Health warning: This blog will interest old guys of a certain age and most likely repel young, intelligent women. This will only happen in print and never on the radio. I promise. This picture should provide sufficient forewarning……..



I’m just browsing. I don’t need any help thanks. It’s something we had lots of practice at in the early seventies. I was a pupil at Dundee High School which sits at the top of Reform Street. The lunch bell went around 12.45 and it was our practice to head straight into town. Food first: Wallace’s on Crichton Street for a pie and a yum-yum, or to the Golden Fry on Union Street where any number of items could be deep-dipped in hot boiling fat. It was simple stuff. But after that? After the chip wrappers had been binned and the nonsense talked. Then it was Boots or Largs or later on Bruce’s; all record shops or record departments where the albums were racked alphabetically and where we would flick through them endlessly with (at best) only the slightest clue about the contents of the music. Frank Zappa worried us as much as we were intrigued by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and there was always more to see on the front of Sergeant Pepper from when you’d looked the last time. What was certain was that most had only heard the record if a big brother or sister or some cool cousin had bought it. Who could afford ‘All Things Must Pass?’ (a guy in 5th year apparently whose name escapes me but is remembered as that guy…)

I’m thinking of all this on the first really cold day of autumn as the dark gathers round the house early and I’m glad to be home, locked in from the cold and sitting looking at new album sleeves. It’s funny how the sleeve still offers hope or scares you off until, very often, it’s the only thing left on the pile. I’ve been lucky this week. I found an album that had a good sleeve (it didn’t have a guy in a stetson, rather an arty drawing of a wolf). How often your hopes get raised only to be hopelessly dashed when you distictly feel you’re listening to an album you’ve heard 100 times before. As I write this I’m now doing the opposite thing. Choosing the record with the worst sleeve and a band with a bad name…and what do you know, it’s not bad at all.

This Friday we’ll celebrate these records and lots more besides as we’ve got two hours without extended conversations and sessions. It’s records all the way. Music from……………and that wolf, that bad sleeve? Step forward Jadea Kelly whose fine album Clover we’ll share with you. And do you think this sleeve looks good ?


.. I didn’t but hey it sounds great and quite original. I think you might find it’s quite a keeper. And if you think that picture’s a little…well, bland. You can’t accuse this band of the same thing.


I’m not sure what I’d have made of Those Darlins if I’d only encountered them on the new album for the first time. Courageous, provocative – but actually a little off-putting over breakfast. The good news is there’s plenty inside to provide appropriate pleasure.We will also be playing Porter Wagoner, Hem, Grizzly Bear, Howe Gelb with KT Tunstall and a rather exciting new band from Glasgow called Honeyblood. Just don’t judge us by our front cover.

It all starts Friday at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.


One thought on “Browsing

  1. Well, that was a little racier than I’ve come to expect from The AC! (That’s not a complaint.) When I come to think of it, it was certainly the sleeve artwork of the records owned by my older brothers and, for that matter, my parents, that first drew me to certain contents of their collections at a young, impressionable age, and provided the curiosity and the “in” to listening to the music itself. This may be a reason why my tastes remain so eclectic, too (although I would still claim it’s the songwriting that keeps me coming back, mostly). Nevertheless, I may never have found myself listening to early albums from the likes of The B-52’s, Adam and the Ants, OMD, and much more besides were it not for that sense of exploration. At the other end of the scale, it’s entirely possible I wouldn’t have been listening to and loving the likes of The Carpenters as a pre-teen either!

    I guess I’ve reached that certain age as well, as I have fond memories of exploring such record stores—and still love to browse given half the chance. I’m lucky in that I have two very good second-hand stores within walking distance here, so it’s still a possibility for me to do so. (Way back in the day and a long way away, I recall a copy of the “Raintown”/”Riches” limited edition LP being gazed at lovingly and repeatedly by a few of us as penniless-and-hungry-yet-drunken students in one particular such store in Exeter. It ended up being a joint present from two of us to the other. What was I thinking?!)

    Looking forward to exploring the insides of a few new sleeves courtesy of The AC tomorrow night. (And if that sounds euphemistic, then I blame the photo.)

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