Off topic!

The office is closed for a spot of..... decorating. by Neil Alexander

Even with goggles and a mask, my face and hair seem to be turning white.

Not able to post a great deal this week as the entire office is under dust sheets. Now that I'm back from Ibiza, I've embarked on stage 2 of the man cave office makeover whilst things are quiet over the summer. My vinyl collection has spent too many years stashed away in the back of the garage gathering dust and feeling neglected. Since moving house, I've now the space to brush off the cobwebs and get the SL1200s fired up again. Music is a huge part of my life but whilst I've dragged the thousands of records I own with me from home to home, and have been under intense pressure to dispose of them, I've rarely listened to any of them in more than a decade.

How it looked when I moved in.

How it looked when I moved in.

A couple of weeks later.....

A couple of weeks later.....

So finally I have the space to build myself a proper little set up so I can actually play a record or two. The first stage was to remove the little kitchen that I had, which as I'm only yards from the house, I have no need of. I then got a great joiner I know to build me a unit which will store most of my collection. That part was finished the day before I went on holiday, so I had to leave it looking like this.

The next step was to paint it..... I couldn't stand the thought of looking at bare MDF day after day so before I begin to fill it, I've borrowed a Wagner paint spray system and set to work. It's not as straight forward as it might sound, and after three coats, no matter how well I cover up, my hair is slowly turning white and I am finding increasing numbers of white eyelashes and noise hairs!

Fingers crossed another three or four days of downtime, and I'll be able to start filling the racks and get the turntables set up once again......

Storage and turntable top built. Now to make it white.......

Storage and turntable top built. Now to make it white.......

Can't wait to get these fired up again.

Can't wait to get these fired up again.

MDR-V700 - Headphones

I'm a Scot too, so where's my vote? by Neil Alexander

Those of you who know me well will be under no illusions as to my heritage.
Despite having lived in Manchester for over 80% of my life, I still consider myself to be a native of my birthplace. I was born in Glasgow in the 70s. My immediate family is Scots. My extended family are all Scots and my ancestors hail from Fife and Shetland. I'll support Scotland over England in any sporting fixture that rears it's head. I may no longer have the accent, wear a kilt or know all the words to Auld Lang Syne but to the bottom of my heart I am a Scot.
But where's my vote? Because I simply live south of the border I am denied the opportunity to voice my opinion on what happens to the future of my homeland. Is that fair?

Support Your Local Record Store Day by Neil Alexander

Listening to Radio 6 earlier (I don’t remember which show - it’s on all day in my house, mostly) I was reminded that this Saturday is Record Store Day. Music has and always will play a massive part in my life. I’ll happily listen to just about anything and have a love of all things from cello concertos to hard house, highland flings to heavy rock. Any just about anything in-between. I love the freedom of expression that comes with music and the joy exuded from a performer in the live environment. Often their love of what they do and create is palpable. And they can demonstrate that night after night to a different city every time. 
I think I’m probably jealous. The ability the whip up and take down emotion with a few well chosen strings and beats is, for me, amazing. Some of you may know that before kids came into my life, I DJ’d a bit. Nightclubs, bars, band tour support, it was a blast. Times I will never forget, those I can remember anyway. But whilst playing two records, my aim was never to get from the first to the second as quickly as possible, it was always to try and make a third out of the join. To create something different. Something the crowd weren’t expecting. It’s not easy. Well I suppose now, given that you can mix and sample music on everything from a pc to a phone, things have probably changed somewhat. But the essence hasn’t. Working out those beats of 16, marking vinyl with the chalk pencil where the break started and ultimately creating something new were what I was about. And I loved it.

And for many years that creative outlet was everything. I’d spend hours upon hours in my music room perfecting a mix. I knew that two records could work together. It was all a matter of working out what happened where in each tune and how best to mix them. I’d go over and over it until I knew it backwards. Come Saturday night, with the adrenaline and what have you, I’d say more often than not I got ’em right. But that was mixing back then. It was vinyl. It was real time. Screw it up and it was like granny falling down the stairs, painfully. 

It was the Hacienda in Manchester and the indie music scene that thrived at the time that really formed my music tastes for a long time to come. And still to this day. Not a day goes by when hearing records like  The Charlatans Weirdo or the Happy Mondays Lazyitis fails to send a shiver down my spine. 

Thank the Lord for the Haçienda, Factory Records,Eastern Bloc, Dead Dead Good, Omega Music, the list goes on and on and on. Independents each and very one of them. 

Music as an art form is everywhere. It is key to most of our lives whether we realise it or not, and unfortunately as in too many other area of our lives it is being swallowed up by the mass market, homogenised, watered down and fed back to us in return for a pittance for the creator in the first place. Long live the independent  and everything it stands for.

Get yourself down to your local independent record store this Saturday.