Life In Tokyo

The Record Stores!

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So now, where do I begin?  Having lost my urge to collect Bowie around four years ago due to the release of his first album in ten years pushing prices to how do I say it?  Bullshit prices?  There you go, I said it.  It had to be said because it’s true.  Combined with The V&A exhibition, the Bowie stocks rose sharply.  All of a sudden there were unscrupulous crooks cashing in and taking the piss.  I didn’t want to be part of all this shilling the rubes that was going on so I dropped out of the collectors market.

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My recent visit to Tokyo somehow revived my long lost passion for collecting.  Maybe it was the reasonable prices?  Or perhaps the beautiful packaging?  The thrill of being in Tokyo’s best record stores maybe? Perhaps a combination of all three?  Either way, it worked a treat.  The only item I missed out on nabbing was the Lady Stardust/Crystal Japan 7″ picture disc which is already going for extortionate rates on eBay.

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To start with, I had no intention of buying any vinyl however, once inside the exhibition store on the Friday, I just couldn’t resist what was on offer!  A 12″ pressing of Blackstar on red vinyl along with coloured vinyl pressings for Heathen, Reality, The Next Day and A Reality Tour.  Also available were a series of books released to mark the occasion which were all put together with copious attention to detail.

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From memory, Heathen was one of the first Bowie vinyl’s to get the royal treatment back in 2013 after the Paul Smith designed red vinyl pressing for The Next Day.  Heathen was pressed on a kind of grim orange vinyl in 2013 though, with this Japanese pressing, it came with more palatable blue coloured vinyl.

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During my short stay, I was happy to learn that both HMV and Tower Records are both alive and well.  There is also a chain of stores called disc Union who appear to have multiple stores around Tokyo.  I only had time to visit their Shibuya branch though it was worth the visit as I managed to pick up a couple of long sort after bootlegs on vinyl for a collective total coming in at under 5,000 Japanese Yen.  The titles in question were “Serious Business”, a double LP recorded live in Munich on May 22 1983 and a limited yellow vinyl pressing of “Don’t Touch That Dial”, a bootleg re-issue of the live recording from Wembley on May 7 1976.

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Best of all, “Don’t Touch That Dial” was limited to 300 copies only and I managed to snare number 14.  They also had a few other bootlegs in the racks however, money, or a lack of was the determining factor in me being sensible.  Years ago though, I would have bought them all without blinking.  With age I guess, comes sensibility, or so I would like to think?

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All the Japanese record stores, unlike their European and American counterparts, charge reasonable prices for almost every item they stock.  It encourages you to keep sifting in hope of finding rare gems that won’t break the bank.  Later this year, I am going to head back with more capital in the wallet and shop hard for vinyl.

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The Bowie crooks may have won the Internet battle yet, the Japanese are firmly winning the war on the retail sectors.  They should all be applauded for making vinyl collecting a fair and reasonable experience and not the outright price gauging that some Bowie fans online have made it.

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Oh, to balance things out a little, I snapped up a few magazines that were Loud Reed and The Cure related.  Each one only cost around 100 Yen which is chicken feed in the grand scheme of things.  I did learn some new facts about The Cure in the Record Collector article which was swell.

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It has its moments where there are dips in the passion but all it takes for a vinyl collector is a trip to a weird and wonderful country to reignite the flame within.  Long live music on vinyl.

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