Tuesday, 15 January 2013

HMV: His Master's Voice Falls Silent

So, RIP HMV, but own up, when was the last time you shopped there? I can't remember my last visit, it was that long ago, and by then I'd be joining the sad middle-aged men looking for bargain Best Of comps in the basement. It was the internet wot dunnit, obviously, although even before then you'd be hard pushed to find the obscure indie/Jazz/electronica album you wanted in that place, so you went to indie record shops, and the few of those that remain must be on their last legs.

I had to laugh reading this article on the BBC site, starting as it does with a traumatised father of three daughters saying: 'HMV is my soother to the pain of going to the shops' - the poor sod. Imagine having to go shopping with the wife (presumably) and three girls, only to find that your only place of refuge is closed! Married life, eh? Guess they need his credit card...and he lives in Lincoln, so perhaps there is nowhere else for a typical male to browse except HMV. He couldn't find a thing to spend his £50 on, which surprises me because last time I looked that would only buy you a couple of CDs and DVDs. Come on Nick, I'm rooting for you - leave the family (for good) and start a new life which includes only shopping online or in an independent record or book store - you can do it.

I gave up shopping with LJ in that sense years ago, because the time I said I'd be in a recorde shoppe was always at least 30mins short of the real time I needed, which caused her to stand there fuming whilst I made a frantic selection. That or she'd agree to go away for another 30mins. It took us years to work out that I was best left to shop alone for the important stuff like records and books, leaving joint excursions for boring items such as fridges, cookers and beds. Without her, I'd have nothing to store food in, cook on, or sleep in, I confess.

Whilst I'm in confessional mode, may I say that some of my earliest purchases from recorde shoppes weren't made by me at all. I used to write the required album on a scrap of paper and give it to Mum, who was going into town that Saturday morning. Whether or not the assistant in Woolies was surprised when a middle-aged housewife bought a Mott The Hoople album I'll never know. A few years later I worked out that my free time needn't be spent on record-hunting when it was easy to skip a few school lessons and do the same thing. That's how I got where I am today, you know, missing double maths in favour of bagging a good album.

Recorde shoppes today have the atmosphere of a morgue when I go in them, which admittedly is mid-week, although I don't imagine them exactly buzzing on a Saturday. Customers amount to a handful (at most) of men who bring to mind vultures pecking at a corpse. CDs are cheaper now than they've ever been because they too represent an ancient time when only a physical object carried individual albums. Kiddos today probably don't even recognise that little silver disc, never mind the large black one.

Well, I hope HMV finds a solution for the sake of those it employs (and father of three, Nick).

HMV listening booths in the 50s

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