One Way or Another

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I was in Cork city earlier this month with my two nephews when the shop window you see above and below took my eye. Both windows of the Irish Cancer Society’s facade were full of record covers and a very interesting collection it was too. Unfortunately, a sign amongst the records carried the bad news that the merchandise wouldn’t go on sale for another two weeks. I then realised that I wouldn’t be too far from Cork city that day as I’d be staying at my sister’s place following Bruce Springsteen’s gig at Páirc Úi Chaoimh the night before. So, I took a couple of photos of the windows and resolved to return on the morning of the 19th

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A few titles stood out straight away. The highlight from the window on the left (pictured at the top of the post) was Neil Young’s Harvest and I also fancied the three on the bottom left: The Jesus & Mary Chain, Marty Robbins and Janis Joplin. The window on the right seemed less interesting, though I would’ve liked to have gotten my hands on the Leonard Cohen and Francoise Hardy ones. Of course, I asked inside if they’d sell a few of them straight away, but they weren’t budging on the 19th. I got a closer look at the records in the photos later and wondered if they were someone’s collection. If so, the person who owned this eclectic bunch of vinyl had even weirder tastes than me

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July 19th came around pretty quickly and, after two brilliant shows by The Boss, my sister dropped me into Mitchelstown on her way to work. Mitchelstown isn’t too far from Cork city and I took the 9.00 bus that was scheduled to get to the city at 9.50. Of course, the bus driver took his time and we got there on the dot of ten. I wandered out to the charity store and was there ten minutes after they opened. It was busy, but not too busy, and I flicked through the records and picked out a few that I wanted and a few more that weren’t on the window. As I browsed, one of the store’s volunteers was spinning records and taking requests from the browsers

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The records were neatly stacked in three containers at the front of the shop and a few more were laid out flat on a table. I recognised some from the window display as I flicked through the ones in the boxes, but noticed there were a lot of other ones as well. I wasn’t at all surprised that someone had harvested the Neil Young LP and I congratulated the lucky guy who had it tucked under his arm. Fortunately, the Marty Robbins and the Janis were still there, but I was disappointed that Darklands by The Jesus and Mary Chain was gone. Their first album was one of the first I ever bought on vinyl and it’s one of my most played records. I was also told that the Leonard Cohen one was put out in error as the record inside had gone missing

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I found a nice copy of another favourite of mine, This is the Sea by The Waterboys, and was nearly tempted to buy it even though I have the LP already. After going through all the records, I had found a dozen that I intended to look at in more detail. The majority of the covers appeared to be in good condition and this was a good indication that the records would be as well. In fact, most of the ones I looked at were in excellent condition and I ended up buying eight of them. The Francoise Hardy I had my eye on wasn’t so good and neither was one by The Lovin’ Spoonful

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I got talking to the volunteer and disc jockey and he told me that this wasn’t someone’s record collection. He said they store all the vinyl they receive from donations throughout the year and make an event out of it. I told him it was a good idea and thanked him for the music as I made my way to the counter. I decided on eight albums in the end and the best of these are pictured above. Blondie’s Parallel Lines has been a favourite of mine for decades and it’s one of the best pop albums ever made. It’s got a dozen tracks and there’s not one filler amongst them. I like country music and westerns and I’ve always loved the storytelling in El Paso by Marty Robbins. It’s just one of the gunfighter ballads and trail songs on an album that I’d never been able to get on any format before. Paul Brady is one of the finest songwriters Ireland has ever produced and his voice also shines through on his debut from 1978 that’s mostly composed of traditional numbers. The Janis Joplin Anthology is a nicely packaged double album that collects the best performances from her short career. I’ve included a video clip of songs from each of these albums to give you some flavour of the music contained inside these magical packages

One Way or Another (live) – Blondie

Piece of My Heart (live) – Janis Joplin

The Lakes of Pontchartrain (live) – Paul Brady with Andy Irvine

El Paso (live) – Marty Robbins