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March, 19

Gentle Sinners’ Actions Cannot Be Undone - Kevin Buckle

Gentle Sinners are James Graham of The Twilight Sad and Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap, two of Avalanche’s biggest ever selling Scottish bands, and the album’s title is appropriately These Actions Cannot Be Undone.

I was told I could have 20 copies of the indies-only red vinyl with a bonus 7-inch and that Monorail in Glasgow and Assai based in Dundee and Edinburgh had arranged their own versions with the label Rock Action.

Monorail duly announced their own exclusive Alternative Art Print Sleeve edition limited to 300, though Assai strangely made no mention of having anything special.

This, of course,all follows on from my column a couple of weeks ago when there was a similar scenario regarding the new Belle and Sebastian album.

There was better news earlier in the week when the reissue of Frightened Rabbit’s Pedestrian Verse album on vinyl was announced. I had known about this for some time and had indeed twice previously put in a request to the record company for a reissue.

I had been promised it would be a straightforward release with no additions and that proved to be the case and I was allocated 60, which was a sensible amount given it was our most requested out-of-press album. Of course if I added something no other shop had I would sell hundreds to devoted fans.

One thing that shops don’t like to admit to is that among these devoted fans there is often a hardcore of people with disorders that make them obsessively collect – they can be guaranteed to buy the most limited edition of a release or indeed buy several slightly different releases.

I stopped relying on new releases by artists and their labels some time ago but for most record shops this is still what drives their business and essentially shops are now told by record companies and labels how much money they can make from a release.

Oddly, record companies and their artists still focus quite heavily on chart placings that these days the public really don’t care about at all. Regularly I see artists have a high chart placing but with sales a quarter of previous albums that chartwise did not fair so well.

As HMV prepares to open on Princes Street they will fill the shop with stock they will only pay for when sold, terms an independent could only dream of.

Indies always asked for a level playing field after each HMV failure but HMV’s model is they can’t afford to pay market rent and they can’t afford to pay for unsold stock and record companies in particular fear a world without one big chain so they get their way.

What has happened now is there is not even a level playing field between independent shops and those disadvantaged fear to speak up.

Later in the day a new Arcade Fire album was announced with a very limited “retail exclusive” vinyl. We will get five.

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