Starting in November, Edward’s plays host to a regular series of vinyl nights – Classic Album Tuesdays – organised by our friends The CAT Club, one of the longest running record clubs in the UK. For those who might not know the concept behind a record club, we’ve asked The CAT Club’s esteemed spokesman, Rev Reynolds, to give us some context.
On a dark Tuesday night in January 2011, eight souls gathered together in a converted garage in Pontefract to listen to a long playing vinyl record album by The Beatles. The record was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and we played the original mono version on a 1960s Hacker Gondolier GP42 record player. We sat in silence to listen to it in full, sipped on our beer, and then had a bit of a row about it afterwards. Few would argue that Sgt Pepper is the best record ever made – many would argue that it’s not even the best record The Beatles made – but few would dispute that it is possibly the most influential album ever made. It’s the record that elevated 12 inches of plastic stuffed in a cardboard sleeve into an art form. It was a fitting choice to begin our trip.
In those early days, the gatherings took place in the converted garage out the back of my house. It was a BYOB affair. We would take it turns to choose an album, and the selector would prepare an introduction, giving context for the record itself and the reasons they chose it. Often, these were very personal reasons, music is inextricably linked to our emotions. The vinyl would then be listened to in silence – always – and afterwards we would discuss the relative merits of the record. Given the multitude of tastes and life experiences in the room, we seldom agreed but with a few exceptions – Manu Chao’s Clandestino and Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks split the room – conversation would be convivial. It became that the evening was an event in itself and it didn’t really matter too much if we enjoyed the record or not.
After we’d been round the block a few times with our own choices, we opened up the club to guest presenters. This introduced a theatrical element to the proceedings. Howard Marks came and presented Frank Zappa’s Cruising with Ruben & The Jets and afterwards regaled us with tales that were deemed too risqué to make it into Mr Nice. Tom Hingley presented a battered old copy of Dr Feelgood’s Down By The Jetty, told us how pivotal a moment it was when he bought that very record in Woolworths, and then sang us some songs. Graham Oliver of Saxon introduced a couple of Hendrix albums, then got out his guitar and showed us how Jimi did it. We didn’t even play an album for the double bass player, Danny Thompson, just a selection of songs from records he’d played on, interspersed with Danny’s anecdotes about working with John Martyn, Nick Drake, Marc Bolan et al, including playing on the soundtrack for the film Kes.
Eventually, after six years in the garage, we moved to a more public gathering in a local bar and, with our number extending to 40 souls for each album, we stuck with the more theatrical formula and made guest presenters the standard format. (On occasions, the post-record show has turned into a full-blown gig.) What did stay the same though was listening to the album in silence and absolutely no use of phones during the record. To some this may sound a little draconian – and we know from experience that not all record clubs adhere to this principal – but we think it’s worth preserving. It’s a good opportunity in our busy lives to sit still, disconnect from the hubbub and be quiet for a moment. Many people see it as a bit of a trip and hear things in a record that they’ve never heard before. Come and join us and find out for yourselves.
The theatre area at Edward’s is a perfect space for an album club. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Forthcoming Classic Album Tuesday events at Edward’s.
Click on the links for more information.
14 November | Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years | Presented by Clinton Heylin
21 November | Cut by The Slits | Presented by Nick Banks
28 November | Perverted By Language by The Fall | Presented by Steve & Paul Hanley