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Our correspondent takes a few minutes off from weightier issues in order to savour the delights of Derry’s finest record store, Cool Discs.
Eamonn McCann, 12 May 2010
International Record Store Day a couple of weeks back - designed to put a focus on local record shops, under mortal threat from the major chains – was marked in Derry by the release of a cracker EP by Strength. Set me thinking.
Cool Discs in Foyle Street provides a service as important to the cultural life of Derry as the Playhouse Theatre or Void gallery. It's where you can buy the mainstream stuff, but also find the work of musicians and material which you aren't going to hear on national radio or find in Virgin or HMV. That includes the best of the local music scene. Cool Discs is, typically, the only commercial outlet in the area where you'll find Here Comes The Landed Gentry's first album, Here Comes the Landed Gentry Volume 2, just across the aisle from Bill Haley – The Ultimate Collection. ('Hot Dog, Buddy Buddy', 'You Hit The Wrong Note, Billy Goat', 'Choo Choo Ch'Boogie'... They don't write songs like that anymore. They really don't.)
And if you need a natter about what's worth a while of your limited ear-time, Lee and Danny will be on hand, with an unfeasible knowledge of music from Draperstown to Dakar, which they'll happily share. Or you can just browse around the shelves and note that they are still putting out work by Billy Fury – a more significant figure than he was ever given credit for way back yonder. 'Half Way To Paradise'! Ah.
No harm to the cheerful and courteous young people at HMV up in the shopping centre, but ambling into Cool Discs is a different experience. Deserves savouring and saving. There's probably something similar, or nearly, in your town too.
Which reminds me of a day I dandered into Comet Records in still-ungentrifed Temple Bar in the company of Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler, who'd confided that he wanted while in Dublin to buy a couple of records that'd be hard to come by back in Birmingham. Wouldn't tell me what, but furtively whispered to the guy behind the counter. "Don't av em. An 'e don't know where I'd get em," he came back.