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Review: Ghost Music at South Records
I've always loved record shops. Do you remember when Fives was where the Co-op's chilled and frozen section is now? Nestled between a smaller, 90s Co-op and the bank, it was cassette heaven, where I'd spend childhood Saturdays. There was Eden Books, where Leigh Music Co now proudly stands, full to the brim with, yes, books - but also tapes, CDs and vinyl. I remember going in there to buy theatre-y books during my 'I wanna be an actress' phase (they sold Mike Leigh scripts, bliss) and ending up getting music too - hours spent flicking through crates and crates of records and shelves of CDs. Golden Disc was also in Southend for cheapo CDs and VHS.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't Miss Independent always. I spent pocket money and, later, Saturday job money in Our Price, Woolworths, Virgin, HMV too.
But there's something magical about the independent record shop. When I was in my early teens, I read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity for the first time, and for the following years re-read it over and over again, something only previously done with Nancy Mitford and Harry Potter. That's my holy trinity of re-reading: wizards, insane siblings, and records. In High Fidelity and YES I'm talking about the book set in Holloway and NOT the film set in Chicago which is one of Hollywood's most unfaithful moments, the record shop, Championship Vinyl, is practically the main character. It makes me think of squeezing into the tiny Carmel Records in Southend with my Dad on rainy Saturdays, or the record fairs that used to be in the dark and dingy old Arlington Rooms (before it went Great Gatsby).
On Saturday, South Records in Southend, our very own Championship Vinyl, put on one of their free gigs and it was jam-packed. South is on Queen's Road in Southend. It thrills me that although this road was home to the big old HMV and Golden Disc, they're since long gone from there, and a proper, music lover's indie record shop is there now, and thriving.
The band was Ghost Music, one of my favourite bands in Southend. They're like every lo-fi, thoughtful indie band you loved from the 90s, but there's more to them than nostalgia. The name comes from the fact that these songs are the 'ghosts' of songs they'd started but not necessarily completed - and given them a refresh to update them with the band's contemplative sound. The melodies are beautiful, and the guitars are stunning. Jo and I have booked them a couple of times for our Sundown Arts gigs, and we couldn't love them more.
The shop was packed: Jo's elbow got stuck in someone's bag, a chap was sat on my feet, I was in such close personal contact with the person behind me I couldn't actually turn round to see who else was in there in case our faces touched, but the gig was brilliant. After it finished, and the crowd thinned a little, I turned round to see so many familiar faces from the local music scene - other bands and musicians and promoters all there to support them. What a cool thing, to have a scene like this, that's so supportive of others. It made me realise how lucky we are to have shops like this local to us. You can go up to Rough Trade in Brick Lane and see gigs like this (indeed, Ghost Music are playing there this week), shoulder to shoulder with the tweed and the cereal shops and the handlebar moustaches, but to hop on the train to Southend in less than 10mins from Leigh and see stuff like this, that's magic. It was free, but we all queued up after to buy the band's new album on CD and vinyl, so the shop's tills were ringing still.
If you're into music, I highly recommend getting on the South Records mailing list to get their brilliant weekly newsletters, to order music, and to find out when the next free shop gigs are. You can do this at https://www.southrecordshop.com/
Find out more about Ghost Music's brilliant new album and next gigs at www.facebook.com/ghostmusicyeah