I’ve been buying up old vinyl by the armload of late. I’m never so happy as when I’m lost for days, getting sweaty in the crates and coming up with gold. Or at least unearthing something that no-one’s put their ear to for a good long while.
Record shops have a particular smell that I’m not adverse to in the slightest. Tiny little shops - I’m dreaming of you, Banbury Emporium - stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of goodies; these places are so high on my list of contenders for nirvana. The dump/tip/losing place is even better. Their unabashedly stuffed G Plan bookshelves are without doubt the best place to go hunting for records. Just, you know, leave a trail of breadcrumbs or something.
This is an original 1977 pressing of ‘Queens Of Noise’. Should you not be versed, The Runaways were the first real all American girl rock band. Also - unlike certain spiced ladies - these cats could really play. Their second studio album after 1976’s eponymous debut is full of sticky riffs, wild choruses and - to lay it out plain and hot - growls like it means it. Even if you don't wanna say it's so, Kim Fowley knew exactly what he was about.
Side A is just an alt chart busting arsenal with ‘Born To Be Bad’ telling it one hundred and sixty-nine percent how it is. Side B ain't messing around either, coming on steaming with Joan Jett's ‘I Love Playing With Fire’ and your new favourite head banger, ‘California Paradise’. While it’s not everyone’s favourite track (notably Cherie Currie), ‘Johnny Guitar’ closes on a heavier, zero-cares note with a free solo by Lita Ford that demands a standing ovation. It does…unusual things to the body.
The New & Improved Punisher and I made it down to Four Quarters East, the Hackney Wick division of Putney’s favourite bar that is also an arcade. I’m not entirely sure how public transport works around there - mostly because we were both in the after-throws of a boozy midday movie (Deadpool 2 is probably good fun if you don’t fall asleep through half of it) and we partook of an Uber - but it feels a tad isolated where it is, by the canal. Totally worth it.
Even if you do just turn up on spec and can’t lay waste to of one of their coveted booths, you should be able to seize one of their vintage video tables, which are also totally my thing. We lucked out on an OG Space Invaders unit with a two player option and demolished a pizza or three before that particular game decided we were too good and gave up its ghost for the evening. Part of that last sentence might be somewhat inaccurate.
After de-camping to a Pac Man unit - which I was banned from playing by Her because the joystick mechanic transformed our table into too turbulent a surface for the purpose of drawing/working - I took a look at their pinball options, a very early cart racer (too much my senior for us to comprehend one another) and some unholy version of Bomber Man with a highly suspicious egg mechanic. All very solid, particularly after several pints of equally good craft beer.
We finally managed to claim the Nintendo booth towards the end of the night which was completely optimal and played several rounds of Mario Cart and Smash Bros on a very mint Gamecube. While my many wasted years of racing carried me safely to third place in tournament mode, it was only to be expected that She would be a total murderer with Yoshi on the latter field of battle. For reals, you should be running.
There is a crossroads somewhere and the blackest of unions was had with that fucking dinosaur.
JD - TACOCAT
[Props to Andy Lawes from Banbury Emporium for the picture of his most grail-like of shops. Also to Four Quarters East for the photos of my new home. We'll be back and soon.]