Black gold in Cornwall
Record digging in charity shops often means a long futile loiter near old ladies’ knees as they look at the jigsaws.
After a homemade pasty from Mary’s up Tresillian, I spend an hour or so hopping around the charity shops in Truro to get back on my task from earlier this year: collecting Cornish records as source material for beats. I want to learn how to make hip-hop beats, and to produce stuff that’ll fit the environment when I’m driving around country lanes (bumping Ghostface Killah just feels weird when you’re toodling through St Ewe).
The restriction I’ve arbitrarily added is that the records have to be on Sentinel, a local label set up by a dude called Job Morris in 1970 from his house in Newlyn. For an example of the records I'm hoping to find on Sentinel, check out ‘Eleven Plus Two’, by a couple of kids from Nanpean, courtesy of the Sentinel Records blog:
It's like Cornish china clay country meets the White Stripes. Ace.
I have designated myself modern hunter-gatherer, yet five Cornish charity shops yield nothing. It’s all the same shit. I spend a long time in a futile loiter near old ladies’ knees as they look at the jigsaws, and I thumb my way through endless copies of James Last. My mate Jeff keeps trying to get me to buy the 45 of ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams. After I dismiss his suggestion that I buy ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams at the YMCA in Truro, he’s soon waving anohter copy of ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams at Shopmobility in St Austell.
I don’t want ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams.
Shopmobility turns out to be a decent charity shop, with at least a sizeable stash of vinyl. The guy who handles the records seems to know his stuff, which is both good and bad. On the plus side, he knows Sentinel, and when I manage to pull out a copy of 'No Song To Sing?', by Crowdy Crawn, a 1974 collaboration by Brenda Wooton and Robert Bartlett, we get into a chat about it. He says it’s rare to see such a mint copy.
The downside is that this mint copy, of a record I may not actually like, is going to cost me a tenner. I’d imagine being happier to pay a decent amount knowing the money’s going to charity, but something doesn’t sit right with charity shops hiking their prices. My logic is that of records shops deserve to be more expensive, because they do a lot of work sourcing the stuff and sifting the crap. If there’s anything that warrants being able to buy records for under a fiver, it’s the fact that you've just exposed yourself to the very real risk of drowning in copies of ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams.
Still, I landed some precious bounty. Now I have to find those Nanpean kids. My bet is I'm hanging out with them by Christmas.