National Album Day – The 80s

Today is National Album Day and it is all devoted to the 1980s.

I was thinking about what my listening tastes were like during my early teens compared to now and looking back I didn’t buy a lot of records as it felt more like a treat at Christmas or birthdays to get albums.

My mum and dad bought me a record player for my 10th birthday. It was a second hand one but I was all bizzed at having my own record player as I was starting to take an interest in music, mainly what I was listening to either on Top of the Pops or Radio 1.

At a very young age my tastes were not quite sophisticated. Mainly drawing inspiration from what was on Top of the Pops but I remember liking Madness, The Police, The Specials, Adam and The Ants, Bad Manners, Ultravox, Depeche Mode and even Shakin’ Stevens! Well this was 1980-81. Sadly any of the 7″ singles that I have from this era I no longer have. Madness 7 came out in 1981 and I do remember that being one of the first albums I bought.

By 1982 I enjoyed hit singles from the likes of Haircut 100, Kraftwerk, Eddy Grant, Musical Youth, Captain Sensible, Fun Boy Three as well as Madness. The last Madness album I ever owned was The Rise and Fall which I got for Christmas that year.

I first heard U2’s New Years Day in 1983. Reason I remember this is because I was in the hospital for an operation at the time and I seem to remember that song very well. Again the year would introduce me to more new artists like New Order, Toto, Orange Juice and Men at Work to name but a few.

I can’t even remember what singles I owned from that year but it wasn’t many. The first U2 albums I owned both came from 1983 – War (which included the single New Years Day) and Under a Blood Red Sky which was a live album. This would begin my interest in the band.

1984 – George Orwell once wrote about that but when I hit my teens it definitely wasn’t his nightmarish prediction of the future. I was enjoying music by Nik Kershaw, Thompson Twins, Ultravox, ZZ Top, Nena and even liked Ray Parker Juniors Ghostbusters song! One of my favourite songs that year was Boys of Summer by Don Henly.

Most of my class mates at the time were listening to Big Country, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, The Cult and U2. For my 13th birthday my mum bought me a load of records. I made a list and gave it to her and she went down to Makin’ Tracks which was one of the many record shops in Belfast. So celebrating my 13th birthday I got the following albums:

ZZ TopEliminator, Daryl Hall and John OatesGreatest Hits Rock n’ Soul Part 1, U2October, Nik Kershaw The Riddle and UltravoxThe Collection.

1985 and I was listening to basically anything that I liked at the time. U2 were still my favourite band and they released The Unforgettable Fire. One of my favourite songs that year was Paul Hardcastle’s 19 which around that time sparked my interest in the Vietnam war which had ended 10 years previously.

Other favourites included A-ha, Tears for Fears, Marillion, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. Yip, that one comes out now but back then I loved Reckless as an album but by 1990 my interest in Bryan Adams music went out window. I bought Born In The USA after seeing a documentary on Bruce Springsteen on BBC2. This was the year he played his legendary show at Slane Castle but I was too young to go to such an event.

Bruce Springsteen was becoming a new favourite of mine and I bought one of his earlier albums The River as well as the career spanning live album box set covering from 1975-85 which was one of my favourite live albums.

1986 strangely enough wasn’t a big year for me music wise. At the time I was taking an interest in computer games and when I was 15 one of my friends was listening to metal – Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Metallica, WASP to name but a few but at 15 I didn’t dare even brining metal into the house.

I don’t think my mum would have approved. So the likes of Europe’s The Final Countdown and Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer were about as metal as it got for me. Maybe that was the start of the interest in the genre but it would be another couple of years yet for me to embrace it. So 1986 was just playing it safe with the likes of Berlin who had the hit Take My Breath Away from the Top Gun movie, A-ha, Level 42, The Bangles and Cutting Crew.

For my 16th birthday U2’s The Joshua Tree was released and quite possibly for the first time I was excited for a forthcoming release. I remember going into town to buy it and coming home and playing it to death on my record player. The old second hand record player was on it’s last legs and wouldn’t be replaced until 1989.

Radio 2 done a poll for the best album of the 1980s and it was The Joshua Tree that came out on top. There are quite a few albums on the list now that I liked but being a big U2 fan I probably would have voted for this too.

What I didn’t know when I got to school on Monday that tickets for their concert in Belfast later that summer also went on sale. I missed out on that and on my final year of school after finishing my O’ Levels I didn’t get to see the biggest band play Belfast! It would be a good few more years yet before I got to see them live.

By 1988, U2 still remained my favourite band. Rattle and Hum was the last U2 album I bought on vinyl. I was eventually moving from vinyl to CD. At this stage I was also starting to get interested in listening to metal and what a year it was for the genre.

One by Metallica was the first song of theirs that I liked and I bought …And Justice for All that year. At the same time I started to like Iron Maiden who released the epic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Queensryche’s masterpiece Operation Mindcrime. Living Colour’s Vivid was another favourite of mine that year.

The final year of the decade and metal is firmly coming up on top. Albums by AerosmithPump, Faith No MoreThe Real Thing, The CultSonic Temple were all favourites of mine that year. As well as listening to metal I also started to listen to Simple Minds when they released Belfast Child from their forthcoming album Street Fighting Years. They would be the first band I got to see live.

By the end of the year I would have no idea what to expect of the 1990s. On New Years Eve I stayed up late to record and listen to U2’s final night of the Lovetown tour from The Point Depot in Dublin. The 1990s would change my listening habits and I would end up revisiting the 1980s to listen to the bands that I didn’t hear first time like REM, Pixies, Husker Du, etc.

Record Store Day 2020

The annual Record Store Day was amongst many events cancelled due to the pandemic.  Originally scheduled for April this year, it couldn’t go ahead due to concerns for social distancing.  It would have been very challenging to try being two metres apart in a shop looking for these must have records that you were looking forward to buying.

They were going to try again for June but with restrictions not quite eased at the time a solution to this was to spread out Record Store Day over three months, with drop dates in August (29th), September (26th) and October (24th).

I stopped buying records around 1990 before making the switch to CD.  Have more CDs than records but I got back into buying records again thanks to Record Store Day.

The first one I went to was in 2011.  Head had just opened up in the new Victoria Square shopping complex in Belfast and it was one of my favourite shops for buying CDs.  When I heard about Record Store Day I was intrigued by the idea and looked at the list of records that were being released for this very special day.

The one record that I wanted to get was the reissue of Nirvana’s Australian EP Hormoaning.  I remember not wanting to fork out a lot of money for it on CD when it was first released.  Think it was about £30 for an import back in 1991.

Not knowing how many copies they were going to get as it was a very limited run I decided to get up early and join the queue assuming there was going to be demand.  Got up early about 6am and made my down to the store.

When I got there was two people in the queue.  Quite surprised by this I thought maybe this doesn’t have much interest.  So I got into a conversation with Sam and his daughter Laura talking about what music we liked and what records we were looking for.

Sam was a big Springsteen and Bowie fan and Laura liked Green Day, so I asked about the Nirvana EP as I could only see it from the shop window and it looked like there was only one copy of it.

My heart sank when he said Laura was hoping to get the EP but to my relief he said there was two copies of it!  I was overjoyed and felt it was worthwhile getting up early.  So when the doors opened both myself and Laura went immediately for the Nirvana EP and we both got copies.  Happy days!

Other purchases I made that day were Medium Rare by Foo Fighters, Whore’s Moaning 12″ single by Sonic Youth and a Bruce Springsteen 10″ single Gotta Get The Feeling.

By the time I left the store the queue eventually got bigger and I was quite pleased with my purchases.  The next stage would be to buy a new turntable to listen to them.

I was looking forward to the next one in 2012 but sadly Head’s lease at Victoria Square ended and they were looking for new premises which weren’t ready in time for RDS2012.  There was bound to been other places to go to but I didn’t research it enough to go and look for other stores.

However Head reopened in Ann Street for their new store in time for 2013.  Again I got up early and joined the queue.  This time it got a bit bigger when I got down and of course Sam and Laura were in the queue again too so it was good to see familiar faces.

Purchases made that day were Soundgarden King Animal demos 10″, REM Live in Greensboro CD EP, Anthrax Anthems EP, Placebo E3 EP, At The Drive In Relationship of Command LP and one of the special releases that year, Mad Season Above (Expanded vinyl edition) which was the one I was really after that day.


Again the day proved to be a great success for the shop and also it was good craic meeting other fellow music fans and comparing lists.

In 2014 a new record shop opened up in North Street called Sick Records.  It was a great shop and was probably more of a niche market catering for those who collect records beyond the mainstream.  So that left me in a dilemma which shop do I go to first!

I got to know Kenny the owner and he was a great guy very passionate about music and he went through my list of wants and there was going to be some on it that he wasn’t getting.  The main one I was looking for was the REM MTV Unplugged boxset and the Soundgarden 10″ singles boxset.  I can’t remember if they were going to  be getting it but I made the choice to go to Head, who had now relocated to Castle Court.IMG_6490

As previous years the queue was starting to get a bit bigger now.  Some had been in the queue since midnight on Friday and it was a bitterly cold night that year.  Sam again was in the queue.  The decision to get up early paid off as they only had one copy of the REM boxset and I got it.

That meant that I had to miss out on the Soundgarden boxset which was dearer in Head but Kenny got a copy of it in Sick Records and I was able to get it there at a reasonable price.Superknown singles

Purchases that day included singles by Lemonheads If Only You Were Dead, Nirvana‘s unreleased last single from In Utreo in 1994 got reissued for RSD, Pennyroyal Tea  7″, Bruce Springsteen American Beauty 12″, Mudhoney On Top! LP. The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live in London LP, Husker Du Candy Apple Grey LP, Pixies Indy Cindy LP and the big REM box set of their two MTV unplugged shows.

In 2015 it was again the choice of which shop to go to first and it was naturally going to be Head as they got more variety and stock.

The staff at Head records have always been great and very helpful on the day by pointing you in the right direction of where the records were.  I bought quite a few records that day.  I am sure the bank manager wasn’t too pleased!

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Couple of ones stood out as they were really limited like Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy Live Barrowlands LP.  I can’t remember if the shop got the coloured vinvly but my copy was black so I wasn’t complaining.  Also I bought my first U2 LP on vinyl since Rattle and HumSongs of Innocence made its way to my iPhone which was the first time I never bought anything by the band but for RSD they released it on vinyl limited to 5000 copies.  Mine was no.0663.

Other purchases that day were Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible picture disc, Biffy Clyro Puzzle LP, Clutch From Beale Street to Obilivion LP, Foo Fighters Songs from the Laundry Room 10″, Lemonheads Bored on the 4th July 12″, The Replacements Alex Chilton 10″, Ride OX4 red vinyl LP and Simple Minds Celebrate Live from SSE Hydro Glasgow LP.

2016 at Head was another successful RSD and the wallet was hit hard that day.  I got down early as usual to get my spot in the queue and managed to get most of my wishlist that day.

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Amongst the haul that day were Buzzcocks More Product In A Different Compilation 2LP orange vinyl, Raw Power, A Tribute to Iggy Pop and the Stooges LP featuring Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Duff McKagan (Guns N’Roses), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) and Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Cheap Trick At the Budokan, Simple Minds Big Music Tour 2015 red vinyl, Judgement Night OST LP, NME C86 double album, Nirvana Live on KAOS 1987 (which was a bit disappointing) and Superchunk Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)

I also got a Live Metallica CD from Paris that was recorded at Le Bataclan and 7″ singles by Husker Du In A Free Land and The Undertones My Perfect Cousin and a 12″ gold fold edition of Manic Street Preachers A Design for Life. Plus two EPs by That Petrol Emotion – In the Beginning EP and Manic Pop Thrill.  That was a serious day of record shopping!

The 2017 event at Head would be their last one.  By the end of the year the store had closed much to my disappointment.  Sick Records had also closed and I found out that there was a new one opening in Bangor, Bending Sound which I would go to in 2018.

I managed to get into the queue early enough to make sure that I was going to get what I was after.  It is always great to chat to the other punters waiting in the queue to compare lists.

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So 2017’s haul was quite good picking up some really great LPs from Sugar Copper Blue, Evan Dando Baby I’m, Bored, Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression at the Royal Albert Hall (3LPs), Bruce Springsteen Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 LP on vinyl for first time. Along with some 7″ singles by Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, and 12″ Manic Street Preachers single You Love Alone Is Not Enough.

Each year just seemed to be getting more expensive so it was a bit of a relief that the 2018 released schedule didn’t have too much on my wants list.  Went down to Bangor for their first one and it was busy.  A much smaller shop which meant you had to queue and just wait your turn.

It was a beautiful sunny day too so waiting in the queue was ok but would I get what I was after.  The records I really wanted to get were releases by Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, and Living Colour.RDS2018 2ND IMAGE

Out of that four I was only successful in getting the Live Democratic National Convention 2000 LP by Rage Against The Machine.  The Soundgarden A Sides LP was sold out and the Living Colour live LP wasn’t on order.  I managed to get them online.  Other purchases in Bending Sound that day were The National Boxer Live in Brussels LP and Belly Feel 10″.

Last years RDS took me down to Armagh as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get what I wanted.  Armagh Music I had been shopping from since the departure of Head in Belfast and  John the owner was very good at getting CDs ordered for me.  At that stage I took the huff with HMV and vowed never to go back after they went into administration and I had £100 worth of vouchers from Christmas.

The plan was go to Armagh and get in the queue with my list.  I also gave my friend Frank a list too to pick up some stuff in Bangor if I was unsuccessful in Armagh.  To my surprise it was really well organised.  There wasn’t too many there and you gave your list to the staff.  They let you know if it was in stock and when you got into the shop it was bagged or boxed and ready to pay for.

I got everything on my list apart from Green Day Woodstock 1994 which Frank picked up for me in Bangor.  The rest of my wish list I got two albums by Frank Black, self titled and Teenager of the Year, Weezer Dusty Gems and Rare Nuggets LP, Green River Olympia, Tropicana 1984 LP, The Crow OST, Teenage Fanclub The King, Pearl Jam Live at East Street LP and U2 The Europa EP.

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With RSD2020 just around the corner now after the delay from April I will be looking forward to trying to get Bob Mould Circle of Friends LP and Refused Not Fit For Broadcasting (Live at the BBC) and Dinosaur Jr. Swedish Fist (Live in Stockholm) LP in September.  Hopefully not a wallet busting experience like the previous ones.

You can find the list of all releases for RSD2020 at their website.

Record Shops in Northern Ireland taking part this year will be at the following:

Armagh Music, Armagh, Fairhill Records, Ballymena, Bending Sound, Bangor, Sable Starr Records ( Strange Victory Records), Belfast and Cool Discs, Derry.

Wherever you end up going, make sure you plan your list and budget and most importantly enjoy the day and records that you buy.







National Album Day

#DontSkip @AlbumDayUK

I didn’t know that such a day existed but this is the second year running and supported by BBC Sounds.

The theme this year is #DontSkip. What is your favourite album that you play from start to finish that you don’t lift the needle and move onto the next track or if you are playing a CD you just hit the skip button.

This got me thinking and I created an event page on my Facebook page which hosts my blog.

The online event page is at… where you can come along and add to the discussion board of what your favourite album is.

This is a friendly forum for debate amongst music fans. My local HMV in Belfast are doing some stuff in their store today and I am sure other stores will be doing something similar almost a bit like Record Store Day but without the exclusive releases!

HMV in Belfast have been supportive of me regarding this blog and for today’s event they have kindly donated a voucher to be won which can be used in store for a future purchase. I will be drawing a winner randomly for this.

I have a massive list of favourite albums to choose from. Wonder what one I will go for.