Tuesday, 2 April 2013

RECORD SHOPS: Raves From The Grave in Bath

April 20th is Record Store Day. So throughout this month God Is In The TV is running a celebration of our beloved record shops. You will find all articles on Record Store Month HERE. So what better way to kick off this celebration than with the opening of a brand new shop...

I live in a town called Melksham in Wiltshire. Back in the 90's there were at least two shops selling CDs and tapes, plus the Woolworths on the high street. In 2013 we have nothing. Except for the local Asda, which only stocks a range of chart albums. Worse still it's not even the proper album chart, as was proved by their failure to stock hit albums from the likes of I Am Kloot and The Horrors. So despite some great music breaking into the charts, Asda still don't stock it. Hence, their version of the album chart is a lot worse than the official one. Their selection of albums doesn't reflect anything going on in the music world, it's just a wall of celebrity faces and brand names, something for the "average" person to pick up and put in the trolley along with their Cornflakes and washing powder. 

The low standards of the supermarket's range of music regularly has me stood in the aisle sighing and shaking my head in despair, but I expected even Asda to be stocking the new album from the legendary Suede. Surely one of the best comebacks of recent times, 'Bloodsports' wasn't on their shelves on its week of release. "There HAS to be some sort of mistake," I thought "no Suede? Seriously?". It's not like I was hunting for some obscure German avant garde compilation or a rare northern soul record. Just the newly released album by one of Britain's key bands of the last 20 years. Not too much to ask. Yet Asda didn't have it in stock. I wondered how the 15 year old version of me would have reacted if he was told that one day he wouldn't even be able to buy the new Suede album anywhere in town. In 1999 that would have been unthinkable.


Luckily Melksham isn't far away from both Frome and Warminster, locations of two excellent independent record shops by the name of Raves From The Grave. Over 16 years after opening the original shop in Frome, they have now expanded to a third shop in the city of Bath. The new store originally opened as a pop-up shop last year, which proved a success: "What an amazing 5 months trial! The positivity and good purchases has meant we are now able to open full time. Thank you music lovers." 

Not so long ago this city played host to a number of music chains and smaller retailers, including my favourite shop Replay, the place where I used to go in the late 90's to find the singles I couldn't get anywhere else. But except for the (hanging on a thread and not entirely a music retailer) HMV, all have since disappeared.


So the opening of Raves From The Grave in Bath comes as a massive boost to the city's music lovers, and once again I feel excitement every time I go shopping in Bath. Since Replay closed, every visit to the city has made me sense a huge void. But now I can go there knowing that once again there's somewhere to buy records and CDs. I went there on opening day and was pleased to hear that their first day in the new shop had been a roaring success. It's a small space, and they are sharing the room with MeeshMash, a company specialising in vintage clothing, and Widcombe Homebrew, which sells equipment for the budding home brewer. And it's more than possible to spend a long time browsing. New release albums on vinyl and CD, box sets, as well as a range of LPs from many genres, singles, second hand CDs and lots more. 

With a huge range of vinyl and CDs spread across their other two shops, it's likely that the Bath shop's stock will change regularly, so you may come across something different every time you visit. If you go in for a browse, you're bound to find something that arouses your curiousity, and it's those impulse buys that are the ones that can be the most rewarding. Sometimes you'll go into a shop and see a few new releases that you've heard recently, and actually seeing them with your own eyes always makes them seem more appealing. Once that record is in your hands, it's difficult to put it back on the shelf. Sometimes it just feels right, that moment where it's all confirmed, the moment when you know that this piece of vinyl HAS to be yours.


A bit of a different experience than going online, typing something into a search box and then having some sound files downloaded to your computer. Without record shops there'd be no impulse buys, no lucky finds, no picking up a record and beginning a long and happy relationship with it, enhancing that real sense of owning an album rather than just being able to listen to it. I don't listen to an mp3 and think to myself "ah, I remember the day I downloaded this file on to my computer". 

All of the records and CDs I own have memories attached to each one, including where and when I first purchased the record. The 'Hi Fi Lo Fi' EP by Astrid, from Replay in Bath, 1998. 'One From The Modern' by Ocean Colour Scene, from Falcon Records in Chippenham, 1999. And now 'Bloodsports' by Suede, from Raves From The Grave in Bath, March 2013.

Yes, I did get my copy of the new Suede LP, and knew I had to get the beautifully packaged vinyl edition as soon as I set eyes on it. Yes, you can also buy them off the internet, but on a web page you're just looking at a photo of a product rather than holding the real thing and knowing that you could be taking it home and adding it to your collection. In order to carry on feeling magic experiences like these, we need record shops.

Without them, we would be lost.



Photo courtesy of newsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com
Raves From The Grave in Bath is situated at 8 Widcombe Parade, and open Monday to Saturday from 10am till 6pm, closed Wednesdays. 

The original Frome shop can be found at 20 Cheap Street, Frome. It's open Monday - Saturday from 9am till 5pm. 01373 464666

And the Warminster store, with its epic range of vinyl is located at 6 Weymouth Street, Warminster. It's open Monday-Saturday from 9am till 5pm and closed on Wednesdays. 01985 213707


They offer free next day delivery on your favourite CDs and vinyl, as well as discounts on bulk buys.


For more info go to http://www.ravesfromthegrave.com/



Raves Bath shop front photo courtesy of NewsReviewsReflections, read their shop review HERE.

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