I’ve mentioned before that one of my all-time favourite novels is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and the Mixtape Memories section in this blog is a nod to the book, as well as a place for myself and others to share the soundtracks to our personal stories.
I’m not sure which aspect of the book is my favourite – the painfully funny recounting of a sorry love life; the in-depth analysis of the process behind organizing a record collection; the record store setting or the observations about the people that frequent it. It just all works and at the same time celebrates that great institution, the independent record store.
Record Store Day has that same purpose. The fifth annual Record Store Day is just a couple of days away so I wanted to see how some of Amsterdam’s local record stores were marking the occasion. Record Palace on Weteringschans was my first stop.
I arrived at the store at exactly 18:00, which conveniently coincided with it closing. Jan saw me peeking through the vinyl display in the window and, despite being busy with preparations for the big day, opened the door to me, emitting only one loud sigh before inviting me in.
Jan van Dorsten turned his record-collecting hobby into a business back in 1988. Record Palace has since become a thriving business and the go-to place for visiting musicians. One wall on the first floor features albums signed by some of the more famous regulars, including Henry Rollins, Paul Weller, Beastie Boys.
At first I want to ask Jan some questions quickly and leave him to get on with it. But we soon recognise a shared appreciation for music and dry humour as I wander around his closed store feeling like an accidental VIP.
Jan’s first bought (new) record was probably Cliff Richard’s single ‘Bachelor Boy’ (there’s another possibility, but he’s not sharing that right now). He’s currently listening to a lot of Americana, though the store reflects his varied taste; from an extensive Jazz collection on the ground floor, to Rock, 60s garage bands and Reggae on the first.
I ask him if he has a favourite record and the look on his face suggests I may as well ask a kid who’s stuffing his face with sweets what the best grain of sugar was. His favourite record changes on a daily basis, depending on his latest discoveries and mood.
On Saturday, Jan has invited singer/songwriter Max Meser to play at the store and there will be plenty of limited edition vinyl on sale (including a Fall single) and vast music knowledge shared over refreshments. If you should find yourself there (and it would be rude not to), make sure to check out the latest display of record covers on the first floor before nudging your way through some of the 30,000 records in stock.
Record Palace, Weteringschans 33 (opposite Paradiso), 1017 RV, Amsterdam.
On a loosely related sidenote, Foam’s new expo opened this evening – Music &Foam. Highlights of the expo include an exclusive print by Anton Corbijn, portraits by paparazzo Ron Galello and a reportage by Amsterdam’s own Subbacultcha!