I seldom feel older than when I catch myself reminiscing about the GOOD OLD DAYS of High Street.
That sun-devoid, baltic, wind-tunnel, hell-stretch that began just past Hack Circle at Cosmic Corner (back when it was an actual corner, and I never went in cos the deep-stoner-incense-hemp-dreadlock-vibes were too much for this sheltered lil teen), and ended with a hot blackcurrant in a really filthy chipped jam jar on some questionably stained old couch at Java.
But in the middle was the good, tasty, meat – the places that helped shape me into much of the person I still am today – Echo and Galaxy records.
Echo was my haven. Echo took every cent of pocket money, and weekend job pay check I ever received, as well as every spare hour I had. Echo, back when it was three or four (!) consecutive shops, all with a different offering (new, secondhand, discount and the posters/ merch, and vinyl upstairs). Echo with their nice staff who were a comforting mix of ‘cool dads I wish I had’ and ‘fantasy boyfriend’ (like, seperate people, not all in one…there’s only one person who acceptably ticks both those boxes and his name is Jeff Goldblum), who actually talked to you and recommended you great things, you’d never heard of, and I’d always buy as a result. Echo with their crisp, neon pink, paper bags, with comic strip print. Remember those bags?! Ah, those bags make me all misty eyed. If I got one of those today, I think I’d frame it.
See. Don’t I sound awfully old?
Even before we became Cracked City, times had changed. Echo became Real Groovy. Then moved to Tuam Street in a building that still stands, abandoned, ravaged, long gutted by fire. The owners of Real Groovy thought they could create a version of their huge flagship Queen St store, here in Christchurch. But it never really worked.
We are, and we always have been, the best, when we are just left to be a bit of a dirtbag city. Small, quirky, grungy, where the stoners, art kids, and hipsters meet the metal heads and dad-bands. It’s just who we are, and I think that’s really cool.
Obviously things, in all areas, have changed a lot since those days. We lost the record stores, when digital took over. Then we lost the city. And I lost the habit of collecting music in physical form – but these things are all back.
The city is coming back.
Record stores are back.
And I grew up to get a job that paid enough to allow me my ultimate, most frivolous, hobby: a turntable.
All feels good in the world!
Except… for most of the 5 years that I’ve been collecting vinyl, options here have been limited to pretty much one store – Penny Lane in Sydenham.
Penny Lane is ok. Adequate. But I really gotta be in the mood. Like a very patient, half sedated, kind of mood. It tests me on many levels. Too many middle aged white dudes in old leather jackets taking up too much room in front of the records racks with their elbows, not moving when you need to get past, and having VERY DEEP INTENSE conversations about Peter Frampton Bootlegs or some boring shit desperately trying to prove HOW MUCH THEY KNOW and then I find myself rolling my eyes at and failing to hold in audible groans at how tedious they sound and that’s about when I have to leave as fast as I possibly can.
Plus there’s too much stock to go through. Yet, somehow, despite this, not enough of what I want.
I don’t want to spend three hours flicking through dusty second hand, dog eared, copies of records, in the hope I might find one of interest. Maybe that old guard does, but I think that most vinyl buyers my age, we know what we like, we’re busy, and we don’t wanna be pissing around all afternoon, wasting our free time, for nothing.
No. I like a small, well curated, selection of mostly new disks. A good range of classics, indie, hip hop, a bit of dance and a nice smattering of oddities – some cheeky compilations and soundtracks, some kitsch. After all that’s the point of a record collection. I’m not buying every single album I ever liked a song from, like I used to on CD. I’m buying the meaningful, special, the must-haves, and the curiosities. Records are special like that. They are a luxury purchase. They are for slow, sunny, coffee drenched, Sunday mornings or getting ready to go out. They have purpose.
About a year ago Lyttleton Records opened in Woolston, which pleased me greatly, as they subscribe to this curation method, and gave me an option beyond Penny Lane.
But this weekend, a new kid joined the ranks, one I’m really happy to have seen arrive: Ride on Super Sound.
Now, I’ve only spoken about records, but Ride On Super Sound is just as much a comic and zine store as much as records (and cassettes), along with tees, posters and other sweet sweet merch. It all comes together perfectly, as you’d imagine.
It’s located on St Asaph St, right next to the Darkroom, where the relocated Galaxy used to be. With Kadett/ Space Academy and the Lotus Heart across the road, I think this little stretch has become such a cool pocket of town, buried amongst the weird industrial CBD outskirts – but as I said earlier, this is when Cracked City is best – grungy, small, doing it’s own thing and all fringe cultures colliding.
I went along last night to their launch event – the shop was open, beer friendly, whilst three bands – Dog Fish, Nervous Jerk, and the berserk and brilliant Fem Screm (whose show featured an alleyway firework show, in near-gale force winds) played well past midnight. Bloody marvellous. What a start!
Everyone was super lovely, approachable, and Ride On just felt like a really cool, accessible, non threatening place to hang out and browse. As always, I showed up alone, and met so many familiar, cool, faces and had a very great time.
Deciding I needed to pick up a record as a souvenir of the night, I selected a Jungle Exotica compilation – it’s a nice little oddity for my collection, perfect for Summer gin-and-fairy-light-fuelled-living-room-dance-parties. I’ve been a sucker for kitsch cocktail bar music ever since I used to buy Ultra-Lounge compilation CD’s from Echo for $10 back in those old days. See. I’ve come full circle, eh.
The album was $30 which was a really good price for a double disk, and most the new vinyl seems to be in that $30-$40 price bracket, which is cheaper than competitors. Zines run from $2-$5ish. Tees about $25. And even the books I was surprised at how well priced they were. Well, everything was really well priced, and when combined with the impeccable curation, it’s an ideal shopping / browsing experience. They really get it, y’know? Thank you!
Welcome to the block Ride on Super Sound. Cracked City needs more people like you, opening places like this. Go big and prosper! Congratulations!
And to everyone else, go check them out and bloody well buy something. Books and records are great Xmas gifts (hint hint). It’s not rocket science, but it’s a message that still needs to be said, and I’m gonna keep hammering home on here – independent retailers, everywhere, but especially in Chch CBD, need our support. They rely on us. So go! Tell people. Otherwise those old men with their Peter Frampton bootlegs will rule forever and ever and there will be no nice cool places to go hang out, and reminisce about when we’re old, y’know?
RIDE ON SUPER SOUND
336 ST ASAPH ST
CHECK FB PAGE FOR OPENING HOURS