingham. It’s comfortably Britain’s second biggest city in terms of its population size (if not its cultural kudos and its own self-confidence), and in the 1960s, there was a live scene as big here as in Liverpool – although only Th Move came anywhere close to Th Beatles’ level of success. In the 1970s, ELO were chasing Wolverhampton neighbours Slade for chart positions; while in the 1980s and 1990s, Duran Duran conquered the world and Ocean Colour Scene briefly captured the Britpop zeitgeist.

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About Long Live Vinyl

The Godfather, Super Fly, Blade Runner, Purple Rain, Clockwork Orange, The Graduate, The Wicker Man, Pulp Fiction, Help!… In issue 17 of Long Live Vinyl we salute soundtracks, round up 50 of the greatest film classics ever committed to vinyl and talk to the good people at Invada Records, who brought us the Stranger Things and Drive soundtracks. Elsewhere this issue, in our packed interviews section we speak to Creation Records founder Alan McGee about the albums that shaped his incredible career in vinyl, working with an astonishing array of bands that included Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Oasis and The Libertines. Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reflects on travelling the world to write the band's best new album in years, Islands, and Gruff Rhys tells us about his own new record Babelsberg. The ever-outspoken John Lydon completes our artist line-up, telling us why he's happier in Public Image Ltd than he ever was in the Sex Pistols. You'll also want to dig into our feature on Grime, arguably the most exciting and fresh musical movement to emerge from British shores since Lydon's punks shook up the 70s. The Trip pays a long-overdue visit to the record shops of Birmingham, while we wish Kate Bush a happy 60th birthday as our Classic Album series turns the spotlight on her 1985 masterpiece, Hounds Of Love. The Who fans, meanwhile, are in for a treat as our Essential feature rounds up the 40 records by Townshend, Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle that every collector should own. We meet the people behind Hypergallery, visit Newport's Diverse Vinyl and, if all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of new release, reissue, turntable and accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand, plus essential hi-fi buying advice. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers! Enjoy the issue.