Planet Rock at Truro Cattle Market
Bambaataa's hip-hop manifesto has me buying records from a village more Cornish than Cornwall itself.
It's 10am at car boot sale at the cattle market on the outskirts of Truro, Cornwall.
At first glance this place doesn't seem ripe for records. There are lots of toys. Some bloke's audaciously trying to sell one lone shoe. My mate Barn buys a DVD on ‘bouldering’. People are asking each other whether they still live up Redruth.
And yet... Even here there’s one table dedicated solely to vinyl. It turns out it's run by a middle-aged couple from Carluddon, a hamlet that's essentially more Cornish than Cornwall itself. In fact it looks like this:
I hear them inviting another punter to come to their house to look at the rest of their collection. ‘You can't miss us,' they say. They're not lying: there are are about four houses in Carluddon.
The seller has a stock spiel that he reels out to every punter: ‘That’ll have to be £2 I’m afraid. But go on the internet and it’d be a lot more – if you can be bothered with all that.’ Of course, going online and pressing a button is definitely way more hassle than sorting, boxing and lugging crates of heavy records out to freeze your nuts off at a cattle market on a cold April morning. Cornish logic.
Then, a real treat: I pick up a 45 called the Clapping Song, which rings a vague bell, at first I think because it simply sounds like the sort of thing DJs would use, that may have some good vocal samples on it. But later I remember that this is the exact record cited by old-school cut-n-paste master Steinski in the vinyl documentary Scratch as the thing that really turned him on to the power of hip-hop back in the early 80s. He watched Afrika Bambaataa, the man who named hip-hop and envisioned it as a global movement of togetherness, pluck that record out the crates and hand it to DJ Jazzy Jay to play, and the crowd went mental.
How excited Steinski gets is exactly what's great about hip-hop:
So to have plucked that same record from a Carluddon collection at a Cornish cattle market is like the record Gods smiling down going: ‘Yes, my son, delay dropping £200 on a rare test pressing of Hungarian goat-herding funk. Stick with cattle markets and Carluddon record vendors, 50p’. For now, at least.
Across the way there’s another burly Cornishman looking almost like a westcountry Bambaataa: arms folded, staring out from behind a box of discs through massive black shades. ‘Hello,’ I say. ‘Right on,’ he replies. Terrible records, but the perfect hip-hop response.