29 June 2007

Another Fopp Bites the Dust

It's with sadness and dismay that I read today that Fopp, the cool funky CD, DVD and book retailer has bitten the dust.

I was only shopping their earlier this week and actually have that CD in my CD player.

Having scoured the web for info about the chain's demise (supermarkets and the Internet, as every other CD retailer is claiming), I came across an article that brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.

Once upon a time there was a magical land called Berwick Street, Soho. It was here that a music nerd like myself could spend (waste) and entire day scouring racks of CDs, singles, promos, rarities, 12"ers, etc. in the hopes of finding that elusive release you were after, or better yet - something you didn't know existed.

As the road was a mecca for muso geek, it was lined, not with gold but with used record shops. From Mr CD to Reckless, Sister Ray to Selectadisc - these were names to be admired, names which drew Pavlovian responses from the people they wanted as customers.

Sadly, as with many other music retailers, the buyers have stopped coming, and more importantly, the interesting, the promo and the rare are all drying up as well. Why pay £40 for one exclusive remix or b-side that was only released on a green vinyl 7" in Latvia, when you can pay 79p for the track at iTunes?

The collectability and rarity was part and parcel of spending hours and hours in these treasure troves.

Not only have the physical stores closed, the quality staff, all knowledgeable, many tattooed and even more in need a decent meal or bath will all be gone as well. No longer can you shoot the breeze discussing an elusive 12" single you're after or the amazing gig at the Rainbow or Marquee club that was only available on CD in a limited number, and thus demands the £300 price tag.

There may not be a whole way of live that's become extinct, but it's close. The lifestyle and geeky nature captured so eloquently by Nick Hornby in High Fidelity is a pleasure the kids of today will never now.

It saddens me deeply.